As ready as "I'll" ever be!

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Benjamin
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As ready as "I'll" ever be!

Postby Benjamin » Sun Sep 29, 2013 1:51 am

Greetings!

As to why I'm here:

I have been reading up on this so-called "Eastern Wisdom" for about 3 years now, and I couldn't feel more ready to end the seeking. I gradually transitioned from more Advaitic language to the Theravada Buddhist model, as I feel it makes less metaphysical claims about reality. Regardless, I understand that direct experience is all that can ever be known, and reality deserves better than to be strictly pinned down by words (which are, of course, part of that reality).

What do I hope to get from this?

Quite simply, the abandonment of the notion that "I" exist, and subsequently the letting go of this seeking for a better time in the future.

Could someone please help?

Thanks,
Ben

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moondog
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Re: As ready as "I'll" ever be!

Postby moondog » Sun Sep 29, 2013 11:08 am

Hi Ben 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 more 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.

Can you tell me a little more about 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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Benjamin
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Re: As ready as "I'll" ever be!

Postby Benjamin » Sun Sep 29, 2013 12:56 pm

Pete,

I am very grateful for your time. Thanks for this!

1) Tell me a bit more 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.

- Well, I'm a 22 year old male living in the U.S, and I've been looking into different liberation traditions for about the past 3 years or so. I know compared to some "seekers", 3 years is really nothing, but I can tell you right away that I do not still want to be doing this when I'm 50! I'm in New York City time zone.

2) 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.

- No problem here. I'll stick to what's immediately at hand.

3) 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.

- Everything seems good here, we can begin.

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

What are your expectations for this process?

- To come to a firsthand recognition of the absence of self. I understand that liberation is not an experience, but a knowing. Thus, my expectation is simply to know what is true, and to drop any untrue beliefs I may be holding on to.

What is it that you are searching for?

- Contentment. No longer searching for fulfillment in the future, in time. As you can see, my searching, is for the end of searching.

How will you know that you found it?

- When there is no longer the belief that I am lacking something, when I can simply be and be at peace with that.

How will this feel?

- Hopefully, peaceful. Not in the sense that life stops it's activity or anything, but that the knowledge of truth keeps one peaceful.

How will this change you?

- I would expect less restlessness, less worry, less anxiety, and less self-judgement. Overall, more comfort with what is.

Thanks again Pete, I look forward to our dialogue.

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moondog
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Re: As ready as "I'll" ever be!

Postby moondog » Sun Sep 29, 2013 11:14 pm

Hi Ben,

Thanks for accepting me as your guide, for letting me know a bit about yourself and for accepting all the various conditions etc.
What are your expectations for this process?
To come to a firsthand recognition of the absence of self. I understand that liberation is not an experience, but a knowing. Thus, my expectation is simply to know what is true, and to drop any untrue beliefs I may be holding on to.
I'm glad to see that you have already taken on board that actually seeing that there's no self is not just a passing experience or state but a knowing that stays with 'you'. 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' will 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.

As I said earlier, it's really helpful that you're 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 - just look at the following statement, and ponder it every which way you can:

Nothing exists outside the present moment.

Can you find anything, anything at all, that does?

And next:

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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Benjamin
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Re: As ready as "I'll" ever be!

Postby Benjamin » Mon Sep 30, 2013 2:12 am

Hi Ben,

Moving on towards the core of this work - just look at the following statement, and ponder it every which way you can:

Nothing exists outside the present moment.

Can you find anything, anything at all, that does?
Definitely not. There is only this moment, and nothing that I can see ever stays here. The present moment seems constant because it's the only experience one can have. As far as content is concerned however, it isn't the same for an instant. Without a doubt, I can find nothing that exists outside the present moment.

And next:

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


The most constant way that self is conceived for me is what i'll call "self as observer". The experiencer of experience, you could say. Also, I conceive self to be the one that has choice or volition. I choose to lift my arm, and the arm goes up etc.



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?
The conceived self seems to reside as the one looking/the one experiencing. That which is typing these words certainly feels like a self, but when I look at the experience directly it's almost as if the words type themselves. The idea that there could be this intelligence without anyone there behind it is intriguing, to say the least.

Thanks again for your time, it's very appreciated.

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moondog
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Re: As ready as "I'll" ever be!

Postby moondog » Mon Sep 30, 2013 6:06 pm

Hi Ben,

First of all, just to say, 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 effectively without using words like these can be a real pain. When appropriate, I'll express them as 'I', 'you' etc.
There is only this moment, and nothing that I can see ever stays here. The present moment seems constant because it's the only experience one can have. As far as content is concerned however, it isn't the same for an instant. Without a doubt, I can find nothing that exists outside the present moment.
Great, I'm glad that's clear.
The most constant way that self is conceived for me is what i'll call "self as observer". The experiencer of experience, you could say. Also, I conceive self to be the one that has choice or volition. I choose to lift my arm, and the arm goes up etc.

The conceived self seems to reside as the one looking/the one experiencing. That which is typing these words certainly feels like a self, but when I look at the experience directly it's almost as if the words type themselves. The idea that there could be this intelligence without anyone there behind it is intriguing, to say the least.
Ok, so it's good to see where you're at before you really start looking for a self-entity in direct experience. You see the self as the observer/experiencer and also the chooser/decider/doer, but maybe, already when you look a bit deeper, you're not quite so sure who's doing the typing or whatever.

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. As you have already seen, 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 kinesthetic] and an unmistakable sense of Aliveness (presence/being). I referred to the informative article on direct experience in the introductory post and you might want to have another look at that.

During this guiding, I'd like to take you gradually, in a loosely structured, flexible way, through all areas of experience, to see if you can find a self here. So that you can actually SEE for yourself. Once you have seen that, you'll always know that, no matter what your mental state, and despite what thoughts there might be at any given time.

So, let's start investigating in direct experience where a self-entity might be by looking at 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.


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

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Benjamin
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Re: As ready as "I'll" ever be!

Postby Benjamin » Mon Sep 30, 2013 7:46 pm

Hi Ben,

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.


P x
I find that there is no way to divide experience into the categories of seen,seeing, and seer. There is just experience, and it appears quite undivided. The experience of hearing is just happening, without any sort of effort. The same goes for other sensations. I can see that thoughts often arise without any conscious choice as well, but I can also "will a thought into existence, a.k.a. purposely think about something. Would you just call this "thought thinking about thought" or something along those lines?

Again, to make it clear, I can see that subject and object fall away when direct experience is recognized. All labels tend to fall away and things just happen on their own. The bigger hangup seems to come from the idea of choice. If there never was a self, then who chooses? It's easy to see that hearing happens without a hearer (because it is so passive), but much harder to see that choosing happens without a "chooser".

I'll keep staying with direct experience as I wait for your reply. Things feel much simpler already, in a way.

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Re: As ready as "I'll" ever be!

Postby moondog » Tue Oct 01, 2013 3:57 pm

Hi Ben,
I find that there is no way to divide experience into the categories of seen,seeing, and seer. There is just experience, and it appears quite undivided. The experience of hearing is just happening, without any sort of effort. The same goes for other sensations.
It's good that you can clearly see that in direct experience there's no real distinction between what is observed, observing and observer. In fact, in direct experience there are only sense arisings i.e. just seeing, hearing, tasting, smelling, feeling, and thoughts arising and subsiding.
I can see that thoughts often arise without any conscious choice as well, but I can also "will a thought into existence, a.k.a. purposely think about something. Would you just call this "thought thinking about thought" or something along those lines?
In direct experience, there's no thinker either. Not ever. No worries, we're going to be looking directly at thinking, as well as doing/controlling and choosing/deciding, in a thorough, gradual way over the next few days. It's a bit of an artificial separation between these aspects because there really are no actual distinctions dividing them into discrete entities. They're all just arisings in awareness, impersonal and the fruit of an infinite permutation of conditions stretching as far back in time as it goes. However, looking for any evidence of a self-entity using this method helps to keep our investigation as clear and simple as possible.
Again, to make it clear, I can see that subject and object fall away when direct experience is recognized. All labels tend to fall away and things just happen on their own. The bigger hangup seems to come from the idea of choice. If there never was a self, then who chooses? It's easy to see that hearing happens without a hearer (because it is so passive), but much harder to see that choosing happens without a "chooser".
Again, it's really good that you can see that life simply happens and that it's the mind's chronic tendency to label everything that creates the illusion of separation.

We'll move on to choosing and decision-making shortly but, first, we'll look at doing. Before that however, 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.

Ok, now let's move on to looking - in direct experience - 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'll keep staying with direct experience as I wait for your reply. Things feel much simpler already, in a way.
That's exactly the right thing to do and is often the best advice I can give when guiding - look, look and look again in direct experience. It's great that you're already doing that. It's going well so far Ben.

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

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Re: As ready as "I'll" ever be!

Postby Benjamin » Tue Oct 01, 2013 10:37 pm

Ok, now let's move on to looking - in direct experience - 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?



Breathing is a great example I think, because it is something that very few people do consciously during the day. It goes on of it's own accord, and the same is certainly true of blinking and digesting as well - the brain knows how to direct these processes naturally without any interference from a "self".

When walking (and staying with direct experience), I see that the mechanical process of moving the body and physically "walking" is in the same category as breathing. The body knows how to walk, and millions of years of evolution have fine tuned this without any help from a self. It is not something that an "I" is doing, rather it is just what the body does.

Yet again, I am found noticing the choice involved in walking. The process of walking itself may be quite mechanical, but the possibility of choice - of where to walk, how fast or slow to walk, etc. - this to me is the hard part to see as automatic.



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'?

There isn't an "I" that does actions, as some sort of entity separate from present moment conditioning. This I definitely cannot be found in experience. When I am asked a question in daily life however, there often follows a period of thinking and reasoning - something that is not automatic in my own experience. This post was not automatic, for example. It took some amount of thinking to structure the sentences and convey my experience.

Though again, I find no "I" as some sort of permanent identity to be anywhere in existence. Just this constantly changing sense of autonomy, albeit a very dependent one.

Kind regards,

Ben

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Re: As ready as "I'll" ever be!

Postby moondog » Wed Oct 02, 2013 4:15 pm

Hi Ben,
The body knows how to walk, and millions of years of evolution have fine tuned this without any help from a self. It is not something that an "I" is doing, rather it is just what the body does. Yet again, I am found noticing the choice involved in walking. The process of walking itself may be quite mechanical, but the possibility of choice - of where to walk, how fast or slow to walk, etc. - this to me is the hard part to see as automatic.
Ok, maybe the description 'automatic' doesn't do it for you but, whatever you want to call it, can you see, in direct experience, a self, a 'you', there choosing to speed up, slow down or whatever?
There isn't an "I" that does actions, as some sort of entity separate from present moment conditioning. This I definitely cannot be found in experience. When I am asked a question in daily life however, there often follows a period of thinking and reasoning - something that is not automatic in my own experience.
If I'm wrong here Ben please tell me so, but it seems that you're quite certain that there's no self involved at all when most actions are performed, but you are not clear when certain decisions or choices happen, or planning, preparations occur. In fact, you don't seem to think that a self-entity is even involved in these instances; you say;
This post was not automatic, for example. It took some amount of thinking to structure the sentences and convey my experience. Though again, I find no "I" as some sort of permanent identity to be anywhere in existence. Just this constantly changing sense of autonomy, albeit a very dependent one.
Could you just say a bit about what you mean by this constantly changing sense of autonomy and also this sense being a very dependent one. What is it dependent on?

It's worth pointing out here that our sole purpose is to see whether a self exists anywhere in reality, in direct experience. Even when no 'I' appears to be evident, the mind has a tendency to try and lead the whole process down a 'red herring' route, trying to figure out just what does lead to choices, decisions, amongst many topics. Really, in a sense, if you're certain that there is no 'you' here doing anything, who cares what causes what.

In direct experience 'things' just happen. Do you agree? If not, please describe for me what you see that makes choices or decisions.

Anyway, let's now move on to look at whether there's any self to be detected when choices/decisions happen. 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. Not only that, but this is pretty fundamental stuff and I don't think it can only apply to certain decisions and choices but not others, say, those that are more complex or emotionally charged! Let me know what you think.

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

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Re: As ready as "I'll" ever be!

Postby Benjamin » Wed Oct 02, 2013 6:16 pm


If I'm wrong here Ben please tell me so, but it seems that you're quite certain that there's no self involved at all when most actions are performed, but you are not clear when certain decisions or choices happen, or planning, preparations occur.
I would say that you are correct.
Really, in a sense, if you're certain that there is no 'you' here doing anything, who cares what causes what.
How could I be certain, if there is no I to be certain? I'm confused by your wording. I can see that my experience is entirely interdependent, and that the label of self doesn't actually point to anything fixed, but I don't see how I can deny the existence of choice. Do you mean to say that there is no free will, that all actions are just playing out according to how life unfolds and that there is no choice? Maybe you can elaborate.
In direct experience 'things' just happen. Do you agree? If not, please describe for me what you see that makes choices or decisions.
I agree that everything is happening, but I think that choice is part of that happening. Not as some sort of purely automated process, but as a conditioned conscious choice. The difference I want to make clear is that I don't find a "chooser" of choice that is not conditioned by the moment. I don't choose the hand I'm dealt, but I make choices depending on what is already here - this sort of thing. To make myself clear, I don't see any fixed, permanent self anywhere in existence. Just this momentary one that has no real existence apart from this body and world at any given moment (not really a self at all it seems. To me a self needs to exist independently, otherwise what kind of self is that?).

Anyway, let's now move on to look at whether there's any self to be detected when choices/decisions happen. 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?
I don't find an entity that makes choices, but I know that the brain does. It makes choices, often unconsciously. When there is "conscious" choice in the brain, it often feels as though there is an I making the choice. I agree with you that there is no entity choosing things. The brain makes choices, but it is a conditioned thing (conditioned by the body and the environment around it), and it is totally impermanent from moment to moment.

It's funny, writing the last paragraph about the brain showed "me" that the brain is the only thing doing computing and thinking. There is no I to be found anywhere. Choices can be made, but they are made by the brain which is not a me or a self! This seems more clear to me now.

I hope this doesn't come across as me "philosophizing" to you. I'm just trying to describe me D.E in a way that is accurate enough to convey my situation. Reading this back, you can probably see my understanding clear up near the end, and I won't edit my earlier paragraphs so this can be seen.


Thanks, your post was quite helpful!

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Re: As ready as "I'll" ever be!

Postby moondog » Thu Oct 03, 2013 2:48 pm

Hi Ben,
Really, in a sense, if you're certain that there is no 'you' here doing anything, who cares what causes what.
How could I be certain, if there is no I to be certain? I'm confused by your wording. I can see that my experience is entirely interdependent, and that the label of self doesn't actually point to anything fixed, but I don't see how I can deny the existence of choice. Do you mean to say that there is no free will, that all actions are just playing out according to how life unfolds and that there is no choice? Maybe you can elaborate.
As I explained in an earlier post, I've continued to use conventional language for ease of communication, and that's what I've done here. By saying if you're certain there is no 'you' here doing anything, I simply meant, if 'you' are certain that there's no separate self, 'you' know for sure because 'you' see (i.e. there is seeing) that there is no self in DE; and even if there are thoughts telling you the opposite, you don't believe them, or pay them much attention to them. Saying there's no choice simply means that there's not a self-entity, a 'you', making any decisions or choices. You are life being lived; you can feel the life force at any moment. I-thoughts attach to this feeling of aliveness, awareness, and gain much of their potency from that attachment. Clearly, choices and decisions happen all the time, as the fruition in this moment of effectively infinite prior conditions. The BBC video clip that I sent you provides excellent corroboration that decisions are continually been made in the brain, even 6 seconds before 'we' even know it!
I agree that everything is happening, but I think that choice is part of that happening. Not as some sort of purely automated process, but as a conditioned conscious choice. The difference I want to make clear is that I don't find a "chooser" of choice that is not conditioned by the moment. I don't choose the hand I'm dealt, but I make choices depending on what is already here - this sort of thing. To make myself clear, I don't see any fixed, permanent self anywhere in existence. Just this momentary one that has no real existence apart from this body and world at any given moment (not really a self at all it seems. To me a self needs to exist independently, otherwise what kind of self is that?).
It's great to see you realising all of this as you go along Ben, and the above quote from your post shows that you see what I see in terms of conditionality etc.

So, really, there's not even a 'momentary self, is there? Can you ever detect one in direct experience?
I don't find an entity that makes choices, but I know that the brain does. It makes choices, often unconsciously. When there is "conscious" choice in the brain, it often feels as though there is an I making the choice. I agree with you that there is no entity choosing things. The brain makes choices, but it is a conditioned thing (conditioned by the body and the environment around it), and it is totally impermanent from moment to moment.
Great, I agree with all of that. But that's all intellectual understanding. I just want to be sure that you can clearly see in direct experience that there's no self.
It's funny, writing the last paragraph about the brain showed "me" that the brain is the only thing doing computing and thinking. There is no I to be found anywhere. Choices can be made, but they are made by the brain which is not a me or a self! This seems more clear to me now.
That shows that you're really getting it!

Let's look at thoughts and thinking. Not from what you think, but from direct experience, please say:

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?


I'm enjoying this Ben. Are you?

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

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Benjamin
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Re: As ready as "I'll" ever be!

Postby Benjamin » Thu Oct 03, 2013 7:35 pm

Hi Ben,


Let's look at thoughts and thinking. Not from what you think, but from direct experience, please say:

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?

I'm enjoying this Ben. Are you?
Yes, this is enjoyable. Seeing reality for what it is = a very enjoyable thing, I'd say. As to your questions:

Where do thoughts come from?
"Come from" doesn't seem to apply. Thoughts arise spontaneously, including thoughts "willed" into existence.
Are you in control of them?
They come and go of their own accord, so no.
Can you stop a thought from coming?
No, and if told to that would even make it worse! (ex: Don't think about kittens.)
Can you stop it in the middle?
If it stops, it is only because another thought has arisen, or some object in my experience has caught my attention.
Do you know what the next thought will be?
Absolutely not.
Is "I" a different thought from the thought of say, a table?
No, just clung to/valued more. All thoughts are equally thought.
Can a thought think?
No, at least I wouldn't word it this way. I would rather say that thought = thinking. Thoughts don't think, but they are "think" by their very nature. You can't have thinking without thought. At least it feels this way in D.E.

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moondog
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Location: Somerset, England

Re: As ready as "I'll" ever be!

Postby moondog » Fri Oct 04, 2013 11:58 am

Hi Ben,

Thanks for your replies on thoughts and thinking. You clearly get that in direct experience there is no 'I' doing any thinking. That's often an obstacle for people so I'm glad you can see that so clearly. Following on from that, again straight from direct experience, can you let me have your response to each of the following two statements (the second left over from my previous post) -

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

So, really, there's not even a 'momentary self, is there? Can you ever detect one in direct experience?


Another tricky area for some can be identification with the body.

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


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?

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

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Benjamin
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Re: As ready as "I'll" ever be!

Postby Benjamin » Fri Oct 04, 2013 7:42 pm

Hi Ben,


'I' is just a thought..so it can't be a thinker, doer, witness or anything at all?
The I cannot witness, but is itself "witnessed" by existence itself (which is definitely not an "I").

Truly, the I cannot be anything but a label. It's definitely loosening it's grip on (my) reality the more I simply come to note direct experience as it arises.


So, really, there's not even a 'momentary self, is there? Can you ever detect one in direct experience?
Yes, the momentary self is also nothing but a story or a label applied to life. It can't be detected in direct experience, only believed in (like the santa claus example).
Another tricky area for some can be identification with the body.

Does the body experience sensations and thought?
or
Is the "body" just another thought label for sensations (namely tactile & kinaesthetic)?
The body can certainly be no more than a label. Experience seems to dependent, too seamless to call for such distinctions like "self" and "other" these past few days.

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?
Thank you for asking. I feel it is going well, and that this "awakening" to no self is really just the beginning as much as it is the end. Like I mentioned above, the illusion of continuity is slowly dissolving, and what a relief it can be!


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