Staying with the Feeling
An abstraction is a concept that draws a generalization from an array of specific live examples.
Wordnet at Princeton University give the following definitions for 'abstraction'
The concept (abstraction) for 'dog' would involve 4 legs, waggy tail, chases cats etc. The abstraction, however is not a particular dog - it is a generalized dog - and I do not know of anyone who owns a 'generalized dog'. Specific actual dogs are a lot more fun - they are alive, for starters.
The word 'anger' is also an abstraction - it is a generalized word for a range of emotional states that go under that label. It is interesting looking at dictionary definitions of 'anger' as they are so inadequate - far more difficult to describe or define than 'dogs'. Nevertheless, we use the word 'anger' and in general terms seem to know what it means.
When we refer to the word 'anger' we are referring to the abstraction - a generalized mental concept. The word 'anger' and it's associated concept - the abstraction - is mind content. It is not alive - only the specific feeling/sensation in the immediacy of the present moment is alive.
Labeling a certain sensation/feeling/energy movement as 'anger' or 'anxiety' takes us into conceptual thought, into the past (that is where all the past examples come from) and away from the Actuality (which is only in the immediacy of the present moment).
What then is 'Witnessing the anger', often recommended as a 'spiritual practice'?
Is it possible to witness an abstraction? There is nothing to witness in an abstraction. So you cannot actually 'witness the anger'. Anger, as such, only exists in the mind as an abstraction which is not 'alive'.
'Anger' is just a label and labeling the feeling or sensation as such does not bring us any more understanding of what is actually there. Giving it ANY label (which makes it conform with words) is a departure from the Actuality. The actuality is what it actually feels like - what is actually there without the veil of thought.
Only the ACTUAL in the immediacy of the present moment actually exists and is actually alive. It is not conceptual.
Is it possible to witness the Actuality? Yes.
How about the apparent 'witness' that does the 'witnessing' - is that an abstraction too?.
The term 'witness' is not an actuality and as a part of dualistic language, infers that there is a separate entity there that does the witnessing, or there is a role called 'witness' or 'watcher'.
Either way it is dualistic. To say "Be there as the witness" is dualistic.
The actuality is all there is - is 'seeing' - there is no entity doing the seeing. It is pure seeing by Awareness itself, which is not an entity.
The mind can add the label 'witness' after the SEEing has occurred. This labeling and conceptualizing makes it appear as if a separate entity exists. In fact there is only SEEing.
There is no separate entity any way you look at it. Our true nature, Awareness, is universal and not personal - no one there. The ego is just a collection of thoughts - so no one is there either.
SEEing occurs in the immediacy of the present moment, without reference to the past or the future. This means no labeling, no comparing, no projections, no expectations, no plans, no agenda, no payoff. Just SEEing.
So - can there be a SEEing of the actuality (the feeling / sensation / energy movement) in the immediacy of the present moment ?
The Buddha has said
"You are what observes, not what you observe."
Wei Wu Wei
"What we are looking for ... is what is looking"
Nisargadatta has said
"You already are what you seek"
"To know what you are, you must first investigate and know what you are not."
What is being 'looked at' is not the issue.
The actual issue is the one who is looking.
It is then clear that "You are what observes, not what you observe."
We can be clear about our own nature, but only by SEEing.
We do cannot choose or stop thoughts and the same goes for feelings and sensations.
When the looking happens there can be a feeling of 'space' around the feeling / sensation / energy movement.
It's whole nature appears to change now that the story and the conceptualising has gone, but this has been its actual nature all along .
The feeling / sensation / energy movement is not suffering - it is just a raw feeling.
The feeling of it can be quite sensuous too . MMMmmmm. Nice.
The feeling / sensation / energy movement will move on in its own time.
Written by Mike Graham, 26 March 2008, last edited 13 June2008