Is this it? I feel really stupid now!

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Ghata
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Is this it? I feel really stupid now!

Postby Ghata » Thu Aug 06, 2015 6:29 pm

Hallo,
after having practiced Buddist meditation (Zen and Vipassana) for 20 years and also studying the palikanon in depth, I felt like I hadn’t arrived anywhere. I had had some wonderful sneak previews into reality but was never able to stay there.

Recently I was diagnosed with breast cancer and my mind and emotions just went crazy. Nothing I tried out of my repertory was able to calm me or stop the turmoil.

I realized that I had absolutely no power, neither about my body, nor my mind, nor my emotions. This is what the Buddha explains to be the proof of no-self. I understood the logic but couldn’t feel or see it. It still felt like my fear, my thinking, my body.

That was the moment when I decided to stop the search and find out for real, NOW.

The awakened dreamer popped up in my timeline on Facebook for the first time. There I found a link to your site. After reading a few threads in the archive it felt like this is the place to go to for finding what I was looking for.

I downloaded “The Gatecrashers” and started reading immediately. What great direct questions to ask yourself! After three days I read the conversation between Elena and Jamie.

At one point Elena asked: “Is there any ‘you’ in reality in any shape or form? Find out. Now. Answer me.”

And I thought: “No. Of course not! Of course it is a label my mind puts on the sum of all my thoughts, feelings, bodily sensations." In that moment I realized it.

And then I felt really stupid. Such an easy question, so easy to answer! Such a really small step! I marveled at how I had not been able to see this simple truth for such a long time.

It wasn’t the big change I expected it to be. I didn’t suddenly feel loving kindness to everybody nor could I enjoy a totally quiet mind. I wasn’t even blissed out, the minimum I would have expected. Whatever my sneak previews had been, they had been something different. I just felt stupid for not seeing such a simple truth earlier. At the same time I couldn’t stop smiling and laughing.

Just a slight shift – and still everything changed. I went on a walk to be alone for while. People in the street being just forms of different shapes and colors. The thought crossing my mind: How am I going to deal with people now? Sounds of cars and motorbykes reaching my ears. Strange, I wasn’t annoyed as usually by the sound. Cueing up for an ice-cream, I looked at the red hair of the girl in front of me and tears welled up because the structure and color seemed overwhelmingly beautiful. The mind went on rattling as usual, labeling everything. Maybe that’s what it’s there for.

My question: Is this it?

Thank you!
In the seen just the seen. In the heard just the heard.
(Bahiya-Sutta)

http://www.unterwegsmitbuddha.de

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Alexw
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Re: Is this it? I feel really stupid now!

Postby Alexw » Fri Aug 07, 2015 1:22 am

Hi Ghata,

Great to have you here.
I very much enjoyed your honest description, beautiful!
My question: Is this it?
Well, yes, that's what we generally call crossing the gate - its a simple, but profound, realisation, not a blissed-out experience that only lasts for a little while. It is also another beginning - not the end of the "path".
And I thought: “No. Of course not! Of course it is a label my mind puts on the sum of all my thoughts, feelings, bodily sensations." In that moment I realized it.
Yes, well seen!
Are they even "your" thoughts? Who owns them?
Can you find a separate thinker/owner/controller of thought or do they simply arise and vanish...?

Kind regards,
Alex

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Ghata
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Re: Is this it? I feel really stupid now!

Postby Ghata » Fri Aug 07, 2015 9:24 am

Hi Alexw,
Great to have you here.
I very much enjoyed your honest description, beautiful!
Thank you, Alexw. I am very happy to be with you.
Well, yes, that's what we generally call crossing the gate - its a simple, but profound, realisation, not a blissed-out experience that only lasts for a little while. It is also another beginning - not the end of the "path".
I am feeling that already. It's incredible how powerful old patterns show up so quickly to be investigated. Sometimes it does feel a little overwhelming. Allow me to use the word I as a substitute for all the -ing words, they sound so artificial.
Are they even "your" thoughts? Who owns them?
Can you find a separate thinker/owner/controller of thought or do they simply arise and vanish...?
I wish I would own them and tell them exactly what to think, when to think and to always be the very best advisors you could imagine :-). Unfortunately that is not the case. I don't have a say in it and since there is no I anyway who should have the say? So I have to deal with the wise, unwise, sometimes soap-opera like thoughts, coming out of ... maybe my brain. Maybe they are the motorsound of my brain?

Thank you ever so much for taking the time to answer me <3,
Ghata
In the seen just the seen. In the heard just the heard.
(Bahiya-Sutta)

http://www.unterwegsmitbuddha.de

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Ghata
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Re: Is this it? I feel really stupid now!

Postby Ghata » Fri Aug 07, 2015 7:29 pm

Hi Alexw,

Trying to avoid "enlightend gibberish" I am getting a little bit too sloppy with my language.
I don't have a say in it and since there is no I anyway who should have the say?
Edited version:
But since the I is just another thought it doesn't work out. How could a thought cotrol other thoughts? The I is a kind of viral thought that attaches itself to every experience.

Hope this is clearer,
Ghata
In the seen just the seen. In the heard just the heard.
(Bahiya-Sutta)

http://www.unterwegsmitbuddha.de

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Alexw
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Re: Is this it? I feel really stupid now!

Postby Alexw » Sat Aug 08, 2015 12:11 am

Hi Ghata,
Trying to avoid "enlightend gibberish" I am getting a little bit too sloppy with my language.
Haha... yes, that is a very common thing in these non-dual circles... suddenly we have to talk avoiding certain words, which is not a sign of understanding, rather the opposite :-)
But since the I is just another thought it doesn't work out. How could a thought cotrol other thoughts? The I is a kind of viral thought that attaches itself to every experience.
Yes, well seen.
A thought can not do anything except of arise - be - and vanish (and even this is a conceptual differentiation).
Isn't this the same for all other arisings? Sounds, smells, visual perception, feelings...
What seems to give them continuity? Is it the sound itself or rather your compulsive thinking about the experience? What links one sound to the next? What links colours into shapes and then into forms/objects?

Yes, in a way the I/self is like a virus in a computer system... I like the comparison.

When you sit down and relax - simply be present - enjoy this moment, this experience. There is visual perception, sounds, smells, tastes, sensations... and then there is thought about it, trying to add meaning to it. When you only focus on a part of this experience, e.g. sound, what is there? What do you find? Thought says "I hear a bird, now a car.". Does that match with the direct experience of "hearing"? What is there without thought-story?

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Ghata
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Re: Is this it? I feel really stupid now!

Postby Ghata » Sat Aug 08, 2015 1:13 pm

Hi Alexw,

Thank you for your answer. In case you haven't seen my first answer, I want to tell you again that I very much appreciate you taking the time for chatting with me.

Sounds, smells, visual perception, feelings...
What seems to give them continuity? Is it the sound itself or rather your compulsive thinking about the experience? What links one sound to the next? What links colours into shapes and then into forms/objects?
Just arising and falling, nothing links them together. They just come and go. The thoughts do what the camera does for a tourist: they create a memory for these experiences and link them together.

But the photo of the Grand Canyon is not the Grand Canyon. And the thought-memory of the perception is not the perception itself.

There is something good in this labeling though: You learn how to recognize your car keys and don't take a bottle of Coke to start your car. ;-)
When you sit down and relax - simply be present - enjoy this moment, this experience. There is visual perception, sounds, smells, tastes, sensations... and then there is thought about it, trying to add meaning to it. When you only focus on a part of this experience, e.g. sound, what is there? What do you find? Thought says "I hear a bird, now a car.". Does that match with the direct experience of "hearing"? What is there without thought-story?
Wow, I am seeing something new:
When I focus on the sensation, like the sound of the computer cooler fan, there is just this perception. No name, not even "sound".
And the most amazing thing happening: the sense of *me* hearing it fades away. Though I have seen that there is no "I" in reality, there is still a kind of I-sense left. And this fades away when just listening, leaving behind - just rising and falling of no-name perceptions, nobody hearing it.

Heureka! It looks like "I think, therefore I am" is part of the viral coding.

Thank you for your great insightful questions!
Ghata
In the seen just the seen. In the heard just the heard.
(Bahiya-Sutta)

http://www.unterwegsmitbuddha.de

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Re: Is this it? I feel really stupid now!

Postby Alexw » Sun Aug 09, 2015 5:04 am

Hi Ghata!

Yes, beautiful, great observations!
I want to tell you again that I very much appreciate you taking the time for chatting with me.
Thank you! I very much enjoy our discussion as well.

I will answer in more detail tomorrow. Have a nice Sunday!

Alex

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Re: Is this it? I feel really stupid now!

Postby Alexw » Mon Aug 10, 2015 12:51 am

But the photo of the Grand Canyon is not the Grand Canyon. And the thought-memory of the perception is not the perception itself.

There is something good in this labeling though: You learn how to recognize your car keys and don't take a bottle of Coke to start your car. ;-)
Haha... yes, it has some benefits :-)
It looks like "I think, therefore I am" is part of the viral coding.
Yes, no thought, no I.
I wonder how Descartes meant it at the time...

Anyway, at the moment I don't have any more questions. Do you have any for me? Any doubts arising?

If not, then please have a look at these 6 questions. They normally finalise the conversations that we have with people coming to LU - afterwards we can add you to the LU Facebook groups, if you wish. There are many "like minded" people there.

1) Is there a separate entity 'self', 'me' 'I', at all, anywhere, in any way, shape or form? Was there ever?

2) Explain in detail what the illusion of separate self is, when it starts and how it works from your own experience. Describe it fully as you see it now.

3) How does it feel to see this? What is the difference from before you started this dialogue? Please report from the past few days.

4) What was the last bit that pushed you over, made you look?

5) Describe decision, intention, free will, choice and control. What makes things happen? How does it work? What are you responsible for? Please give examples from recent experience.

6) Anything to add?

Kind regards,
Alex

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Ghata
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Re: Is this it? I feel really stupid now!

Postby Ghata » Tue Aug 11, 2015 6:39 pm

Hi Alex,

thank you for your answer.

I will answer the questions over the next days. Right now I am submerged in powerful emotions coming up, I did not even have an idea they were inside me. This morning I woke up crying and it went on for quite a while. The only thing to do is to let it happen.

I am wondering whether it has to do with cutting the I-string that maybe held them down.

So much for now,
Ghata
In the seen just the seen. In the heard just the heard.
(Bahiya-Sutta)

http://www.unterwegsmitbuddha.de

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Re: Is this it? I feel really stupid now!

Postby Alexw » Wed Aug 12, 2015 12:49 am

Hi Ghata,

No problem, take your time.
Yes, it can be a very emotional time - let it all out!

Alex

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Re: Is this it? I feel really stupid now!

Postby Ghata » Wed Aug 12, 2015 3:45 pm

Hi Alex,

it is a pity that our conversation was so short. I enjoyed talking to you so much!

We matched really well and I could easily understand your language und you mine. That made it a lot of fun.
So here are my answers to the six questions.

1) Is there a separate entity 'self', 'me' 'I', at all, anywhere, in any way, shape or form? Was there ever?
No, the I cannot be found anywhere, neither on the outside nor on the inside. What I found were thoughts, feelings and sensory perceptions. No I anywhere. It didn’t die, it never existed.

2) Explain in detail what the illusion of separate self is, when it starts and how it works from your own experience. Describe it fully as you see it now.
What I experienced as my “I” was just another thought. It m
eant the sum of all experiences, thoughts, feelings and sensory perceptions. It operated like a computer virus, attaching itself to every perception, replacing the word “the” with “I” and “my”.

I can’t recall when this illusion started. As far as my memory goes back it has always been with me. And I was proud of all the accomplishments that this I was achieving.

The illusion (or should I call it delusion) of a separate self made me think that I am in control. It made me think that without it things would just fall apart. I wouldn’t be able to act in a sensible way, keep a relationship up, go to work, earn money, not even feed myself. It made me think that it helped me making wise decisions regarding my life.

And it got me climbing a spiritual Mount Everest in search of the holy Non-Self to reach the highest achievement there is.

3) How does it feel to see this? What is the difference from before you started this dialogue? Please report from the past few days.
When I started the dialogue, I had just seen it. I had read some dialogues in the archive and some in the book “The Gateless Gatecrashers”.

When I realized that there was no I and never had been, my heart jumped in joy – and I felt utterly stupid for not having seen this most evident fact earlier. How was it possible to overlook such a simple fact? I did not feel one with everything nor blissed out. I did not experience this intense love-joy that is usually connected to my spiritual experiences. Except for feeling quite stupid everything else was just as it had been before.

During the dialogue the dust settled. I realized that I had looked into the wrong direction before, outward instead of inward, directly examing the I.
I am still amazed how hard I fought to find this simple, completely evident fact.

“The mountain was in labour and gave birth to a mouse”.

No mockery, this is how it is. No need to look for something bigger.

4) What was the last bit that pushed you over, made you look?
I read the conversation between Elena and Jamie in the book “The Gateless Catecrashers”.
At one point Elena asks: “Is there any ‘you’ in reality in any shape or form? Find out. Now. Answer me.”

I thought: “No, of course not. What a silly question! It is a label my mind puts on the sum of all my thoughts, feelings and bodily sensations." After that thought the realization was there.

5) Describe decision, intention, free will, choice and control. What makes things happen? How does it work? What are you responsible for? Please give examples from recent experience.
I would prefer to think that there is a entity inside me, always choosing wisely among existing possibilities.

It’s quite humbling to realize that this is simply not the case. My decisions/choices are made inside me before I become aware of them. When I see them they are baked and done.

For example I have to decide which further cancer treatment I will want to have. For the last weeks I have been researching extensively to make up my mind. But the decision is already made up and I only want the confirmation for the already existing decision.

Intention and will are close to each other. My intentions arise on their own. My will is certainly not free but strongly controlled mostly by the emotions.

Like – I have the intention to move more. But then I am sitting on the couch, reading some exciting articles on the internet, time passes and then it is too late to get out or it has started to rain.

What makes things happen? I can’t answer this question. Up to now I haven’t found anything or anybody that makes things happen.

In some Satoris I have seen this incredibly loving lifeforce, just happening in everything there is, nobody making anything. I would say things happen – that is what is called life.

Since all these things happen on their own accord, how can "I" be responsible for them? The thought that I would like not to hurt others out of a strong emotional reaction is there, and that is a strong value, kind of a hot topic thought. But unfortunately experience teaches me that this thought is not able to control my actions. And the “I”, which could be pointed to hasn’t even existed ever. Who could be called responsible?

The difficult question now would be: so is nobody responsible for me murdering somebody? In that respect I am responsible in the question of who did it und be sentenced guilty for it. But on a deep level?

My take on this is: since I experienced the primary lifeforce itself being a very strong love-joy, letting this lifeforce flow freely through me should result in loving actions.
So every unloving action would be ultimately caused by not seeing reality as it is.

6) Anything to add?
I find it quite surprising that it is already hard for me to recall my former mindset fully. It is just so natural that there is no I.

And as I already mentioned, a lot of emotional stuff is coming up as if it has been waiting for the doors to open. Quite overwhelming, but still it is alright. Somehow I feel more relaxed and trusting in just letting all these tumoils happen.

Yes, something like a deep trust is growing. Quite amazing for somebody who used to be the proverbial controlfreak.


Dear Alex, it means a lot to me that you gave your time and your great questions to let me settle into my understanding and deepen it. I love your humour :-).

Sending you love,
Ghata
In the seen just the seen. In the heard just the heard.
(Bahiya-Sutta)

http://www.unterwegsmitbuddha.de

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Alexw
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Re: Is this it? I feel really stupid now!

Postby Alexw » Thu Aug 13, 2015 6:00 am

Hi Ghata,

Thank you for the beautiful answers!
It was a pleasure talking to you!

Yes, it was a very short conversation, but if you have a Facebook account we can stay in touch via the LU FB-groups. There are also many other like minded people, so it doesn't get too "one sided" :-)
If you have a FB account, could you please send me a private message with your FB name, so we can add you to the LU groups?

Kind regards,
Alex

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Re: Is this it? I feel really stupid now!

Postby Alexw » Thu Aug 13, 2015 9:13 am

Hi Ghata,

One more question or maybe clarification:
Intention and will are close to each other. My intentions arise on their own. My will is certainly not free but strongly controlled mostly by the emotions.
Can you give me an example of each? In which way do intention and free will differ?
How do emotions control your will? How is this experienced?

Kind regards,
Alex

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Ghata
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Re: Is this it? I feel really stupid now!

Postby Ghata » Thu Aug 13, 2015 5:55 pm

Hi Alexw,
Thank you for mentioning this question in your pm, I would have missed it.

One more question or maybe clarification:
Intention and will are close to each other. My intentions arise on their own. My will is certainly not free but strongly controlled mostly by the emotions.
Can you give me an example of each? In which way do intention and free will differ?
How do emotions control your will? How is this experienced?

The intention to do something is the will's little sister. It seems weaker than the will and more often than not I cannot pull off an intention.

When I notice an intention, the first thought is like: “I should write my blog articles regularly.” Just before that thought there is an uneasy feeling like slight guilt. Then another thought comes up, “I will write for half an hour each day.” That is the intention to do something.

Usually it doesn’t happen though and I find myself not writing for half an hour each day.

The will seems to build on an intention, but gets more support from other thoughts that carry strong values or shoulds and wants, and also receive support from strong emotions, either aversive or longing ones.

For example when I got my blog off the ground a year ago, I worked daily on it for several hours. There was a very strong will though it was really hard. The image of my website with many interesting articles and wanting to prove to myself that I can do it were very strong. I wanted to feel good and successful. Also I was in a group of people building their website and I didn’t want to look like a copout. Here the feeling of selfesteem and looking worthwhile came into play.

Regarding the free will, I am sorry, I cannot discover a free will. The play of thoughts and emotions just happens on their own accord.

I would like to say, that when I am acting according to my values, like not wanting to hurt somebody though I am really angry, I am exerting a free will. I deliberately choose not to follow my impulses of saying something mean back.

But when I look closer, the values are other thoughts that seem to have a stronger influence on my action than my emotions in that moment. The influence of these thoughts can be enhanced by pondering (thoughts ) how my actions should look like. I did this a lot and it did change my actions.

This is as close as I can get to the free will.


Altogether it is about feeling good. I will act in a way that makes me feel best according to my thoughts and emotions in that moment. This is also true for the intention in doing something, which is another thought.
Did this clarify your question?

Kind regards,
Ghata
In the seen just the seen. In the heard just the heard.
(Bahiya-Sutta)

http://www.unterwegsmitbuddha.de

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Alexw
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Re: Is this it? I feel really stupid now!

Postby Alexw » Fri Aug 14, 2015 1:36 am

Hi Ghata,
Did this clarify your question?
Let me rephrase a few things and ask some more questions to see if we are on the same page and just using different words and concepts to describe things :-)
The intention to do something is the will's little sister. It seems weaker than the will
What makes it weaker? Is the thought itself less intense?

If I would say that the intention to do something could be also defined as "A few thoughts that talk about an I having to do/achieve something specific.".
If I would say that the will to do something could be also defined as "Many thoughts that talk about an I having to do/achieve something specific.".
If I would say that they are both just thoughts, and the distinction between intention and will is completely up to your interpretation, but essentially they are both just a chain of thought - no real difference besides the number of thoughts. Would you agree/disagree?
Let me know how you see these three statement.
But when I look closer, the values are other thoughts that seem to have a stronger influence on my action than my emotions in that moment. The influence of these thoughts can be enhanced by pondering (thoughts ) how my actions should look like. I did this a lot and it did change my actions.
Yes, you learn and adapt. Every time you learn something new your whole system changes and by following a certain path for a while new conditioning is being built that affects how you flow through life.

Look at this example: Something happens and you start to get interested in Buddhism. You read many books and attend speeches and retreats, you might even travel abroad to meet special teachers. Many thoughts about the way you should act accordingly happen. Once in a while you get angry with other people (or yourself), but now, instead of riding the wave of angry thoughts a few gentle ones pop up and they might redirect the flow. You react in a compassionate way... maybe not always but more and more so.

Was this "your" achievement or did this process simply happen? Do "you" have certain fixed values that you base your life on or are they simply acquired thought structures that are triggered by a range of different inputs (other thoughts and sense perception) and are subject to change?
I will act in a way that makes me feel best according to my thoughts and emotions in that moment. This is also true for the intention in doing something, which is another thought.
What exactly is the difference between a thought and an emotion? Can you please describe it?

Do thoughts and emotions control your actions? Lets look at an example, maybe the emotion of fear... fear is the response to a specific and immediate danger, agree? How do you know that something is dangerous? Did you always know it? Have you learnt it? When you cross the road and a car is speeding towards you, there is fear that it might run you over... you jump to the side... Which one was here first? Was the fear first or did you first jump and then feel afraid? Maybe you can find a better example... See what you find :-)

Is an emotion different to a thought or is it only a combination of a physical sensation, maybe a contraction in your abdomen, and a thought? What do you find?

Kind regards
Alex


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