Sitting in the black room, I lose my orientation. I don’t know which way I’m facing or even if my eyes are open.
Yes. What effect does this have on your thinking?
I expected that I would be left in a state of confusion, where my thoughts would simply run around in my head, but mostly this didn’t happen. I actually felt less dominated by my thoughts, more free to simply be there and be in the present.
This is a useful observation. But perhaps this is beginner’s luck? You are responding to something new. Our ‘normal’ sense of orientation is very locked in. I automatically step into myself when I sense myself in habitual ways, chief among them being the visual sense of facing in a certain direction, sensing that I am looking outside from inside my head and seeing my hands in front of me. Removing these familiar inputs opens up the possibility of disengaging from the usual. I may find this energizing.
What happens over time, after many hours of sitting in black silence? The real test is supplied by boredom. In ordinary life, outside the black room, boredom is disguised by my habitual engagement with people and things to do. I fall into identification with my experience, much of which centers around disagreement and resistance which ensure a steady parade of reactions to keep me occupied.
In the black room, boredom is less disguised. Do I ‘invent’ illusory content…imagining events, conversations, having discussions with myself to fill the void? If the mind outlives the body, is this my experience after death? Do I then wish to reconstitute my life before death with all the same ‘amusements’, in an attempt to defeat the boredom? And do my suppressed impulses and my guilt manifest karmically as ‘unfriendly’ guides, as they call them in Vajrayana? To what extent is my experience now, in this life, determined by these same…but less visible… mechanical impulses?
After a few sessions in the black room, I begin to notice that I am sometimes visualizing…it’s a kind of light show, eyes open or closed, displaying indistinct imagery of completely irrelevant and fictitious action…a movie without an apparent script. Is this actually going on all the time, even when I am doing my daily routine? Is this what it means to be living in a dream world even while I’m ‘awake’? Does this imagery unconsciously shape the way I perceive? Can this subconscious visualization be stopped?
Perhaps I can now begin the serious work of learning to remain present in the present, an aim which requires that I know and resist the process of falling asleep, that is, falling into the automatic dreaming of the mechanical mind. This might be useful after death. It might be even more useful now.