Request for guidance from Nona.

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sarsen
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Request for guidance from Nona.

Postby sarsen » Tue Apr 02, 2013 10:18 am

Hello, Nona. Have you the space to act as my guide? I meditate and have reflected on some of the 'no fixed self' teachings.
Harry

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Re: Request for guidance from Nona.

Postby nonaparry » Wed Apr 03, 2013 9:44 am

Greetings, Harry!

How we work here is I ask you questions, and you reply with complete honesty. You agree to post here at least once a day, even if only to say you cannot reply today. I will take your reply as agreement to this contract.

Can you tell me a bit about your journey so far, how you came to LU, and what you expect to get from our conversation?

love
Nona
"When you eliminate the impossible, whatever remains—however improbable—must be the truth." ~ Sir Arthur Conan Doyle

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Re: Request for guidance from Nona.

Postby sarsen » Wed Apr 03, 2013 12:14 pm

Thank you, Nona.
I found LU through hearing about it from friends in the UK.

My journey so far:
I reflected on your question in meditation and 'saw' a 'turning point' that seems significant.
About 25 years ago I was in a steady but stressful career. I found relaxation in the running of a smallholding as a hobby. I regret now that this involved growing and preparing animals for the table. It became more difficult as I grew to sympathise with the conciousness of the creatures in my charge. The day came when I rejected killing and meat eating. Immediately, I felt cleaner and freer.
I was startled at the change in my mental states and opinions – in this new openess I bumped into the Dharma.
Since then I've studied Buddhism and meditated, and taught others.
Nowadays my opinions seem more flexible and less hardened. I do seem to exist as a mind, but that mind is so variable in its direction, swerving between crudity and creativity, that I'm often nonplussed as to what might be true reality.

What I hope to get from our conversation:
A clearer awareness of the nature of mind and, perhaps some equanimity.

So, Nona, that's how things appear this morning. Just a snapshot of a maelstrom.

best wishes
Harry

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Re: Request for guidance from Nona.

Postby nonaparry » Wed Apr 03, 2013 8:42 pm

Hi Harry,
What I hope to get from our conversation: A clearer awareness of the nature of mind and, perhaps some equanimity.
Quite possibly. Most people who see through the illusion of a separate self experience these.

Do you have any expectations of what seeing through the illusion of a separate self will mean? Or of what liberation is? Or of how you will know that you have reached your goal? Please be specific.


Let us begin with what comes up, especially emotions and sensations, when I state There is no separate self at all in reality; no manager, no observer, no witness. There is no entity "me" to which life happens or which has control over "your" experience. There is only life happening, moving freely, without a general manager that is "you". Please describe fully.

love
Nona
"When you eliminate the impossible, whatever remains—however improbable—must be the truth." ~ Sir Arthur Conan Doyle

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Re: Request for guidance from Nona.

Postby sarsen » Thu Apr 04, 2013 10:32 am

Hello, Nona. Thank you for the reply. Your questions are to the point and cause some stirrings around the heart centre.
You ask:
"Do you have any expectations of what seeing through the illusion of a separate self will mean? Or of what liberation is? Or of how you will know that you have reached your goal? Please be specific. "
To see through the illusion of self: I expect that I'd better see, or understand, the world from another's point of view – not that I'd come to share another's opinion or attitude, but that I would better understand the other's hindrances and conditioned position. What I'm trying to express might best be termed, empathy – for 'myself' and another 'self'.
Liberation, I expect, would free me of self reference. Pride and aquisitiveness would diminish; I would no longer be competetive and therefore envy would cease.
I assume Liberation to be freedom from craving, aversion, and ignorance – but here I can only quote the Buddha. Liberation sounds akin to Enlightenment. Until that time, I cannot know from my own experience.
How will I know the goal? I've a hunch that, for me, there would be no sudden 'flash of light' experience. Rather the path to the goal will be one of positive change, a gradual fading of self centeredness, an increase of wisdom, a growing of ease. The 'goal' is probably a symbol to encourage us to tread the path – it won't have absolute reality. I assume profound equanimity would be the sign that the path is complete.

You write:
" Let us begin with what comes up, especially emotions and sensations, when I state There is no separate self at all in reality; no manager, no observer, no witness. There is no entity "me" to which life happens or which has control over "your" experience. There is only life happening, moving freely, without a general manager that is "you". Please describe fully."

I understand, intellectually, this 'no separate self', and accept it as true. From experience: When I look within, I do not find a permanent self, only a consciousness that is fluid and cannot be grasped. A sort of roving, unstable, changing self that can experience ill-will or love, all within a morning.
When I look within, there is a tangible experience of a 'me'. It seems to inhabit the mind. In meditation, with heightened awareness, I might experience a watcher – and, looking deeper, even a watcher of the watcher, and so on, in an infinite regression. I assume this is a process of mind-brain activity. This is my subtlest experience of self. I find though, very occasionally, in deepest meditation, that even that subtle self might vanish to leave only the experience of bright awareness – an awareness that seems without a centre. It feels like a state of poise and of peace.

Thanks for reading, Nona. I will be away from the internet Friday and Saturday – so cannot post for two days.

Best wishes
Harry

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Re: Request for guidance from Nona.

Postby nonaparry » Thu Apr 04, 2013 5:56 pm

Hi Harry,
What I'm trying to express might best be termed, empathy – for 'myself' and another 'self'.
Sounds like "compassion" for all of Life.
There is no your 'self' and there is no other 'self'. Self is a label that has come to represent what you mean when you think about "I, me, self". It is not an entity in reality; it is a thought that points to other thoughts about self.
Liberation, I expect, would free me of self reference.
Not at all. As long as you use any language on this planet (except for two), to communicate is to refer to self. What you WILL experience with liberation is that the self that is referenced is an illusion; it isn't real. Much like walking in the desert and seeing a mirage. Only you will know the mirage is not water.
I would no longer be competetive and therefore envy would cease.
Maybe. But there is no "you" to be competitive and envious NOW; why would this change when it is seen that the self you have believed in all along was fictional?
I assume Liberation to be freedom from craving, aversion, and ignorance
It CAN be; however, most of us manage to see the illusion of self while hanging on to a lifetime of conditioned thinking and behaviour. Without a self for these to cling to, they do seem to loosen and can fall away.
Rather the path to the goal will be one of positive change, a gradual fading of self centeredness, an increase of wisdom, a growing of ease. The 'goal' is probably a symbol to encourage us to tread the path – it won't have absolute reality. I assume profound equanimity would be the sign that the path is complete.
Possibly. I don't have a "goal" myself, and really couldn't say. So far it seems my journey is not complete; although I don't seek, I continue to discover new perspectives that have me re-evaluate what I thought I knew.
When I look within, I do not find a permanent self, only a consciousness that is fluid and cannot be grasped.
What do you mean by "When I look within"? What exactly is this operation? It doesn't appear to be Looking with the eyes in your head.
Here we will refer to your direct experience, that is, seeing, hearing, tasting, smelling, sensation. You have already grasped no separate self intellectually; now I will point you to seeing it in reality. That means you will need to check everywhere in your direct experience for this elusive self.
A sort of roving, unstable, changing self that can experience ill-will or love, all within a morning.
Is that what you usually mean by "self"? Something not inherently existing? Is that what you meant by the self and another self that would experience empathy?
Or do you usually mean self as "the entity which is a person's essential being, that distinguishes them from others"?
When I look within, there is a tangible experience of a 'me'.
I don't think so. Tangible means perceptible by touch. Where "within" is there a "me" that you can touch?
It seems to inhabit the mind.
Yes; mind is the alleged locale of thought, and "me" is only a thought.
In meditation, with heightened awareness, I might experience a watcher – and, looking deeper, even a watcher of the watcher, and so on, in an infinite regression.
And is the watcher a "you"? Does it control a slice of Life that you identify as "yours"?
in deepest meditation, that even that subtle self might vanish to leave only the experience of bright awareness – an awareness that seems without a centre. It feels like a state of poise and of peace.
Very nice. And this is merely a State.
SEEing through the illusion of self is not a State; it is seeing the truth that no entity "self" actually exists in reality.
It is not even necessary to sit in the awareness of no self in order to know it with complete certainty—any more than it is necessary to sit in awareness that Santa Claus or Batman is not real but is a fictional character.

Enjoy your couple of days' break and I will hear from you again when you get back.

love
Nona
"When you eliminate the impossible, whatever remains—however improbable—must be the truth." ~ Sir Arthur Conan Doyle

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Re: Request for guidance from Nona.

Postby sarsen » Mon Apr 08, 2013 10:17 pm

Thank you for the illuminating response, Nona. I am now back from the weekend away.
Back to the Great Matter:
I would no longer be competetive and therefore envy would cease.
Nona: "Maybe. But there is no "you" to be competitive and envious NOW; why would this change when it is seen that the self you have believed in all along was fictional?"

Granted, such a self is fictional. It's a fiction and delusion that persists unless there is constant awareness. That awareness needs to be recollected for the delusion to scatter - it seems so in practice.
When I look within, I do not find a permanent self, only a consciousness that is fluid and cannot be grasped.
Nona: "What do you mean by "When I look within"? What exactly is this operation? It doesn't appear to be Looking with the eyes in your head."

Looking within - in my experience - is taking awareness away from the 'head' and placing it in the 'heart' region. It has a physical feel to it, but is accompanied by a sort of 'knowing'.
A sort of roving, unstable, changing self that can experience ill-will or love, all within a morning.
Nona: "Is that what you usually mean by "self"? Something not inherently existing? Is that what you meant by the self and another self that would experience empathy?
Or do you usually mean self as "the entity which is a person's essential being, that distinguishes them from others"?"

The first. Not inherently existing. But that can change to 'provisionally existing' for the purpose of working/communicating in the world. It might harden up into selfhood depending on the nature of my views and opinion at any one time. Awareness, when it returns, soon drives away the delusion of self, opinion and view, to replace them with empathy. I watched this happening this weekend. It was a conference attended by a wide section of humanity and I had many opportunities to watch my mind respond and react to other minds - not always skillfully.

When I look within, there is a tangible experience of a 'me'.
Nona: "I don't think so. Tangible means perceptible by touch. Where "within" is there a "me" that you can touch?"

I've been looking for this phenomena. It seems centred around the heart. It is a feeling. It may only be awareness, and nothing substantial at all.
In meditation, with heightened awareness, I might experience a watcher – and, looking deeper, even a watcher of the watcher, and so on, in an infinite regression.
Nona: "And is the watcher a "you"? Does it control a slice of Life that you identify as "yours"?"

On reflection, it does not seem to be a hard 'me', it is rather an intelligence of some sort. It is elusive. Perhaps it is best called 'an awareness'. It's insubstantial and does not respond to my name.

Thank you for bearing with me, Nona. I've taken your points to heart and carry them through the day.

love
Harry

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Re: Request for guidance from Nona.

Postby nonaparry » Tue Apr 09, 2013 11:02 pm

Hi Harry,

Welcome back to inquiry!
It's a fiction and delusion that persists unless there is constant awareness.
Um, no. Santa is a fiction, but you don't need constant awareness of that in order to know he is not real. Same with Batman. If I ask you to look for the Batman in the room, you won't—you know with certainty there isn't one.
This is also true when you SEE for yourself there is no entity "self"; that it's also a fictional character, a story created by language.
Looking within - in my experience - is taking awareness away from the 'head' and placing it in the 'heart' region. It has a physical feel to it, but is accompanied by a sort of 'knowing'.
Okay. And as much as possible I'd like you to stay in Direct Experience, that is, sensation of seeing, hearing, smelling, tasting, touching, feeling. If looking within fits that framework, let's use it. WHAT looks within? WHAT "knows"?
The first. Not inherently existing. But that can change to 'provisionally existing' for the purpose of working/communicating in the world.
Do you observe the thought-construct labeled "self" to be empty?
Awareness, when it returns, soon drives away the delusion of self, opinion and view, to replace them with empathy.
SEEing there is no entity "self" EVER, in conventional reality, is simply observing a FACT. There is no separate entity "self" at all in conventional reality.
Where "within" is there a "me" that you can touch?"
I've been looking for this phenomena. It seems centred around the heart. It is a feeling. It may only be awareness, and nothing substantial at all.
If I tell you to touch your leg, you touch a leg. Go ahead; touch it. Now touch the left arm, and now the chin, now touch the right ear, and the nose.
Just follow through this.
Now touch "me".
Can you touch "me"? How about the watcher? If not, how do you know, outside of thinking about it, that there is a me or a watcher there at all?
The feeling is not a self; it is a sensation plus a label. You change the label to suit your thinking in the moment: self, me, watcher. These are words you attach to a thought about "self"; they have no existence outside of thought.
And is the watcher a "you"? Does it control a slice of Life that you identify as "yours"?
On reflection, it does not seem to be a hard 'me', it is rather an intelligence of some sort. It is elusive. Perhaps it is best called 'an awareness'. It's insubstantial and does not respond to my name.
Please don't rely on seem-ing; seeming is made of thoughts about something. LOOK with the eyes in your head, experience what is actually happening in conventional reality in this moment. Do you SEE a watcher? Or do you merely infer one? What is the watcher in reality other than a bundle of thoughts plus a label? What is self, me, I in reality other than a bundle of thoughts plus a label?
It is elusive because you merely assume there is a watcher; you invent it so that there is an something to be aware of your experience of Life. But all Life is is experienced awareness. There is no need for an entity to experience Life; Life experiences itself.

love
Nona
"When you eliminate the impossible, whatever remains—however improbable—must be the truth." ~ Sir Arthur Conan Doyle

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Re: Request for guidance from Nona.

Postby sarsen » Wed Apr 10, 2013 8:08 pm

Hello, Nona

Thankyou for your comment. I'll try to respond to the points you make:
Looking within - in my experience - is taking awareness away from the 'head' and placing it in the 'heart' region. It has a physical feel to it, but is accompanied by a sort of 'knowing'.
"Okay. And as much as possible I'd like you to stay in Direct Experience, that is, sensation of seeing, hearing, smelling, tasting, touching, feeling. If looking within fits that framework, let's use it. WHAT looks within? WHAT "knows"?"

I've turned my mind towards this and explored further. The 'looking within' is not dependant on those six body senses or consciousnesses. It is done by mind consciousness. The process of 'looking within' begins in the head based on a decision to look; it moves to the heart area based on decision to 'go deeper', and rests there. In the heart, it is an awareness free of specific identity and is not attached to a self.
The first. Not inherently existing. But that can change to 'provisionally existing' for the purpose of working/communicating in the world.
"Do you observe the thought-construct labeled "self" to be empty?"

Yes. I do observe it as such. That thought-construct is empty of substance, empty of permanence, empty of self-nature. The realisation reduces anxiety and fear. It should make it easier to die.

"If I tell you to touch your leg, you touch a leg. Go ahead; touch it. Now touch the left arm, and now the chin, now touch the right ear, and the nose.
Just follow through this.
Now touch "me".
Can you touch "me"? How about the watcher? If not, how do you know, outside of thinking about it, that there is a me or a watcher there at all?
The feeling is not a self; it is a sensation plus a label. You change the label to suit your thinking in the moment: self, me, watcher. These are words you attach to a thought about "self"; they have no existence outside of thought."

Yes, Nona, I accept that this is a matter of language and thought. I cannot touch a 'me' with a finger. Neither have I found a way for mind to 'touch' itself.

"Please don't rely on seem-ing; seeming is made of thoughts about something. LOOK with the eyes in your head, experience what is actually happening in conventional reality in this moment. Do you SEE a watcher? Or do you merely infer one? What is the watcher in reality other than a bundle of thoughts plus a label? What is self, me, I in reality other than a bundle of thoughts plus a label?
It is elusive because you merely assume there is a watcher; you invent it so that there is an something to be aware of your experience of Life. But all Life is is experienced awareness. There is no need for an entity to experience Life; Life experiences itself."

Thank you, Nona. That is well said and valuable. There is a tendency for mind to place labels on experience when there is only experience - I see that. I'll stay alert for the tendency to create entity where none exists.
I'm mentally fatigued today. I've not written a great deal in this post, but throughout this unusually hectic Wednesday, I've been recollecting your words and searching.
regards
Harry

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Re: Request for guidance from Nona.

Postby nonaparry » Wed Apr 10, 2013 10:17 pm

Hi Harry,
There is a tendency for mind to place labels on experience when there is only experience - I see that.
Good. Here is an exercise I would like you to do.

Write for me what you are experiencing right now using the words I and me. Get right to the point, no past or future fantasy, just plain description of here now. Like this: I am lying in bed. I am hearing rain. I am typing these words.
Do this for 10 minutes. Watch the body; what physical sensations are happening?

Then for the next 10 minutes write what you are experiencing without the words I and me. Just describe the experience as it is happening in the moment, using verbs: Waiting for next thought, typing, breathing, blinking, hearing rain.
Again watch what is happening in the body.

Now compare these two ways to label experience. What do you notice?

love
Nona
"When you eliminate the impossible, whatever remains—however improbable—must be the truth." ~ Sir Arthur Conan Doyle

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Re: Request for guidance from Nona.

Postby sarsen » Thu Apr 11, 2013 7:53 pm

Hi Harry,
Here is an exercise I would like you to do.

Write for me what you are experiencing right now using the words I and me. Get right to the point, no past or future fantasy, just plain description of here now. Like this: I am lying in bed. I am hearing rain. I am typing these words.
Do this for 10 minutes. Watch the body; what physical sensations are happening?

Then for the next 10 minutes write what you are experiencing without the words I and me. Just describe the experience as it is happening in the moment, using verbs: Waiting for next thought, typing, breathing, blinking, hearing rain.
Again watch what is happening in the body.

Now compare these two ways to label experience. What do you notice?

love
Nona
Thank you, Nona. I'll do that.
10 mins:
At the computer, I feel anxious. My stomach is tense. I want some chocolate - but I don't have any.
I've an urge to go into the garden - breathe the cool evening - I'm yielding to that urge.
It's cool in the garden.
I feel a light rain on my neck.
I see two starlings in a tree.
I hear a blackbird singing and feel a brief delight.
And a soft chortle from the starlings - that cheers me.
My anxiety has subsided.
My stomach is not so tense.
The air is cool on my face.
The air smells fresh.
I hear a neighbour's boiler start up.
I see the red stems of dogwood.
And a few oxlips in flower - yellow.
I'm getting wet.
I see I've left the wheelbarrow out in the rain.
I decide to go indoors.

10 mins:
The central heating radiator hisses. Typing.
Looking through window. The daffodils are bright. Thought: How luminous they are in the fading light.
A sense impression of yellow. Labelling: daffodils, oxlips. A reclining Buddha in the foreground. The sight of him brings quiet to the mind.
Typing. Now going within - looking for self. Nothing much to report - just a sensation of blurred thought, nothing distinct, no well defined ideas except the thought of fuzziness.
A Buddha image on the window sill. His eyes are closed - a sensation of beauty and peace arises.
Outside, the daffodils nod.
Cool fingers stroke lips. A pleasant contrast - warmth and coolness.
A clock ticks.
Elbows feel hard against this desk.
An involuntary and sudden deep breath - and the last of the tension leaves the stomach.
Reading the screen. The cursor blinks.
...............
That was interesting, Nona.
In the first, there was decision making, opinion and value judgement. I can't report a definite sense of self though, but 'I' was present at low level - enough to seek out what it preferred to make contact with. I was relaxed and interested, with recognition and labelling going on.

In the second exercise, there was subtler recognition and naming. But this time I felt much vaguer (hardly present) as an observer. Colour, form and body sensations were enhanced. The colour yellow was intense. The sight of the Buddha images brought a sense of peace greater than usually is the case when I look into the garden beyond this desk.

Thank you for guiding.
love
Harry

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Re: Request for guidance from Nona.

Postby nonaparry » Thu Apr 11, 2013 10:58 pm

Hi Harry,

Nicely done.
In direct experience, notice that Life goes on even without reference to a self.
With "I" LIfe lives itself; without "I" life lives itself. "I" is just a label; it doesn't alter what is actually happening, even though it can alter our thoughts about what is happening.

Keep noticing. As much as possible, watch your Life going on without the label "I", just like in the writing exercise.

love
Nona
"When you eliminate the impossible, whatever remains—however improbable—must be the truth." ~ Sir Arthur Conan Doyle

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Re: Request for guidance from Nona.

Postby sarsen » Sat Apr 13, 2013 7:22 pm

I missed reporting yesterday, Nona. Even so, I have been trying to live in experience without self-reference. Today, the making of a new garden pond for the amphibians has been done with mindfulness. It went well.
Is the guiding completed, or is there more?
love
Harry

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Re: Request for guidance from Nona.

Postby nonaparry » Sat Apr 13, 2013 10:28 pm

Hi Harry,
Is the guiding completed, or is there more?
The guiding doesn't stop until either you SEE through the illusion of a separate self, or you quit looking.

My questions are based on your responses. I am not teaching, so when you don't post I have nothing to question.

I suggest you go back through this thread an answer any unanswered questions you find. This will help me see where you are vis-a-vis "self" and continue to point to the fact that there simply is no such entity "self" in reality.

love
Nona
"When you eliminate the impossible, whatever remains—however improbable—must be the truth." ~ Sir Arthur Conan Doyle

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Re: Request for guidance from Nona.

Postby sarsen » Sun Apr 14, 2013 11:08 pm

Hi Harry,

I suggest you go back through this thread an answer any unanswered questions you find. This will help me see where you are vis-a-vis "self" and continue to point to the fact that there simply is no such entity "self" in reality.

love
Nona
Thanks, Nona - I'll do that over the next few days (from Friday I'm away on retreat for 9 days).

Today, I've been looking at the experience of this fictional self. I notice, in my workshop for instance, that when focussed on the creative process of making art - the experience is without a sense of a self. There is only the creative process. In the making, only the making, as it were.
However, when I paused, I might notice an object. The object might trigger a loosely associated thought. That in turn linked to a memory of an event that was distasteful, and there followed an experience of resentment.
Other, similar sequences were experienced when the creative focus was set aside. It was as though contact with an object can trigger a reaction that brings on opinionated judgement. I was taken by how fast the fictional self could assemble and strut the stage.
Awareness of this matter is a boon. All I had to do was say 'no', and the fiction of self would cease.

In this Gate process, I can wonder if I am simply 'playing with words'. I try to set that aside and concentrate on experience. Even so - words are still with us.
love
Harry


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