This post is in response to a second question posed in an email from a friend:
“Is there a real distinction between a mental image of eating food and actually eating? Given that what the senses construct are finally mental, what would be the difference between the two?”
It’s a good question. And at first glance, this may seem an intriguing question. But look more closely and ask, “To whom is it intriguing?”
In Truth, only Self’s Present-ness IS. To this Present-ness, there is only pure Present-ness—there is no past “time” and no time for thinking to think thoughts. So, to this Presently Conscious Self, there actually is no thought in terms of either “solid food” or mere “thought-food.” More on this in a moment.
Speaking on a would-be relative or finite basis, yes, what seems to be solid material food consumed during “actual eating” really would be only “mental” or mere sensations, mind-stuff. There never is “food” that exists as a solid object apart from the mind’s mere sensations of food (see chap 13 CIA). What’s more, the “body” supposedly consuming it would be as much mental as the “food”!
So if “real food” actually would be only “mental,” then what is the difference between it and a mere mental or thought-image of food? If one merely thinks an apple, why doesn’t that seem to satisfy the same as a “real apple”?
Here is one huge point to not lose sight of while reading/pondering questions like this, should they arise:
To this Absolute Present Awareness, wherein there is only Present-ness, there really has been no “before” in which there was either a “real apple” or a mere “thought apple”—so there is nothing on which to base such a distinction or ask questions about! To assume otherwise is to be in ignore-ance of Presence, or on the seeming level of ignorant thought, and be entirely manipulated by its endless seeming thinking and questions.
Where only Present-ness is, and does not change, there has been no prior time in which to have had an experience of one type of material solidity, density, and weight—and another experience that does not have those qualities. In Pure Present-ness, there is no solidity, no density, no weight, no different characteristics. To assume so would be time-dream still dreaming—not Aware Presence being.
It’s possible to go on and on discussing the nuances of the seeming difference between the two “apples” and why there really is no difference. This distinction is discussed in the Atma Darshan, for example, in which the “real apple” is referred to as a gross object, and the “thought-apple” is a subtle object. Yet both ultimately are only “mental” and there just seems to be a difference in degree—and not even that is really true. But all of this would be missing the greater Truth—that only Present-ness is, and neither of the apples ever is!
The question may still linger as to, “Well, why can’t I think up an apple that’s the same as a “real apple”—if it’s all ultimately mental anyway?”
Be clear as to who this “I” is, and who the Real You is.
There is no “personal you” who thinks up the everyday world (dream) in the way it appears, with its planets, bodies, meals and apples. Nor is there a “you” who personally thinks up body in the way it appears. It’s the other way around. It seems as if the impersonal dream dreams up its world and its sense of body, and its personal sense of an “I.” But that “I” (the so-called personal body-you) really is entirely the dream’s “I.” This “dream-body-I” and all its sensing, thinking and time experiences seem to arise whenever there is an ignore-ance of Present-ness or Pure Presence which timelessly IS.
So, it would be this state of seeming Self-ignore-ance that appears to dream up the “personal body-you,” as well as the “real apple” and the mere “thought-apple.” All equally appear to be products of the dream. Even all of what seems to be “your” thinking (even when thinking of Truth, Awareness!) really is a product of time, dream, not-Presence—because as Pure Presence, YOU do not think.
Often, it seems to be clear that, yes, the “apple” and the “body” are products of the dream. But sometimes there will mistakenly still be identification with the thinking “I”–identification as the one thinking of the “thought-apple.” In other words, there is a feeling of, “If all this is mental, then why can’t I make my ‘thought apple’ more like a ‘real apple’?”
Again, who is this “I”?
It is not You (Infinite Awareness, Being) that thinks up the mere “thought apple.” That is done by the dream’s “you” or the personal “I” which, again, is entirely the dream’s “I,” and not Real You, Infinite Awareness. Even a thought-apple would be finite and as Pure Infinity, You cannot think finitely.
The reason why the so-called “thought-apple” can’t be made to taste and feel like the “real apple” is because the “you” that would like to have it that way, is not controlling any of it. Rather, this frustrated “you” is just as much a part of the dream as everything else. It is all part of the dream’s pattern. It is entirely the dream—not You—that seems to produce the differences between “real” and mere “thought.” And even all the “mere thought” would be dream dreaming.
Imagine watching a TV show. On the TV screen there is an image of people watching another TV. In other words, there appears to be a “lesser” or secondary image within the frame of the first or “greater” TV image.
The “thought apple” is kind of like that inner TV image—a seeming product of another, greater image. It’s like a mental echo–only it’s visual, not made of sound. That smaller, inner TV image appears to have an independent reality—yet it really doesn’t. It all depends on, and stems from, the one overall greater image. And it never really is two images—just the one.
In the same way, the “thought apple” seemingly thought by an “independent-thinker-you” in the dream—really is all being dreamed up by the dream, along with the very body supposedly there to be doing that thinking. None of it is independent of the one seeming dream.
In one sense, it could be said that this is why the thinker never can have its “thought apple” become like the “real apple.” It’s the same as the way that the inner or secondary TV image never could suddenly cause another piece of furniture to appear within the room in the first overall TV image of which it is a part. The inner TV image only seems to influence what goes on within its own framework, and actually is manipulated entirely by the overall or greater image.
Yet in another sense, because all one is dealing with is thought, and not physical, material limitations, anything can appear possible. For example, suppose the script writers for the TV show in the first, or greater TV image decided to write something new into their script. Suppose they decided to endow the inner TV set with special powers, and it could indeed suddenly produce a new table in the middle of the room of the greater TV image. Then they stage and film the TV show in that way. It would appear they had done something outside of, or quite different from, the generally accepted pattern.
Within the framework of seeming human experience, it seems there are magicians, mental adepts and hypnotists that can do similar things. Because of their seeming familiarity with the inner workings of the “mental landscape,” they can appear to manipulate it, and produce apples and many other phenomena. For example, it’s possible to make it seem as if an entire fruit-bearing apple tree suddenly appeared next to the body now sitting in front of this computer.
Do you realize that to assume you are the body now sitting in front of this computer is to be as hypnotized as if there were an apple tree next to the computer?!
YOU would not be the body sitting next to the computer, nor the tree, nor any of the dream. In fact, the very so-called “hypnotist” would itself appear to be part of the dream landscape!
Pure Present-ness never can be hypnotized out of being present. Being cannot be hypnotized into something not Itself, into not being, for Being is not mental, nor subject to anything mental. In fact, Being’s total Being leaves nothing besides Itself to try to do any hypnotizing.
By being Present-ness, Pure Being, wherein there is no time, the false sense (and it would be only a sense) of a separate material world seems to fade, dissolve. As one “continues” as Pure Being, wherein no time, no materiality is, the false sense of different degrees of solidity, density, and weight also seems to fade—for it does not have its own independent presence or sustenance. Its seeming presence depends entirely on dreaming or an ignoring of Pure Present-ness. And of course, in Truth, not even this is really possible.
In Truth, Pure Present-ness is all that is present, NOW. Only non-material, non-mental, Pure Presence is present—and changelessly so. Consistently, persistently, and effortlessly abiding as This, One does not try to manifest or turn “thought food” into “real food.”
Rather, the clarity that Pure Consciousness is, leaves only Itself—and the false, superimposed sense of a material body needing material food and other material items will eventually seem to fade. Then even the superimposed sense of a “mental body” and purely “mental world” in which all is mere thought will seem to fade, too. For even that would seem to depend on time—time which never is, in Pure Present-ness.