Otter and Sheila H.

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otterrivers
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Otter and Sheila H.

Postby otterrivers » Thu Mar 06, 2014 12:33 pm

[From Facebook gate group jan 18th - march 2nd 2014]

Sheila H-

I'll introduce myself, if I may. I am coming here with a background of reading pop psychology and research all my life, mostly being an atheist and skeptic, but with an open mind. Having had an experience as a teenager with an Ouija board that was very convincing, I was never prepared to rule anything out but know many speak from unfounded beliefs and a desire to sound good. On two occasions I picked up unknown books and, turning the pages at random to try to figure out what they were about, both times I felt faint, my head spinning. They were Jane Roberts "Seth" and Eckhart Tolle "The Power of Now". It's clear now that psychology is severely lacking and stuck in an academic straight jacket as they don't give enough weight to personal experience, though it's good to see many psychologists making these enquiries and brain scans studying meditators.
From many attempts to meditate, only once did I achieve a deep meditation so I don't try any more. I have never attended Satsangs, workshops etc apart from one workshop by Esther and Jerry Hicks. I listen to lots of You Tube videos (converted to Mp3) especially BATGAP and various people I've seen on there. I love Byron Katie's works but typically I've never filled out a complete worksheet. I ask myself regularly, "Is it true?" and that seems enough to calm the nerves and expose my beliefs as just stories. I've never felt any urgency to change. Slow and steady seems to work. But I do feel this is my last stop to make that initial shift so I can continue to recognize and remove my conditioning.
What I love about this group is the requirement to ignore beliefs and go with actual experience. Complete honesty... yes please. I'm looking for a shift in perspective and hope it will help me drop my personalization of many things.
For a week I've been reading the Gatecrashers PDF and asking where I am. I was unable to believe "I" was not my body till this morning when I located myself in the top of my brain, behind my eyes. I then realized intellectually that no surgeon could extract or replace any part of my brain and I'd then disappear. So there is no place that I reside. WOW, I need time for that to sink in. Typing it has made my head feel like it's spinning. But it's only a thought, not an experience. I shall read on, and try to answer the "I am" questions.



Sheila H- Another thing I've noticed. People describe themselves by their attributes. eg, I'm a depressed / happy go lucky, shy / extrovert, Christian / Jewish / atheist, independent, Australian / English, cricket / tennis fan, honest, middle class, painter / electrician / musician etc. This is our description of our self which, if challenged brings up strong emotions and defensiveness. Indeed wars are fought to defend our country, religious beliefs, desire for ownership or other principles. We all seem uncomfortable with those who are different from ourselves. All the 'isms including patriotism are a good example. We want others to be like us. Anyone who doesn't buy Christmas gifts or stick to other customs is seen as weird or mean and provoke gossip. Plastic surgery is like a war on ourselves, to show we conform. (I speak as someone who refused reconstruction surgery and live daily with an atypical body.) Normal. Self-esteem. Self-image. They're all constructs, not real, yet some are prepared to die for them.
I observe those with massive riches or fame, fighting every day to take over one more company, get one more high, make one more sexual conquest, one more news headline. Driven like all of us to increase our standing, power, reputation, whatever we wrongly believe will make us a better person. But we're not that person. I am not my house, my marriage, my occupation, my country, my adult kids, not even my body so it seems. Unless I'm all those things and everything else too. That's why I am so ready to make this shift.

Otter Rivers I don't know if there are any guides here from Australia. I'm in seattle (u.s. northwest coast) but I'd be happy to work with you. we'll just have to reply when we can. to start, welcome. I usually say please tell me what brought you here but I see you've described it pretty well.

Now how would you feel if someone told you that there never was a "me" anywhere? what if there was never an "I" or "them" or any separation at all? what if experiencer has always been the same thing as the experienced, separated only in imagination? I won't say this is true or not. i'll give you concrese exercises to look for yourself. but I only ask now to see what emotions or reactions come up if I say there is no sheila, and there never was?

Sheila H- That would be great thanks Otter Rivers.
I can say there are no reactions to your suggestions. I guess I've read there is no me enough times that it seems there must be something in it. I imagine I am either my body or perhaps a soul if there is such a thing. Can you elaborate on experiencer and experienced please? I'm the experiencer, the experience is my actions, (Typing, fingers on keys) or emotions?

Otter Rivers ok. you have found there is no part of the body that is "me" right? now look for "experiencer". humans use words to talk. what is a word? it's a symbol to substitute for reality, right? and no word could exist without having a very distinct category which is always "this, as opposed to that". so just because humans have invented words like "feeler" and "felt" is this true? test it. feel something with your hand. close your eyes and feel anything nearby. this is exercise #1. put your hand on something. close your eyes. report what is found in reality. when looking at only what is experienced, and without looking in mind for any learned concepts, is there really something that is experiencing? is the feeler anything other than the felt? If mind says this is true, test it/ look for the exact line where feeling stops and becomes "felt". forget any learning and trus your experience now. take a while, do this until tomorrow whenever you remember. tell me what you find. I must leave now. good talking to you Sheila.

Sheila H- It feels like my hand is the one feeling. That's it. Nothing else and no one else involved. It took a while to get it though.

Sheila H- Reading through the Gatecrashers PDF, chickens featured in one. This reminded me of the headless chicken that lived for 18 months as most of the brain stem was left intact. (Wikipedia, Mike the Headless Chicken) The owner fed it with an eyedropper. So it was able to run around and learnt to balance on the perch once it got used to it's altered centre of balance. It still tried to crow and preen itself.
The brain stem controls automatic and basic functions such as breathing. The chicken was without the part of the brain that would make it an individual and control higher functions. This really blows away any idea of mine that the self resides in the higher brain.
It's still all fact though, I still feel like I reside in my body and brain and know I have to keep questioning this assumption. I think about this all the time now, from any angle I can think of.
(Nearly midday in Sydney.)

Otter Rivers hi Sheila. let's have a look at one of those sentences: "I still feel like I reside in my body and brain". Let's investigate whether it is truly a feeling of "me" residing in a body that you're describing.

Would you describe this feeling? I mean physically, where is it felt? what sensations are felt?
thanks!

Sheila H- LOL, Feel... Wrong word. It's a thought of course. It's hard to drop those familiar words and expressions. There are no sensations that are "me". And HI to you too.

Otter Rivers I see. it's still a good exercise. we might as well give it a try haha

Otter Rivers feel that feeling that arises when you think "i am". describe it.

Sheila H- I can't find any sensations. Should I?

Otter Rivers I don't know what you should feel.

let's try this:

pretend you've been insulted or you're blamed for something or you are defensive for some reason. this feeling is often seen as evidence that there is a "me". can you recall a time where you've felt this way? what was the physical feeling?

... or let's pretend I was saying you aren't doing this right or that you're insincere and you're answering wrong... or anything like that. pretend. what feelings arise?

Sheila H- I get strong sensations of in the stomach and chest I think.

Otter Rivers ok good! what do the sensations feel like?

Sheila H- A stomach churning feeling, or tightness in the chest, feelings of panic, or is that a thought? Not nice at all.

Otter Rivers well a feeling is a feeling and a thought is a thought, right? cant you tell if it is a feeling or a thought? it may be the thought leads to the feeling so that might lead to some confusion huh?

Sheila H- I guess panic sensations would be a faster heartbeat and sweatyness.

Sheila H- Panic is the label I put on the sensations, so they are thoughts.

Otter Rivers it's a good distinction to make. that's why I ask you to describe the sensations in such a way as "in the stomach" tightness" etc rather than "a feeling of panic". if you say that i'd ask "describe the feeling of panic" see?

Otter Rivers but you're basically saying "tightness, constriction, tension" I see.

Sheila H- Yes, I've picked that up from reading on the web site.

Otter Rivers cool

Otter Rivers so the next obvious question would be "is that feeling you?"

Otter Rivers because if so, what is feeling the feeling? if "me" is a collection of feelings, what is feeling that? can a feeling have feelings?

Sheila H- Definitely not me. Just a passing sensation.

Otter Rivers (don't worry we don't need to spend a bunch of time on this one. it's just one of several areas we'll look for "I")

Sheila H- I get the theory of that and need to get used to more accurate language.

Otter Rivers what else? when looking for "what I am" what do you find?

Otter Rivers it's ok if you can't find exactly what you are, but what do you find in the looking?

Sheila H- I feel my body then remember that's just a sensation. I can't find a thing called I or me.

Otter Rivers what about thinking? "the thinker" etc?

Sheila H- Yes. I still identify my thoughts with I although I know They are not me.

Otter Rivers so you see the thoughts are not you. what about the thinker of the thoughts?

Otter Rivers and back to the body feeling subject, you see the body is just a sensation, and not you. but what about the feeler of the sensations? is there a feeler? a thinker?

Sheila H- I've wondered about that for years, before I heard of self-inquiry. Where do thoughts come from and WHO thinks them? There's no me to do the thinking.

Otter Rivers what is "I"?

Otter Rivers (don't worry. the answers aren't important. what happens when you really look?)

Sheila H- I read that it's just a way of expressing ourselves. When I try to find the thinker it gives me a strange sensation in the brain.

Otter Rivers the great thing about this inquiry is that we don't need to rely on anything we've learned. we just look and report exactly what is noticed. it's a different kind of knowing.

Otter Rivers what about the decider? the originator of action?

Sheila H- Yes, and the feeling is that my brain is straining? can't find the right word.

Otter Rivers yeah it's ok. no need to push it.

Otter Rivers do you decide? control? choose?

Sheila H- I always thought I decided. Now I can see a lot of decisions are either automatic or instinctive. Oh, I said see, wrong word.

Sheila H- If I look back and forth, the red or the blue? I guess it's a conditioned preference that is chosen.

Otter Rivers it's ok. there's no way to communicate perfectly with words, right? they are little labels meant to substitute for reality. i'm just happy we can do as well as we are.

Otter Rivers do you have time for an exercise about choice?

Sheila H- Oh yes, I realise my stomach is contracted trying to find the right words.

Otter Rivers yeah. it could be easy to assume without investigation that this contraction is evidence of a self.

Sheila H- I've been observing my emotions for many years so I know they aren't me.

Otter Rivers what about the feeler of the emotions?

Otter Rivers what says "my emotions"?

Sheila H- LOL, there's no one to feel my emotions, there is no feeler.

Otter Rivers take a few minutes and actually do this slowly and watchfully.

This is very over-simplified for a reason.
let's take a good hard look at exactly what is happening with what we call "decision making"!
Answer each part ok? it's a good exercise. it gets right to the point!

1) Sit with one hand on each leg. think about the right hand moving. think "I will move the right hand".
imagine it happening.

did the hand move?

Sheila H- I say "my emotions". But there's no me. Only my voice and mouth moving.

Sheila H- NO, no movement.

Otter Rivers 2) now just move the right hand. try it both ways again. watch closely, what was the difference?

Sheila H- If you ask me to think about it then I don't move the hand. If you say to move it then I do move it.

Otter Rivers was there any cause-effect relationship between the thought and the movement? or was there simply a thought,
then either movement or not, then another thought "I did that. I moved the hand."?

Sheila H- My thought that I must move my hand resulted in it moving. I don't know where the trigger came from to actually move.

Otter Rivers you're sure the hand moved because of the thought?

Otter Rivers or is that an assumption? we can look at that some more.

Sheila H- I should have said one followed the other.

Otter Rivers it's like if you have an itch. does the hand need a thought to say "i should scratch this itch"?

Sheila H- If I thought I was going to move it, it would always move unless some mechanical reason.

Sheila H- It's possible to scratch without thinking it first. A sub-conscious reaction?

Otter Rivers yes. but are you sure that because there is a thought before the movement that the thought causes the movement? in direct experience, the body read the words "now just move the hand" and the hand moved.

Sheila H- I see. Now I've forgotten if I thought first!

Otter Rivers or maybe I could say "move the hand" and the hand doesn't move. maybe there is even thinking that says not to move the hand. but is the thought affecting what happens? or is it possibly just coinciding?

Otter Rivers and if you did think first is that proof that the thought had an affect on movement or not?

Sheila H- It could be coinciding. There's not a direct link. Random in fact. I get it.

Otter Rivers thought habitually claims responsibility doesn't it? is this well founded, or a self affirming tactic?

Sheila H- Oh yes, what a self-serving thing thing thought is.

Sheila H- Getting the giggles here.

Otter Rivers Yeah. like the notion to brush your teeth may arise. this is not so much a thought as just an arising urge. but thinking quickly claims it and says "yeah i should brush my teeth. then afterwards, "i'm glad i thought of that and i got it done" haha

I don't want to theorize too much. let's look at this some more. i'll pick up with the exercise again. we can come back to it if we missed anything.

Otter Rivers Now think "I will decide to move my left or right hand".
Wait until you are calm and settled. Watch closely! Now move one of your hands (or both/neither. whatever).

did choosing really happen or was there possibly just a thought "I will move my ____ hand" and then this happened or not,
followed almost immediately by another thought "I did that. I chose to do that." ...?
the word "choice" implies that something else could've happened, right?

Otter Rivers is there choice happening? what IS choice? is it an idea or does it actually happen?
is there a chooser/agent/decider? did you do/choose/decide it?
or did something just happen followed by a habitual thought "I chose/did that."

let's say the right hand moved. looking directly at reality,
is there any possibility at all that the left could have moved that time? could it have been different?
can you know that? if you can say there is such a thing as choice in direct experience, shouldnt you be able to find in direct experience that something else could've happened?

Sheila H- No, I didn't decide, I thought then moved.

Otter Rivers (take your time)

Otter Rivers not that much time! you're doing it wrong!

Otter Rivers hahahaha just playing

Sheila H- Ha ha, I knew you were joking. I probably need to try this out a bit to gt it as I can't settle down.

Otter Rivers I think we've covered this area pretty well. it's possible doubts may arise and further clarification may be called for, but for now we can move on

Sheila H- get it...

Sheila H- Oops, correcting my spelling. I didn't get anything. But I'll look at it more overnight.

Otter Rivers time to stop now?

Sheila H- Yes thanks. I'm having trouble thinking.

Sheila H- Thanks for that. I think it's key to my recognising if there is a ME.

Otter Rivers so we've looked at all these areas and haven't found a separate individual. right? ask this "what is left? where else can "I" be?"

Otter Rivers and "what, if anything, do I identify with?"

Sheila H- Many choices were made last night but it still seemed like "me" making them. The ones where it took time to weigh up the pros and cons were the ones where I was sure the elusive "I" had made them. Maybe after thinking about all the options, the choice was obvious so no actual decision was made. So maybe action was taken on a "knowing"? But who was there to know? There was a definite feeling of satisfaction and sureness immediately before acting which I've noticed before.
So where is this "I", you asked? The idea that my thoughts come from some mysterious other that is referred to as I is hard to get past.
When I was giggling yesterday, it was because a thought had popped into my head of a big thought monster hovering over me putting thoughts into my head. It was so unlike me to have such thoughts, and the monster was so comical like a kid's plastic toy that I saw the funny side. The thought monster put a thought of himself (MALE???) into my head? That sounds like a thought put a thought into my head. Impossible. There would have to be an infinite no of thoughts each putting a thought into the next thought till it reached me (My conscious mind?).
So am I a helpless body, at the mercy of whichever thought pops into my head? Or an integral part of the whole universe, all perfectly aligned for the overall good? Life experiencing life?

Sorry, getting away from direct experience now. I can't find an I. I is just a word. It exists nowhere. I don't exist, yet here I am, moving, thinking, experiencing emotions and sensations.

Sheila H- "what, if anything, do I identify with?"

Most of the time I identify with some fictional character I've built up all my life. A construct built from conditioning and thoughts who I defend as if it were really me and I'd somehow fall apart if others didn't recognise who I think I am. A construct that jumps into my mind automatically whenever I feel any so-called insults, judgements or untruths. All my life I've tried to stop caring what others thought of me. My reactions probably make me more unlikeable than before my reactions. Yet despite this knowledge I fall into the trap over and over. How can I see this so clearly then in an instant react to perceived hurts? Do I clean the house, my teeth, cook, dress, all to please others and avoid criticism? Who is being criticised? My thoughts? My mind? I'm not the same person I was, big changes happen though others rarely see this. What changes? My ideas, actions, feelings. All those things are changeable so they can't be me. So who is there to like or dislike? Where is she? Does Sheila exist?
So, based on the above, where am I located? Not my body, thoughts, feelings, choices, temporary or long term traits. I can't exist except as an idea, manifested imperfectly in a body, trying and mostly failing to live out the ideas like in a dream or a puff of smoke.

Otter Rivers this puff of smoke... you see it taking so many shapes in your last responses.

Otter Rivers there are plenty of feelings and thought stories about what happened and why and what must be true, but blow on them and POOF! gone. lol

Sheila H- Yes, that's the puff of smoke.

Otter Rivers "So am I a helpless body, at the mercy of whichever thought pops into my head? Or an integral part of the whole universe, all perfectly aligned for the overall good? Life experiencing life?"
..well what is the "I" in those questions?

Otter Rivers what is claiming the experience as "mine"? anything besides thought?

Otter Rivers is there really a "sense of self"? or just feelings that are habitually labelled "me"?

Sheila H- Probably just a habitual thought.

Otter Rivers imagine a leaf on a tree or a bottle on the side of the road wondering "am I an integral part of the universe?" hahaha.

Sheila H- They don't think.

Otter Rivers do you think?

Otter Rivers I mean literally

Otter Rivers i know we say things like "i think" and that's fine. but what is DOING the thinking?

Sheila H- If I knew that I'd have seen through the illusion.

Otter Rivers what makes you believe there is an answer? seeing through the illusion is knowing there is nothing that is doing or receiving any of it.

Otter Rivers is there anything that is you that is not anything else?

Sheila H- If others are telling the truth, and it's not all a case of the emperor's coat, then I am an illusion.

Otter Rivers well if you were satisfied with what others said, you wouldn't be talking to me now.

Otter Rivers you want to see for yourself.

Sheila H- I will only believe it when it's my experience.

Otter Rivers perfect!

Otter Rivers is it really not your experience? or do you just believe otherwise?

January 21 at 11:55pm · Like
Otter Rivers do you experience that there is a separate "me" in life?

Sheila H- No, I don't experience a separate me.

Otter Rivers then what are you looking for?

Sheila H- That would make two of me by other people's standards.

Sheila H- You keep asking where I am!!!

Otter Rivers right, but does that mean there is a you somewhere?

Sheila H- Something is sitting here typing and laughing at the absurdity of the conversation.

Otter Rivers just because there is a question "what am i?" does that mean there must be an answer?

Sheila H- No, But I haven't had that experience yet.

Otter Rivers there's a body, typing, laughing... is there something that is at the center witnessing it or doing it?

Sheila H- I don't know where to find the answer.

Otter Rivers you said you don't experience that there is a separate self but then you said that it's not your experience that there is no "me"... ?

Otter Rivers perfect. i'm saying there is no answer to the question.

Otter Rivers but that's not good enough. you look and tell me for yourself.

Sheila H- If there's no "I" then I'll never find it.

Otter Rivers it's like if i ask you to imagine a purple flying monkey... we'll name the monkey "me" or "self" ...now tell me where is this imaginary monkey?

Otter Rivers RIGHT!!!

Otter Rivers we can quite easily find what you aren't though.

Sheila H- If there is an I then we would have found it. Yet there is still no experience of not being I. I see, same as no experience of not being a monkey.

Otter Rivers yeah!

Otter Rivers what should be different?

Otter Rivers exercise time!:

Sheila H- No difference. I can't find what isn't there but I can see I'm not my body, brain, thoughts.

Otter Rivers close your eyes for about 10 seconds and watch everything that is happening. all the feelings, thoughts, sensations... where does it end?

Otter Rivers i'll wait.

Sheila H- Sensations continue, no beginning or end.

Otter Rivers is there really an "in here" and "out there"?

Otter Rivers if there is any separation, where is it?

Sheila H- All sensations seem to happen in the brain.

Otter Rivers what is your direct experience of anything happening in the brain?

Sheila H- None. I'd need a brain scanner to see that.

Otter Rivers pretend you have complete amnesia for a minute. (you can still read though. but that's it haha) you can't speak about anything you've ever learned before. tell me where is sensation happening? listen to a sound. where is the noticing? without concepts like "in the brain, ear, etc" what is happening?

Otter Rivers we have concepts like "here" or "there" which are useful for practical purposes. but with no separation is there any here or there? even "all here" or "all there" fall short.

Sheila H- Without any frame of reference it all seems to be all around

Sheila H- Enveloping I could say, or is that a thought?

Otter Rivers well all words are thoughts really. we just do the best we can. i can usually tell by the feel of how someone's talking if they see what i'm talking about or not.

Otter Rivers like i could ask "enveloping what?" is there all of life and then a separate "me/awareness of" that is enveloped by it?

Sheila H- Awareness. It's all awareness.

Otter Rivers here's a clue: we call this group "liberation unleashed"

1) what is the liberation
2)what becomes liberated or not?
3)liberated from what?

Otter Rivers no need to find an answer

Otter Rivers the asking is the important part.

Otter Rivers just look directly:

Otter Rivers is there experience and something experiencing it? if so can you find the separation? or is it possible there is just "this" or "that" (again, words fail to be accurate of complete unity. words can only divide)

Otter Rivers here's another exercise ok?

Otter Rivers pick up something nearby.

Sheila H- ok

Otter Rivers hold it. feel it's weight. see the colors. turn it around, see all the angles of it.

Sheila H- ok

Otter Rivers Get back to the amnesia perspective.
is the noticing anything other than what is noticed? look for the exact point of separation. can you find a difference without referring to thought?

Sheila H- There's only experiencing.

Otter Rivers so "it's all awareness" even falls short, but like i said, words can't describe unity. even "unity" leaves out separation so it's not true unity.

Otter Rivers how does it feel to see this?

Sheila H- I need to try it some more. I was interrupted.

Otter Rivers please do!

Sheila H- Maybe when I'm free as domestic chores are calling.

Sheila H- I can report back tomorrow.

Otter Rivers remember "amnesia" (what an oxymoron haha)

Otter Rivers ok. just keep questioning this:

Sheila H- LOL, yes, peace and no interfering thoughts or assumptions.

Otter Rivers outside of habitual thinking, is there really "hearing, that which is heard, and a hearer" (etc with all forms of experience)

Otter Rivers byebye for now.

Sheila H- Bye, sleep well.

Sheila H- After saying goodbye I could see there is no hearer, only the heard. No seer, only the seen. Sensations but no one feeling. Thoughts but no thinker. It feels very fragile though, I'll do the exercise more so it can settle in. Time for sleep now.

Sheila H- It was instantly clear to me there's no me doing the hearing etc. Yet there has been no shift or change. I've tried the exercise on various sensations, thoughts etc, there's no one to find as established earlier. Not sure where to go from here.

Otter Rivers what should change?

Otter Rivers don't say what you've read or heard others say. let's leave that out of this conversation k? I mean: seeing that there is nothing that is the recipient or initiator of experience, only experience... what is it that should change? it was always the way it is now, except now it is realized.

Otter Rivers "not sure where to go from here" ...PERFECT!

Otter Rivers look at the wanting to know. is there something that wants to know, or is it only habitual thinking saying that you need to keep searching?

you don't ever get to a new destination called "no self". it is just realized that there never was a self.
how do you feel if I say "There's nothing to achieve. just stop the search"?
...without a problem to work on, what happens to the "me"?

Sheila H- Good, I feel really light and easy. But then watering my garden always does that. So if I keep looking and there's nothing to find it won't help?

Otter Rivers what change are you looking for. if this conversation is successful what will be different?

Sheila H- I know intellectually that there's no me, but wonder why there's no obvious change. I imagine I'll feel more easy about things, especially worries and problems that will pass more easily when I can see there is no me to worry.

Otter Rivers light and easy. just like watering the garden. that sure sounds lovely to me! and it fits the feeling I often notice too. of course no feeling is permanent. but I have seen through the illusion of self for over a year now and I haven't entered any earth shattering states of spiritual bliss or anything. haha. sometimes there is some intensity to it but usually it's just a regular peace. nothing special.

Otter Rivers you know intellectually only? we just did experiential exercises. if there is a "me", where have we not looked for it?

Sheila H- Really, no laughter? I wasn't expecting anything earth shattering. I looked at the final questions you ask people and some seemed baffling, so I think there is maybe resistance somewhere.

Otter Rivers oh there's laughter sometimes. but there's no need for there to be laughter.

Otter Rivers I don't feel there should be any feeling other than the one that appears now.

Sheila H- The only area I still seem to identify with is in making major decisions.

Otter Rivers you can't even choose which hand to move. haha. how can you choose anything else? are there really major decisions and minor decisions outside of mental labelling?

Sheila H- Moving my hand or simple decisions are easy. It's those big ones. Oh yes, I did decide this morning what to do about delivery of some earth. After putting it off for two weeks. Yes, I see it happened in an instant.

Otter Rivers even if you had to choose to move to japan or Germany... "big" or "small" are relative terms.

Sheila H- Some are easy with small consequences. Marriage, buying a house, jobs. Much more at stake.

Otter Rivers it's like if I asked you "is it more difficult to watch a bigger cloud float across the sky than a smaller one?"

Otter Rivers are you doing either one?

Sheila H- If I chose something that had negative consequences, I'd still be coping each second as it comes. The past or future is not direct experience.

Otter Rivers let's look at this again: are there even decisions in reality?

Sheila H- No, I see this morning it just came to me. The answer was already there.

Otter Rivers you believe you have a choice to do A or B. Then you do A (or rather the action happens, right? with nothing that is doing it?) and you believe there was a possibility that B could've happened instead. but is this really true?

Sheila H- No, that's why it took so long, as I thought I could do B. B would save work in one way, but make work in another. I was trying to find a way to cut out some heavy lifting.

Otter Rivers so this morning, even if your thinking was still unsettled about where to deliver the earth, then you made up your mind to deliver to A. then 2 seconds before delivery, you change your mind and delivered to B... was there really a decision made at any point outside of imagination? even when you delivered to B, was there any possibility you could've delivered to A instead?

Otter Rivers try this exercise: make a simple decision now. such as to turn your head left or right.

Sheila H- No, yet there was a weighing up process going on.

Sheila H- Left happened.

Otter Rivers how did you make the decision?

Sheila H- It was already made. No choice really.

Otter Rivers let's say it's a reallllly important, life or death decision.

Otter Rivers how do you weigh all the possibilities?

Otter Rivers do you do the thinking?

Sheila H- I'm one who has frozen in such situations. If it's life or death I may freeze then snap out of it and just act.

Otter Rivers whether there is freezing up or fluid action, what is the "I" that does it?

Sheila H- I see what you mean, the thoughts just come. We think we have control.

Otter Rivers even the "we" is a thought, no?

Otter Rivers do you have the choice whether to think or not? can you choose whether or not to make a decision?

Sheila H- A thought about a thought again.

Otter Rivers even the thought that "you shouldn't be thinking" haha

Sheila H- I've never been able to control thoughts. And that's a thought.

Otter Rivers even the thought "yes, see that was just another thought about a thought. now we just need to find a way to remember that for next time"

Otter Rivers yes. what about the "I" in your last sentence?

Otter Rivers see how tricky it can be?

Otter Rivers thinking is so used to habitually claiming experience

Sheila H- There's no one to think. They arrive, but where do they arrive? Just a sensation or experience.

Otter Rivers ego isn't a thing really, just a habitual action. but for conversational purposes i'll call it an "it"

Sheila H- Each thought or sensation is passing through. Constant motion. Ever changing.

Otter Rivers ego is very insecure without a problem to work on or something to chase.

Otter Rivers it needs to be at the center of each happening to feel safe. so when you see that there is no self and that thinking is just thinking with no thinker, this habitual thought process wants to be the one to claim that seeing. (again this is symbolic. there's nothing that is an ego)

Sheila H- That makes ego sound like a separate entity. That can't be. Habit is perhaps easier to imagine. I know what is meant though.

Otter Rivers i was suggesting that ego isn't a thing, rather a habitual action/thought.

Sheila H- Yes, very much so.

Otter Rivers so where are you with this?

Sheila H- I can't see there are any more doubts.

Otter Rivers do you feel disappointed?

Sheila H- I was yesterday, I feel content now you've said there may be no reaction.

Otter Rivers seeing clearly that there is no self in a way that can't be forgotten or un-seen is what we call "gating". it doesn't mean you're done. you might call it more of a beginning.

Otter Rivers there is a deepening that takes place

Sheila H- Some momentary thoughts come, "where's the big release," and I let them pass. I feel at peace. Yes, I know there is more work after. I look forward to it.

Otter Rivers life goes on and you see again and again in infinite ways "no self here either?"

Sheila H- I don't want to rush. I want to be sure I am seeing things differently for a few days or more.

Otter Rivers how do you feel if you believe the thought that there should be a big release but there isn't?

Sheila H- No feeling about that thought. It's just passing.

Otter Rivers now how do you feel if you see the thought as simply a thought with no inherent truth?

Sheila H- And I don't believe the thought.... I know such thoughts will come. The ego, habit etc.

Otter Rivers imagine the feeling you hoped to feel. feel it in your whole being. ...is it true that this feeling isn't already there all along?

Sheila H- Quite a strong feeling comes up. Trepidation, tingling, relief.

Otter Rivers check again and see, what is feeling it? nothing? nothing is feeling? what the hell is actually going on here? what is experience? we cant find in reality that there is a me or an outside world to be experienced by a me... what a mystery!

Otter Rivers there's no bottom!

Sheila H- Yes, mysterious. No one there, just feeling happening.

Otter Rivers there's no ground to stand on.

Sheila H- I don't need ground, I can float.

Otter Rivers a cloud forming from nothing shifting flowing with no purpose or direction, fading away... woah...

Otter Rivers in nothing, on nothing... I am getting poetic here rather than sticking to guidance but isn't it marvelous? just try having a problem.

Sheila H- I don't fear fading away. Sensations will always happen.

Otter Rivers what could go wrong?

Sheila H- Yes, I wanted to give it time so that life's problems had a chance to show up. I even tried to look at a long standing family problem. Nothing happening there. Couldn't stir up a thing.

Otter Rivers don't worry haha plenty of time for life's problems to stir you up. and even if you get caught up in it, is that evidence that you didn't truly see through the illusion of separate self?

Sheila H- There is no wrong. I also thought about a more immediate problem while in the garden. Close relative with deep emotional and eating problems. I thought I would tell him it's fine whatever he chose to do. My attitude was so relaxed.

Otter Rivers I have some more questions that will either wrap this conversation up or show us where we need to look next. but let's call it a night (9pm for me) for now and talk again tomorrow ok? this seems like a good stoppig point.

Sheila H- Great. I look forward to tomorrow. I really appreciate all your time and attention.

Otter Rivers just see if you can feel the absolute perfection of everything as it is right now. notice that this presence that is happening is not concerned in the least with changing anything at all.

Sheila H- Yes, I see that.

Otter Rivers just absolute perfection right here as it is. and maybe sometimes issues arise and action will be necessary but is there any reality to the thoughts that say it should be different?

Sheila H- The thought would just be a habit. Not real.

Otter Rivers isn't it great to relax and find that nothing is missing? ah... i'm feeling it a lot right now. I might've guided myself too well. melting into a puddle haha. ok goodnight Sheila!

Sheila H- Otto, you said;
"seeing clearly that there is no self in a way that can't be forgotten or un-seen is what we call "gating"."

I really don't see it that clearly. It's more knowledge without any feeling it's sunk in. It still seems like me doing the thinking despite understanding that can't be so.
I did feel amazingly relaxed after our last talk, like someone had slipped a muscle relaxant into my coffee.
Now I find everything I think or hear on TV being analysed. No, not analysed, seen through. I see others constantly trying to bolster their self-concept. I catch myself doing it but to a lesser extent. That construct doesn't exist, yet I see how desperate people are to hang on to and bolster the image that is just an idea which changes. Oh... how that image ties us all in knots. All those rituals to help us feel like we belong. There's nothing to belong to though. I can see how so much energy goes into our self-deception. But I don't see any oneness. I don't see perfection yet either, maybe this mind has been too critical to drop the habit overnight.
I suspect if I write like this long enough I'll get the breakthrough. Meanwhile I have some work to do outdoors.

Sheila H- Aahhh rain is watering my garden. Plenty of thunder and so hot and humid. The rain smells good and it's cool to stand at the open door.
I'm journaling, noticing thoughts and choices, looking for the perfection in all, though the news is a challenge as those indignant thoughts crop up. Selective news to show how bad things are so we can feel we are better than that? One day we might have good news channels. Noticing the thoughts, knowing it's all OK.
I found a good news web page once. It was great till they posted the "good" news that a murderer was about to be executed. Clearly good and bad are subjective and I never returned to that page. Yet I still read the regular news which is worse. What a great example of illogical thinking based on an illogical script, embedded in the mind in the distant past.
Thoughts came, shaped by habit, conditioning, repetition. They don't have any control or consequence as they are not me.
Wanting to edit "I" and "we" out of this but it is what it is.

Sheila H- I'm reading through the Enlightening Quotes app. After reading the university analogy I realised I missed the point last time I read it. When we say "I" we're referring to all the components that make up this person; body, mind, thoughts, feelings, sensations, self-image, beliefs, moods. That puts the word more in perspective. LOL, lots of I's above.

Sheila H- I'm finding the audio version of Enlightening Quotes easier to follow than the written version. I see I have a few areas where doubt is hanging on so I'd like to devote the next few days or till I make a breakthrough, to listen more. If I see an area that I can't resolve, where I think the "I" might be real, then I'll ask for help.

Otter Rivers sorry sorry sorry. I wasn't available to spend time online last night and it looks like it'll be the same tonight. got home quite late and need to get up for work in 7 hrs. Hopefully I can spend some time responding tomorrow night. about 24hrs from now.

Otter Rivers there's no being that is going to hve a breakthrough. how does it feel to hear that?

Otter Rivers you say it still seems to you that life is being analyzed by you, but i'd like to contest that.

Sheila H- Hi, just trying to see the context of my statements.

Otter Rivers i'm willing to bet a shiny nickel that if you look directly at what's happening, you'll see there are thoughts labelling as they do, and emotions which may follow with feelings in the body (or sometimes maybe feeling followed by emotions which are then thought about...) and this is taken to be evidence that "i am thinking, feeling, labelling". check it out. let's forget any spiritual garbage ...even the nice loving stuff... and just look at what's actually happening...

*) can you actually say with certainty that it FEELS like you're the one thinking?

there is something familiar you call thinking. there is feelings in the body mixed with thoughts we call emotion... I don't truly see that you've said anything which shows that you really perceive a self as thinker.

Sheila H- No hurry if you need to sleep friend. I'm pretty laid back.

Otter Rivers and I do understand you're thinking in written format to see your thoughts. so I am just commenting on your written words as that is all I have to go by.

Otter Rivers yeah? laiiiiid back? me too.

Sheila H- Something has changed. Great feelings of love for people, things, sounds, but only occasionally.

Otter Rivers love is ok if that's the best you can do

Otter Rivers ha ha ha

Sheila H- Is there anything better?

Otter Rivers it's a wonderful trick

Otter Rivers I cant say there's anything better. ...and I don't want to be too philosophical, but "better" or "worse" are another duality. maybe it depends on how you use the word love. we tend to have a hundred meanings for it. but "me" having love for "others"... yeah that's nice enough... but what have you forgotten there? ...

Otter Rivers i'm snickering to myself because I KNOW you know!

Sheila H- There are no others to love. Yet I'm feeling now.

Sheila H- Love is overflowing.

Otter Rivers there's nothing that is you that isn't here too. I/you/all... it's just life. some religions call it "the self" haha. which you would think i'd have a problem with, but all self, no self... seems the same thing to me. there's no limit!

Otter Rivers obviously you are, right? there you are reading this! this isn't about denying reality.

Otter Rivers yeah. love's probably the closest word we have for what I think you're feeling. it is what you are.

Otter Rivers shining

Otter Rivers it's playing at being otter and typing words to a Sheila right now. brilliant show!

Sheila H- I see people's problems differently on facebook too. There's not the same need to jump in and comment. I see how they are following their script.

Sheila H- It's like they are actors following the script assigned to their character.

Otter Rivers there's a certain teasing I try to temper but it can be tough. imagine god seeing god in another creature who might be saying "i don't know what I am. I feel like a separate thing..." it can be hard not to say "come on!!! come off it silly!!! you're me!" but there is total compassion as I have memory of the same feelings and thoughts. i'm not speaking about Sheila directly, just in this work, in general. it can be hard not to laugh when someone comes at you with such a silly story of not being "one" or whatever you want to call it.

Otter Rivers i notice i'm acting different with you than i usually do while guiding. i'm probably not following procedure, but you know, it's just a meeting of 2 personalities, isn't it cool that all being one, there can still be a communication via personalities? there's no possibility left out.

Sheila H- And yet you have a method of selecting those who are ready to move to the other group, gaters?

Otter Rivers all thinking is conditioned, wouldn't you say so? so what is it that isn't conditioned?

Sheila H- Yes, I see it's all conditioned.

Otter Rivers it's a process of having other guides check. we have a set of questions. any "rules" we have ar pretty nebulous when it comes to guiding. there are some more serious rules, i'm sure but i have been pretty legit here. probably just explained more and conversed more than is encouraged.

Otter Rivers what is not conditioned though? it's ALL conditioned? then how is seeing through conditioning possible?

Sheila H- I have never feared losing my personality as I see those like yourself living full lives.

Otter Rivers i sometimes wish i lived a full life haha. i have no idea what the hell that even means any more.

Otter Rivers my world has completely ended. ...

Sheila Harris You still work, have relationships.

Sheila H- What isn't conditioned? Genetic traits I know.

Otter Rivers of course i only say that when looking though. in every day affairs, i have the habitual feeling that it is my life with my goals and feelings etc. but i have no idea if that should be different or if it's just right or what. ...so i go with "it's just right" hahaha. cuz i don't know any better!

Otter Rivers yeah! if i don't work i don't have money. and any human without a relationship... i'd say that's crazy. aren't humans social animals? it must be hard to sustain no relationship... all life is relationship if you ask me.

Sheila H- Our bodies are real but conditioned by our environment and hormones and other messengers that respond to our emotions and environment.

Otter Rivers i do have to go Sheila. i leave you with this: what isn't conditioned? ..i mean what is always the same regardless of circumstance? what is always true whether thought says so or not? what is always the case when thinking happens or not?

Sheila H- I enjoy solitude. But marriage and family makes that rare.

Sheila H- OK, Good night. Sleep well.

Otter Rivers you wouldn't know anything about solitude without relationships. like a fish probably doesn't know about water unless it reaches the surface.

Otter Rivers Sheila, what is the truth of what you are?

Otter Rivers and answer this too please (and i DO have to go! ) was there ever a self in any way? if so please describe it.

Otter Rivers i'll try to get back on line tomorrow night! bye!!!

Sheila Harris 1- What isn't conditioned?
Direct experience.
I'll think about your other two questions while working outside.

Sheila Harris 3- No, there was never a self. Only an idea of a self.

Sheila H- 2- what is the truth of what you are?
Everything, nothing, changing.

Otter Rivers sorry again for my lack of response. of course i'm not avoiding our talk. but new job etc. much of my time being demanded. add a 2 hour commute each way, and i'm lucky to have any time to do internet stuff. but!!! here I am! so another question:

Otter Rivers please explain what is the illusion of self?? how does it work? how does it begin? how is it maintained?

Sheila H- It starts as a baby, personal pronouns and names, possession of things, judgements made. You're good, clever, naughty, poor etc. We build a picture of who we think we are but it is all based on idas, judgements, conditioning. That person never existed.

Sheila H- We maintain it because it's so ingrained in all societies. There is never any other option suggested to us.

Sheila H- Don't worry about missing days. I'm listening to the audios on LU and getting more from them each time I listen.

Sheila H- I myself rejected the idea of determinism. I didn't like the idea that we don't have free will. On this site I've realised that when we see things from a different perspective, it helps us understand where others are coming from and we can be less reactive. Things just are as they are. No need to lose sleep over life as it happens. That makes us nicer to be around and may even influence others. If not then that's good too. No good, no bad. Like a weight off our shoulders.

Otter Rivers ok gotta get going for tonight my friend, but please refresh and make sure you address all the questions I've asked that you might've missed.

Sheila H- OK, I'll watch out for actual examples so I don't forget them. Many are minor things so don't stay in the memory.

Sheila H- Good night.

Sheila H- I've felt many subtle changes but don't feel confident I've moved from intellectual understanding to really knowing there's no I. I'm sure I could give all the right answers but it wouldn't feel genuine.
My long term memory is of having delayed reactions and suppressed feelings all my life, though that can and probably will change at any time. So I decided to take a break to let this all sink in. (Sink the I, LOL) I will keep listening to the LU audio and any others such as AW who conveys the same message. I have been meaning to listen to Adya so I'll do that but only where his ideas support the LU view, as some others seem to see things differently, and direct experience seems to be the most likely to tip the balance. But mainly I'll try to notice my direct experience.
Where are my thoughts coming from?
The exact point that a decision is reached?
Do I still react as if "I" am being insulted or misunderstood? Or is it some fictional character leaping up to defend itself?

Sheila H- Oops, hit return too soon. I don't know if it will be days, weeks or months, but you can bet I'll be back. Meanwhile you can concentrate on your job and life without feeling you have to get on here at midnight. You've done a great job of guiding me to see what seemed crazy before. I so appreciate the efforts you are going to and that's one reason why there is no fear around this process.
So I, who apparently doesn't exist, will post again, and communication here will happen when the idea of I disappears or sooner if further guidance is needed.

Otter Rivers sure Sheila. i'll be here when you're ready.

Sheila H- Thanks Otter. I realised once I had posted above that I had put enormous pressure on myself to get all the answers right. All conditioning from the past. Also, once the feelings passed after a few minutes, I forgot I even had them. Also I felt I was failing by not having any obvious change. Of course that's not true. I can look at that need to be right now. I'm setting time aside each day to just notice all sensations and thoughts to see if that helps. I'll be back when I'm ready.

Otter Rivers notice the background. it all arises in... in what? ...not the spiritual answer, really find it or is it unfindable? keep it extremely simple. THAT'S the challenge. mind loves to make things complex so it can always have a problem to be fixing but never fix.

Otter Rivers get a feel for the awareness, unconditioned consciousness. don't grasp it and try to make it permanent or do anything about it. just get a feel for it. like if I asked you to get a sense of how your ear felt... it's easy. stay with it. keep it simple.

Otter Rivers are there any doubts? if so, what do you think is missing?

Otter Rivers Sheila, how is it going? you don't require extra time to find anything or figure anything out. the truth is always now. is there a separate self? yes or no. it's simple. what do you find?

Sheila H- Ha ha... I opened FB to talk to you and you'd just posted. Good timing.

Sheila H- I found every time I tried any direct experience my mind would throw up all sorts of memories and problems, some dark things I hadn't remembered for decades. Is this some sort of sabotage? Thoughts are putting up a good fight. So I had a break from trying to this exercise and listened to some Adya, basic stuff. It really helped me feel better about this.
Yesterday my inquiries started to escalate naturally as I went about my day. Do I really need that thing? Do I need approval? Am I defined by my mood, my values, my beliefs? Is this house mine or just a house where I live? Will I be less of a person if I do or think that? Will I be any better off if I own more stuff or gain status in the eyes of others?
My questions kept coming back to:
- Is this the truth? or
- Does this matter/Is it important?
It seems there are no truths and nothing really affects me unless I think it does.
I realise on one level there is no me, it's all a construction, yet there is no feeling of background awareness. I feel like I'm groping in the dark as far as direct enquiry goes but I accept that it's the only thing that will help.

Sheila H- You wrote:
-Notice the background. it all arises in... in what? ...not the spiritual answer, really find it or is it unfindable? keep it extremely simple.
and:
-Get a feel for the awareness, unconditioned consciousness.

This is what I've tried over and over but don't know how to do it. For me it's unfindable. Any tips?

Otter Rivers sorry I have been unavailable. yes see how it's so perfectly timed? haha

Otter Rivers "Is this some sort of sabotage?" .....hmmmm HAHAHA What does a dictator do when it's power is threatened? But also look at it this way, what is the motivation to try to have a direct experience? is it already coming from a place of seeking to "improve myself"?

Otter Rivers ""I realise on one level there is no me, it's all a construction, yet there is no feeling of background awareness. I feel like I'm groping in the dark as far as direct enquiry goes ""

are there different levels where something is true here, but untrue there? maybe you mean different perspectives. yes from one perspective you are absolutely existing, right? there you are reading this! obviously you are real. let's not deny experience. but in another perspective, there's just some flesh moving, thoughts flying around, sights, sounds... where is "I"?
just look for it? what is it that is sought? is it found in experience? THIS IS THE PATH. keep it simple. you can't go wrong!

notice the awareness that is now. is this anything other than the "background awareness"? Or are you looking for something special? one of the hurtles in "spirituality" is that the truth is too near and too simple. we're trained to expect magical rainbows and fireworks but t's just this. You don't need to get anywhere, just stop trying to leave here. it was never not this.

Another of the hurtles is that it seems too good to be true. can you accept it? you're already here! Boom. Done.

Otter Rivers ""This is what I've tried over and over but don't know how to do it. For me it's unfindable. Any tips?""

What i'm suggesting is not that you find something. just notice what is. this presence.... or "feeling of being" just feel it. get a sense of it. like if I said "feel your elbow". Simple. no need to describe it or hold on to a new learning. you'll never be able to use it to your advantage. just get familiar with it. feel it, get a sense of it.

Otter Rivers Groping around in the dark? well at least this way you know what you find is true. otherwise you'd always wonder if you're just believing someone else's truth.

Sheila H- "what is the motivation to try to have a direct experience? is it already coming from a place of seeking to "improve myself"?"

I'm hoping to recognise I am one with all. Also to be less identified with the stories I have built up that don't serve me. If I can recognise them maybe I can drop them. Is this self improvement? And would that be a problem? (You're going to reply there's no one to improve!!!) But I assume there would be a greater experience of calmness, less anxiety. If there's not some sort of benefit then why would anyone bother to be a guide?
Anyway, there's been a huge change in my mood and outlook in the last week or so, such as laughing a lot more, not reacting, just knowing intellectually that nothing is that important as there's no me, no right or wrong, others are just living out their stories when they react so somehow it's no big deal. It feels very freeing.

Sheila H- I said "on one level", you said "maybe you mean different perspectives", yeah, what you said. I tend to reach into the brain vault and pull out the wrong expression then wonder why people misunderstand me. Age is catching up with my brain function.

Otter Rivers i'm not asking you to stop being selfish. it's enough that you can see there's no escape from selfishness. maybe (!) self isn't what you thought! following selfishness when you think you're a tiny vertebrate creature surviving against all odds is quite different from the selfishness that happens when you see that there's no you. it's the selfishness of dedication to truth. ...

Sheila H- I can't fathom where selfishness was mentioned or alluded to. Being less anxious, more relaxed surely is a positive for everyone as moods are passed on. Less upsets, more fun. I see every awakening as adding to the awakening of society.

Otter Rivers I brought selfishness up.

Otter Rivers the whole point of this talk is freedom from belief in a separate self. "me vs reality" How is selfishness not important in this talk?

Otter Rivers the very seeking to be free from this illusion... is it any different than wanting a new pretty car or a better IPhone? how so?

Otter Rivers do you want to be less anxious? you want to be more relaxed? you want less upsets and more fun? ...I am not saying this is wrong, but let's look at what's actually going on here with some honesty...

Sheila H- I'm not getting your point, sorry.

Otter Rivers take your time. have a look at what I wrote again. what is your response? not getting my point is fine just look again.

Sheila H- Less upsets despite things being the same. I'm not looking for some sort of Nirvana. I see it more as acceptance of what is.

Otter Rivers is the desire to stop desiring a better desire or the same hamster wheel?

Otter Rivers for example, have you ever got exactly what you wanted?

Sheila H- I've never seen myself as a seeker. I think my recent change of mood is more about knowing I've made some changes and have some chance of an awakening. I've not been in any hurry as you know.

Otter Rivers I will only ask this: do you have a goal in mind? if so, what?

Sheila H- Yes, the gateless gate, whatever that is, but if it never happens then it wasn't meant to be.

Otter Rivers ok. now follow closely here. don't miss anything.....

Otter Rivers if this goal is reached, what is it that stands to gain?

Sheila H- I won't know until or if it happens.

Sheila H- I've never been an impulsive or impatient person.

Sheila H- If we're all one then everyone or no one will gain.

Otter Rivers this isn't a me telling you what is true. just a pointer. you investigate this: what if there is nothing to gain nothing to benefit, no possibility of benefit or decline? what if the very idea of benefit or decline is imaginary. what if it's all just life squishing and squashing along. making it all up as it goes?

Otter Rivers you've missed one pretty important part of my whole exploration of selfishness. you've kinda reacted but missed the doorway here...

Otter Rivers so i'm hope i'm not ruining it... but I have been kinda encouraging the selfishness!

Otter Rivers WHAT ELSE IS THERE?!

Sheila H- I've never understood what people mean by selfishness. Usually it means at someone else's expense. Often I see it differently.

Sheila H- You're suggesting there is only one, so nothing is selfish?

Sheila H- There is only self.

Otter Rivers i'm saying is there anything other than what you are?

Sheila H- Not in my experience. Though I know others see that.

Otter Rivers here's a hint: I heard a guru type person say that an enlightened person knows he/she is the body. an unenlightened person believes he is only the body.

Sheila H- I've heard them say we are not the body. We are all one, awareness etc.

Otter Rivers they can go directly to hell as far as we're concerned. right? I liked it better when you were groping in the dark LOL!

Otter Rivers i only quoted that as a pointer. what are you not?

Sheila H- I'm not what I always thought I was. Not the body, character, values, thoughts, so I'm floating around here with no anchor.

Otter Rivers it almost seems like i'm talking to an individual rather than the totality of all life. ...if i didn't know better HAHAHAHAHAHAAAA. you're doing great by the way i hope i'm not discouraging. this could not be going better!

Otter Rivers is a non existent limiting thought pattern going to realize that it does not really exist and become happier?

Otter Rivers you already see it. you're just wanting to capture it. it's cool though. you need to learn it won't happen. i encourage it!

Otter Rivers no way to learn except try.

Otter Rivers i promise this: when you do see what i'm pointing at, you will say "oh... you mean it's just this? .....well what was all the fuss about?" haha.

Sheila H- Good. and Good night.

Otter Rivers it can seem boring until you realize all the torment you don't have to put yourself through anymore. you never did. ohh what a blessing. it's already true now. just enjoy it!

Otter Rivers i know, i know. no fair, i said goodnight and kept typing! bad otter!

Otter Rivers if you're waiting for specific results/changes in your life you're missing the point. yes there are usually some pretty common results of seeing that self is not a separate being... but it's not the results that matter. keep it simple. stay to the point. cut to the root. is there a self? if so, what is it. describe it. then look and see if what you have described is actually a separate 'me' or is it just some things that are happening.

Otter Rivers was there ever a self that you're getting rid of, or was there just never a self?

Sheila H- I appreciate that I need to look within and see there is no self. Fear comes up that I don't understand how to do that. How can I look for a self that doesn't exist?
I realised I put up an imaginary shield when being questioned. It becomes hard to think due to anxiety. It's an old story from childhood. I'm trying to protect a self which apparently doesn't exist.

Otter Rivers you dont need to look inside and see there's no separare self. this isnt about agreeing or disagreeing. just say what you see. cut through the bullshit of "what if..." and "maybe..." What is true,is just true! nobody ever said find a self that doesnt exist. just look at reality. what is actually experienced? see! nothing to figure out! the hardest part for you to accept is that there's no work to be done! you're stuck there, it seems. just look at reality. not memory. not learned explanations. not "what must be true". ONLY what you notice in reality. do you find there is something called "me" in reality that is.separate from anything else? i always say keep it simple right? there is a self or not. look and respond. just look directly at what is and the words will come!

Otter Rivers and dont worry if you arent clear about it now. there's no need to push. just look. if mind clouds perception too much right now, that's fine! it can't stand up to sustained direct looking. unless you make it a project. self needs a problem to work on. i'm not saying there is a self, it's just a metaphor. just check this out: if there is nothing wrong to work on there is no need for consciousness to condense around this idea of "ME".

Otter Rivers try to respond to all the points I've made here. what do you find? there's no importance for you in my words except as if they were fingers pointing in a certain direction. you just look in that direction and say what you see. there's no way it can go wrong.

Sheila H- I experience constant, changing experiences, thoughts, feelings, bodily sensations such as touch, heat, hunger, sounds, sights and smells.

Sheila H- I'm not sure there are any other points you've made that require a response. I agree that only my own truth is relevant. I'm sure you're right that it's simple. I'm looking several times a day, as I have most of the time I've been here. If I've been trying too hard then I hope your reassurances that it's easy have taken the edge off that, so it's just a case of continuing to look.

Otter Rivers you say "I experience constant, changing experiences, thoughts, feelings, bodily sensations such as touch, heat, hunger, sounds, sights and smells"

What does the word "I" in that sentence point to?

Is it anything more than a learned assumption that there is something that is experiencing? can you find that there is a separate observer as opposed to that which is observed?

Sheila H- I'll have to get back on that one as I'm cooking dinner.

Otter Rivers well there's no hurry! i'm gonna go to bed anyway. just check it out and answer when u can.

Sheila H- Perception comes from things that are either generated externally or internally and are interpreted by the brain, setting off reactions, thoughts, feelings and memories.
At no point in this chain of events does there seem to be a separate entity of any sort that observes or makes decisions.
It seems as if there is an observer in the same way that when fingers feel typing on the keyboard, the nerves send messages to the brain that are interpreted as coming from the fingers. Many experiments have been devised to show how easy it is to fool the brain. Phantom limbs also demonstrate this.
These messages are burnt into our minds by conditioning from when we were babies, learning to make our hands touch a face or toy or our own nose.
So people think there's an I in their body or head without questioning where it is, what it must look like, how many masses of qualities they've attributed to it, even though those qualities (feelings, moods, ideas, desires, dislikes, values) are changing.
So from facts, logic and experience I believe the observer and the observed are one and the same.

The above are all interpretations with some learned knowledge. "I" spend time as "I" go about "my" day, observing as much as "I" can as the mind loves to interrupt and "I" (who?) have to continually restart the exercise. "I" question decisions, thoughts, beliefs etc. while observing what "I" am actually experiencing. "My" observations are done with a sense of adventure and discovery. Just as it's wonderful to watch a newborn find it's limbs and look around at the world for the first time, so "I" find this "looking" to be a new discovery, finding out the truth about reality. Yes, The "I" words above look silly now but it's an old habit and it was fun highlighting all the instances with quotes. How can there be anyone to question anything? observe anything? discover anything?

Otter Rivers yeah. good point about the phantom limbs. also have you seen the "rubber hand illusion"? same deal.

Otter Rivers so from what you're saying above, clearly you have seen through the illusion of self as a "me" standing alone; separate from an external reality. is there anything missing?

Otter Rivers here, i'll throw a few questions your way and see if it shakes anything loose. I know you already addressed some of these so please just look again as if for the first time like you've never even considered it before. answer from your direct seeing that happens right now.

1) was there ever a self in any way at all? if so, describe what you mean by self.

2) can you explain the illusion of separate self? how does it work? how does it begin? how is it maintained?

3) how does it feel to realize this? please give some examples from your life of the difference between before realizing this, and now.

Sheila H- Yeah... The rubber hand, Pinocchio nose, 6 second decision gap and other studies helped to quell the skeptic thoughts that kept wanting to refute these ideas. Although the studies mostly need further research, it was enough for me to want to do the looking for myself. It's the self which turns out to be an idea.

I'll get back with those answers later as things need to be done. I can't stop walking outside, looking at the trees, birds, feeling the wind. Little jobs are getting done that previously brought up anxiety so were avoided. The anxiety is still there but really muted and quickly refuted.

Sheila H- 1) was there ever a self in any way at all? if so, describe what you mean by self.
No, there has never been a self, only an idea of a self.
2) can you explain the illusion of separate self? how does it work? how does it begin? how is it maintained?
All of society, family, friends, school, use personal pronouns as it's convenient for communication. From there we all assume there is an entity. We build up a huge picture of things that we attach to this idea of self. Rewards and punishments reinforce this illusion. It's like a relationship that is judgmental, assuming ownership over the other, wanting control, and suffering when "what is" doesn't meet expectations. We can't have ownership or control over others or the bunch of experiences, perceptions, thoughts etc. we call self.
3) how does it feel to realize this? please give some examples from your life of the difference between before realizing this, and now.
Maybe it's a bit early for examples. Just today... such a feeling of freedom, yet it's subtle. Many things looked different. clothes, furnishings, surroundings seemed different yet the same. Maybe the stories had dropped from them, but it was like looking at things anew. --- A family drama was recounted on FB by a sibling. Lots of anger and details about court, custody proceedings, pain and outrage. I saw the story that had been built around this and the pain of the writer wanting to make some wrong so others could be right. Such stories have stood out for some time now but this time there was such a peace and acceptance about it with no desire to respond or offer advice. Who felt this acceptance? No one. It just was. --- Clothes that have been lying around for years waiting for a decision to dispose of them with anxiety about the cost, time and effort of purchasing them, body image, loss and indecision, are now irrelevant. They'll be out the door, charity or trash. --- Thoughts about painful memories have failed to bring up the old pain or feelings of unfairness or victim-hood. --- Feelings of compassion for others are surprising as it would seem their stories might bring up irritation, instead, knowledge of previous suffering helps a feeling of empathy.
More time is needed to see how social situations are dealt with and what feelings come up with strangers which have always been a cause of stress and feelings of inadequacy.

Otter Rivers beauty!

4) what was the last bit that finally pushed you over and made you see this?

Otter Rivers 5) do you decide or intend anything? do you control any events in life?

Sheila H- 4) It was already known, but the paragraph where "I" put all the I's in quotes was the moment. When read back it was hilarious.
5) Life just flows. Jobs still need to be done and they happen without any control or planning. Thoughts come such as... it's time for dinner... and that get's done. Decisions come so easily now, even if it's to decide later, there's no urgency or worry about what is right or wrong. There's a trust that decisions will just make themselves and a relief that it's not a personal responsibility as there's no self to get it wrong. As for control, well that's what gets so many into strife. Life just is, so how can it be controlled?

Otter Rivers haha. yeah. so can you give an example or 2 from your life recently where it was made clear that there was no chooser or decider?

Sheila H- Let's see, Not sure if this is what you mean, but I just stopped watching a lot of TV which now holds no interest. No choice was made as there was no decider. There was an advert for the sort of camera I'd been watching out for since a year or so back, when the old one became outdated. Before the long drive to the shop I saw it was an outdated model so may not be worth buying. A different camera was selected. There was no decision needed, no chooser, just the purchase of a camera.

Sheila H- It's fun and very freeing not to be responsible for those decisions, and no fear of the wrong choice being made. Also there is no sense of ownership about the new camera. It can be used by family members. I have a desire to throw out a lot of belongings too but that would create disharmony at home. After care might help with this, though of course there is nothing to decide. It will happen as it does.

Otter Rivers sorry for the delay. I have been working MUCH more lately. usually when I get home I am too tired to want to get online and read and type. i'll check out what you wrote now.

Otter Rivers awesome. i'll be writing to you shortly.

Sheila H- Thanks for all your time and effort. Much appreciated.

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Re: Otter and Sheila H.

Postby otterrivers » Thu Mar 13, 2014 9:15 am

Otter Rivers- Some input:

"She seems to be seeing the "benefits" of no self. But my questions are
1. It is obvious that you see that there is no decider or chooser. However, what about the recipient of the benefits of what is just happening? Is there a recipient?
2. Is there an observer?
3. Is there any investment possible in the story?
4. What happens when the outcomes are painful or horrific? Is there someone to take receipt of that?
5. Are any of these experiences your experiences?
6. What is your role in all of this? Who are you in relation to all that is happening?"

Otter Rivers- what say you sheila?

Sheila Harris-
1) No recipient, no chooser. It just happens.
2) No observer.
3) Stories still come up but quickly fade. There's no one to have an investment.
4) Ha ha, there was a stubbed toe this afternoon, definitely sensation happened, a reaction, then laughter and more sensation. There was no one to get into a story about it.
5) Experiences occur, there's no one to own them.
6) There are no roles. There's a body, sensations, emotions, thoughts, just happening.


Sheila Harris-
4) I might add that I didn't answer the "horrific" part as no image came up, and no way to know in advance what if any reaction would happen. People cope, they may have ongoing pain or disability, they may die. At least their physical body dies. It's not a concern that's happening now, which is all there is.

Otter Rivers- and another just came in:

"a couple of times she mentions 'others', as in Q2 she says 'we can't have ownership or control over others', could you ask her what her experience of these 'others' is now?"

Sheila Harris- The voice heard from the TV or some person standing in my sight is not coming from my body so it is other than this body. The voice or observation is still experienced so in that respect it's all one. It's too confusing to speak without personal pronouns and they are a convenient way of communicating. I don't experience oneness all the time so if the changes are too subtle or not permanent enough, that's fine. Let me know what else is required.

Otter Rivers- ok we're done here Sheila. I'll be sending you some more info.


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