What am I missing?

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archibald
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What am I missing?

Postby archibald » Mon Oct 20, 2014 4:15 am

I'm not sure that I do believe there is a real self, but I still feel like I don't get it, particularly the 'Liberation'. When there's intense pain, I want it to go away. How can I want the pain to go away without believing in a being-place that could go on without it? Am I fabricating this static place by wanting things to be different, or wanting things to be different because I believe there is a difference between things ('what is') and 'being'? Maybe there's more that I take myself to be that I'm overlooking. I think I know that I'm not the image I have of myself, yet when confronted with information that seems to contradict it there are still feelings of aversion (so how well do I really know it?). When I think about the fact that I'm going to die, sometimes I cry. Why would I cry unless I really believe that now, whatever I am, I exist and some day I won't? Help me out here, please.

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Vivien
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Re: What am I missing?

Postby Vivien » Mon Oct 20, 2014 7:54 am

Hi archibald,

Thank you for your introduction. How can I call you? My name is Vivien, and I am happy to assist in exploring 'no-self', though I can only point the way. You have to 'see' it for yourself. That is why we are described as guides, not teachers.

You and I will simply have a conversation, the aim of which will be for you to make the realisation that there is no 'self'. That will be our focus. I will tend to ask various questions and set you some exercises, but nobody will be judging you. You can't get this wrong.

But before we start, let’s get through the formalities first:
If you haven't already seen it, there is introductory info here, the disclaimer and a short video too.
http://www.liberationunleashed.com/

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 only from direct experience (felt senses and observed thoughts). Longwinded
analytical and philosophical answers are best avoided and may even hinder progress.
4. Put aside all other teachings, philosophies and such for the remainder of this investigation.
Really put all your effort and attention in to seeing this reality, as it is. If you have a daily and
essential meditation practice, it is fine to continue that.
5. 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.

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If you are happy to agree to the above and have me your guide, we can start the process.

What are your expectations for seeing through the illusion of the self?
How will Life change?
How will you change?
What will be different?


Please answer these questions in great detail. No expectation is too small to ignore.
"In the seen, there is only the seen. In the heard, there is only the heard. In the sensed, there is only the sensed. You are located neither in this, nor in that, nor in any place between the two." - Buddha
http://fadingveiling.com/

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archibald
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Re: What am I missing?

Postby archibald » Mon Oct 20, 2014 2:58 pm

Hi archibald,

How can I call you? My name is Vivien, and I am happy to assist in exploring 'no-self', though I can only point the way.
My name is Chad. Nice to meet you.
But before we start, let’s get through the formalities first:
If you haven't already seen it, there is introductory info here, the disclaimer and a short video too.
http://www.liberationunleashed.com/
I've read the introduction and watched the introductory video.

If you are happy to agree to the above and have me your guide, we can start the process.
I happily agree to those conditions.
What are your expectations for seeing through the illusion of the self?
My hope is that I will more easily accept things as they are, or stop resisting things as they are. Same thing, right?
How will Life change?
Will it? I don't know.
How will you change?
Well, if there is no 'me' then I suppose I will continue to not exist.
What will be different?
Everything is always different when you compare it to before, right? So I suppose everything will be different, as usual. I don't know specifically what would it would change. It seems to me, as I mentioned before, that in order to want things to be different, I have to make a distinction between being and what is, such that being could be different. It seems like I am doing this, however little sense that makes. I've actually been looking at this all morning and the more I look at it the less sense it makes to me. I was contemplating what Dogen says, about how firewood abides in the phenomenal expression of firewood and ash abides in the phenomenal expression of ash. Isn't experience just like this? The experience is the thing experienced and nothing more. How is it that I'm always trying to get somewhere other than here, if there is no 'here' apart from what is, and nowhere to go, and no one to get there? Why can't I seem to stop?

I think that what I need to do is to have a clear sense of what it is I take myself to be. Then I need to be sure that my failure to find it has been exhaustive, that I have looked everywhere it could possibly be and there's nothing I have missed. I feel certain there is something I am not seeing clearly. It could even be just this conviction that there's something I'm not seeing that's clouding an otherwise pristine view, for all I know. Perhaps what I need right now is for someone to hold my hand and walk me through it, from the beginning. Thank you for taking the time to do this.

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Re: What am I missing?

Postby Vivien » Tue Oct 21, 2014 1:02 am

Dear Chad,

Thank you for your honesty about the expectations.
This list is important, because every expectation is in a way of seeing what is here, right now. Every expectation is a ‘hindrance’ in realizing what IS. Expectations are about the future. But liberation cannot be found in the future.

I go through all the expectations one-by-one, but it doesn’t seem you have much. While you read them, please pay attention to what arises in the body. Is there any resistance to any of it?
My hope is that I will more easily accept things as they are, or stop resisting things as they are. Same thing, right?
Not accepting things as they are, or in other words, resisting things as they are is the result of X years of conditionings. At LU we only go so far as no self; but seeing that the self is just an illusion is just the first step, however the most important one. X years of conditioning won’t go away in an instance, but without a centre, a ‘me’, there is nothing they could attach to or stick to, so gradually they fall away. This falling can last until the end of the organism. So expecting that seeing through the illusion of the self is the end is quite unrealistic.

So resistance, identification with the I-thought and self-referencing thoughts and stories still can arise as a content of thoughts. However, upon investigation (or sometimes without any investigation) it can be seen that they are only thoughts and nothing more, nothing ‘real’.
Vivien: How will Life change?
Chad: Will it? I don't know.
Life or outer circumstances won’t change with seeing through the self. Life is always is as it is. Only the perception changes. So everything will be the same, although everything might look different.
Vivien: How will you change?
Chad: Well, if there is no 'me' then I suppose I will continue to not exist.
Ohh, yes :)
How is it that I'm always trying to get somewhere other than here, if there is no 'here' apart from what is, and nowhere to go, and no one to get there? Why can't I seem to stop?
There is no ‘you’ that could try to get somewhere other than here. There is only trying to get somewhere, but without a ‘you’ doing or owning it. There is no ‘you’ that cannot stop. Herein lays the illusion. This is what we are going to work on.
I think that what I need to do is to have a clear sense of what it is I take myself to be.
Yes, exactly.
Thank you for taking the time to do this.
You’re more than welcome :)

What I propose to do is to set you some exercises, physical ones, in which I will ask you to describe the experience of the senses. We call this direct experience, or the uninterpreted moment. This refers to the data from the sensations themselves, before mind tries to make sense of it and begins to describe what is happening. Observing with the five senses — seeing, hearing, smelling, tasting, touching/feeling. These exercises can help to see what is ‘real’ and what is not.

But before starting, please report what came up reading the comments about the expectations.
Was there any resistance to any of it?


After you’ve replied to my comments, we can start the investigation.

Currently, would it be fair to say that you believe that currently you are a person sitting in a chair, looking at a computer screen and reading words off it right now?

What does the word 'I' point to?
What makes this body ‘yours’?
What makes this body ‘you’?


I will write all questions in blue, please always answer ALL of them. These questions are pointers where to LOOK. Of course, you can also reply to any other parts of my posts if you feel need to.

Love, Vivien
"In the seen, there is only the seen. In the heard, there is only the heard. In the sensed, there is only the sensed. You are located neither in this, nor in that, nor in any place between the two." - Buddha
http://fadingveiling.com/

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archibald
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Re: What am I missing?

Postby archibald » Tue Oct 21, 2014 11:42 pm

But before starting, please report what came up reading the comments about the expectations.
Was there any resistance to any of it?
There was no resistance. I have a few thoughts though. It's not shocking that life would go on being as it is. Why would anything change if there is already no self? Yet, whether something about how I relate to experience changes seems to be how I would know whether I really have given up a belief.

If there is desire with respect to thoughts of self wouldn't you say I am 'identified'? My understanding and experience of belief is that desire and belief are different ways of talking about the same thing. To believe I am X is to want for X to be true (true as in compatible with my thoughts and perception of reality). So how can I say I don't believe in a self as long as there is still desire with respect to the I-thought or a self-image? Is it that the belief is to be merely weakened but due to conditioning can take a lifetime or more to entirely abandon?
Currently, would it be fair to say that you believe that currently you are a person sitting in a chair, looking at a computer screen and reading words off it right now?
It does not seem to me like the way things really are. I have a theory of self that does not include the existence of actual selves, but whether that means I have already seen through the illusion in the sense used on this forum, I don't know. I have no clear sense that there is something that I really am. If I have a center it is well hidden, being formless and non-local (or vague and diffuse). It seems like a kind of involuntary distinction that arises whenever I want things to be different. It's like this: I am 'being', pain is 'what is,' 'being' would be so much nicer without pain. So I think my 'self' consists in abstracting 'being' from 'what is'.

Sometimes I feel like what's happening happens to me.

Sometimes I feel like I am what controls and is responsible for what this body-mind does.
What does the word 'I' point to?
Words don't seem to point to anything. Do the '' around the 'I' point to the word? Do the words "the word" preceding it point to it? (Substitute 'direct towards', 'refer to', 'mean', 'intend', 'incline towards', or 'desire' for 'point to'. It makes no difference.) "What does 'I' point to?" seems like asking, "What is the basic intention underlying the use of the word 'I'?" or, "What does the word 'I' really want?" or, "How does it prefer to be understood?" The word 'I' inclines attention according to how it is said or thought. If you tell me to look at myself, depending on what you seem to mean, attention might incline to body, behavior, feelings, thoughts, or to assume a certain perspective with respect to some story of 'Chad'. Sometimes, "look at yourself," means, "see yourself the way I see you." The self that others see as me is like a constellation of scattered thoughts with a common theme.

I-themed thoughts seem to have a special relation to the rise and fall of energetic contractions throughout the body, particularly around the heart. This energy that rises with I-thoughts is like a vortex of intention that draws weaker intentions into its orbit.
What makes this body ‘yours’?
What makes scattered points of tingling, tension, pressure, pain, vibration, color, coolness, and warmth a 'body', for that matter? On the other hand, it's mine by desire and social convention.
What makes this body ‘you’?
I don't seem to believe I am a body. If the body dies, anything that could sensibly be meant by the word 'I' dies with it, I suppose, not because the body is what I am but because it seems to be a necessary condition for every kind of experience I have ever known.

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Re: What am I missing?

Postby archibald » Tue Oct 21, 2014 11:59 pm

Words don't seem to point to anything.
To be clear, I mean words don't seem to mean anything independent of the way they are used. If I think, "I, I, I, I, I etc.," for instance, it's just noise.

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Re: What am I missing?

Postby Vivien » Wed Oct 22, 2014 12:25 am

Dear Chad,
Yet, whether something about how I relate to experience changes seems to be how I would know whether I really have given up a belief.
What is this ‘I’ that could relate to experience?
What is the ‘I’ that would know..? Where is it?
What is the ‘I’ that could give up a belief? Where is it exactly?

If there is desire with respect to thoughts of self wouldn't you say I am 'identified'?
What is the ‘I’ or the ‘thing’ that could identify?
So how can I say I don't believe in a self as long as there is still desire with respect to the I-thought or a self-image?
How many ‘I’-s (selves) do you have?
  • (1) the ‘I’ that could believe
    (2) in a self


‘You’ cannot believe in a self or anything. There is no ‘you’ that could believe in anything. Believing can happen but without an owner (you).
Is it that the belief is to be merely weakened but due to conditioning can take a lifetime or more to entirely abandon?
No, it is not about weakening a belief. Once it is see that there has never been a self, the belief in the self is gone, dissolved, the belief is un-believed. However, identifying with the ‘I’-thought still happen, because identification with the ‘I’-thought is the result of a lifelong of conditioning. But, every time when it is check “Where is this ‘I’?”, “What is this ‘I’?” – it is clearly seen that the ‘I’ is nothing more than a thought, nothing ‘real’, nothing serious.
Sometimes I feel like what's happening happens to me.
With which of the 5 senses (seeing, hearing, touching/feeling, tasting, smelling) is it felt?
Can that “I feel like what’s happening happens to me” is just the content of an arising thought that is not seen only as an arsing thought, but rather it is believed?

Sometimes I feel like I am what controls and is responsible for what this body-mind does.
How is this felt, with which of the 5 senses?
I-themed thoughts seem to have a special relation to the rise and fall of energetic contractions throughout the body, particularly around the heart.
Good observation.
I have a theory of self that does not include the existence of actual selves, but whether that means I have already seen through the illusion in the sense used on this forum, I don't know.
OK, thanks for your honesty. This is what we are going to work on with several exercises and lots of questions.

Love, Vivien
"In the seen, there is only the seen. In the heard, there is only the heard. In the sensed, there is only the sensed. You are located neither in this, nor in that, nor in any place between the two." - Buddha
http://fadingveiling.com/

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archibald
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Re: What am I missing?

Postby archibald » Thu Oct 23, 2014 12:11 am

Yet, whether something about how I relate to experience changes seems to be how I would know whether I really have given up a belief.
What is this ‘I’ that could relate to experience?
How about this: Whether something about how thoughts and feelings relate to experience changes seems to be the only way of knowing whether a belief has been abandoned.
What is the ‘I’ that would know..? Where is it?
Is it something? I don't know. Where indeed.
What is the ‘I’ or the ‘thing’ that could identify?
It's not a self but an unpleasant feeling which rises and falls with thoughts of self: desire.

What is the ‘I’ that could give up a belief? Where is it exactly?
At a bend in a winding river where the course requests the water to turn abruptly, the flow makes most elaborate accommodations. Eddies form, small ones circling and converging with the larger, with the energy of the larger yielding to still greater currents. The flow of the river and formation of eddies depend on the shape of the riverbed, and the riverbed is continually supported and re-formed by the flow. The interplay between thought and intention is like the swirling eddies, flowing in the current of perception at large, along the well-worn patterns of linguistic habits, beliefs, and social conditioning. The 'I' to which I ascribe beliefs, actions, qualities, and preferences is a persistently re-arising 'eddy' of thought and intention.
How many ‘I’-s (selves) do you have?
  • (1) the ‘I’ that could believe
    (2) in a self
How many selves does who have?
Sometimes I feel like what's happening happens to me.
With which of the 5 senses (seeing, hearing, touching/feeling, tasting, smelling) is it felt?


It is felt with thinking. A thought happens, then a feeling in the heart 'confirms' it and then more supporting thoughts arise to sustain the feeling.

Can that “I feel like what’s happening happens to me” is just the content of an arising thought that is not seen only as an arsing thought, but rather it is believed?
Yes. Usually when something unpleasant is happening and I want it to go away, then it seems like I am where it's happening and I would rather be without it. It is a thought, but when the heart moves, it feels like I believe it. How else do you know when you believe something?
Sometimes I feel like I am what controls and is responsible for what this body-mind does.
How is this felt, with which of the 5 senses?
Thinking and a feeling of effort or tension.

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Re: What am I missing?

Postby Vivien » Thu Oct 23, 2014 2:39 am

Dear Chad,
Vivien: What is the ‘I’ that would know..? Where is it?
Chan: Is it something? I don't know. Where indeed.
What is the knower?
Vivien: What is the ‘I’ or the ‘thing’ that could identify?
Chad: It's not a self but an unpleasant feeling which rises and falls with thoughts of self: desire.
So the ‘unpleasant feelings’ do the identifying?
If not, then what is doing the identifying?

Vivien: What is the ‘I’ that could give up a belief? Where is it exactly?
Chad: At a bend in a winding river where the course requests the water to turn abruptly, the flow makes most elaborate accommodations. Eddies form, small ones circling and converging with the larger, with the energy of the larger yielding to still greater currents. The flow of the river and formation of eddies depend on the shape of the riverbed, and the riverbed is continually supported and re-formed by the flow. The interplay between thought and intention is like the swirling eddies, flowing in the current of perception at large, along the well-worn patterns of linguistic habits, beliefs, and social conditioning. The 'I' to which I ascribe beliefs, actions, qualities, and preferences is a persistently re-arising 'eddy' of thought and intention.
You haven’t answered the question.

This is just an intellectual reasoning. With this, we cannot go anywhere. Please avoid all intellectual deductions, reply ONLY from the actual experience.

This investigation is not about believing that there is no-self. It is about SEEING that there is no-self. Huge difference.

Please, give it a go again:
What is the ‘I’ that could give up a belief? Where is it exactly?

Vivien: How many ‘I’-s (selves) do you have?
  • (1) the ‘I’ that could believe
    (2) in a self
Chad: How many selves does who have?
Good question, but you haven’t answered none of them. Please answer both (yours and mine) questions.
It is felt with thinking. A thought happens, then a feeling in the heart 'confirms' it and then more supporting thoughts arise to sustain the feeling.
“It is felt with thinking” – REALLY? How could anything be felt by thinking?

Thoughts can ‘suggest’ things, but thoughts can never be felt.

So when there is an arising thought but it is not seen only as an arising thought but its content is believed, associated emotions can arise. Then another thought can come “it is felt with thinking” – but this is just the content of another thought that is believed.

Let’s have a deeper look on thoughts. Sit for about 15 minutes and investigate these questions:

Where thoughts come from?
Where are they going?
Can a thought be stopped in the middle?
Can it be predicted what will be the next thought?
Can it be chosen not to have painful or negative thoughts?

What that generates thoughts?
“I think” - What is the one that thinks?
What is the thinker of thoughts?
Does the thinker of the thought appear in experience? Can it be found?
Or could it be that the 'I' that thinks is also just a thought?


Please go through these questions and answer ALL of them one-by-one. Don’t miss any.
Give answers only from the actual immediate experience.

Love, Vivien
"In the seen, there is only the seen. In the heard, there is only the heard. In the sensed, there is only the sensed. You are located neither in this, nor in that, nor in any place between the two." - Buddha
http://fadingveiling.com/

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Re: What am I missing?

Postby archibald » Thu Oct 23, 2014 11:38 pm

What is the knower?
It does not seem to happen in terms of a 'knower'. Experience is that experience knows itself.
So the ‘unpleasant feelings’ do the identifying?
If not, then what is doing the identifying?
No, feelings don't do the identifying, they are the 'identifying.'
Chad: At a bend in a winding river where the course requests the water to turn abruptly, the flow makes most elaborate accommodations. Eddies form, small ones circling and converging with the larger, with the energy of the larger yielding to still greater currents. The flow of the river and formation of eddies depend on the shape of the riverbed, and the riverbed is continually supported and re-formed by the flow. The interplay between thought and intention is like the swirling eddies, flowing in the current of perception at large, along the well-worn patterns of linguistic habits, beliefs, and social conditioning. The 'I' to which I ascribe beliefs, actions, qualities, and preferences is a persistently re-arising 'eddy' of thought and intention.
You haven’t answered the question.

This is just an intellectual reasoning. With this, we cannot go anywhere. Please avoid all intellectual deductions, reply ONLY from the actual experience.
That was a description of actual observed experience, using a metaphor to describe what I see, since a common manner of speaking does not exist for describing such phenomena.
Please, give it a go again:
What is the ‘I’ that could give up a belief? Where is it exactly?
I hope you are not you going to do this every time I use the word 'I'. It's only a conceptual reference point. One thought cannot believe or hold another, let alone give one up.
Vivien: How many ‘I’-s (selves) do you have?
  • (1) the ‘I’ that could believe
    (2) in a self
Chad: How many selves does who have?
Good question, but you haven’t answered none of them. Please answer both (yours and mine) questions.
Who hasn't answered the questions?
It is felt with thinking. A thought happens, then a feeling in the heart 'confirms' it and then more supporting thoughts arise to sustain the feeling.
“It is felt with thinking” – REALLY? How could anything be felt by thinking?
I did not say anything was felt by thinking, as if thought could feel. I said it is felt with thinking. Then I described what that means.
Thoughts can ‘suggest’ things, but thoughts can never be felt.
I take it you have not much experience with thoughts.
So when there is an arising thought but it is not seen only as an arising thought but its content is believed, associated emotions can arise. Then another thought can come “it is felt with thinking” – but this is just the content of another thought that is believed.
That is exactly what I mean when I say, "It is felt with thinking. A thought happens, then a feeling in the heart 'confirms' it and then more supporting thoughts arise to sustain the feeling," except that I do not make the superfluous distinction between thoughts and content of thoughts.
Where thoughts come from?
They come from themselves.
Where are they going?

They're already there.
Can a thought be stopped in the middle
Thoughts don't have a middle.
In case you mean, "Can a thought be kept from subsiding?"
No. It is possible to sustain a certain pattern such that a thought steadily arises in seemingly persistent manner of being, but thought is not a thing that could be stopped. Try stopping an eddy in the river. Were it not constantly flowing, without any fixed way of being, it would not be what it is. How can you hold onto something the being of which consists of change?
Can it be predicted what will be the next thought?
Since the next thought is the knowing of itself, how can it be known without already happening? One thought can be a prediction of what the next will be, but it does not have any predictive function. It does not reach outside of itself.
Can it be chosen not to have painful or negative thoughts?
By abandoning liking and disliking such that all thoughts are neutral, yes.
What that generates thoughts?
Good books, news articles, stimulating conversation, and forum participation, for instance.
“I think” - What is the one that thinks?
What is the thinker of thoughts?
There is no such thing.
Does the thinker of the thought appear in experience? Can it be found?
No.
Or could it be that the 'I' that thinks is also just a thought?[/color]
Yes. Glad to see we're on the same page.

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Re: What am I missing?

Postby Vivien » Fri Oct 24, 2014 3:08 am

Dear Chad,
Experience is that experience knows itself.
This is not LOOKing. This is a second-hand intellectual ‘knowledge’ learned from previous readings/teachings.
No, feelings don't do the identifying, they are the 'identifying.'
No, feelings are not the identifying, feelings are the RESULT of the identifying with the ‘I’-thought and the story around it.
I hope you are not you going to do this every time I use the word 'I'.
Of course I will do! This is the whole point of the inquiry. Trying to find the ‘I’ (whatever it refers to), and seeing that it is not there.
except that I do not make the superfluous distinction between thoughts and content of thoughts.
Seeing the difference between an arising thought and its content is one of the most important parts of this investigation.
Since the next thought is the knowing of itself,
This is not LOOKing. Another second-hand intellectual ‘knowledge’ acquired from previous reading/teaching.
Vivien: Can it be chosen not to have painful or negative thoughts?
Chad: By abandoning liking and disliking such that all thoughts are neutral, yes.
I’m not interested in theoretical hypothesis.

In this moment, in the actual experience, can you choose not to have painful or negative thoughts?
Vivien: What that generates thoughts?
Chad: Good books, news articles, stimulating conversation, and forum participation, for instance.
This is not LOOKing. This is just the content of an arising thought.

In the actual immediate experience, what generates thoughts?
Vivien: Or could it be that the 'I' that thinks is also just a thought?
Chad: Yes. Glad to see we're on the same page.
It seems that you know what you’re looking for, and you’ve already found it.

Why are you here?
What would you like to gain?


Look Chad, this investigation is not about intellectual reasoning, it is about pure, simple LOOKing.

Are you ready for questioning your beliefs?
Are you ready for putting aside all previously gained intellectual stuffs and really LOOK?


Love, Vivien
"In the seen, there is only the seen. In the heard, there is only the heard. In the sensed, there is only the sensed. You are located neither in this, nor in that, nor in any place between the two." - Buddha
http://fadingveiling.com/

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Re: What am I missing?

Postby archibald » Fri Oct 24, 2014 5:38 pm

Seeing the difference between an arising thought and its content is one of the most important parts of this investigation.
What do you mean by 'content'? In the thought, "I am a rhinoceros," would the content of the thought be, "that I am a rhinoceros"?
In this moment, in the actual experience, can you choose not to have painful or negative thoughts?
In this moment, in the actual experience, there are no painful or negative thoughts, but that is not a decision I made. It's just how it is right now. I already know that thought isn't something I choose or do. This is obvious.
Vivien: What that generates thoughts?
Chad: Good books, news articles, stimulating conversation, and forum participation, for instance.
This is not LOOKing. This is just the content of an arising thought.
Anything I can possibly say comes in the form of a thought.
I don't know what you mean by 'content' as opposed to just 'thought.' When you divide a thought in two like this, it's only some retrospective extrapolation. There's no 'content' in the experience of a thought, just thought.

In the actual immediate experience, what generates thoughts?
Thoughts generate themselves.
Why are you here?


Am I here? ;)

I'm here to investigate.

What would you like to gain?
Good question. I have no thought as to where this should lead.
Are you ready for questioning your beliefs?
Yes.
Are you ready for putting aside all previously gained intellectual stuffs and really LOOK?
Yes.

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Vivien
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Joined: Sat Jun 07, 2014 3:07 am
Location: Australia

Re: What am I missing?

Postby Vivien » Sat Oct 25, 2014 2:52 am

Dear Chad,
I don't know what you mean by 'content' as opposed to just 'thought.' When you divide a thought in two like this, it's only some retrospective extrapolation. There's no 'content' in the experience of a thought, just thought.
Yes, you’re right that this is an artificial division, and yet it is still quite important to see the difference, because almost all suffering is coming from this. So, let me show this through some exercises.

If you were in a desert, close to die of thirst, could you quench your thirst just by thinking about water (thoughts) or would you need to drink the ‘real’ water?

Let’s say I’m with you in the desert and offer you too options: (1) In my left hand there is a piece of paper with the word ‘water’ written onto it (2) and in my right hand there is a bottle of water.

Which one would you choose? The label or the actual water?
Could you quench your thirst with the label?
If not, what this says about labels? Are they real?

Yes, they are real as labels (as a piece of paper with the word printed on it) but its content (= the word ‘water’) is not real. Can you see this?


Here is a little exercise.
Close your eyes and imagine holding a watermelon in your hands. Imagine it so vividly that you can feel its weight, the shape and texture of the skin. Hold it there, sensing it. Then open your eyes.

What happened to the melon?
How about the sensation that was so believable?
Was there ever a melon in ‘reality’?

The thoughts and mental images are real only as thoughts and mental images, but their contents (like the watermelon) are not. Can you see this?


Love, Vivien
"In the seen, there is only the seen. In the heard, there is only the heard. In the sensed, there is only the sensed. You are located neither in this, nor in that, nor in any place between the two." - Buddha
http://fadingveiling.com/

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archibald
Posts: 20
Joined: Wed Oct 15, 2014 2:22 am

Re: What am I missing?

Postby archibald » Sat Oct 25, 2014 11:50 pm

If you were in a desert, close to die of thirst, could you quench your thirst just by thinking about water (thoughts) or would you need to drink the ‘real’ water?
I would need to drink water.
Let’s say I’m with you in the desert and offer you too options: (1) In my left hand there is a piece of paper with the word ‘water’ written onto it (2) and in my right hand there is a bottle of water.

Which one would you choose? The label or the actual water?

The water.
Could you quench your thirst with the label?
No.
If not, what this says about labels? Are they real?
The word is not the thing.
Yes, they are real as labels (as a piece of paper with the word printed on it) but its content (= the word ‘water’) is not real. Can you see this?
I'm not sure I see your point. You appear to be saying that the word 'water' is not real and that the word 'water' is the 'content' of the real label, which consists of a piece of paper with the word 'water' written on it. If you mean to say that the word water is not real water, yes, I can see this.
Here is a little exercise.
Close your eyes and imagine holding a watermelon in your hands. Imagine it so vividly that you can feel its weight, the shape and texture of the skin. Hold it there, sensing it. Then open your eyes.

What happened to the melon?
Nothing. There was no melon.
How about the sensation that was so believable?
My imagination does not produce believable melons.
Was there ever a melon in ‘reality’?
The imaginary melon was never a melon.
The thoughts and mental images are real only as thoughts and mental images, but their contents (like the watermelon) are not. Can you see this?
I can't see how a watermelon is the content of an imaginary watermelon. It seems to me that the content of an imaginary watermelon is just the imaginary watermelon.

Though your notion of content seems awkward to me, I think I see what you're getting at. The only real experience of a self that I have is that sometimes when there are thoughts about me, there are feelings that seem to rise and fall with the thoughts. I interpret these feelings as an indication of belief in a self, not as an indication that there is a real self underlying them. It's like there's a self-shaped hole in my heart. :(

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Vivien
Posts: 4792
Joined: Sat Jun 07, 2014 3:07 am
Location: Australia

Re: What am I missing?

Postby Vivien » Sun Oct 26, 2014 1:44 am

Dear Chad,
If you mean to say that the word water is not real water, yes, I can see this.
Yes, exactly this is what I meant.
I can't see how a watermelon is the content of an imaginary watermelon. It seems to me that the content of an imaginary watermelon is just the imaginary watermelon.
The mental images and mental thoughts are there, they cannot be denied. However, their content, in other words, what they are ABOUT are not ‘real’ (the watermelon).

Thoughts as arising thoughts are ‘real’, but they contents (what they are about) are not. Like when you think about Dart Vader. There is an arising thought, it cannot be denied, but its content “Dart Vader” is not real. Sometimes thoughts point to something tangible, like chair, however a thought about a chair is not a chair. A thought about a chair is just a mental concept with an arising mental image of a ‘chair’ but that image is not ‘real’. However, as an arising image is there, it is ‘real’, but not its content (what it is about).

Certain sensations can be felt in the body that is labelled such and such emotion, like ‘cheerful’. However, ‘cheerful’ is just a mental label on the felt sensation. So the felt sensation is ‘real’, the arising mental label, simply as arising label is ‘real’, but its content ‘cheerful’ is just an idea.

Can you see this?
The only real experience of a self that I have is that sometimes when there are thoughts about me, there are feelings that seem to rise and fall with the thoughts. I interpret these feelings as an indication of belief in a self, not as an indication that there is a real self underlying them.
“I interpret these feeling as an indication of belief in a self” – it is not enough to interpret, it needs to be SEEN. Interpretation is at the intellectual level, seeing is PRIOR TO thinking.

“The only real experience of a self….” – Is there EVER a REAL EXPERIENCE of a self, or it just SEEMS to be ‘real’?

Love, Vivien
"In the seen, there is only the seen. In the heard, there is only the heard. In the sensed, there is only the sensed. You are located neither in this, nor in that, nor in any place between the two." - Buddha
http://fadingveiling.com/


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