requesting a guide

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ss jan
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requesting a guide

Postby ss jan » Wed May 22, 2013 10:46 pm

Thanks to all who have helped make this site happen.

Several friends of mine have been helped by LU. I've just had a busy time, waiting for things to be a little quieter. OK I'm ready to do this now and bring it on - with a little help please - and thank you!

I wonder if Nona Parry is available? But I'm easy who it is really.....
warmly,
Jan

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Re: requesting a guide

Postby nonaparry » Thu May 23, 2013 8:18 am

Hi ss jan,

Welcome!

I will assume you have read our disclaimer on the home page.
How this works is I ask questions and you answer with complete honesty from your direct experience, not from what you've read or been told. You post here at least once a day, even if only to let me know you can't post that day.

If these groundrules are acceptable, please reply by telling me something of your journey so far, and what, in your experience, the label "self" refers to.

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

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ss jan
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Re: requesting a guide

Postby ss jan » Thu May 30, 2013 12:45 am

Hi Nona! I've been patiently waiting for an e mail. Ho hum. Didn't realise I have to come back into the site to check if I've had a reply. In fact, when I mentioned to a visiting friend who's been through this process, that I still hadn't heard, she told me I get an e mail ie in my usual e mail inbox, as that's how it worked for her. So when another friend told me tonight she'd asked for a guide yesterday and got one within hours, I came back on the site to see if I'd been lost - and here I am and - fantastic -here you are! Well, that'll give you some idea of how I struggle with IT. And how patient you'll have to be with me :-) Be grateful for some clarification here...How do I know when you've replied to me?

Hey Nona, thanks for being my guide! Yes, I've read and enjoyed the disclaimer.

You've asked about my journey so far. I learnt to meditate at the London Buddhist Center (FWBO then, called Triratna now) in 1987 at the age of 30 after a full and rich 'young' life of sex, drugs, rock 'n' roll and a lot of political involvement. So then a major lifestyle change ie lots of study, retreats, all that thing. Joined the Order in 2000. Did a 16 week solitary in 2002, completely changed my meditation practice, found no teachings in Triratna and very little support (at the time) for what was going on with me, so questioned a lot about my training upto date, and went to other teacher in Mahamudra tradition. Learnt a lot from that. Also got tired (again) of emphasis on organisation building rather than seeking the truth! Though I distract myself from that too. It's been an uppy-downy journey. In the last three/five years I've been through huge changes if not a melt-down, thrown all sorts up into the air and it's sort of just beginning to settle down again, I guess, though a loosening of all sorts of identity things is still with me. This included: menopause, a lot of ill health (better now), two years of bodywork training (during which a lot of unexplainable stuff happened), devastating relationship drama of 5-come-33 years length - now definitely over, and an exploration of other teachings and forms of practice especially ceremony in earth cherishing traditions. I've remained in a Buddhist Order - and hang loose to the 'ist' and isms of it all. I'm thirsty for a stripped down approach. I'm sure the truth is simple - and yet I'm clearly not getting it! Will that do? Gives you the gist anyway.

You ask what, in my experience, the label 'self' refers to. A body, thoughts, emotions, a history, all the bits and bobs that 'personality' refers to, which is mostly to so with habit, temperament, likes and dislikes. I'm 56 now. I know that a lot of this can and does change, including one's history. I write all this - and I have absolutely no idea what the label 'self' refers to really.... what it is that happens when we die, for example.

Apologies again for the clunky start. I look forward to your questions and our work together. Thanks Nona.
warmly,
Jan

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Re: requesting a guide

Postby nonaparry » Thu May 30, 2013 9:29 am

Hi Jan,
Didn't realise I have to come back into the site to check if I've had a reply.
At the bottom left of the screen as you read this, there is a little Subscribe Topic in white letters. Click on that and you will receive emails whenever I reply.
Alternatively, when you reply to this post, under the reply box there are a number of Options with tick-boxes including "Notify me when a reply is posted". Ticking this box does the same as Subscribe Topic.
You ask what, in my experience, the label 'self' refers to. A body, thoughts, emotions, a history, all the bits and bobs that 'personality' refers to, which is mostly to so with habit, temperament, likes and dislikes. I'm 56 now. I know that a lot of this can and does change, including one's history. I write all this - and I have absolutely no idea what the label 'self' refers to really.... what it is that happens when we die, for example.
Not-knowing is always a good start. And yet, one uses the labels "I, me, you, self, other" all the time; it's a good idea to have some understanding of what we mean when we use them, and, whether these refer to separate entities at all.

So body, thoughts, emotions, history (memory), personality, habit, temperament, preferences added together make a "self"?
Here we have 8 classes of components. If these components added together make a self, what happens if one of these goes missing? Is there still a "self" then?

The classic example is of a chariot. I can deconstruct the chariot into its component parts, and find I have, say, 672 individual pieces. These can be re-joined to create a functional chariot. The chariot = (the sum of 672 parts)

OK, so let's say you're driving the chariot down the road and hit a pot hole. One of the wooden spokes falls out of the wheel. But you are able to keep on going. According to the chariot definition (D), the chariot would no longer be a chariot. Why not? Because the sum is different. There are only 671 parts, whereas our definition calls for 672 parts.

But that would be absurd — one piece of wood falls away, and now I'm not driving a chariot anymore? We really want to be able to say that we are still driving a chariot.

And if we keep losing parts, then sooner or later there will come a point where we don't call it a chariot anymore. But that place is not rule-governed or established in advance.

That is why it is said that the chariot is not exactly the parts or the sum of its parts or any part in particular. Rather, the chariot depends on the parts and an imputation that CALLS those parts a chariot. But there is no one thing and no combination of things that answer that description.

We can apply this view to "self". At what point does the loss of any one component result in a loss of "self"? I invite you to check it! Without one or more of these — body, thoughts, emotions, history (memory), personality, habit, temperament, preferences — is there still a self? If not, which one is the necessary component for "self" to exist?

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

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ss jan
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Re: requesting a guide

Postby ss jan » Fri May 31, 2013 12:08 am

Hello Nona,

I've clicked. Thank you :-) Phew, that'll make this easier.

Well, yes, we're using the 'I', 'my', 'mine' labels all the time and yes, it's good to try and be (more) conscious of what we mean by them, I try not to use 'that's my cup' stuff too much, if I can catch myself in time. We do have to use language don't we, with all its limitations...

I'm familiar with the chariot metaphor. With respect, reading it again isn't doing much for me at the moment.... (I have read a ton of stuff over the years.) I shall spend more time with it tomorrow and see if it helps a crack begin to open. I spend two days a week (tomorrow is one of them) with a sweet 92 year old man who has dementia and can barely remember anything. In both reading (memoirs by carers/family etc) and pondering around this experience (which my mother is also slowly moving towards) with others affected by this disease, there are divided opinions about whether the 'same' person/self is still there or not.

warmly,
Jan

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Re: requesting a guide

Postby nonaparry » Fri May 31, 2013 10:32 am

Hi Jan,

I'm pleased the email thing is an easy fix. :-)

Backing up a moment, I ought to have asked earlier, what are your expectations about seeing through the illusion of a separate self? What will constitute liberation for you? What will Life be like after?

I'm familiar with the chariot metaphor. With respect, reading it again isn't doing much for me at the moment
No; I didn't expect reading it to crack you open. Checking how it actually relates to your present experience of Life can help.

What I do here is point to something you could investigate or inquire into; if you investigate thoroughly, you may find that what you have 'always known' is simply not true. What if everything we "know" is wrong?
there are divided opinions about whether the 'same' person/self is still there or not.
Yes. And for the purposes of our conversation here I am not interested in the consensus; I am only interested in your direct experience, not in anything you've read or been told.

Direct experience here refers to sensory experience: the physical evidence of seeing, hearing, touching, tasting, smelling, and sensing prior to the story or explanation about them.

Do you experience a self that you have or are? If yes, in your experience is it the same self as last year? As twenty years ago?

You identified the components of "self" as "body, thoughts, emotions, history (memory), personality, habit, temperament, preferences". I asked what happens if one of these components goes missing.
Which of these components that make up self actually contains the "self"?
Or is self completely separate from its components and arrives once all the components are assembled?
Have you ever cut your hair? Cut your nails? Had a surgical operation? If your tonsils or adenoids were removed would the "self" be lost? Or would there still be a self, but minus a few body parts?
What about your sweet dementia patient—without memories, does he have or is he a self?

What I'm asking you to investigate is which of the components, if any, is essential to the creation of a self?

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

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Re: requesting a guide

Postby ss jan » Sat Jun 01, 2013 12:25 am

Hi Nona,

OK - backing up. Good question. Interesting question. Tricky things, expectations :-) I've no idea what life will be like after liberation. I'm not expecting perfection and endless happiness. I hope and imagine that, as it will be/is in accordance with 'reality', how it really is, that life will be easier, at least in the sense of not being so at the mercy of compulsive thought habits, emotional reactions, and all that kind of stuff that causes suffering. Yeah, less suffering! Big part of my motivation! More that things won't stick so long or at all. 'I''ll be more out of 'my' own way and the way of others. I'm getting more like that anyway, in the last two years - after a huge amount of suffering. So I do feel like I'm on a slide - just help push me over, will you? Life will carry on. Eating, thinking, talking, sleeping, working etc will all carry on. I imagine it will all feel lighter, that even the hard bits (eg the next person dying) will feel lighter.

To continue... I didn't mean simply 'reading' it. Need to get much more precise here, don't 'I' , when writing. 'I' meant that 'I' wasn't making much headway with investigating it, couldn't find a way in, just felt too 'heady' the way I was thinking about it last night. Maybe it's when a traditional example, or a 'teaching' 'I'm familiar with, is used, I'm more likely to sort of switch off. There's a part of me that's so very very tired of all that stuff. I've stopped going to things where there are talks, for example. 'I' find it all so deadening, for the most part. That's why 'I'm' here!

I have no problem accepting both the idea and the reality that what I've always known is simply not true, that everything we 'know is wrong. I have had experience of that and 'I' don't feel any resistance to it, not consciously anyway. It doesn't feel to me that fear, eg of not existing, is what I'm up against. More some sort of block, 'I' don't understand what it is, the block 'I' mean...

'I' am not the same self I was a few days ago, even a few hours ago, never mind twenty years.
I've spent some time with your questions today.
None of the components contains the 'self'. That is clear and feels straightforward.
Do I experience a self I have or am? I have these experiences of eg thoughts, emotions, itches, aches, thirst, and so on. I realise, feel, hell, know even! these are not 'me'. That's gone 'in' (somewhere!) deeper today than ever before - which feels good!

And....something 'else' is there. What is it? I didn't use the term 'awareness' in my list of 'self' components. Is that what I mean? Not sure. The term 'selfless presence' is the language that resonates most with what I'm trying to get at. I'm not being cognitive about this. I do mean this as a increasingly often felt sense. As is also simply the sense of feeling alive! It's not 'in' 'me'. And yet I do also feel it in my chest/heart area. Both those things feel true. And it's everywhere. I think I could be explaining this a lot clearer than I am, but that will have to do for now - I need to go sleep!

(The sweet old man with dementia asked me this afternoon, in a most equanimous tone, if he was dead, so we had another one of our regular 'bonkers' conversations around all that. Probably not relevant, ie not 'my' direct experience', but thought I'd share that with you Nona, as this is a lightening journey I hope, and it sat well with my private investigations.)

warmly, and with appreciation for your attention,
Jan

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Re: requesting a guide

Postby nonaparry » Sat Jun 01, 2013 10:42 pm

Hi Jan,
Tricky things, expectations :-) I've no idea what life will be like after liberation. I'm not expecting perfection and endless happiness. I hope and imagine that, as it will be/is in accordance with 'reality', how it really is, that life will be easier, at least in the sense of not being so at the mercy of compulsive thought habits, emotional reactions, and all that kind of stuff that causes suffering. Yeah, less suffering! Big part of my motivation! More that things won't stick so long or at all. 'I''ll be more out of 'my' own way and the way of others. I'm getting more like that anyway, in the last two years - after a huge amount of suffering. So I do feel like I'm on a slide - just help push me over, will you? Life will carry on. Eating, thinking, talking, sleeping, working etc will all carry on. I imagine it will all feel lighter, that even the hard bits (eg the next person dying) will feel lighter.
These are very reasonable; I wouldn't be at all surprised if you gain these. Do keep a lookout for other expectations, maybe picked up from reading or teachings. Unmet expectations are the second biggest obstacles to seeing through the illusion of a separate self.
couldn't find a way in, just felt too 'heady' the way I was thinking about it last night.
Fair enough, and good to know.
I have no problem accepting both the idea and the reality that what I've always known is simply not true, that everything we 'know is wrong.
Good. It can be unsettling when one's direct experience contradicts one's beliefs.
something 'else' is there. What is it? I didn't use the term 'awareness' in my list of 'self' components. ... The term 'selfless presence' is the language that resonates most with what I'm trying to get at.
Is this a component of self? Or is self a component of awareness/selfless-presence?
I do mean this as a increasingly often felt sense. As is also simply the sense of feeling alive!
There are often very clear feelings of a sense of self. But the sense of self is not an entity; it is a feeling. Check it! Are the feelings of presence or of aliveness separate from the rest of Life? Are they owned by an entity "you"?
The sweet old man with dementia asked me this afternoon, in a most equanimous tone, if he was dead, so we had another one of our regular 'bonkers' conversations around all that.
This seems highly relevant here. What did you decide? Was he dead? What components would comprise death or life in that situation?


I want you to shift your focus to the evidence of your senses. Close your eyes and investigate what you can sense without sight and without referring to your memories. With eyes closed and without referring to memory, can you sense how tall the body is? How much it weighs? Can you directly sense its volume? Shape? Colour? With eyes closed and without referring to memory, can you locate the real distance between the back of the skull and the heels of the feet by sensation alone? Check it. What can you actually know about the body without referring to sight or memory?


I am going to be away for two days, but will try to check in with whatever internet is available.
love
Nona
"When you eliminate the impossible, whatever remains—however improbable—must be the truth." ~ Sir Arthur Conan Doyle

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Re: requesting a guide

Postby nonaparry » Wed Jun 05, 2013 9:54 am

Hi Jan,

Just checking in to ask how you're going.

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

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Re: requesting a guide

Postby ss jan » Wed Jun 05, 2013 4:57 pm

Hello Nona,

Thanks for your gentle prompt. I've been with people a lot last few days (as well as working I mean), feel like I could have done with a bit more 'space' for exploring, nevertheless have had periods of exploring. Not that much to say really...it feels straightforward, nothing dramatic (which is fine by me!).

Not sure how to repeat the quotes, so hope it's obvious what I'm responding to...

I do know how unsettling it can be when one's direct experience contradicts one's beliefs. I'm aware my stories and assumptions are still around, though they have a lighter presence than they used to. Humour helps a lot :-)

The presence/aliveness is not separate at all, and certainly not owned by me - that was my point. It's like there's no difference between 'inside' and 'outside'. Hard to stay 'aware' of this when doing, attention needs to go onto the task. Easily re-connected with when not doing. It's not been my experience this last week or so, but I often have a lot of time not doing - conscious lifestyle choice I'm blessed to have bee able to make after the 'presence' experience arrived in my life eleven years ago.

Anyway...onto the evidence of my senses, a welcome focus, thank you. I can sense how long my body is when there is contact with something else at the top and bottom eg when in the bath. Otherwise, no, there doesn't seem to be anything I know about the body without referring to sight or memory (though it's not 100% possible to 'forget' the memory - not yet anyway!) That was interesting! I felt (hope I don't have to put that in italics every time i write it :-) ) lighter and looser every time after I sent some time with that, (even at work) and that lasted for varying amounts of time, in other words, this seems to be having an ongoing effect on me, doing this, though it's gentle and subtle.

love jan

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Re: requesting a guide

Postby nonaparry » Wed Jun 05, 2013 6:22 pm

Dear Jan,
Not that much to say really...it feels straightforward, nothing dramatic
Seeing through the illusion that we are or have a separate self is not dramatic; it's a simple shift in perspective that occurs once we SEE what is right in front of our nose: that there is no entity "self" is in control of some separate slice of Life called "me".
Not sure how to repeat the quotes, so hope it's obvious what I'm responding to...
What I do is copy the bit of the message that I want to quote, then click Quote in the reply box, and then paste.
I'm aware my stories and assumptions are still around, though they have a lighter presence than they used to. Humour helps a lot :-)
Good! I had 58 years of conditioned thinking to work through after I saw I was not a self; conditioning doesn't 'know' it's habit!
It's like there's no difference between 'inside' and 'outside'.
I suggest it's not like there's no difference, but that there really is no difference. With eyes closed, and without reference to memory or what you've been taught, can you locate an inside and an outside of "you"?
Inside relative to what? Outside relative to what?
We learn these words, connect them to learned concepts, and then believe they represent Reality.
What they actually represent is how we Think About reality. The difference between what we Experience directly and what we Think About what we experience is vast. I'm asking you to check your direct experience before believing what you think. :-)
I can sense how long my body is when there is contact with something else at the top and bottom eg when in the bath.
Only because you have a memory of how long the bath is!
(though it's not 100% possible to 'forget' the memory - not yet anyway!)
No one asks you to forget; just to put thoughts aside while you check your direct experience. Then you are able to check whether your thoughts actually conform to your direct experience!
I felt (hope I don't have to put that in italics every time i write it :-) )
You sure don't have to use italics when you write I, or even what has been referred to as "scare quotes" — just check what exactly the label I refers to when you use it.
lighter and looser every time after I sent some time with that, (even at work) and that lasted for varying amounts of time, in other words, this seems to be having an ongoing effect on me, doing this, though it's gentle and subtle.
Doing these exercises does have an affect on neural pathways; each time you do the exercise you are not doing it with the same mind as last time. :-)

In your direct experience, is there a separate entity you call "me" that runs your life? Or is there just Life itself, moving, happening and encompassing everything in your experience? LOOK, and tell me what you see.

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

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Re: requesting a guide

Postby ss jan » Fri Jun 07, 2013 9:43 pm

Hi Nona,

Just checking in, so you know I'm inthe zone, as it were.
I'm looking, looking. Sometimes it's simple, sometimes it's not and I've no idea what's going on, and sometimes I'm sliding off and can't stay with it.
Have a quieter day and more time alone tomorrow and will try and post in more detail.
warmly, jan

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Re: requesting a guide

Postby nonaparry » Fri Jun 07, 2013 9:44 pm

Hi Jan,

That's great! Tell me what you're seeing when you LOOK, and I'll point you more.

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

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Re: requesting a guide

Postby ss jan » Mon Jun 10, 2013 10:50 pm

Hi again Nona,

I last wrote friday evening (from work). Something happened in the night. I don't know what exactly. I'd been reading some of Illona's stuff, something must have 'touched a nerve' as they say. I had a great night's sleep. And... I woke up in the night and felt some sort of... loosening, is the best word I can come up with. There doesn't seem to be any 'topic' or 'content' attached to that experience. I knew it was conencted with this.

Like I said, quieter day saturday, I was relaxing in the sun most of the day, looking, well, just listening a lot actually.

Felt a small shift in relation to my biggest stories of recent years. Felt good, though also minor really...

I turned my attention to thoughts. I don't know where they come from. I don't know where they go. This is not a new seeing for me. I know I can't control the vast majority of them...aha, here began the rub. I've 'worked' with thought before, but this has got me into a place I've not been before. I've come up against what I've decided to call 'the decider'. No, I can't find her. And yet... I still can't 'understand' how 'I' manage to do sustained thinking, for example, like writing, or carrying out a plan, for example. Yes, life just is. And, life is organised too.

Yesterday, (back at work, and today) felt like I was banging my head against a brick wall, stuck, frustrated, I suppose. The limits of logic? So I decided (aha, that word again) to relax..

Still looking today. Not frustrated. Managing to get into more 'detail'. Felt a decision coming on, just to get up and go get a glass of water to drink, 'caught' it before I went into the movement of doing it. So many actions I'm doing something before I've even realised that's what I'm doing, scratching an itch etc.

No idea where to go with this, or next. Over to you, please. Can't even see a gate :-) Something's happening...

warmly, jan

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Re: requesting a guide

Postby nonaparry » Tue Jun 11, 2013 10:50 pm

Dearest Jan,
I've come up against what I've decided to call 'the decider'. No, I can't find her. And yet... I still can't 'understand' how 'I' manage to do sustained thinking, for example, like writing, or carrying out a plan, for example. Yes, life just is. And, life is organised too.
The clue is "I" is not doing sustained thinking; "I" is itself a thought! "I, me, self" are labels, constructs of language alone! They are used to communicate, but they are not entities. Check it! What exactly do "I, me, self" refer to except other thoughts about Jan?
Felt a decision coming on, just to get up and go get a glass of water to drink, 'caught' it before I went into the movement of doing it. So many actions I'm doing something before I've even realised that's what I'm doing, scratching an itch etc.
Yes! Life is living itself through Jan! Water is gotten or not; itches are scratched or not. Is there an entity "self" which jumps in to go get a glass of water? Or does water-getting simply happen? Is there an entity "self" which arrives to scratch an itch? Or does scratching simply happen, automatically? Check it!

Does a "you" show up to take over the decision-making process? At all? Or do decisions simply happen as part of Life living itself?

Watch as Life lives itself, events happen, thoughts arrive or not. Is there any separate entity DO-ing it? Or is everything that happens, all the verbs and all the objects, just part of a huge LIFE that is going on all by itself?

Check it!

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


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