Hi I would like guidance please

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davidll
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Hi I would like guidance please

Postby davidll » Wed Sep 11, 2013 5:12 am

Hi my name is David and I could use some guidance.
Here is the relevant part of my "story" so far. I've been meditating for 5 years. The last year or so has
been mostly dzogchen. I found your site after looking through all the links that I could find on Jed McKenna.
I spent a couple of days pouring over the site; listening to the quotes on my ipod; and ordering a copy of the
book. Three days later I broke my foot at work. It has turned out to be a real blessing. Your book arrived on
the same day that I broke the foot.
The concept of no self is not new to me at all, but it was mostly intellectual not experiential. So with five weeks
of free time ahead of me I dove into the book. I would read some; then look for a while; then listen for a while;
then look again. After seven and a half days of this there seemed to be a shift. Although it was subtle,it seemed
to be real. There was just seeing and hearing and no sense of past or future interfering with the present. This
lasted for a week and then the I started creeping back into my thoughts. The seeing and hearing has receded
some what but the sense of the present is still obvious when I stop and look. Also I seem to have almost infinite
patience. I don't know if this is a shift or if this just because I now have free time and feel no pressure to get
things done because of the foot injury.
I guess that I'm a little confused so I thought that I should Join Liberation Unleashed and get some official guidance.

Much gratitude and thanks in advance,

David

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moondog
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Re: Hi I would like guidance please

Postby moondog » Wed Sep 11, 2013 1:15 pm

Hi David and welcome,

My name's Pete and my role is to guide you through your own unique process.

There are a few things that we need to make clear before the journey begins.

Tell me a bit about yourself, how you came to LU and what it is that you're looking for. Also, what time zone are you're in - I'm in Somerset in the UK.

There are also a few standard ground rules before we start:

You agree to post at least once a day, even if only to say that you're still around, and I'll do the same. Sometimes it might just not be possible for one of us to post substantively and of course we'd find a way to work round that.

I am not your teacher, all I can do is point and you look, until clear seeing happens.

In general, I will ask questions and you look deeply and respond with 100% honesty.

Responses require simple, uncontrived, honest looking. There are no wrong or right answers.

Responses are best from direct experience (the physical evidence of seeing, hearing, touching, tasting, smelling, prior to the story or explanation about them). Long-winded, analytical and philosophical or stream of consciousness answers are best avoided and may even hinder progress. Just listen very closely to the answers that arise in you, and answer to the very best of your ability at that time. (Read this article: http://www.liberationunleashed.com/Arti ... ience.html for more help on distinguishing what is direct experience.)

Put aside all other teachings, philosophies etc. for the duration of this investigation. Really put all your effort and attention into seeing this reality, as it is. (If you have a daily and essential meditation practice, it's ok to continue with that. And it's fine to read threads in this forum and the Gateless Gatecrashers book.)

Please learn to use the quote function, see viewtopic.php?f=4&t=660 for instructions.

If you haven't already seen it, there is intro info at http://www.liberationunleashed.com/, together with our disclaimer and a short video.

Please confirm that you have seen these, that you agree to the disclaimer, and that you'd like me to be your guide and then we'll begin.

Let's start with a summary of what you're looking for and what you expect to find.

What are your expectations for this process?

What is it that you are searching for?

How will you know that you found it?

How will this feel?

How will this change you?

Finally, here's a couple of helpful points:

1) You can press 'subscribe to this topic' in the blue bar at the bottom of this page and receive a notification email every time I post here.

2) The site has a nasty habit of logging you out while you write a reply, which can mean you lose what you have written. One way to avoid this is to write elsewhere, then just paste the message into the 'reply' window when you're ready to send.

Don't worry, I don't intend to send any more posts this long, if I can help it! This is just to set things up for you nicely.

I look forward to hearing from you.

Lots of love,

Pete
'Just consciousness taking the shape of experience from moment to moment.
Just this'

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davidll
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Re: Hi I would like guidance please

Postby davidll » Wed Sep 11, 2013 10:06 pm

Hi Pete, Thanks for offering to guide me.
Here is the relevant part of my "story" so far. I've been meditating for 5 years. The last year or so has been mostly dzogchen. I found your site after looking through all the links that I could find on Jed McKenna. I am looking to see the reality of no self.

I have read the declaimer and watched the video and agree to all your terms and would be
very grateful to have you as my guide. I live in the eastern time zone in the US.

What are your expectations for this process?
I expect to do a lot of direct looking and eventually see through the illusion of no self.

What is it that you are searching for?
I want to wake up and seeing through the self seems to be a big part of that process.

How will you know that you found it?
I don"t know, I'm hoping that it will become obvious when it happens.

How will this feel?
I don't know. Hopefully I'll feel great, but I've read that it's anything from ecstatic to subtle.

How will this change you?
I have no clue.
I hope that this helps you
Thanks again
David

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moondog
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Re: Hi I would like guidance please

Postby moondog » Thu Sep 12, 2013 3:40 pm

Hi David,

Thanks for accepting me as your guide, for letting me know a bit about yourself and for agreeing to all the various conditions.
What are your expectations for this process?
I expect to do a lot of direct looking and eventually see through the illusion of no self.
What is it that you are searching for?
I want to wake up and seeing through the self seems to be a big part of that process.
How will you know that you found it?
I don"t know, I'm hoping that it will become obvious when it happens.
How will this feel?
I don't know. Hopefully I'll feel great, but I've read that it's anything from ecstatic to subtle.
How will this change you?
I have no clue.
I like your answers. They are straightforward and quite realistic. Rest assured, that when you see that there isn't and never has been a "you", a self-entity, with my guiding to help you see that fact for yourself, you'll just know. In exactly the same way that you know that unicorns aren't real, Batman doesn't exist, and there's no Santa Claus. It isn't fundamentally at all difficult, amazingly simple in fact, but only if you don't rely on trying to figure it out by thinking it through but, instead, just LOOK, LOOK, LOOK in direct experience.

It's natural, of course, to wonder and speculate about what this liberation/awakening will be like but, by its very nature, I can assure you that it's just not like anyone expects, although it does differ for each one of us. I'd just stress that the work we do is definitely not intellectual or thought-based. That being so, it's best to put aside any expectations, as they reside in thoughts about the future and so are not within direct experience.

So, excellent, as I've already said, actually seeing for sure that there is no separate self, and never has been, is different for everyone. It can come with a definite pop of realisation, or it might creep up gradually until it is seen. Also the effects on life lived after liberation can vary widely.

It’s worth mentioning at this early stage that what can hold a lot of people back, and something that we can perhaps knock on the head now, are assumptions around what one would “be like” or what life ought to “look like” once it’s seen that there’s no self-entity. There is a view that “getting it” is tantamount to kind of somehow seeing it all the time, or being in some kind of state in which negative emotions or problems don’t arise.

It's really helpful to be clear that it's not any kind of state - it's simply direct knowing, insight. The Santa example puts it very well - "seeing through" Santa, i.e. knowing for sure that there is no Santa, doesn't mean that little kids then spend the rest of their lives constantly thinking, "there's no Santa"! Nor does it mean that Santa isn't apparently spotted in shopping malls in December. It's just that the story has been seen through. The direct knowing of no-self may be recollected at any time, but states still continue to come and go - pleasant, unpleasant, "positive", "negative". However, that said, changes will be noticed, some possibly quite dramatic, including in relation to suffering arising from a pre-occupation with a separate self that simply doesn't exist!

I'll post once a day, perhaps occasionally more, and will tell you in advance if I know I won't be able to post. It would be good if you could do the same.

I hope that's helped to clarify the background stuff a bit. Don't hesitate to ask me about any of this.

Moving on towards the core of this work, please answer the following:

How do you conceive the 'self' or 'I'/ me' that you hold 'yourself' to be?

Now look directly at the flow of experiencing. Where in that flow does the 'self' that you conceive reside? Can it be found, at all?


Pete x

Ps Please learn to use the quote function, it helps clarify our replies. See http://liberationunleashed.com/nation/v ... ?f=4&t=660 for instructions.
'Just consciousness taking the shape of experience from moment to moment.
Just this'

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davidll
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Re: Hi I would like guidance please

Postby davidll » Thu Sep 12, 2013 5:33 pm

Hi Pete thanks for your reply.
How do you conceive the 'self' or 'I'/ me' that you hold 'yourself' to be?
At this point I think of myself as something that consists of the experiencing of the five senses, arising
thoughts of the mind, emotions, a sense of presence, and a memory residing in this body.
Now look directly at the flow of experiencing. Where in that flow does the 'self' that you conceive reside? Can it be found, at all?
Looking at the flow of experiencing there is no self. The only time the self seems to arise is in the constant
labeling of thoughts with an "I" authorship by the mind. For me a lot of these "I" thoughts seem mostly to be
little stories about how things will or should go in the future.
Thanks
David

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moondog
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Re: Hi I would like guidance please

Postby moondog » Thu Sep 12, 2013 7:36 pm

Hi David,
At this point I think of myself as something that consists of the experiencing of the five senses, arising
thoughts of the mind, emotions, a sense of presence, and a memory residing in this body.
It's great that you think that. Now, all I need to do is to point you to look in every area of direct experience so that you can exhaust every possibility of where 'you' could be.
Looking at the flow of experiencing there is no self. The only time the self seems to arise is in the constant
labeling of thoughts with an "I" authorship by the mind. For me a lot of these "I" thoughts seem mostly to be
little stories about how things will or should go in the future.
And that seems like a really good start! Anyway, let's begin the aforementioned exploration of direct experience, looking for a separate self, starting with sense arisings sense arisings and the self as experiencer (or not):

When you look at something, a book, a tree outside or whatever, can you find an 'I' that is looking or seeing, or is there just seeing?

If there is an 'I', where are the boundaries between what is being seen, the seeing process itself and the seer?

Please do the same with hearing: birdsong, music, a pneumatic drill or whatever; and similarly with each of: tasting, tactile feelings and smelling.


Pete x
'Just consciousness taking the shape of experience from moment to moment.
Just this'

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davidll
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Re: Hi I would like guidance please

Postby davidll » Thu Sep 12, 2013 8:25 pm

Hi again Pete,
When you look at something, a book, a tree outside or whatever, can you find an 'I' that is looking or seeing, or is there just seeing?

If there is an 'I', where are the boundaries between what is being seen, the seeing process itself and the seer?

Please do the same with hearing: birdsong, music, a pneumatic drill or whatever; and similarly with each of: tasting, tactile feelings and smelling.
With the four senses other than seeing it's obvious that they just happen without any participation
from "me/I". Seeing just happens also most of the time. but occasionally it seems that I direct the seeing
to look at an object Seeing is happening but what is directing the focus to a specific object? I don't
know I can't find it', but it is a curious phenomena.

David

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moondog
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Re: Hi I would like guidance please

Postby moondog » Fri Sep 13, 2013 4:35 pm

Hi David,

First, although we are solely concerned here with seeing for a fact that there is no separate self, I'm going to continue with the "everyday' usage of words like I, me, you etc., simply because communicating effecively without recourse to such words is a real pain. When appropriate, I'll express them as ''I', 'you' etc.

I reckon this is good time to stress the crucial importance of direct experience as the very core of what we're doing here with this. Essentially, and utterly fundamentally, all there is, and can ever be, is here right now in this moment. So looking to see whether a separate and separating self is to be found can only take place within direct experience of this. Now. There's nothing else. It follows therefore that all of our work to realise and actually know that there is no self is done by investigating In direct experience. To this end, we can divide direct experience into thought, sensations (seeing, hearing, smelling, tasting, feeling [tactile and kinaesthetic] and an unmistakable sense of Aliveness (presence/being). I referred to the excellent article on direct experience in the introductory post.

Here's a quote from the Bahiya Sutta, which succinctly sums up our investigation into no-self, when the Buddha says:

Then, Bāhiya, you should train yourself thus: In reference to the seen, there will be only the seen. In reference to the heard, only the heard. In reference to the sensed, only the sensed. In reference to the cognized, only the cognized. That is how you should train yourself. When for you there will be only the seen in reference to the seen, only the heard in reference to the heard, only the sensed in reference to the sensed, only the cognized in reference to the cognized, then, Bāhiya, there is no you in connection with that. When there is no you in connection with that, there is no you there. When there is no you there, you are neither here nor yonder nor between the two. This, just this, is the end of stress.
With the four senses other than seeing it's obvious that they just happen without any participation
from "me/I".
Good. So can you confirm that in regard to hearing, smelling, tasting and both tactile and kinaesthetic feeling, all that you were aware of, in direct experience, was just hearing (or whichever) with no 'you' as hearer? If not, please describe what else you were aware of in direct experience.
Seeing just happens also most of the time. but occasionally it seems that I direct the seeing
to look at an object Seeing is happening but what is directing the focus to a specific object? I don't know I can't find it', but it is a curious phenomena.
Given that you said earlier, 'looking at the flow of experiencing there is no self', I think we need to take a closer look at this. Are you saying that, although, in direct experience, there was only hearing, smelling, tasting and feeling, for seeing that was not the case? If so, what was there that you noticed, and did it point to an 'I' actually doing the seeing. If so, how did it do that?

I suspect that your concern is more around the process whereby your eyes move around to see different things, or how you shift attention around from one thing to another, or both. Am I right? If so, that's more about (and there are inevitably many overlaps when attempting to categorise experience) thinking, doing and choosing/deciding, all of which we are going to move on to in turn.

Starting with the self as thinker:

Where do thoughts come from?

Are you in control of them?

Can you stop a thought from coming?

Can you stop it in the middle?

Do you know what the next thought will be?

Is "I" a different thought from the thought of say, a table?

Can a thought think?


Anyway, that's more than enough for today but no worries, there's no rush, just take your time and examine all of this closely. First, just sit quietly and let your mind become quieter and more still, then wait for thoughts to come and see what you notice.

Pete x
'Just consciousness taking the shape of experience from moment to moment.
Just this'

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davidll
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Re: Hi I would like guidance please

Postby davidll » Sat Sep 14, 2013 4:31 am

Hi Pete,
Given that you said earlier, 'looking at the flow of experiencing there is no self', I think we need to take a closer look at this. Are you saying that, although, in direct experience, there was only hearing, smelling, tasting and feeling, for seeing that was not the case? If so, what was there that you noticed, and did it point to an 'I' actually doing the seeing. If so, how did it do that?
I agree there is no "I" doing any seeing, there is only seeing.
Where do thoughts come from?

Are you in control of them?

Can you stop a thought from coming?

Can you stop it in the middle?

Do you know what the next thought will be?
Thoughts come from somewhere in the brain I would think but I have no control over them.
i can not stop a thought from coming because I don't know that it's coming.
Is "I" a different thought from the thought of say, a table?
An i thought is no different than a thought of a table, they are both just labels and
labels are just a made up thoughts.
Can a thought think?
A thought can not think. A thought is not alive it is a product of life.

Thanks again
David

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davidll
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Re: Hi I would like guidance please

Postby davidll » Sat Sep 14, 2013 4:42 am

Hi Pete, Just a little addition to my last post.I didn't realize until too late that
part of an answer didn't get transferred properly.

I can't stop a thought in the middle and I don't have any idea what the next thought will be.

Thanks
David

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moondog
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Re: Hi I would like guidance please

Postby moondog » Sat Sep 14, 2013 3:37 pm

Hi David,
I agree there is no "I" doing any seeing, there is only seeing.
Good to know that that is your direct experience.

Sorry if this seems a bit picky, but I just need to be absolutely sure, so please answer the question that remains outstanding from the previous post, viz: Can you confirm that in regard to hearing, smelling, tasting and both tactile and kinaesthetic feeling, all that you were aware of, in direct experience, was just hearing (or whichever) with no 'you' as hearer? If not, please describe what else you were aware of in direct experience.

Good answers about self as thinker.
moondog wrote: Is "I" a different thought from the thought of say, a table?
An i thought is no different than a thought of a table, they are both just labels and
labels are just a made up thoughts.
You're absolutely correct although, of course, but it's worth noting that your thoughts/memories of tables, chairs etc relate (with varying degrees of accuracy) to "things" that can actually be experienced, that exist. Thoughts of a self are about an illusion, something that has never existed.

Here's an exercise for you to do around how we can have a strong sense of something, like a separate self. Suppose I extend my hands to you and say," Here is a watermelon." And I then give you an imaginary watermelon. You take the imaginary watermelon and “hold" it. Go ahead, just really do it. Hold the imaginary watermelon—huge—in between your hands. Now I ask you, "What should you do to get rid of this watermelon in your hands?" You can’t. There’s nothing there.

Let's move on to looking for the self as doer/controller:

It's clear that when we breathe, blink, digest food etc. there's no "I" involved, but how is it for you when walking?

How is it when doing various everyday things like say, brushing your teeth, washing up, that kind of thing?

Is there any "I" there for any of these actions, or are they just like "automatic"?

Look to see whether, when "you" do these things there is sometimes a thought, just after that says, "I did that."

Are all actions "automatic


I reckon you're doing really well so far David.

P x
'Just consciousness taking the shape of experience from moment to moment.
Just this'

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davidll
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Re: Hi I would like guidance please

Postby davidll » Sun Sep 15, 2013 4:38 am

Hi again Pete,
Sorry if this seems a bit picky, but I just need to be absolutely sure, so please answer the question that remains outstanding from the previous post, viz: Can you confirm that in regard to hearing, smelling, tasting and both tactile and kinaesthetic feeling, all that you were aware of, in direct experience, was just hearing (or whichever) with no 'you' as hearer? If not, please describe what else you were aware of in direct experience.
yes I can confirm that there is no "I" that hears, smells, tastes, or has either tactile or kinesthetic feeling.
There is just hearing, smelling, tasting and feeling that just happens.
It's clear that when we breathe, blink, digest food etc. there's no "I" involved, but how is it for you when walking?

How is it when doing various everyday things like say, brushing your teeth, washing up, that kind of thing?

Is there any "I" there for any of these actions, or are they just like "automatic"?
Are all actions "automatic
It has been obvious to me for some time that everything that I do is automatic from walking and breathing
to driving a car. It used to freak me out, back before I became more mindful, that I could reach my destination and not be able to remember parts of the drive there. Do you ever watch how you chew your food? At the beginning of a mouthful you can pretend that "your" in charge of the chewing by maybe moving the food from
one side of your mouth to the other. But soon "you" lose interest and your attention wanders. The chewing doesn't stop it never really needed you any way.
Look to see whether, when "you" do these things there is sometimes a thought, just after that says, "I did that."
I notice this especially when speaking. When my mouth opens I have no idea what is going to come out. But
as soon as the speaking stops, "I" take ownership of the speech without the slightest bit of guilt.
I reckon you're doing really well so far David
Thanks for the vote of confidence. I can see now that it really helps to go through this bit by bit and write it out
so that there is no confusion. It makes it all seem much more real than just agreeing in your mind about something
that you've read.

Thanks again for your help
David

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moondog
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Re: Hi I would like guidance please

Postby moondog » Sun Sep 15, 2013 3:44 pm

Hi David,
It has been obvious to me for some time that everything that I do is automatic from walking and breathing
to driving a car. It used to freak me out, back before I became more mindful, that I could reach my destination and not be able to remember parts of the drive there. Do you ever watch how you chew your food? At the beginning of a mouthful you can pretend that "your" in charge of the chewing by maybe moving the food from
one side of your mouth to the other. But soon "you" lose interest and your attention wanders. The chewing doesn't stop it never really needed you any way.
Good to see. I like your observations about chewing. As you say, even when 'I' or 'you' are seduced by an I-thought that says something like, 'I'm going to chew my food really thoroughly', we still soon 'forget' (i.e. that thought subsides) that we think we're in charge of chewing and it carries on fine without us, until we 'remember' and think something like, 'Mm, I'm doing really well with this controlled chewing', then we forget again, and on and on...
I can see now that it really helps to go through this bit by bit and write it out so that there is no confusion. It makes it all seem much more real than just agreeing in your mind about something that you've read
The key really is not to try and rely on an intellectual understanding, which just will never work, but to go through each area of experience and to actually see what's happening and to see that there is just no self-entity involved anywhere. Immediately recalling that by writing it down seems mysteriously to 'fix' and clarify that realisation.

So, let's now move on a little from doing to deciding/choosing (although the border between these is, to say the least, a little hazy). Try this exercise:

Raise your right arm (or don’t). In that process of raising the right arm (or not), a decision is made, or at least something happens (or doesn’t). But can you pinpoint the actual moment of choice and find the actual entity that appears to be making that choice? In direct experience, can that moment of choice, that apparent chooser, actually be found? Or does the idea 'I just chose to (not) raise my right arm' come after the event itself?

Also, can I ask you to have a look at the following short video clip from BBC Horizon - The Secret You on Neuroscience and Freewill: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=-i3AiOS4nCE . It demonstrates scientifically that our decisions and choices are made a full 6 seconds before we think we make them, i.e. before a thought arises saying, "I decided to do this." There is no substitute for looking in direct experience, but this is excellent scientific corroboration for what is to be found, or rather not found, in direct experience.

Pete x
'Just consciousness taking the shape of experience from moment to moment.
Just this'

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davidll
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Re: Hi I would like guidance please

Postby davidll » Mon Sep 16, 2013 2:40 pm

Hi Pete
I had heard of this choice timing thing before but I had no idea that it could happen up to six seconds
before "you" thought you were making the decision. It's just another nail in the coffin of the "i" being or
doing anything.
David

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moondog
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Re: Hi I would like guidance please

Postby moondog » Mon Sep 16, 2013 3:33 pm

Hi David,
I had heard of this choice timing thing before but I had no idea that it could happen up to six seconds
before "you" thought you were making the decision. It's just another nail in the coffin of the "i" being or
doing anything.
Yeah, it's amazing isn't it. The guy in the video looked completely gobsmacked!

How did it go for you when you did the exercise in 'real life', i.e. direct experience. Any sign of a discrete self-entity present and making a decision at any point?

Let's now move on to the body:

Does the body experience sensations and thought?
or
Is the "body" just another thought label for sensations (namely tactile & kinaesthetic)?


More generally:

"I" is just a thought..so it can't be a thinker, doer, witness or anything at all.

This seems to crystallise the whole thing for me. How about you? Any comments?


Finally, you seem to me to be doing really well seeing through this illusion. How do you feel it's going? Are there any particular points or areas you'd like to look at?

Pete x
'Just consciousness taking the shape of experience from moment to moment.
Just this'


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