Recently, I have heard 2 experiences describing how thoughts rise up or we follow thoughts down in meditation. They described a series of 8 spirals or whirlpools. That there’s 8 layers of resolution or refinement to rising and falling thoughts. Most people will experience this as a general gradual settling or notice a progressively more concrete thought. There may be some sense of stepping down but not quite so specific as a spiral slope.
We can see various models of growth as a spiral. And I’ve observed how the sun is also moving through space so our planet is not simply orbiting the sun but spiralling along with it. Similarly with subatomic particles where the nucleus is moving so the electrons are spiraling along in their fields of possibility. Nature is full of spirals and they define the golden ratio.
We can note that Vaisheshika describes 8 fundamental qualities and Samkhya is in 8 layers. The 8 stages would generally be described as a blend of these – the 5 elements, mind, ego and intellect. In other words, it depends on how you’re looking as to how you might describe the layers. As we settle, we divest the prior layer until there is just discrimination – something is intended. It is not separate, just flowing within the whole.
We can observe that at more subtle and less defined values of thinking – what some may call intuition or inspiration for example – thoughts are more powerful and effective. We can notice that spending a lot of time fussing over something is much less effective than some occasional deep consideration that leads to clarity.
What’s really interesting though is the bottom layer, the flow. Above that, there is individualization, ego. Individual thoughts. A stream of attention requires a succession of thoughts. But they are still segmented. And easily distracted. At the basic level, it is simply a flow, like water. Unsegmented, unbroken. This is how creation actually creates and sustains what we experience of the world. Why the world doesn’t seem to come and go or drift out of focus when attention is on something else. Individuation only happens on top of that sustaining flow.
If we can think as creation does, we’re able to create a continuous flow of attention. In some ways, it’s not even really “thinking” anymore, just attention. Imagine Samyama from the Yoga Sutras with attention and intention in a continual flow. This I think is the secret of the yogis who perform apparent miracles like walking through fire or levitating. Being able to flow like and with creation rather than being segmented. But it can take some practice. We have a long history and habit of dividing, even against ourselves.