I would like a guide please

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Sheaster
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I would like a guide please

Postby Sheaster » Sun Dec 23, 2012 6:56 pm

Hi, I would like someone to act as a guide for me.

I am really excited at the prospect of seeing through the illusion of separate selfhood. I am not sure why this it. Maybe it is because I think this delusion leads to some of subtle low level suffering that I experience.

I’ve been meditating for about 8 years within the Triratna Buddhist Community in the UK. I have benefitted significantly from my practice, and hopefully those around me have too. I have an intellectual understanding that there is ‘no self’, but still feel as though I do exist as a separate entity with some measure of free will. My practice change significantly earlier this year after reading Daniel Ingram’s Mastering the Core Teachings of the Buddha and listening to Kenneth Folk. More recently a friend told me about the LU approach, and several friends have been through the one to one guided process. I have been using the App in the last few days, which I think is great, and have been reflecting on my direct experience, and am starting to see through the illusion of a separate self. Or at least be more open to the possibility that is a delusion. I now feel that I have enough time to commit to one to one guidance, but realise that many people will be busy this time of year.

I look forward to hearing from a guide. Many thanks, Mark

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ray
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Re: I would like a guide please

Postby ray » Mon Dec 24, 2012 2:28 pm

Hi Mark,

Thanks for the nice introduction and welcome to the forum.

This is Ray from the UK and I will be happy to be your guide. Where are you located so that we both understand what time difference we have?

If you haven't seen it already then please look at the introduction, our disclaimer and a short video at http://www.liberationunleashed.com

Please aim to post every day. (My computer will be off until after Boxing day, but I may send a quick message to you from my 'phone)
I will ask questions which you answer from present moment, direct experience, that is introspection of bodily senses, thoughts and that unmistakeable sense of aliveness, of presence. Philosophy, speculation and overly analytical answers are not needed for this.
Please put aside other reading, teachings and beliefs during this enquiry. If have a daily meditation practise you can continue with that.

Do you agree to all the above? If so we can begin.

-------------------------------------------

A couple more points,
-Please learn to use the quote function, instructions are located in the link below this line:
viewtopic.php?f=4&t=660

-When writing a long post in the text editor, it might be a good idea to periodically copy and paste your text into notepad or another text editor on your computer, or into the copy/paste buffer, as it is not uncommon to be logged off automatically and lose all your text.

--------------------------------------

What, specifically have you come here for?
What are your expectations and how do you think this will change things?

Pleased to meet you, Mark and I share your excitement in this venture.

Seasons greetings,

Ray

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Sheaster
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Re: I would like a guide please

Postby Sheaster » Mon Dec 24, 2012 6:45 pm

Thanks Ray for agreeing to be my guide, it is much appreciated.

I have looked at the introduction, disclaimer and a short video as requested.

I will aim to post every day; answer from present moment and direct experience, and avoid philosophy, speculation and being overly analytical; and will put aside other reading, teachings and beliefs during this enquiry. I plan to continue with my daily meditation practise.

Please can you clarify, is it ok to read other posts, look at the ‘Gateless Gatecrashers’, use the Enlightened Quotes App or watch related Youtube videos?
What, specifically have you come here for?
I have come here to see or experience reality, ie. me and the world that I live in, as it really is, ie. unmediated by concepts and conditioning.
What are your expectations and how do you think this will change things?
I expect to see through the illusion of a separate self; to see that there isn’t a ‘little me’ living inside my body / mind which controls my behaviour, thoughts and feelings; to see that I am just a product of my conditions. And hence be freer, happier and live more ethically as a consequence.

In some sense, this process won’t change a thing. ‘I’ won’t be any different, because there isn’t an ‘I’ to change. But in another sense, there will be change; the illusion of self will be seen through and there will just be experiencing. It may still be there, but is will be seen for what it really is. I think perhaps, that when the illusion of self is seen through, the quality of experience will change. I will spend more time in the here and now and realise how beautiful and satisfying direct experience is; and less time ruminating about the past, worrying about the future or fantasising about an imaged future.

Best wishes, Mark

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Re: I would like a guide please

Postby Sheaster » Mon Dec 24, 2012 6:50 pm

Ps. I am also in the UK, so time difference shouldn't be a problem.

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Re: I would like a guide please

Postby ray » Mon Dec 24, 2012 7:26 pm

Hi Mark,
Please can you clarify, is it ok to read other posts, look at the ‘Gateless Gatecrashers’, use the Enlightened Quotes App or watch related Youtube videos?
Yes it will be fine to do all those.
Thanks for getting to grips with the quote function.

Your expectations are quite reasonable, but please just put aside any expectations. I would mention that what we are looking at here is specifically something that is not real, the idea of a separate self.

What, specifically have you come here for?

I have come here to see or experience reality, ie. me and the world that I live in, as it really is, ie. unmediated by concepts and conditioning.
Since there is no separate self, it'll be tricky to help an "I" to experience reality :)

Who is this "I" that might experience reality? Who is the "me" that lives in a world?

What comes up if I say there is no Mark in reality, not now, never has been and never can be?
Please let that sink in and reply when ready.

Warm wishes,
Ray

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Re: I would like a guide please

Postby ray » Tue Dec 25, 2012 1:35 pm

Be still in this moment.
Here and now is there any thing to be added?

In this moment -
Walk. Is there a walker walking, or just walking?
Listen. Is there alistener and the heard or just listening?
Look. Is there a see-er and the seen or just seeing?
In thinking is there a thinker of thoughts or just the arising and falling away of thought?
in experience is there an experiencer and an experience? Or is there only Exoeriencing?

Look. Really Look. Here and Now is there any thing missing. Is the self anywhere to be found?

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Re: I would like a guide please

Postby Sheaster » Tue Dec 25, 2012 9:53 pm

Hi Ray, thanks for your prompt responses, they’re much appreciated.

Please excuse the use of ‘I’. I find it difficult to express myself without using it. But can see on one level, there is no self that is trying to express itself.
Who is this "I" that might experience reality?
Well I don’t really know who the ‘I’ is, but have a clearer idea of what it is not. I can see that I am not my body, thoughts, habits, behaviours, emotions, memories, job, name, relationships etc. But ‘something’ seems to be experiencing reality. When I investigate my experience, I can’t find anything to latch on, but still have a feeling that I am separate self, distinct from other people. I know intellectually, that this feeling is not really grounds for a belief in self, but that knowledge doesn’t quite seem to be able to sink in. On one level, ‘feeling’ does not imply a feeler. On investigation, this ‘I’ appears to be just a stream of thoughts, feelings, behaviours, memory, learned behaviours, habits etc. which seem to have a momentum of their own which keeps them going.

When I look at my experience, I can see there is just this constant flow of mental and physical experiences, which at first glance seem to be initiated by a self. But when I look more closely, I can see this in terms of a flow of conditioned responses to external stimuli eg. I take a sip of my drink not because there is a self that wants a drink, but because the entity called Mark is simply responded to a long chain of events.

I am now listening to music, as well as typing. And I am enjoying the music, or there is music, listening and enjoyment. I shut my eyes, I seem to sink into the music, or the self seems to fade a little, which feels good.
Who is the "me" that lives in a world?
Again, I don’t really know. There is an experience of a body and a mind living in a tangible world.
What comes up if I say there is no Mark in reality, not now, never has been and never can be?
I currently feel quite comfortable with the notion that there is no Mark in reality. The prospect of realising there is no Mark in reality seems liberating; to open up possibilities; to lead to freedom; and I anticipate would feel like putting down a great burden. Apologies if this sound clichéd. My experience has shown that living more in my experience is immensely richer, that living life through stories.
Be still in this moment.
Here and now is there anything to be added?
When I shut my eyes, and sink into the present moment it feels perfect. But I am comfortable, enjoying what I am doing and listening to great music, and wonder if I was in pain or discomfort, I’d have the same response. Adding an ‘I’ or story, detracts from the present moment, but when I dislike the present moment, may seem like a good coping mechanism.
In this moment -
Walk. Is there a walker walking, or just walking?
Listen. Is there a listener and the heard or just listening?
Look. Is there a see-er and the seen or just seeing?
In thinking is there a thinker of thoughts or just the arising and falling away of thought?
In experience is there an experiencer and an experience? Or is there only experiencing?
I have been doing this sort of investigation and seeing that there is no-one experiencing actions just experience. But something seems to pull me back into the story of self. In listening to music, there is sound, some mechanism which converts the sound into thoughts and feelings, and then maybe some intention to keep listening. All these processes seem to go on automatically, without the need for anyone to initiate these internal processes. But there does appear to be someone who decides to listen to the music the in the first place. Although, I can also see that act of deciding to listen to music or type this post, is not reliable evidence for the existence of a self; and that the self is merely assumed.
Look. Really Look. Here and Now is there any thing missing. Is the self anywhere to be found?
Everything is going on ok, and there doesn’t seem to be self which can be experienced, so there doesn’t seem to be anything missing. The self cannot be found in experience, but there still seems to be a belief the self exists, but maybe that it is all it is a belief, a thought, not reality, which can be relinquished.

With thanks, Mark

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Re: I would like a guide please

Postby ray » Wed Dec 26, 2012 1:27 am

Mark,

Thanks for your full response. I'll reply more fully later.
For now, please do this exercise: observe where choosing happens. Think of a number between 1 and 10.

Did you know that choice before it happened?

In life, when making a choice e.g. left or right, see when exactly the choice is made. Did "you" choose?
Try this out as you go about your life and report back.

Best wishes, Ray

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Re: I would like a guide please

Postby Sheaster » Wed Dec 26, 2012 6:13 pm

Thanks Ray, much appreciated.
For now, please do this exercise: observe where choosing happens. Think of a number between 1 and 10. Did you know that choice before it happened?
I only know the choice once it has happened. I don’t really choose a number, I just know when one has been chosen. So there is choosing and knowing, without a chooser or knower.
In life, when making a choice e.g. left or right, see when exactly the choice is made. Did "you" choose? Try this out as you go about your life and report back.
I sip my tea, and the mug is in my hand and being raised to my lips before I know that I have decided to sip my tea. I scratch my neck automatically, and become aware that I am doing it after it has happened. This sequence seems to apply to most of the things I do. For bigger decisions, the process does seem a bit more planned. For example, I thought more carefully about going for a run, but once that decision was made, other smaller decisions were made unconsciously eg. putting on my shoes etc. But the ‘decision’ to go for a run could just be the natural consequence of previous events, habits and the current situation. So that the act of going for a running is part of the natural flow of life, rather than a consequence of ‘me’ making a decision. I resist this idea, as I like to think that I have some control over what the entity labelled Mark does, and achieve some sense of satisfaction from what it achieves. But that is just resisting, liking and thinking, with no evidence that there is a self recoiling, liking or thinking.

In response to this question, I set myself the task of choosing to pick up one of four pens, or was it just an inevitable consequence of the situation. ‘I’ thought through lots of ways of choosing a pen, so there was lots of thinking, but I couldn’t find a thinker. Finally a decision was made to pick up the most valuable pen. But who decided, there doesn’t seem to be anything more that thoughts being experienced. And at some point, the thinking stops and a decision was made, and Mark’s body picked up the ink pen. In conclusion, a ‘chooser’ was not found, only thoughts, some feelings (likes and dislikes), a body and external things.

Best wishes, Mark

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Re: I would like a guide please

Postby ray » Thu Dec 27, 2012 11:31 am

Hello Mark,

Really good observation regarding choosing. This can be a fun thing to do even after you are through the Gate.
This is moving along really nicely :)

From your earlier post you said,
Everything is going on ok, and there doesn’t seem to be self which can be experienced, so there doesn’t seem to be anything missing. The self cannot be found in experience, but there still seems to be a belief the self exists, but maybe that it is all it is a belief, a thought, not reality, which can be relinquished.
So you have observed that the self cannot be found in present moment experience, that it could be just another thought, a belief. Does the self think or does it only appear in thought and attach to other thoughts?
Can a thought think? Can one thought think another thought?
Take it easy and let this sink in. Maybe take a walk and look at nature, or look at the rain through the window.

Would you agree that something is real if it doesn't disappear when you stop believing in it? The keyboard in front of you is real. Santa Claus is a different matter (even though the presents round my Christmas tree suggest otherwise). What about the self?

Let me know what you find.

Kindest regards, Ray

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Re: I would like a guide please

Postby Sheaster » Fri Dec 28, 2012 12:37 am

Hi Ray,

thanks for the positive feedback, it’s much appreciated. “I” am beginning to see how my experience just flows onwards without necessarily anyone making decisions.
So you have observed that the self cannot be found in present moment experience, that it could be just another thought, a belief. Does the self think or does it only appear in thought and attach to other thoughts?
Right now, there is thinking and there are thoughts, and the thoughts seem to be located somewhere inside the head. So maybe the head is thinking, but the head is not the self. So there doesn’t need to be a self for thoughts to occur or for thinking to happen.

The self appears to be a thought, or concept that is used to hang together other thoughts, emotions, bodily feelings, memories etc. So the self appears in thought, and cannot be found outside of thought, feeling etc. It is not found in reality. In a sense it attaches to other thoughts, emotions etc. I currently think in terms of “I” doing things or experiencing things, rather than experiences just happening (to me??). As long as I continue to think in this way, the belief in self will persist. But what is starting to happen now is that the still existent “I” is more aware of being part of the flow of events, rather than initiating actions and seems less substantial.
Can a thought think? Can one thought think another thought? Take it easy and let this sink in. Maybe take a walk and look at nature, or look at the rain through the window.
No, a thought cannot think. A thought can give rise to other thoughts, and that is probably how thinking generally works. There is really just thinking, feeling, remembering, sensing etc. So if the self is a thought, it cannot think.
Would you agree that something is real if it doesn't disappear when you stop believing in it? The keyboard in front of you is real. Santa Claus is a different matter (even though the presents round my Christmas tree suggest otherwise). What about the self?
Generally yes. The keyboard is real. Santa Claus is just a belief, without any underlying concrete evidence of his existence in reality. The self is a belief, not real.
Let me know what you find.
I can’t find a self, only believing in a self, which starts to lose is power.

Many thanks, Mark

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Re: I would like a guide please

Postby ray » Fri Dec 28, 2012 1:05 pm

Hi Mark,
Right now, there is thinking and there are thoughts, and the thoughts seem to be located somewhere inside the head. So maybe the head is thinking, but the head is not the self. So there doesn’t need to be a self for thoughts to occur or for thinking to happen.

The self appears to be a thought, or concept that is used to hang together other thoughts, emotions, bodily feelings, memories etc. So the self appears in thought, and cannot be found outside of thought, feeling etc. It is not found in reality. In a sense it attaches to other thoughts, emotions etc. I currently think in terms of “I” doing things or experiencing things, rather than experiences just happening (to me??). As long as I continue to think in this way, the belief in self will persist. But what is starting to happen now is that the still existent “I” is more aware of being part of the flow of events, rather than initiating actions and seems less substantial.
Take a moment for reflection. When did the story of self begin, was there a self when you were born?
This "I", "me" or self is a story that is believed. Without it what has changed, the body is still here, the brain/mind, that which perceives and all those unique characteristics that are labelled "Mark".
What we are looking for here is a few seconds of Seeing, where the fiction is really seen for what it is.
What goes is nothing more than an investment in the story of a fictional self. This self is a thought and is maintained by effort and belief. Look at belief, can it be anything other than a construct of more thoughts?

Is this self (or any other thought) aware of anything, or do thought's and the "I" thought appear in awareness ?
Let me know what you find.



I can’t find a self, only believing in a self, which starts to lose is power.
When you are not believing in self where is it?

Ray

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Re: I would like a guide please

Postby Sheaster » Sat Dec 29, 2012 12:55 am

Hi Ray,
Take a moment for reflection. When did the story of self begin, was there a self when you were born?
It is difficult to answer this one from direct experience. The belief in self appears to be an emergent property of thoughts, feelings etc. It is unlikely that this belief existed at birth, as I doubt that I had the capacity to believe. But at some point the belief in self arose as a way of making sense of experience. Perhaps in a similar way to small children who adopt the belief in Santa to explain the presents under the Christmas tree.
This "I", "me" or self is a story that is believed. Without it what has changed, the body is still here, the brain/mind, that which perceives and all those unique characteristics that are labelled "Mark". What we are looking for here is a few seconds of Seeing, where the fiction is really seen for what it is. What goes is nothing more than an investment in the story of a fictional self. This self is a thought and is maintained by effort and belief. Look at belief, can it be anything other than a construct of more thoughts?
I can see that belief in self is little more than some sort of thinking habit.
Is this self (or any other thought) aware of anything, or do thought's and the "I" thought appear in awareness?
I can’t see how the self can be aware of anything because it is just a belief. But the idea that thoughts and the “I” appear in awareness seems to make sense. When I say “I am aware of typing these words”, I mean that I am thinking about the process, know what I am doing and can feel the physical sensations, emotions and can see the outcome. So maybe when I say that I am aware of a self, I mean that I am aware of feeling physical sensations, thinking thoughts and feeling emotions etc. So, thoughts and the “I” thought appear in awareness. The “I” is a label which reflects underlying experience, or a thought about the underlying experience. But is not an experience and cannot be found in reality.
When you are not believing in self where is it?
The belief in self only exists when I am believing it. So when I am not believing in the self, this belief doesn’t exist.

The belief that there is no separate self seems to be gathering strength, but is still only a belief and I have yet to see it.

Thanks Ray, I look forward to your reply.

Best wishes, Mark

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Re: I would like a guide please

Postby ray » Sat Dec 29, 2012 1:28 pm

Hi Mark,

Thanks for some more clear comments and focussed observing.

To recap... please set aside all previously held beliefs during this investigation.
Also,you are not here to get anything newto believe in.

Please look at how the mind labels things and overlays that with more thoughts and labels.
Pick up a pen (or look at any thing). Notice the labels,memories etc.
Peel of these labels one at a time, like post-it notes. As other labels appear peel them off too.

Explore and have fun with this. Try with sounds too. Let the knowledge and information about the observed fall away like leaves in Autumn.

With blessings,
Ray

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Re: I would like a guide please

Postby Sheaster » Sun Dec 30, 2012 12:14 am

To recap... please set aside all previously held beliefs during this investigation. Also, you are not here to get anything new to believe in.
Ok. Thanks for the direction. I can see that I need to drop the belief in a separate self, but dropping beliefs is challenging.
Please look at how the mind labels things and overlays that with more thoughts and labels. Pick up a pen (or look at anything). Notice the labels, memories etc. Peel off these labels one at a time, like post-it notes. As other labels appear peel them off too.
I pick up a pen and start to examine it. Thoughts arise about the pen and what it means to me eg. descriptions, memories, associations, its weight, temperature, solidity. Taking off the labels – pen, metal cylinder, solid object, felt sense .... and then what ... feeling ... mental event .... thoughts. So you have a mental event (thoughts, stories, ideas etc) and its physical counterpart which is labelled ‘pen’. The label is a short hand for a more complex concept. The physical reality may evolve over time and the label may not capture it. My house is different today than last week. So labels can erroneously crystallize or solidify more complex physical phenomena and experiences. Maybe similarly the label “I” solidifies experience into a seemingly concrete self.

Generally, I have been noticing how every sense impression (sight, sound, bodily sensation etc.) which comes into awareness comes with some sort of label. The experience quickly gets allocated to some sort of box which attempts to capture its essence. As I peel off the labels, I am just left with some mental experience even though it may have a physical counterpart. But there are also lots of experiences which do not come into consciousness, and these are probably not labelled. So there is maybe something about experiencing consciously that involves labelling. And maybe this is linked to the process of maintaining a belief in self. In other words, acting unconsciously may not involve labelling, or a role for the self. This is a bit like the experience of flow, eg. a cyclist may have an attenuated sense of self and feel they are “at one” with the bike, and there is just “cycling”. So as the labels come off, the experience of self weakens.
Explore and have fun with this. Try with sounds too. Let the knowledge and information about the observed fall away like leaves in Autumn.
This works well with music, as I often don’t have the vocabulary to describe the music, but I still tend to label my response or evaluate the music. But experiencing music without thought is very enjoyable, perhaps summed up by the cliché “lost in music”.

In summary, the self is a belief, which leads to a thinking habit of identifying with experience through labelling. If the labelling stops, the experience is more authentic or real, less mediated by thoughts and concepts, and “my” sense of self in less evident.

Many thanks, Mark


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