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Reply To: Unformulated Experience

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David Filippone

    Photo: Edge of The Future – Pixabay


    TSK and Full Presence Mindfulness students are invited to take a first-person look within their own experience and inquire into its ‘unfolding’, as Time, Space and Knowing. Glimpses, or momentary flashes, seem often to come from observing the ‘first impression’. Living and breathing the experience, THEN reflecting on that observation, reviewing what happened, and how it felt.

    You might describe the first impression experience as being at the edge of the future, the point of awareness where the future comes into being.  Where the fine-spun and subtle formulate or begin. Rinpoche uses the term unestablished thought as one way to describe this… a pointless-point in time where meaning is about to happen, but has not yet been interpreted, purposefully structured, or shaped by a SELF, a perceiving apparatus that continuously senses and aggregates.

    For instance, I think of momentary lived points [moments of concern] along a timeline, my living.  Some moments are experienced as arising cognition’s from a zero-point, [thoughts just pop up] as I structure the experience to have meaning for me, other points are glossed over, others are looked into as I might ‘feel-in’ to deeper levels of the experience. The point itself is an instant, a tick, or a bit of structuring that I do, as if starting by drawing a circle in space, creating a bubble or context to cohere and value, to mean, and narrate for myself in order to remember.  But I sometimes glimpse that these points open to ‘pointless space’. The prior zero-less that seems necessary in order for a point to proceed. At the actual zero-point, is where perception seems to begin, and it can be exceedingly subtle. In his book, ‘Unformulated Experience’, Donnell B. Stern suggests:

        “We have momentary glimmers of where our conscious experience may go, glimmers we may or may not be aware of, and that certainly do not require the complete formulation of a meaning or experience; we can use feelings of tendency to gauge the direction our experience is taking. On the bases of that information, we can choose to develop or avoid certain articulations of our experience, without ever having actually to know what articulations they would have become if we had allowed the process to reach completion. We develop those articulations we believe we can tolerate, or that further our purpose, or those that promise a feeling of safety, we disassociate the meanings that we believe we will not be able to tolerate, that frighten us and seem to threaten the fulfillment of our deepest intentions.” p. 127-8 [Emphasis added]