Requesting a Guide Please

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Armstrong
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Requesting a Guide Please

Postby Armstrong » Tue Jul 08, 2014 12:14 pm

I'm requesting a guide.

I've done mindfulness practice seriously for almost two years. Recently I've upped my practice, bringing it into my daily life. When I'm really paying attention, I don't notice a self and I feel grateful to be alive experiencing things. When I things an am less aware, I feel more like the old "me".

I get that I'm not my body, thoughts, feelings, memories - nor is anyone else those things.

I've noticed that there's no free will - none of us choose our thoughts, feelings or impulses - and hence I find it easier to forgive myself and others. This realization was surprising and disorienting - I'd actually thought that I'd "chosen" my thoughts and feelings until I noticed what was happening. Realizing the lack of free will led me to being a lot more loving and compassionate, despite becoming more utilitarian. E.g. criminals don't choose to commit crimes, but we ought to imprison them (as a practical measure).

At times I "get" that things aren't personal, and I'm happy and feel fully absorbed in life. E.g. something "bad" happens and I think, "this is how the world works," so I move on. At other times I think (and believe) "this shouldn't have happened to me" so I suffer and hate someone. I've noticed flipping back and forth between those thoughts and feelings - I'll flip from equanimity to outrage to equanimity to outrage a few times.

I've had extended periods where the "me story" dropped away for a long time and I experienced every day life with tremendous clarity and "flow". I found it particularly easy to empathize with others, sometimes leading me to cry in public - which surprised me. But then somehow it faded away and I was back to being a lot like my more "typical" self - but craving the thrill of the flow.

There's areas in my life where I procrastinate. I'm aware of the thought/hope that seeing that there's no self will allow me to "improve myself" and get on with my life, which is obviously ridiculous.

Despite my "self improvement" bias, I'm ready to follow instructions and be honest, so if someone is willing to guide me, I'm willing to try.

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Jack'n'theBox
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Re: Requesting a Guide Please

Postby Jack'n'theBox » Tue Jul 08, 2014 10:54 pm

I'm requesting a guide.
My name is Mark and I can be your guide. So if this is OK with you, please agree to the following guidelines and we can start:

Have you read the disclaimer on the homepage: http://www.liberationunleashed.com/?

Also

1. You agree to post once a day, time permitting.
2. I will post questions, which prompt your investigation and answers.
3. When you answer/report, please do so with 100% honestly and answer from what you see,
4. and when you do answer, please answer from direct experience (felt senses and observed thoughts). Long winded analytical and philosophical answers are not needed and may even hinder progress.
5. Put aside all other teachings, philosophies and such for the remainder of this journey. Really put all your effort in to seeing this reality, as it is. If you have a daily and essential meditation practice, it is fine to continue that.
6. Please learn to use the quote function.

If you are OK with the above, let’s start by looking at this point you made in your intro:

When I'm really paying attention, I don't notice a self and I feel grateful to be alive experiencing things.
What is it that "pays attention?" Can you find a thing that "looks at" experience or is there just the experiencing?

Similarly, what is it that is "experiencing things?" Can you find an experience-er?

Have a look in your direct experience of what is arising in the present moment and let me know what you find.
People see it far away. What a pity! They are like a man who, standing in water, complains of thirst -- Hakuin

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Armstrong
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Re: Requesting a Guide Please

Postby Armstrong » Wed Jul 09, 2014 8:41 am

Thanks for your reply!

Hey, I think I saw how this self process works today. That sentence appeared by my body typing what the voice in my head is saying - the voice uses the word "I", so it is in the sentence. Despite the fact that "I" is clearly just a linguistic convention. There's no "I" like the I I imagined before.
What is it that "pays attention?" Can you find a thing that "looks at" experience or is there just the experiencing?
There's no "it" that pays attention. There's just the experiencing of perceptions, including thoughts (lots of them).

I (it seems odd to write this) have noticed lots of thoughts before, but I guess there wasn't recognition.

In particular, judgements. Somehow I've been taking my judgmental thoughts to be true, when all they were were thoughts about reality. That's led to a lot of friction.
Similarly, what is it that is "experiencing things?" Can you find an experience-er?
There's just experience. It changes constantly. Experience is visual stuff, bodily sensations, sounds, thoughts, but also perceptions (like this, don't-like that).

It was a very strange day. I get the point about there being no gate and nobody to enter the gate. A lot of the things that would typically lead to anger or irritation didn't today, because things didn't seem nearly as personal.

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Jack'n'theBox
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Re: Requesting a Guide Please

Postby Jack'n'theBox » Wed Jul 09, 2014 9:36 am

Hey, I think I saw how this self process works today. That sentence appeared by my body typing what the voice in my head is saying - the voice uses the word "I", so it is in the sentence. Despite the fact that "I" is clearly just a linguistic convention. There's no "I" like the I I imagined before.
OK great. Looks like this might be a short conversation!
Yes the “I” is in the language – we can see it in statements such as
It’s raining? Where is the “it”? Water is simply falling; or
The wind is blowing. Where is the “wind”? Air is simply moving; or
I am thinking. Where is this “I”? Thoughts are simply arising.
What is it that "pays attention?" Can you find a thing that "looks at" experience or is there just the experiencing?
There's no "it" that pays attention. There's just the experiencing of perceptions, including thoughts (lots of them).
OK good to notice – thoughts are themselves experienced – not that which experiences.

Let’s look at “attention” a bit more. If I say to you – sit for five minutes and pay attention to the breath – how does attention “move” to the breath, exactly? Is attention a thing that “you” can move around?

I (it seems odd to write this) have noticed lots of thoughts before, but I guess there wasn't recognition.
So what has been recognised? Where do thoughts come from? What is it that notices them?
People see it far away. What a pity! They are like a man who, standing in water, complains of thirst -- Hakuin

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Armstrong
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Re: Requesting a Guide Please

Postby Armstrong » Wed Jul 09, 2014 12:02 pm

Let’s look at “attention” a bit more. If I say to you – sit for five minutes and pay attention to the breath – how does attention “move” to the breath, exactly? Is attention a thing that “you” can move around?
Attention isn't a thing. There's a thought like, "pay attention to the breath" or "breathe in" or "go" and then there's awareness of breathing sensations. Or the attention just switches to the breath, without a thought. That's a bit like when there's a noise, and that sound fills my mind, automatically.
So what has been recognised? Where do thoughts come from? What is it that notices them?
There was the thought, "this is different than before" and there was a feeling of certainty. And a thought like, "I'm noticing more thoughts than ever. I had no idea I was thinking this much. It really is happening a lot more than I've ever noticed" - with the associated feeling of certainty. That was what was recognized.

But if there's just a thought and a feeling (of truth) - and perhaps with a (potentially faulty) memory of how things were - that's not proof. Feelings can be arbitrary and memories can be faulty.

I don't know where thoughts come from. They don't have a location. They seem to come up based on conditions. E.g. face a bowl and think, "that bowl looks a bit dirty. Eww." The thought just appeared, apparently because of the object. It disappears.

What is it that notices them? That's hard for me to put into words - of courses there's just more thoughts like, "I noticed them". There's some sort of awareness that notices the sounds, body sensations, thoughts, etc.

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Jack'n'theBox
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Re: Requesting a Guide Please

Postby Jack'n'theBox » Wed Jul 09, 2014 9:05 pm

OK great, you are definitely on track with what you say above. I like how you point to a “feeling of truth” or certainty – this is nice – most people identify truth with “correct thoughts” – but do thoughts actually “know” anything?
But if there's just a thought and a feeling (of truth) - and perhaps with a (potentially faulty) memory of how things were - that's not proof. Feelings can be arbitrary and memories can be faulty.
Let’s look at this. Most people have the idea of a self – of a “person” that lives in time - and although s/he may develop and change is basically the same person from birth through death - this idea relies upon memory (i.e. I can look at an old school photo and identify ‘me’ in the picture even though I look completely different now). But what are ‘memories'?

OK, try this. Can you find anything in experience outside the present moment? Can you experience a past moment or a future moment? In fact can you even experience THIS moment? (tip: how long does a ‘moment’ last?!)

Maybe a ‘memory’ of a past moment arises – what is a memory, exactly ( describe what it’s made of – thoughts? Feelings? Images?) What makes these components true or faulty?

When is the ‘memory ‘ actually occurring?

What are the implications of this?
People see it far away. What a pity! They are like a man who, standing in water, complains of thirst -- Hakuin

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Armstrong
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Re: Requesting a Guide Please

Postby Armstrong » Thu Jul 10, 2014 8:20 am

OK great, you are definitely on track with what you say above. I like how you point to a “feeling of truth” or certainty – this is nice – most people identify truth with “correct thoughts” – but do thoughts actually “know” anything?
Thoughts don't know anything. Thoughts aren't sentient. The proposition "2+2=4" doesn't know anything.

Let’s look at this. Most people have the idea of a self – of a “person” that lives in time - and although s/he may develop and change is basically the same person from birth through death - this idea relies upon memory (i.e. I can look at an old school photo and identify ‘me’ in the picture even though I look completely different now). But what are ‘memories'?
Memory: Upon hearing the word "home" a picture of the house that I live in arises in my mind. Memories are associations. There's no way to know if the thing referred to by the stimulus is accurate.
OK, try this. Can you find anything in experience outside the present moment? Can you experience a past moment or a future moment? In fact can you even experience THIS moment? (tip: how long does a ‘moment’ last?!)
It is always the present moment. The future is like a daydream. The past is like a daydream. The experience of memory doesn't seem to be as complex as what's in front of me now (reality), so these daydreams aren't as vivid.

This moment seems to be gone just as it is perceived. E.g. I notice the thought, "what an easy question". It arrives complete, not word-for-word. And then it is gone. The sense I have is that just as the present is perceived, it slips away.
Maybe a ‘memory’ of a past moment arises – what is a memory, exactly ( describe what it’s made of – thoughts? Feelings? Images?) What makes these components true or faulty?

When is the ‘memory ‘ actually occurring?

What are the implications of this?
A memory of the past? E.g. you say "Grandpa" and there's an image or something like a video of him doing something. Then some thoughts/feelings about the movie. It is just a show occurring in the present.

The only true thing about the memory is that it appears in consciousness - it is true the way a pinch feels like a pinch. It may or may not reflect reality.

When does the memory occur? If it is an image, the result appears in my "mind's eye" in the present. If the memory is a word or number (e.g. my name or age) the result is a thought, not an image, appearing in the present.

The memory occurs in the present, along with everything else. It all occurs in the present, and then it slips away.

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Jack'n'theBox
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Re: Requesting a Guide Please

Postby Jack'n'theBox » Thu Jul 10, 2014 8:41 am

OK, great looking there. Can there be more than one thought in awareness at each moment? Can you discern a connection between thoughts? Have a look and see.
People see it far away. What a pity! They are like a man who, standing in water, complains of thirst -- Hakuin

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Armstrong
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Re: Requesting a Guide Please

Postby Armstrong » Thu Jul 10, 2014 5:19 pm

OK, great looking there. Can there be more than one thought in awareness at each moment? Can you discern a connection between thoughts? Have a look and see.
One at a time.

So if "I" sit quietly, there will be a thought. The attention "wakes up" and recognizes the thought that just came into perception. By the time the thought is recognized, it is already gone and things are back to stillness.

It seems like it is possible to get lost in thought - that is, not recognize a bunch of thoughts as they pile up. But that's just thinking about the past, and that doesn't exist.

All this is just trying to put this whole thing into words, and the words are just thoughts occurring in the awareness - compliments of that thinking source. One would hope they are "correct" - but any feeling of certitude is just a feeling getting noticed, so WTF?

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Armstrong
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Re: Requesting a Guide Please

Postby Armstrong » Thu Jul 10, 2014 5:27 pm

When I wrote, "It seems like it is possible to get lost in thought - that is, not recognize a bunch of thoughts as they pile up. But that's just thinking about the past, and that doesn't exist. " -- I meant, that's thinking about this mysterious process of being a sentient organism experiencing time and memory, and that doesn't exist, so who knows if the words I just wrote describe anything."

It is easy to make the mistake of thinking we "know" things about the past, how time works, etc. -- just believe "your" thoughts about them. E.g. you sit here in the present and experience thoughts about what is going on. That's just thoughts that "you" didn't think, about an existence that "you" didn't create, appearing out of a mysterious void, about a mysterious process that the thoughts might or might not be wrong about. And "you" have no way to check things about this mysterious process. Truth is now, so "you" only have what you have now, which is some perceptions that are gone as soon as "you" recognize them.

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Re: Requesting a Guide Please

Postby Jack'n'theBox » Thu Jul 10, 2014 8:46 pm

One would hope they [thoughts] are "correct"
What would hope this? Another thought?
- but any feeling of certitude is just a feeling getting noticed, so WTF?
Yes, good to notice this.
When I wrote, "It seems like it is possible to get lost in thought - that is, not recognize a bunch of thoughts as they pile up. But that's just thinking about the past, and that doesn't exist. " -- I meant, that's thinking about this mysterious process of being a sentient organism experiencing time and memory, and that doesn't exist, so who knows if the words I just wrote describe anything."
Yes, that’s what I’m pointing to in this investigation about thought. Thought isn’t where the action is – you don’t see through the self-view via thinking about it – thought is the very process that produces the illusion in the first place.

you sit here in the present and experience thoughts about what is going on. That's just thoughts that "you" didn't think, about an existence that "you" didn't create, appearing out of a mysterious void, about a mysterious process that the thoughts might or might not be wrong about. And "you" have no way to check things about this mysterious process.
Yep this is good. In a way, thought is always wrong because it is a dualistic process – it posits an interior self of thoughts/feelings experiencing an exterior world of people and objects. But we can check to see if this is true in reality.

So try this – sit quietly for 10 minutes and in a very relaxed way simply notice what is arising in awareness. Notice whatever comes up – you could even label it – you will no doubt find thoughts, sensations, sights, sounds, and maybe smells and tastes. Is there any reality beyond sense arisings and thoughts about them?

Now look to see -- Is experience something happening ‘in here’ triggered by a world ‘out there’? Have a look.

[tip: don’t get lost in the thought story – just notice that thoughts are arising as ‘objects’ in awareness – no more interesting or sentient that an itchy nose or the sound of a car passing by. Stay with the awareness not the ‘objects’].
People see it far away. What a pity! They are like a man who, standing in water, complains of thirst -- Hakuin

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Armstrong
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Re: Requesting a Guide Please

Postby Armstrong » Fri Jul 11, 2014 7:16 am

What would hope this? Another thought?
Indeed, there was the thought, "I hope some of these thoughts are useful ..."
Yes, that’s what I’m pointing to in this investigation about thought. Thought isn’t where the action is – you don’t see through the self-view via thinking about it – thought is the very process that produces the illusion in the first place.
And how do you know that? LOL! Looks like you had some thoughts and typed them out.
So try this – sit quietly for 10 minutes and in a very relaxed way simply notice what is arising in awareness. Notice whatever comes up – you could even label it – you will no doubt find thoughts, sensations, sights, sounds, and maybe smells and tastes. Is there any reality beyond sense arisings and thoughts about them?
No.

Now look to see -- Is experience something happening ‘in here’ triggered by a world ‘out there’? Have a look.
It is all one big phenomenon. There's no lines between the computer fan, the vibrations it makes, the ear and the perceived sound. When you read this sentence, you're aware of it as a bunch of thoughts in your head - until it goes away.

There's no need to sit quietly to notice this stuff.

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Jack'n'theBox
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Re: Requesting a Guide Please

Postby Jack'n'theBox » Fri Jul 11, 2014 8:31 am

OK great. So we are agreed that there is no reality discernable beyond sense arisings and thoughts about them. So let's cut to the chase: Can you find a 'self' -- a me or I entity anywhere among sense arisings and thoughts about them?
People see it far away. What a pity! They are like a man who, standing in water, complains of thirst -- Hakuin

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Armstrong
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Re: Requesting a Guide Please

Postby Armstrong » Fri Jul 11, 2014 8:58 am

LOL! There's no self.

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Re: Requesting a Guide Please

Postby Jack'n'theBox » Fri Jul 11, 2014 9:33 am

LOL! There's no self.
OK! Here's some summing up questions -- let's see if anything else comes up in the answers:

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

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

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.

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

5) Describe decision, intention, free will, choice and control. What makes things happen? How does it work? What are you responsible for? Give examples from experience.

6) Anything to add?
People see it far away. What a pity! They are like a man who, standing in water, complains of thirst -- Hakuin


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