bonnie, this is your thread

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Jack'n'theBox
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bonnie, this is your thread

Postby Jack'n'theBox » Sun Sep 21, 2014 7:47 am

Hello bonnie, I'm ready to go.

Let's start with this -- let me know what comes up in relation to this statement:

There is no 'self' behind any thought, deed, or feeling. No past self, no present self, no future self. Life simply happens by itself.

metta,

JV
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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bonnie
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Re: bonnie, this is your thread

Postby bonnie » Mon Sep 22, 2014 5:25 am

Hiya

irritation is my gut response because I don't understand. This sense of myself is so strong. How on earth would I ever break such a strong sense of self. I'm irritated because I don't know.

"Life simply happens by itself": this statement is the most irritating of all. To me it seems to imply ethics don't matter -(hmmm I can see a fixed view here). But I do sense one doesn't practice ethics, rather, to the extent I live with kindness and awareness of other people an ethical life then just happens.

Of course I understand intellectually through study etc, but not in direct experience.

cheers
Bonnie

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Re: bonnie, this is your thread

Postby Jack'n'theBox » Mon Sep 22, 2014 6:53 am

Hello bonnie,
Thanks for your reply. Please try to reply every day – even if it is to say that you need more time to look at some issues. It will help others reading the thread if you can learn to use the quote function to make our responses more distinct. Also if you click the button at the bottom of the page you will get an email alert when I have answered.
irritation is my gut response because I don't understand.
OK! Irritation is good – something is bothered by this statement. We’ll be looking to find out what it is.
This sense of myself is so strong.
Sure. But is “sense of self” the same as a real self? Remember when you were a kid? Was “sense of a monster under the bed” the same as an actual monster under the bed?
How on earth would I ever break such a strong sense of self. I'm irritated because I don't know.
Well the good news is that “you” don’t need to break the sense of self! How could that happen? The self-view is simply a mistake. What you call “sense of self” – these sensations exist – but they don’t refer to an actual entity. You are just misinterpreting the data. When you get this, things just fall into place.
"Life simply happens by itself": this statement is the most irritating of all. To me it seems to imply ethics don't matter -(hmmm I can see a fixed view here).
Good to see that you have a fixed view. Let me ask you – What is the root cause of all unskillful action? That would be belief in a separate self that needs to defend itself, acquire stuff for itself, ‘improve’ itself – it’s all about ME. When “me” is seen as an illusion – there is no need to feed its wants and desires anymore. Ethical action is now free to spontaneously occur. There’s no “me” in the way.

OK does any of the above make you feel less irritated?

Before we proceed let’s just check what your expectations are – what do you think the dropping of the self-view will reveal, experientially?

Metta,

JV
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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bonnie
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Re: bonnie, this is your thread

Postby bonnie » Tue Sep 23, 2014 11:26 am

Before we proceed let’s just check what your expectations are – what do you think the dropping of the self-view will reveal, experientially?
My expectation of dropping the self view: First I thought there would be some 'special' understanding. Now, having read what you wrote in the last post, I have a sense of freedom, of being uncluttered, unblinkered, being able to see life more with a sense of delight and interest. And I do have a hope, when the self is seen through, that unexpected experiences will not being shocking or painful or throw me off centre.
Well the good news is that “you” don’t need to break the sense of self! How could that happen? The self-view is simply a mistake. What you call “sense of self” – these sensations exist – but they don’t refer to an actual entity. You are just misinterpreting the data. When you get this, things just fall into place.
This gives me a sense of relief, and relaxing from the fight to understand.
There is no real self
I already have glimmers that there is no permanent self and that is a very different feeling from a 'sense' of self. But there is still a feeling of 'I want', 'I need to protect my self'. I need to stand on guard just in case - anticipating some difficult. But I want that sense of freedom more in my life.

I'm now feeling confused, after experiencing some freedom reading what you wrote. What comes in afterwards when I think about it more is "yes but", "yes but", "yes but"!! So an initial expansion, then a falling back into self habits.

And so the irritation has changed into the questioning 'yes but?'

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Re: bonnie, this is your thread

Postby Jack'n'theBox » Tue Sep 23, 2014 8:41 pm

[First I thought there would be some 'special' understanding.
Well things are seen more clearly – the traditional metaphor of a ‘turning around’ in perspective is a good one. It’s the viewpoint that changes.
Now, having read what you wrote in the last post, I have a sense of freedom, of being uncluttered, unblinkered, being able to see life more with a sense of delight and interest.
OK good.
And I do have a hope, when the self is seen through, that unexpected experiences will not being shocking or painful or throw me off centre.
Is there a centre that can be thrown off? Is there some ‘thing’ that can anticipate ANY experience? Or does experience just ‘show up’?
But there is still a feeling of 'I want', 'I need to protect my self'.
Well remember that there is no self now nor has there ever been – so everything that you currently are has already appeared in the absence of an actual self. Self is a concept – it doesn’t refer to an actual thing that can be discovered in reality.

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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bonnie
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Re: bonnie, this is your thread

Postby bonnie » Wed Sep 24, 2014 7:23 am

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?
OK. so i did that and certainly couldn't find anything other than the three things you list. What I did feel was a deeper sense of peace, nothing to grab hold of. Contented and spacious, no 'me' wanting. The 'me' was just not there, there was just a lot of different sensation: tingling in the hands, warmth in the belly, coldness in the feet, a faint thumping of the heart beating, breathing sensations in nose and back of throat, rising and falling of the chest.

Every now and again a sub-vocal clatter of unidentifiable words. So many fleeting sensations, but nothing fixed, except the weight of my body, and that really just made up of a myriad of other physical sensations.

So while I am doing a definite exercise like this it's clear there is no real actual fixed self. But outside of that exercise, or even as an undertow, is the wanting and planning and the feeling of dissatisfaction of what feels like a self. So who or what is dissatisfied?

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Re: bonnie, this is your thread

Postby Jack'n'theBox » Wed Sep 24, 2014 8:47 am

OK Bonnie, 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.

With body sensations, you mention sensations taking place in ‘hand, ‘belly’ and ‘feet’. Let’s look to see if we have any direct experience of these things or if they refer to concepts.

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 direct experience (DE) at all?

Let me know how the above goes then we will come back to your question about dissatisfaction.
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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Re: bonnie, this is your thread

Postby bonnie » Thu Sep 25, 2014 9:33 am

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.
No, I couldn't detect a self at all, and as time went on there was more and more spaciousness. It seemed that the envelope of the body, or boundary between 'me' and everything else dissolved.
Can you actually experience 'head' -- or do you just think you do?.
No, the more I looked the more I could see that named parts of the body are just sensations, and also that there was more and more space as I looked - these sensations were changing in subtle ways and also were expanding, no longer any hard edges, no distinct foot or head, just expansion into space. And it seems strange that the body and mind are just managing along without a 'me' to look after them. They don't really need a 'me' at all, they are doing quite well on their own, just as long as they are fed.

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Re: bonnie, this is your thread

Postby Jack'n'theBox » Thu Sep 25, 2014 10:55 am

OK this is great looking Bonnie.

So can you experience a thing called "body"? Just have a look now -- what is "body" in direct experience?

Earlier you mentioned "outside of that exercise, or even as an undertow, is the wanting and planning and the feeling of dissatisfaction of what feels like a self. So who or what is dissatisfied?"

Well, what is "dissatisfaction" in direct experience?

Can you find it now and describe its qualities? Is it a thought, a sensation or a feeling (or a combination)? Does it have dimensions or a particular location?

Is it "owned" by anything or does it just appear?
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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Re: bonnie, this is your thread

Postby bonnie » Fri Sep 26, 2014 11:19 am

So can you experience a thing called "body"? Just have a look now -- what is "body" in direct experience?
When looking into 'body' a senese of warmth and pleasant sensation, a kind of ongoing, living thing; spacious with subtle movements. Also a sense of timelessness. A pulsing ongoingness.
So who or what is dissatisfied?"
It is the self that is dissatisfied when not getting what it wants.
Well, what is "dissatisfaction" in direct experience? Can you find it now and describe its qualities?
The me/self pops up as dissatisfaction, a sense of prickliness, a closing down or closing in, a narrowing, like falling into a thorn bush, which gets even more prickly the more the closing down happens. And wanting to escape at the same time. It's a combination of thought and the sensation of feeling restricted, of not being able to get out of the bush. The location is in the head and throat.
Is it "owned" by anything or does it just appear?
It just appears. It appears whether I am in pain or not, it's separate from physical pain.

I'm having a good look at this construct of dissatisfaction, especially the restriction and discomfort, because I am in a lot of physical pain at the moment. Initially I dismissed dissatisfaction because I could see it was a construct, an idea, but of course that didn't stop me from feeling it and that was unpleasant. And this unpleasantness is in horrible contrast to the feelings of expansion and spaciousness I felt when doing the previous looking exercises. So I feel irritated with the conundrum of this.

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Re: bonnie, this is your thread

Postby Jack'n'theBox » Fri Sep 26, 2014 9:13 pm

When looking into 'body' a senese of warmth and pleasant sensation, a kind of ongoing, living thing; spacious with subtle movements. Also a sense of timelessness. A pulsing ongoingness.
OK great.

The me/self pops up as dissatisfaction, a sense of prickliness, a closing down or closing in, a narrowing, like falling into a thorn bush, which gets even more prickly the more the closing down happens. And wanting to escape at the same time. It's a combination of thought and the sensation of feeling restricted, of not being able to get out of the bush. The location is in the head and throat.
Right. Earlier you said “it is the self that is dissatisfied” but when we look at “dissatisfaction” what we find is a sensation of contraction and some thoughts about that contraction. As you say “it just appears” – there is no “thing” there that is being dissatisfied.

Notice that there are two basic movements of energy – contraction and expansion. Contracted movements arise in relation to emotion/thoughts labelled “negative” (basically “I don’t like . . .” thoughts) and expansive movements come in with “positive” emotion/thoughts.

If you look very clearly at the energy or the contraction – can you kind of relax with it? Don’t judge it – don’t follow thoughts about it – don't try to escape it - can you see it simply as an energetic arising in awareness? As you do this allow awareness to observe the “space” around the contracted area – can you find an edge or line between the contraction and the wider awareness? Can you see that what you are calling contraction is just one energetic arising among many?

To do this it might help to be aware of the contraction in relation to other arisings happening – like the breeze on the skin, or the sound of birdsong, or the scent of flowers -– can you see that all these arisings are happening in a kind of “aware space”? Can you relax and simply observe the various arisings – without judgement or commentary – and just relax in/as that aware space?

What happens when you do 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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Re: bonnie, this is your thread

Postby bonnie » Sat Sep 27, 2014 9:51 am

Ok, I need more time on this one. I'll be in touch tomorrow afternoon

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Re: bonnie, this is your thread

Postby bonnie » Sun Sep 28, 2014 6:53 am

As you do this allow awareness to observe the “space” around the contracted area – can you find an edge or line between the contraction and the wider awareness?
I can see that dissatisfaction is a construct, with some anger, unhappiness, 'not getting' and irritation. It's difficult to give up the idea, but when i could observe the space around the dissatisfaction, it got smaller and the feeling and thought of "it doesn't matter, just drop it, stop fighting it" arose. When that space of awareness is around it the dissatisfaction can arise, stay, dissolve and arise again.

The thought "it doesn't matter" came out of the space, the opening up into awareness.

Other things are there in awareness too, thoughts and sensations, and they arise and pass along with the dissatisfaction. I don't have to fight anything.

The most helpful instruction was "let there be space around it"

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Re: bonnie, this is your thread

Postby Jack'n'theBox » Sun Sep 28, 2014 8:11 am

I can see that dissatisfaction is a construct, with some anger, unhappiness, 'not getting' and irritation. It's difficult to give up the idea, but when i could observe the space around the dissatisfaction, it got smaller and the feeling and thought of "it doesn't matter, just drop it, stop fighting it" arose.
OK great. When resistance or irritation or any kind of energetic reaction that mind labels ‘negative’ arises – simply ‘zoom out’ to the aware space around the feeling/sensation and notice that it is but one arising among many – it has no particular meaning, significance or substance.

What we are pointing to here is the ‘wrong view’ that there is a ‘thing’ (that would be ‘myself’) that has an experience (in this case ‘dissatisfaction’) caused by some ‘thing’ else (in this case ‘not getting it’).

Now we’ve observed that there is nothing in experience other than thoughts, sensations and feelings.

Let’s check again to be sure. Can you find any ‘thing’ prior to the thoughts, sensations or feelings that somehow anticipates, produces or owns them?

Thoughts arise – is there a think-er?
Sensations arise – is there a sense-er?
Feelings arise – is there a feel-er?

Once you’ve got that clear. Look at this:

An idea is a thought. How long does a thought stick around?
Why is it difficult to ‘give up’ an idea?
Can you find some ‘thing’ that owns this idea?
What is it that could hold on to a thought? Anything?
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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Re: bonnie, this is your thread

Postby bonnie » Mon Sep 29, 2014 4:33 am

When resistance or irritation or any kind of energetic reaction that mind labels ‘negative’ arises – simply ‘zoom out’ to the aware space around the feeling/sensation and notice that it is but one arising among many – it has no particular meaning, significance or substance.
That's really great,thanks. Very helpful.
Let’s check again to be sure. Can you find any ‘thing’ prior to the thoughts, sensations or feelings that somehow anticipates, produces or owns them?

Thoughts arise – is there a think-er?
Sensations arise – is there a sense-er?
Feelings arise – is there a feel-er?
When I look I can't find any prior prompts or any owner to feelings, thoughts, sensations. They seems to just pop up into awareness. A myriad of thoughts just seem to be passing through, there are sensations in the body, but no owner of the body. Feelings seem to come associated with thought.
An idea is a thought. How long does a thought stick around?
It seems an idea/thought arises briefly. Depending on how much negative energy is there it can return again and again. and it's difficult to stop that happening.
Why is it difficult to ‘give up’ an idea? Can you find some ‘thing’ that owns this idea?
Its not difficult to give up as long as I become aware of the space around it. At those times I can't find anything that owns it.
What is it that could hold on to a thought? Anything?
Well the thought itself is momentary, it comes and goes in a flash, but it keeps on reappearing, coming and going, if there is strong energy attached to it.


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