Looking for assistance

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Zoe Mac
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Looking for assistance

Postby Zoe Mac » Sun Nov 03, 2013 1:05 am

Hello, my name is Zoe. Warm greetings.

Over the past 18months I have been watching thoughts and belief systems and becoming more and more aware that they are illusory and controlling.

As far as I'm concerned my only job or current seeting assignment is the search for greater truth.

At this stage am very much looking for guidance - any help would be greatly appreciated.

Kind wishes,

Zoe

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moondog
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Re: Looking for assistance

Postby moondog » Sun Nov 03, 2013 2:49 pm

Hi Zoe 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 go over 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 http://liberationunleashed.com/nation/v ... ?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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Zoe Mac
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Re: Looking for assistance

Postby Zoe Mac » Mon Nov 04, 2013 9:16 am

Hi Pete,

Thanks so much for getting back to me and offering to be my guide. - Am very grateful and more than ready to apply myself in full and do my upmost to post daily.

I've read the required attachments and agree to the disclaimer. Apologies for any poor grammar, my laptop has just crashed so am typing on my phone.

So many questions to answer. Here's what came up:

A bit about me; I'm currently in GMT +8 timezone (western Australia) though that may change in the coming weeks.

My journey here to LU I guess started approx 18mnths ago when a friend started asking me about what I really knew for sure and where I thought everything that existed came from. It was like a lightbulb went on and everything started to come into question. Very slowly at first, once or twice a week and now very frequently throughout each day. I watch the way the mind streams unreasonable assumptions or falsities, originating from where? I have no idea. I feel certain I'm not seeing the bigger picture.

I've read little bits here and there. Quotes and books from sages, Zen Masters, modern non dualists and enlightened teachers and attended a few Buddhist satsangs here in my city during the last year and a half- sometimes feverishly, which usually has resulted in a period of nihilism and heavy confusion.

Around 6 months ago, I experienced a change in perspective which lasted around 3 to 6 hours on reflection. (Though there was no sense of time in the experience) I don't think my mind is able to understand it, I can't explain it, and the memory of it is growing dim. I remember falling to my knees in the shower and laughing, and rocking and 'watching' the thoughts, not as I try to do now, but as though they were an insignificance barely audible. These words don't work in describing so I'll leave it there.

Currently, I have come to a place where I've seemed actively studying anything, as was getting very confused. I look around and frequently run the thoughts:
'Who is looking?'
'Where are the thoughts coming from?'
'What is real?'

Yesterday as I sat in the garden, everything began to pulse and hum and it continued throughout the night and today when I take the time to stop and notice. It's accompanied by brief stillness of mind which is lovely, but I'm still very much attached to the identification of I/me and this body in front of me.

I have no expectations for the process, am desperate for a clue as to how to move forward.

My search is for the truth, though I don't know what that is, all I know is there's too many holes in the 'truth' I've known thus far.

I don't know if I'll know if I've found it, if I ever will, or if it will change me. Very many changes have taken place in the search so far, and am not afraid for more.

Wow, that's the most I've written about this strange head for a long time. I hope it's ok?

Thanking you once again for your kind help. I'm very ready to begin.

Best wishes,

Zoe

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Zoe Mac
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Re: Looking for assistance

Postby Zoe Mac » Mon Nov 04, 2013 9:22 am

Currently, I have come to a place where I've seemed actively studying anything, as was getting very confused. I look around and frequently run the thoughts:
'Who is looking?'

Sorry, in the above sentence, had meant to write 'stopped' rather than 'seemed'. I think it may have been the autocorrect on my phone. Eeeeeee. Technology

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moondog
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Re: Looking for assistance

Postby moondog » Mon Nov 04, 2013 4:42 pm

Hi Zoe,

Thanks for accepting me as your guide, for letting me know a bit about yourself and for accepting all the various conditions etc. We've obviously got a fair bit of time difference between us but I reckon we can easily work with that and it should be no problem.
I have no expectations for the process, am desperate for a clue as to how to move forward
Thanks, that and your other answers are pretty realistic in terms of expectations, in as much as you haven't really arrived at anything particular or specific. 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.

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.

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

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Zoe Mac
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Re: Looking for assistance

Postby Zoe Mac » Tue Nov 05, 2013 4:16 am

Morning Pete,

I was further pondering your previous question and found that I did have an expectation of this process buried somewhere. It was that eventually, hopefully all willing, I would be free of the minds thought stream. If not free, then at least non reactionary to it. Would this be unrealistic or another false desire? If you say it's not possible to attain that sort of thing, it won't sway me from wanting to see this through.

Now to answer your queries... (Just trying to figure out this quote function)

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Zoe Mac
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Re: Looking for assistance

Postby Zoe Mac » Tue Nov 05, 2013 4:34 am

I can't seem to work out the quote function. Perhaps it's not set up for android phone? That or the tech user is utterly questionable!


"NOTHING EXISTS OUTSIDE OF THE PRESENT MOMENT. CAN YOU THINK OF ANYTHING, ANYTHING AT ALL THAT DOES?"

I can see clearly that there is nothing that exists outside of the present moment- that all the thoughts, feelings, desires, memories pertaining to the past and future are present projections of the mind, forging convincing stories. Though I can see this to be true, why is it that I still identify so strongly with the past and the future as if they are here now?


"HOW DO YOU CONCEIVE THE I/ME THAT YOU HOLD YOURSELF TO BE?"

The 'I' I conceive as myself is a 31 year old girl that's been through quite a bit in 31 years, (like anyone else) who prefers to spend time alone, in nature whenever possible- with existential confusion, body/ image, trust and intimacy issues... Gawd could go on and on. Intellectually, I see that if nothing but the present exists then none of what I have just said can be true. None of these things I identify with can be real, but I can't seem to stop believing them 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?"

I'm not sure I fully understand what you mean by "flow of experiencing."

As I sit here, I see birds in the garden, hear wind in the trees, feel the texture of the carpet, cool temperature of the air touching my skin, inhalation, exhalation, thoughts appearing and disappearing. There is nothing here of the aforementioned 'self' just an observer, however, it seems, impossible not to grip onto the idea of self as truth.

Is that what you refer to by flow of experience? I guess really that's all there is.

Kind respect and wishes,

Zoe xXx

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moondog
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Re: Looking for assistance

Postby moondog » Tue Nov 05, 2013 3:29 pm

Hi Zoe,

To use the quote function, what I do is simply highlight the relevant sentence(s)/paragraph(s) in the other person's post and press 'copy', press the 'Quote ' button in the bar above the section you're typing in, place the cursor in the centre of the two bracketed quote words and press "paste". That should do it.
I can see clearly that there is nothing that exists outside of the present moment- that all the thoughts, feelings, desires, memories pertaining to the past and future are present projections of the mind, forging convincing stories. Though I can see this to be true, why is it that I still identify so strongly with the past and the future as if they are here now?
Absolutely correct. You (or me or anyone) only identify with thoughts occurring in the present concerning your past or future because you think that they are about you, i.e. 'my past', 'my future', even though there are really just thoughts arising. Anyway, more of this soon as we move through the investigation.
The 'I' I conceive as myself is a 31 year old girl that's been through quite a bit in 31 years, (like anyone else) who prefers to spend time alone, in nature whenever possible- with existential confusion, body/ image, trust and intimacy issues... Gawd could go on and on. Intellectually, I see that if nothing but the present exists then none of what I have just said can be true. None of these things I identify with can be real, but I can't seem to stop believing them to be.
I appreciate you sharing these details with me.
As I sit here, I see birds in the garden, hear wind in the trees, feel the texture of the carpet, cool temperature of the air touching my skin, inhalation, exhalation, thoughts appearing and disappearing. There is nothing here of the aforementioned 'self' just an observer, however, it seems, impossible not to grip onto the idea of self as truth.
Is that what you refer to by flow of experience? I guess really that's all there is.
Good observations of your direct experience, which is the same as flow of experience. And yes, that's all there is. Direct experience is 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 comprehensive article on direct experience in the introductory post; by all means have another look at that if you need to.

As I've just said, the whole of this investigation centres around looking in direct experience to see if a self-entity can be found anywhere there. This is accompanied by seeing that it is in thoughts and only in thoughts that 'I' ever 'occurs' and that 'I' doesn't actually occur there either because thoughts, or at least their contents, are neither reliable nor real in any sense.

So anyway, 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). First, 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.

So, at last, looking self in sense arisings:

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.


Sorry it's a bit of a long one again, but they do get shorter, honest.

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

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Zoe Mac
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Re: Looking for assistance

Postby Zoe Mac » Wed Nov 06, 2013 6:56 am

Hey Pete, hope your day is treating you kindly.

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? [quote][/quote]

I'm watching the trees outside, the only "i" I can find is the body I believe myself to be, from shoulders / neck down in the peripheral.

There is no I seeing, just seeing, and thoughts that say I'm seeing.

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Zoe Mac
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Re: Looking for assistance

Postby Zoe Mac » Wed Nov 06, 2013 7:03 am

If there is an 'I', where are the boundaries betseem what is being seen, the seeing process itself and the seer?
This one is quite trying- the question itself seems to carry a lot of weight, am pondering and pondering and in trying to find an answer have suddenly gotten unbearably tired. Apologies. Going to take a nap and come back after to give it a crack.

Zo x

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Zoe Mac
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Re: Looking for assistance

Postby Zoe Mac » Wed Nov 06, 2013 10:10 am

Ok refreshed...
If there is an 'I', where are the boundaries between what is being seen, the seeing process itself and the seer?
I'm really sorry Pete, I'm struggling with this question. Don't know how to answer it. Maybe if I break it down into parts?

Assuming there is a me/I, the boundary between what is being seen and the seeing process, which I guess is also the seer, (?) is the difference of what's 'inside' and what's 'outside' - Though I can find no physical barrier. I interpret it intellectually to be where air meets eyeball, but there is no tangible proof of that.

Please do the same with hearing: birdsong, music, a pneumatic drill or whatever; and similarly with each of: tasting, tactile feelings and smelling.
Hearing, tasting, and smelling all seemingly occur the same way, the barrier being 'inside' and 'outside,' however these sensations seem to be further interpreted by sight also. Wait, I guess they are all inter- interpretations between the senses with the same boundary experience.

Touching is similar too, though can be visualized as the body coming into contact with external objects whilst simultaneously feeling the sensation of it. Again, the conceptualized barrier, is 'out there' felt by 'in here' but other than that I can find no boundary. (The minds says this moment, what about your skin, that separates you from the world but in the same breath my skin is in the world and seen just like a tree or the table it rests on.)

Pretty confusing. My head reels haha!

Warm kindness and gratitude,

Zoe x

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moondog
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Re: Looking for assistance

Postby moondog » Wed Nov 06, 2013 4:21 pm

Hi Zoe,
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?
I'm watching the trees outside, the only "i" I can find is the body I believe myself to be, from shoulders / neck down in the peripheral.
There is no I seeing, just seeing, and thoughts that say I'm seeing.
Good, that's great, you can see that when looking at something, in direct experience, there is just seeing. There's just no 'I' there involved at all except, as you say, for thoughts giving the non-existent 'I' credit for doing the seeing. Interestingly, you say the only 'I' I can find is the body I believe myself to be. I forgot to say earlier that I'd like to guide you in a relaxed, loosely structured way through each of the areas where a separate self might be lurking, so that you can look for yourself into your own direct experience to see if this self, this 'I', can be found anywhere at all. So, we'll get round to looking at whether there's an intrinsic 'you' to be found in or as the body, your body soon.

However, isn't this believing that you are your body just thought again? If not, please tell me how you know you are your body from the evidence of direct experience.
I'm really sorry Pete, I'm struggling with this question. Don't know how to answer it. Maybe if I break it down into parts?
No worries, you're doing fine Zoe, and you're very much on the right track. I'll just break it down a bit more and ask you to really look again.
Assuming there is a me/I, the boundary between what is being seen and the seeing process, which I guess is also the seer, (?) is the difference of what's 'inside' and what's 'outside' - Though I can find no physical barrier. I interpret it intellectually to be where air meets eyeball, but there is no tangible proof of that.
No, there is no tangible, i.e. experiential, proof of such a barrier. Again, this is about looking into direct experience to see what's really there to be seen, and what's not there.

When you look at an object, say an orange, on the basis of raw unmitigated experience, i.e. before filtering, shaping and manipulation by thoughts, judgements, opinions etc., what do 'you' see? In the case of the orange, can you see any more than the orange-shaped shape against whatever colour the background happens to be? Can you find a seer that is separate from the seeing, or indeed an orange that is separate from the seeing? Or is there just seeing? If there is just seeing, where can the boundaries be in direct experience? Also, where are inside and outside, if there's just seeing happening? If you can find either a seer or an object (the orange) that is separate from seeing, where are the respective boundaries? What do they look like in direct experience?

Obviously, you can do similar looking exercises with hearing, tasting, smelling and touching to see primarily if there's any I present, which I know you've already done, but also to look to see if you can find any boundaries of any kind in direct experience.

Your mind will continually interrupt in an attempt to interpret what is being seen, heard etc. but that is just data about the experience, not the experience itself. Also, as I'm sure you'll have noticed, thought content is entirely variable and unreliable. Just bear this 'in mind'.

Love, Peter
'Just consciousness taking the shape of experience from moment to moment.
Just this'

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Zoe Mac
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Re: Looking for assistance

Postby Zoe Mac » Wed Nov 06, 2013 7:38 pm

Hi Pete,
However, isn't this believing that you are your body just thought again? If not, please tell me how you know you are your body from the evidence of direct experience.
Youre right it is just thoughts that claim the body eachspectrumt. Even the rseparationction of the body looking back. Though I can't look past the fact that the reflection of the body (in mirrors) etc does just as the thoughts seem to will it.
When you look at an object, say an orange, on the basis of raw unmitigated experience, i.e. before filtering, shaping and manipulation by thoughts, judgements, opinions etc., what do 'you' see? In the case of the orange, can you see any more than the orange-shaped shape against whatever colour the background happens to be? Can you find a seer that is separate from the seeing, or indeed an orange that is separate from the seeing? Or is there just seeing? If there is just seeing, where can the boundaries be in direct experience? Also, where are inside and outside, if there's just seeing happening? If you can find either a seer or an object (the orange) that is separate from seeing, where are the respective boundaries? What do they look like in direct experience?
I'm using a bedside lamp for this example. I can see a white lampshade, brown wooden stem and black metal legs. Various colours and objects found in the background. There is no seer to be found separate from the seeing, just seeingand in the visual spectrum there is no separation between things other than varying colours and textures and grades of light. I don't understand where the boundary lies between seeing and the lamp. I can't find anything tangible.

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Re: Looking for assistance

Postby moondog » Thu Nov 07, 2013 10:33 am

Hi Zoe,
Youre right it is just thoughts that claim the body eachspectrumt. Even the rseparationction of the body looking back.
Although there's a couple of mysterious words in there (no doubt due to the equally mysterious workings of technology), clearly you can see how thoughts overlay what you originally experience.
Though I can't look past the fact that the reflection of the body (in mirrors) etc does just as the thoughts seem to will it.
Could you just say a bit more to explain what you mean by this, particularly with reference to what you actually see in direct experience.
I'm using a bedside lamp for this example. I can see a white lampshade, brown wooden stem and black metal legs. Various colours and objects found in the background. There is no seer to be found separate from the seeing, just seeingand in the visual spectrum there is no separation between things other than varying colours and textures and grades of light.
Splendid, so you can see from 'your' experience that there is no role at all for a separate self in seeing.

Is your experience the same for hearing, touching, smelling and tasting?
I don't understand where the boundary lies between seeing and the lamp. I can't find anything tangible.
Because our explanations are concepts or stories 'layered' onto our raw perceptual experience, there can a limit to what can be truly explained or understood intellectually.

Might it not be that you don't understand where the boundary between seeing and the lamp is because there is no boundary which, in turn, is because there is, in direct experience, just seeing?

It's going well, so let's move on to the self as doer or 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? Try all kinds of stuff.

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


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

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Zoe Mac
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Re: Looking for assistance

Postby Zoe Mac » Thu Nov 07, 2013 11:10 am

Hello again :) sorry about those strange words, i can't even work out what they mean or from whence they came!

Could you just say a bit more to explain what you mean by this, particularly with reference to what you actually see in direct experience.
For example, I will think 'brush my hair' and watch the body respond and begin brushing my hair in the mirror. It feels like I'm inside that body. This moving being that seemingly does what the head commands. If I couldn't see the reflection of it, perhaps it would be easier to not think I was it.
Is your experience the same for hearing, touching, smelling and tasting?
It is the same with hearing and smelling. That there is just hearing and smelling with no evidence in direct experience of anybody doing the hearing and smelling. I find touch different and also taste to a certain degree, because it seems even with direct experience that the skin of the body is a boundary of sorts, between the external being experienced by the internal. (Fingertips, tongue, tastebuds etc)
It's clear that when we breathe, blink, digest food etc. there's no 'I' involved, but how is it for you when walking?
When walking it feels as though there is an "I", a mind involved, negotiating pitfalls, tree roots etc. Ensuring a certain path is taken.
How is it when doing various everyday things like say, brushing your teeth, washing up, that kind of thing? Try all kinds of stuff.

Is there any "I" there for any of these actions, or are they just like 'automatic'?
I'll observe a few comings and goings this evening and let you know. :)

Just quickly Pete, is it normal to experience strong frustration and restlessness with this? I find myself currently very isolated with very little to do to fill time. Would you suggest any mantras or practices or meditation? Have given everything away to focus on this process here (By way of books, satsangs and podcasts, was never much good as sustaining meditation for long)

Thanking you kindly,

Zoe x


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