I'm also looking for a guide

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Roger.M
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I'm also looking for a guide

Postby Roger.M » Sun Nov 02, 2014 6:07 pm

I've been involved with Buddhist practice intermittently for about 30 years, including with the Triratna Buddhist order for 15 years. Having grappled repeatedly with issues of no permanent self or anatta, I think I have at least some understanding of the concepts and have had experiences of unity - especially in 2013. But I certainly do not have a sustained feeling of freedom from suffering and am still very much susceptible to negative mood states, although less than before. I think it might be useful for me to have a direct pointing conversation, although unsure precisely what form that would take. I've gone through the Liberation Unleashed app and the Buddha at the Gas Pump video with IC and EN, both of which I found helpful.If a guide were prepared to take me on, I would be most grateful.
Here's hoping, Roger.M

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moondog
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Re: I'm also looking for a guide

Postby moondog » Mon Nov 03, 2014 10:25 am

Hi Roger,

Thanks for letting me know a bit about yourself and how you've arrived at this point. My name's Pete and I live in Somerset. Are you also in the UK ? If not, what time zone are you in?

Here are a few standard ground rules before we start:

You agree to post at least once a day, even if only to say that you're still around, and I'll do the same. Sometimes it might just not be possible for one of us to post substantively and of course we'd find a way to work round that. What time zone are you in?

I am not your teacher, all I can do is point and you look, until clear seeing happens.

In general, I will ask questions and you look deeply and respond with 100% honesty.

Responses require simple, uncontrived, honest looking. There are no wrong or right answers.

Responses are best from direct experience (the physical evidence of seeing, hearing, touching, tasting, smelling, prior to the story or explanation about them). Long-winded, analytical and philosophical or stream of consciousness answers are best avoided and may even hinder progress. Just listen very closely to the answers that arise in you, and answer to the very best of your ability at that time. (Read the article at http://liberationunleashed.com/articles ... xperience/ for more help on distinguishing what is direct experience.)

Put aside all other teachings, philosophies etc. for the duration of this investigation. Really put all your effort and attention into seeing this reality, as it is. (If you have a daily and essential meditation practice, it's ok to continue with that. And it's fine to read threads in this forum and the Gateless Gatecrashers book.)

Please learn to use the quote function, see http://liberationunleashed.com/nation/v ... ?f=4&t=660 for instructions.

If you haven't already seen it, there is intro info at http://www.liberationunleashed.com/, together with our disclaimer and a short video.

Please confirm that you have seen these, that you agree to the disclaimer, and that you'd like me to be your guide and then we'll begin.

Let's start with a summary of what you're looking for and what you expect to find. I know you've already answered some of these, but please forgive any overlap and just fill in the gaps where you haven't, and we'll get started.

What are your expectations for this process?

What is it that you are searching for?

How will you know that you found it?

How will this feel?

How will this change you?


Finally, here's a couple of helpful points:

1) You can press 'subscribe to this topic' in the blue bar at the bottom of this page and receive a notification email every time I post here.

2) The site has a nasty habit of logging you out while you write a reply, which can mean you lose what you have written. One way to avoid this is to write elsewhere, then just paste the message into the 'reply' window when you're ready to send.

Don't worry, I don't intend to send any more posts this long, if I can help it! This is just to set things up for you nicely.

Looking forward to hearing from you.

Pete x
'Just consciousness taking the shape of experience from moment to moment.
Just this'

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Roger.M
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Re: I'm also looking for a guide

Postby Roger.M » Mon Nov 03, 2014 11:36 am

Dear Pete,
Firstly many thanks for taking me on - I'd like you to be my guide. I live in London, UK. I agree to the ground rules. Having seen the relevant material, I agree to the disclaimer. Please be patient if I struggle with the IT. I will read the material on using the quote function.
Expectations: I think you are going to ask me searching questions about my experience to attempt to lead me to drop the illusion of a permanent self. I think I already have some understanding of that and perhaps some shift already in how I view or exist in the world but I'm searching for a more fundamental sense of freedom from suffering, ideally an end to seeking and more sustained contentment with the world as it is. How will I know I've found it? - perhaps the end to seeking something better, acknowledgement and acceptance of what is. Perhaps it will make me feel lighter or less burdened in my life even when things are not going as I would ideally wish - even more of a sense of humour. I'm a bit worried about any large changes - I have a wife I don't want to hurt - I would say we have a loving mutually supportive relationship. But I do fear some radical change that might harm others dear to me.
Hope that will do for first reply.
Roger.M

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moondog
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Re: I'm also looking for a guide

Postby moondog » Mon Nov 03, 2014 5:50 pm

Hi Roger,
Expectations: I think you are going to ask me searching questions about my experience to attempt to lead me to drop the illusion of a permanent self. I think I already have some understanding of that and perhaps some shift already in how I view or exist in the world but I'm searching for a more fundamental sense of freedom from suffering, ideally an end to seeking and more sustained contentment with the world as it is. How will I know I've found it? - perhaps the end to seeking something better, acknowledgement and acceptance of what is. Perhaps it will make me feel lighter or less burdened in my life even when things are not going as I would ideally wish - even more of a sense of humour.
Thanks for accepting me as your guide and for accepting all the various conditions etc. At least here shouldn't be any problems with the time difference :-)

Also, thanks for sharing your expectations, which are not unrealistic, and for your uderstanding of what seeing that you have no separate self might be like. It's natural, of course, to wonder and speculate about what this liberation/awakening will be like but, by its very nature, I can assure you that it's just not like anyone expects, although it does differ for each one of us. I'd just stress that the work we do is definitely not intellectual or thought-based. That being so, it's best to put aside any expectations, as they reside in thoughts about the future and so are not within direct experience.
I'm a bit worried about any large changes - I have a wife I don't want to hurt - I would say we have a loving mutually supportive relationship. But I do fear some radical change that might harm others dear to me.
There really is no need to worry about how this will change you Roger. Just remember, there's no 'you', no separate self, to start with, never has been. So this isn't about losing anything. It's about seeing for yourself, from your own experience, that there's no self-entity to be found. You only think that there is.

Rest assured, that when you see that there isn't and never has been a 'you', a self-entity, with my guiding to help you see that fact for yourself, you'll just know. In exactly the same way that you know that unicorns aren't real, Batman doesn't exist, and there's no Santa Claus. It isn't fundamentally at all difficult, amazingly simple in fact, but only if you don't rely on trying to figure it out by thinking it through but, instead, just LOOK, LOOK, LOOK in direct experience.

So, excellent, as I've already said, actually seeing for sure that there is no separate self, and never has been, is different for everyone. It can come with a definite pop of realisation, or it might creep up gradually until it is seen. Also the effects on life lived after liberation can vary widely.

It’s worth mentioning at this early stage that what can hold a lot of people back, and something that we can perhaps knock on the head now, are assumptions around what one would 'be like' or what life ought to 'look like' once it’s seen that there’s no self-entity. There is a view that 'getting it' is tantamount to kind of somehow seeing it all the time, or being in some kind of state in which negative emotions or problems don’t arise.

It's really helpful to be clear that it's not any kind of state - it's simply direct knowing, insight. The Santa example puts it very well - 'seeing through' Santa, i.e. knowing for sure that there is no Santa, doesn't mean that little kids then spend the rest of their lives constantly thinking, 'there's no Santa'! Nor does it mean that Santa isn't apparently spotted in shopping malls in December. It's just that the story has been seen through. The direct knowing of no-self may be recollected at any time, but states still continue to come and go - pleasant, unpleasant, 'positive', 'negative'. However, that said, changes will be noticed, some possibly quite dramatic, including in relation to suffering arising from a pre-occupation with a separate self that simply doesn't exist!

I'll post once a day, perhaps occasionally more, and will tell you in advance if I know I won't be able to post. It would be good if you could do the same.

I hope that's helped to clarify the background stuff a bit. Don't hesitate to ask me about any of this.

Moving on towards the core of this work - just look at the following statement, and ponder it every which way you can:

Nothing exists outside the present moment.

Can you find anything, anything at all, that does?


And next:

How do you conceive the 'self' or 'I'/ 'me' that you hold 'yourself' to be?

Now look directly at the flow of experiencing. Where in that flow does the 'self' that you conceive reside? Can it be found, at all?


Pete x

Ps. To use the quote function, simply highlight the relevant sentence(s)/paragraph(s) that you're replying to in my previous post and press 'copy', then press the 'Quote ' button in the bar above the section you're typing in, then place the cursor in the centre of the two bracketed quote words and then press "paste". That should do it.
'Just consciousness taking the shape of experience from moment to moment.
Just this'

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Roger.M
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Re: I'm also looking for a guide

Postby Roger.M » Mon Nov 03, 2014 8:09 pm

Nothing exists outside the present moment.
I do accept that. My version of the past is my mental construction. People's account of the past varies from person to person and from time to time. Any account of the past will be imperfect, will have inaccuracies - there is probably no such thing as an objective correct account of the past. Most modern day historians are, I think, aware of these issues.
The future is a prediction - again a mental construction. All that exists is here at this time. Indeed I prefer to try to be in the present and not influenced by thoughts of the past or anticipatory thoughts of the future.
(Sorry, I'm still getting the hang of the IT - afraid of losing this if I go back to your letter - so I'm going to send this and it will be followed by more)

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Roger.M
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Re: I'm also looking for a guide

Postby Roger.M » Mon Nov 03, 2014 8:59 pm

[quoteCan you find anything, anything at all, that does?

How do you conceive the 'self' or 'I'/ 'me' that you hold 'yourself' to be?

Now look directly at the flow of experiencing. Where in that flow does the 'self' that you conceive reside? Can it be found, at all?
][/quote]

No I can't find anything outside the present. The past and the future are thoughts - mental constructions.

I conceive of my 'self' or 'me' as a mind body bundle. The parts are in flux, are transient. This bundle is vaguely within my body but I accept that the separation between my body and other is not clearly defined eg the skin as shedding cells all the time.

I can't localise a self within the flow of experiencing - I can't localise a core or any centre of executive function, any 'nerve centre'.
Roger

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moondog
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Re: I'm also looking for a guide

Postby moondog » Tue Nov 04, 2014 11:56 am

Hi Roger,
Nothing exists outside the present moment.
I do accept that. My version of the past is my mental construction. People's account of the past varies from person to person and from time to time. Any account of the past will be imperfect, will have inaccuracies - there is probably no such thing as an objective correct account of the past. Most modern day historians are, I think, aware of these issues. The future is a prediction - again a mental construction. All that exists is here at this time. Indeed I prefer to try to be in the present and not influenced by thoughts of the past or anticipatory thoughts of the future.
So yeah, it's good to see that you can see that there can only ever be just this, right now.
I conceive of my 'self' or 'me' as a mind body bundle. The parts are in flux, are transient. This bundle is vaguely within my body but I accept that the separation between my body and other is not clearly defined eg the skin as shedding cells all the time.
Again, great. It's useful for me to get a good idea of where you're at before we get into the nitty-gritty of the exploration.
I can't localise a self within the flow of experiencing - I can't localise a core or any centre of executive function, any 'nerve centre'
And can you even find an 'I' that's trying to do the localising? Or is that just thinking and thought?

My job as your guide during this enquiry will be simply to point out to you where and how to look in direct experience so that you can see for sure for yourself whether there's a separate self-entity anywhere doing or being anything. I really like to maintain a specific skeleton structure to this process, which then allows us to explore much more loosely within each and every area within experience where a separate self might be found.

As you'll have seen, the initial questions point you towards looking into 'your' direct experience, which is, as I say, where I'll be frequently pointing you to look, and where this investigation will take place. That's as opposed to thought content. Direct experience is the very core of what we're doing here with this. Essentially, and utterly fundamentally, all there is, and can ever be, is here right now in this moment. So looking to see whether a separate and separating self is to be found can only take place within direct experience of this. Now. There's nothing else. It follows therefore that all of our work to realise and actually know that there is no self is done by investigating In direct experience. To this end, we can divide direct experience into thought, sensations (seeing, hearing, smelling, tasting, feeling [tactile and kinaesthetic] and an unmistakable sense of Aliveness (presence/being). I referred to the useful article on direct experience in the introductory post, and you might want to have another look at that.

As I keep saying, the whole of this investigation centres around looking in direct experience to see if a self-entity can be found anywhere there. This is accompanied by seeing that it is in thoughts and only in thoughts that 'I' ever 'occurs' and that 'I' doesn't actually occur there either because thoughts, or at least their contents, are neither reliable nor real in any sense.

So, let's start at last investigating in direct experience where a self-entity might be by looking at sense arisings and the self as experiencer:

When you look at something, a book, a tree outside or whatever, can you find an 'I' that is looking or seeing, or is there just seeing?

If there is an 'I', where are the boundaries between what is being seen, the seeing process itself and the seer?

Please do the same with hearing: birdsong, music, a pneumatic drill or whatever; and similarly with each of: tasting, tactile feelings and smelling.


Pete x

Ps. Just so you know, I tend to post once a day, it's early today because I'm going out, but usually mid to late afternoon. But sometimes earlier, sometimes more than once. So, it's far from written in stone :-)
'Just consciousness taking the shape of experience from moment to moment.
Just this'

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Re: I'm also looking for a guide

Postby Roger.M » Tue Nov 04, 2014 7:48 pm

When you look at something, a book, a tree outside or whatever, can you find an 'I' that is looking or seeing, or is there just seeing?

If there is an 'I', where are the boundaries between what is being seen, the seeing process itself and the seer?

Please do the same with hearing: birdsong, music, a pneumatic drill or whatever; and similarly with each of: tasting, tactile feelings and smelling.
A lot of the time my mind seems to act like a computer switching from one thing to another often very rapidly - so quickly I do not feel I'm controlling its moves - they seem automatic. When this is happening there are merely experiences often in rapid succession. They are experienced as just seeing or hearing or whatever . When I make a conscious decision to look at say this cup in front of me and think about what might be going on, maybe then there is more of a sense of an 'I' perceiving an object - perceiver and perceived. But can I find an 'I' that is doing the looking? It would have to be in this body somewhere - perhaps there is some vague sense of it being in my head - but I am not able to localise it further. I can't localise a specific point or site for the seer, an 'I'.

I am looking at objects near me. Dividing the process up into what is being seen, the seeing process and the seer must be just a mental way of trying to separate out the different constituents of the experience - like a theory or map for what happens. I am not normally aware of these constituents. When I glance at the cup in front of me - there is just the experience of seeing, it is just happening as seeing. I do not experience any boundaries between the seen, the process and the seer - there is just an experience of seeing.

When I try perceiving in other modalities it seems similar. Unless I deliberately think about what is happening it seems to just happen - just hearing ( I hear a car go past - I am not conscious of an 'I' hearing a car), just touching ( there is just the smooth texture of the pen), or just smelling or tasting. It is not what I experience - to have boundaries between an 'I', a process and and object. I think such a separation is down to thought, it is a theory - it is not what I experience.

Roger

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Re: I'm also looking for a guide

Postby moondog » Wed Nov 05, 2014 1:42 pm

Hi Roger,
A lot of the time my mind seems to act like a computer switching from one thing to another often very rapidly - so quickly I do not feel I'm controlling its moves - they seem automatic. When this is happening there are merely experiences often in rapid succession. They are experienced as just seeing or hearing or whatever . When I make a conscious decision to look at say this cup in front of me and think about what might be going on, maybe then there is more of a sense of an 'I' perceiving an object - perceiver and perceived. But can I find an 'I' that is doing the looking? It would have to be in this body somewhere - perhaps there is some vague sense of it being in my head - but I am not able to localise it further. I can't localise a specific point or site for the seer, an 'I'.
It's good that when you look in 'your' direct experience, rather than relying on what thoughts habitually tell you, you can find no separate self doing any seeing.

We'll come to choosing and deciding in more detail soon, but you say When I make a conscious decision to look at say this cup in front of me. Can you find a 'you' making that 'conscious decision' or is that another assumption based on thought?
I am looking at objects near me. Dividing the process up into what is being seen, the seeing process and the seer must be just a mental way of trying to separate out the different constituents of the experience - like a theory or map for what happens. I am not normally aware of these constituents. When I glance at the cup in front of me - there is just the experience of seeing, it is just happening as seeing. I do not experience any boundaries between the seen, the process and the seer - there is just an experience of seeing.
Excellent. A really nice description of what the mind does, in terms of separating, and reality: just seeing, with no seer or separate object in direct experience.
When I try perceiving in other modalities it seems similar. Unless I deliberately think about what is happening it seems to just happen - just hearing ( I hear a car go past - I am not conscious of an 'I' hearing a car), just touching ( there is just the smooth texture of the pen), or just smelling or tasting. It is not what I experience - to have boundaries between an 'I', a process and and object. I think such a separation is down to thought, it is a theory - it is not what I experience.
Really good.

There was one question left unanswered from my previous post, Roger. For the sake of completion can you just answer this:

Can you even find an 'I' that's trying to do the localising? Or is that just thinking and thought?

So, let's now move on to looking more specifically at thoughts and thinking, to see if there's a separate self to be found anywhere there.

Not from what you think, but from direct experience, please say:

Where do thoughts come from?

Are you in control of them?

Can you stop a thought from coming?

Can you stop it in the middle?

Do you know what the next thought will be?

Is 'I' a different thought from the thought of say, a table?

Can a thought think?


This seems to be going really well so far Roger. What do you reckon? Enjoying the process so far?

Pete x
'Just consciousness taking the shape of experience from moment to moment.
Just this'

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Re: I'm also looking for a guide

Postby Roger.M » Wed Nov 05, 2014 6:00 pm

We'll come to choosing and deciding in more detail soon, but you say When I make a conscious decision to look at say this cup in front of me. Can you find a 'you' making that 'conscious decision' or is that another assumption based on thought?
I think this touches on some of your later questions. It seems rather mysterious how I come to make a conscious decision. I don't know where the impetus to make a conscious decision arises from, but I seem to pause mentally, say inwardly what I'm going to do - eg lift a pen sitting in front of me - and then I can carry out the action, in this case lifting the pen. I can't find an 'I' making the decision. So to believe there is an 'I' doing this would be a theory or assumption based on thought.
There was one question left unanswered from my previous post, Roger. For the sake of completion can you just answer this:

Can you even find an 'I' that's trying to do the localising? Or is that just thinking and thought?
If I go back a step as it were in trying to find an 'I' trying to doing the localising of an 'I', it is at least as difficult, indeed impossible, to find an 'I'. I think such an idea of an 'I' is based on thought.
Not from what you think, but from direct experience, please say:

1.Where do thoughts come from?

2.Are you in control of them?

3.Can you stop a thought from coming?

4.Can you stop it in the middle?

5.Do you know what the next thought will be?

6.Is 'I' a different thought from the thought of say, a table?

7.Can a thought think?
1.As I said above it seems mysterious where thoughts come from. The mind seems to act like a very fast computer. Most of the time, thoughts seem to arise automatically and even when I make a conscious decision, how that happens is a bit of a mystery. I accept the thoughts are not arising from any centre of executive function or 'I' that I can localise.

2.Most of the time as I said they seem to arise automatically outside my control, but I must be able to exert some control in that I can make a conscious decision. Also when I focus on the breath in mindfulness meditation the mental chatter of the mind subsides, the frequency of my thoughts decreases - so albeit indirectly I am exerting some control over my thinking.

3.Can I stop a thought from coming? Only to the extent I can reduce the number of thoughts in meditation as mentioned above.

4.Not sure about this. If I decide that I am going to think for example' 'This book is interesting' while looking at the book - I can cut short the thought after the words 'This book'. But maybe all I'm doing is stopping short my saying the sentence inwardly.
If I have negative thoughts about myself I can try to cut them short perhaps by thinking of something different that is more positive and that can work I think.

5.No. Again it's back to the mind seeming to work like a fast computer over which I seem to have very limited control.

6.They are both very inexact concepts. The 'I' concept is very complicated and also dynamic in that it is always changing. The table concept is imprecise. Can a table have three legs? or does that make it a stool? If it's being used to sit on, does that make it a stool or chair rather than a table?
The 'I' concept seems more important to me - it's more personal to me, how I regard myself, my identity etc. The table concept is not so important to me.But I can accept they are both mental constructs and based on thought.

7.If I accept that 'I' is a thought and 'I' does the thinking - then yes a thought can think. But I've already said that how thoughts arise seems very mysterious and I can't localise an 'I' that gives rise to thoughts or from which they arise.

I'm finding the process very enjoyable and challenging and may thanks for your guidance.

Roger

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Re: I'm also looking for a guide

Postby moondog » Thu Nov 06, 2014 1:07 pm

Hi Roger,
It seems rather mysterious how I come to make a conscious decision. I don't know where the impetus to make a conscious decision arises from, but I seem to pause mentally, say inwardly what I'm going to do - eg lift a pen sitting in front of me - and then I can carry out the action, in this case lifting the pen. I can't find an 'I' making the decision. So to believe there is an 'I' doing this would be a theory or assumption based on thought.

If I go back a step as it were in trying to find an 'I' trying to doing the localising of an 'I', it is at least as difficult, indeed impossible, to find an 'I'. I think such an idea of an 'I' is based on thought.
Spot on on both counts. Google observations Roger.
...even when I make a conscious decision, how that happens is a bit of a mystery. I accept the thoughts are not arising from any centre of executive function or 'I' that I can localise.
...but I must be able to exert some control in that I can make a conscious decision. Also when I focus on the breath in mindfulness meditation the mental chatter of the mind subsides, the frequency of my thoughts djecreases - so albeit indirectly I am exerting some control over my thinking.
In fact, given what you've discovered (as per the first quote above), does such a thing as a 'conscious decision' even exist, or mean anything? However, in apparent contradiction, you are also saying I must be able to exert some control in that I can make a conscious decision. Can you find any self-entity in direct experience that does such a thing, or indeed anything? When you do the mindfulness of breathing, is there an agency to be found that actually decides to focus on the breath, or that does the actual focusing, or that actually slows down either the breathing or mental activity? Or, in each case, do it just happen, albeit that frequently the mind (thinking) jumps in and claims full credit for 'you' having done it?
4.Not sure about this. If I decide that I am going to think for example' 'This book is interesting' while looking at the book - I can cut short the thought after the words 'This book'. But maybe all I'm doing is stopping short my saying the sentence inwardly.
If I have negative thoughts about myself I can try to cut them short perhaps by thinking of something different that is more positive and that can work I think.
Again, can you find anything 'deciding' to think a particular thought? If so, please describe it and how it functions. If not, how can there be any entity to stop, or do anything with or to thoughts and thinking?
5.No. Again it's back to the mind seeming to work like a fast computer over which I seem to have very limited control.
Can you find that 'I' in direct experience that has even limited control?
The 'I' concept seems more important to me - it's more personal to me, how I regard myself, my identity etc. The table concept is not so important to me.But I can accept they are both mental constructs and based on thought.
Yep, they're both conceptual, as you say. However, the table thought, at least in relative, conventional terms, does refer to an object that exists, whereas the I-thought does not and cannot.
7.If I accept that 'I' is a thought and 'I' does the thinking - then yes a thought can think. But I've already said that how thoughts arise seems very mysterious and I can't localise an 'I' that gives rise to thoughts or from which they arise.
Yes, 'I' is a thought, but why would you accept that 'I' does the thinking? As you say,thoughts just arise. They seem to hang around a bit and then are gone. It at least appears that they 'contain', or just are, a message/concept, but that's it. They don't 'do' anything.
I'm finding the process very enjoyable and challenging and may thanks for your guidance.
It's my pleasure to help you by pointing out where to look. This stuff on thoughts is good fun, and crucial to this whole process of looking at experience.

Pete x
'Just consciousness taking the shape of experience from moment to moment.
Just this'

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Re: I'm also looking for a guide

Postby Roger.M » Thu Nov 06, 2014 3:02 pm

Dear Pete,

I think what I am struggling with is as follows:

I accept there is no 'I', no executive in control. I am unable to locate this. But does this mean this mind-body bundle, that constitutes my conventional self, functions as some kind of automaton. When you say thoughts just arise, that is my experience, but are my thoughts and actions entirely random? Afterall I get up and go to work etc. regularly. I can sit down and list pros and cons to a particular proposed action and decide on balance what to do.

Are you saying my thoughts are entirely random? Or are you saying that all my thoughts and actions are conditioned by previous experiences etc and it only appears I have some control over them ? I am trying to grapple with how this conventional self functions in the absence of an executive 'I', which I accept I cannot localise.

(Hope this makes sense.)
Roger

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Re: I'm also looking for a guide

Postby moondog » Thu Nov 06, 2014 5:10 pm

Hi Roger,

Ok, first of all some perspective. Often, when folks are at this stage in looking for a separate self and, like you, they start to see for real that there just isn't one, anxieties and fears such as those you mention are thrown up. This is really just your system's protective mechanism doing its job. Fear is there to protect you, but it can't discriminate between a real danger, like a man with a gun pointed at your face, and an imaginary danger, like a threat to an imagined self-entity, albeit one that's apparently been around since your first memories. So, bear that in mind and don't feed the fear by resisting or engaging with it. Remember it's only a mixture of thinking and bodily sensations. Welcome it, thank it for its concern and just let it linger for however long it needs to and then pass away. Easier said than done, but it's an effective approach.

No, I'm not saying anything's random; far from it. All that this guiding is about, and all I'm asking you to do, is to look at 'your' experience to see whether you can find the 'I', the separate self, that you have assumed was there running things for almost all of your life. Remember, nothing's changed. The separate self was never there, you just thought it was. And, although it doesn't exist and never has done, things have still always unfolded and worked out just as they have, haven't they? The mind just provides a running commentary that gives the impression that there's a captain in charge of the ship. The wonderful, freeing thing is that the ship doesn't need one, and there's no self that needs cosseting and protecting. That's not to say that the body/mind that's called 'you' doesn't need to be kept healthy and as safe as possible, but nature does that for all of life in the best way possible right now.

Seeing that there's no self shows how wonderful life really is. An infinite permutation of past conditions continually coming to fruition in this moment; including thoughts of course. Fundamentally it's a totally wonderful mystery. However, it's certainly not some kind of robotic automated existence, and nor is it random. Totally random just couldn't and wouldn't work or make any kind of sense.

I hope this helps Roger, and look forward to your answers.

Pete x
'Just consciousness taking the shape of experience from moment to moment.
Just this'

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Roger.M
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Re: I'm also looking for a guide

Postby Roger.M » Fri Nov 07, 2014 2:00 pm

Hi Pete,

Thanks for your reply and it does help very much. I have read it several times. I think I may be, at least partly, getting the hang of this. The absence of an 'I' in charge does seem to accord with my direct experience in the moment. I need to surrender to the ebb and flow of life, be open to life as it is.

I don't know if you agree but is it like someone who loses the belief in an omnipotent God figure who cares for you and is in charge? - but although you have lost your belief the world carries on. In perhaps an analogous way, when you realise there is no 'I' in control of your life, it is a bit scary, but also liberating, and you realise the belief does not really help anyway, never did help, indeed it was wrong, and life carries on.

To try to answer your questions:
In fact, given what you've discovered (as per the first quote above), does such a thing as a 'conscious decision' even exist, or mean anything? However, in apparent contradiction, you are also saying I must be able to exert some control in that I can make a conscious decision. Can you find any self-entity in direct experience that does such a thing, or indeed anything? When you do the mindfulness of breathing, is there an agency to be found that actually decides to focus on the breath, or that does the actual focusing, or that actually slows down either the breathing or mental activity? Or, in each case, do it just happen, albeit that frequently the mind (thinking) jumps in and claims full credit for 'you' having done it?
In direct experience I can't find any self-entity in control or taking decisions, so this does question any such thing as a conscious decision. Again it questions any agency that takes decisions or directs or influences actions in mindfulness meditation. My experience is that it just seems to happen.
Again, can you find anything 'deciding' to think a particular thought? If so, please describe it and how it functions. If not, how can there be any entity to stop, or do anything with or to thoughts and thinking?
I agree that I can't find anything deciding to think a particular thought or to stop or interfere with thoughts.
Can you find that 'I' in direct experience that has even limited control?


No I can't find an 'I' that has any control. ( As I type this I have some fear that it seems fatalistic - like a Thomas Hardy novel in which awful things happen to a character and you feel like saying to them, 'Take some charge of your life. Do something about it!' I think this is resisitance on my part to surrendering to the flow of life.)
Yep, they're both conceptual, as you say. However, the table thought, at least in relative, conventional terms, does refer to an object that exists, whereas the I-thought does not and cannot.

I find that a useful distinction.
Yes, 'I' is a thought, but why would you accept that 'I' does the thinking? As you say, thoughts just arise. They seem to hang around a bit and then are gone. It at least appears that they 'contain', or just are, a message/concept, but that's it. They don't 'do' anything.
I find that useful about thoughts - their transience, not doing anything.

Thanks, Roger

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moondog
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Location: Somerset, England

Re: I'm also looking for a guide

Postby moondog » Fri Nov 07, 2014 5:41 pm

Hi Roger,
Thanks for your reply and it does help very much. I have read it several times. I think I may be, at least partly, getting the hang of this. The absence of an 'I' in charge does seem to accord with my direct experience in the moment. I need to surrender to the ebb and flow of life, be open to life as it is.
I'm glad that was helpful Roger, and also that you're seeing more deeply into what this process is really about.
I don't know if you agree but is it like someone who loses the belief in an omnipotent God figure who cares for you and is in charge? - but although you have lost your belief the world carries on.
I like that.
In perhaps an analogous way, when you realise there is no 'I' in control of your life, it is a bit scary, but also liberating, and you realise the belief does not really help anyway, never did help, indeed it was wrong, and life carries on.
That's right, you got it.
In direct experience I can't find any self-entity in control or taking decisions, so this does question any such thing as a conscious decision. Again it questions any agency that takes decisions or directs or influences actions in mindfulness meditation. My experience is that it just seems to happen.
k
I'm pleased that you can see that for a fact.
I agree that I can't find anything deciding to think a particular thought or to stop or interfere with thoughts.
Good to know.
No I can't find an 'I' that has any control. ( As I type this I have some fear that it seems fatalistic - like a Thomas Hardy novel in which awful things happen to a character and you feel like saying to them, 'Take some charge of your life. Do something about it!' I think this is resisitance on my part to surrendering to the flow of life.)
I hope you can see that, much as life-as-it-is-in-this-moment cannot be either random or robotic/automatonic, so it cannot be fatalistic. For that to be so, both past and present would need to have real existence, rather than being memories/thoughts/concepts present now, in this moment.
I find that useful about thoughts - their transience, not doing anything.
Yes, they are just only what they are (whatever that is), no more than that. The trouble starts when we forget that.

So, I think that was very useful Roger. Let's move on to looking at actions, doing and controlling. (By the way, I've used the word 'automatic' below in a broad sense, not to indicate anything cold or emotionless. It's far from ideal but, so far, I haven't been able to come up with a better adjective.)

It's clear that when we breathe, blink, digest food etc. there's no 'I' involved, but how is it for you when walking?

How is it when doing various everyday things like say, brushing your teeth, washing up, that kind of thing?k
Try all kinds of stuff.

Is there any 'I' there for any of these actions, or are they just like 'automatic'?


Pete x
'Just consciousness taking the shape of experience from moment to moment.
Just this'


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