Another take on thinking…
It’s a bit like this. There’s a tapestry. It’s woven of many threads. The threads are thoughts. Together, they weave a rich brocade. And we sit entranced by it. It has dark, troubling areas, and bright, sunny, hopeful patches. And scary, menacing corners, and scenes of rage and hatred.
In time we are so familiar with it, so habituated to it, that we only need a glimpse or glint of a single thread here and there, and a sense of the whole tapestry is conjured immediately. It becomes our life. It’s what we see and respond to and live by.
When we sit we can start to realize that it is only a tapestry. It’s not actually our life.
Then we begin to see that it is made of individual threads. It’s us who has been supplying the implication of the whole. In any given moment, there really is no whole tapestry. Instead, what actually happens, moment by moment, is single strands of thought arise. Sitting allows us to see this: all there is in any moment is a single thought-strand.
Because thoughts often have emotional tone, and because we have trained ourselves to impute the existence of the whole tapestry, implicit emotions can also help to reinforce the sense of the whole tapestry appearing.
We learn to detach our gaze from the intricate weave. Then we get glimpses that it isn’t really even a tapestry. It just felt like it was. It’s just individual threads. That’s all. The whole that we ascribe to them is a kind of chimera or mirage.
We start to get periods of being dis-entranced, dis-enchanted. A magical quiet and peace reaches us. A profound and powerful clarity, a deep new wellbeing, touches us.
We are coming home to this world, to this moment, to our actual life. That’s what sati – recollection of present moment experience – can be. Returning to the here and now.
The metaphor could be taken further: are there even strands of thought? But that’s for another day.