Who Am I?

This is a read-only part of the forum. All threads where seeing happens are stored here and come from this forum, the Facebook guiding area and various LU blogs. The complete list, sorted by guide, contains all links. The archives include threads of those that came to LU already seeing as well.
User avatar
andylongchurch
Posts: 70
Joined: Mon Aug 31, 2015 9:29 pm

Who Am I?

Postby andylongchurch » Mon Aug 31, 2015 9:33 pm

I was pointed to this site by one of my teachers. I have spent some 25 years searching mainly with Tibetan Buddhism but also Zen, Advaita and Vispassna. There have been periods of awakening and then going back to sleep again. These moments of awakening had nothing to do with "me" - they just happened. But then, I just go back to being me again with my every day of "self". I have a lot of understanding of spiritual practice at this stage, can find great peace in meditation and certainly I intellectually understand "no self". I can see the "self" as a creation of thought, yet the reality for me is that there is still a sense of self which leads to fear, stress etc. I am hoping for some good pointers that will enable some clear seeing to take place; that will break the spell of what is obviously an illusion.

User avatar
Xain
Posts: 3509
Joined: Tue Mar 12, 2013 9:31 pm
Location: Everywhere and Nowhere

Re: Who Am I?

Postby Xain » Mon Aug 31, 2015 10:28 pm

Hi Andy - Welcome to the LU Forum
There have been periods of awakening and then going back to sleep again.
That's interesting. How do you mean?
What was the difference between the two exactly and how were these two periods known?
I have a lot of understanding of spiritual practice at this stage, can find great peace in meditation and certainly I intellectually understand "no self".
Sure - I was pretty much at this stage when I first arrive at LU - A really good mental understanding, but no deep realisation.
It would be requested by me for this guidance to temporarily put aside all non-dual teachings, science and philosophy and look at this from a very basic perspective. There is a change that all the mental stuff will 'muddy the water' and make either make a realisation difficult, or will confuse the discussion between us.
If you have to use specific Buddhist or Sanskrit definitions to really describe what you mean, then that's OK - I have a basic understanding of such things.
I can see the "self" as a creation of thought, yet the reality for me is that there is still a sense of self which leads to fear, stress etc. I am hoping for some good pointers that will enable some clear seeing to take place; that will break the spell of what is obviously an illusion.
Sure - We can look at things together.

A few questions.

Have you taken a look round the site? You have an idea about the guidance and 'what we do here'?
You have described what your goal is. What do you believe it would bring (if anything)?
What expectations do you have both about the process and any final realisation? I mean, what is it exactly that you hope for and why?
What worries do you have (if any)?

I look forward to your reply
Xain ♥

User avatar
andylongchurch
Posts: 70
Joined: Mon Aug 31, 2015 9:29 pm

Re: Who Am I?

Postby andylongchurch » Mon Aug 31, 2015 11:05 pm

Hi Xain
Thank you for your kindness in guiding me here.
Yes, I have been looking at the site for some months as well as reading Gateless Gatecrashers. So, yes I have a good idea of the guidance given here.
It seems to me that discovering selflessness would bring a sense of peace, ease and freedom. I would hope that the process would enable me to “see” what I am not clearly seeing. Why do I hope for that? Because I have previously seen the illusory nature of self and reality and have a sense now that I am not seeing clearly. I have had many non dual experiences and on some level it is clear to me that I am stuck in duality which is not how things really are.
Worries – having read many of the threads in Gateless Gatecrashers and in the Forum, I am concerned that the discovery made here might only be “half of the truth”. Still, I would be delighted to realise “selflessness”. I am assuming that you have been able to see clearly.
The temporary experiences of waking up which happened first in a big way, I can remember as being an absolute certainty about how things exist and the huge illusion I had been living in. It wasn’t so much an experience but a seeing through of everything. It was accompanied by a profound sense of peace and bliss, a lightness and an ease. In contrast, my normal state is one of tension much of the time interspersed with peace sometimes. How were these two periods known – by the very same awareness which is always present!
Once, during a Zen retreat, thought stopped and I could simply see “my self” as an actor in a play. There was no reality to the play or to the self. Then the sense of self took over again – like one of those magic eye pictures where you can see the picture and then your perspective changes and it is gone again.
Yes, I am very happy to engage in this process to put aside other teachings etc and look at this from a simple experiential perspective.

Best Wishes

Andy

User avatar
andylongchurch
Posts: 70
Joined: Mon Aug 31, 2015 9:29 pm

Re: Who Am I?

Postby andylongchurch » Wed Sep 02, 2015 7:07 pm

Hi Xain

Just checking that you received my reply from the other day. Have I understood correctly that you are happy to guide me?

User avatar
Xain
Posts: 3509
Joined: Tue Mar 12, 2013 9:31 pm
Location: Everywhere and Nowhere

Re: Who Am I?

Postby Xain » Thu Sep 03, 2015 10:45 am

Hi Andy - Sorry for the delay
It seems to me that discovering selflessness would bring a sense of peace, ease and freedom.
It may do, but only as a by-product of the realisation - not because of it.
If it is realised that there is no inherently existing separate self, then it would be realised that there is no person who has worries or troubles, or who could change things or make things things any different to the way they are now. From the description you've given, I think you already grasp this.
I have had many non dual experiences and on some level it is clear to me that I am stuck in duality which is not how things really are.
This is good, but I would suggest to you that all experiences are temporary, and to expect 'an experience' or 'to live in a new altered state' from the guidance would be a mistake. At worst, such expectations would prevent a realisation altogether. Again, I think you already get this but it's worth mentioning just to make sure before we get under-way.

My guidance is for only one thing, and that is a realisation.
To realise that there is no inherently existing separate self - no person - no 'I'.
That all 'I' has been is a misperception - A self-referencing idea / thought.
All other expectations should be put aside.
Worries – having read many of the threads in Gateless Gatecrashers and in the Forum, I am concerned that the discovery made here might only be “half of the truth”
It depends on what you mean by 'truth'.
We only deal with 'I', this separate self we believe we are. Many other things such as 'time', 'space', 'objects' etc are not dealt with. At no stage do we say 'realise this and you are done' - Not at all.
It is said, however, that many things hinge on the belief in an 'I' which makes it is a very important lynch-pin for everything else.
. . . by the very same awareness which is always present!
Just for the moment, please put aside all awareness teachings and beliefs regarding awareness, and approach things very simply. This is not suggest such ideas are wrong but any preconceived notion about what is going on may make discussion and the guidance tricky. The level you need to be looking at is as utterly basic as 'can you read these words on the screen, yes or no?' - Really as low level as that :-)

Have a look at these guidelines which will assist us both.

1. Please post at least once a day, if you cannot post, or need more time, let me know.
2. Be 100% honest in your answers and inquiry.
3. Answer from direct personal experience only (we can go into this in more depth later if needed).
4. Read the disclaimer on the Liberation Unleashed main site -> http://liberationunleashed.com/disclaimer-2/

It is useful to use the 'Quote' button as I have to quote my replies - It will make the conversation easier.
A guide for it's use can be found here-> http://liberationunleashed.com/nation/v ... ?f=4&t=660

Let me know if you have anything else you would like to mention or questions you may have, and we can begin if you would like.

Xain ♥

User avatar
andylongchurch
Posts: 70
Joined: Mon Aug 31, 2015 9:29 pm

Re: Who Am I?

Postby andylongchurch » Thu Sep 03, 2015 5:53 pm

Hi Xain

Thank you so much for getting back to me. Very excited about this process!
This is good, but I would suggest to you that all experiences are temporary, and to expect 'an experience' or 'to live in a new altered state' from the guidance would be a mistake. At worst, such expectations would prevent a realisation altogether. Again, I think you already get this but it's worth mentioning just to make sure before we get under-way.
I kind of understand this, and at the same time can see that I do need to drop an expectation. Not sure how to drop that expectation as it would seem to belong to the "I" and maybe all I can do is be aware that it is there. I do realise that it isn't about an experience though.
My guidance is for only one thing, and that is a realisation.
To realise that there is no inherently existing separate self - no person - no 'I'.
That all 'I' has been is a misperception - A self-referencing idea / thought.
All other expectations should be put aside.
OK - clear on that. How wonderful that would be.

I shall try and approach things simply.

Re the guidelines - I am clear on them and happy with them.

So yes, ready to go! I would love to put an end to a life time of searching.

Best Wishes Andy

User avatar
Xain
Posts: 3509
Joined: Tue Mar 12, 2013 9:31 pm
Location: Everywhere and Nowhere

Re: Who Am I?

Postby Xain » Thu Sep 03, 2015 6:12 pm

I kind of understand this, and at the same time can see that I do need to drop an expectation. Not sure how to drop that expectation as it would seem to belong to the "I" . . .
Yes, you are right.
The belief to examine would be 'I am experiencing life right now' and 'I will experience life in a new way'.
If it is realised there never is and never was an 'I', then what could possibly change and for who?
What would happen if nothing at all changed? Simply that what I am suggesting (there is no 'I' and there never was an 'I') was realised?
Paradoxically at the same time, it is realised that no 'I' ever realised anything!

Ok - Let's begin.
What I will be trying to do is to get you to compare your ideas and beliefs about what is going on, with what can be found by examining your experience of the immediate moment.

Let's start very simply by examining 'seeing' and 'reading'.
Just for the moment, concentrate only on this one area.

If we think for a moment about seeing, we may suggest a few things - 'I am seeing the screen in front of me' or 'My eyes see the screen' or 'My brain is interpreting the words into speech' etc

What we now do is to examine the experience itself to see what answers can be found (rather than the thoughts and ideas about what is going on).


A simple exercise.
Right now . . . a screen is being seen . . . words are being read off the screen.


Now in the experience itself, can what is doing the seeing be identified? Can you locate or find what is doing the seeing?
As you look at the screen, are there two things to be found?
1) A screen being seen
2) A person or 'I' doing the seeing?
Or is there just 'seeing a screen' in the experience?
Keep things very simple and answer honestly - What can be found?

Similarly with reading . . .

In the experience itself of reading these words, can what is doing the reading be identified? Can you locate or find what is doing the reading from the experience of reading these words right now?
As these words are being read, can you find two things?
1) Words on a screen being read.
2) A person or 'I' doing the reading?
Or is there just 'reading words'?

What do you find?

Xain ♥

User avatar
andylongchurch
Posts: 70
Joined: Mon Aug 31, 2015 9:29 pm

Re: Who Am I?

Postby andylongchurch » Thu Sep 03, 2015 7:05 pm

Hi Xain
Now in the experience itself, can what is doing the seeing be identified? Can you locate or find what is doing the seeing?
As you look at the screen, are there two things to be found?
1) A screen being seen
2) A person or 'I' doing the seeing?
Or is there just 'seeing a screen' in the experience?
Keep things very simple and answer honestly - What can be found?

Similarly with reading . . .

In the experience itself of reading these words, can what is doing the reading be identified? Can you locate or find what is doing the reading from the experience of reading these words right now?
As these words are being read, can you find two things?
1) Words on a screen being read.
2) A person or 'I' doing the reading?
Or is there just 'reading words'?

What do you find?
I sat with this for a while. The keyword you seem to use here is "experience". In the experience I have to say that I can not find an "I" seeing the screen or doing the reading. There is just seeing the screen and reading the words. That feels quite weird in a good way.

However, whilst I can not locate/find an I , there is a sense of an I which would seem to be able to direct attention to what it sees and reads. So my direct experience seems to be that "I" can choose where to "direct" my attention. I can not find that I, yet experience tells me that because it directs attention it is present.

Andy

User avatar
Xain
Posts: 3509
Joined: Tue Mar 12, 2013 9:31 pm
Location: Everywhere and Nowhere

Re: Who Am I?

Postby Xain » Fri Sep 04, 2015 7:35 pm

The keyword you seem to use here is "experience"
Sure. I will be asking you to examine 'seeing', 'hearing', 'taste', 'smell' and 'touch' - The five senses.
For the first examination, I am asking you to consider 'seeing'.
The keyword you seem to use here is "experience". In the experience I have to say that I can not find an "I" seeing the screen or doing the reading. There is just seeing the screen and reading the words. That feels quite weird in a good way.
Cool. It's that simple.
So in the experience of seeing itself, there is just 'a screen' and 'words on a screen (that are being read)'.
An 'I' cannot be found responsible for either the seeing or the reading.
So if it is said, 'I am seeing the screen' or 'I am reading the words off the screen' . . . and an 'I' cannot be found that is doing these things . . . could the 'I' in this phrase just be an idea? A belief? An assumption?
However, whilst I can not locate/find an I , there is a sense of an I which would seem to be able to direct attention to what it sees and reads.
Directing attention - Sure - I understand. We will go onto control in a while (control of focus, control of limbs etc).
So my direct experience seems to be that "I" can choose where to "direct" my attention
No problem. We will also examine choice as well. The ability to choose. Free-will.

Just for the moment, simply stick to 'seeing' . . . (and 'hearing' for the next one).

Let us move to 'hearing' now . . .
Approach this in exactly the same way as for 'seeing'.

Exercise - Just sit for a few moments and listen to the sounds in the room, or from outside.

Now while listening - Inquire.
Can what is doing the hearing be found in the experience of hearing itself?
Is there an 'I' that can be found doing the hearing?
Are there two things to be found in the experience of 'hearing'?
1) What is being heard
2) An 'I' responsible for doing the hearing.
What can be found?

Xain ♥

User avatar
andylongchurch
Posts: 70
Joined: Mon Aug 31, 2015 9:29 pm

Re: Who Am I?

Postby andylongchurch » Sat Sep 05, 2015 2:07 pm

Hi Xain
Exercise - Just sit for a few moments and listen to the sounds in the room, or from outside.

Now while listening - Inquire.
Can what is doing the hearing be found in the experience of hearing itself?
Is there an 'I' that can be found doing the hearing?
Are there two things to be found in the experience of 'hearing'?
1) What is being heard
2) An 'I' responsible for doing the hearing.
What can be found?
I've had plenty of time to practice this exercise. I'm a little confused now.

There were times when it seems obvious - there is just hearing going on - or better said, just sound happening. This often seems to be accompanied with an intuitive sense of freedom. Sensing experience in this way seems to be seamless. There is no separate I experiencing any thing.

Then I flash back into, "one minute" clearly there is a subject and object: I am aware of the sound because according to how far away I am from the sound, the sound gets louder or quieter. So my direct experience tells me that in some way "I" am experiencing sound. Whether "I" am aware of the sound of whether " the brain" is aware of the sound is another matter. Sounds come and go. The sense of "I" remains suggesting two different things.

Yet, it does not seem that there is an I responsible for the hearing. The hearing seems to be spontaneous, just like seeing. There is no doing.

So I am not sure if I am understanding or maybe over- complicating what is much simpler?

Best Wishes

Andy

User avatar
Xain
Posts: 3509
Joined: Tue Mar 12, 2013 9:31 pm
Location: Everywhere and Nowhere

Re: Who Am I?

Postby Xain » Sat Sep 05, 2015 2:40 pm

Sensing experience in this way seems to be seamless. There is no separate I experiencing any thing.
Then I flash back into, "one minute" clearly there is a subject and object
I sense that you are expecting something. Maybe expecting something to change or to experience things in a new way. Put this expectation aside (if you are) - All we are going for is to realise something.
But to address your point specifically, when you say 'flash back into 'there is a subject and an object' can you determine exactly why this is? What happens? Is it anything to do with thought?
I am aware of the sound because according to how far away I am from the sound, the sound gets louder or quieter
You are stepping away from the original inquiry. Perhaps you are trying to mentally 'work something out' - It's OK - Just notice this - Mental analysis assist you though.
Whether the sound is loud or quiet, or whether you believe the originator of the sound is near or far makes no difference to the inquiry (at the moment). You are examining the sound itself - other details regarding it's nature are not relevant for the moment.

It might help you, rather than individual sounds and silences, to consider the 'sound stream' - The continuous experience of hearing regardless of what you believe it contains.
Yet, it does not seem that there is an I responsible for the hearing. The hearing seems to be spontaneous, just like seeing. There is no doing.
Good. So in the experience of 'hearing' all you are able to find is 'what is being heard'.
So I am not sure if I am understanding or maybe over- complicating what is much simpler?
You are doing fine. Yes, it really is this simple. No-doubt the thinking process itself is getting involved and trying to 'work it out' - That's expected. It's what it does. There is no 'working it out' though. It is as straight-forward as you are finding it, and I am taking slow steps . . . one at a time with you so you see this. Keep on this track.

But let us consider . . . if it is said 'I am hearing' . . . if that phrase pops up in thought or it is spoken . . . but clearly as you find the 'I' in this phrase cannot be found, then is the 'I' that is being mentioned anything other than an idea? A belief? A thought?

You can try the weak senses on your own if you like, in exactly the same way as we have been doing it.
Is there an 'I' to be found in the experiences of either Smell and taste . . .

Let me know what you think of the show so far, and we can then move on to 'Touch' :-)

Xain ♥

User avatar
Xain
Posts: 3509
Joined: Tue Mar 12, 2013 9:31 pm
Location: Everywhere and Nowhere

Re: Who Am I?

Postby Xain » Sun Sep 06, 2015 10:46 am

Sorry - I meant 'Mental analysis won't assist you though'

User avatar
andylongchurch
Posts: 70
Joined: Mon Aug 31, 2015 9:29 pm

Re: Who Am I?

Postby andylongchurch » Sun Sep 06, 2015 10:18 pm

Hi Xain
I sense that you are expecting something. Maybe expecting something to change or to experience things in a new way. Put this expectation aside (if you are) - All we are going for is to realise something.
But to address your point specifically, when you say 'flash back into 'there is a subject and an object' can you determine exactly why this is? What happens? Is it anything to do with thought?
To put it in a Buddhist context, I understand what we are doing is to realise the non existence of the apparently inherently existent self. Within Buddhism, this false concept of a truly existing self is said to be the root of all suffering, and realising its non existence is said to be a cessation of suffering.

The subject and object thing: So within any sensory experience (I paid huge attention to the this during my 3 hour walk today) of course I can not find an I as some kind of entity. I can not find an entity that is having an experience. There is just a sensory experience, one after another. However, there is clearly a reference point. I am seeing something, experiencing something which is different to what you are experiencing, so there is a different reference point. That reference point is of course linked to my body and my sensory apparatus. So there would seem to be some basis to that reference point other than mere thought. Of course, for me to differentiate my reference point from yours requires thought. Without thought there is just the ever changing sensory experience. But, even though within any one sensory experience I can not find an entity called I, there would seem to be something there, because when e.g. a sound stops, that sense of me continues. (I can point to that me being ever present awareness, but it does not feel like that).

So, if I just keep it simple, I can say that I can not find an I in the sensory experience. That seems to be so. But that line of enquiry seems to be very compartmentalised and therefore does not seem to convince me.

Am I trying to run before I can walk?
But let us consider . . . if it is said 'I am hearing' . . . if that phrase pops up in thought or it is spoken . . . but clearly as you find the 'I' in this phrase cannot be found, then is the 'I' that is being mentioned anything other than an idea? A belief? A thought?
I have quite a sense of the I being a concept. Sometimes I see that quite clearly, especially if I am very relaxed and clear. But when there is tension or difficulty, the grasping is so much stronger.

Xain, I am very happy with what we are doing. I feel that it is very useful, Certainly, there is a part of me trying to work things out. I have long known that it can not be worked out (that hasn't stopped the mind from continuing to do what it does though). I am surprised at how much confusion there seems to be with the direct sensory pointing.

Best Wishes Andy

User avatar
Xain
Posts: 3509
Joined: Tue Mar 12, 2013 9:31 pm
Location: Everywhere and Nowhere

Re: Who Am I?

Postby Xain » Mon Sep 07, 2015 3:05 pm

To put it in a Buddhist context, I understand what we are doing is to realise the non existence of the apparently inherently existent self. Within Buddhism, this false concept of a truly existing self is said to be the root of all suffering, and realising its non existence is said to be a cessation of suffering.
I understand, but even here there is an issue.
Realising the non-existence of the self is the cessation of suffering for who?
Any expectation has an 'I' component.

Also . . . well . . . that is what Buddhism says . . . how about just having an honest look for yourself?
However, there is clearly a reference point.
Describe this reference point . . .
I am seeing something, experiencing something which is different to what you are experiencing
Two beliefs in one there. First of all that there is an 'I' experiencing something 'here'.
Second belief is that there is someone who is not 'I', that is experiencing something 'there'.

The examination for you would be if there is an 'I', or something that can be found located at this reference point that you are suggesting. Is this reference point 'you'?

Can you explain the duality here?
1) . . . of course I can not find an I as some kind of entity. I can not find an entity that is having an experience.
2) That reference point is of course linked to my body and my sensory apparatus.
because when e.g. a sound stops, that sense of me continues.
What do you mean 'sense of me'?
Is this 'sense of me' personal? Who or what owns it?
Whatever it is, are you expecting this to change or disappear?
But that line of enquiry seems to be very compartmentalised and therefore does not seem to convince me.
Convince who?
Are you looking for a new belief?
Certainly, there is a part of me trying to work things out.
Good to notice - There is nothing to work-out though.

Xain

User avatar
andylongchurch
Posts: 70
Joined: Mon Aug 31, 2015 9:29 pm

Re: Who Am I?

Postby andylongchurch » Tue Sep 08, 2015 8:15 am

Hi Xain

A lot of food for contemplation - thank you.
I understand, but even here there is an issue.
Realising the non-existence of the self is the cessation of suffering for who?
Any expectation has an 'I' component.

Also . . . well . . . that is what Buddhism says . . . how about just having an honest look for yourself?
Yes, I think I get that. Expectation itself creates a dynamic which keeps the "I" spinning around itself.
Having an honest look - yes - of course, absolutely. I really have no interest in any form of belief system, whether Buddhist, Advaita etc. I am interested in what can be seen through direct personal experience. What I really get from your last set of answers is that I am still making a lot of assumptions and that you have gone past such assumptions and are seeing things from a very different perspective.
The examination for you would be if there is an 'I', or something that can be found located at this reference point that you are suggesting. Is this reference point 'you'?
The reference point would seem to be a set of sensory experiences and mental experiences connected to an individual body. If I look for an "I" within the experiences I do not seem to be able to locate anything. If I look for an "i" in the body (which includes the brain) I do not seem to find an entity. Indeed, with this kind of inquiry, it looks glaringly obvious that the so called I is a concept. But ..
What do you mean 'sense of me'?
Is this 'sense of me' personal? Who or what owns it?
Whatever it is, are you expecting this to change or disappear?
These are interesting questions. I suspect I might need to contemplate them for a while and much more deeply. For now: The sense of me seems to be very connected on one level to the kinesthetic aspect of the body. Pain is experienced and because that pain is via the body which seems to be my reference point there is a deep sense of I. However much I just notice that pain is just happening and that I is just an idea, the pain seems very real and seems to be experienced by a self. Of course, if I look for that self I can not find it, there is just pain, yet something is grasping. I guess it is possible that an "idea" is grasping and without the idea there is still pain could still be unbearable but without a sense of self?

Your question also suggests that there can be a sense of me without there being an I to own it. That there is a sense of me and I am assuming that the sense of me disappears after realising selfnessness, and maybe it is not so? As I contemplate that something feels right about that and there is a sense of lightness.

I was expecting that sense of me to disappear, yes. Is that my stumbling block? I have experienced the sense of I disappearing in meditation many times. The I is seen through and there remains a vast cognizance. At some stage the I then reasserts itself and owns the experience. So the question now seems to be " can all of that take place without there being an I to own or control it"? That is what it seems to come down to. It is beginning to look that way, yet it seems so counter intuitive.
Convince who?
Are you looking for a new belief?
Another interesting question that has really made me wonder. I am seeing here that the I (which I can not find) would seem to be very interested in getting a fixed belief on all of this. But paradoxically, if I try to let go of all beliefs and expectations, I am back in the dynamic of the "I" trying to get something or do something, and I have been there for a very long time.

I can feel that something interesting is starting to stir though I can not put my finger on it precisely.

Where to now Xain?

Best Wishes

Andy


Return to “ARCHIVES”

Who is online

Users browsing this forum: No registered users and 2 guests