Quantum Exercise

To get a sense of thoughts as things that come and go, very gently let your eyes close as you sit or lie comfort ably. Each time a thought crosses your mind, notice it and ask yourself, "To where does this thought subside?"

As you notice the activity in your mind, it appears at first as a pattern of thought...thought...thought.

Illustration 1

For example, notice that your mind might throw-up thoughts like "I like my job," "I hate my job," "I love my relationship," I hate my relationship," I'm bored," "I'm excited," "I'm tired." To you it appears like this:

In reality, however, a thought arises and subsides, after which there is a momentary space before the next thought arises and subsides.

Illustration 2

Below, we ask the question, "Where does that thought subside. Notice, that there is a space where the thought subsides, before the next thought arises. Stay in the space between two thoughts.

The space between the two thoughts can be seen as Bohm's implicate order, while the thoughts themselves can be seen as Bohm's explicate order. We ask ourselves the question, "To where does that thought subside?" since we are looking for the underlying unity. Tarthang Tulku, noted Buddhist teacher, says it this way:

"As you observe your thoughts passing, watch very sensitively for the moment, when one thought fades and another arises. This transition is very quick and subtle, but involves the momentary availability of a space which you can contact and expand. This space has a quality of openness, free from the usual discursive and discriminative thinking. (Tulku, 1977:58)

The wave-like image in the illustration calls to mind one of the pivotal questions that plagued quantum physics in the 1920s: Is matter (electrons) made of particles or waves? It seemed made of both. In 1924 physicist deBroglie proposed arevolutionary conception: that electrons possessed a dual nature; that they could be both a wave and particle. In this illustration, the process of thoughts as they arise and subside appears in wave-like form, but it should also be noted that when you merge with a particular thought or emotion, it becomes more /?ari-(icle)-like. In the tradition of Yoga, Patangali' s division between subject and object in order to answer it. You have to separate from a thought in order to watch it and notice where it ends or subsides and another thought begins. This separation automatically lessens your identification with the thought. Why is it valuable to separate the subject from the object? Why is it valuable to learn how to observe? Because anything you identify with will limit you.

Certainly there are many things you don't mind being limited by: your preference for certain types of women or men is something you enjoy, and you don't experience it as a limitation. Many identifications, however, will cause some discomfort. For one thing, since the nature of the mind is one of continual fluctuation (it is the nature of the mind to change its mind!), the object of your identifications can change so fast you end up lamenting, "I don't know what I want!" One minute you like your job, the next minute you don't. One week you are satisfied with your relationship, the next you feel restless and discontent. If you fall madly in love today, you know that within the month, you will feel differently. The fluctuations we experience in our thinking, feeling, in our physical sensations, in our emotional responses are sometimes dizzying in magnitude. The one source of constancy, bringing a sense of equilibrium and continuity, can be this observer, this witnessing presence, that is always there.

One thought common to every living person at some point in life is "I'm afraid." To be consumed by the thought/feeling "I'm afraid" means to identify with it, to say, "Yep, that's me—I'm afraid." Usually, one fearful thought leads to a train of fearful thoughts:

"I'm afraid I'll lose my job."

"I'm afraid I won't have enough money."

"I'm afraid I'll get cancer."

"I'm afraid s/he'll leave me and I'll be all alone."

As you observe the first thought arise, "I'm afraid I'll lose my job," and ask yourself the question, "To where does that thought subside?", you'll probably find that the beginnings of your own personal story begin to pop into your thoughts.

"I've never been able to hold onto a job... not even as a teenager doing trivial part-time work...my father always said I had no perseverance."

Once the thread of the storyline is clear, realize that, in essence, you've said to yourself, "That's me—I have no perseverance— that's just how I am."

The only thing that gives a thought power to affect you in any way is the fact that you have identified with it. Thinking "I have green skin" won't affect you because it is so blatantly not you, there is nothing to hook into. By contrast, thinking "I have no perseverance" has a hook for you in your previous experience. As a psychological process, identification is like glue in that, when you use it, things (thoughts, emotions, sensations) stick to you.

In a workshop, one student commented after doing the exercise, "There was so much space that words didn't make a lot of sense. And before I could ask about the thought it was gone and there was space. It's weird because I couldn't remember the thought, only the space." Another trainee commented at a workshop, "Things don't seem to have the same weight anymore."

In practicing the exercise of Level 1, you create the possibility of having a new experience of non-identification, a glue-free moment of emptiness or openness, a point of experiential silence. Experiencing the emptiness from which everything arises and to which everything subsides is the beginning of Quantum Consciousness.

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