Breaking my own heart

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andrea3868
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Breaking my own heart

Postby andrea3868 » Sun Jul 12, 2015 11:23 am

I just finished reading Gateless Gatecrashers, and I'm ready. Did a lot of reading in my twenties, school of metaphysics and Landmark Education in my 30's and 40's, more reading, talking, seeking in my early 50's. It seems that patterns in my life just keep playing out, and I go from having all of the control to no control at all in a heartbeat. 2 years ago I feel desperately in love, and could see the whole time that it would end with my breaking my own heart, again. 3 months ago it ended. I've been profoundly sad, and had moments of euphoria. I see it as an opportunity, one of those times in my life when there is nothing solid to stand on. My expectations? To see what I have not seen before, whatever that is.

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Alexw
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Re: Breaking my own heart

Postby Alexw » Mon Jul 13, 2015 2:21 am

Hi Andrea,

Thank you for your introduction, it was a pleasure reading your honest lines.
My name is Alex and I would be happy to discuss this with you.

You mentioned that your expectations are:
To see what I have not seen before, whatever that is.
Could you please let me know how you define yourself. What is this "I" that is seeing something?
Is it your body, your mind or a combination of both? Can you describe in detail what is happening when this "I/self" is seeing/hearing/smelling or touching something?
Please try to avoid stories about what you think is being experienced, but rather try to stick to the actual, direct experience itself.

Kind regards,
Alex

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andrea3868
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Re: Breaking my own heart

Postby andrea3868 » Tue Jul 14, 2015 8:51 pm

Hi Alex!
Could you please let me know how you define yourself. What is this "I" that is seeing something?
All of the obvious stuff, woman, mother, ex-wife, ex-lover. I use that to define myself, but I don't know that it defines me. When I say 'to see what I have not seen before' I am definitely talking about a me that has seen certain things. I've seen my dead mother, for example. It's very real for me. I was standing there, by the bed, looking down and seeing with my eyes. Me, me, me, I, I, I. It's something that I can't unsee, something I'm certain I have seen.
Is it your body, your mind or a combination of both? Can you describe in detail what is happening when this "I/self" is seeing/hearing/smelling or touching something?
Please try to avoid stories about what you think is being experienced, but rather try to stick to the actual, direct experience itself.
Just re-read that again and realized I am exactly telling you a story about what happened, rather than talking about a direct experience of what is happening now. I guess that's why I've read so many posts about keyboards and monitors, eh?

I have the thought 'I'll start a new paragragh' and I watch my finger reach out to touch the enter key. I think and my words appear on the screen. Not all of them. Not always the ones I intend, I just typed 'niot' instead of 'not' and corrected it. I feel my fingers on the keys. I hear the clicking of the keyboard. I see the words appear on the screen. I'm thinking the words that I want to type, and I'm thinking about the words and not typing that part.

It seems to be a combination of my body and my mind.

Thanks,
Andrea

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Alexw
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Re: Breaking my own heart

Postby Alexw » Wed Jul 15, 2015 3:32 am

Hi Andrea,

Great! Well done!
Just re-read that again and realized I am exactly telling you a story about what happened
Yes :-) Thats what we normally tend to do - we wrap everything we experience into some kind of story, don't we?
We see the story, but not anymore the "background"... So lets have a closer look at this "background"...
I watch my finger reach out to touch the enter key
Maybe lets have a look not at your finger, but some other object first. Take a cup and put it on the desk in front of you. Now sit down, relax, and look at it... You might think "I look at the cup... pretty obvious, so what now..?". It seems obvious that "I" look at the cup, thats how we communicate and thats what we tell ourselves, don't we? What I want you to do is to find the "I" that is doing the looking. What do you find when you look at the cup? Focus on your visual perception only - not on what thought might say about it. What is there? Is there an entity "I/self" looking at a cup? If so, where exactly is the border between "I/self" and cup? Please report in detail what you find.

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andrea3868
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Re: Breaking my own heart

Postby andrea3868 » Wed Jul 15, 2015 2:27 pm

Alex, I get a glimpse of something. I can find 'I' in my intention to look at the cup, in the directing of my gaze. While I am looking at the cup, if I totally discount the thoughts that I'm having, completely ignore them, then the experience is different. There was maybe half a second there, when I first started, where there was no border between the cup and I. There was seeing, some air, and the cup, but they were all connected. Kinda like a gradient from red to white, not possible to put an exact point on when red stops and white starts.

But, it's occurring to me again that I'm turning it all into a story.
What I want you to do is to find the "I" that is doing the looking. What do you find when you look at the cup? Focus on your visual perception only - not on what thought might say about it. What is there? Is there an entity "I/self" looking at a cup? If so, where exactly is the border between "I/self" and cup?
Ok, tried again, something is going on here. As soon as I try to describe it, 'I' come back. What is this 'seeing' thing I've been doing my whole life, thoughtlessly? huh. So I can see that 'I' come and go. 'I' is here in my thoughts. It doesn't seem to be anywhere else.

Andrea

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Re: Breaking my own heart

Postby Alexw » Thu Jul 16, 2015 2:30 am

I can see that 'I' come and go. 'I' is here in my thoughts. It doesn't seem to be anywhere else.
Yes, very well observed! This "I/self" comes and goes with thought. It can not be found anywhere else, can it?

Are they even "your" thoughts? Can you find the "I" that owns them?
Look at how thought operates... is there a thinker of thoughts, maybe a generator/producer of thoughts? Or do they simply arise and vanish? Can you control what you are thinking next? Is there a controlling entity? How does that work?
As soon as I try to describe it, 'I' come back.
:-) Yes!
When you look at this experience - seeing, hearing, smelling, tasting, touching (plus thought) - what puts the "I" into the equation?

Is there an "I" that is hearing a car or a bird? Sit down and close your eyes. Relax and listen...
Is there a separate entity "I/self" hearing? Can you separate "yourself" from the sound? What do you find?

Try this also with the sense of touch. Put your hand on the desk in front of you. Close your eyes, relax. Focus on your hand. What do you feel? Do you feel a "hand" or a "desk"? What tells you that this is your hand or that this is a desk? Without thought labelling the sensation, what is there? Where do "you" start and where does the sensation of touch end? Is there a border to be found?

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andrea3868
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Re: Breaking my own heart

Postby andrea3868 » Thu Jul 16, 2015 2:34 pm

Hi Alex,
Yes, very well observed! This "I/self" comes and goes with thought. It can not be found anywhere else, can it?
Although it does seem like I should be able to find 'I' somewhere, in my direct experience the only place I can find 'I' is in my thoughts.
Are they even "your" thoughts? Can you find the "I" that owns them?
Look at how thought operates... is there a thinker of thoughts, maybe a generator/producer of thoughts? Or do they simply arise and vanish? Can you control what you are thinking next? Is there a controlling entity? How does that work?
Yes, they are my thoughts. There is something here that is experiencing thinking, and that is me. I believe I have some control over my thoughts. I can catch myself thinking about the break up and getting sad, I notice, and I tell myself 'think about something else, you can't get upset right now' and I do start thinking about something else. And I don't have much control, because it could only be 2 or 3 minutes and I will catch myself thinking about it again.
When you look at this experience - seeing, hearing, smelling, tasting, touching (plus thought) - what puts the "I" into the equation?
It's definitely a thought that puts the 'I' in the equation.
Is there an "I" that is hearing a car or a bird? Sit down and close your eyes. Relax and listen...
Is there a separate entity "I/self" hearing? Can you separate "yourself" from the sound? What do you find?
I read your email before I got out of bed this morning, and while I was in the shower I did the excercise. I listened to the water coming out of the shower head, and then going down the drain, and then tried to hear something outside of the shower. While I am engaged in listening, and I am ignoring my thoughts, there is no 'I'. There is something there though, Alex. There is something that remembered your email, decided to do the exercise in the shower, directed my attention to the water. I've always called that something 'I' or 'me'.
Try this also with the sense of touch. Put your hand on the desk in front of you. Close your eyes, relax. Focus on your hand. What do you feel? Do you feel a "hand" or a "desk"? What tells you that this is your hand or that this is a desk? Without thought labelling the sensation, what is there? Where do "you" start and where does the sensation of touch end? Is there a border to be found?


I feel a temperature, the desk feels cool to me. I feel a smooth texture. It is only my thoughts that tell me 'hand' or 'desk', 'cool' and 'smooth'. I don't know what there is without thought labelling the sensation, because it won't stop. If I ignore thought, there is still something there, some sensation, but impossible to describe. It seems that 'I' start at the boundary of my skin. Everything outside of that boundary is 'not I'. It occurs like there is a definite border or boundary. That's how it occurs. In reality, without thought, I can't find one. I can't find anything.

Andrea

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Alexw
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Re: Asking for a (different) guide

Postby Alexw » Fri Jul 17, 2015 2:37 am

in my direct experience the only place I can find 'I' is in my thoughts
Yes, well seen.
I believe I have some control over my thoughts.
Lets say you look out of the window and a car drives buy, you look at it. Can you control the thought that arises?
Can you decide wether a thought "Nice car!" pops up or maybe another thought "I have to hurry up! I am late!"?

Try this simple exercise: Think about a number between 1 and 10. Try to see how the number arises. Did you choose which number should show up? Was there an entity "thinker" that decided or controlled the outcome? Repeat this a few times...

When sad thoughts come up based on past experiences they continue for a while and suddenly "you" are aware of this process, you catch yourself, and try to think about something else, right? So you seem to have control... But do you?
How does this work? How do you suddenly become aware of these sad thoughts? Is there an entity there that directs the flow of thoughts or is there simply a new thought arising "Ah! I am caught in sad thoughts! Lets think something else!"... Now, whats next? What is the next thought that shows up? Do you decide if you think about the funny movie from last night, ice cream or the upcoming holiday?
Yes, they are my thoughts. There is something here that is experiencing thinking, and that is me.
Can you please describe this "me" in more detail? Where is it? How is it experienced? What tells you that it is a "me"?
There is something that remembered your email, decided to do the exercise in the shower, directed my attention to the water. I've always called that something 'I' or 'me'.
How does "remembering" work? Is there a "you" that remembers? Do you access a memory database and choose which thing you should remember right now?
When you went into the shower, did "you" remember to do the exercise or was there suddenly a thought saying "Now! Lets listen to the water and see what this is all about."?
In reality, without thought, I can't find one. I can't find anything.
Very well seen!

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andrea3868
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Re: Breaking my own heart

Postby andrea3868 » Sat Jul 18, 2015 4:11 pm

Hi Alex,
Lets say you look out of the window and a car drives buy, you look at it. Can you control the thought that arises?
Can you decide wether a thought "Nice car!" pops up or maybe another thought "I have to hurry up! I am late!"?

Try this simple exercise: Think about a number between 1 and 10. Try to see how the number arises. Did you choose which number should show up? Was there an entity "thinker" that decided or controlled the outcome? Repeat this a few times...
It seems like I should have some control over the thought that arises when a car drives by, but I can't find that control in my direct experience.

The first number I though of was 3. Then I had the thought "I'm going to think of 5", and so I did. It doesn't seem that I had any control over the number 3 or the number 5. It's like I can think about what number I'm going to pick, but the number that shows up on those thoughts just appears.
When sad thoughts come up based on past experiences they continue for a while and suddenly "you" are aware of this process, you catch yourself, and try to think about something else, right? So you seem to have control... But do you?
How does this work? How do you suddenly become aware of these sad thoughts? Is there an entity there that directs the flow of thoughts or is there simply a new thought arising "Ah! I am caught in sad thoughts! Lets think something else!"... Now, whats next? What is the next thought that shows up? Do you decide if you think about the funny movie from last night, ice cream or the upcoming holiday?
I become aware that a sad thought arises. The next thought (ice cream, a movie) just shows up. Then I think oh, I don't want to think about that, I want to think about getting a new car, and I start thinking about a new car. It's THAT thought that makes it seem as though I have some control. But here's something that just occurred to me Alex - If I have no control over my thoughts, how is this working, this thing that you and I are doing? Didn't I decide to get on the forum, decide to ask for a guide, make the decision to come back day after day and look at these questions? It seems to me that I am annihilating (maybe not the right word) thought with thought. Nothing wrong with that, just seems... um... crazy.
Can you please describe this "me" in more detail? Where is it? How is it experienced? What tells you that it is a "me"?
No, sorry, apparently I can't describe this me in more detail. All I have is some vague 'thinker of thoughts, doer of deeds, holder of memories'. Seems to be quite slippery. And it is all thought. Not a damn thing that doesn't live wholly in thought.
How does "remembering" work? Is there a "you" that remembers? Do you access a memory database and choose which thing you should remember right now?
When you went into the shower, did "you" remember to do the exercise or was there suddenly a thought saying "Now! Lets listen to the water and see what this is all about."?
It does seem a bit like a database. I just now thought 'ok, remember something' and 2 or 3 thoughts came up right away, and after each of them the thought 'not that'. Like this:
Remember something
last weekend
no, not that
yesterday at work
no, not that
the dog
yes, think about the dog

There were images that came with the words. The mountain meadow I was in last weekend, my desk at work, a picture of both dogs in my head, even though I was thinking about the black one, really.

Andrea

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Alexw
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Re: Breaking my own heart

Postby Alexw » Sun Jul 19, 2015 6:18 am

Hi Andrea,

Great observations!
It seems to me that I am annihilating (maybe not the right word) thought with thought. Nothing wrong with that, just seems... um... crazy.
Yes, maybe not "annihilating thought with thought", but you are rather looking at thought using again... thought... Any why not..? How else would you look at anything? Can you find any other tool to look at thought?
Is there any other tool at all that could be used to make sense of this experience (seeing, hearing etc etc and of other thoughts)?

If seeing, hearing, smelling, tasting and the sense of touch can not add any meaning or properties like good, bad, ugly, pretty etc... to this experience then thought seems to be the only thing that seems to be able to do just that...
Can you find an "I/self" in seeing, hearing, smelling, tasting or the sense of touch? If not, the only other option is thought, right? Now... What do you find when you look at thought? Where is this "I/self? You couldn't find a thinker/owner of thought, but still thought happens and this "I/self" seems to be there... What else can thought "do"?

Look at some simply routine tasks, like getting up in the morning. You wake up and open your eyes, in this first moment, what is there? A few moments later you feel thirsty. A thought appears "I am thirsty!"... Do you see how this "I/self" is created with just one single thought..? See if you can find a few examples throughout your day. Where can you find this "I/self"?

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andrea3868
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Re: Breaking my own heart

Postby andrea3868 » Mon Jul 20, 2015 2:56 pm

Hi Alex,
How else would you look at anything? Can you find any other tool to look at thought?
Is there any other tool at all that could be used to make sense of this experience (seeing, hearing etc etc and of other thoughts)?
No, I can think of no other tool to use. Not even a useless one, can't find anything other than thought. There is just experience, outside of thought (or maybe besides thought as it never stops, I can only ignore it. Who is that I that can ignore my thoughts? Do I really do that? hmmm).
Do you see how this "I/self" is created with just one single thought..? See if you can find a few examples throughout your day. Where can you find this "I/self"?
This morning, I 'caught' myself thinking about all of the many men I've broken up with in my life, the many times it hasn't worked out to be a long term permanent thing. I was trying to figure out the common thread, what do all of these men have in common that I should avoid with the next one? And then it occurred to me - ME! I'm the common thread, the common denominator. And then I thought of the work we've been doing, and the thought was 'what if there really is no 'me'? Then there's nothing to avoid!' and I had this sense of a openness, a sense of possibility, a sense of the futility of protecting myself from the unreal. I could see that 'I' am just a function of my thoughts, changeable, nothing fixed or permanent here. It feels peaceful Alex, and maybe a little boring.

Andrea

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Re: Breaking my own heart

Postby Alexw » Tue Jul 21, 2015 12:45 am

Hi Andrea,

Thank you for sharing this.
I could see that 'I' am just a function of my thoughts, changeable, nothing fixed or permanent here. It feels peaceful Alex, and maybe a little boring.
Yes, well seen, this "I" is just a collection of thoughts... nothing permanent there, just an ever changing flow of thought. Seeing that this is so does not mean that this "I" is now suddenly gone - it just means that "you" have seen how this process works. You will still act like an "I/self", but it will become more and more obvious to you that this is just something you have learned over time - it is not a permanent self. This does not mean that you can't enjoy being you - be you without regrets and in the most non-boring way you can. Why not? Having no permanent separate self does not mean that life has to be boring, does it?
Who is that I that can ignore my thoughts? Do I really do that?
When you ignore your thoughts, how exactly does that work?
A thought appears "I am unhappy!" - another one "Lets ignore this last thought!" - another one "How am I doing that?" another one "Hmmm... Lets have coffee!"
Where is the thinker that ignores certain thoughts? Is there one?

Can you choose to ignore a thought? Can you choose to ignore anything - a sound, the tree, the smell of a flower..?
How does choosing A over B work? Look at some decisions that you make and let me know what you find.

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andrea3868
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Re: Breaking my own heart

Postby andrea3868 » Wed Jul 22, 2015 8:09 pm

Hi Alex,
This does not mean that you can't enjoy being you - be you without regrets and in the most non-boring way you can. Why not? Having no permanent separate self does not mean that life has to be boring, does it?
No, maybe boring wasn't the best word, maybe drama-free describes it better. Although that does give me a little insight, would I habitually label a lack of drama as boring? maybe...
How does choosing A over B work? Look at some decisions that you make and let me know what you find.
K, I've spent a couple of days looking at this. I think the best example is from the shower this morning. I had the thought "I should get out of the shower" and stood there under the warm water. And then again 'I'm going to be late if I don't get out of here'... and then suddenly, outside of the shower and drying off. No idea when the actual 'decision' was made, just thoughts about getting out of the shower that seemed ineffective, and then actually out of the shower, for real.

Deciding to go go yoga after work today. I decided that last week. Class got cancelled. Class is back on. No decisions or choosing on my part at all.

Lunch today. A coworker offers to go get my lunch, and pay for it. My actual thought was 'do I even like that? but it's free...' And then the words are coming out of my mouth to accept. No recollection of a thought that was a decision.

I can find thoughts about decisions. Actually generating or creating a thought that IS a decision though, I can't find that anywhere, Alex. It seems like stuff just happens.

Andrea

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Re: Breaking my own heart

Postby Alexw » Thu Jul 23, 2015 12:23 am

I can find thoughts about decisions. Actually generating or creating a thought that IS a decision though, I can't find that anywhere, Alex. It seems like stuff just happens.
Yes, well seen, there are plenty of thoughts ABOUT decisions and "me" apparently making them, but a thought that IS a decision can not be found... Its more a commentary that happens after the fact, isn't it?
Although that does give me a little insight, would I habitually label a lack of drama as boring? maybe...
:-) Yes, I guess thats spot on. How "interesting" would the news on TV be without all the drama that happens all around the globe? Who could sell a newspaper if there would be only "boring" stuff to report..?

Anyway, we are not here to pity the world as it appears to exist, but to look at it without these conceptual overlay...
Lets go back to looking... Sit down and look at an object. Doesn't matter if its again a cup on the desk or the tree over there. You already had a look if you can find the looker, the "I", that is looking at an object. You could only find this "I" as a thought, not as a separate entity, right?

Lets look at what makes the cup a cup - its again, simply a thought labelling part of this experience, right? It's a thought that gives the cup its "cup-ness"... What is there without the thought?
Look at what is behind the label. What is it that thought labels "cup"? How far can you break down (or simplify) the experience "looking at cup" before language and thought-concepts can not go any further?

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Re: Breaking my own heart

Postby andrea3868 » Thu Jul 23, 2015 10:52 pm

Lets look at what makes the cup a cup - its again, simply a thought labelling part of this experience, right? It's a thought that gives the cup its "cup-ness"... What is there without the thought?
I have a bottle of water on my desk today. What is there without the labeling of the bottle? Well, my tricky little thoughts jumped to all kinds of other labels, but I caught them... ha! none of that happened, did it?

What is there without the labeling of the bottle? There's nothing. It's only thought that tells me what it is. If I reach out and touch it, there's a sensation. But that the sensation is 'solid' or 'cold' is still only a thought.
Look at what is behind the label. What is it that thought labels "cup"? How far can you break down (or simplify) the experience "looking at cup" before language and thought-concepts can not go any further?
Sitting here, looking at the water bottle. Thought can make it pretty complex. To simplify the experience, I can ignore my thoughts about it. Can I? There I go again. I have a thought that I will ignore my thoughts. It does seem like there's some kind of a gap, some kind of a space that 'looking at water bottle' is done in that is beyond thought, but it's also only a thought that tells me that. There is something there though, Alex, that disappears as soon as I try to describe it. It's pretty reliable, I've done it several times now. As soon as I try to put words around it, it's gone, or different anyway.

Andrea


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