Starting with Awareness: Is there such a thing as a thoughtless state? – Question & Answer


Q: Is there such a thing as a “thoughtless state” or is this term just a pointer to Awareness?

In the light of Awareness, thought is “seen” as a distant phenomenon, however it remains as continuous as sound coming to my ears or all bodily sensations. All I do is to withdraw attention from going to it. Other than this, how can a true thoughtless-state ever be experienced?

Absence of thought would be so timeless and spaceless that mentioning it as a possible experience seems completely absurd. Even trying to put this hypothesis into words sounds absurd. The only form of a “thoughtless-state” I’ve experienced is the lack of mental chatter (the so called monkey-mind), that disappears instantly in the light of Awareness, but distant clouds of formless thought remain through all processes of self-enquiry.

I can assume that if I ever experienced moments of no-thought I would have nothing to report, not even the continuity of such experience.

So how can some people say “I’ve been in Samadhi for several hours” or even days?

Rupert: All states come and go and, as such, appear in time. Time is imagined with thought. Therefore, states are dependent upon thought and, as such, there is and can be no such thing as a ‘thoughtless state’.

However, we cannot legitimately deny the continuity of experience. In fact, experience is not continuous in time; it is ever-present Now. However, let us make a concession to thought and call it ‘continuity’ for our present purposes. The continuity of experience is not a presumption; it is an experience. All thoughts, feelings, sensations and perceptions are intermittent. Where, then, does the undeniable continuity of experience come from?

It can only come from Awareness. Thought tells us that Awareness comes and goes, but Awareness itself has no experience of its own coming and going; in its own experience of itself – and it is the only one that is aware of itself – it is eternal.

If we claim the experience of being in samadhi for several hours, that samadhi must have been a subtle, expanded state of mind. As such, there is little to choose between it and the taste of tea. However, that in which the samadhi and the taste of tea appear, with which they are known and, ultimately, out of which they are made, is not in time or space.

If we believe in the real and independent existence of objects and states, Awareness will seem, from that point of view, to be non-existent or, at best, intermittent.

However, if we start with Awareness – which is a good place to start as it is our primary experience – and never move from that point of view to the point of view of an imaginary separate self, we have to admit that all Awareness ever knows or comes in contact with is itself.

We can therefore refine the question, “Is there such a thing as a ‘thoughtless state’ ” and replace it with, “Are there any real objects or states?” If we explore experience deeply enough, the answer we will inevitably arrive at is, “No, there is only Awareness, and it is Awareness alone that is aware that there is only itself.”

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