Looking for a guide

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Ezra
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Looking for a guide

Postby Ezra » Sun Aug 03, 2014 8:44 am

Hello all,
I'm ready to begin. My spiritual background has been nurtured in the Triratna Buddhist movement. I'm happy to be guided by someone from there, if anyone is free, but am open to all!
I have a young family and wouldn't be able to post more than once a day but can guarantee a daily posting.
I think of myself as a 'slow' abstract thinker (if that's the kind of thinking we'll be engaging in). If you don't mind journeying at a gentle pace, I'm here.
Many thanks,
Carmel.

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choupick
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Re: Looking for a guide

Postby choupick » Sun Aug 03, 2014 4:08 pm

Hi Carmel! I too have a young family, so I understand completely.

So the way this works, is that I will ask you some questions. You think about them and answer with 100% honesty from your own experience. No need for any fancy metaphysical terms, just what you really feel and think in your own words.

The first question for you; What are your expectations of liberation? What do you hope to achieve?

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Ezra
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Re: Looking for a guide

Postby Ezra » Sun Aug 03, 2014 9:21 pm

Thanks Choupick. I'm thrilled to get going.

My expectations of liberation: well, I currently have a very subtle sense of being 'on the run'; of cluttering my experience with busyness and 'stuff' in order to avoid what exactly I don't know - maybe life just happening moment to moment. I would hope that would drop away.
I'm hoping and imagining my heart would be more open. Maybe feelings of love and possibly,pain would be bigger.
I'm imagining I would be taken more by surprise by the world and my responses to it.
As I think about it now I keep imagining a shift in my perspective where I see 'Beauty' in new ways or places and perhaps a natural desire towards ethics in response.
Hope that makes sense?

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Jack'n'theBox
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Re: Looking for a guide

Postby Jack'n'theBox » Mon Aug 04, 2014 12:17 am

Hi Carmel, Chou has stepped aside for the moment while he finds a mentor (as he's new to guiding), but I'm happy to step in. I have a Triratna background -- but it really doesn't matter when it comes to seeing through self-view -- anyone who has seen can be of assistance, irrespective of previous background -- you either see it or you don't.

Your 'expectations' above are really spot on!

So let's get started:

If I say to you "There is no self -- no 'me' or 'I' behind any of our thoughts, feelings or actions -- nor has there ever been"

What comes up? What reaction does this provoke?

cheers,

J
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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Ezra
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Re: Looking for a guide

Postby Ezra » Mon Aug 04, 2014 12:52 pm

Hi J,

Well, if my expectations are spot on, I'm in!

"There is no self - no 'me' or 'I'' - what comes up immediately is a feeling of relief. And excitement that I may not have to filter experience through this (often tedious) 'personality'. Of course, I have no answers to questions like 'then,who or what does the feeling, the thinking etc'. It doesn't bother me though. There is a promise of liberty in the notion of 'no-me' that is so so alluring. I find it really moving to imagine. Words come to mind as I imagine it like 'purity', 'openness'.
Does that answer your question?

Thanks for taking me on, by the way. I hugely appreciate it.
I'll sort out how to use 'quotes' properly by my next posting.

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Jack'n'theBox
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Re: Looking for a guide

Postby Jack'n'theBox » Mon Aug 04, 2014 9:06 pm

what comes up immediately is a feeling of relief. And excitement that I may not have to filter experience through this (often tedious) 'personality'.
OK – this is a good response. We’ll be looking to see if we can find this “personality” – is it an actual thing or just an habitual pattern or response?

Of course, I have no answers to questions like 'then, who or what does the feeling, the thinking etc'.
Does there need to be some “thing” that does the thinking? It’s partly a trick of language – language works by positing a subject (me) that does things (verbs) to objects – but does this really describe what’s going on?

For example we say “It’s raining” – where is this “it”? Water is simply falling. Or, “The wind is blowing” – can you find “the wind” or is it just air moving? We also say “I’m thinking” – but is there really an “I” that is doing something or are thoughts simply arising? Have a look and see.

This approach relies on looking to direct experience (DE) to see what is really going on. This means observing arisings to the five 'body' senses and thoughts (thoughts as a kind of ‘mind object’ – not the content of thoughts or what we call thought stories). So let’s have a look and see what we can find.

Sit quietly for a few moments and allow attention to rest on the totality of your experience in that moment – can you find anything going on that cannot be put in a category of sensation (stuff happening in ‘the body’), feelings (emotions and feeling-tones like pleasant or unpleasant) and thoughts?
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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Ezra
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Re: Looking for a guide

Postby Ezra » Tue Aug 05, 2014 8:44 pm

Hi J,
Sit quietly for a few moments and allow attention to rest on the totality of your experience in that moment – can you find anything going on that cannot be put in a category of sensation (stuff happening in ‘the body’), feelings (emotions and feeling-tones like pleasant or unpleasant) and thoughts?
[/quote]

Well, I did the exercise. No, couldn't find a thing outside of the sensation, feeling or thought.
Hope I'm not missing anything?! It was very straightforward and I have nothing to add.

Should it prove helpful, I'll just mention that I noticed that even the idea that there is 'no me' helped pull me out of getting into 'stories' a number of times today.

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Jack'n'theBox
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Re: Looking for a guide

Postby Jack'n'theBox » Tue Aug 05, 2014 9:28 pm

Well, I did the exercise. No, couldn't find a thing outside of the sensation, feeling or thought.
Hope I'm not missing anything?! It was very straightforward and I have nothing to add.
OK great looking. So if experience is simply comprised of sensations, feelings and thoughts – where is the ‘self’? Can you find a self among these disparate sensations, feelings and thoughts? Check each one. Is the self a sensation? Is it a feeling? Is it a thought? Have a look and see.
Should it prove helpful, I'll just mention that I noticed that even the idea that there is 'no me' helped pull me out of getting into 'stories' a number of times today.
Good one. When thought stories appear and there’s a sense that “I” am being pulled along with them, it can be useful to look at the thoughts as simple arisings in awareness – where are they coming from? Is there any ‘thing’ thinking them? Is there any ‘thing’ that believes them? Thoughts seen as objects are not believed, and there is a freedom in that.

Let’s look at this a bit more closely: What is the ‘me’ that gets lost in stories and what is the ‘me’ that gets pulled out? Can you describe this process experientially – how does the getting lost and pulling out happen?
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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Ezra
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Re: Looking for a guide

Postby Ezra » Wed Aug 06, 2014 6:06 pm

So if experience is simply comprised of sensations, feelings and thoughts – where is the ‘self’? Can you find a self among these disparate sensations, feelings and thoughts? Check each one
.

Great question. I'm just going to write it all down and see if I can make sense of it as I go.
In the looking I've been doing today I can't find a sense of self in sensations or even in feelings. It felt a bit like a head/body divide. Anything in the body - sensation and feeling - had a quality of ebbing and flowing. The head however (which I seem to imagine holds thoughts) does't seem to have that quality. Not in the same way. It reminded me a little of the comic strip in The Beano or The Dandy comics where little men live inside the body at various control stations. It felt like they all moved up to the brain today. It became a bit oppressive at one stage so I decided to place my imaginary thought centre in my belly and see if that made a difference. I can't explain it but it did loosen the experience up. The droning quality of thinking subsided and had a softer texture.
When thought stories appear and there’s a sense that “I” am being pulled along with them, it can be useful to look at the thoughts as simple arisings in awareness – where are they coming from? Is there any ‘thing’ thinking them? Is there any ‘thing’ that believes them?
There is this 'me' that I've been building up over my lifetime and that has certain ideas about herself. I'm noticing that 'me' gets very alarmed if threatened. There isn't really a 'thing' thinking these thoughts but the 'thing' believing them can be seriously strong. I suppose I'm saying that once feeling enters into it (and I'm possibly contradicting what I said earlier) I can get lost quickly.

I'm not sure yet what pulls me out. I'll keep paying attention to that.

Thank you.

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Jack'n'theBox
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Re: Looking for a guide

Postby Jack'n'theBox » Wed Aug 06, 2014 9:13 pm

Hi Carmel some great looking here.

In the looking I've been doing today I can't find a sense of self in sensations or even in feelings. It felt a bit like a head/body divide. Anything in the body - sensation and feeling - had a quality of ebbing and flowing. The head however (which I seem to imagine holds thoughts) does't seem to have that quality.
OK no problem -- this head/body divide is a very common supposition. Let’s look at it in detail.

With body sensations: try mentally imagining / naming ‘hand’, ‘foot’, ‘head’ and other parts of the body and then bring attention to the direct sensations of the part you’ve just named. Notice the nature of the direct experience itself – if you sit with eyes closed and focus just on the sensations can you actually experience a 'thing' named ‘hand’ or ‘foot’ or ‘head’ – or are there just various sensations? Just get clear that a tactile experience is totally different to a mental image of a tactile experience (Can you actually experience 'head' -- or do you just think you do?).

Now as you are doing this – consider WHERE are any of these sensations happening? Are they organised in space? As you look at the sensations in what thought says are ‘hand’, ‘head’ and ‘foot’ – are they distributed in space? From the evidence provided by the bare sensations themselves can you measure how ‘far’ they are from each other? Is there any ‘distance’ in DE at all?

There is this 'me' that I've been building up over my lifetime and that has certain ideas about herself.
OK but in the direct experience of this moment where is this ‘me’ that has taken a lifetime to build? Can you experience a ‘lifetime’ happening now or is this just a thought about a lifetime?

What is your direct experience, now, of anything past?
What is your direct experience, now, of anything in the future?
Can you actually find a ‘present moment’?
How long does it last? ;-)
‘When’ is anything happening?

Basically I’m asking you to look and discover something rather radical in the above exercises – is there any space or time in direct experience!? 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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Ezra
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Re: Looking for a guide

Postby Ezra » Thu Aug 07, 2014 9:08 pm

if you sit with eyes closed and focus just on the sensations can you actually experience a 'thing' named ‘hand’ or ‘foot’ or ‘head’ – or are there just various sensations?
Gosh -no, I don't think I could locate 'head'/'hand' etc.
The sensations just sort of 'hung' or existed in space. They might open out but not with a sense of them 'going anywhere'.
consider WHERE are any of these sensations happening
I can't get a sense of geography! The sensations seem to be happening in space (a space?) and not in relation to one another. I have no idea what I mean by 'space'. I'll keep looking and see if I can describe what I mean.
What is your direct experience, now, of anything past?
What is your direct experience, now, of anything in the future?
Can you actually find a ‘present moment’?

In my looking today, no, I could't find a 'me' or time in direct experience. I need to look closer. I'm really surprised not to have sensed time - maybe because I do have a sense of time when I meditate?

My brain is fried. Time for sleep. Thanks J.

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Jack'n'theBox
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Re: Looking for a guide

Postby Jack'n'theBox » Thu Aug 07, 2014 9:33 pm

Again, great looking Carmel! If your brain is getting fried you are probably thinking about this stuff -- no need for thought -- just look in a relaxed but engaged kind of way like you would look at and enjoy an art work or a beautiful view. We'll come back to questions of time later, let's look more at body/space.

The point of these exercises is to be clear about the difference between actual sensory input (sensations) and thoughts about that input (papancha – mental elaboration – or what we call here ‘story’). So let’s push on with this. When you attend to direct sensory experience it is possible to notice that the mind steps in to label that experience – there is usually a subtle conceptual overlay that in Buddhist terms “fabricates” an imagined reality. "head', 'hand', 'body', 'myself' are all concepts -- they don't refer to actual experiences. We are trying to see what “naked” experience looks like – without fabrication.

So try this simple exercise and let me know what comes up:

Sit in a chair and bring awareness to all the contact points your body has with the chair and the floor. Feel the sense of pressure in your feet, move up to the pressure in the backside and the back. Close your eyes and focus just on the raw experience – ignore the ‘inner picture’ that has constructed the experience as ‘my body sitting in a chair’. Can you feel where the body ends and floor/chair begins or is the experience itself seamless? Without using thought – before thought intervenes – can you find an actual dividing line where 'body' stops and 'chair' begins? OK get this point clear first.

Next, where is the experience taking place? Is there a ‘centre’ to this experience? Is there a ‘thing’ separate from the sensations that the experience is ‘happening to’? When thought tries to intervene, don’t follow it, allow awareness to remain in the raw experience. Do this several times for at least ten minutes. Report back 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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Ezra
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Re: Looking for a guide

Postby Ezra » Sat Aug 09, 2014 12:14 am

" Can you feel where the body ends and floor/chair begins or is the experience itself seamless? Without using thought – before thought intervenes – can you find an actual dividing line where 'body' stops and 'chair' begins?"

I managed to do this exercise three times today. At times I could feel no separation between my body and the chair. I had a lot of wandering thoughts (especially just now, as it is late) that kept pulling me back.

"Next, where is the experience taking place? Is there a ‘centre’ to this experience? Is there a ‘thing’ separate from the sensations that the experience is ‘happening to’?"
No, no centre to the experience and no sense of a thing to whom the experience happens.

Sorry, I seem to have lost the knack of 'quoting'. Will get it sorted by tomorrow.
Thanks J.

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Jack'n'theBox
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Re: Looking for a guide

Postby Jack'n'theBox » Sat Aug 09, 2014 12:39 am

had a lot of wandering thoughts (especially just now, as it is late) that kept pulling me back.
OK this is a great observation. Thoughts arise to the mind sense just as a sound or a smell or a taste or a sensation arises to the other senses. We have 6 sense streams – but humans are overwhelmingly focused on just one: thought. Look at a dog or a cat and see how alive they are to senses such as smell and hearing – or look at a young child, under two, and note the utter fascination and sense of sheer presence and joy they bring to a new sound, sensation or sight. But we lose this attention to direct experience and get lost in thoughts – we can eat an entire meal without tasting because we are lost in some (usually negative) thought story or walk through beautiful countryside without seeing it because we are only atttending to some thought drama.

The trick in this is to see thought for what it is – just another arising in awareness – it doesn’t have power to ‘do’ anything – it’s just arises and passes – how long is a thought – is it tangible – can you touch it? Feel it? Can you even locate it?

We’ll look at thoughts further – but let’s carry on simply noticing bare sensation and see what that brings up. Have a go at this short guided meditation by Ruprt Spira and let me know how you get on:

http://non-duality.rupertspira.com/list ... f-the-body
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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Ezra
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Re: Looking for a guide

Postby Ezra » Sat Aug 09, 2014 9:31 pm

Hi J,

I did that Rupert Spira meditation just a short while ago. It's very helpful. I'm tired and nodded off so I'll give it another go in the early morning and will probably post again with more of a response to it. Here's something I noticed though - while I was able to 'see' sensation as just that; able I guess I mean, to appreciate sensations as energy in space I was still placing the energy in relation to my body. So, for example, if I was focussing on an tickle in my knee and then felt an itch in my eye I would imaginatively lift my focus up to my eye level. Do you understand what I mean by that?

Rupert Spira says practicing that meditation shifts your perspective gradually so that it becomes second nature to see sensations for what they are. I'm glad I heard that. I think I've been looking for a 'Eureka' moment and, of course, have been anxious that I'll never have it!! Me me me me me....!

Thank you.


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