I am looking for a guide...

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Eliz
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I am looking for a guide...

Postby Eliz » Mon Apr 27, 2015 5:29 pm

Hi -

I'll give a brief introduction here... I hope that this will resonate with an available guide. About nine years ago, my life entered a very difficult phase. I felt as though many things that I had worked to build (and had become attached to) were ripped away. At the time, I thought this was the most awful circumstance ever. Now, I can see that it was one of the biggest blessings of my life. Those difficult times led me to begin a regular meditation practice and to begin exploring Buddhism.

Since then, I have been meditating and focused on practicing Buddhism in the Theravada tradition. Even though most of my study and readings have focused on this tradition, I respect (and like to learn from) other types of wisdom as well. I feel that I have reached a point in my meditation practice where the concept of anatta is becoming more clear. However, I believe that I'm still missing something. It's almost as if I'm looking at it too hard - or being too intellectual about the concept - to fully get it. At least, that's my guess (but I'm not sure).

I recently read Stepping Out of Deception by Rodney Smith (http://www.shambhala.com/stepping-out-o ... ption.html). This book helped me very much with my understanding of the concept of anatta. The concept of no separate self seems clear to me in many ways... For example, why would "I" be separate from nature in this body? At what point is one thing separate from another and called a separate entity? It doesn't seem that we can draw that boundary at any point... we are all connected to everything and part of everything. I think that this part is clear to me and the sense of no separate self is something that resonates with me now. When I first came to this realization, it generated some feelings of detachment and a wonder about free will. Yet, I can accept that this illusion of separate self is just that... an illusion that the mind creates for self preservation. Smith's book helped my with this concept. But I still feel that I'm missing something. There is some piece of this puzzle that hasn't clicked yet. I get glimpses of it during meditation sometimes, but then it slips away.

From the perspective of my meditation practice, I feel as though maybe I shouldn't spend too much time thinking about anatta (and should just focus on being present and letting insights appear). However, I feel that I'm looking at this concept and I'm missing something piece that will make the picture complete. I just don't think I'm there yet. Does this resonate with any available guides?

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itstopshere
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Re: I am looking for a guide...

Postby itstopshere » Mon Apr 27, 2015 6:30 pm

Dear Eliz,

If you would be ok with that I would like to take you on a trip :)
I feel as though maybe I shouldn't spend too much time thinking [about anatta]
;)

Here are a few ground rules.
  1. You agree to post at least once a day, even if only to say, "still here!"
    I am not your teacher, all I can do is point, you look, until clear seeing happens.
  2. In general, I will ask questions, you look deeply and honestly, and respond.
  3. Responses require simple, uncontrived honest looking. There are no wrong or right answers.
  4. Responses are best from direct experience (felt senses and observed thoughts). Long-winded analytical and philosophical answers, and stream of consciousness answers are best avoided and may even hinder progress.
  5. Put aside all other teachings, philosophies and such for the remainder 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 is fine to continue that.
  6. Please learn to use the quote function; See these instructions

If you haven't already seen it, there is intro info here, our disclaimer and a short video too.

If you could confirm you have seen all the above and would like me to be your guide - then we shall begin.

What are your expectations for this process?
How will it change you?
How will this feel?

You can press 'subscribe to this topic in the blue bar at the bottom of this page and receive an email every time I post here.
Where is my mind?

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Eliz
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Re: I am looking for a guide...

Postby Eliz » Mon Apr 27, 2015 7:20 pm

Dear itstopshere,

Thank you for your response to my request. I'll look forward to taking this trip with you. :)

I have read the intro and the disclaimer that you mentioned above. Also, I have read the ground rules that you listed - and I agree with them. I would like for you to be my guide.

Now, to answer your questions... I don't have any expectations for this process. I'm not sure what will happen and I'm ok with that. I expect that it will change me, but I don't know how yet. My guess is that it might feel a bit unsettling. If the experience is anything like my ongoing meditation experiences, then the unsettling aspect might transition into a calm and accepting feeling over time. That's just a guess though. I'm ok with not knowing what this might bring.

Does that answer your questions?

Thanks for your note,
Eliz

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itstopshere
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Re: I am looking for a guide...

Postby itstopshere » Mon Apr 27, 2015 8:00 pm

Great :)
Then let's begin.

Could you explain to me what the words 'me' or 'I' mean to you?
Try to be concise, to the point :-)
Where is my mind?

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Eliz
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Re: I am looking for a guide...

Postby Eliz » Mon Apr 27, 2015 8:08 pm

Thanks, itstopshere. :)

I think that "I" represents the illusion of a separate self that my mind has created to protect itself. In many ways, I know that this is an illusion (and I can feel and see that). The problem is that "I" still feel like I have free will (to a degree) and the "I" often wants to take control of situations. During meditation, I sometimes feel the merging of "I" with everything around it. However, it's hard for me to take that feeling outside into my everyday life. In other words, I can intellectually tell you that I know the "I" is an illusion in my everyday life, but I do not experience it that way. The only time that I have experienced the loss of the "I" is during meditation (in fleeting moments). Does that make sense? I believe might be over-analyzing it... which is often my way unfortunately. :)

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itstopshere
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Re: I am looking for a guide...

Postby itstopshere » Mon Apr 27, 2015 8:12 pm

Yes. A lot of analysis.
So let's try again.
What is 'I' or 'me'?
I mean just very simply as you conceive of it. What does it refer to?
You say you believe and feel it doesn't exist, but clearly there is still a contradicting belief of it existing, and that is what we need to look at. So why does it feel like there is an 'I' or 'me' and what is it / what does it refer to?
Where is my mind?

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Eliz
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Re: I am looking for a guide...

Postby Eliz » Mon Apr 27, 2015 8:19 pm

Yes, you are exactly right. I see that I am over-analyzing. :) Ok... very simply, I believe that "I" is the physical body for me. Maybe that's why I can sometimes feel the loss of "I" when I'm meditating (and not physically engaged with the world). When I begin to get out in the world doing things, I feel the separation again. So I think the contradicting belief might have something to do with the physical form of this body. Does that make sense?

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itstopshere
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Re: I am looking for a guide...

Postby itstopshere » Mon Apr 27, 2015 8:36 pm

Would it be more accurate to say that Eliz is more like the driver of the body?
Like the guy/girl at the wheel? Or does that not ring true?
Where is my mind?

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Eliz
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Re: I am looking for a guide...

Postby Eliz » Mon Apr 27, 2015 8:56 pm

That's close to what rings true for me. I know there is no Eliz, but there is a body that takes care of things and does things in the world. Even though I experience "no Eliz" in my meditation at fleeting moments, she returns when the body goes out to do things. And, yes, at those moments it seems that she drives the body. I intellectually "know" that this is an illusion, but I cannot fully "see" it yet. Does that make sense? :) Here's an analogy: I feel as though I'm looking at the stars and I cannot see the pattern of a constellation because I'm too focused on one tiny piece... I know there is a constellation there, but I don't know how to "zoom out" to see it.

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itstopshere
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Re: I am looking for a guide...

Postby itstopshere » Mon Apr 27, 2015 9:28 pm

You keep saying you know there is no Eliz. How do you know? Based on what?
Where is my mind?

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Eliz
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Re: I am looking for a guide...

Postby Eliz » Mon Apr 27, 2015 9:41 pm

That's hard for me to answer (so it must be important, right?) :) I think I know there is no Eliz because I can see how others animals and humans are intimately connected with their environment. In other words, I can see how everything that I perceive is linked together and part of one whole. BUT... my ego wants to resist this for Eliz and maintain the illusion of being separate. My ego keeps saying "but how can how free will can exist for Eliz if there is no "driver" or "manager"?"

Thank you for taking the time to talk with me about this. I appreciate it very much. :)

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itstopshere
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Re: I am looking for a guide...

Postby itstopshere » Mon Apr 27, 2015 9:48 pm

Seems to me like that leaves room for the following setup:
There are individuals, people, in control in some sense, but they just depend on their environment.
Interconnectedness, dependence, is recognised, but that doesn't imply the absence of an 'individual.'

Let me know if you agree that at present this is still at least a possibility.
I think we then have identified the problem ;)
Where is my mind?

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Eliz
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Re: I am looking for a guide...

Postby Eliz » Mon Apr 27, 2015 9:50 pm

Yes, I completely agree that this is a possibility. When you say it this way, it makes a lot of sense to me. :)

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itstopshere
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Re: I am looking for a guide...

Postby itstopshere » Mon Apr 27, 2015 10:03 pm

Very good! Can't solve a problem that we haven't identified :-)
So, now what I'd like you to investigate is two things. Really take your time with this, and look. Don't analyse, don't think, it should be absolutely obvious and easy to see without any analysis:
  • Can you find the process of thinking, or are there only thoughts following one another?
  • Do you ever catch "yourself" doing thinking, or is this closer to being merely a way of speaking about what is happening?
  • Can you find choice? For instance, when you pick your clothes in the morning, or when you decide what to have for breakfast or lunch or dinner. Where is the choice?
Remember, look look, no think think :-)
Where is my mind?

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Eliz
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Re: I am looking for a guide...

Postby Eliz » Mon Apr 27, 2015 10:22 pm

This is great! I'm glad that you have identified the problem ... and where I am getting stuck. :)

These questions are helping me to look at this from a different perspective. Here's what I see when I look at them (rather than thinking about them):
Can you find the process of thinking, or are there only thoughts following one another?
I cannot find a process of thinking. There are only thoughts following one another randomly. Even if I try to control the thoughts, random thoughts might still pop up. I might be able to control a limited number of thoughts, but there are still always thoughts that I do not control.
Do you ever catch "yourself" doing thinking, or is this closer to being merely a way of speaking about what is happening?
This one is harder for me. I do sometimes think that I catch myself "doing thinking" but that might be more of trying to just control thoughts as they come one after another. And even then, random thoughts can pop up. So maybe it is more about speaking about what is happening. This is a new idea for me, but ultimately I think I've been tricking myself into believing that I'm "doing thinking."
Can you find choice? For instance, when you pick your clothes in the morning, or when you decide what to have for breakfast or lunch or dinner. Where is the choice? [/list]
I do feel that I can find choice within a limited boundary that is defined by my environment. So, for example, when I pick my clothes in the morning I could choose a skirt or a pair of jeans. Since both are in my closet, they are both possibilities (and I can choose between). I feel that this last answer is related to your statement above that said "There are individuals, people, in control in some sense, but they just depend on their environment." So maybe the fact that I can choose doesn't mean that there is a separate self?


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