Abandoning concepts is of prime importance for a meditator. When we observe our body, our feelings, our thoughts, our perceptions, we situate them in space and time just as when we observe physical phenomena. We see psychological phenomena and physical, physiological phenomena.
You may ask, "When mind becomes the object of its own observation, is that which is grasped mind itself or only a projection or reflection of mind?" This is a good question. You may also want to ask, "When physiological and physical phenomena are observed as objects, do they keep their true nature or do they become just a projection or reflection of reality, transformed by becoming objects of observation?" Our mind creates categories-space and time, above and below, inside and outside, myself and others, cause and effect, birth and death, one and many-and puts all physical and psychological phenomena into categories like these before examining them and trying to find their true nature. It is like filling many different shapes and sizes of bottles with water in order to find out the shape and size of water. Truth itself transcends these concepts, so if you want to penetrate it you must break all the conceptual categories you use in normal daily life. The Theory of Relativity recognizes that if you do not abandon the idea that space and time are absolute and independent of one another, you cannot make progress in understanding the universe. Quantum Theory says that if you want to understand the world of subatomic particles, you must leave behind matter and empty space, cause and effect, front and back, concepts so useful in daily life.
Quantum theorists today know that the consciousness of the observer is in a very close relationship with the object observed, and they are directing more and more of their attention to that
consciousness. In 1979, France-Culture organized a one-week meeting in Cordoba, Spain, on "Mind and Science." Many renowned scholars were present, and a number of them affirmed their conviction that the world and mind have the same nature. Although some scientists have seen the fundamental
characteristic of mind, I am afraid that most still want to study it like any other object in their laboratories. Then it is no longer mind, but the projection or reflection of it, framed by conceptions. Remember the phrase from the Satipatthana
Sutta: "Observe the body in the body, observe the feelings in the feelings, observe the mind in the mind, observe the objects of mind in the objects of mind." This means that you must live in the body in full awareness of it, and not just study it like a separate object. Live in awareness with feelings, mind, and objects of mind. Do not just study them. When we meditate on our body, we live with it as truth and give it our most lucid attention; we become one with it. The flower blossoms because sunlight touches and warms its bud, becoming one with it. Meditation reveals not a concept of truth, but a direct view of truth itself. This we call Insight, the kind of understanding based on attention and concentration.
Thinking is to take cinder blocks of concepts from the memory warehouse and build monuments. We call these hovels and palaces "thoughts." But such thinking, by itself, has no creative value. It is only when lit by understanding that thinking takes on real substance. Understanding does not arise as a result of thinking. It is a result of the long process of conscious awareness. Sometimes understanding can be translated into thoughts, but often thoughts are too rigid and limited to carry much understanding. Sometimes a look or a laugh expresses understanding much better than words or thoughts.
If our mind sees psychological, physical, physiological phenomena as objects, what we see is only a projection or reflection of mind, namely an illusion or a delusion. Meanwhile, if awareness attains insight, or a direct view of truth itself without mind, what we see is the true nature of reality. Therefore, in order to see the true nature of reality, we need to stop our mind or thinking and look deeply. For that, we need to live in awareness through mindfulness and concentration. Awareness transcends space and time, so can live in phenomenal world and noumenal world at the same time.
Thích Nhất Hạnh