There is a way of knowing that is prior to thoughts and emotions. Understandably many people struggle with this concept because they have become accustomed to viewing thoughts or emotions as the ultimate way of knowing. Our society encourages this elevation of intellectualization or alternatively ‘emotional mode’ in many different ways – some subtle and others not so subtle. In general we are not really encouraged to explore all the possibilities contained within. In fact we are often far more limited by what we have been taught to believe that we dare imagine.
But, rather than take someone’s word for it, there is a way to experience this form of knowing directly.
Begin by counting to 2 by silently saying in your mind 1 then 2, but omitting the word then. Repeat this a few times, with each time increasing the gap between the numbers 1 and 2. When you believe there is enough of a gap between the two numbers, notice the gap between. This gap should contain nothing that could be construed as a thought or emotion. In other words, it should be empty of what would normally be considered mental substance.
Begin to notice how quiet it is and how still it is. Abide in that for long as you can. Do not worry if it is only fleeting initially, just notice as best as you can the gap between things.
Here is the interesting part. Without falling back onto labels, notice that you know something while you are in this gap. Notice that even without a thought, or sensation or emotion, there is existence or presence. Notice that every time you look at an object you do not necessarily have to describe it, to know that something exists.
We can also ‘know’ that different objects have a distinctly different quality about them. Without labeling a rose, notice the difference in quality to an unlabelled sunset. We might also notice that while there are different qualities, there is also an undifferentiated sameness which underpins all the different qualities. The sameness is awareness. As we become more familiar with this process, we begin to realize that there are indeed other ways of knowing that do not include thought, emotion, sensation or for that matter intuition. There is an intelligence or presence there prior to all these things. Ego is at its weakest, our conditioned minds are short circuited and begin to abide in a knowing quietness.
When we operate in this fashion we are effectively creating a space within, a kind of stillness that allows an unmitigated and undisturbed view of the world. It is what might be called clear seeing. With practice and refinement we become empty, and it is in this state of emptiness that we are particularly prone to all sorts of phenomena that might otherwise go unnoticed. It is from this space or emptiness where we can truly begin to listen to the subtle nuances of the universe.