Interested in being guided

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Mikael66a
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Interested in being guided

Postby Mikael66a » Thu May 28, 2015 9:35 am

Hello! I´ve been involved in a buddhist group for 15 years, meditating regulary and going on retreats several times each year. That has been important for me, but I can also feel that there has been something missing. There is a lot of focus on ethics and living an ethical life in the movement were I am practising. That is of course good, but I feel that there has not been so much focus on insight practice. I would even say, hardly any. There just weren´t people around that had that depth.

About 3 years ago me and my wife separated. We have two sons together and I was very much in love with her. I didn´t see it coming. This was naturally a very painful situation with a lot of suffering and also a lot of anger on my side. However, I did very early on decide to learn something from the situation and not run away from the pain. I wouldn´t say I always succeded, but I did get a good look on how feelings, bodily sensations (like pain or cramp in the chest) raised thoughts that I should do something about the situation (that the uncomfortable sensations were signs of there being something wrong with me and/or the situation. Reading teachers like Tara Brach and Pema Chödrön helped me looking deeper into that and actually starting to question if those feelings really were "me".

About two years ago I got in contact with and old buddhist friend. He had had a strong insight experience and described this shift in perspective that he had gone through, which seemed to be stable. To me this was very inspiring to hear. He also pointed me to some of the non-duality teachers that are on Youtube, like Rupert Spira, Mooji and a few others.

After that I´ve been very inspired by the non-duality teaching, and this more open investigating practice has been my main sitting practice, with a lot of reflections in my everyday life. For me this has been very important. I could feel that this was the kind of practice that I had been longing for. I also had a few short experiences of this shift in perspective, like the clear (but very temporary) experience of total fearlessness, of everything being just absolutely full and perfect as it is (and the idea of wanting to change anything just absurd) and also on another ocassion the clear seeing (but again very shortlived) experience of how objects is just one expression of now.

Lately, what seem to grow on me, is this feeling of the world (as I used to know it) being totally unreliable. It is a state that is somehow shaky and not very comfortable, but at the same time there is a feeling of truth to it (but still perhaps is more of an intellectual understanding than going really deep).

So, I guess this is were I stand today. I heard about LU from a friend. As I these last years mainly been practising with inspiration from Youtube clips and led meditations, I think it would be good to get some more clear teaching on an individual basis.

Ps. I´m not native english speaking, so sorry for misspellings.

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Pea
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Re: Interested in being guided

Postby Pea » Thu May 28, 2015 2:55 pm

Hi there Mikael

Welcome to Liberation Unleashed.

My name’s Pea and I would be happy to be your guide, if you want.

If you haven't already seen it, there's introductory information here, our disclaimer and a short video too.

http://liberationunleashed.com

LU says: Enter into this process if you are ready and willing to question all your beliefs and assumptions about awakening, if you are ready to face your fears, and if you prefer truth to comfortable lies. Do not enter if your goal is to fix the parts of your life that you think are broken, to embark on a self-improvement project, or to gain some kind of spiritual certification. On this basis are you ready?

If you could confirm that you have read/watched all the above and feel happy with it- and would like me to be your guide, then we can get started. Be clear that I am guiding you, but not a "teacher".


As a starting point, we need to set up a few guidelines to guide this dialogue, please respond to confirm:

1. We will both agree to post at least once a day.

2. I will ask you questions for you to respond to.

3. Please respond with 100% honesty.

4. Responses are best from direct experience (felt senses and observed thoughts). Long-winded analytical and philosophical 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. But maybe avoid reading stuff or watching interesting YouTube clips of spiritual teachers etc. Personally, I found it helpful not reading other people’s threads as I was engaged in dialogue with my guide.

6. Work out how to use the "quote" function, it makes it easier to refer back to each other's comments and questions quickly; instructions are located in the link below this line:
http://liberationunleashed.com/nation/v ... ?f=4&t=660

Does that all seem ok with you?

By the way, don't worry that English is not your first language - if we keep our posts clear and direct, it shouldn't be a problem.

Just so you know, I am based in the UK - where in the world are you? Just so we can have a feel for when the other person may or may not be likely to respond...

Best wishes

Pea. :)

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Pea
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Re: Interested in being guided

Postby Pea » Thu May 28, 2015 2:57 pm

Oh yes!
I always forget this - tick the "notify me when a reply is posted" box when you reply to this mail - then you will get an email prompt when I have replied to you...

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Mikael66a
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Re: Interested in being guided

Postby Mikael66a » Fri May 29, 2015 1:40 pm

Hi Pea!

That was quick! Thank you for offering to be my guide. I read your mail and everything is ok for me. However, I have one worry. Even though I don´t see a problem posting every day, there will be a couple of periods during summer when I am out of Internet and will not be able to be in contact (as I am off camping with my sons). So up until june 21st there is no problem, but then there will be a gap of two weeks where my access to a computer and Internet is very limited. How do you feel about that? Is this process still meaningfull to start or should I wait until after vacations?

Kind regards

Mikael

Ps. I live in Stockholm (Sweden)

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Pea
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Re: Interested in being guided

Postby Pea » Fri May 29, 2015 1:53 pm

Hi Mikael

I reckon we just get started and then take things as we can from 21st June. Looking can still be happening whilst you are camping - and perhaps you can find occasional access to send brief responses - but if not, it doesn't matter. I will be away from mid-July as well, in France and then Spain with Internet access for a while and then totally off the grid for 3 weeks in August whilst I am on retreat. So let's see what happens...

Perhaps we could start today with you sharing what your expectations are for this process - how would you expect to experience life 'after' the gate? How would things be different?

Do you experience any fear with regards to all this?

Best wishes
Pea

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Mikael66a
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Re: Interested in being guided

Postby Mikael66a » Fri May 29, 2015 4:27 pm

How would you expect to experience life 'after' the gate? How would things be different?

Of course I´m not sure about this. But I have a feeling that there is this radical different perspective in seeing myself and life, and I guess that is what I am looking for. Looking at my life so far it has been a very controlled feeling to it. A lot of the time I have felt like I´m building these walls aorund me, always on the watch for any threat. So that also means always being scared or slightly worried, always trying to be ahead of what is happening. Seeing through the idea of a self I imagine would give a perspective without that kind om fear, and that alone would be a big relief.
Do you experience any fear with regards to all this?
Yes and no. The few short glimpses I have had (of what I think was this other perspective) has been exciting and positive And to be honest, my ordinary life has been quite a disapointment lately. I have previously invested quite a lot in relationships. Now, after the divorce and then another relationship that broke down after a year, this hope of being able to "fix life" seem to be weaker then ever. At the moment I don´t really see what I got to loose (not meaning that I am depressed!).

But there has been clear signs of fear along the way these last years. I have had a long period of waking up in the middle of the night with this very cold uncomfortable feeling of being very vulnerable, like really naked. I also had quite a lot of nightmares. This has been very unpleasent, but somehow ok, as I could see that there most likely was an connection to the reflections I was doing. I could feel at least there was something happening, which gave me some comfort.

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Re: Interested in being guided

Postby Pea » Sat May 30, 2015 11:18 am

Good morning Mikael!

Thank you for sharing your expectations with me. It can be helpful to explore these and acknowledge them at the start, as they can impact on the looking that goes on from here - and can colour our experience of what we expect to find or how we predict clear seeing to look, when it happens. For example:
I have a feeling that there is this radical different perspective in seeing myself and life, and I guess that is what I am looking for.
So we may come back to them and challenge them, as we go along...

The same with fears. Fear is a natural thing. It is happening as a response. The fear you feel might be a natural response to the unknown.
But I assure you there is nothing to fear. If no-self is true, then it is ALREADY true even now, and when you recognize what's already true, nothing will really change, only what you recognize.
Relax, everything already is out of control!


But first, just an exploration, to understand what is meant by "direct experience"... a brief explanation:
Direct experience (DE) is what is perceived via seeing, hearing, smelling, tasting and touch/feeling PLUS thought. When you look at/experience this moment, there is a range of sense perceptions and thought about it - or about the past - or about an I/me or about how something is good or bad or...

What we are exploring is what is actually perceived versus what thought says about the experience - does it match? We look at the concepts and beliefs that are established as thought patterns - like "I am a human being having this body/mind that is separate from the world".

Try this: Sit down and close your eyes. Can you please describe the direct experience that happens in this moment. Try to focus on sense perceptions only - not on what thought says about them... Do you find an entity "body"? What is there?

Do the same with eyes open... What do you find?

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Mikael66a
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Re: Interested in being guided

Postby Mikael66a » Sat May 30, 2015 7:42 pm

Hi Pea!

All exhausted, I ran the Stockholm marathon today (my first marathon). Terrible weather, rainy, windy and quite cold. But managed to run att my goal time, so very pleased with that, even though the body is in pain.

I have a couple of comments or questions:
But I assure you there is nothing to fear. If no-self is true, then it is ALREADY true even now, and when you recognize what's already true, nothing will really change, only what you recognize.
Relax, everything already is out of control!
Yes, intellectually I understand this. How could anything be other than it is. When I open up to this there is definitely a feeling of thruth to it, but at the same time some sort of resistance. It is like mind is not pleased with the experience, like mind is looking for or hoping for something more. It is like this feeling of momentum, where mind is so used always looking for happiness or away from non-happiness, that seem to come in.
Direct experience (DE) is what is perceived via seeing, hearing, smelling, tasting and touch/feeling PLUS thought. When you look at/experience this moment, there is a range of sense perceptions and thought about it - or about the past - or about an I/me or about how something is good or bad or...
So, just to be clear. Is there a direct experience of thought? Or is thought some sort of extra layer that is interpreting the direct experience? And if thought is an direct experience, could there be an interpreting of thought by thought?
Try this: Sit down and close your eyes. Can you please describe the direct experience that happens in this moment. Try to focus on sense perceptions only - not on what thought says about them... Do you find an entity "body"? What is there?
No, I wouldn´t say that I find an entity body. The experience is difficult to describe, but it is like something substantial but never in the same place. There is this feeling of sensations moving around, not really ever being in the same place and somehow unique in every experience. Thoughts also come in, asking "Am I doing this right? Could or should I do something to have a more direct, or "deeper", experience?"
Do the same with eyes open... What do you find?
I don´t feel that there is so much difference, except that it is a little more difficult to experience what is happening in "the body". With the "outer world" in sight, I seem to reach out or be drawn into examining that instead of looking inside.

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Re: Interested in being guided

Postby Pea » Sat May 30, 2015 8:17 pm

Hi Mikael

WELL DONE!!!

I am sure you must be exhausted. I run a lot of half marathons - but have only done one marathon, I always said that was enough. Although somehow I have put an application in for the London marathon next year...

But I know the pain! Have a bath, relax and I am sure you will get a good night's sleep.

So to your question:
Is there a direct experience of thought? Or is thought some sort of extra layer that is interpreting the direct experience? And if thought is an direct experience, could there be an interpreting of thought by thought?
Great... you have just set yourself your next question (not much work here for me is there?)

Let's look...
Is there a direct experience of thought? Or is thought some sort of extra layer that is interpreting the direct experience?
Just spend some time watching the flow of experience - what happens? Can you separate thought from other parts of DE?
Are YOU the thinker of thoughts?
Can YOU think and choose a thought?
Can you STOP a thought?
Can you make yourself think a thought?

And if thought is an direct experience, could there be an interpreting of thought by thought?
Again, look. Just try and watch thinking... are there different types of thinking? Different layers? Or is it all just thinking?

Take some time to really look through these tomorrow - no rush. Let's get this really clear.
We will come back to the previous question as I am sure there is more to explore there - but this enquiry feels interesting for now so let's look there first!

Sleep well!

Pea

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Mikael66a
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Re: Interested in being guided

Postby Mikael66a » Sun May 31, 2015 7:44 pm

Thank you! Today I have been walking around like a duck. However I think my body is slowly forgiving me, not meaning I´m already willing to sign up again...

I sat down this afternoon, looking at these questions:
Just spend some time watching the flow of experience - what happens? Can you separate thought from other parts of DE?
Are YOU the thinker of thoughts?
Can YOU think and choose a thought?
Can you STOP a thought?
Can you make yourself think a thought
A few things seem pretty clear when looking at thoughts. There is a direct experince of thoughts as well as sense impressions. That meaning, the thougths raise spontaneously, there is nothing or no one behing them. I can´t control which thoughts arise. I can´t really stop a thought either, what has arisen has already arisen.

Can I make myself think a thought? Well, this seem to be more complex for me. Again I can say, no because thoughts arise by themselves. But I seem to have a choice. Like if the thought arise - should I think about sex or what to make for dinner. Even though the first thought (the thought with the choice presented) arise spontaneously, it seem to me that I actually choose to follow one of the thoughts, and that way make myself think a thought.

So, let me just think out loud while looking at this last part... A choice is spontaneously presented in mind. Something happens that make me end up having thoughts about one of the two (let´s say what to make for dinner). What is that something...? When on that trail, thoughts seem to arise spontaneously again, but within the choosen area (different possible dishes, what dishes requires going shopping, will the kids like it...etc).

So, thoughts seem to be both spontaneous and not. Today, when looking at my thoughts spontaneously arising, a lot of them were about yesterdays marathon race. And these last years, a lot of my thoughts have evolved around my divorce. So, even thought the actual thoughts arise spontaneously, that arising seem to center around a happening or a habit. And of course around strong feelings and emotions.

I ask myself "What is that something?". There is a strong feeling that there is a chooser. I don´t choose the exact thoughts, but I seem to choose the area around which thoughts evolve. Or is the "choice" already made when mind comes in? Is mind only registering an already made choice, and then claims it as its own? Because, even though there is a strong feeling of a chooser, I can´t really find him. But how is it then that thoughts can circle around a certain topic? Why don´t I think about dinner one moment and where to go for vacation the next and then about what new book to read... What makes mind circle around a certain topic if there is no chooser? I´m looking at this but find it very difficult to penetrate.

Again, look. Just try and watch thinking... are there different types of thinking? Different layers? Or is it all just thinking?
What I find complex about this is that when I look at thoughts I often wake up this "commentator", that is trying to put words on my experience. Then I realise that I look at thought through thought. It is like I am telling someone else about my experience, like I am trying to explain for someone else in words. I guess this is what I´m meaning with different types of thinking. There seem to be thoughs that arise spontaneously, but there also seem to be thought whose purpose is to, how to say it...taking control of, or claiming the spontaneous. In a way this "second layer" of thoughts also arise spontaneous, but they seem to take the shape of a me, to limit the experince as something belonging to a self.

/Mikael

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Re: Interested in being guided

Postby Pea » Sun May 31, 2015 8:07 pm

Good evening Mikael

Great stuff - some really good exploration today.
There is a direct experince of thoughts as well as sense impressions.
Ok, so we have an answer to your question. But it seems that it starts to clarify the next area for exploration...
when I look at thoughts I often wake up this "commentator", that is trying to put words on my experience.
So describe this 'commentator' in Direct experience please, what is actually found (just like when you described the body in DE)
they seem to take the shape of a me, to limit the experince as something belonging to a self.
Again, from DE, how is this experience different from the other 'thinking' that goes on?

We will come back to choice/decisions as well but focus on these for now!

Just to check - how is feeling, to communicate in English? All ok?

Pea

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Mikael66a
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Re: Interested in being guided

Postby Mikael66a » Mon Jun 01, 2015 10:01 pm

Good evening to you.

Yes, it does feel good to clarify what I, to at least some extent understand, and what I am unclear about.
So describe this 'commentator' in Direct experience please, what is actually found (just like when you described the body in DE)
Well, what I find is a voice. My own voice telling myself or explaining to someone else what I am experiencing. The voice seem to come from the back of my head. It even seem to have a physical position above everything else. It seem to be in control, in a way superior to my sense impressions. But again, it is arising spontaneous. Or at least it is arising spontaneous out of certain sense impressions - it is commenting something.

I can´t say this voice is me. There is no one behind it. There is not actually a me that is saying the words. Words just show up. But still there is a strong me-feeling to it. It feels like a control tower. There is one part scanning my body, my thoughts and sense impressions "from the outer world". I does so every 10 seconds or so, looking out for anything that is threatening or interesting. And then there is this voice, clarifying what is experienced. And together (the radar and the voice) they seem to make up the me - the talking control tower...

And also, when I get mindful about the voice, I realise that it is not really me (because I can see it). But what is happening then is that another voice is stepping in (actually it is the same voice, but it gives the impression of stepping in one step above as a new superior voice). And the of course that second voice is discovered by a third voice, that now is claiming to be the real me (unlike the two, or fifteen previous fake-me). So I guess, the question here is if this second or fifteenth voice really is different than the first one. Just because the voice say that it is different doesn´t mean that it really is. But I must say that it is convincing, just through the pure fact that it loudly says that it is the real me.

Looking at it from a slightly different perspective there might not be a real connection between my sense impressions and the story the voice is telling. It is just a story that is running, a thought that appears, unfolds in a sequence of thoughts and then disapears. But at the same time, I must say there is a feeling of a story running most of the time, and it very often seem to have me in the major role .

Hmm, I see a lot of words here, but I´m not very clear about this. This layer upon layer (or the feeling of it) of thoughts is really confusing me. It is like thought is always running away, hiding behind "the next me". I somehow understand that it is all just thought, but when I try to grasp it I just create another thought.

So why do I try to grasp it? I guess that I want to control it. Because if I can control it, there must be a me (doing the controlling), and a part of me really like that idea.

Sorry, a bit more than direct experiencing here, but looking at thoughts seem to wake up my thoughts.
Just to check - how is feeling, to communicate in English? All ok?
Yes, so far no problem. I hope you are ok with it (the not perfect english) as well.

/Mikael

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Pea
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Re: Interested in being guided

Postby Pea » Mon Jun 01, 2015 10:13 pm

Hi Mikael

Your English is very good and there are no problems here understanding.

Can you make the commentator talk and explain every single thing you do?

Is the commentator always there, commentating?

If the commentator isn't there, does that mean there is no 'self' in those moments?

What about when there are 15 voices - does that mean there are 15 of you? Is it possible to say which is the real 'you', when you look in DE?

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Mikael66a
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Re: Interested in being guided

Postby Mikael66a » Tue Jun 02, 2015 7:44 pm

Hello Pea!

I´ll jump right in...
Can you make the commentator talk and explain every single thing you do?
No, the commentator is very limited. There are a lot of things happening within me and outside me that the commentator don´t pick up. It is more like a story teller. It is not commenting on everything, like all sense impressions. And when it comes to comments that circle around sense impressions the commentator does seem to be one step beyond. But at the same time, sometimes I feel like the commentating is what make sense impressions seem real. I know they have arisen previous to the thought (the comment), but it is like the comment makes it real, stabile, concrete, possible to handle.

Is the commentator always there, commentating?
Sometimes it feels so, but no. Unless it gets caught in a story, in a train of thoughts (like if I in the mind begins to tell someone a story of how good my meditation was, or how great this kind of pracice is and that they should try it out), it shows up very momentarily. It is like it is only leaving a comment. It is like that radar I was mentioning earlier. It shows up, stays for a short, somehow just checking that "me" is still there and then withdraws (but with a feeling of staying very close).
If the commentator isn't there, does that mean there is no 'self' in those moments?
Well, it is obvious that the body and mind functions perfectly well without the commentator. It just goes on living. But that feeling of me is so closely connected to that "voice inside the head" that when it is not there, like for example if I am beginning to get focused in meditation, fear arises. Like this feeling of "oh, I almost lost myself there".
What about when there are 15 voices - does that mean there are 15 of you? Is it possible to say which is the real 'you', when you look in DE?
The feeling is that only the latest one is the real me. Actually it is like, only the one that is happening now feel real. It looks on and comments on the other voices, that now are memories. When looking more closely it is like the words are dying at the same moment they are "spoken". They are no longer direct experience. Arising and dying of the words and all sense impressions are somehow happening at the same time. But I guess I´m so used seeing the arising (the one I may have to defend myself against) that I hardly ever see the dying.

/Mikael

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Mikael66a
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Re: Interested in being guided

Postby Mikael66a » Tue Jun 02, 2015 7:50 pm

Hello Pea!

I´ll jump right in...
Can you make the commentator talk and explain every single thing you do?
No, the commentator is very limited. There are a lot of things happening within me and outside me that the commentator don´t pick up. It is more like a story teller. It is not commenting on everything, like all sense impressions. And when it comes to comments that circle around sense impressions the commentator does seem to be one step beyond. But at the same time, sometimes I feel like the commentating is what make sense impressions seem real. I know they have arisen previous to the thought (the comment), but it is like the comment makes it real, stabile, concrete, possible to handle.

Is the commentator always there, commentating?
Sometimes it feels so, but no. Unless it gets caught in a story, in a train of thoughts (like if I in the mind begins to tell someone a story of how good my meditation was, or how great this kind of pracice is and that they should try it out), it shows up very momentarily. It is like it is only leaving a comment. It is like that radar I was mentioning earlier. It shows up, stays for a short, somehow just checking that "me" is still there and then withdraws (but with a feeling of staying very close).
If the commentator isn't there, does that mean there is no 'self' in those moments?
Well, it is obvious that the body and mind functions perfectly well without the commentator. It just goes on living. But that feeling of me is so closely connected to that "voice inside the head" that when it is not there, like for example if I am beginning to get focused in meditation, fear arises. Like this feeling of "oh, I almost lost myself there".
What about when there are 15 voices - does that mean there are 15 of you? Is it possible to say which is the real 'you', when you look in DE?
The feeling is that only the latest one is the real me. Actually it is like, only the one that is happening now feel real. It looks on and comments on the other voices, that now are memories. When looking more closely it is like the words are dying at the same moment they are "spoken". They are no longer direct experience. Arising and dying of the words and all sense impressions are somehow happening at the same time. But I guess I´m so used seeing the arising (the one I may have to defend myself against) that I hardly ever see the dying.

/Mikael


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