Take a super-simple sentence – one of the earliest and simplest – and see if it doesn’t blow apart the universe as we know it.
See Jane run.
Let’s start with run. You and I and everyone we know take our bodies to be integral parts of ourselves. We walk, run, piss, screw, eat, digest, grow, age, decay, etc. We claim ownership of all of these activities. Yet in truth, we have absolutely nothing to do with any of it. You don’t decide to become hungry or to develop a need to pee, your body does it and then the mind says, “I’m hungry” or “I have to pee.”
The “I” that is appended to those sensations is just a habit of thought, isn’t it?
Back to the body.
You didn’t design that body, didn’t build it, don’t maintain it – you have absolutely nothing to do with it. If you did, you’d never have another ache or pain, would you? In fact, you’d probably just sit around having orgasms all day.
Moving on to see. Who or what is seeing? For starters your eyes ‘see’ only a tiny sliver of the electromagnetic spectrum, what we call ‘visible light.’ The eyelids open, light is received, forms, shapes, colors perceived, and learned concepts – “table” “lamp” “chair” – are cognized by an unimaginably sophisticated array of neurons and synapses that, again, ‘you’ had absolutely nothing to do with. You, didn’t see, anything. Seeing happened.
Which brings us to Jane.
Jane fancies herself to be something called a “girl” or, at some point, a “woman.” She’s laid claim to ‘her body’ even though, at this point, it’s fairly obvious that that body and the thing known as Jane are nowhere close to being one and the same thing.
So let’s forget about the body. For discussion’s sake let’s just say Jane is inhabiting or using this body during her time on earth – that her body is a kind of lifelong Uber account that gets her head from Point A to B and so on.
Jane, then, is what, exactly, thought? Overlooking the inconvenient reality that the brain also is part of the body, let’s go with Jane as thought. What we know is that other than in deep, dreamless sleep, Jane is suffused with endless numbers of thoughts. Moment by moment come an endless progression of thoughts about her surroundings, her bodily sensations, and just about everything else as well.
In fact, Jane cannot think about thoughts without thought – to think about thought requires thoughts about thinking.
Furthermore, Jane and the universe of objects around her do not – indeed, cannot – exist in the absence of thought. Stare at an apple and drop all the concepts about it – apple, red, fruit, round, etc. – and what is left? In other words, thought doesn’t so much translate the world around us as create it. Without thought there is no world.
Meaning that without thought Jane does not exist. Jane is just another thought, albeit a lifelong habit. When she was very young, there wasn’t even a Jane-thought – Jane had to learn to be Jane and to be a girl and a human and how to run.
See Jane run.