I have a meditation coloring book of my own creation. In it I usually draw some few words that are significant for my morning meditation on each day. About six weeks ago I had the three words “no thought thought” which were a connection for me to a sense of the mind in abeyance. It was the feeling of being poised on the verge of a thought but with a fine restraint so that the mind energy did not form into an actual thought.
Upon reading the following statement by Ramana Maharshi: “Worshiping the formless reality by unthought thought is the best kind of worship” speak of “unthought thought”, I was reminded again of that meditation. This was a kind of satori, a flash of understanding that brought me to feel the capacity that we as humans have to remain in that place before thought.
In the days since this meditation I have been observing the quality of “worshiping the formless reality by unthought thought” and have discovered it to be similar to the stream of our habitual thought-flow. The essential and, for me, significant difference lies in the fact that the mind-flow of unthought thought is free of images and therefore empty of any particular meaning related to objects of our phenomenal world. Here we come to the quality of worship in this context.
In the Free Dictionary online we find the following definition (among others) for the term worship: “to be devoted to and full of admiration for”. The most usual meaning of this term is related to the religious practice of devotion to God. In the context of non-dualism (advaita) I find the above definition to be more appropriate, as it is a context free of any relation to an “other” separate from one’s Self. In my experience it is an inner posture that includes the entire mental, emotional, physical and spiritual levels of my awareness. It is accompanied by a visceral sensation of warmth and intimacy with the Great One as to a beloved and affectionate parent, be it Father or Mother. The term “devotion” here for me equates to having my full attention on the Great One, as in attending to It, and being of service to It, in whatever form It appears in my field of perception.
In my experience, the quality here of worship by unthought thought is one that might be described by the simile of the way noise-canceling systems for vehicle interiors work. I have been told that this technology (in Mercedes for example) is the following: it applies an anti-noise waveform which closely matches the shape and frequency of the offending noise waveform, at an angle of precisely 180 degrees out of phase from the noise at the point which they both reach the target area. In our case the ‘unthought thought energy’ of the mind exactly counter-acts the impulse of the mind to create thought-forms, and thus the pool of the mind, or the mind stream remains smooth, wave-free and thought-free.
The sense of worship in this way is the sense for emitting affection, care, devotion and attention for the Great One as a pure energy emission or almost like an energy-pulse, without taking on a particular thought-form as the recipient, such as Krishna, Wakan Tanka, Mother Mary, Ram or other names for the Great One from particular ethnic or spiritual traditions.
Here is the full text from Ramana Maharshi:
“Worshiping the formless reality by unthought thought is the best kind of worship. But when one is not fit for such formless worship of God, worship of form alone is suitable. Formless worship is possible only for people who are devoid of the ego-form. Know that all the worship done by people who possess the ego-form is only worship of form.
“The pure state of being attached to grace [Self], which is devoid of any attachment, alone is one’s own state of silence, which is devoid of any other thing. Know that one’s ever abiding as that silence, having experienced it as it is, alone is true mental worship [manasika-puja].
“Know that the performance of the unceasing, true and natural worship in which the mind is submissively established as the one Self, having installed the Lord on the Heart-throne, is silence, the best of all forms of worship. Silence, which is devoid of the assertive ego, alone is liberation.”
In my current experience, I see that each of us is “plugged in” to the mind stream of conditioned consciousness. First we learn (if we are lucky) that we can ‘step out’ of that stream, just like stepping out of a stream of water on a hike through the pastures. This is when we realize, viscerally, that the thought-stream is not “me” but is something “outside of me” and that I am not at its mercy. The next experience that I am exploring currently, is that we have that capacity to generate a “counter-stream” – the stream of unthought thought, that can completely “zero-out” the stream of conditioned consciousness by meeting it with a complementary but opposite stream, which is the stream of “unthought thought”.
It is exactly like the Noise Cancellation techniques such as the Bose headphones – we can “turn it on” and then the conditioned mind-flow is neutralized, but not through any struggle with it. It is much like what Thich Nhat Hanh speaks of when he says we should address our fears, our pain etc. and tell them that we will take care of them and care for them.