The following is a restatement of some of the questions that have been shared on the 'New Instrument’ thread:
We need insight to dissolve our conditioning, our suffering; but insight/intelligence/perception can only act through the brain when the brain is quiet and is no longer self-centred (quietness and non-self-centredness being synonymous here).
And yet, unless we already have insight, we begin with a self-centred, conditioned brain. Therefore we begin with ‘ordinary’ moment by moment observation of ourselves in relationship; the simple awareness of one’s ‘what is’ - one’s conditioning, one’s self-centredness - as this displays itself in daily life.
This kind of observation is not insight or complete perception (or total attention which wipes out the ‘I’) - but just ‘ordinary’ awareness, ‘ordinary’ observation, of which everyone is capable.
What is the relationship between this ‘ordinary’ observation/awareness and insight?
Insight is not made of thought; and neither is awareness/observation made of thought. So at this level they seem to be the same - which suggests that ‘ordinary’ observation/awareness is already insight (of a kind), the seed of insight. One recalls that K said that freedom is the first and last step.
And yet insight is supposed to completely wipe out the conditioning created by thought - which does not happen in ‘ordinary’ observation/awareness. So there is a fundamental difference.
How then does the starting point of an inner inquiry (‘freedom at the beginning’: ordinary observation/awareness) relate to the fruition or flowering of the inquiry (‘freedom at the end’: insight)?
If the ‘freedom at the beginning’ involves a temporal succession of gradual (and partial) psychic improvements, then it is a limited process of cause and effect. In which case the ‘freedom at the end’ (insight) - being free from cause and effect, and being complete - must be unrelated to the ‘freedom at the beginning’ (observation/awareness).
Insight is supposed to be sudden, not gradual. Insight is not ‘caused’ by any intention to be free. Insight is total perception of the whole (psychic) situation, not a partial uncovering.
A path, on the other hand, is gradual, it involves conscious intentions and motives (i.e. ‘wanting to be free’), and it is always partial. So how does something gradual and partial ever become sudden and complete?
K sometimes told the Chan story about the student who was chastised by his teacher for thinking that by constantly ‘practising’ awareness he could find illumination: the teacher began rubbing two rocks together, saying that he was attempting to create a mirror.
So is ‘ordinary’ observation/awareness a gradual, partial process? If it isn’t, then it must be insight.
But we need ‘ordinary’ observation/awareness: without it how can there ever be sufficient space and quiet in the brain for insight to take place?