Looking for a guide

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Jacob
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Looking for a guide

Postby Jacob » Wed Apr 17, 2013 4:24 pm

Hello,

Looking for a guide. I'm 28 years old, have been sitting since I was 19. Have been practicing self-inquiry for about a year. Feeling that the time is ripe to see through this illusion of self or "I". Fear arises. Yesterday, read a little bit of Gateless Gatecrashers and looked into my experience along with the participants. I saw/experienced the following:
Disbelief and resistance at first that there is no self. Then, fear and sadness when this possibility is accepted. Inside, I see a field of blackness, nothingness.

Behind the fear, I encounter a luminosity, a Being, another “nothingness” but this is more alive. It engenders both sadness and joy simultaneously. I can rest in this more. Perhaps this is just my imagination, however…

There is nothing, nothing hat needs to be protected. But the fear is still there.

Fear, panic, and worry at the idea that there is no manager. That my life will fall to pieces if I am not in control. Then, disbelief that there is no one in control. Somebody HAS to be in control. Otherwise, who is typing this right now? It’s just not possible. These are my thoughts and emotions right now in response. [A little later.] There’s still a fear there, but I accept more the possibility that there is no manager. That all this happens of its own accord. I am able to rest in it more, be more at peace with that.

When I look inward I see that there is no self. But I worry that I may not be looking in all places for the self. What about this body I feel? Is this not “me”?
Right now, have many thoughts referencing an "I" but see them more as deluded with no "I" behind them. The "I" is seen more as a linguistic marker. I am much more able to accept that there never was an "I". Plenty of fear, embarrassment, worry: my regular mental tendencies showing up, but am less likely to take possession of them. I recognize them more as part of a stream of experience, along with thoughts and other sensations.

Would love some help from here. Thanks.

With love,
Jake

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Hannah B-T
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Re: Looking for a guide

Postby Hannah B-T » Thu Apr 18, 2013 10:13 am

Hi Jake

I would be very happy to guide you.
Before we start, could you confirm you have read the info and disclaimer here
http://liberationunleashed.com/nation/v ... f=16&t=221

and also you are ok with the ground rules, which are:
-Try to post at least once a day
-Try to respond to my questions with 100% honesty, speaking from your actual direct experience in the present rather than concepts or beliefs you have read/heard or studied in the past (if you are not sure what is meant by the term 'direct experience' we can look at that)
-To help that and avoid distraction, i suggest that you try to cut back on reading/listening to teachers or engaging with other practices except for any core meditation practices you may have, to focus fully on the inquiry we are doing here whilst we are in dialogue.

Thanks
Hannah
Are there keys in your pocket? Is the sky blue? Is there an 'i, a self?' LOOK! :)

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Jacob
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Re: Looking for a guide

Postby Jacob » Thu Apr 18, 2013 1:51 pm

Hi Hannah,

Thanks for agreeing to work with me. Yes, I have read the disclaimer.

Should I also cut back on self-inquiry practice? It entails me asking myself "Where am I?"

Thanks,
Jake

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Hannah B-T
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Re: Looking for a guide

Postby Hannah B-T » Thu Apr 18, 2013 11:20 pm

Great, lets get started!
Should I also cut back on self-inquiry practice? It entails me asking myself "Where am I?"
Yes please. The idea of 'asking yourself' questions is a little different to what we are doing here. Can you see how?

Thanks for your first post, there is a lot of very useful stuff for us to explore in there, especially the fear you described so keep an eye out for that in your experience, keep bringing awareness to it, and we'll come back to it shortly.
Behind the fear, I encounter a luminosity, a Being, another “nothingness” but this is more alive. It engenders both sadness and joy simultaneously. I can rest in this more.
Beware of putting any labels (luminousity, Being etc) at all on this experience at this stage. But accepting it as valid and resting in it more if it happens sounds like a good plan...

First questions- could you tell me what changes you think will occur once this illusion of a seperate self has been seen through? What will it do for you?
Are there keys in your pocket? Is the sky blue? Is there an 'i, a self?' LOOK! :)

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Jacob
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Re: Looking for a guide

Postby Jacob » Fri Apr 19, 2013 1:08 am

Alright, I will drop self-inquiry practice during this process. The self-inquiry cuts down on rumination and keeps me more aware of the present moment. This process seems to be about looking directly at my experience, without invoking the question.

After liberation, I will still experience "negative" emotions such as fear, sadness, jealously, anger, etc., but "I" will relate to them differently. They will not be "mine." I will still have self-referential thoughts, but will be able to detect their self-centered nature more readily (?). I am not so sure about the second one.

Life will be easier, will flow more easily, will be more joyful. I will feel more free and more connected to everything.

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Hannah B-T
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Re: Looking for a guide

Postby Hannah B-T » Fri Apr 19, 2013 5:43 pm

Hi Jake, thanks for your replies,
This process seems to be about looking directly at my experience, without invoking the question.
Yep, nice. :) We will be looking directly at the nature of experience, including the experience of thoughts. This form of self inquiry appears to me to be creating more thoughts about thoughts, rather than investigating the nature of thought itself. Does that make sense? if not don't worry about it at the moment we can come back to that if and when relevant!
Sitting practice seems to help this process for some people though, by allowing a space where thoughts especially are able to be experienced with more awareness, so that's why we say it's fine to continue that if you find it helpful. Walks in nature are good too, if that's available to you.
After liberation, I will still experience "negative" emotions such as fear, sadness, jealously, anger, etc., but "I" will relate to them differently. They will not be "mine."
Yes, great, all experience will still be experienced, whatever is currently labelled negative, OR positive or neutral.
However they will likely be experienced differently which will create less suffering.
I will still have self-referential thoughts, but will be able to detect their self-centered nature more readily (?). I am not so sure about the second one.
What doesn't feel right about this statement? Can you rephrase it so it feels better for you?
Life will be easier, will flow more easily, will be more joyful. I will feel more free and more connected to everything.
That seems to become a more common experience after seeing. But not neccesarily 24/7. See your first point! Any questions or fears come up when I say that?
Are there keys in your pocket? Is the sky blue? Is there an 'i, a self?' LOOK! :)

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Jacob
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Re: Looking for a guide

Postby Jacob » Fri Apr 19, 2013 7:59 pm

I love walks in nature!

My experience of asking "Where am I?" is that it does not generate more thoughts, as I do not engage the question with my rational mind. Instead, I let the question "work on me" on an unconscious level and am present for stillness of mind which often obtains after the question is asked.

At first I was unsure whether or not I will have thoughts of “I” and “mine” after liberation. Thinking about it a bit more, I expect that I will still have thoughts containing an “I,” but as with emotions, I will relate to them differently. How to rephrase…hmm…”I will still have self-referential thoughts, but I will not take the ‘I’ that is the subject of such thoughts as my identity. Instead, I will see a thought of ‘I’ as just another thought.” That feels better. :) Is this accurate?

I definitely experience disappointment when I accept that everything won’t be completely hunky-dory after liberation, that is, that I will still experience fear, jealousy, anger, etc. I am unwilling to fully accept and experience “negative” emotions. I think this is because I consider a fruit of practice to be permanent feelings of joy and bliss; thus, any other emotions must be eliminated! (Said with melodrama. :) )

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Hannah B-T
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Re: Looking for a guide

Postby Hannah B-T » Sat Apr 20, 2013 1:42 pm

Thanks for your thoughtful replies- I really appreciate that
I love walks in nature!
Great! When you next go for one- Write to me about the direct experience you had through the senses, thoughts going through the mind etc- there will likely be a lot to explore in that.
My experience of asking "Where am I?" is that it does not generate more thoughts, as I do not engage the question with my rational mind. Instead, I let the question "work on me" on an unconscious level and am present for stillness of mind which often obtains after the question is asked.
That's really clear, thank you. It helps me to know how you are approaching this inquiry.
At first I was unsure whether or not I will have thoughts of “I” and “mine” after liberation. Thinking about it a bit more, I expect that I will still have thoughts containing an “I,” but as with emotions, I will relate to them differently. How to rephrase…hmm…”I will still have self-referential thoughts, but I will not take the ‘I’ that is the subject of such thoughts as my identity. Instead, I will see a thought of ‘I’ as just another thought.” That feels better. :) Is this accurate?
Lovely :)
I definitely experience disappointment when I accept that everything won’t be completely hunky-dory after liberation, that is, that I will still experience fear, jealousy, anger, etc. I am unwilling to fully accept and experience “negative” emotions. I think this is because I consider a fruit of practice to be permanent feelings of joy and bliss; thus, any other emotions must be eliminated! (Said with melodrama. :) )
It's great you've clocked this. Really take that in.This is a big sticking point for a lot of people. For me it was something about this seeing being viewed as a 'state'. In meditation we have been used to experiencing different 'states of conciousness' which can be very pleasurable indeed, and this can be quite seductive into believing in them as the 'fruits of practice' and thus craving for them again, and therefore negative emotions arising when they are not happenning etc. The mind can get 'hung up' on these, and start up all sorts of weird ideas- like your one that other emotions must be eliminated! (love the melodrama :)- humour indicates I have begun to stop identifying with those thoughts in my experience.)
This is NOT liberation...because by their nature those states are impermanent (as is everything!) and therefore arise and pass away in dependance on conditions.That's not to say pleasurable mental states won't arise after liberation though, so don't get too downheartened!
I am unwilling to fully accept and experience “negative” emotions
I have some ideas how we can work with that, and this seems important to address.

So... I would like you to replace your 'where am I' question with this one:
“What comes up when it is read that there is absolutely no “you” in any way, shape or form, there never has been a “you”, nor is there or will be there ever be?”

Really go deep, and try to write exactly what you are experiencing, especially in the body. If what you are calling fear or anxiety comes up- use awareness to stay with it if you can. Try to meet it with a friendly curiousity. What is this? What is the ACTUAL experience of this, particualrly the physical sensations as well as the thought patterns. Then if that's going ok, maybe drop in something like 'are these sensations and thoughts 'me'?'

Fear is a protective mechanism, which is fine- Only problem is in this case it's trying to protect something which doesn't exist. So if that's what comes up, it's that that needs the looking...
I'll keep a close eye on the thread at the moment in case needed.

Hannah
x
Are there keys in your pocket? Is the sky blue? Is there an 'i, a self?' LOOK! :)

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Jacob
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Re: Looking for a guide

Postby Jacob » Sat Apr 20, 2013 8:56 pm

Hi Hannah,

When I entertain the notion that there is no "I," that there never has been one and there never will be one, my first reaction is disbelief, as in "That can't be possible!" There's a smugness there, as if you don't have any clue what you are talking about, because the "I" is so self-evident. =) However, behind this smugness is a deep worry that you may be right. I feel this as a patter in my chest, a clenching. Then, the fear comes. It's a rising, stinging energy out of my abdomen, up into my chest. I feel slightly nauseous and my eyes are watery. There's a clenching in my diaphragm, a resistance. The narrative in my head is "It can't be! It can't be true that I don't exist! What will I do without the "I"?! I will die! There will no one to take care of me!" This is all very curious, because there are two "I"s here: the "I" that loses and the "I" that is lost. I also feel sadness, a desire to cry that arises out of feeling vulnerable.

If I sit longer with the notion of "no 'I'" the fear dissipates; the stinging in my chest gives way to lightness and the clenching in my stomach disappears. There is a sense of "not-knowing" and being pretty okay with that. It is a pleasant feeling that I rest in. My awareness is more expansive and boundaries are less defined. If I occasionally "reinforce" this meditation with the mantra "no 'I'" there is a temporary pang of fear that immediately disappears, giving way to the pleasant resting again. On occasion, I encounter the disbelief again, which manifests as a whirling sensation in my diaphragm and a subtle tightening in my face and chest. If I go deeper though, I encounter the fear as noted and then the calm.

If I ask myself if these sensations are "me," the response I get is "no." But it begs the question: what am I then? Tell me! =)

It's as if what I call "I" is awareness--pure subject--within which these sensations and thoughts arise and dissipate. I had this exact insight about two weeks ago, calling it "dualistic witness consciousness," but I cannot sustain it in my daily life without overheating my brain. It is more an intellectual understanding than an embodiment of a principle I think. I have also had the experience recently of turning this awareness upon itself, that is, of awareness looking at awareness, and being nearly blown off my cushion. It was disorienting, but I felt like I saw the path to the domain of oneness.

With love,
Jake

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Hannah B-T
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Re: Looking for a guide

Postby Hannah B-T » Sun Apr 21, 2013 12:40 am

Great post, thank you!
There's a smugness there, as if you don't have any clue what you are talking about, because the "I" is so self-evident. =)
If I ask myself if these sensations are "me," the response I get is "no." But it begs the question: what am I then? Tell me! =)
Fine...Prove me wrong. I really want you to prove me wrong, seriously. Really LOOK into everything you are doing, saying and thinking not just on the cushion but off it, and tell me what you think you are. I'm not here to tell you that, no-one ever can. You need to SEE this for yourself.
Describe this self evident 'I' to me- what is it made up of? Where does it reside in the body? What function does it perform?
The narrative in my head is "It can't be! It can't be true that I don't exist! What will I do without the "I"?! I will die! There will no one to take care of me!"
Well there never has been one, and you seem to have made it through life pretty well intact so far! :) These thoughts do love the drama don't they. I recognise this pattern. I had an mentor at work once who used to say 'stop catastrophising Hannah!' But it seems that these thoughts can be let go of quickly which is great. Just because something is intense doesn't make it any more 'real'.

So are these thoughts implying that the 'I' is a caretaker of some sort? What is that looking after/ protecting ? I'm not clear about this feeling of vunerability. Tell me a bit more about that if you can.
I feel this as a patter in my chest, a clenching. Then, the fear comes. It's a rising, stinging energy out of my abdomen, up into my chest. I feel slightly nauseous and my eyes are watery. There's a clenching in my diaphragm, a resistance.
the fear dissipates; the stinging in my chest gives way to lightness and the clenching in my stomach disappears. There is a sense of "not-knowing" and being pretty okay with that. It is a pleasant feeling that I rest in
I encounter the disbelief again, which manifests as a whirling sensation in my diaphragm and a subtle tightening in my face and chest
If I ask myself if these sensations are "me," the response I get is "no."


This is good. This is moving towards direct experience. This is where the inquiry is. Can you just stay at this level- the level of the sensations in the body, recognise them as just sensations, strong and intense perhaps, unpleasant probably, but just sensations arising and passing away. No labels AT ALL- 'fear' 'anxiety 'disbelief' etc. and no thought stories which will always try to make out of these basic experiences something much more dramatic and more complicated than it this is. Just like this...
It's as if what I call "I" is awareness--pure subject--within which these sensations and thoughts arise and dissipate. I had this exact insight about two weeks ago, calling it "dualistic witness consciousness," but I cannot sustain it in my daily life without overheating my brain. It is more an intellectual understanding than an embodiment of a principle I think. I have also had the experience recently of turning this awareness upon itself, that is, of awareness looking at awareness, and being nearly blown off my cushion. It was disorienting, but I felt like I saw the path to the domain of oneness.
:) x
the stinging in my chest gives way to lightness and the clenching in my stomach disappears. There is a sense of "not-knowing" and being pretty okay with that. It is a pleasant feeling that I rest in. My awareness is more expansive and boundaries are less defined.
What if the answer were as undramatic, and as simple as this statement? As simple as resting in that lightness and 'okeyness', and not needing anything else. What would that be like?

Hannah
x
Are there keys in your pocket? Is the sky blue? Is there an 'i, a self?' LOOK! :)

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Jacob
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Re: Looking for a guide

Postby Jacob » Sun Apr 21, 2013 3:28 pm

Describe this self evident 'I' to me- what is it made up of? Where does it reside in the body? What function does it perform?
It’s not self-evident. That’s just my first reaction. Like you said, when I LOOK, there is no “I.” What I usually call “I” is really a collection of sensations and thoughts. If I see, instead, that this collection is not “me,” then I understand the “I” as the awareness of this collection. It’s more like an “’I’feeling” then. I understand even here though that “I” and “’I’ feeling” are just labels for this awareness (another label indeed!). But I haven’t “punctured” this “I” feeling, that is, the “I” feeling is still a dualistic state. If I turn it against itself, that is, when awareness is aware of itself, I lose a sense of objects to a degree. This is where I am at.

The “I” doesn’t reside anywhere. Although, admittedly, I have a nagging feeling that it may be hiding, that I haven’t looked every place! Thus, a haiku I wrote yesterday:

Well, then, “Where am I?”
I must either be hiding
Or must not exist.

The “I” serves to keep me safe. It’s a protective mechanism it seems. I feel this way, because if I consider that there is no “I,” then I worry that my life will go to shambles. But, as you say, there is no “I” to begin with and my life is not in shambles… But I haven’t fully seen yet this no-self stuff. I still think that I may have just passed over the “I” by accident in my travels.

I notice in my meditation that if there is a sudden noise, then the second step is the mind’s interpreting of that noise and ensuing narrative. “Was it the neighbor’s car? Oh, she’s home now. I wonder why she is home at this time…” and so on. I see this process more clearly now and can stick to the direct experience of the initial sensation more easily.

I went for a walk yesterday and honed in on the squeaking of my shoes. I noticed that a disidentification takes place: the squeaking no longer belongs to “my shoes” but instead there is just squeaking. I don’t know where to go from there.
What if the answer were as undramatic, and as simple…as resting in that lightness and 'okeyness', and not needing anything else. What would that be like?
That would be f**kin’ awesome! It would be freedom and calm and lightness and subtle joy. I just need practice staying there. The “no ‘I’” mantra takes me there, so I will continue practicing that.

In my meditation this morning, a major sticking point was the notion of “no doer” or “no manager” of my life, a logical consequence of “no ‘I.’” How can there not be a doer? Who is guiding his awareness, focusing on this or that? I even did a little experiment, moving my toe over and over again to see who was doing it. After awhile, it did feel automatic, as if no doer was necessary. But to get the toe started up…

Thanks for keeping me on my toes.

With love,
Jake

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Hannah B-T
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Re: Looking for a guide

Postby Hannah B-T » Mon Apr 22, 2013 12:25 am

But I haven’t “punctured” this “I” feeling, that is, the “I” feeling is still a dualistic state. If I turn it against itself, that is, when awareness is aware of itself, I lose a sense of objects to a degree. This is where I am at.
'You' can't puncture it. It may go pop, or just slip away quietly, but there's that illusory 'doer' again. 'You' can't turn it against itself! How can awareness be aware of itself? You're making my brain hurt lol!
This quote by Byron Katie sprung to mind:
“Reality doesn’t wait for your opinion, vote, or permission, sweetheart. It just keeps being what it is and doing what it does.”
~ Byron Katie
:) Just REST. That's it...! There was never some big complicated problem out there trying to trick you. If it feels like that, that is just more thoughts.
Well, then, “Where am I?”
I must either be hiding
Or must not exist.
So..where else is there to look? Is it possible you already have looked everywhere, but there is just resistance to this all coming to a conclusion?
I notice in my meditation that if there is a sudden noise, then the second step is the mind’s interpreting of that noise and ensuing narrative. “Was it the neighbor’s car? Oh, she’s home now. I wonder why she is home at this time…” and so on. I see this process more clearly now and can stick to the direct experience of the initial sensation more easily.
Great! go with this...
I went for a walk yesterday and honed in on the squeaking of my shoes. I noticed that a disidentification takes place: the squeaking no longer belongs to “my shoes” but instead there is just squeaking. I don’t know where to go from there.
No need to go anywhere else. Just stay with the squeaking! Just really enjoy the sounds, sensations, sights. Drink them in like you are small child who has never seen or heard these things before. Fresh, simple, and just doing what they were always doing...there's a whole world out there to explore :)
In my meditation this morning, a major sticking point was the notion of “no doer” or “no manager” of my life, a logical consequence of “no ‘I.’” How can there not be a doer? Who is guiding his awareness, focusing on this or that? I even did a little experiment, moving my toe over and over again to see who was doing it. After awhile, it did feel automatic, as if no doer was necessary. But to get the toe started up…
Ok, this is often a tricky one. It was for me. Look REALLY carefully at the thoughts arising around the moment volition (doing) seems to start up. Does the action start first or the thoughts about the action? Are there actions happenning in the day without any thoughts at all about them? Where is the 'manager' then?

If it feels pushy at all, its only because I can see how close you are. Keep me posted on what you find out...

Hannah
x
Are there keys in your pocket? Is the sky blue? Is there an 'i, a self?' LOOK! :)

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Jacob
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Re: Looking for a guide

Postby Jacob » Mon Apr 22, 2013 2:44 pm

Morning,

I should have explained “turn awareness against itself” better. Essentially I take the awareness that notices objects, I “sit it out on” these objects themselves and make awareness look backwards toward itself. What is left is only pure awareness without an object. Gary Weber, a teacher of mine, suggested this practice as a next step for me after I mentioned the experience of the dualistic witness. Prior to that I involuntarily slipped into this method a few times in meditation and found it very disorienting, like a big feeling of “Whoa! What the f**k was that?”
:) Just REST. That's it...! There was never some big complicated problem out there trying to trick you. If it feels like that, that is just more thoughts.
When I rest I feel like I should simultaneously figure out this problem of “I.” Maybe I need to give up this looking, just rest as you say and let whatever insights arise…? That’s a question.
So..where else is there to look? Is it possible you already have looked everywhere, but there is just resistance to this all coming to a conclusion?
This is wonderful – thank you! I never saw it as resistance, but that’s what it seems to be: the “I” saying that it exists, but that I just haven’t looked hard enough to find it. I don’t know where else I would look, yet the doubt that I haven’t been thorough in my search still lingers.

I stuck with the sounds at the office and tried to stay prior to thought-interpretation. With time, people’s voices seemed slightly alien, like jibberish, and they just popped in and out of awareness, without any spatial determinants.

I will go for some walks today and try to drink in the sensations. :) One problem I have is I cannot sustain concentration on sensations without overheating my head. Yesterday, after about 20 minutes of this type of meditation, my head ached a bit and I felt imbalanced. I had to bring my energy down to my lower abdomen to get comfortable. Do you have any recommendations here? I seem to be trying too hard. :/
Ok, this is often a tricky one. It was for me. Look REALLY carefully at the thoughts arising around the moment volition (doing) seems to start up. Does the action start first or the thoughts about the action? Are there actions happenning in the day without any thoughts at all about them? Where is the 'manager' then?
Oh, I do things mindlessly all the time! Good point. The “I” takes ownership of these actions. I will explore this more. Thanks!

This doesn’t feel pushy at all. I really appreciate your effort at helping me see.

With love,
Jake

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Jacob
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Re: Looking for a guide

Postby Jacob » Mon Apr 22, 2013 7:39 pm

On my walk today, I focused on the soles of my shoes. After a few minutes, my feet started to feel alien, like they didn’t belong to “me.” The sensations around my feet were just sensations without a source. Moved my awareness to sounds and tactile sensations. Tried to “drink” them in gently. After about 5 minutes, boredom set in: I tend to enjoy engaging with thoughts and focusing on sensations becomes monotonous for me. Instead of pushing against this boredom, I accepted and explored it as just another set of sensations. After a few minutes it dissipated and I must admit, I subtly enjoyed staying with it. Near the end of my walk, I had a sense that sounds do not need an “I” to be heard.

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Re: Looking for a guide

Postby Jacob » Mon Apr 22, 2013 11:06 pm

I looked more closely to see if there was a “doer” performing action. What I found was that “I” can observe this body doing things without “me” needing to intervene and direct things along. I don’t have to go through an arduous decision process when folding my clothes, for example. The motions happen automatically it seems. In fact, in some instances, my body feels moved to do things, because the time is ripe, i.e., because “I” feel like it. But, the takeaway? “I” must just be on vacation when these simple tasks are performed. Again, “I” continue to invent reasons or scenarios to undermine any conclusion that “I” do not exist. This is the resistance you pointed out previously. I need to look at this resistance more closely and investigate the emotion—probably fear—that bolsters it. I am dancing around this fear at this point.


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