What is true? What is real? Over on Tom Stine’s Blog we had a good discussion about these questions. I thought it worth summarizing some of the points that arose.
Are thoughts true? That depends. (laughs) Theres a couple of ways of looking at this. First we have to ask to Whom are they true?
For example, we could say “its all consciousness”. But to whom is that true? If we are standing in the role of individual, there are a series of levels or states of consciousness. If we are standing in the role of the one awareness, there are no levels as its all within, there is only consciousness. Only then is it true to the perceiver. I refer to this as Perspective.
When we are in what might be called Tribal perspective, we live relative to our social group. We are driven by outside agencies. The idea of “reality” can be meaningless. Inside is unconsidered and irrelevant.
When ego becomes stronger, ‘my’ takes over and we become aware of ‘my’ thoughts. They are keenly true. As we begin to open, we discover that some thoughts are true and some seem less so.
After awakening, we are no longer associated with the body and mind, so thoughts are now part of the ‘other’ and come to have less and less hold on us.
After a series of further openings, the entire illusion is transcended and thoughts now apparently arise within the one. The one is not an illusion, so the thoughts are real. But real more in the sense that the wind is real. Close, but fleeting.
So “real” is dependent on perspective or what might be called level of consciousness. We have to speak to the reality of the listener or speak from the One which includes all states.
Secondly, if we want to ask are thoughts real, we have to ask from whence thoughts arise and if they all arise from the same place. We can look at this a few ways but basically, thoughts typically arise in one of 3 ways.
1) Background processing. The brain integrating experiences and sensations. Low level. During waking and dreaming.
2) Belief supporting. These are thoughts arising from the ego’s attempts to support its reality and judge things right and wrong. They typically carry an emotional charge. This is the noise most people want to silence and what mental control people focus on. The babble. These are the thoughts that are not true as they are based on illusion. Only present in waking state. (Dreams are also illusion but are not about supporting reality beliefs)
3) Thoughts from the flow. These arise as pure ideas from silence. Quiet but strong thoughts, occasional, unencumbered. Some call this intuition. These are the thoughts that drive you to action. Still, they arise through the filters of our individuality, so their truth is relative. But there is value. Can arise in any state, even deep sleep.
The key point is that truth or reality is entirely dependent on the perspective of the perceiver. This is what Einstein called Relativity. People do NOT see the world the same way. Taking an alternate position is meaningless unless it is on the same tier. For example, we could argue black vs white, but not black vs tall.
Due to social conditioning (what Ruiz calls domestication), we come to apparent agreement on ‘how it is’. Our beliefs if you will. We tend to discount any ideas that don’t match this world view. Yet peoples inner lives and perceptions remain completely different. One may live in hell, another heaven. Only when we get close to someone can we discover this. This is why they can respond in unexpected ways.
Truth is in the eye of the beholder and is thus relative. Reality in far more amorphous and flowing than we typically recognize. Debating truth is certainly fun, but don’t miss the point. Any position you take is impermanent and any idea otherwise is a trap. Once we let go of the idea that this or that is truth, we release the need to be right and begin to fall into a clarity that transcends all that. We come to terms with what is.
I guess this leads to the question- is there an ultimate truth or reality?
We’ve seen Ultimate described a number of ways. A study of “higher states” of consciousness allows us to put some of those descriptions onto tiers or levels relative to each other. But some very evolved teachers I’ve met say the growth of awareness never ends. There is always greater opening possible. Every time I’ve thought “ah – this is the ultimate”, it has proved not to be.
The teachers have also said that at a certain point, there is no longer “states” of consciousness. One becomes consciousness itself and everything is found to be That. This implies that an ultimate reality/truth could then be known, but the values and knowledge of it would continue to grow. But in the end, one knows reality by being it. Being is beyond mind, beyond experiences. At this point, ideas like ‘reality’ or ‘truth’ become meaningless. It simply is. There is no debate.
Our world of experience is all Lela, the play. But there is a purpose for us to be in the play, in the dream. That is why it is. When we know the play for what it is and we know who we are, we can finally play our role and not make a drama on the stage, delaying the show. (hint – its a comedy musical, not a drama)
Last Updated on August 15, 2018 by Davidya
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Namaste. Is Aham brahmasmi a thought? Ahamkar a thought, asmita a thought? Thoughts are seeds in causal body. Chitta thoughts that are thought, ahamkar in wakefulness and asmita in sleep? Either refining is happening in my satva or I am messing it up. thanks in advance
Ah, you’ve found a nice old article. 🙂
Aham Brahmasmi is a realization or recognition, what has been called a mahavakya. See:
Ahamkar is the I-sense. It’s the sense of self identified with the sense of individuality. Some describe this as the “I-thought” but it’s more subtle than a simple thought. However, it leads to a lot of thoughts and stories about who “I” am.
Asmita is a more primitive, possessive sense of self, the sense of Mine. It is a result of the identified Ahamkara.
Asmita falls away prior to or with awakening. Identification with Ahamkara also ends but not Aham itself. There is a still an I-sense but it moves up to Atman (although there is some variation here).
Thoughts/ Chitta are movements in the mind. They can be caused by a number of things, including causal seeds, purification, other thoughts, and so forth.
Not sure what your third question is. Ego identification is a function of the mind so it does sleep when we sleep. I talk about that here:
Sattva is a quality. It doesn’t refine. Your physiology refines and that supports more sattva and less tamas.
The search tool does allow you to look topics up where I’ve written about these things.
I made a longer list of the causes of thoughts here: