2021-07-02 Clear Recognition (5 of 5) Comprehension of Non-Delusion
3:12PM Jul 2, 2021
We have come to the last talk in this five part series on clear comprehension or clear recognition, sampajāna. There are a variety of things we can clearly recognize, know and see. The fourth one of the four is clear comprehension of non-delusion. It is a mouthful – what is it? How do we clearly comprehend non-delusion?
One of the ways of understanding this – that I appreciate, delight in, and sometimes am amused by – is to have clear comprehension of thinking – to recognize when a thought arises – as a thought.
I find it interpersonally very helpful, because I might have a thought about someone I am with. The other day I met someone for the first time, in an unusual situation. Given the context and something about the how that person appeared to me, I had a predisposition or bias to a certain stereotype. "Oh, this is that kind of person." Because I have a practice of watching my thoughts arise, I could see that thought arise. Immediately I knew, "Oh Gil, this is just your thought. This is your interpretation of the situation. You better stay open here to find out, what's really going on here with this person. Who this person is." In fact, very quickly, I came to see this person was not my stereotype, not what I thought.
The fact that I have this bias or stereotype, so these thoughts and assumptions came up for that person – I think all of us have that. That is a normal part of the mind that is operating in the world and needs to have a simplistic (sometimes) understanding of a complex world to find our way. It is a thing the mind does. That thought that arose about this person – it was not like my thought. I was not behind the thought, or attached to the thought. I did not criticize myself for having it. I just saw immediately, "Oh, this is a stereotype. This is an idea," and then could adjust accordingly.
If I had stayed in the stereotype – got caught and involved in it – then I have some responsibility. It is in my court. I could cause harm that way.
Seeing the stereotype, this idea, come up, and to see it, "Oh, this is just a thought. Let's be careful here. Let's find out. Let's investigate more." That was clear comprehension of non-delusion. The non-delusion of questioning my thought. Stepping back and saying, "Wait, what's going on here."
There was also some non-delusion in not taking it too personally. "Oh, this is just the arising of phenomena." I see it just as phenomena. Because of that clarity of seeing, there is freedom from it. I do not have to interpret it, berate myself, or identify with having that thought. It is just a thought.
There also I can be aware, "This is non-delusion" – to leave it very simple. It belongs to an impersonal, not-self world. To see it as just a thought coming up. I recognize it. It is not fixed. It just arose and is here for a moment. I do not have to get involved and pick it up. In and of itself it is an impermanent, changing, temporary phenomenon. To see the thought as a temporary phenomenon, also is clear comprehension of non-delusion. I am not deluded by it. I see it, in a certain way as not-self and as temporary. If I took it as being permanent, "This is it. This is the truth that I'm going to hang on to it and stay with," that is delusion.
This ability to clearly recognize our thoughts that arise, can be quite delightful. Sometimes it is amusing, more than distressing, when there is such clarity of recognition that I know I am safe. I am safe from getting pulled into it, involved in it, or acting from these thoughts that come up.
That delight can be there, even when the thoughts are true. I might, with my wisdom, decide whether to act on them or not, speak them or something. There is a kind of stepping back and just, "Oh, look at that. There's a thought – a perception, an assumption, an idea." That kind of distance, like "Wow." It is like an amazing phenomenon of nature, like looking at a tree in a park. Lately we have sunflowers growing in our garden. These are beautiful sunflowers – bright, yellow, and I just like them.
To have that kind of delight, with what rises in one's own mind, even when it is uncomfortable to have certain thoughts. There is a kind of stepping back and clear seeing. There is clear recognition also that the knowing, the awareness, is not caught, not entangled, not reactive to the thinking that is happening. "Oh, this is really good." To have this freedom, this space, this interval where some clarity and wisdom can arise. This is also clear comprehension of non-delusion.
I love this expression – non-delusion – because it is the absence of delusion. To say clear comprehension of wisdom, means I am supposed to be wise. I am supposed to have good thoughts, wise thoughts or something like that. Rather to see, "Oh, here there is no delusion." There is no clinging or aversion. I am not living in the judgments. I am not living in the thoughts and seeing the world through the thoughts.
There is a place of non-delusion, which is not exactly a thing, or a form of wisdom. Not that which I can propositionally say, "This is true," exactly. The non-delusion is in the nature of stepping back and being clear. This clear recognition, clear freedom and spaciousness, allows thoughts, feelings, emotions, impulses, desires and aversions to arise, but there is non-delusion about them. It is just a thought. It is just an aversive thought or feeling. It is just a desire that arises. Whether or not I act on any of this, there is space to make that choice. There is an interval, a time and the ability to do that.
Non-delusion sets the foundation and the context for living a life of greater clarity, generosity and freedom. To come from a place of non-delusion allows us to see others better – to be better friends, listen better to other people, be attuned to other people – because we are not seeing them through the filter of our delusion, projections, assumptions, bias or stereotypes. It is so useful.
As we meditate, and become more still and quiet, it is useful to become attuned and recognize how subtly these thoughts creep in. You are sitting quietly, peacefully, mind is silent, and you have a thought, "I'm not thinking anything." You believe that is true, even though you just had that thought. You do not see the thought is contradicting itself. All these little thoughts come in. Some of them are evaluations, judgments and commentary for what is happening in the present. Some of them are in the background, far away, quiet – thinking about things in the future, fantasies or whatever.
To really get quiet and more sensitive to how these thoughts arise, beginning when they appear. This is not meant to be a lot of work. As we train ourselves in mindfulness – keep showing up, being mindful and present for what is here, recognizing what is here – one of those things is recognizing thoughts.
If you can see a thought when it first arises, there is tremendous potential to discover non-delusion as well. The non-delusion that the thought is temporary. The non-delusion of not identifying with the thought and making it me, myself and mine. The non-delusion that is not entangled or caught in the thought, reactive to or swept away by the thought. The non-delusion that is akin to space, peace, openness and a certain kind of non-involvement.
Not a non-involvement that is automatic, habitual and maybe even neurotic at times. Rather a non-involvement that is a whole different paradigm. A radically different way of living our life that is not centered in our thoughts, beliefs, assumptions and ideas, but is centered in clarity, peace and non-delusion.
I hope that you will experiment over this weekend with those thoughts that you see when they first arise, first appear. See if in that opportunity, when thoughts first arise, whether you can find non-delusion there. See if you find non-entanglement and have a certain clarity, wisdom and freedom, because you see it when it arises as just a thought.
Thank you. I look forward to continuing on Monday on probably a different topic.