Last night you said that the mind cannot do two things together
– that is, thinking and witnessing.
It seems then, that witnessing is a mental faculty and an act of the mind. Is it so? Please explain.
Is there anything like partial witnessing and total witnessing?
Witnessing is not a mental activity; thinking is a mental activity. Rather, it would be better to say that thinking is mind. When the mind is not, when the mind is absent, when the mind has disappeared, only then do you have witnessing. It is something behind the mind.
Zen Buddhism uses “mind” in two ways: the ordinary mind means thinking; then mind with a capital M means the Mind behind thinking. Consciousness is behind the mind; consciousness comes through the mind. If mind is in a state of thinking it becomes opaque, nontransparent, just like a clouded sky – you cannot see the sky. When the clouds are not, you can see the sky. When thinking is not there then you can feel the witnessing; it is the pure sky behind.
So when I said that you cannot do two things, I meant either you can think or you can witness. If you are thinking, then you lose witnessing. Then the mind becomes a cloud on your consciousness. If you are witnessing, you cannot think simultaneously; then the mind is not there. Thinking is an acquired process; witnessing is your nature. So when I say that you cannot do both, or mind cannot do both, I don’t mean that mind is the faculty to witness. Mind is the faculty to think, mind is for “minding.”
Really, many problems are created just by language. There is nothing like “mind.” There is only a process, not a thing. It is better to call it “minding” than mind. It is a process of continuous thought, one thought being followed by another. Only in the gaps, only in the intervals between two thoughts can you have something of the witnessing nature. But thoughts are so speedy that you cannot even feel the gap. If you begin to witness your thoughts, then the thought process is slowed down and then you begin to feel gaps. One thought passes, another has not come yet, and there is an interval. In that interval you have witnessing. Thoughts cannot exist without gaps, otherwise they will begin to overlap each other. They cannot exist! Just like my fingers are there – with gaps in between.
If your thought process is slowed down – and any method of meditation is nothing but a slowing down of the thought process – if the thought process is slowed down you begin to feel the gaps. Through these gaps is witnessing. Thought is mind; a thoughtless consciousness is witnessing. Thought is acquired from the outside; witnessing is inside. Consciousness is born with you; thought is acquired, cultivated. So you can have a Hindu thought, you can have a Mohammedan thought, you can have a Christian thought, but you cannot have a Christian soul, you cannot have a Hindu soul. Soul is just soul – consciousness is consciousness.