If this site provides value to you and your practice, please consider donating a small amount to help with the hosting fees.
Welcome, Guest
Username: Password: Remember me

TOPIC: The world is only thought?

The world is only thought? 01 Sep 2015 19:59 #100240

In Ramana Maharshi’s Who am I? he says:

Apart from thoughts, there is no independent entity called the world. In deep sleep, there are no thoughts and, there is no world. In the states of waking and dream, there are thoughts, and there is a world also...What is called the world is only thought. When the world disappears, i.e. when there is no thought, the mind experiences happiness; and when the world appears, it goes through misery.

That the world has no independent existence apart from thought is a radical notion. It seems to contradict the notion of objective reality, which we humans have used to advance science and technology. In my practice, I have had brief insights into “no thought, no world” so that there is an inkling that Ramana’s teaching is valid. More theoretically, I have always been amazed how math could be used to describe and predict physical phenomena. Why was there a harmony between a mental concept, i.e., math, and physicality? The notion that the world is just thoughts solves this quandary. The correspondence between math and the world arises because they are both of the mind.

Nonetheless, this teaching is tough to swallow. Am interested to hear others’ thoughts and experiences. __/\__
The administrator has disabled public write access.
The following user(s) said Thank You: shargrol, Kacchapa

The world is only thought? 01 Sep 2015 22:05 #100241

I'm not philosophically sophisticated enough to chime in about an objective world except that to me the thought of it seems reasonable. :)
Experientially though I agree about having brief insights into "no thought, no world", and I think this grows over time and at some point starts to take hold more.
It's being gradually amazing for me to see how there's a reinforcement loop with letting go of beliefs (especially about how things should be), releasing fear and grasping (for things involving me in time), peace and freedom, increasing capacity for good behavior and happiness that comes from that. And the amazing thing is that without contraction, fear and grasping, and holding on to thoughts about me in the future or present, there can't be solid things. Solid things depend on fear and grasping. To conventionally-Christian ears it sounds moralistic but evidently it's more, almost mechanical, just the way things seem to work. Edit: for example, as it becomes more possible to let go of knowing what experience is, you're releasing it from taking form (in line with our beliefs). The urge to know what it is again, is fear and craving, such as the desire to worry or be resentful. The ability to relax and release that means few ideas about what's happening. More willingness to be present and notice that sensations appear more empty. More tolerance for sensations not having to be something (related to me). For me at my age this seems like great preparation for death. But it also seems to make life a lot better. Bla bla blah, but it does seem mind-blowingly cool and I've been itching to talk with someone about it. So, thanks!
Last Edit: 01 Sep 2015 22:18 by Kacchapa.
The administrator has disabled public write access.
The following user(s) said Thank You: Kate Gowen, shargrol, Jake Yeager, Tina, Rod

The world is only thought? 01 Sep 2015 22:48 #100242

I have a tremendously hard time accepting a world "with no independent existence". Having just read "The Science of Interstellar", the universe is an even more bizarre place than I knew or realized. But reality as nothing but thought...not working for me.
The administrator has disabled public write access.
The following user(s) said Thank You: Kate Gowen, Jake St. Onge, shargrol, Jake Yeager

The world is only thought? 01 Sep 2015 23:34 #100243

What definition of thought is being worked with here?
The administrator has disabled public write access.
The following user(s) said Thank You: shargrol, Jake Yeager

The world is only thought? 02 Sep 2015 06:01 #100245

I was talking to a Tibetan Buddhist recently, and she called this one of two "extreme views." One extreme is that consciousness creates matter; the other extreme is that matter creates consciousness. I think of it like subatomic physics. Sometimes a wave theory fits the facts, and sometime a particle theory fits the facts.
The administrator has disabled public write access.
The following user(s) said Thank You: Kate Gowen, Jake St. Onge, shargrol, Jake Yeager

The world is only thought? 02 Sep 2015 06:55 #100246

Femtosecond wrote:
What definition of thought is being worked with here?

I think this is the important question. What does "thought" and "exist" mean as it is being used?

I would say that the important insight is that everything known is known through experience and there is no ultimate worldview exists except contextual meaning. The first part points to experience itself. It happens to "me", but the happening is just that, an experience. The second part is although experience implies a reality beyond it, it is essentially an implied reality, a tautologically functionally constructed reality, a "thought", but not a really-real reality. Different humans and animals can have the same experience of events, but have completely different worldviews. Eventually its seen how all worldviews are dependently created, including the "personal self" view.

Basically, Ramana is pointing to the emptiness of things, not really the non-existence of things.

I agree it's an extreme view that takes the insight of buddhism - that subjective experience can be objectively observed and in do so the belief in a subject-object (dual) existence is seen through (non-dual) -- and then start applying it to worldviews: there is no such thing as physical matter, money, psychology, power, etc. The important thing is that all of these are contexts which are tautologically and functionally true within those contexts.

EDIT: I also feel like I should say that his statement on thoughts=misery, happiness=no thoughts is a little to trite for me. And ultimately, while a good >pointer<, is also something that can be taken to an extreme. Again, I think he is pointing to seeing how the ending of one's thoughts is a release from those thoughts, which in turns points to another kind of release that comes from a deep knowing that thoughts themselves are conditional, therefore not really "true", the emptiness of thoughts. That insight brings great relief, not dependent on the condition of mind because all mind objects nature are known (vivid, yet empty). The battle of thoughts vs. no-thoughts if believed to be really true, rather than a pointer, is probably an extreme view in my opinion and if not moderated could become a new neurosis that substitutes for the normal neurosis of viewing the world as subject-object.

(That sounds kind of harsh, but it isn't a "really real" statement, but rather a pointer to looking at what creates tension in our experience and really questioning those things, regardless of what they are. It's especially important to look at spiritual practices themselves and not use them to spiritually bypass what is actually occurring in our lives and through our practice. Any practice method can be misused, whether it is noting, counting breaths, using 6 realms or 5 element practice, etc. That's why it's good to check in with teachers and a community of practitioners. It's so easy to be off by inch, which becomes being off by a mile.)
Last Edit: 02 Sep 2015 07:12 by shargrol.
The administrator has disabled public write access.
The following user(s) said Thank You: Kate Gowen, Jake Yeager, Kacchapa, cedric reeves

The world is only thought? 02 Sep 2015 10:30 #100249

Derek wrote:
I was talking to a Tibetan Buddhist recently, and she called this one of two "extreme views." One extreme is that consciousness creates matter; the other extreme is that matter creates consciousness. I think of it like subatomic physics. Sometimes a wave theory fits the facts, and sometime a particle theory fits the facts.

That is an interesting version of what I have heard from multiple sources about the "4 Extreme Views" of monism, dualism, eternalism, and nihilism. The trouble with trying to conflate the Advaitin "nonduality" with the nonduality of Dzogchen is that the Advaitin view has its basis in the monistic eternalism of Hinduism ("True Self", "One Self"). Dzogchen is not possible until one has seen through the limitations of all 4 'Extreme Views'-- specifically Indian monistic eternalism, which was Gautama's base practice tradition.

In our Western traditions, the religions of The Book are historically more hampered by dualism; Scientism tends toward dualism (looking backward to its origins) and nihilism (a confused view of emptiness.)

The Vajrayana speaks of a "Middle Way beyond extremes"-- an interesting way of indicating that it is beyond all of our common forms of logical analysis. We think of the 'middle' being some kind of average. This is something else: neither one, nor the other, nor their combination, nor their negation.

"Confusion dawns as wisdom." :lol:
The administrator has disabled public write access.
The following user(s) said Thank You: Jake St. Onge, shargrol, Jake Yeager, Kacchapa, Derek

The world is only thought? 02 Sep 2015 14:36 #100252

Kate Gowen wrote:
The Vajrayana speaks of a "Middle Way beyond extremes"-- an interesting way of indicating that it is beyond all of our common forms of logical analysis. We think of the 'middle' being some kind of average. This is something else: neither one, nor the other, nor their combination, nor their negation.

Your post is very apposite, Kate. I've been seeing this issue of clinging to one extreme or the other (vs. clinging to neither) coming up around me a lot recently.
The administrator has disabled public write access.
The following user(s) said Thank You: Kate Gowen, shargrol

The world is only thought? 02 Sep 2015 15:34 #100256

I suggest a reading of this:

www.amazon.com/The-Fundamental-Wisdom-Mi...karika/dp/0195093364

It's basically the philosophical/metaphysical details of what Kate posted. It's THE exposition on the middle way.
The administrator has disabled public write access.
The following user(s) said Thank You: Kate Gowen, shargrol, Jake Yeager

The world is only thought? 02 Sep 2015 15:39 #100257

Good question. A few points:

As Kate notes, Buddhism and Advaita Vedanta have different ontological takes. Ramana is essentially a vedantin, though with a stronger emphasis on bhakti than some others.

Non-dual Mahayana and Vajrayana also have quite different answers to this question than Theravada does. There was a Buddhist school that was specifically 'mind only,' the Yogacara.

Modern science and scientific philosophy also question the 'common sense' view that we access a verifiable external reality - see Metzinger, The Ego Tunnel. Worth noting that this 'common sense' is a dogma that many people in the western world internalize very deeply as unchallengeable.

Personally, I start from what I can verify - that consciousness is everything. Everything that happens, including any seeming perception of an external world, is within consciousness and doesn't exist without it. That's a Kashmir Shaivite perspective (non dual Shiva tantra).

Also worth asking as a practice question: when we distinguish between experience and an 'external world,' where is the line of distinction? Can it be found?

Like others, I'd ask what's meant by 'thoughts.' If it's discursive thought, then it seems to me that that's definitely not the full content of experience, but also it's not a problem at all. But if by 'thoughts' consciousness itself is meant, then yes, I would personally say that it can be verified that that is all that exists. That doesn't mean that one doesn't act in a relatively appropriate fashion in the world of relative truth.

But also worth considering: why is this important? What's the deeper meaning for you as to whether Ramana's words here are true or not?
The administrator has disabled public write access.
The following user(s) said Thank You: Chris Marti, Kate Gowen, Jake St. Onge, shargrol, Jake Yeager, Kacchapa

The world is only thought? 02 Sep 2015 15:48 #100258

every3rdthought wrote:
...But also worth considering: why is this important? What's the deeper meaning for you as to whether Ramana's words here are true or not?

Giggle. My kind of question.
The administrator has disabled public write access.
The following user(s) said Thank You: Kate Gowen, shargrol, every3rdthought

The world is only thought? 02 Sep 2015 15:57 #100259

I've been thinking that same thing - why does this matter? - but didn't post it because this seems to mean something to Jake, like WTF am I getting myself into? I recall having these kinds of questions come up and thinking about them and not knowing what to think about them, then asking others what they think about them just like Jake did. I think there is value in this exercise. I think that theory and the intellectual side of our practice is useful and leads to a lot of insight that can then inform our sitting practice.... even if all we do for Jake is to tell him that it doesn't matter so much and that we all go through those "WTF" moments when we read people like Ramana Maharshi.
Last Edit: 02 Sep 2015 16:00 by Chris Marti.
The administrator has disabled public write access.
The following user(s) said Thank You: Kate Gowen, Jake St. Onge, shargrol, Pia, Jake Yeager

The world is only thought? 02 Sep 2015 16:12 #100260

Personally, I start from what I can verify - that consciousness is everything. Everything that happens, including any seeming perception of an external world, is within consciousness and doesn't exist without it. That's a Kashmir Shaivite perspective (non dual Shiva tantra).

I would challenge anyone to actually find consciousness. I think consciousness is dependently arisen. It does not appear to me to be the final ultimate that folks often think it is. There is no ultimate anything, no ground on which to stand. All we have is experience, and that is mediated in its entirety. (This just to further point to the idea that these philosophical discussions can have some affect on our practice and our beliefs about the fruits of our practice.
The administrator has disabled public write access.
The following user(s) said Thank You: Kate Gowen, shargrol, Jake Yeager

The world is only thought? 02 Sep 2015 16:27 #100261

Chris Marti wrote:
I've been thinking that same thing - why does this matter? - but didn't post it because this seems to mean something to Jake, like WTF am I getting myself into? I recall having these kinds of questions come up and thinking about them and not knowing what to think about them, then asking others what they think about them just like Jake did. I think there is value in this exercise. I think that theory and the intellectual side of our practice is useful and leads to a lot of insight that can then inform our sitting practice.... even if all we do for Jake is to tell him that it doesn't matter so much and that we all go through those "WTF" moments when we read people like Ramana Maharshi.

I agree. I don't want to imply that it doesn't matter necessarily, though it's always useful to ask how a particular question impacts on practice or not.

Rather, to me it seems likely that it also points to something else about one's own practice and experience and life - some kind of hope or fear or assumption etc - and that's worth investigating though it may or may not be the kind of thing that will have an answer that can be put into words.

As for consciousness - it's definitely not an object!
The administrator has disabled public write access.
The following user(s) said Thank You: Kate Gowen, shargrol, Jake Yeager

The world is only thought? 02 Sep 2015 16:29 #100262

Ona Kiser wrote:
every3rdthought wrote:
...But also worth considering: why is this important? What's the deeper meaning for you as to whether Ramana's words here are true or not?

Giggle. My kind of question.

I learnt from the master (mistress?) :lol: :P :)
Last Edit: 02 Sep 2015 16:29 by every3rdthought.
The administrator has disabled public write access.
The following user(s) said Thank You: Kate Gowen, shargrol, Pia

The world is only thought? 02 Sep 2015 16:33 #100263

As for consciousness - it's definitely not an object!

How so? Can you perceive anything that is not an object? By what mechanism would that happen?

EDIT: my reason for saying this is that by calling consciousness, or awareness, or any thing to be outside of that which is dependently arisen we are setting up a duality, though hidden. It's a kind of secret ultimate, a so called really real, that is a chimera.

:evil:
Last Edit: 02 Sep 2015 16:39 by Chris Marti.
The administrator has disabled public write access.
The following user(s) said Thank You: shargrol, Jake Yeager

The world is only thought? 02 Sep 2015 17:10 #100265

Chris Marti wrote:
As for consciousness - it's definitely not an object!

How so? Can you perceive anything that is not an object? By what mechanism would that happen?

It's the perceiver :evil: I'll leave this here now cos I don't find these kinds of debate that fruitful, but do feel free to reply cos I'm not trying to have the last word :)

In another sense, what's going on here is a question about what seems true in one's experience, and the relationship of that to what seems true as an intellectual/belief system one is using to inform how one practices.

Jake, you're practicing with Gary and Ramana with paradigms that are basically Vedantin, but pragmatic dharma as such mostly takes its paradigms from Theravada and a little bit of Mahayana. And we all have our pre existing cultural beliefs also which will never be 100% transparent to us.

I've always liked doing thorough intellectual enquiry into the system I was using and that might be helpful for you here - i.e. examine these philosophies as intellectual systems for coherence, if they ring true to you, etc (if you haven't already) which may mean going to sources other than practice teachers - but that's just my way so I WOULD say that :)
The administrator has disabled public write access.
The following user(s) said Thank You: Chris Marti, Kate Gowen, Jake St. Onge, shargrol, Jake Yeager

The world is only thought? 02 Sep 2015 17:28 #100266

Thanks for everyone's responses. I detected when I first wanted to post this question that the process itself was an exercise in letting go. I noticed in myself that I subtly wanted to “bait” people into disagreeing with the notion that the world is only thought. This is because I accepted it as “truth,” although at a deeper level I suspect I have doubt. On the other hand, I genuinely wanted to know what others thought and what experience had shown them.

So, I found it very interesting that such a simple act like this had many layers of thought and emotion. When I first noticed them, I inquired “Who has these feelings?” and “Where am I?” This helped me let go of the idea “the world is only thought” and the need to defend “my” position. I also waffled whether to post or not, since, to some extent, I feel that these philosophical discussions are hobbled by differing definitions and the limitations of the logical mind. As Ramana says in Talks with Ramana Maharshi:

The intricate maze of philosophy of different schools is said to clarify matters and reveal the Truth. But in fact they create confusion where no confusion need exist. To understand anything there must be the Self. The Self is obvious. Why not remain as the Self? What need to explain the non-self?

Here, “Self” is the same as nirvana, Kingdom of God, Awareness, cosmic consciousness, etc.

However, in the end, I thought it would still be interesting to hear what others said more as a curiosity than as a burning desire “to know.” Because, ultimately, “Who cares? Who cares if the world is only thought or not?” __/\__
Last Edit: 02 Sep 2015 17:36 by Jake Yeager. Reason: added some stuff
The administrator has disabled public write access.
The following user(s) said Thank You: Chris Marti, Kate Gowen, shargrol

The world is only thought? 02 Sep 2015 18:26 #100267

It's the perceiver :evil: I'll leave this here now cos I don't find these kinds of debate that fruitful, but do feel free to reply cos I'm not trying to have the last word :)

Okay, I'll take another swipe at this: what is the perceiver if it's not another object? Substituting a word for another word doesn't explain :P And I know you're repeating what many, many, many buddhists say about awareness, consciousness, the witness, the perceiver, an so on. I used to be one of them! And yes, I agree that this is not really fruitful to get into right here but I humbly suggest that it is worth exploring at some point.

I blame Jake. He started this thread :-)
Last Edit: 02 Sep 2015 18:33 by Chris Marti.
The administrator has disabled public write access.
The following user(s) said Thank You: Kate Gowen, Jake Yeager, Kacchapa, Tina

The world is only thought? 02 Sep 2015 18:35 #100268

The intricate maze of philosophy of different schools is said to clarify matters and reveal the Truth. But in fact they create confusion where no confusion need exist. To understand anything there must be the Self. The Self is obvious. Why not remain as the Self? What need to explain the non-self?

I have to say -- I have no idea what this means! I think I'd fail the Advaita quiz.
The administrator has disabled public write access.
The following user(s) said Thank You: Kate Gowen, shargrol, Jake Yeager, Tina

The world is only thought? 02 Sep 2015 19:03 #100269

Who has no idea? (devil icon here)
The administrator has disabled public write access.
The following user(s) said Thank You: Chris Marti, Pia, Jake Yeager

The world is only thought? 02 Sep 2015 19:35 #100270

As Ramana says in Talks with Ramana Maharshi:

The intricate maze of philosophy of different schools is said to clarify matters and reveal the Truth. But in fact they create confusion where no confusion need exist. To understand anything there must be the Self. The Self is obvious. Why not remain as the Self? What need to explain the non-self?


Stuff Ramana was good at: radiating.
Stuff Ramana was NOT good at: explaining.
The administrator has disabled public write access.
The following user(s) said Thank You: Chris Marti, Jake St. Onge, shargrol, Pia

The world is only thought? 02 Sep 2015 21:20 #100271

Jake Yeager wrote:
Because, ultimately, “Who cares? Who cares if the world is only thought or not?”
If my world is glommed together and built up by a bunch of conditioned thoughts it's pretty amazing to have that pointed out, start to inquire into it, find there's evidently some truth to it, and that it seems to make a pretty big difference. Hints at making a huge difference. Probably I'm like the kid where it's beginning to dawn on him that Santa is not real. For mature adults it's not worth thinking about. :)
The administrator has disabled public write access.
The following user(s) said Thank You: Kate Gowen, Jake Yeager, Tina

The world is only thought? 02 Sep 2015 21:46 #100272

That's the tricky thing about inquiry: it has to be engaged as the proverbial burning question that you can neither swallow nor cough up.

Engaged as an intellectual/philosophical game, or by adopting the language and posture of someone who DID break on through to the other side-- doesn't do a thing. "Who cares?" sounds an awful lot like copping an attitude. Doesn't really get it.

The price of 'waking up' is everything. Everything you know or hope for; everything you have ever possessed or been. Ramana DIED in a real way; he couldn't say anything about it for the years it took his devotees to scrape him together and form a support system.

That's what all those bug-eyed, flaming, bestial, snarling, heavily-armed "wrathful deities" set at the dharma gates MEAN.
The administrator has disabled public write access.
The following user(s) said Thank You: Chris Marti, Jake St. Onge, shargrol, Pia, Jake Yeager, Kacchapa, every3rdthought

The world is only thought? 02 Sep 2015 23:03 #100273

So far just fits and starts and coughing it back up for me. No breaking through to the other side. But when I notice somewhat palpably that the my-wife-who-said-the-thoughtlessly-wrong-thing idea is a figment of thought, or of something, that's a bit of a breakthrough for that moment. Can feel like a little bit of dying. What you say is humbling though, can it be as burning as you describe. Edit: it didn't occur to me that Ramana was speaking philosophically. I figured he was probably trying to provoke inquiry.
Last Edit: 02 Sep 2015 23:18 by Kacchapa.
The administrator has disabled public write access.
The following user(s) said Thank You: Chris Marti, Kate Gowen, shargrol, Kenneth Folk, Jake Yeager, Tina
Time to create page: 0.206 seconds
Powered by Kunena Forum