Questions for Stuart

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Satyapala
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Questions for Stuart

Postby Satyapala » Tue Mar 18, 2014 4:55 pm

Hi Stuart,

We have had some great one to one conversations just lately on the fetter or delusion of self and it became apparent today that you have indeed clearly seen through that delusion so thank you very much sharing your time (and coffee) with me. As agreed, it would be good to get confirmation from other experienced guides that you have indeed 'popped' :) as people seem to say on this forum so that you can get support and contribute to some of the LU
groups.

There are a series of six questions which help different guides to evaluate the experience you have had and seek, where necessary, any clarifications. What I propose is that I send you these questions one at a time and that you
take time out to deeply reflect on them before responding, always remembering that other guides do not have the benefit of having met and spoken personally to you. The topics do overlap so a certain amount of repetition in giving your answers is probably inevitable.

Here is the first question:

1) Is there a separate entity 'self', 'me' 'I', at all, anywhere, in any way, shape or form? Was there ever?

I will look forward to your response

Satyapala xx

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stu
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Re: Questions for Stuart

Postby stu » Wed Mar 19, 2014 9:28 am

Easy. No and no.
That was my instant response, and my response after reflecting for while, and keeping the question in mind for bits of 1 day and night. I did have a moment of doubt yesterday evening, because I felt a second of fear when cycling and a car was a bit too close for comfort. The thought arose "if there is no self, then why does fear arise just from the perception that I might get hit by a car". But on reflection, the fear arose because of conditions (what else could it be, ha-ha-ha!). I hope that 'ha-ha-ha' doesn't come across as a bit mad. It's just that I'm finding certain things to be so funny... things that I used to take so seriously. Yesterday evening at the Buddhist centre I was in a Metta Bhavana meditation class, and when the woman leading it said "Now direct kindness to your self" it took my full effort to not collapse into a fit of laughter!
Cheers
Stuart

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stu
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Re: Questions for Stuart

Postby stu » Fri Mar 21, 2014 7:23 am

Hi Satyapala
Also, I asked myself the question "doesn't the existence of my knowledge support the notion of a self? After all, my knowledge is different to anyone else's in many ways". That kept me amused for a few hours. But in the end it seems clear that my knowledge is nothing more than a collection of stored memories, all of which arose upon conditions. So no self there either. I still seem to keep seeing the world and other people rather like the matrix film. Seen it yet? Highly relevant I think.

Cheers
Stuart

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Satyapala
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Re: Questions for Stuart

Postby Satyapala » Sat Mar 22, 2014 5:52 pm

Hi Stuart,

I hope you and Sue are enjoying yourselves in Budapest and thank you for your answer to the first question.

It is good that you saw how fear momentarily arose whilst cycling and how a thought tried to add the label 'self' to the experience. It seems to be the norm that, having seen that there is no self as a separate entity, the notion/thought that there really is a self continues to try to reassert itself, at least for a while. But just to double check: "if there is no self, then why does fear arise just from the perception that I might get hit by a car", is there still a background belief here that there is a separate entity, a 'self', that might be injured or are you clear that this is just the content of a thought?

To comment on this process more generally, when 'self' has been discovered to be merely a thought, a label, whose only 'proof' of existence is other thoughts, then the fear of the possibility of the body being struck by a car is seen to be a bit of confusion along with a reasonable concern! We can certainly prefer that no injury is done to the body while noticing that 'I' or 'self' is not the body. If the body is struck and its life expires, it is not an 'I' or 'self' that expires; those are thoughts or labels and cannot live or die! Likewise, "doesn't the existence of my knowledge support the notion of a self?" YES; it does! And that is ALL that supports it. ALL 'proof' of the existence of a separate self is thoughts and images in the mind!

And as to whether 'ha-ha-ha' comes across as a bit mad, again it is not uncommon to those who have seen through the self to find the experience, at least at times, hugely funny, but it is worth checking that this humour stems from an ironic enjoyment of ones previous deluded state rather than from a feeling of superior understanding.

And regarding metta (loving kindness) towards the self, it is interesting to note that, although there is no self to develop such an emotion, with the opening of the heart that comes with breaking the early fetters, loving
kindness towards oneself and the world seems to flourish and get stronger. As one friend put it, when you realise that their is no separate self, the unity of all of life is more sharply experienced. What was thought to be a self is now seen to be simply part of the flow, the movement, of Life.

And thank you for the additional comments which arrived yesterday. It is great that you continue to test your experience for the existence of a self and good that you could one again confirm that there is no self there.

I would like to quiz you a bit, however, on your terminology. You say "in the end it seems clear that my knowledge is nothing more than a collection of stored memories ...". I am interested to know whether in direct experience you can confirm that these memories exist somewhere as discrete entities, and if so, does that imply that they are held somewhere in some sort of container such as a mind. In direct experience can you find any such stored memories and/or any container that is holding them?

Please comment on the above then I will send the next question.

Love
Satyapala xx

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stu
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Re: Questions for Stuart

Postby stu » Mon Mar 24, 2014 2:48 pm

Hi Satyapala

Thanks for your post. To answer your first question, it was just a thought that arose after I noticed that I felt fear. I was assuming that if I had really seen through the illusion of self, then surely fear would not arise in that situation. So I was questioning my experience in order to determine whether or not I have really seen through the illusion of self.

The tendency to find things very funny seems to have worn off now. There was definitely no sense of superiority when it was happening. After all, I'm just as much a product of my experience (and genes) as everyone else. I think that the funny, quite heady state arose to a large part from the realisation that I no longer need to worry about making the 'right' decision, or worry about the future. You know that anxiety has been quite a common feature of my life thus far, and the (partial?) letting go of it was a major release.

When I was talking about stored memories, I was referring (in my mind) to the knowledge that memories are stored in certain areas of the brain. Logically, assuming that is true, then the memories that arise for me must be stored in my brain.
But really that is all just a story (that makes me smile now). If I look at my direct experience and recall a memory, there is nothing about it that supports the notion of a self. Most of my memories arise as pictures. A picture is just a picture. I have no awareness of a container for memories. They just seem to appear dependant on thoughts.

I look forward to the next question.

Cheers
Stuart

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Satyapala
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Re: Questions for Stuart

Postby Satyapala » Tue Mar 25, 2014 10:23 am

Hi Stuart,

Thanks for your reply, very informative. It is interesting that you assumed that if you really had seen through the illusion of self you would not expect fear to arise in that situation. By the way, what was the outcome of your investigation? Are you clear that emotions like fear arise without any need for a self. And why we are about it, are there any other expectations that need voicing? I ask this because it would seem that unmet expectations can get in the way of clear seeing, for example, concerning habitual anxiety?

I will send you the second question next time. Thanks for your patience :)

Love
Satyapala xx

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stu
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Re: Questions for Stuart

Postby stu » Tue Mar 25, 2014 11:46 am

Hi Satyapala

If I now recall that occasion when I felt fear, I can't see a self there. But it was a week ago, so perhaps that is due to my memory fading with time. So I'd like to tell you about something that happened just 2 days ago. I was in Frankfurt airport waiting for my wife. I was sitting on a sofa and was saving her seat. A German family sat next to me, but there was not enough room for them all. The mother of the family gave me a look that seemed to be blaming me for not giving up my wife's seat. I felt blamed. That was uncomfortable. I looked away and felt self-conscious (in the conventional sense of the word). But as I examine my memory of that event now, I cannot find a self. There are just unpleasant feelings that arose upon conditions.
Oh, I think I now get what you are hinting at. I now think that my assumption that fear would not arise in that cycling situation is, in fact, incorrect. Of course, emotions will still arise in response to the environment I'm in. I'm human!

No, I can't see any other expectations that need voicing.

Cheers
Stuart

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Satyapala
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Re: Questions for Stuart

Postby Satyapala » Tue Mar 25, 2014 3:17 pm

Hi Stuart,

Nice, clear reply, thank you.

When you are ready, here is the second question:

2) Explain in detail what the illusion of a separate self is, when it starts and how it works from your own experience. Describe it fully as you see it now.

Love
Satyapala xx

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stu
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Re: Questions for Stuart

Postby stu » Tue Mar 25, 2014 6:13 pm

Hi Satyapala

I hope I'm interpreting your question correctly when I say that the illusion of self began sometime in childhood. I don't recall exactly when. Right now, the illusion seems to be an assumption, which can arise dependent upon conditions. For example the self-conscious feeling arose (as described above) in the airport. But at the same time, there was (is) the recognition that it was just a feeling arising from conditions. An odd paradox! But I guess that is an example of the old self trying to assert itself. I guess the illusion is habitual. So perhaps it will still pop up from time to time. But it seems less compelling than it used to be.

As I write this, if I look for the illusion of self, there is nothing to find. So it is difficult to say anything more right now.

Hope my reply is sufficient, but if you need more, please do ask more questions.

Cheers
Stuart

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Satyapala
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Re: Questions for Stuart

Postby Satyapala » Tue Mar 25, 2014 6:29 pm

Lovely stuff Stuart, here is the next question.

3) How does it feel to see this? What is the difference from before you started this dialogue? Please report from the past few days.

Love
Satyapala xx

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stu
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Re: Questions for Stuart

Postby stu » Tue Mar 25, 2014 7:43 pm

Hi Satyapala

It feels good. I worry less. I feel lighter (less burdened). I feel very lucky to have got to this point in my life. Since the start of this dialogue I feel less 'heady'/euphoric, but do still feel more generally confident. I already feel more confident that I have indeed seen through the illusion of self. Thanks for that.

Cheers
Stuart

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Satyapala
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Re: Questions for Stuart

Postby Satyapala » Tue Mar 25, 2014 8:51 pm

Thick and fast Stuart, here is the next question.

4) What was the last bit that pushed you over, made you look?

Love
Satyapala xx

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stu
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Re: Questions for Stuart

Postby stu » Tue Mar 25, 2014 9:05 pm

Hi Satyapala

It was the conversation that you and I had over coffee before this on-line dialog began, during which I remembered an occasion where I saw that my gut made a decision and then my mind made up the reasons for it afterwards... Very quickly afterwards, but afterwards and not beforehand. I had not recalled that occasion for ages and certainly had not reflected on it until after our coffee. Also when we talked about the 'stories' that the mind produces. That concept of 'stories' led me to reflect about and observe the stories that mind produces. Then the thought/realisation arose that there is 1) direct experience of the present and 2) stories and (crucially) 3) nothing else.

Cheers
Stuart

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Satyapala
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Re: Questions for Stuart

Postby Satyapala » Tue Mar 25, 2014 10:10 pm

Hi Stuart,

A clear answer to Q4. Here are questions 5 & 6

5) Do you decide, intend, choose, control events in Life? Do you make anything happen? Give examples from your experience.

6) Anything to add?

Love
Satyapala xx

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stu
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Re: Questions for Stuart

Postby stu » Tue Mar 25, 2014 10:27 pm

Hi Satyapala

My answers are:
5) no
6) No self means no free will.

Well, we've done all 6 questions now. And I think I have indeed seen through the illusion of self. It's funny that as I wrote that sentence I felt a moment of accomplishment/pride, but it has an ironic light on it.

This exchange has been fun.
Thank you.

Stuart


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