I was given this exercise to practice:
Close eyes. Reach out and touch fingertip to table. Now screen. Prior to the labeling, what is perceived?
What first came up when I closed my eyes and touched my finger to the table was the sensation “pressure“. That was the first thing noticed. However, the instruction for the exercise was to be aware of what is perceived prior to the first thought, and there arose a question as to whether or not the “sensation of pressure” is pre-thought.
The thought came,
“perhaps ‘sensation‘ could be said to be pre-thought, but ‘pressure‘ is just a thought, a label placed upon pure sensation, in comparison to those sensations that could be better categorized under some other label.”
Then another thought followed,
“perhaps ‘sensation‘ is also a thought, after all is it not also a label? A comparison to other experience that is ‘not-sensation‘?”
Now another thought comes,
“Could it not then also be true that ‘experience’ is just another thought?”
All these thoughts!
Is there anything other than thought?
No end can be found to this conundrum.
No thing can be identified that could convincingly be said to be pre-thought.
What if there really is nothing but thought?
But then that thought itself seems totally empty.
It’s as if, if only thought exists,
then there is no existence on/in which thought can be based,
therefore thought cannot exist.
Does that make any sense?
If only thought exists, then thought does not exist.
WTF? This is perplexing.
But beyond that, it is terrifying.
That seems fundamentally different than saying something like “it’s all just a dream, an illusion”, which is what I had hoped to discover through some direct experience. We’re talking more along the lines of black-pit-of-despair-why-don’t-I-just-kill-myself kind of conclusion here. Fuck. (not that I am feeling suicidal, though, don’t get the wrong idea)
And yet, after all that, it’s like
la-dee-daa, I’m just going about my day like everything is fine,
hum-diddly-dee, I guess I’ll do some dishes now, as if the ENTIRE FUCKING GROUND OF EXISTENCE DIDN’T JUST FALL OUT FROM UNDER ME