The 'I'

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GentleOak
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The 'I'

Postby GentleOak » Wed Mar 26, 2014 12:01 am

Having done the Six-Element meditation practice for a while, I am intellectually convinced that no unchanging 'I' in fact exists. However, I don't feel that I have a "deep understanding" of anatta. If I deeply understood it, I feel that it should inform my everyday behavior and perspective on life, but it doesn't.

I guess my fundmental non-understanding focuses on not being able to answer the question: "Who's being mindful?" When I am lost in thought, it's easy to feel that there is no I; however, when I at some point again become mindful, then I harbor the false belief that there's an 'I' that is steering me back to mindfulness.

Any help in seeing beyond this primal illusion would be greatly appreciated.

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Xain
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Re: The 'I'

Postby Xain » Wed Mar 26, 2014 12:48 pm

Hi GentleOak

I may be willing to guide you - Let us examine a few points together.
If I deeply understood it, I feel that it should inform my everyday behavior and perspective on life, but it doesn't.
This appears to be an expectation. That life would be different 'after'.

Consider:
If there is no 'I' as you say, then there is no 'I' now and no 'I' in the future - What is going to change?
Also, you state there is no 'I', yet you also state that there is an 'I' that has an everyday behaviour and a perspective which would change in some way upon realisation.

A puzzle indeed.
II guess my fundmental non-understanding focuses on not being able to answer the question: "Who's being mindful?" When I am lost in thought, it's easy to feel that there is no I; however, when I at some point again become mindful, then I harbor the false belief that there's an 'I' that is steering me back to mindfulness.
I understand. The mind asks the question and the mind will only be satisfied with answer it can understand. A thought. An object. A concept. Something that can be understood.
What if the answer is not a concept or something that can be understood mentally?

To truly answer these question, you must look into these things. Want to have a look?

Xain ♥

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Re: The 'I'

Postby GentleOak » Fri Mar 28, 2014 12:34 am

Hi, Xain!
I may be willing to guide you - Let us examine a few points together.
That would be great.
If I deeply understood it, I feel that it should inform my everyday behavior and perspective on life, but it doesn't.
This appears to be an expectation. That life would be different 'after'.
True. My thoughts can be the polluted wellspring of a lot of pain, to which I would rather not be subject.

Many years ago on a meditation retreat I had a small awakening, when I didn't identify with the entity sitting on the zafu but instead identified with the All. I've not had that experience since.
Consider:
If there is no 'I' as you say, then there is no 'I' now and no 'I' in the future - What is going to change?
I think I see what you're getting at.
The mind asks the question and the mind will only be satisfied with answer it can understand. A thought. An object. A concept. Something that can be understood.
What if the answer is not a concept or something that can be understood mentally?
That would be an entirely new perspective on existence, because this separate being with whom/which I still identify is accustomed to understanding life by way of thoughts. If I am not the thoughts, then who/what am I? That's new territory for me.
To truly answer these question, you must look into these things. Want to have a look?
Yes, I most definitely do want to have a closer look into these things.

♥ GentleOak

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Re: The 'I'

Postby Xain » Fri Mar 28, 2014 11:05 am

Ok, Great!

If I may, I will ask the administrator to move this thread to the 'guiding' section.

In the mean time, please look carefully at the following points which will assist us both in this conversation.

1. Please post at least once a day, if you cannot post or need more time, just let me know.
2. Be 100% honest in your answers and inquiry.
3. Answer from direct personal experience only. Answer from what you believe is true, rather than replying with what you have been told by non-duality teachers or what you have studied. We are here to address 'your' beliefs, not ideas that may have been instilled by others - Not that there is anything at all wrong with that - I just want to be clear what we are looking at here.
4. Read the disclaimer on the Liberation Unleashed main page - http://www.liberationunleashed.com/
(Scroll down the page)

If you need to you can use the QUOTE function like I have done above to quote some of your replies - It may make it easier to read through the dialogue.
A guide for this function can be found here: http://liberationunleashed.com/nation/v ... ?f=4&t=660

Xain ♥

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Re: The 'I'

Postby GentleOak » Fri Mar 28, 2014 6:03 pm

Ok, Great!
If I may, I will ask the administrator to move this thread to the 'guiding' section.
OK, I'll look for your responses in the 'guiding' section rather than this section.
In the mean time, please look carefully at the following points which will assist us both in this conversation.

1. Please post at least once a day, if you cannot post or need more time, just let me know.

Okay, please bear in mind though that I'm on the US West Coast and am several hours behind UK time; however, I will post every day.

I will be 100% honest in my responses and answer only from direct personal experience, even if doing so might be a bit painful.

I also read the disclaimer.

♥ GentleOak

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Re: The 'I'

Postby Xain » Sat Mar 29, 2014 4:18 pm

Ok, our conversation is now in the 'guiding' section.
I will be 100% honest in my responses and answer only from direct personal experience, even if doing so might be a bit painful.
Ok - Good. If there is pain or confusion, please mention it. We can look into this together also.
Please don't view this discussion as a difficult thing - It is (in fact) really simple and easy!
View it simply as a chat between friends, about something interesting they are both going to look into :-)
I guess my fundamental non-understanding focuses on not being able to answer the question: "Who's being mindful?"
Well lets tackle this head on.
The question 'who or what is being mindful' seems to demand an answer - A thing - Something that can be found or at least pointed to.

So we need to first-of-all try to understand what this 'I' is - What is being referred to when 'I' or 'me' is mentioned.
Let us look at what you have written for some clues. Tell me if what I am writing is believed to be right in your estimation.
I am intellectually convinced that no unchanging 'I' in fact exists.
Ok. So there is an 'I' here right now that has an understanding. Knowledge.
Perhaps I could go further and say that this 'I' also wants more understanding of what we are looking into together.
I feel that it should inform my everyday behavior and perspective on life, but it doesn't.
So there is an 'I' that has a perspective. There is an 'I' that goes through life behaving in a certain way that might change if something is realised.
In relation to behavior, perhaps I could go further and say this 'I' chooses, decides, does things according to their will.
In relation to perspective, perhaps I could go further and say this 'I' views life in a certain way through the senses.

Our conversation assumes that there is an 'I' here right now.
One that we can find and discover. So we begin the search for it.

Do the things I've made make sense? Feel free to add your own opinions and beliefs.
What does the word 'I' point to?

Xain ♥

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Re: The 'I'

Postby GentleOak » Sat Mar 29, 2014 4:41 pm

Good morning, Xian!

Yesterday I consciously practiced mindfulness of thinking. Usually I would only do that during sitting meditation; however, yesterday during the normal course of the day whenever I would notice myself daydreaming or entertaining negative thoughts, then I would call to mind that these thoughts are not 'mine'.

Of course, after doing this a bit, the quandary arose: who's aware that "these thoughts are not mine?" The only conclusion that I could draw was that even the thought that "these thoughts are not mine" was likewise not mine. Yet, then the question followed: who/what is the prime mover of awareness here? It followed that there probably is also no prime mover, either, but thinking not thinking is yet another manifestation of the whole just doing what it does.

These intellectual machinations aren't satisfying though. As a matter of fact, they tangle me in useless thought. As I wrote in my initial post, on the intellectual level I am convinced that there is no separate self; however, I don't feel it in my marrow. I only understand non-self intellectually, not in my gut.

Another issue that's surfaced is that at the same time that I am aware that I am thinking and those thoughts are not 'mine'' and I stop identifying with them, then I for a short while simply stop thinking at all. Then during those few seconds I feel that I am looking at this world with a very slightly shifted perspective. I'm taking things in differently that I am used to.

That's all that I've to report today.

Cheers,

GentleOak

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Re: The 'I'

Postby Xain » Sat Mar 29, 2014 5:01 pm

I think we must have been typing at the same time. :-)
I will address your last reply now, but please go back and look at what I wrote previously and see if that makes sense or if you have anything you'd like to add.
Of course, after doing this a bit, the quandary arose: who's aware that "these thoughts are not mine?" The only conclusion that I could draw was that even the thought that "these thoughts are not mine" was likewise not mine.
Yes - This made me smile. Thoughts - And then thoughts about thoughts. The mind chasing it's tail :-)
Clearly, you have gone forward and looked at this yourself - Good.

Let us divide our experience into 'thoughts' and 'what is found'.
We are looking for 'I' - What can we find.

Thoughts arise 'I think', 'I am having these thoughts' . . .
So . . . what 'I' is having these thoughts? What 'I' is creating them? What 'I' do these thoughts belong to?
Keep things very simple. Can you find an owner? Can you find a creator?
Can you say with any degree of confidence whatsoever that 'these thoughts are mine'?
For such a statement, there would be a clearly defined owned.
Can anything be found other than the thought itself?

Can you find an 'I' that could stop thoughts or perhaps decide what thoughts to have?
If we could decide what thoughts to have, surely we could decide only ever to have positive and pleasant thoughts?
As a matter of fact, they tangle me in useless thought.
I understand. Please don't worry - Let us take this one step at a time and see what we can find.
Keep things very simple.
Another issue that's surfaced is that at the same time that I am aware that I am thinking and those thoughts are not 'mine'' and I stop identifying with them, then I for a short while simply stop thinking at all. Then during those few seconds I feel that I am looking at this world with a very slightly shifted perspective. I'm taking things in differently that I am used to.
I understand.
Is there an 'I' that becomes aware of thoughts? Or does it just happen?
Is there an 'I' that stops thinking? Or does it just happen?

Xain ♥

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Re: The 'I'

Postby GentleOak » Sat Mar 29, 2014 5:37 pm

I think we must have been typing at the same time. :-)
Yes.
I will address your last reply now, but please go back and look at what I wrote previously and see if that makes sense or if you have anything you'd like to add.
Actually they're both covering the same ground, so it's fine.
Of course, after doing this a bit, the quandary arose: who's aware that "these thoughts are not mine?" The only conclusion that I could draw was that even the thought that "these thoughts are not mine" was likewise not mine.
Yes - This made me smile. Thoughts - And then thoughts about thoughts. The mind chasing it's tail :-)
Clearly, you have gone forward and looked at this yourself - Good.
Can you find an owner? Can you find a creator?
No, I can find neither an owner nor a creator of the thoughts. However, I still feel I need to hedge my bets by thinking maybe there is something to which I just don't have access. So, I guess at a certain level – not intellectual – I do think that an "I" exists. However, part of me knows it doesn't. What a quandary!
Can you say with any degree of confidence whatsoever that 'these thoughts are mine'?
No, that I cannot say. I cannot say with any degree of confidence that these thoughts are mine.
Can anything be found other than the thought itself?
It seems that some thoughts pop up on their own; however, when I am purposely thinking, i.e. trying to solve an issue, then I have the sense that a will is there that is working out the problem.
Can you find an 'I' that could stop thoughts or perhaps decide what thoughts to have?
Yes, yesterday I – albeit for a short while only – did stop thoughts by thinking, "these thoughts are not mine". Most of the time, I do not decide which thoughts to have, they just come to mind. However, as stated above, at times I do seem to steer thoughts when trying to solve a problem.
If we could decide what thoughts to have, surely we could decide only ever to have positive and pleasant thoughts?
Yesterday I did rather well at stopping thinking for a bit. However, against my will negative and unpleasant thoughts have in the past surfaced as the outcome of negative conditions in which I found myself.
Another issue that's surfaced is that at the same time that I am aware that I am thinking and those thoughts are not 'mine'' and I stop identifying with them, then I for a short while simply stop thinking at all. Then during those few seconds I feel that I am looking at this world with a very slightly shifted perspective. I'm taking things in differently that I am used to.
I understand.
Is there an 'I' that becomes aware of thoughts? Or does it just happen?
Is there an 'I' that stops thinking? Or does it just happen?
Although I "know" differently, it "feels" like there is an "I" that becomes aware of thought, because I am looking out for it. I'm in a bit of a mental tangle again. Sorry. I'm trying to be 100% honest. There's a conflict between my knowledge and my gut. They're at cross-purposes.

♥ GentleOak

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Re: The 'I'

Postby Xain » Sat Mar 29, 2014 6:22 pm

No, I can find neither an owner nor a creator of the thoughts. However, I still feel I need to hedge my bets by thinking maybe there is something to which I just don't have access.
Sure - No point in guessing - We are not here to estimate what is going on - We are here to find out.
But . . .
What is this 'I' that doesn't have access to a creator of thoughts? Is that a thing you can find? Or is it just another thought about what is going on in this process?
So, I guess at a certain level – not intellectual – I do think that an "I" exists. However, part of me knows it doesn't.
There is a 'me' that thinks 'I' exists. What is that 'me' you refer to?
Something that can be found? Or a thought about what is going on?
It seems that some thoughts pop up on their own; however, when I am purposely thinking, i.e. trying to solve an issue, then I have the sense that a will is there that is working out the problem.
I will certainly agree that it appears that way.
But would you agree that for your statement to have any truth behind it, there must be an 'I' that does the thinking.
Can you find one? Or is all that you are finding simply yet another thought?
Yes, yesterday I – albeit for a short while only – did stop thoughts by thinking, "these thoughts are not mine".
Sure - thoughts stopped. But did 'you' do it? What is this 'you' that can stop thoughts?
Or could it be that it 'just happened'?

Sit and relax without thoughts for a moment.
What did that? What made that happen? What can you find?

If there are no thoughts, does an 'I' appear?
I'm in a bit of a mental tangle again. Sorry. I'm trying to be 100% honest. There's a conflict between my knowledge and my gut. They're at cross-purposes.
Could it be that this 'tangle' is a tangle of thoughts.
You look, but can only find thoughts?
When something 'real' tries to be established or examined, it's just another thought?

What a quandary! ;-)

Xain ♥

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Re: The 'I'

Postby GentleOak » Sun Mar 30, 2014 8:22 pm

Sure - No point in guessing - We are not here to estimate what is going on - We are here to find out.
But . . .
What is this 'I' that doesn't have access to a creator of thoughts? Is that a thing you can find? Or is it just another thought about what is going on in this process?
Yes, I want to be as sure of it as I am of the morning sun rising (although I know it really doesn't rise, rather the earth simply spins).

The 'I' without access to the creator of thoughts cannot be found, and it is indeed merely a thought but a rather "sticky" thought at that. Once again, my "brain" and "gut" are at cross-purposes.
There is a 'me' that thinks 'I' exists. What is that 'me' you refer to?
Something that can be found? Or a thought about what is going on?
The persistent "me" thought seems to be blocking me from being nearer/identical with "all that is". However, when my brain flashes on that "me" being but a thought and nothing "real" (e.g, as real as this computer, that window, those trees outside), then I get an unpleasant shiver that emanates from the back of my neck. Something within somehow both wants and at the same time does not want to see "me" as a mere thought. Does that make any sense?
I will certainly agree that it appears that way.
But would you agree that for your statement to have any truth behind it, there must be an 'I' that does the thinking.
Can you find one? Or is all that you are finding simply yet another thought?
My view/thought of 'I' softens/weakens when I read your words above.
Yes, yesterday I – albeit for a short while only – did stop thoughts by thinking, "these thoughts are not mine".
Sure - thoughts stopped. But did 'you' do it? What is this 'you' that can stop thoughts?
Or could it be that it 'just happened'?
I don't think it just happened on its own but rather was the outcome of certain conditions. Still I see — as I look into it more deeply — it was not "my" agency that stopped the thinking but conditions that preceded that stopping of thought.
Sit and relax without thoughts for a moment.
What did that? What made that happen? What can you find?
In all honesty, I just don't know what did that, what made that happen. I can find nothing. However, this time rather than shivers I felt a deep sense of peace.
If there are no thoughts, does an 'I' appear?
The simple response is "No". There's only bare awareness and a deep sense of peace.
I'm in a bit of a mental tangle again. Sorry. I'm trying to be 100% honest. There's a conflict between my knowledge and my gut. They're at cross-purposes.
Could it be that this 'tangle' is a tangle of thoughts.
You look, but can only find thoughts?
When something 'real' tries to be established or examined, it's just another thought?
I not only find only thoughts but also feel much nearer to experience. Something feels as though it's beginning to turn, but it feels both beneficial and disorienting.

♥GentleOak

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Re: The 'I'

Postby GentleOak » Sun Mar 30, 2014 9:32 pm

Dear Xain,

This is an addendum to what I already wrote earlier today.

A growing awareness of an ethical dimension to this process is slowly dawning. It's ever clearer that not only my "likes" but also my "dislikes" are also mere thoughts. The outcome is that negativity's grasp is being loosened: I more easily can just let go of what the "I" wants and how it wants things to be.

From that insight follows that happiness/contentment arises most of the time and the vortex of negative thoughts that often plague me never gets a chance to take shape in the first place.

♥ GentleOak

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Re: The 'I'

Postby Xain » Mon Mar 31, 2014 2:32 pm

I not only find only thoughts but also feel much nearer to experience. Something feels as though it's beginning to turn, but it feels both beneficial and disorienting.
I sense this also. You are doing very well. Keep this honest investigation up.
The 'I' without access to the creator of thoughts cannot be found, and it is indeed merely a thought but a rather "sticky" thought at that. Once again, my "brain" and "gut" are at cross-purposes.
Ok good - The statement is, as you say 'merely a thought' - There is no 'I' that has access (or not) to what creates thoughts.

Just keep this simple.
We are not trying to denounce anything, or say that anything is 'wrong'.
The statement 'I don't have access to the creator or thoughts' is fine and I understand what you mean by this phrase. It's meaning is clear.

Notice that all communication is the exchange of thoughts.
We can still tell each other what we mean - No special language is needed.
But this time is it seen that there is no 'I' here in this phrase. It's all just a thought.
The persistent "me" thought seems to be blocking me from being nearer/identical with "all that is".
What is 'all that is'? Something you know to be true or a thought? Maybe something you have read or been told?
Right here and now, is there a 'me' that could know, understand, or be nearer to 'all that is'?
What is that one?
Something within somehow both wants and at the same time does not want to see "me" as a mere thought. Does that make any sense?
Sure. Please relax, though.
This is not any form of 'getting rid of something' or 'annihilation'.

Tell me . . .
This screen is being seen. This sentence is being read.
Can these two things be denied?
We simply need to try to find what is doing this . . .
All we can attempt to search for is something we can find - A seperate individual self, 'thing', 'me', 'I' etc
Keep the search simple. Can such a separate thing be found? Can a separate 'I', 'me' be located . . . or does it only appear as thought?

I don't think it just happened on its own but rather was the outcome of certain conditions. Still I see — as I look into it more deeply — it was not "my" agency that stopped the thinking but conditions that preceded that stopping of thought.
Ok, now look deeply at this.
When you say 'outcome of certain conditions' is that clear - Or is this a thought also?
Do these 'certain conditions' feature an 'I' that you can find here and now that is responsible?
If there are no thoughts, does an 'I' appear?
The simple response is "No". There's only bare awareness and a deep sense of peace.
Yes - Exactly. Without thought there is no 'I' . . .
. . . . Really? Is this completely clear?
What would be the consequences of such a realisation?

What can you find here and now that is doing this investigation?
What can you find here and now that is going to reply to this message?
A real 'I' . . . or more thoughts?

Xain ♥

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Re: The 'I'

Postby GentleOak » Mon Mar 31, 2014 9:28 pm

I sense this also. You are doing very well. Keep this honest investigation up.
Thank you for the heartening words.
Ok good - The statement is, as you say 'merely a thought' - There is no 'I' that has access (or not) to what creates thoughts.
Yes, as before, I intellectually see clearly that there is no 'I' that creates thoughts and that those thoughts simple arise. Though, that intellectual insight has still not seeped into my gut. The 'I' illusion is still somehow there, although it is slipping.
Just keep this simple.
We are not trying to denounce anything, or say that anything is 'wrong'.
The statement 'I don't have access to the creator or thoughts' is fine and I understand what you mean by this phrase. It's meaning is clear.
OK.
Notice that all communication is the exchange of thoughts.
We can still tell each other what we mean - No special language is needed.
But this time is it seen that there is no 'I' here in this phrase. It's all just a thought.
The realization of the nonexistence of a separate self fades in and fades out. It just won't solidify into certainty.
Right here and now, is there a 'me' that could know, understand, or be nearer to 'all that is'?
What is that one?
No, that's right: there is no "me" that could be do any of that with respect to "all that is". That "one" is imagined.
Sure. Please relax, though.
This is not any form of 'getting rid of something' or 'annihilation'.
Thanks for that reminder. This process is about recognizing that the 'I' doesn't even exist, so how could one annihilate something that hasn't existed in the first place, right?
Tell me . . .
This screen is being seen. This sentence is being read.
Can these two things be denied?
They are facts.
We simply need to try to find what is doing this . . .
Yes, that's the fundamental question!
Can such a separate thing be found? Can a separate 'I', 'me' be located . . . or does it only appear as thought?
It only surfaces as thought and, as established above, those thoughts just pop into existence but are not steered by an independent 'I'.
When you say 'outcome of certain conditions' is that clear - Or is this a thought also?
Do these 'certain conditions' feature an 'I' that you can find here and now that is responsible?
The phrase "outcome of certain conditions" is a thought I attach to experience to give that experience meaning; however, there is no 'I' that's responsible for their emerging.
Writing this I almost feel as though a muse is giving me these words to write, that I'm not the one composing them. They come to mind of their own accord and the fingers write them. My 'I' is fading.
Yes - Exactly. Without thought there is no 'I' . . .
. . . . Really? Is this completely clear?
Yes. It's not completely clear but the fog is lifting.
What would be the consequences of such a realisation?
The consequences of such a realization would be that what I identify as the 'I' is nothing more than an assemblage of thoughts.
When writing the sentence just above, shivers ran through me again. I don't know why that's happening so often in this process.
What can you find here and now that is doing this investigation?
What can you find here and now that is going to reply to this message?
A real 'I' . . . or more thoughts?
More thoughts, there is no real 'I', in the ultimate sense of a sovereign agent of action.
♥GentleOak

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Re: The 'I'

Postby Xain » Tue Apr 01, 2014 10:42 am

Is there a real 'I' . . . or more thoughts?
More thoughts, there is no real 'I', in the ultimate sense of a sovereign agent of action.
Is it quite clear that the only time 'I' appears is in thought?
What does this mean? What are the consequences of such a realisation?
Yes, as before, I intellectually see clearly that there is no 'I' that creates thoughts and that those thoughts simple arise.
Your statement states there is an 'I' that has intellectually seen something.
Is there?
The 'I' illusion is still somehow there, although it is slipping.
What has this illusion? What could lose it?
The realization of the nonexistence of a separate self fades in and fades out. It just won't solidify into certainty.
What could realise this? What can you find here and now that would make such a permanent realisation?
No, that's right: there is no "me" that could be do any of that with respect to "all that is". That "one" is imagined.
Yes :-) ♥
This process is about recognizing that the 'I' doesn't even exist, so how could one annihilate something that hasn't existed in the first place, right?
And what would do it?
We simply need to try to find what is doing this . . .
Yes, that's the fundamental question!
So what can you find? Can you find anything other than thoughts?
What does this mean?
Writing this I almost feel as though a muse is giving me these words to write, that I'm not the one composing them. They come to mind of their own accord and the fingers write them.
Simply look. Are 'you' reading this? Are 'you' seeing the screen?
Is there a separate 'you' that has ever read anything or seen anything? Can you find one doing it here right now?
If you can't . . . what would this mean?
Yes - Exactly. Without thought there is no 'I' . . .
. . . . Really? Is this completely clear?
Yes. It's not completely clear but the fog is lifting.
I think it's more than that.
I think the fog has completely cleared . . . allow the clarity in. :-)

Xain ♥


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