Looking for a guide

This is a read-only part of the forum. All threads where seeing happens are stored here and come from this forum, the Facebook guiding area and various LU blogs. The complete list, sorted by guide, contains all links. The archives include threads of those that came to LU already seeing as well.
User avatar
Esteban
Posts: 31
Joined: Fri Oct 10, 2014 7:27 am

Looking for a guide

Postby Esteban » Sun Nov 02, 2014 5:38 am

I feel as though I've known this all my life, and yet it has always been just out of reach. Life seems bizarre, pointless, and boring. Having a body seems especially strange. My life has been pretty miserable. These days, I am in a very difficult situation. There is much sadness, anger, and despair. I want out, but I also don't want to give up "me." And yet, I do. Recently, I saw, with great clarity, that what I thought of as "me" was just that: a thought. That seeing immediately led to a mental image of my mind as a radio, broadcasting thoughts into space -- and I was the space into which those thoughts were being broadcast. I actually felt myself to be this space. This space regards all thoughts equally, whether the "me" thoughts, or the thought of a piece of pie. I even came up with the phrase "I can't be a thought, because thoughts can't think," which I've since seen used here. After that, I lost a lot of respect for thoughts, and I was able to still my mind for a surprisingly long time. During one of those times of just being, I realized that "just being" is all there is. In other words, there is no "I am," there is just being. I actually saw this; I experienced this -- and then, "I" came back, Big Time. The seeing seems to have all vanished. On a much more pedestrian level: apparently, the Quote function here does not work very well, if at all, on my iPad.

User avatar
Alexw
Posts: 1364
Joined: Tue Feb 11, 2014 5:50 am

Re: Looking for a guide

Postby Alexw » Mon Nov 03, 2014 12:43 am

Hi Esteban,

My name is Alex and I am happy to discuss this with you.

If you agree then please have a quick look at these formalities before we go into more detail:
If you haven't already seen it, there is introductory info, the disclaimer and a short video too at:
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.

OK, so lets get started :-)
I realized that "just being" is all there is. In other words, there is no "I am," there is just being. I actually saw this; I experienced this -- and then, "I" came back, Big Time. The seeing seems to have all vanished.
What you are describing can be a life changing event, but it still is only an experience! It is never permanent. The "shift in perspective", the way you look at life, may be lasting, but not the experience... do you see that?
What makes an experience "special"? Does an experience have any properties at all or are properties purely thought based (judgement)? When you listen and hear sound - does sound have properties or is it only thought that labels and conceptualises?

When you say "I experienced this" or "I came back, Big Time"... what is the "I" pointing to? Can you please describe this entity "I/self"?

User avatar
Esteban
Posts: 31
Joined: Fri Oct 10, 2014 7:27 am

Re: Looking for a guide

Postby Esteban » Mon Nov 03, 2014 6:43 am

Alex, thank you so much; I am grateful and honored to have your assistance. I saw the video, but, unfortunately, my years as a musician have taken quite a toll on my hearing, so I was unable to understand much of what was said. Also, as I've already stated, I am unable to use the copy function on my iPad, as it wants to select the entire message. Therefore, I pasted your entire reply onto my Notes app, where I can then select sections of text to copy and paste. Please let me know if this is acceptable.

A: "What you are describing can be a life changing event, but it still is only an experience! It is never permanent. The 'shift in perspective', the way you look at life, may be lasting, but not the experience... do you see that? "

E: Yes, I think I see what you're saying. However, the shift in perspective brought about by the experience seems to have abated. I'm a little confused here; are you saying that the realization of no-self is not an experience?

A: "What makes an experience 'special'? Does an experience have any properties at all or are properties purely thought based (judgement)? When you listen and hear sound - does sound have properties or is it only thought that labels and conceptualises?"

E: Well, "special" is clearly a judgment, like "good," "bad," etc. Sound, however, does have the properties of pitch and volume, although there are many, many judgments that can be made about it, as well. I'm not really sure what you're getting at here, but I'm intrigued.

A: "When you say 'I experienced this' or 'I came back, Big Time'... what is the 'I' pointing to? Can you please describe this entity 'I/self'?"

E: When I think of "I/self," several things come to mind: 1) A collection of memories, images, and thoughts about attributes such as my "personality," talents, opinions, ethnicity, cultural upbringing, gender, sexuality, physical appearance, etc. Strange, because I know with certainty that I am not my body, my thoughts, or my feelings;
2) An entity who is at the mercy of life and very scared and angry at being in this position; 3) The awareness that I exist. When I say "I came back," I mean 1 and 2, because 3 never goes away.

Thank you again for your assistance; I'm a little bit scared, but very excited, to embark on this journey.

User avatar
Alexw
Posts: 1364
Joined: Tue Feb 11, 2014 5:50 am

Re: Looking for a guide

Postby Alexw » Mon Nov 03, 2014 7:21 am

Sure, its fine not to use the quote function - just use whatever works for you.
However, the shift in perspective brought about by the experience seems to have abated. I'm a little confused here; are you saying that the realization of no-self is not an experience?
Good question :-)
The answer is: it depends. On what? On your concept of what a "no self" experience is.
Can you experience something that does not exist? Or can you only experience something that IS and than put it into concepts so "you" can talk about it? What is the "you" that talks about it and wants to conserve this experience? Is this "you" anything else but a thought stating "I had this experience"?
This does not mean that there was no experience - question is only WHO is it that had the experience?
Well, "special" is clearly a judgment, like "good," "bad," etc. Sound, however, does have the properties of pitch and volume, although there are many, many judgments that can be made about it, as well. I'm not really sure what you're getting at here, but I'm intrigued.
Yes, special is a judgement. Isn't "pitch" and "volume" as well? What you judge to be silent could be judged to be very loud by someone else, right? What tells you that sound has a certain pitch and volume? Is it the sound itself? Or is it something that "judges" sound? Maybe a thought about sound?
As you are a musician, try to do this: Think about a song or also just a part of a song. Imagine it and try to really feel it. Do this for a few minutes. Now, play the song on your stereo. What is the difference in experiencing thought about sound and the direct experience of sound?
Also, see if you can find an entity "listener" that is doing the listening to sound. Is there one? If you think so, try to find the border between the listener and the music. Can you find one?
When I think of "I/self," several things come to mind: 1) A collection of memories, images, and thoughts about attributes such as my "personality," talents, opinions, ethnicity, cultural upbringing, gender, sexuality, physical appearance, etc. Strange, because I know with certainty that I am not my body, my thoughts, or my feelings
Is it strange that all of this comes to mind? You have been living this life for a while and there has been conditioning for many years. While it might be possible to wipe all of this conditioning out with one special experience, it is normally a gradual thing. Conditioning will fall away slowly after certain realisations have been made. Maybe you are confused because physically you still feel like you did before your experiences - but this is completely normal. Give it some time. Don't focus on how "no self" should be experienced - all you will do is build concepts of how something should be, which will be more of a hindrance than anything else.
2) An entity who is at the mercy of life and very scared and angry at being in this position;
What is life? Can you please let me know your concept of "life"?
What separates "you" from life?
3) The awareness that I exist. When I say "I came back," I mean 1 and 2, because 3 never goes away.
OK... so awareness seems to be the only permanent thing, right? Body/mind is something that is impermanent...
Does your body/mind have its own awareness? Or is there awareness OF body/mind?
Sit down, close your eyes and be aware of your body. Can you please describe the direct experience of "body sitting on chair".
Is there a separate entity "I" to be found that is aware that it exists?

User avatar
Esteban
Posts: 31
Joined: Fri Oct 10, 2014 7:27 am

Re: Looking for a guide

Postby Esteban » Mon Nov 03, 2014 1:07 pm

A: Can you experience something that does not exist? Or can you only experience something that IS and than put it into concepts so "you" can talk about it?

E: I can't experience something that doesn't exist, but I can experience the absence of a concept that's no longer there, no?

A: What is the "you" that talks about it and wants to conserve this experience? Is this "you" anything else but a thought stating "I had this experience"?

E: Nope, just a thought lol.

A: Yes, special is a judgement. Isn't "pitch" and "volume" as well? What you judge to be silent could be judged to be very loud by someone else, right? What tells you that sound has a certain pitch and volume? Is it the sound itself? Or is it something that "judges" sound? Maybe a thought about sound?

E: The sound wave indicates the frequency (pitch) and amplitude (volume) of a sound. They both are what they are. Depending on your hearing, you may well judge a sound to be louder than someone else does; however, if you compared that sound to a sound with a greater amplitude, both you and the other person would judge the second sound to be louder than the first. The "A" above middle "C" vibrates at a frequency of 440Hz; the "A" one octave above that has a frequency of 880Hz. Frequency equals pitch. Now, if you're asking me whether two people can hear the same sound and come away with different opinions of it, I'd say yes.

A: Think about a song or also just a part of a song. Imagine it and try to really feel it. Do this for a few minutes. Now, play the song on your stereo. What is the difference in experiencing thought about sound and the direct experience of sound?

E: What I heard in my head was a half step lower than the actual song. Also, while I got the chord changes pretty much right, I missed notes that made them even richer on the actual song. Also, I missed all sorts of details of the arrangement: little electric piano riffs, horn lines, etc. Also, the direct experience of the sound was much more enjoyable and a lot more effortless than "playing" it in my head. I feel like I'm missing the point of your question :/

A: Also, see if you can find an entity "listener" that is doing the listening to sound. Is there one? If you think so, try to find the border between the listener and the music. Can you find one?

E: Nope. It's a seamless experience of "listenermusic." Although...although... as a musician, I can analyze the music and make observations such as "Oh cool, he just played a natural 9th on that III minor 7th chord, instead of the flat 9th that, while diatonic to the scale, would sound pretty strange there." Doesn't that put a certain distance between "me" and the music?

A: Is it strange that all of this comes to mind? You have been living this life for a while and there has been conditioning for many years. While it might be possible to wipe all of this conditioning out with one special experience, it is normally a gradual thing. Conditioning will fall away slowly after certain realisations have been made. Maybe you are confused because physically you still feel like you did before your experiences - but this is completely normal. Give it some time. Don't focus on how "no self" should be experienced - all you will do is build concepts of how something should be, which will be more of a hindrance than anything else.

E: You have no idea how much joy and hope this brings me. But surely, you're not saying that I crashed the gate, are you?

A: What is life? Can you please let me know your concept of "life"?
What separates "you" from life?

E: Traditional view: Life is a journey. I am a separate object, placed here. I try to stay safe and be happy as much as possible and hope I achieve certain goals (even though I've been convinced for decades that I have no control over anything and there is no such thing as "free will"). My goal is to understand who or what I am before I die, so I won't die when I die. In the meantime, all sorts of really bad things are happening to me that make me feel like life has it in for me. This makes me very angry and bitter. Alternate view (a work in progress): Life is like a movie. There are many images on the screen that appear to be different things, but they're actually all One on the screen. The images on the screen are constantly changing. The scriptwriter is a huge mystery; it sure ain't me, not one little bit. It's all in the scriptwriter's hands. Things that happen are neither good or bad. I don't identify with this body or this mind any longer, so whatever happens has nothing to do with me. When my part in the movie is over it's no big deal, because I wasn't real, anyway. It was just a movie.

A: OK... so awareness seems to be the only permanent thing, right?

E: Right.

A: Body/mind is something that is impermanent...

E: Tell me about it.

A: Does your body/mind have its own awareness? Or is there awareness OF body/mind?

E: There is awareness OF body/mind.

A: Sit down, close your eyes and be aware of your body. Can you please describe the direct experience of "body sitting on chair".

E: I'm disabled and lying in bed (I hope not forever). I'm aware of my body: I feel it humming with energy; I feel a very slight tightness in my back. I feel where it meets the mattress. I feel my body and the mattress as one feeling: bodymattress.

A: Is there a separate entity "I" to be found that is aware that it exists?

E: This brings me back to my "just being" experience. It seems like a logical fallacy to say "I am," because that implies an "I" that exists separately from being. How could something exist separately from existence? Aside from logic, one can just sit there and experience being and one will see that there are not two separate parts, "I" and "being," to this experience. They are inseparable, just as listenermusic and bodymattress are inseparable.

User avatar
Alexw
Posts: 1364
Joined: Tue Feb 11, 2014 5:50 am

Re: Looking for a guide

Postby Alexw » Tue Nov 04, 2014 1:45 am

Great answers! You are doing very well!
I can't experience something that doesn't exist, but I can experience the absence of a concept that's no longer there, no?
Yes to: No, you can't experience something that doesn't "exist".
No to: I can experience the absence of a concept that's no longer there. What is being experienced, or better generated, would be a new concept. A no-I concept including all the trimmings how this should look like.
Experience is always simply THIS.
What I heard in my head was a half step lower than the actual song. Also, while I got the chord changes pretty much right, I missed notes that made them even richer on the actual song. Also, I missed all sorts of details of the arrangement: little electric piano riffs, horn lines, etc. Also, the direct experience of the sound was much more enjoyable and a lot more effortless than "playing" it in my head. I feel like I'm missing the point of your question :/
Well done! The aim of the exercise is to see that there is a big difference between thought ABOUT an experience and the experience itself. Now, even you are a musician and you are able to reproduce a song seemingly very accurately in thought, by doing this you still miss the essence of the real experience, don't you?
Have a look at why this is so. There is experience and there is thought about experience, right? The more you think about it the more you will move away from the experience. Look at "normal" thought at running vertically - like experience it is always in the NOW. It makes sense of experience. But... then there are thoughts that branch off from this "vertical stream", lets say into a horizontal one. These thoughts pick up on a vertical thought and turn into a chain of thoughts that introduce many more concepts - like I/me, others, judgements etc etc... Try to observe how this happens... what do you find?
Nope. It's a seamless experience of "listenermusic." Although...although... as a musician, I can analyze the music and make observations such as "Oh cool, he just played a natural 9th on that III minor 7th chord, instead of the flat 9th that, while diatonic to the scale, would sound pretty strange there." Doesn't that put a certain distance between "me" and the music?
Yes, a seamless experience AND thought about the experience, right? Isn't observing and analysing simply thought about music? Who is doing the thinking? Can you find an entity "thinker" that is generating thought or is thought simply arising depending on the situation (plus a lot of conditioning)?
You have no idea how much joy and hope this brings me. But surely, you're not saying that I crashed the gate, are you?
What do you think the gateless gate is and who do you think will cross it? In which way do you expect to feel different after crossing it? Are you afraid of loosing something? Maybe a "you"?
Life is a journey. I am a separate object, placed here. I try to stay safe and be happy as much as possible and hope I achieve certain goals (even though I've been convinced for decades that I have no control over anything and there is no such thing as "free will"). My goal is to understand who or what I am before I die, so I won't die when I die.
Agree, life is a journey, but who is travelling? Agree, no such thing as free will - if there is no free will, then can there be a "doer" of things? The body is obviously doing many things, but as you said, there is no controller, right? What is there? Any more then a witness that is being aware of action? What happens if the witness becomes involved and believes it is the doer?
Life is like a movie. There are many images on the screen that appear to be different things, but they're actually all One on the screen. The images on the screen are constantly changing. The scriptwriter is a huge mystery; it sure ain't me, not one little bit. It's all in the scriptwriter's hands. Things that happen are neither good or bad. I don't identify with this body or this mind any longer, so whatever happens has nothing to do with me. When my part in the movie is over it's no big deal, because I wasn't real, anyway. It was just a movie.
Yes... the movie is always a nice analogy... there is only one problem with what you are writing: You believe that there is a script-writer or a painter of the picture that you think is separate from you and also separate from the movie/picture... but, what if the painter is itself "in" the picture?
This brings me back to my "just being" experience. It seems like a logical fallacy to say "I am," because that implies an "I" that exists separately from being. How could something exist separately from existence? Aside from logic, one can just sit there and experience being and one will see that there are not two separate parts, "I" and "being," to this experience. They are inseparable, just as listenermusic and bodymattress are inseparable.
Yes! Well seen!
What is the only "thing" that states that there is separation and that there is a "I/me" that is a "doer" that is separate from all these objects out there?

User avatar
Esteban
Posts: 31
Joined: Fri Oct 10, 2014 7:27 am

Re: Looking for a guide

Postby Esteban » Tue Nov 04, 2014 12:45 pm

Hello again, Alex!

A: Yes to: No, you can't experience something that doesn't "exist".
No to: I can experience the absence of a concept that's no longer there. What is being experienced, or better generated, would be a new concept. A no-I concept including all the trimmings how this should look like.
Experience is always simply THIS.

E: And thoughts/concepts get in the way of THIS, is that what you're getting at? In other words, THIS is the seeing, the hearing, the perceiving, but, when we're completely wrapped up in thoughts, it's as though we had traded this vast open space for a tiny, cramped little flat and we're content to look out our narrow little window every once in a while, instead of venturing out and just BEING. Something like that?

A: Well done! The aim of the exercise is to see that there is a big difference between thought ABOUT an experience and the experience itself. Now, even you are a musician and you are able to reproduce a song seemingly very accurately in thought, by doing this you still miss the essence of the real experience, don't you?

E: Absolutely.

A: Have a look at why this is so. There is experience and there is thought about experience, right? The more you think about it the more you will move away from the experience.

E: Yes! But doesn't that also confirm what I was saying about listening to music and analyzing it? My brain hurts lol.

I'm changing the order of your comments, since we're already talking about analyzing music...

A: Yes, a seamless experience AND thought about the experience, right? Isn't observing and analysing simply thought about music? Who is doing the thinking? Can you find an entity "thinker" that is generating thought or is thought simply arising depending on the situation (plus a lot of conditioning)?

E: Well, who is it that "moves away from the experience," the more he thinks of it?
I keep getting into these situations where I agree with you, then, a few lines later, I disagree with you and myself! Thinking really is exhausting :/ Let me try it this way (playing devil's advocate here): since thoughts arise by themselves, aren't they part and parcel of what is at the moment? Why is that a "moving away" from an experience? Wouldn't it simply be an experience of, in this case, "musicandthoughtsaboutmusic"? Now, on those occasions when I just listen without analyzing, I'm much more likely to experience feelings, moods, and images (such as images of nature). Still, those arise by themselves, too. And they also color the experience. I would imagine that the "purest" experience of music would be completely dispassionate, just the awareness that sound is occurring. In fact, I find myself becoming more dispassionate, little by little. So, why bother to experience anything? It seems I think both sides of this argument are true. I'm afraid I've run this train of thought right off the tracks. I think I'll just leave it here as a testament to my confusion :/

A: Look at "normal" thought at running vertically - like experience it is always in the NOW. It makes sense of experience. But... then there are thoughts that branch off from this "vertical stream", lets say into a horizontal one. These thoughts pick up on a vertical thought and turn into a chain of thoughts that introduce many more concepts - like I/me, others, judgements etc etc... Try to observe how this happens... what do you find?

E: Sorry, what is "normal thought" and how does it "make(s) sense of experience"? Do you mean something like "Oh, there's a tree; I'd better not run into it"? I can't really comment until I understand this better.

A: What do you think the gateless gate is and who do you think will cross it? In which way do you expect to feel different after crossing it? Are you afraid of loosing something? Maybe a "you"?

E: Well, I'm thinking it's the realization that there is no "I," so it won't be I who crosses it. I suppose it will be no one. And yes, I'm very afraid of losing "me." Pretty damn scared, in fact.

A: Agree, life is a journey, but who is travelling?

E: Life is both the journey and the traveler?

A: Agree, no such thing as free will - if there is no free will, then can there be a "doer" of things? The body is obviously doing many things, but as you said, there is no controller, right? What is there? Any more then a witness that is being aware of action? What happens if the witness becomes involved and believes it is the doer?

E: Hilarity ensues:) And tragedy, and drama, and suffering, and death.

A: Yes... the movie is always a nice analogy... there is only one problem with what you are writing: You believe that there is a script-writer or a painter of the picture that you think is separate from you and also separate from the movie/picture... but, what if the painter is itself "in" the picture?

E: OK. Not two. Ad vaita. I kind of do know that, actually. Kind of do and kind of don't. More confusion. Thank you for pointing that out.

A: What is the only "thing" that states that there is separation and that there is a "I/me" that is a "doer" that is separate from all these objects out there?

E: A thought?

User avatar
Alexw
Posts: 1364
Joined: Tue Feb 11, 2014 5:50 am

Re: Looking for a guide

Postby Alexw » Wed Nov 05, 2014 3:58 am

I couldn't help laughing at our dialogue... it sounds a bit like a quiz-show... great if there is some humour involved :-)
Well, who is it that "moves away from the experience," the more he thinks of it?
I keep getting into these situations where I agree with you, then, a few lines later, I disagree with you and myself! Thinking really is exhausting :/ Let me try it this way (playing devil's advocate here): since thoughts arise by themselves, aren't they part and parcel of what is at the moment? Why is that a "moving away" from an experience? Wouldn't it simply be an experience of, in this case, "musicandthoughtsaboutmusic"?
This is a very good observation! How could you move away from the experience when actually you can't and yes, in this case it is experience of "musicandthoughtsaboutmusic".
So... why am I pointing this out? Because of what happens in the process. What "thoughtsaboutmusic" does is generating a separation by identifying with a subject that listens to something that is not itself, the music. This happens very subtly and it is hard to detect, but it is essential to most thoughts. It introduces the "I" that is doing something.
You can try this with listening to music, looking at a painting or a tree or simply closing your eyes and feeling "back on mattress". Where does the "I" come from that is doing something? What is left when this separate "I" is gone?
Now, on those occasions when I just listen without analyzing, I'm much more likely to experience feelings, moods, and images (such as images of nature). Still, those arise by themselves, too. And they also color the experience. I would imagine that the "purest" experience of music would be completely dispassionate, just the awareness that sound is occurring. In fact, I find myself becoming more dispassionate, little by little. So, why bother to experience anything? It seems I think both sides of this argument are true.
You might want to have a look at emptiness teachings (after our dialogue). They pretty much state that nothing has inherent existence (even "experience" or "awareness" is a concept and thus is empty), but they don't negate conventional existence. Life as human being is based on conceptualising and working with/in conventional reality - so don't refute it. Ever heard about the "middle way"?
Well, I'm thinking it's the realization that there is no "I," so it won't be I who crosses it. I suppose it will be no one. And yes, I'm very afraid of losing "me." Pretty damn scared, in fact.
Yes, good description.
Have a look at the fear of losing "me". How is it experienced? Is it a certain contraction in the abdomen or some pressure in the chest? Are there any thoughts about the feeling? What makes these sensations into "fear"? What is it that is afraid? Where does the "I" in "I am afraid" point to? Anywhere besides another thought?
What if "me" is only a thought? Can you lose a thought (which, as you said does not belong to a "you" anyway)?
OK. Not two. Ad vaita. I kind of do know that, actually. Kind of do and kind of don't. More confusion.
Trying to know what can not be known by thought makes thought confused, doesn't it?
Can thought do or "know" anything? Maybe thought is not the right tool to do "knowing"? Maybe it should be content with labelling and conceptualising but should leave "knowing" to BEING?
What is the only "thing" that states that there is separation and that there is a "I/me" that is a "doer" that is separate from all these objects out there?
E: A thought?
Are you sure? Really sure?

User avatar
Esteban
Posts: 31
Joined: Fri Oct 10, 2014 7:27 am

Re: Looking for a guide

Postby Esteban » Thu Nov 06, 2014 2:40 pm

A: I couldn't help laughing at our dialogue... it sounds a bit like a quiz-show... great if there is some humour involved :-)

E: OK, it's time to play "Who Wants to Be a Gatecrasher?!" Here we go!

Esteban wrote:
Well, who is it that "moves away from the experience," the more he thinks of it?
I keep getting into these situations where I agree with you, then, a few lines later, I disagree with you and myself! Thinking really is exhausting :/ Let me try it this way (playing devil's advocate here): since thoughts arise by themselves, aren't they part and parcel of what is at the moment? Why is that a "moving away" from an experience? Wouldn't it simply be an experience of, in this case, "musicandthoughtsaboutmusic"?

A: This is a very good observation! How could you move away from the experience when actually you can't and yes, in this case it is experience of "musicandthoughtsaboutmusic".
So... why am I pointing this out? Because of what happens in the process. What "thoughtsaboutmusic" does is generating a separation by identifying with a subject that listens to something that is not itself, the music. This happens very subtly and it is hard to detect, but it is essential to most thoughts. It introduces the "I" that is doing something.
You can try this with listening to music, looking at a painting or a tree or simply closing your eyes and feeling "back on mattress". Where does the "I" come from that is doing something? What is left when this separate "I" is gone?

E: No need to try it; I know exactly what you mean. When listening to music, I identify with my "musician self." This musician self has been known to use the experience for his own ego aggrandizement; he thinks he's a pretty cool cat because he can pick out so much of what's going on. It's not subtle at all; it's a real ego/separation fest! It's much more subtle with "back on mattress," as there's not much glory to be derived there. In any case, the "I" is just a thought. When it's gone, only the perceiving remains. So, the"I" is a fallacy that divides all experience into a perception and a perceiver, when, in reality, no such separation exists. Wow, I'm a pretty smart dude!

Esteban wrote:
Now, on those occasions when I just listen without analyzing, I'm much more likely to experience feelings, moods, and images (such as images of nature). Still, those arise by themselves, too. And they also color the experience. I would imagine that the "purest" experience of music would be completely dispassionate, just the awareness that sound is occurring. In fact, I find myself becoming more dispassionate, little by little. So, why bother to experience anything? It seems I think both sides of this argument are true.

A: You might want to have a look at emptiness teachings (after our dialogue). They pretty much state that nothing has inherent existence (even "experience" or "awareness" is a concept and thus is empty), but they don't negate conventional existence. Life as human being is based on conceptualising and working with/in conventional reality - so don't refute it. Ever heard about the "middle way"?

E: I know that it's a Buddhist concept. My understanding is that it basically means avoiding extremes, correct?

Esteban wrote:
Well, I'm thinking it's the realization that there is no "I," so it won't be I who crosses it. I suppose it will be no one. And yes, I'm very afraid of losing "me." Pretty damn scared, in fact.

A: Yes, good description.
Have a look at the fear of losing "me". How is it experienced? Is it a certain contraction in the abdomen or some pressure in the chest? Are there any thoughts about the feeling? What makes these sensations into "fear"?

E: I tend to experience fear in the pit of my stomach, with some pressure in the chest, as well. Thoughts about the feeling? Hmm, I'm not sure, other than "I'm afraid." I have no idea what makes these sensations into fear; can you clarify, please?

A: What is it that is afraid?

E: Well, I would say "I am afraid," but I suppose the "correct" thing to say is "There is fear," no?

A: Where does the "I" in "I am afraid" point to? Anywhere besides another thought?
What if "me" is only a thought? Can you lose a thought (which, as you said does not belong to a "you" anyway)?

E: If thoughts just happen, then "you" can't lose them; you can only be aware of them, which lessens their hold over you.

Esteban wrote:
OK. Not two. Ad vaita. I kind of do know that, actually. Kind of do and kind of don't. More confusion.

A: Trying to know what can not be known by thought makes thought confused, doesn't it?

E: It's like a thicket of thoughts :/

A: Can thought do or "know" anything? Maybe thought is not the right tool to do "knowing"? Maybe it should be content with labelling and conceptualising but should leave "knowing" to BEING?

E: Yes! I keep thinking lately of the phrase, "relaxing into being." I'm mentally exhausted. I know it's cliché, but I want to plunge into the river and be carried along with the current. Ahhh, being...

Esteban wrote:
What is the only "thing" that states that there is separation and that there is a "I/me" that is a "doer" that is separate from all these objects out there?
E: A thought?

A: Are you sure? Really sure?

E: Yup :)

Much gratitude, Alex.

User avatar
Alexw
Posts: 1364
Joined: Tue Feb 11, 2014 5:50 am

Re: Looking for a guide

Postby Alexw » Fri Nov 07, 2014 1:35 am

In any case, the "I" is just a thought. When it's gone, only the perceiving remains. So, the"I" is a fallacy that divides all experience into a perception and a perceiver, when, in reality, no such separation exists. Wow, I'm a pretty smart dude!
Yes, well seen! Or... What is it? A logical conclusion or do you speak from experience?
Anyway, its normally like this: From logical conclusion follows observation of experience - observation leads to the confirmation of the newfound believe to be true and this eventually breaks down the "smart dude" (ego) until....
Try to see this arising of the "smart dude" as an alarm signal. When he shows up try to catch this thought and "come back" to this moment. Observe all sensations as well as thought as it arises, but don't get too attached to any of this. What do you find?
I know that it's a Buddhist concept. My understanding is that it basically means avoiding extremes, correct?
Yes, in a way. Especially avoiding the extreme of "I am nothing" - this might happen once it is seen that "I don't exist". But isn't there really only one thing that you know, which is I AM. Once you see that I am XYZ is always a thought the I AM remains, but is the "I" anywhere to be found or is there only "AM"?
I tend to experience fear in the pit of my stomach, with some pressure in the chest, as well. Thoughts about the feeling? Hmm, I'm not sure, other than "I'm afraid." I have no idea what makes these sensations into fear; can you clarify, please?
Look closer at the "feeling in the stomach and the pressure in the chest". Do these feelings themselves have the information included that they mean "fear"? Do any feelings or does anything that is perceived contain any conceptual information? When you look at a cup on the desk next to you (guessing there might be one) - what tells you its a cup? Does "seeing" itself state "this is a cup"? Or is this only a thought labelling a certain shape/color?
Well, I would say "I am afraid," but I suppose the "correct" thing to say is "There is fear," no?
You tell me. Is there an "I" that is afraid? Can you find an entity that is doing the "being afraid"?
Or is there simply the sensation which is then labelled "fear"? And a chain of thought arises in a flash generating the whole illusion of a "me/self" being affected and suffering from fear? Look! What do you find?
I keep thinking lately of the phrase, "relaxing into being." I'm mentally exhausted. I know it's cliché, but I want to plunge into the river and be carried along with the current. Ahhh, being...
Sounds nice, but before "you" plunge in there... have a look at what would it be that has to plunge into being... is there an "I" that could do that? Or is being simply BEING and only thought states that there is an entity that is not currently "being" and would benefit from finally doing that?

User avatar
Esteban
Posts: 31
Joined: Fri Oct 10, 2014 7:27 am

Re: Looking for a guide

Postby Esteban » Sat Nov 08, 2014 7:30 am

Esteban wrote:
In any case, the "I" is just a thought. When it's gone, only the perceiving remains. So, the"I" is a fallacy that divides all experience into a perception and a perceiver, when, in reality, no such separation exists. Wow, I'm a pretty smart dude!

A: Yes, well seen! Or... What is it? A logical conclusion or do you speak from experience?

E: I have had occasions when I experienced the oneness of perception and perceiver, such as when you asked me to listen to music, feel my body against the mattress, and others. Still, the "I" always comes back eventually.

A: Try to see this arising of the "smart dude" as an alarm signal. When he shows up try to catch this thought and "come back" to this moment.

E: This is the story of my life right here. Starting in my infancy, I received incessant praise for my intelligence and was encouraged to see myself as superior to others. Later, I received much praise for my musical ability. This image of myself as exceptionally intelligent and talented became the central pillar of my identity. I derived a great deal of ego satisfaction from this, but also a lot of pain and loneliness at not being able to fit in with others. By the time I realized how stupid this was, my ego was as set and as rigid as hardened concrete. Even after I realized that thoughts just happen, my ego persisted (and persists) in trying to claim as much glory as possible for "myself." I have tried what you are suggesting countless times. I've concluded that I'm never going to be able to think my way out of this. The only way is to still the mind and just be. Do you agree?

A: Observe all sensations as well as thought as it arises, but don't get too attached to any of this. What do you find?

E: I find that I am not my thoughts; I am that which observes them.

Esteban wrote:
I know that it's a Buddhist concept. My understanding is that it basically means avoiding extremes, correct?

A: Yes, in a way. Especially avoiding the extreme of "I am nothing" - this might happen once it is seen that "I don't exist". But isn't there really only one thing that you know, which is I AM. Once you see that I am XYZ is always a thought the I AM remains, but is the "I" anywhere to be found or is there only "AM"?

E: I think there's only "AM" (Awareness). Awareness is aware of itself; maybe that's why it feels like two things ("I AM"). In any case, I really do see this, yet, somehow, the "I" persists. Again, I may not be able to think my way out of "I."

Esteban wrote:
I tend to experience fear in the pit of my stomach, with some pressure in the chest, as well. Thoughts about the feeling? Hmm, I'm not sure, other than "I'm afraid." I have no idea what makes these sensations into fear; can you clarify, please?

A: Look closer at the "feeling in the stomach and the pressure in the chest". Do these feelings themselves have the information included that they mean "fear"?

E: These feelings don't always occur from fear, but they always accompany fear, so I don't really know how to answer this.

A: Do any feelings or does anything that is perceived contain any conceptual information? When you look at a cup on the desk next to you (guessing there might be one) - what tells you its a cup? Does "seeing" itself state "this is a cup"? Or is this only a thought labelling a certain shape/color?

E: Only thought says it's a cup. However, if one is thirsty, isn't it good to be able to recognize a cup as a cup?

Esteban wrote:
Well, I would say "I am afraid," but I suppose the "correct" thing to say is "There is fear," no?

A: You tell me. Is there an "I" that is afraid? Can you find an entity that is doing the "being afraid"? Or is there simply the sensation which is then labelled "fear"? And a chain of thought arises in a flash generating the whole illusion of a "me/self" being affected and suffering from fear? Look! What do you find?

E: There is just the sensation which is then labeled "fear." But this sensation will be archived as a memory only in this mind, as will other sensations and perceptions. That library, if you will, feels like "I."

Esteban wrote:
I keep thinking lately of the phrase, "relaxing into being." I'm mentally exhausted. I know it's cliché, but I want to plunge into the river and be carried along with the current. Ahhh, being...

A: Sounds nice, but before "you" plunge in there... have a look at what would it be that has to plunge into being... is there an "I" that could do that? Or is being simply BEING and only thought states that there is an entity that is not currently "being" and would benefit from finally doing that?

E: At this very moment, I am just BEING, but it feels like "I am being." Thought, again.

Again, many thanks, Alex:)

User avatar
Alexw
Posts: 1364
Joined: Tue Feb 11, 2014 5:50 am

Re: Looking for a guide

Postby Alexw » Sun Nov 09, 2014 2:03 am

Even after I realized that thoughts just happen, my ego persisted (and persists) in trying to claim as much glory as possible for "myself." I have tried what you are suggesting countless times. I've concluded that I'm never going to be able to think my way out of this. The only way is to still the mind and just be. Do you agree?
Yes, you are right, you can't think your way out of it. Thinking is a great tool to see intellectually that "I/me" is just a thought, but the realisation is again filed as "MY realisation/achievement", which seems to make the ego even stronger. "I am so spiritually advanced!"
BUT: What is important is the realisation AND following this up in continuous observation of experience. Honest looking for the "doer/chooser/decider" in daily activities will always result in "No one found to be doing anything"... This will eventually sink in and lead to the intuitive understanding that there is no separate I/self to be found.
Stilling the mind is again something that the "ego" says it is doing to achieve something, isn't it? "I am so controlled - I can still my mind"... Rather look at what it is that is saying it can do these things. Where is the entity that is trying to still the mind? What is "mind"? Is it "your" mind or is this only a thought stating that there is something like "my mind"? Is mind anything else but a thought?
I am not saying you should stop this activity - if its meant to happen it will happen anyway, but when you do it try not to actively control your mind - look for the proposed controller...
I find that I am not my thoughts; I am that which observes them.
Is this really so? Is there an observer separate from thought? Can you find this entity "observer"? Or is this observer only another thought saying something about a previous thought?
Don't get me wrong, observing thought as well as the rest of experience is a great tool, but what about the identification with the observer? Isn't this identification with the observer just another face of your ego?
Only thought says it's a cup. However, if one is thirsty, isn't it good to be able to recognize a cup as a cup?
Yes, sure. Recognising objects and applying properties is a great thing - very useful indeed, but looking into direct experience of trivial things like "Looking at cup" reveals many things that seem to oppose what we normally would say about "Looking at cup". Normally you would say: I, a separate entity, is looking at an object which I recognise as cup. The cup is an object that exists separately from my. I am 50cm away from the cup which is a solid, inherently existing object. BUT: Is this really direct experience of "looking at cup" or is this only thought story? Is there anything like a separate entity "observer" that is looking at an entity "cup"? When you break "looking at cup" down into its basic functioning - what do you find?

User avatar
Esteban
Posts: 31
Joined: Fri Oct 10, 2014 7:27 am

Re: Looking for a guide

Postby Esteban » Sun Nov 09, 2014 4:18 am

Esteban wrote:
Even after I realized that thoughts just happen, my ego persisted (and persists) in trying to claim as much glory as possible for "myself." I have tried what you are suggesting countless times. I've concluded that I'm never going to be able to think my way out of this. The only way is to still the mind and just be. Do you agree?

A: Yes, you are right, you can't think your way out of it. Thinking is a great tool to see intellectually that "I/me" is just a thought, but the realisation is again filed as "MY realisation/achievement", which seems to make the ego even stronger. "I am so spiritually advanced!" BUT: What is important is the realisation AND following this up in continuous observation of experience. Honest looking for the "doer/chooser/decider" in daily activities will always result in "No one found to be doing anything"... This will eventually sink in and lead to the intuitive understanding that there is no separate I/self to be found.

E: I can certainly see the value of this exercise. For instance, "I" am now replying to what you wrote, but I don't go off into some little mental "word factory" and manufacture my reply lol. The words just come. Sometimes, there's a pause, as I wait for more words to come, but all I'm doing is waiting, just as I might wait for a pizza to be delivered, haha! Once the words do come, I may decide to use them, or not -- but, again, all I'm doing is waiting for a decision to come. I will definitely try this; thank you.

A: Stilling the mind is again something that the "ego" says it is doing to achieve something, isn't it? "I am so controlled - I can still my mind"... Rather look at what it is that is saying it can do these things. Where is the entity that is trying to still the mind? What is "mind"? Is it "your" mind or is this only a thought stating that there is something like "my mind"? Is mind anything else but a thought?
I am not saying you should stop this activity - if its meant to happen it will happen anyway, but when you do it try not to actively control your mind - look for the proposed controller...

E: I don't know, I think my ego is not too happy about this. The only reason "I'm trying to still the mind" (I don't know how else to say this) is that I'm bored and annoyed with, and exhausted by, thinking. Thoughts are like a parrot in a cage who won't shut up! Or a radio blaring non-stop. OK, not all thoughts -- some are essential for survival -- but still, all thoughts are about being a separate entity in a world of things. I renounce that. I'm especially tired of expending so much energy on the care and feeding of this ego. That's like running around in circles until you die. I'm just bored and dissatisfied with everything this world has to offer "this person," and that includes music. Thoughts are keeping me here. Thoughts are death.

Esteban wrote:
I find that I am not my thoughts; I am that which observes them.

A: Is this really so? Is there an observer separate from thought? Can you find this entity "observer"? Or is this observer only another thought saying something about a previous thought? Don't get me wrong, observing thought as well as the rest of experience is a great tool, but what about the identification with the observer? Isn't this identification with the observer just another face of your ego?

E: You know, shortly before I began this inquiry, I read somewhere -- I can't remember where -- something to the effect of "The 'I' is born and dies with each thought." If this is true, then why is there a sense of continuity? And what about the certainty that I exist (even if it's just "AM")? Does awareness not exist? Another thicket of thoughts here.

Esteban wrote:
Only thought says it's a cup. However, if one is thirsty, isn't it good to be able to recognize a cup as a cup?

A: Yes, sure. Recognising objects and applying properties is a great thing - very useful indeed, but looking into direct experience of trivial things like "Looking at cup" reveals many things that seem to oppose what we normally would say about "Looking at cup". Normally you would say: I, a separate entity, is looking at an object which I recognise as cup. The cup is an object that exists separately from my. I am 50cm away from the cup which is a solid, inherently existing object. BUT: Is this really direct experience of "looking at cup" or is this only thought story? Is there anything like a separate entity "observer" that is looking at an entity "cup"? When you break "looking at cup" down into its basic functioning - what do you find?

E: You got me; I'm totally stumped:/ Still waiting for the pizza to arrive...

User avatar
Alexw
Posts: 1364
Joined: Tue Feb 11, 2014 5:50 am

Re: Looking for a guide

Postby Alexw » Mon Nov 10, 2014 3:31 am

You know, shortly before I began this inquiry, I read somewhere -- I can't remember where -- something to the effect of "The 'I' is born and dies with each thought." If this is true, then why is there a sense of continuity? And what about the certainty that I exist (even if it's just "AM")? Does awareness not exist?
Have a look, how is continuity fabricated? For there to be continuity there has to be time, right? Can you find time outside of thought? A thought about something always happens NOW, but apparently it points to something that is not now... Can anything exist "outside of now"?
What about awareness? Does it exist? Surely it does because you are aware of experience, right? But does it exist as something that we would normally, conceptually phrase as "existing"? Like a mountain existing over there..?
Do you see the difficulty? We are trying to describe awareness with concepts - which are always relative. What exists at one time would have to not exist at another time...what has a top must have a bottom... awareness is not like that - being is not like that... Can you find any left, right, up, down, inside, outside, before or after in THIS experience? Or is it always only thought that adds this level of relativity?
I can certainly see the value of this exercise. For instance, "I" am now replying to what you wrote, but I don't go off into some little mental "word factory" and manufacture my reply lol. The words just come. Sometimes, there's a pause, as I wait for more words to come, but all I'm doing is waiting, just as I might wait for a pizza to be delivered, haha!
Great! Try to add some depth and, in the gaps, look at "who is waiting". What is there while no words arise? Is there an "I" waiting or is there simply THIS?
You got me; I'm totally stumped:/ Still waiting for the pizza to arrive...
Hope you got the pizza and enjoyed it!

User avatar
Esteban
Posts: 31
Joined: Fri Oct 10, 2014 7:27 am

Re: Looking for a guide

Postby Esteban » Mon Nov 10, 2014 5:47 am

Esteban wrote:
You know, shortly before I began this inquiry, I read somewhere -- I can't remember where -- something to the effect of "The 'I' is born and dies with each thought." If this is true, then why is there a sense of continuity? And what about the certainty that I exist (even if it's just "AM")? Does awareness not exist?

A: Have a look, how is continuity fabricated? For there to be continuity there has to be time, right? Can you find time outside of thought? A thought about something always happens NOW, but apparently it points to something that is not now... Can anything exist "outside of now"?

E: No, you can't find time outside of thoughts, but you can see its effects, can't you? If there is no time, what is it that makes a body age and die? On the other hand, it's pretty obvious that it's always just NOW. I had always thought that we are Awareness (timeless, always NOW), looking out at the physical world (where time exists, always changing). That's why Awareness never changes, but everything else does. But somehow, I have a feeling you're about to shatter this concept to smithereens.

A: What about awareness? Does it exist? Surely it does because you are aware of experience, right? But does it exist as something that we would normally, conceptually phrase as "existing"? Like a mountain existing over there..?

E: Hmm, you're right. It does and it doesn't. I was also struck by your phrase "aware of experience." They are "not two," are they?

A: Do you see the difficulty? We are trying to describe awareness with concepts - which are always relative. What exists at one time would have to not exist at another time...

E: What if it's eternal?

A: ...what has a top must have a bottom... awareness is not like that - being is not like that... Can you find any left, right, up, down, inside, outside, before or after in THIS experience? Or is it always only thought that adds this level of relativity?

E: Are we back to the "cup" conversation again? Not getting a pizza on this one, Alex:/

Esteban wrote:
I can certainly see the value of this exercise. For instance, "I" am now replying to what you wrote, but I don't go off into some little mental "word factory" and manufacture my reply lol. The words just come. Sometimes, there's a pause, as I wait for more words to come, but all I'm doing is waiting, just as I might wait for a pizza to be delivered, haha!

A: Great! Try to add some depth and, in the gaps, look at "who is waiting". What is there while no words arise? Is there an "I" waiting or is there simply THIS?

E: Piece of cake: simply THIS! It's like driving by a huge fence and every so often there's a break in the fence and you can see a glimpse of eternity. And the fence that hides this eternity is thoughts.

Esteban wrote:
You got me; I'm totally stumped:/ Still waiting for the pizza to arrive...

A: Hope you got the pizza and enjoyed it!

E: Damn delivery boy got lost!

All humor aside: THANK YOU :)


Return to “ARCHIVES”

Who is online

Users browsing this forum: No registered users and 1 guest