Guide Available.

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Metta777
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Guide Available.

Postby Metta777 » Wed Nov 28, 2012 8:06 am

Willing and able to guide you on your journey. Namaste, Metta777
"This too shall pass"

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Rob
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Re: Guide Available.

Postby Rob » Wed Nov 28, 2012 6:41 pm

HI Metta 777

My name is Rob and I would be very grateful if you would be kind enough to guide me on the journey.

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Re: Guide Available.

Postby Metta777 » Thu Nov 29, 2012 1:48 am

Great, tell me a little about yourself. Also, a few agreements between us, 1. That we try to have daily contact. 2. That you answer any questions as honestly and openly as you can. 3. If you are doing any spiritual practice perhaps put that aside temporarily if possible. 4. What are the expectations you have about completing the process? If all is agreeable to you, let's proceed. Regards, Metta
"This too shall pass"

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Re: Guide Available.

Postby Rob » Thu Nov 29, 2012 9:39 am

Thanks Metta.
I have been practising Buddhism for the past 15 years. During the last couple of years I have been doing a fair bit of vipassana meditation. I have had, particularly on solitary retreat, some strong insights into the 3 marks i.e. impermanence, unsatisfactoriness and not –Self. These have been at level of clearly seeing “myself” purely as a process and seeing that “my making” happens through the habit of seeking to identify and appropriate experience and call it my own.
All well and good but I have found that in normal everyday life “I” am still embedded in/identified with habitual emotions and patterns of thought. These are usually around aversion both to people and life in general. They manifest strongly as judgemental and critical thinking in relation to “self” and “other”. “I” recognise to some extent that they serve the purpose of keeping the show of the self on the road…but the identification with them runs deeper and “I” still experience these painfully restricted states.
I have made progress, I think, in seeing through “Self” such that the narrative of “my life” has thinned and hopes and anxieties about the future are not strong. However, I think the trauma of being abandoned as a child runs deep and in particular the emotions of loss, hopelessness, self hatred and perception of the world as a painful place were formative ones and will take some seeing through as being what they are – insubstantial and not-Self.
With regard to the agreements I am up for daily contact (although I will be away and offline over Christmas New Year). I will endeavour to answer questions as openly and honestly as I can. In terms of practice I meditate every day. At the moment this is just maintenance samatha practice. I would like to continue with that if possible. Also I teach Buddhism and Meditation classes every week. At Christmas/ New Year I am going on two weeks retreat where it is my intention to engage with vipassana meditation. If you feel it would be better for me to wait until after then to begin this journey then I will bow to your judgement. In terms of expectation…my mind is fairly open. I have heard very good things about the process from people I respect…i.e. my primary meditation teacher. And actually I have a sneaking confidence that going on this journey with a guide will unravel some fundamental delusions about Self which continue to cause me to suffer. Apologies if this is a bit long.
All best
Rob

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Re: Guide Available.

Postby Metta777 » Fri Nov 30, 2012 4:19 am

I think it okay to start now, I realize that many people will probably be a bit spotty over the holiday's. Sure meditate , a relaxed state is good.
Your story is similar to mine in some respects in identification with a pain body formed from stories we tell ourselves about our past. Are your thoughts your identity? It is obvious that these thought stories cause pain, so I think this is an important question. This is not about philosophy or religion, just to make that clear, perhaps there is already an understanding of that. Two more questions, how relevant is the past to today? Is the past real? Namaste, Metta
"This too shall pass"

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Re: Guide Available.

Postby Rob » Fri Nov 30, 2012 10:40 am

Thank you Metta. I greatly appreciate you helping me with this journey/process.
Let me try to answer the questions you have posed.
“Are your thoughts your identity?”
They certainly used to be to the extent of being overwhelmed by negative thoughts both as short term experiences of inadequacy to longer term experiences of depression centred around negative self view.. To some extent the severity of this pattern has been weakened by seeing through thoughts in meditation as just another phenomenal arising. This tends to happen on retreat. Although at a rational level I understand that thoughts are just thoughts and nothing more I would say that my default setting is to identify with them..as “who I am.” It is that default setting which needs to be further undermined/seen through.
“How relevant is the past today?”
This is an area where some progress seems to have been made. I used to be dogged by a sense of regret and loss for the past. The present was filled with a sense of lack and desperate hopes were pinned on a future which never arrived. Fear that hopes would never be realized led to feelings of panic and hopelessness. During the last 5 years or so I have become much less sentimental about the past. It is like I have maybe come more to terms with the impermanence of things. Memories from the past flit through my consciousness rather than dominate it. Indeed I am sometimes not sure if the memory was an episode from “my” life or a film I saw. I notice in meditation that a quite subtle memory – for example of the sunlight dancing on a wall can evoke very warm happy feelings from childhood -but then I notice that the emotion is purely a correspondence to the one I was experiencing and it is this that has evoked the memory. The key thing is there in no regret that it is past just appreciation that I experienced such positive emotion as a child…The desire to desperately keep in touch with old friends from the past has disappeared.
I think I have come to terms with the fleeting nature of things and I am no longer overwhelmed by sadness for that which is past. Given my age (55) so much has come and gone…and I no longer have any hopes for any particular future…I will take it as it comes.
Clearly though I am conditioned by my past and my tendency is to see things in terms of their passing away rather than their arising. I am drawn to the early phase of Buddhism which maybe sees things in terms of recognizing the unsatisfactory nature of conditioned things thereby leading to withdrawal and dispassion towards them...rather than the later phase of Buddhism where the emphasis is more about engaging with the world on the basis of very positive/creative states of mind.
Is the past real?
No. All that remains of the past is a memory in the present.
The desire to construct a sense of meaning and significance from the past has also abated. Likewise any desire to construct something meaningful and significant in the future thereby leaving some kind of legacy has also dissolved.
Thanks for listening Metta. I hope the answers are clear and germaine.

Metta
Rob

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Re: Guide Available.

Postby Metta777 » Fri Nov 30, 2012 7:07 pm

Hi Rob, You identified some important things. The word that stood out was conditioning. From the time you were first able to put a thought together your mind became a labeling machine. The labels were given to you by others, starting with the most simple things and working up to perhaps character labels, behavior labels and others. Learned behavior, mind reaches out after seeing something and invests energy in it, labels it. But are they just thoughts? Where do thoughts arise from? Are they YOUR thoughts, where does the possessive come in? Or are they just thoughts arising in the now moment based on conditioning from the past which was pointed out as not being real. The past is a fantasy story that we retell ourselves and in many cases the retelling is painful. Talk to a sibling or a policeman after and accident, the stories never match. Many times the stories of siblings or witnesses are totally out of sync, why? What are memories? Another question, are emotions an identity? Or are they just happening? do thoughts and feelings just happen? Can you control your thoughts? Stop thinking altogether? Another key phrase, * passing away* , what or whom is passing away. Does the future exist? Or is it a projection based on inaccurate memories? Really look deeply and ask yourself if in any of this you can find any stable identity or identity at all? :-) Metta
"This too shall pass"

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Re: Guide Available.

Postby Rob » Fri Nov 30, 2012 9:39 pm

Thank you Metta for your kind attention.
I have set out my answers to your questions below:

“Learned behavior, mind reaches out after seeing something and invests energy in it, labels it. But are they just thoughts?”

I think that they are more than just thoughts..they can be unconscious yearnings..that is unconscious volitions. The thoughts and labeling are at the conscious level.

“Where do thoughts arise from? Are they YOUR thoughts, where does the possessive come in?”

In reality thoughts arise from nowhere and disappear again. One could also say that they arise in dependence upon a multiplicity of conditions none of which are under the control of the person having the thought although in my deludeness “I” take them to be a part of who I essentially am and to be “my thoughts”.

“Or are they just thoughts arising in the now moment based on conditioning from the past which was pointed out as not being real.”

Yes, past conditioning sets up particular ways of perceiving and interpreting the world including the evaluation of oneself. I am caught and limited by past conditioning to the extent that I take these thoughts to be real and substantial and to be purveyors of truth.

“The past is a fantasy story that we retell ourselves and in many cases the retelling is painful.”

Yes. We are so desperate for “an identity” that we would rather cling to a negative/painful identity rather than not have one at all. This I have done for most of my adult life. I think this is the basis of depression. One forms an identity around painful emotions…they are who we are.

“Many times the stories of siblings or witnesses are totally out of sync, why?”

We bring our conditioned subjectivity to events and hence interpret everything according to our habitual patterns. These also dictate what we notice and don’t notice as we go about our daily lives.

“What are memories?”

Memories, are thoughts in the present about experiences that have now passed. They can form the basis for a whole narrative about one’s life. As I indicated my experience in the last year or so is that this narrative has thinned, has weakened and the need to hold onto the past as a form of identity is dissipating. Both my parents have died and I think this is significant because the story of the family is not continually retold and brought into being.

“Another question, are emotions an identity? Or are they just happening?”

In reality no, they are not an identity they are just another conditioned arising. However I built a whole identity out of particular emotions which were habitual in my formative teenage years. Because the emotions arose regularly I took them to be who I was and thereafter interpreted myself as being “this kind of person” with these traits and emotions. It was who I was and I felt stuck with it. So emotions formed the basis for what became core beliefs about myself. Whilst I have seen through this to some extent I still get caught in identifying with negative emotions and seeing them as “me.”

“Do thoughts and feelings just happen?”

Well in experience yes….but they arise when the conditions are there for them to do so. Whether I invest energy in them or not will determine whether “they” stick around or not. Although of course it is never the same thought or emotion as they are continually changing. Interesting one cannot hang onto a thought even if one wants to..it may be replaced by a similar one..but that unique thought has gone…dissipated.


“ Can you control your thoughts?”
No. The only choice I have is what credence I give them. On a good day I see them as a fleeting moment of energy on a bad day I take them as “real” and conveying some (usually negative) truth about myself or others.

“Stop thinking altogether?”

Not in everyday consciousness. I have experienced the stopping of discursive thinking in meditation but from the daily perspective thoughts are always there.…Though of course sometimes they are mild and fleeting whilst at other times they are loud, insistent and obsessive.

“Another key phrase, * passing away* , what or whom is passing away.”

I think I used that phrase to denote my historical tendency to see the loss of things rather than that new things also happen. That I tend to see the glass as half empty rather than half full. I know the standard Buddhist formula for conditionality that all things arise and passes away in dependence upon conditions…but I think I was using the phrase to denote loss..of loved people in particular.


“Does the future exist? Or is it a projection based on inaccurate memories? Really look deeply and ask yourself if in any of this you can find any stable identity or identity at all? :-)”

No. The future is an idea.It is a thought in the present moment..usually fuelled by desires and fears. I like your definition of a projection based on inaccurate memories. Given that any “future” I have is shrinking by the day I see there is no future in futures. That is the idea of a particular configuration of circumstances coming about at a future time to give me solace and hope in the present moment no longer works for me. Not that in reality it ever did…it just produced fear and anxiety that a desired for outcome would not happen… I think I have even stopped projecting a “me” into the future…truth is “I” have no idea how things will unfold or how long for. Sometimes in meditation I used to get lost in planning…even that seems to have diminished (although short term planning still kicks in..eg what will I cook for dinner etc..but not what will I be doing in x years.)
I think I am also no longer buying into the volition to eeke out an identity for myself. Whilst I am busy teaching, cleaning and administering at the local Buddhist Centre I don’t really derive an identity from it at a conscious level. ..And yet I do have a desire to publish some articles on Buddhism. Probably mixed motives. There is the desire to communicate the dharma…but I think there is also a desire for “recognition”..so that is a form of identity seeking. It is not especially strong but clearly it is still there.
Thank you for your time…may your weekend bounce along nicely.
With metta
Rob

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Re: Guide Available.

Postby Metta777 » Sat Dec 01, 2012 2:53 am

I think that they are more than just thoughts..they can be unconscious yearnings..that is unconscious volitions. The thoughts and labeling are at the conscious level.

What is the term yearning other than a different label. It becomes so automatic that it just happens. Thoughts just arise or happen. Who is actually there to yearn? Who is there to be depressed based on a dead past that does not exist any longer. It cannot be relived, it only existed as it occurred. There is only the story, electro-chemical processes in the brain that cannot reoccur in the same way . Time is irrelevant, man invented it.
in my deludeness “I” take them to be a part of who I essentially am and to be “my thoughts”.
Yet, you say that you can find no identity in the thoughts. Doesn't the pain body or story then become irrelevant if there is no identity in them. Who is the "I " ? Is there an I at all really? Or just direct experiencing in the NOW moment. The future is a fantasy of projection, the past no longer exists except as painful thoughts that we allow ourselves to focus on. What we focus on receives energy but does not become any more real, just causes pain. Why do the thoughts belong to you? Don't they just happen?
When perceiving the reality of no identity is there fear attached to it? There is existence in the NOW. If the pain body or story is let go what would happen?
In reality no, they are not an identity they are just another conditioned arising

YES!!!!!
Actions can still be accomplished, energy invested, we are living the process of that. Do things have to be a certain way? Do events have to be as we want them to be? Who is the wanter? Who desires? When looking and observing, feel your breathe, your body, do a walking meditation, feel your feet touching the ground ,one by one. If there is fear, where is it centered? Is there an identity anywhere in your body? thoughts, emotions, feelings? :-) Metta
"This too shall pass"

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Re: Guide Available.

Postby Rob » Sat Dec 01, 2012 11:49 am

Hi Metta and thank you
I noted in one of Ilona’s exchanges (with Satyapala) she wrote:
“If there is agreement- then body feels relaxed, open,
If there is resistance, then contraction is felt.”
It was interesting in reading your response that at times I felt my stomach contracting…I felt I was being challenged…which is good…the challenged bits are the bits where there is a grasping and embedding in a sense of identity.
One thing I noticed in meditation this morning…there is no “I” in awareness..there is knowing but no knower. “I” is brought into “being” by thought. Hence it is, like the past and the future nothing but a concept. “Iing is just a process of thought which in the space of awareness can be clearly seen though no one sees it. Awareness – empty but cognizant- the mystery.
So to your questions.
What is the term yearning other than a different label?

Yearning is descriptive of a movement of energy reaching out for something…but yes not substantial in itself. Yes another label but one which I seem strangely attached to. I spent years yearning for my mother to come home. An identity “the lost boy”..carried around with me in adulthood.

It becomes so automatic that it just happens.
Automatic…so it is no longer seen for what it is i.e. another conditioned arising but a part of “oneself” “ones character”…i.e. identified with.

Thoughts just arise or happen. Who is actually there to yearn?

The flow of yearning is grasped at identified with, appropriated in order to help produce the idea of a substantial self i.e “the one who yearns”

Who is there to be depressed based on a dead past that does not exist any longer. It cannot be relived, it only existed as it occurred. There is only the story, electro-chemical processes in the brain that cannot reoccur in the same way . Time is irrelevant, man invented it.

No one - just the arising of painful emotions which are identified with in the manner described above. Pain arises now around the mad delusion of seeking to build an identity out of fleeting negative emotions. Interestingly, although much of “my” adult life was spent in this pursuit “I” am not burdened with a sense of regret or remorse..because as you say “it” has gone..it was what it was but is no longer and only ever was in a fleeting moment. Not to grasp is to let everything flow.
Time is a construct. Yes completely clear in meditation…there is only ever the present moment and past and future are merely ideas (thoughts) arising in the present moment.
you say that you can find no identity in the thoughts. Doesn't the pain body or story then become irrelevant if there is no identity in them.
Yes. The term “pain body” is very substantialist and not one that I have used. However pain can still arise as an emotional experience…I guess the key thing is whether it is grasped as “me” “mine” or “I”.
Who is the "I " ? Is there an I at all really? Or just direct experiencing in the NOW moment?

Again I found another very helpful quote from Ilona’s exchange with Sayapala ( I hope that is ok to look at that.)

“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?”

That advice to look behind it really had an effect on me. The “I” is almost an unconscious assumption. I started looking behind experiences and there is nothing there. Just the experience. I think this may be the key to disembedding, from negative emotions such as judgement, irritation, defensiveness, fear of rejection etc. If there is no self there is no thing to defend..clearly.


The future is a fantasy of projection, the past no longer exists except as painful thoughts that we allow ourselves to focus on. What we focus on receives energy but does not become any more real, just causes pain.

You are right. That process is just a desperate attempt to recover/relive what was lost. That really hits home “what we focus on receives energy but does not become anymore real”.

Why do the thoughts belong to you? Don't they just happen?

Yes they just happen. If I am aware I see that..if I am less aware I am more likely to slip into the old habit of identification and appropriation.

When perceiving the reality of no identity is there fear attached to it?

No. It feels freeing. I don’t experience the idea of no identity as a dark black hole but rather an infinite space of light. Without the selfing vortex produced by identification with and appropriation of experience there would be free flowing…being could just expand without limits.

There is existence in the NOW. If the pain body or story is let go what would happen?

The pain would be let go of but non self referential being continues.

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Re: Guide Available.

Postby Metta777 » Sat Dec 01, 2012 10:27 pm

One last question. Now the idea of self is seen through and that there is no separation, what of the idea of others? Are there any others?
"This too shall pass"

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Re: Guide Available.

Postby Rob » Sun Dec 02, 2012 1:49 pm

Hi Metta

Thank you.

“One last question. Now the idea of self is seen through and that there is no separation, what of the idea of others? Are there any others?”

I am not sure. I think I have the tendency to view others as substantial entities even though I observe that their behaviour and moods change constantly. This is gradually shifting. But I think it is a working ground. I still fear others judgements…though working out from fear is just the arising of an emotion with nothing behind it, which I am getting the feel for, so it is with the other person. So its like I see equanimity more clearly . Just as there is no control over what arises in my experience (but also no thing to fear in the sense of an arising being substantial)…So it is with others…they are a conditioned process…now this…now that….So yes praise and blame...depends so much on the shifting sands of another’s view about one. I tend to take pronouncements form others about me as “real.”

I think I have been working on seeing no Self in relation to this particular psycho- physical organism and I have not really considered the implications of this being so for everyone. What are the implications in terms of how one relates to others…I guess both equanimity and compassion for those who are caught in the pain of the self delusion.

Are there any others? In theory no in terms of substantial selves…just other psycho physical organisms…streams of conditioned arisings parceled in a human body (itself a conditioned arising)…But I think it may take some time for me to really see this and shift my perception and hence my behaviour and learned responses. By which I mean the tendency to feel irritated etc by others….I guess really seeing this is where compassion begins to arise properly.

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Re: Guide Available.

Postby Metta777 » Sun Dec 02, 2012 11:03 pm

Your welcome, Rob. "Emptiness is form and Form is Emptiness" We all have that tendency as it is a long term conditioning, but once seen through it becomes easier.
I still fear others judgements…though working out from fear is just the arising of an emotion with nothing behind it, which I am getting the feel for,
Fear is the belief in a separate self and the self of others. Your mind is a labeling machine and so is theirs. Their thoughts arise, energy is invested. This energy need not be invested or the thought grabbed by you. Using the term,
" you" just for communication purposes. :-) It is "This" happening, arising, moment by moment for all. Who is there to fear? No self ? All happens as it is. No praise,no blame. Examine what is said and if it is useful , use it. Are you talking to yourself? Is the arising ( what is being said) what is needed for looking? Irritated with Emptiness? Seeing or looking is only part of the journey, compassion arises when the true state is seen. Can irritation persist with streams of conditioned arisings? Look behind, who is doing the irritating? No doer. <3 Metta
"This too shall pass"

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Re: Guide Available.

Postby Rob » Mon Dec 03, 2012 10:37 am

HI Metta

Thank you so much for that.

I may not be able to get back with a full response today as I am rushing..will do so by tomorrow.

metta

Rob

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Re: Guide Available.

Postby Rob » Mon Dec 03, 2012 6:36 pm

Thanks Metta

This really getting onto the area I have not looked at considered sufficiently..i.e. other people

Who is there to fear? No self ?

I guess the fear is that some aspect of self will be harmed or hurt (speaking at the mental level). Why would one need to defend a stream of conditioned arisings…they are not “I” or self. Equally the oprium from a stream of conditioned arisings should not be taken too seriously. There is no solid substance..just views, opinions which change pretty rapidly. Seeing the equanimity of the wise man. One moment praised “Oh is that so?” the next slandered “Oh is that so?”

Are you talking to yourself?

That has been the habit even though on retreat this discursive jabbering commentary is seen through it has tended to assume greater weight in ordinary life….. I still know it is empty..but listening to it is such a strong habit. I have felt in the last day or so it lessening..we shall see..time is the great tester.

Irritated with Emptiness?

Put like that it shows its absurdity. Irritated with a stream of conditionally arisen energy…and indeed then looking behind who is doing the irritating…there is no one there. The delusion of substance causes the embedding and identification. Continuing to look behind arisings…seeing no thing there. Continued work in progress.
This ongoing reflection is strong…certainly have a deep feeling for no Self.....question is will this perspective endure or will old habitual ways of interpreting things re-assert themselves once the process ends?


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