A thread for Satyapala.

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A thread for Satyapala.

Postby Ilona » Sun Nov 04, 2012 10:20 pm

Hi, Satyapala.

Please introduce yourself and tell us what brought you here, what are you expecting from this conversation and what do you expect to see?
What do you want to see?
What you do not want to see?
On a scale from 1-10, how ready are you to see what is, when 1 is- curious, 10- can't wait a second longer, ready no matter what.

Looking forward to your answers.


Sending love.
Truth realized will set you free.
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Re: A thread for Satyapala.

Postby Satyapala » Mon Nov 05, 2012 7:01 pm

Hi Illona,

Well the short answer to your question ‘what brought me here?’ is that a few weeks ago, just a day before I was due to start a two week holiday in Turkey, a friend sent me a pdf of your book saying I absolutely must read it. I read it and here I am!

The longer answer (I will try to be brief) is that I am 64 years old. Half of my life ago (in 1980) I learnt to meditate and have practiced every day since. I joined the Western Buddhist Order (now Triratna) in 1983 and was an active meditation teacher for most of the time since then until the early-2000s when I more-or-less stopped teaching. This was partly for health reasons but also partly because I had come to the conclusion that I didn’t really know what I was talking about. Yes, I was an accomplished teacher of shamata and had certainly contributed to many people’s lives in terms of psychological health, confidence and their ability to develop positive mental states, but when it came to ‘seeing’ into the nature of reality (insight) I had hardly reached first-base myself.

Over the last couple of years I started doing something about this. Daniel Ingram has been an important influence through his book and, thanks to his kindness, through several Skype conversations. Tejananda, a close friend in the Order, has also provided much clarifying support. And also, in the last six months, I have really found the recorded Satipattana lectures given by Rodney Smith of Seattle Insight Meditation Society (SIMS) to be profoundly helpful. Each of these men have contributed, in their different ways, to my understanding of insight in particular conditionality and the three marks of existence (unsatisfactoriness, impermanance and no-self) but especially when it comes to no-self I still have some way to go.

This is where this conversation with you comes in. I am hopeful that with the probing questioning provided by direct pointing I will fully see into the truth of no-self. Much of the time I have, at least, an intellectual understanding of the non-existence of a self but on a bad day, when mental states become muddy, this understanding becomes far from clear. What I want to see from this direct pointing process is a firming up of the understanding of no-self that I have gained so far creating the conditions for an eventual ‘knowing’ of this state (I am sure that state is the wrong word). In Buddhist terms what I want is stream entry because it is only here that the spiritual path can be said to really begin.

And, just to be clear, what I don’t expect from this process, although perhaps it would be nice, it the total ending of suffering. I have spent too much of my time in the last thirty years trying to remove, or at least attenuate, suffering.

As to your question “On a scale from 1-10, how ready are you to see what is …?” I don’t really have a clear answer. Part of me is really fascinated with what lies beyond no-self, more and more it is my raison d’etre, but another part is really rather attached to the end of suffering and at some level still believes that it is possible. Nonsense I know but you do ask for honesty. So on a scale of 1-10, I would say 6 or 7!

Love
Satyapala

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Re: A thread for Satyapala.

Postby Ilona » Tue Nov 06, 2012 8:38 am

Great, thank you for nice intro.
Ok, let's see where exactly you are.

If you let this thought in and consider it to be true, sit with it for a bit:

There is no self at all. It's not that there is no-self, it's no self as in zero. No manager, no center, no controller, no witness, no I, no me at all in reality. All life is flowing freely and there is nothing separate or outside of this.

Write what thoughts and feeling arise. In full.

Sending love.
Truth realized will set you free.
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Re: A thread for Satyapala.

Postby Satyapala » Tue Nov 06, 2012 7:18 pm

Oh dear Illona, I think I have got a way to go!

I let the thought in, as you suggested, and sat with it and tried to consider it to be true but had some difficulty developing any clarity about exactly what I did think and feel. For starters, until fairly recently I have not thought very much about such things. I think generally I have adopted a set of views which have kept me in my comfort Zone and not challenged me very much.

For example, I have tended to adopt a particular reading of the received (Pali?) Buddhist view that there is no fixed, unchanging self. My meditation practice in its various forms (including Daniel Ingram’s fast-noting) gave me some insight into the fast changing vibratory nature of reality so it has become very clear to me that from moment to moment things definitely do change. But what I am realising (even as I am writing), and your first sentence gives me a clue here, is that my take on ‘no fixed, unchanging self’ actually leaves a self very much embedded in the view - i.e. there are things that are changing from moment to moment.

From the perspective of your statement it get’s worse! At quite a deep level, and apparently confirmed by empirical experience, I have believed that life can be managed and directed, and what can’t controlled (e.g. poor health, etc.) can often be mitigated through dhyana practice and the like. It seems that the circumstances I find myself in: adequate wealth, apparently good karma, a network of friends, good conditions for practice, all contribute to sustaining this view of self.

Is there hope for me Illona? I hope so. I do want to move beyond this current state where the self has a strong hold but I have no real idea how to proceed. I must have faith in this conversation with you and my ability to respond.

Love
Satyapala

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Re: A thread for Satyapala.

Postby Ilona » Tue Nov 06, 2012 7:52 pm

Ok, let's try again.
I let the thought in, as you suggested, and sat with it and tried to consider it to be true but had some difficulty developing any clarity about exactly what I did think and feel


This was the answer, the rest was thinking about some irrelevant stuff. We are not looking here for right view or descriptions of past experiences, only describing what is happening in direct experience. So take this thought again and notice what you feel. Then write it down. What else did you notice?

If there is agreement- then body feels relaxed, open,
If there is resistance, then contraction is felt.

So focus please right on the target and only describe what comes up.
This is how we work here, looking at what is.

I don't buy into hope. It's non issue. If you want to see where we point to, it has nothing to do with hope. Hope is not necessary at all. It's quite opposite, hope works as a carrot for a seeker, as if there is something out there that maybe one day I can get. So I have no hope for you, neither you need it.

Sending love.
Truth realized will set you free.
http://ilonaciunaite.com

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Re: A thread for Satyapala.

Postby Satyapala » Wed Nov 07, 2012 5:52 pm

Dear Illona,

It took awhile for me to open up to what you were getting at in your last post but I think I have got the points you were making.

And so I tried again. I let the thought in and sat with it and tried to consider it to be true. And it made more sense to me when you said:

If there is agreement- then body feels relaxed, open,
If there is resistance, then contraction is felt.

So I have spent quite a bit of time both during the night and this afternoon letting this thought in and watching the response. I should say that today has been one of those days when I have been physically unwell so my starting point has been one of contraction.

On both occasions having brought the thought to mind I felt relaxed and open and, indeed, this afternoon I felt tired of all the energy required to sustain and hold the self together and for that period was happy to let it go. But I see that I am still in a position of having a self and letting it go rather than there being no self as in Zero. During these periods of reflection there was no sense of there being a manager but there was something of the controller in the background that intervened several times to stop a narrative taking over from the simple experience of relaxing and being open.

Love
Satyapala

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Re: A thread for Satyapala.

Postby Ilona » Thu Nov 08, 2012 8:43 am

Oh yes, now I see where you are. Great.
The physical symptoms may come up together with disillusionment. As if the system is detoxing.

Yes, there is a lot of energy needed to sustain the illusion of self, when it's seen that I is illusion, there is no more need to protect it and natural relaxation happens.

Now watch the voice, the narrator, is it you? Can you control it, make it shut up or get it talking only about things you like to hear?
Look very close- where do thoughts come from?
Wait for next thought and watch as it pops in and fades away. Are you in control of thinking? Do you know what the next thought will be?
Can you stop a thought in the middle?
Is there a thinker?
Is I a thought or a thinker?
Can a thought think?


Write what you see, answer each question in full.

Much love.
Truth realized will set you free.
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Re: A thread for Satyapala.

Postby Satyapala » Thu Nov 08, 2012 7:39 pm

Hi Illona,

Thanks for your recent set of questions. I feel like spending a few days working with them but here are my initial responses.

As a general point, in the few days since we started this conversation I have been feeling some resistance to doing the work. Nothing very strong but suggestive perhaps of an unconscious pre-emptive strike by the Self. So on to the questions.

"Now watch the voice, the narrator, is it you? Can you control it, make it shut up or get it talking only about things you like to hear?"

I am not really sure (experientially) whether the narrator is me or not although logically it is probably not as I have almost no control over it; it only seems to shut up or at least quieten down when my mental states calm down. The only time I seem to have some control is when I enter into a task (say scanning the body or concentrating on a set of accounts) and then for short periods the narrator does was it is told but actually that seems a laughable thing to say because on such occasions such control is only short lived.

"Look very close- where do thoughts come from?"

I really don’t know. Today. like in days past, my thought always seem to start without my being present. Only later do I arrive on the scene.

"Wait for next thought and watch as it pops in and fades away. Are you in control of thinking? Do you know what the next thought will be?"

No and No!

"Can you stop a thought in the middle?"

Mostly not. In the past, just sometimes bringing a loud or strong intervention to the thought seems to stop it dead only sometimes to restart a bit later. My experience (i.e. my past experience) is that thoughts, whilst playing themselves out, at the same time often seem to provide a completed, closed experience containing the beginning, middle and end all at once.

I definitely need more time to deal with these last three questions ...

"Is there a thinker?" I can’t see a thinker only a thought playing itself out.

"Is I a thought or a thinker?" I experience I as being part of the thought playing itself out and also separate from it.

"Can a thought think?" I assume a thought can think but I have no experience to support this.


Thanks again Illona. My diary is very full tomorrow so my next response might be delayed by a day.

Love
Satyapala

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Re: A thread for Satyapala.

Postby Ilona » Thu Nov 08, 2012 8:08 pm

Thank you for answers, good work. Look deeper. Some questions you only scratched the surface. Look especially at this question- can a thought think?

Write to me when ready, answer the same questions. Have fun with them, see what else you find out.

Much love.
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Re: A thread for Satyapala.

Postby Satyapala » Sat Nov 10, 2012 12:49 pm

Hi Illona,

I start each meditation session with a few minutes reflecting on the statement that “There is no self at all. It's not that there is no-self, it's no self as in zero.” and continue enjoy the relaxed state that this reflection engenders and feel very motivated to, as it were, make it my own.

When it comes to my attachment to self, it seems strongest and hardest to see through when associated with particular negative emotions. For example this morning I was feeling anxiety over the time pressure I was putting myself under to take my understanding of your questions deeper. For quite a long while anxiety and self were inextricably interlinked. I could only watch and wait for this to dispel, which of course it eventually did. But sitting here at the keyboard this anxiety has returned. For the moment I seem stuck. I have revisited your questions several times looking to open myself up to each question and go deeper. Sometimes more clarity seems to arise then disappears.

Take the question “Now watch the voice, the narrator, is it you?”

although I am in the habit of assuming that the narrator is ‘me’ I am now questioning whether this is true. Isn’t the narrator actually part of the thought on which it is commenting i.e. the thought and the narrator are the same thing. I am being very provisional here because I want to watch this some more but this view seems compatible with the answer given last time that there is no thinker “only a thought playing itself out. And so, changing my mind from last time, it seems that I is not a thought or a thinker.

“where do thoughts come from?”

thoughts seem to arise from sense experiences: the sound of a car door slamming or a baby crying; a pain in the stomach; or a chemical change in the brain (although this can’t be observed). I am not in control of my thinking and cannot predict what the next thought will be. Although sometimes, for example, when I hear a baby crying and I am trying to concentrate, I know the emotion/thought of irritation is likely to arise.

and finally, for the moment,

“Can a thought think?” I am heading in the direction of the view that, like a thought can comment on itself (narrator) it can also think for itself, in fact has to think for itself in order to go from A to B. Although, to immediately contradict myself, I sometimes experience thoughts as being complete in themselves and not-work-outable (!) in real time - they contain the problem and the solution.

Thank you very much for your time and patience. I will keep at it.
Love
Satyapala xx

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Re: A thread for Satyapala.

Postby Ilona » Sun Nov 11, 2012 8:58 am

Thank you for answer.

Right, you think that that thought can think. Interesting.
Lets see close up.
What is a thought?
Do thoughts come one by one one at a time? If so, which thought is thinking another?

Lets say there is thought- I think. Is it I that is doing the thinking or thinking is doing the I?
The narrator that is telling the story and labelling experience is it a thought or function of thinking?

If you take a single thought- hand. What this thought can do? Is it not just a label pointing to something that we recognise as hand?

It's all very simple. Thinking happens, one thought at a time, one verbal expression after another. Look again, is it thought that is narrating or narrating expresses as thoughts?
...........



Another point. When anxiety arises, when frustration is here, rather then sitting with it and waiting for it to pass do this one thing- look behind it. What is there? Is there a you to which the frustration happens? Is there a feeler that receives the feeling separate/ outside from what is felt?
Without labelling these sensations, are they personal? What's really going on? What is behind sensations?

Keep digging :)
Sending love.
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Re: A thread for Satyapala.

Postby Satyapala » Mon Nov 12, 2012 10:17 am

Dear Illona,

Thanks for your latest questions. I will spend some time with them this afternoon and respond soon. Meanwhile, here are a couple of themes that have been on my mind.

First, in meditation this morning I had the thought-phrase “I am feeling overwhelmed!” and when examining this realised that I did not recognise any real and existing “I” in the thought and that I was purely following a language convention. Also, when examining the word overwhelmed, once I had managed to look behind its feeling-tone I could see that it was a label which I could choose or not to expand into a detailed narrative. So the thought (label) had within it the potential for thinking by expanding the narrative but in a sense it was already complete containing all the information required for understanding.

The second theme that has been on my mind is whether thoughts really exist or not. At an everyday level clearly they are real and do exist as using them helps us pilot our way through life. But at a more abstract level there seems no reason to believe they exist in and of themselves. I am reminded of the fast noting method encouraged by Daniel Ingram (influenced by the Burmese Mahasi tradition) where when, say, looking at ones sensory experiences one can experience them as an infinitely changing series of vibratory impulses. I have tried to look at thinking in this way to see if thoughts follow the same pattern (they certainly should do) but have failed to see this so far. Just occasionally I get an insight that all is not as it appears when, for example, out of nowhere a orphaned thought-fragment appears with no obvious relatives or meaning. Likewise, thoughts can sometimes float through the space of my mind with no apparent owner or purpose.

Love
Satyapala xx

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Re: A thread for Satyapala.

Postby Ilona » Tue Nov 13, 2012 9:48 am

How is the investigation going?

Thinking is happening. The content of thoughts is fictional. There is sensation of thinking same as sensation of hearing and seeing. Thinking is one of streams of perception. Can you see that? Thinking and content of thoughts is not the same. Content is ABOUT real but never real. It's like reflection of moon in the lake. Thoughts = reflection, not the moon. To see the moon, you lift the eyes and look at the moon. So thoughts are only pointers to real. They can also point to other thoughts and ideas, imaginary stuff.

In my definition, Reality is that which does not disappear once you stop imagining. Here now, sensations and perceptions. Raw data, before it's labelled. Direct experience + labels = whole experience.

Sending love.
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Re: A thread for Satyapala.

Postby Satyapala » Tue Nov 13, 2012 5:55 pm

Dear Illona,

Thanks for your continuing help. I am processing your comments and questions quite slowly at the moment partly because I have been having some very disturbed sleep which makes concentration quite hard at times - I think there is some unconscious stuff stirring, most likely linked to the content of this conversation. I am sorry that I am not getting to contribute something here every day even though, in principle I am committed to do so. Would you be comfortable with 3-4 entries per week?

Here is some work in progress ...

A random pattern of sensations: If I close my eyes and bring to mind my left hand there is no hand just many sensations in a seemingly random pattern, a pattern which is not at all hand-shaped. The label ‘hand’ comes from my past experience and memories which is backed-up, when I open my eyes, by an actual hand. At one level the hand is real (it is very good at holding things) but at another level it is just these random sensations. I can sometimes even begin to see the hand in the same way as made up of random visual sensations - but mostly not. My experience is that this process of noting many sensations to which a thought-label is added by the mind applies to all the senses. When I look carefully at my direct experience I can see many sensations but none have an ‘I’ attached to them - they are not personal. Apparently some Buddhists believe that these many sensations can only occur sequentially, one at a time, but I can’t be certain of this from my own observations.

Emotions: Turning now to feelings/emotions: when I look carefully I can see that feelings also come from a flow of sensations again with a label added by the mind. When feelings are strong I can be very physically aware of these sensations in the body and that makes it easier for me to see that they are not me or mine. This is much more difficult when a compulsive narrative-loop takes over when I easily take ownership of the feeling, say, of anger or anxiety. More and more these days, however, part of me is aware that these feelings cannot be owned. When a positive feeling arises, say, of joy or loving kindness I have been in the habit of taking ownership and adopting the implied narrative ‘these feelings are good, I am having these feelings and therefore I am good’. Much more these days such a narrative doesn’t take hold in the same way and I can see that the feelings are not mine they simply arise in dependence on prevailing conditions. Perversely, the more I realise that I don’t own such feelings the more likely they are to arise.

Who is the witness?: With respect to seeing that ‘I’ is not the owner of sensations, thoughts and feelings there is some progress but when it comes to the ‘I as witness’ to these events I get lost. You write “Thinking happens, one thought at a time, one verbal expression after another. Look again, is it thought that is narrating or narrating expresses as thoughts?”

So, on the basis of what you say, it looks like thought is narrating, as in “Thinking happens … one verbal expression after another” Have I got that right and does that mean that the narrator (and therefore witness) is actually part of the thought?

And is the sequence: sensations happen, some of which give rise to thoughts which provide the content, the narrator and the observer of that thought?

My mind needs a rest! Thank you for your time.

Oh, just one more question. Where does awareness come in here? Is there awareness outside of thoughts? I hear some people speak of universal awareness but that has no meaning for me.

I will keep at it
Love
Satyapala xx

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Re: A thread for Satyapala.

Postby Ilona » Wed Nov 14, 2012 8:41 am

Yes, you can write whenever you can, the more you write, the more you focus on this, the clearer the mind will get.
3-4 times a week is good.
So, on the basis of what you say, it looks like thought is narrating, as in “Thinking happens … one verbal expression after another” Have I got that right and does that mean that the narrator (and therefore witness) is actually part of the thought?
No, narrator and witness is not part of the thought. Narrator is one thought, witness is another. They are complete units of data of themselves. Not part of any other thought/ word/ label.

Narrator is a label. There is no narrator, just thoughts appearing one by one that create a story.
Witness is a label. There is no witnesser, just witnessing happening, noticing happening.
Breather is a label- there is no breather, but breathing happening. Same with every object or subject.

Read this post and do the exercise, write to me what you have learned.
http://markedeternal.blogspot.co.uk/201 ... s.html?m=1

Sending love.
Truth realized will set you free.
http://ilonaciunaite.com


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