It’s interesting just to meditate, to be able to sit in a space where you watch your own thoughts go by.
It’s like you wake up in the morning and the first thing is, “My knee is hurting. I’ve got to go to the bathroom. I smell coffee, it’s cold, I’m staying in bed longer. What was that dream?” But then it goes on all day long. Just thought, thought, thought, thought. “What’s that? Look at that.”
I go down the street, and I just drive down the street doing my mantra, and mantra-izing the universe. My eye shoots over and it says, “Howard Johnson is 28 miles ahead.” And then, “Ram Ram Ram Ram Ram Ram Ram, that’s Howard Johnson is 28 miles ahead.” I watch the thought, “Howard Johnson is 28 miles ahead” form, arise, hang out, and then go away, and then it’s back to “Ram Ram Ram Ram Ram Ram.” I don’t try to push it away or grab Ram, it’s just floating around and then it’s just floating on by.
Buddha has these very far out statistics about thoughts.
He went inside and he looked at all this stuff and he said that the tiniest units of energy are called Kalapas, and that the count of Kalapas is a spirit moment, a spirit millisecond. Then he said there are one trillion Kalapas that are born and die every second, every blink of an eye, in sequence, one trillion of them. Now that was considered to be a pretty loose, off the top of his head estimate.
Then some years ago, the Nobel Prize was won by people who were measuring traces of the smallest unit of energy, and it’s duration – it’s lifespan. It came out almost exactly to what Buddha said it was, that he had counted in his head. Then, he also said that the human mind is 17 times faster than that; than the movement of these units of energy. In the Visuddhimagga, he lists the last 34 thoughts that you have before you enter Samadhi, or Nirvana, which is the space between the two of them. That’s seventeen trillion per blink of an eye.
This gives you an interesting reflection on time, by the way. If you think of each of these Kapalas as a channel on a television, it’s as if they are all there, within the TV, but each has an entirely different time and space within the television, or for the Kapalas, within the universe. As William James said, “It’s all there, totally ready, totally complete in every being, but most people pass through their lives without even knowing of it’s existence, of these other planes of consciousness. Apply the requisite stimuli and in a moment they are all there in their completeness.”