Ready to end the tyranny of the illusion

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johnb
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Ready to end the tyranny of the illusion

Postby johnb » Wed Sep 17, 2014 2:38 am

Hello LU guides,

I would like a guide to help see through the illusion of the separate self so it "sticks."

I have been involved in spiritual pursuits of many stripes for most of my adult life. Spent a good 14 years on the devotional path. About 4 years ago, after after the death of my wife to breast cancer and my own journey with cancer treatment, I desperately wanted to get my feet underneath me--find some sense of stability and wellbeing. I turned to nonduality as the most direct possibility of finding freedom from suffering. I studied with Neelam, Adyashanti, Scott Kiloby (got certified as a Living Inquiries facilitators), Rupert Spira, and have read through Nisargadatta's "I am That" a number of times. Other influences have been Douglas Harding's Headless Way and Richard Lang's furtherance of his pointing experiments, and numerous other teachers of nonduality. I have read the Gateless Gatecrashers and worked through the questions on Ilona's "Start Here" blog page.

When I look, I can see that there's an indescribable open clarity in which life occurs and which is aware of all that happens, including what appears as the body and the mind. On investigation, I have never found the separate self. But I still fully believe in the self center that dominates and seems to run the show. And doubts about my true identity as that open clear nonconceptual emptiness continue. I would like to settle the matter of identity once and for all, and be free of everything that follows from the illusion of being a separate self: self-concern, self-consiousness, fear of failure and rejection, approval-seeking, spiritual seeking, and on and on.

I am grateful for this community of guides who have seen through the illusion of the separate self and are offering to guide others to the same recognition. Please help. It is time.

Thanks,
John

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eyeman
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Re: Ready to end the tyranny of the illusion

Postby eyeman » Wed Sep 17, 2014 4:58 pm

Hello John my name is Mike, wonderful to have you here and it would be a pleasure to guide you. It sounds like you're ready and willing, you're in the right place to see for yourself how it really is :-)

A few ground rules -

1. Post at least once a day, if you cannot post, or need more time, let me know.
2. Be 100% honest in your answers and inquiry.
3. Answer from personal experience only.
4. Read the disclaimer on the Liberation Unleashed main page - http://www.liberationunleashed.com/

Understand that I will be guiding you, rather than teaching you, and the more you put into this process the more you will get out of it.

If you are happy to agree to the above accept me as your guide, let me know and we can begin right away.

Mike :-)

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johnb
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Re: Ready to end the tyranny of the illusion

Postby johnb » Wed Sep 17, 2014 5:13 pm

Got it Mike, thanks for stepping up. I'll post once per day or let you know if I need more time with 100% honesty from my personal experience only. I've read the disclaimer and know the deal. I'm entering the gate at my own risk and accept you as my guide. Thanks!

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eyeman
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Re: Ready to end the tyranny of the illusion

Postby eyeman » Wed Sep 17, 2014 5:37 pm

Hi John, it sounds like you're well up on how it all works - great :-)

During the course of this dialogue, it would be good for you to avoid any books, teaching or study (just until this is completed), it's not problem to continue any meditation practice you currently have.

It may be very tempting to ask questions and look at this process from an intellectual perspective, whilst there will be opportunities for that, it's very helpful to the process of 'seeing' that we avoid discussion where possible, this process is to help you see for yourself that there is no separate 'self' and there never has been.

You may find it useful to master the 'quote' function when indicating the section your answer refer to (just highlight the words and select quote)

So with the formalities out of the way, let's jump straight in and begin :-)

Consider the following statement:

Nothing exists outside the present moment.

Take a little time to consider that statement throughout your daily life. Look and consider it in different situations, and see if you can actually find anything outside the present moment. (even if you've considered it many times - please consider it as though for the first time) -

Have fun with that one,

Mike.

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johnb
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Re: Ready to end the tyranny of the illusion

Postby johnb » Thu Sep 18, 2014 1:52 pm

Consider the following statement:

Nothing exists outside the present moment.

Take a little time to consider that statement throughout your daily life. Look and consider it in different situations, and see if you can actually find anything outside the present moment. (even if you've considered it many times - please consider it as though for the first time) -
Thanks for directing my attention in this way. Taking a fresh look at my experience, I would have to agree. Experience is only now. I cannot find anything outside the present moment. The past and the future both only arise now as words and images in thought.

Mental objections to this arise when I consider the seeming continuity of objects through time, e.g., this computer is the same one I've used almost daily for several years. But these objections too only ever occur now, and only in thinking.

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eyeman
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Re: Ready to end the tyranny of the illusion

Postby eyeman » Thu Sep 18, 2014 3:13 pm

Nicely put and very clear John.
Thanks for directing my attention in this way. Taking a fresh look at my experience, I would have to agree. Experience is only now. I cannot find anything outside the present moment. The past and the future both only arise now as words and images in thought.

Mental objections to this arise when I consider the seeming continuity of objects through time, e.g., this computer is the same one I've used almost daily for several years. But these objections too only ever occur now, and only in thinking.
What you've written above is really important stuff and even if we're doing some basic exercises, it's important to try them as though it's for the very first time as you have done here - this helps to see things clearly and with certainty, no theory, just plain and honest truth.

Let's look at this experientially (put it to the test).

Please imagine a food item which is perhaps in another room (eg an apple). Imagine as vividly as you can the colour, shape, how the light reflects on it as you hold it, it's weight, it's texture etc... Imagine taking a bite out of it, how it feels in your mouth, the taste, the sensation when chewing it, how it feels to swallow etc...

Next, when convenient, pick up a real food item (eg: the apple), again study it, colour, shininess, shape - take a bite and again observe the experience as it happens in Reality.


Can you report back as fully as possible what comes up while doing the two things - firstly the imagined, and secondly the real. Report back from your direct experience of both scenarios.

After doing this exercise, please answer the following question - it may seem a trivial one but please go ahead and answer it anyway based on your direct experience:

Can you clearly see the difference between the imagined and the real?

Look forward to hearing your reply

Mike :-)

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Re: Ready to end the tyranny of the illusion

Postby johnb » Fri Sep 19, 2014 2:47 pm

Hi Mike, thanks again for working with me.

I'm really curious to see how this will all unfold. So far you've given exercises I haven't expected from my read of the Gateless Gatecrashers and other stories of seeing the truth of no-self. (Which, just to be clear, are only now from memory. I am taking seriously the recommendation to refrain from reading/watching other spiritual teachings and materials. I get a regular feed of such stuff in my inbox, and they're all now being shunted over to my Pending folder. Also, there's a John Wheeler book on my nightstand that will unfortunately have to sit there with its bookmark in the middle until we're finished here. :-) )
Please imagine a food item which is perhaps in another room (eg an apple). Imagine as vividly as you can the colour, shape, how the light reflects on it as you hold it, it's weight, it's texture etc... Imagine taking a bite out of it, how it feels in your mouth, the taste, the sensation when chewing it, how it feels to swallow etc...

Next, when convenient, pick up a real food item (eg: the apple), again study it, colour, shininess, shape - take a bite and again observe the experience as it happens in Reality.


Can you report back as fully as possible what comes up while doing the two things - firstly the imagined, and secondly the real. Report back from your direct experience of both scenarios.
OK so in the imaginary case, I noticed the following:
  • There was a twitchiness to the experience, in that it was difficult to hold in imagination. It required mental concentration and effort. Other thoughts would intervene and focus was required to return to the exercise.

    The image of the apple was malleable, not fixed. It seemed to be a variable composite drawn from memory.

    The sensations had a ghost-like quality which stood apart from what was actually occurring to the senses. The imagined image, taste, feel, heft, etc. were not present to actual sense experience.

    There was an alternating experience of commentary, hearing the words that might later be written in response to the exercise.

    Afterwards I noticed tension in the forehead.
In the case of the real, I noticed:
  • Noticing was effortless, requiring no concentration other than being mindful of capturing and recording in memory the actuality of the experience.

    Richness of color, heft, feel, taste, etc. were totally available to the senses.

    There was a continuity of experience, no malleability based on synthesis from memory.

    I don't know how to say this better than to use words like 'real' and 'actual', but the real had the authority of actuality that the imaginary lacked. Obviously here and now, experienced and known.

    There was also an alternating experience of commentary in the form of thought-words describing the experience.

    Several minutes after finishing with swallowing the apple bites, I noticed that there was an aftertaste experience.
Can you clearly see the difference between the imagined and the real?
Yes, the imaginary is the palest representation of the real, with no substance at all. Compared to the real, imagination is an evanescent and comparatively discontinuous and malleable. A total construction of mind, independent of actually occurring sense experience.

Thanks,
John

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eyeman
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Re: Ready to end the tyranny of the illusion

Postby eyeman » Fri Sep 19, 2014 4:21 pm

Hi John,

Beautifully described, yes you're looking and seeing exactly how it is - no 'theory' just what is fact and what is fiction :-)

One is Reality, a reality which is undeniable and can be proved right now through the senses - the other is just imagined, at best it is thoughts ABOUT reality, like a map is not the territory that it represents, it's symbolic only. If we paint a picture of an apple, it can never be the apple, just a picture of an apple.

The truth you are striving for is exactly this sort of truth - the sort you 'know', not in theory but really 'know!' Just as though you were asked if there was an elephant sitting on your lap - you would know one way or the other if it was or it wasn't, even if I or anyone else were to put up a convincing argument that you were wrong, eg: we said you DID have an elephant on your lap - when you look again, just to double check, this knowing would be confirmed. Imagine if you read 500 books on the subject of elephants being on your lap but your experience was that it really wasn't? This is the key to why true insight cannot be taught, no theory, or academic understanding helps. Mike could never teach this to John, all he can do is point the way to assist John to see how it really is.

This leads nicely to the next statement I'd like you to consider in Direct Experience right here and right now:

Thoughts are real - they happen, but the content of thoughts are not.

Please respond to the above statement - when you look, is the above statement true or false?

Also please consider the following question:

Can you find anything at all which is currently outside of your Direct Experience that is un-deniably real?

Good luck with these

Mike :-)

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Re: Ready to end the tyranny of the illusion

Postby johnb » Fri Sep 19, 2014 5:16 pm

Thoughts are real - they happen, but the content of thoughts are not.

Please respond to the above statement - when you look, is the above statement true or false?
Thinking definitely happens and is known, and is real. Definitely the content of thought is not real. This has been clear for some time and continues to be so.
Also please consider the following question:

Can you find anything at all which is currently outside of your Direct Experience that is un-deniably real?
No, this would be impossible. The only way to to ascertain reality is by experiencing it. But I will take some time exploring this to make really sure :-)

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Re: Ready to end the tyranny of the illusion

Postby eyeman » Fri Sep 19, 2014 5:43 pm

Great stuff John,

What we've covered so far will effect the rest of the work we do here and being so clear on this forms a great foundation from which to continue.

Now let's move onto the Self as the 'controller' of John's' life. After all, if you exist, then you must be in control right?

Two questions which will help you look at this aspect of the investigation are:

1) Do you control the thoughts that arise? Can you choose which thoughts to have? Can you stop thoughts from happening when you choose to?

2) The next exercise is to walk about and move your body randomly and quickly - wave your arms, move your legs in any way that is safe and comfortable... Look closely at what's happening while you do this. Is there 'choices' being made about what movements are made or do they simply happen? Is John controlling this movement (walking is another good example) or is it just happening and there is simply experience of it happening?

Mike :-)

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Re: Ready to end the tyranny of the illusion

Postby johnb » Sat Sep 20, 2014 3:23 am

Now let's move onto the Self as the 'controller' of John's' life. After all, if you exist, then you must be in control right?
Yeah, right. That is all working out just as I had planned. :-)
1) Do you control the thoughts that arise? Can you choose which thoughts to have? Can you stop thoughts from happening when you choose to?
No, it is clear that I don't control the thoughts that arise. I cannot choose which thoughts to have. And definitely I cannot stop thinking of my own volition.
2) The next exercise is to walk about and move your body randomly and quickly - wave your arms, move your legs in any way that is safe and comfortable... Look closely at what's happening while you do this. Is there 'choices' being made about what movements are made or do they simply happen? Is John controlling this movement (walking is another good example) or is it just happening and there is simply experience of it happening?
OK so the actual experience is of no controller, movement just happening. But also thoughts like "Wait a minute. Mike asked me to do this flailing around and I'm doing it. How can there not be a controller here?"

Or taking a walk to the store today. Movement just happened--one foot after the other--and the belief that "I" initiated the action to walk to the store. "I need eggs and veggies and ..., so I'll walk to the store and do my shopping." Did "I" not take this action, cause this to happen? Yes, even though in actual observation, action happens on its own, the thought that there must be an initiator that I call "me" or "I" that sets that into motion.

In actual fact, no controller. In thought, definitely a belief that I am that controller.

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Re: Ready to end the tyranny of the illusion

Postby eyeman » Sat Sep 20, 2014 11:50 am

Hiya John,
Yeah, right. That is all working out just as I had planned. :-)
From your introduction, it's clear that life has thrown a lot at you over the past years John. Probably a pretty extreme example of realising how little we really can control - on top of this, a lot of suffering occurs due to not seeing how things really are. You may have come across teachings which describe suffering as being on two levels - the 'first and second dart of suffering'. The first dart being perhaps sensory pain or awareness directly of something there is aversion to. The second dart being the far greater suffering (thought based suffering). A simple example might be knowing that someone is going to pull out your tooth next week without anaesthetic! The suffering would begin upon knowing this, worry, anxiety, feeling like a victim etc... It would probably be a difficult week, troubled sleep, fear, apprehension etc.... The event might last 5-10 minutes (very painful), afterwards, the mind would feel anger, confusion eg: Why me? How could they make me go through that when they could have given me anaesthetic etc... The chances are, this sort of suffering would remain for years afterwards. I'm sure you can see that without any of that second dart suffering - it would only ever be 5-10 minutes of physical pain.
No, it is clear that I don't control the thoughts that arise. I cannot choose which thoughts to have. And definitely I cannot stop thinking of my own volition.
Quite right John, a good exercise for this to experience exactly how it is is:

During the next few hours - at some point convenient, shout 'STOP!' (this can be an internal shout without actually speaking). The command is to literally stop everything! Please report back on what happens.

Do thoughts stop? does the heart stop beating? Does all sound stop? Does sensation stop? etc....
OK so the actual experience is of no controller, movement just happening. But also thoughts like "Wait a minute. Mike asked me to do this flailing around and I'm doing it. How can there not be a controller here?"

Or taking a walk to the store today. Movement just happened--one foot after the other--and the belief that "I" initiated the action to walk to the store. "I need eggs and veggies and ..., so I'll walk to the store and do my shopping." Did "I" not take this action, cause this to happen? Yes, even though in actual observation, action happens on its own, the thought that there must be an initiator that I call "me" or "I" that sets that into motion.

In actual fact, no controller. In thought, definitely a belief that I am that controller.
Ok, here you're seeing that 'reflex' type actions happen without any need to constantly instruct one leg to lift up and land in the right place whilst simultaneously instructing the other plus arms, all while keeping balance etc... It all just happens on its own, just as there's no need to instruct the heart to keep beating etc...

In the above, if the mind 'thinks' about it, it tells you 'I' walked to the shop - there is an untested assumption that Johns legs carried him to the shop under his control, as you see, it's not quite like that. When the mind doesn't think about it - the idea that John controls his legs doesn't happen - it just happens.

The other aspect of control is 'choice'! In the way described as John reading the request from Mike and John instructing his body to do as requested, or the 'choice' to walk to the shop as there's a need for eggs and veggies etc...

Does John REALLY have any choice or is it just an untested assumption? Let's explore this and test it out for real... Let's first do this with a simplistic exercise and then move onto more complex decisions/choices:

Please place two objects in front of you, (fairly randomly). Next make a choice as to which object is picked up. Pay very careful attention to what happens, particularly the exact moment the choice happens. This can be repeated as many times as you like. The important point is that you just look and observe what happens and in what order.

The last question right now is:

Please find something (anything), that you feel is a real choice eg: which item you chose to buy when shopping, or where you chose to visit etc... Please let me know an example of where it's felt like you've really made a choice.

Mike :-)

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Re: Ready to end the tyranny of the illusion

Postby johnb » Sat Sep 20, 2014 1:34 pm

Mike, I appreciate the care you take to tailor your replies to exactly what is given.

Regarding first dart/second dart suffering, the differentiation I make is between pain and suffering, where pain is the first dart, and suffering is the 2nd, caused by mental story-making connected with the pain. (Or often not even connected to any real pain - the 2nd dart can have a life of its own in imagination!)

I'm tackling a construction project today and will be fairly tied up with that (lots of choices and decisions to make! :-), but will weave the exercises you've given into the day's activities, and report back either this evening (US Eastern time) or tomorrow. Thanks!

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Re: Ready to end the tyranny of the illusion

Postby eyeman » Sat Sep 20, 2014 2:00 pm

Hi John,

Yes take your time, you're a regular poster and the idea here is to look at life as it happens so it doesn't require any specific environment (eg: getting a chance to get away from it all). It's all stuff which happens all of the time - during a construction project is just as good.

Yes Pain vs Suffering works just as well - it's possible to continue after we've done here and look at physical pain (first dart) too but that's not what we're concentrating on here - useful to know though :-)

Mike :-)

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Re: Ready to end the tyranny of the illusion

Postby johnb » Sun Sep 21, 2014 2:12 pm

Yes take your time, you're a regular poster and the idea here is to look at life as it happens so it doesn't require any specific environment (eg: getting a chance to get away from it all). It's all stuff which happens all of the time - during a construction project is just as good.
Yes, this a wonderfully portable investigation, totally applicable to and informed by daily life.
During the next few hours - at some point convenient, shout 'STOP!' (this can be an internal shout without actually speaking). The command is to literally stop everything! Please report back on what happens.

Do thoughts stop? does the heart stop beating? Does all sound stop? Does sensation stop? etc....
What happens is

1. The memory to shout STOP! arises
2. An inward (or out loud if I'm home alone) shout "STOP!" occurs, accompanied by a momentary tightening of some parts of the body
3. The previous involvement with thinking relaxes for a moment, and noticing occurs - of breath, heart beat pressure/sound, sounds, sensations.
4. Immediately, a commentary of thoughts heard describing the experience to remember what to write
5. Involvement in the thought stream resumes gradually, bringing thinking to the foreground and sense experience to the background.

It's like the George Carlin (I think) comedy bit from the 70's, where a teacher is in front of a classroom full of students. The chatter gets louder and louder until she shouts "CLASS!" and the noise stops for just a moment, and gradually builds again until she shouts "CLASS!" again. Seems like my inner experience of relationships is also like this (taking place over a span of months instead of moments), but that's another topic ... :-)
Does John REALLY have any choice or is it just an untested assumption? Let's explore this and test it out for real... Let's first do this with a simplistic exercise and then move onto more complex decisions/choices:

Please place two objects in front of you, (fairly randomly). Next make a choice as to which object is picked up. Pay very careful attention to what happens, particularly the exact moment the choice happens. This can be repeated as many times as you like. The important point is that you just look and observe what happens and in what order.
I'll report on this one later. I have an appointment this morning and want to send off what I've written so far.
Please find something (anything), that you feel is a real choice eg: which item you chose to buy when shopping, or where you chose to visit etc... Please let me know an example of where it's felt like you've really made a choice.
Yesterday I had some errands to run in the morning. There was one item for my dog I'd forgotten about in planning the outing, and as I set out, the item came to mind. I considered how the new stop would modify the route, and in an instant the new route occurred to inner vision, and an inner "Yes, that's good - I'll take that route." And proceeded to follow the route to my errands. Although ... I missed a turn while involved with thought, and had to go a different way. Not a problem at all, so the route wasn't exactly to plan, but it felt like I made the choice to take that route.

During the construction project there were countless other choices that seemed that I was making. But in most (all?) cases what actually occurs is that the choice/decision occurs and then I claim to have made it. Or as I'm no immersed in this investigation, it's more like "Wait. Wasn't it I who made that choice/decision?" The errand example was similar, but we can use that as our working example.


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