Seeing (thru) the ego

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stephaneHKG2015
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Seeing (thru) the ego

Postby stephaneHKG2015 » Wed Sep 23, 2015 11:31 am

Hello there,

I'm really interested in finding if there's really a possibility of seeing what/ who in me is suffering. I'm a regular seeker for a couple of years with a fair amount of practices (mediatation, retreats, readings).

That seeking has brought me here, almost by chance and the power of the web.

As my search has been on my own so far, I want to see if the help of someone pointing to the truth could be more efficient. I believe we may have blindspots that prevent us from that.

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Hannah B-T
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Re: Seeing (thru) the ego

Postby Hannah B-T » Wed Sep 23, 2015 12:11 pm

Hi Stephanie, is it ok to call you that or something else?
My name is Hannah and I will be happy to dialogue with you. Welcome.

Here is the agreement we will enter into:

I am here to guide and point, not teach or instill new ideas or beliefs, this still at all times remains your own search, and please call me out if you feel this is not happening.

You agree to try and post once every 24hours even to say 'still here' or let me know if need to be away from the computer and I will do the same, I am sometimes very busy with work, but momentum is key to this process.

I'm UK timezone, what about you?

You will strive where possible to simply report back to my questions what is found here and now from experience (sight sound taste touch smell and the experience of words/images), rather than the conceptual content of those words and images. Let me know if the difference is not clear, but we will likely go into this in more depth.

You endeavour to reply as utterly honestly as possible, putting aside all previous ideas and teachings as far as you are able to take a fresh look at what is going on. To that end I request you hold off reading or watching spiritual material as far as possible whilst in this dialogue, but it's fine to continue core meditation practices you are doing.

Does that all sound ok?

If so let's start with a few opening questions-

What is the expected outcome of this conversation? What will change? What will be gained? What could be lost? Any fears about that?.- Give me as much detail as possible on that.

What reaction comes up when this statement is read, just sit with this a bit and tell me what sensations and thoughts arose...

There is NO separate self, I/ me/ego/ Stephanie existing, and never was.
Are there keys in your pocket? Is the sky blue? Is there an 'i, a self?' LOOK! :)

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Re: Seeing (thru) the ego

Postby stephaneHKG2015 » Thu Sep 24, 2015 7:19 am

Hi Hannah,
glad you're here for that work. A few preliminaries to start with.
I live in Hong Kong so it's a very different time zone (6 to 7 hrs).English is not my mother tongue (French is) but that would make our conversation more simple as i can't really conceptualize a lot (which is what we want, isn't it?).
I am ok for the previous agreement... but i'm leaving HK tomorrow for a 2 week holiday in Japan (and therefore won't be able to access my mail during this trip). So I'd like to really start our exchanges when I'm back (which is on October 9th).
I can answer your opening questions though:What is the expected outcome of this conversation? i expect to see more clearly from my experience. I've found rather confusing my tendancy to read books after books, listen interviews after interviews. What will change? What will be gained? What could be lost? Any fears about that?
No idea actually, i don't know if there is going to make any difference in the way in experience myself and the world.
I find difficult to label sensations (other than un(pleasant) and thoughts are gone already as I'm typing...
There's a sort of disbelief feel when i read the last statement though. No seperate self ? Is that so ? What is that ?
I try to pause and feel: there's a vibrancy here.Is that Stephane ?(you're right , Stephanie was never existing ;)
Ok thanks again for your message and talk to you when i'm back. Have a good day.

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Re: Seeing (thru) the ego

Postby Hannah B-T » Thu Sep 24, 2015 9:14 pm

ok thanks for your reply, apologies Stephane :P

First thing to say is we do have a French LU forum with French speaking guides available- and it will not be a problem to swap to that if you would like, but i'm happy to continue otherwise.
i expect to see more clearly from my experience. I've found rather confusing my tendancy to read books after books, listen interviews after interviews
Yes, this is the direction that needs to happen, looking to experience for the answers, not words/ideas. It makes things so much simpler...
No idea actually, i don't know if there is going to make any difference in the way in experience myself and the world.
Fine, that's good. Life is never what we imagine it will be.
But if expectations or fears come up at any point, I encourage you to write them out here so they can be examined.
There's a sort of disbelief feel when i read the last statement though.
That's fine, I don't want you to believe the statement, I want you to test it against experience and see if it is true or not. To prove it is not you must find and describe to me this separate self that is assumed to be present and existing. Does that sound fair?

To that end whilst away I simply want you to look at this question any way you feel able to, as often as you remember-

Can a self, a Stephane be found right now in experience, in sights, sounds, tastes, sensations or smells?

For instance this 'vibrancy'- Is that Stephane? How is that known?

Have a great trip
x
Are there keys in your pocket? Is the sky blue? Is there an 'i, a self?' LOOK! :)

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Re: Seeing (thru) the ego

Postby stephaneHKG2015 » Mon Oct 12, 2015 5:09 am

Hi Hannah,

back from Japan a few days ago. Went to a floating tank while i was there to try out some inquiry / meditation.
During my trip, i kept your question on a piece of paper and examined it when i could. It seems that this self / stephane is occuring in thoughts rather than thru other senses. I could / can feel a bigger space where sensations, thoughts, sounds, etc.are happening.On the other hand, i can see that the story of my "I" is still there and strong (i probably expect it to go away somehow someday). Thanks for your feedback.

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Re: Seeing (thru) the ego

Postby Hannah B-T » Mon Oct 12, 2015 8:19 pm

Hi, welcome back!

Am assuming you would like to continue the dialogue with me here, not go to the french forum. Let me know if you missed that offer.

Great stuff- let's look at your reply and really get into this now. I'm going to ask some direct questions (in bold) and it would be great to get direct answers to them from looking at the experience happening.
It seems that this self / stephane is occuring in thoughts rather than thru other senses
It seems? Or it is? Was a self/Stephane found existing outside thoughts/words/ideas talking about such a thing?
I could / can feel a bigger space where sensations, thoughts, sounds, etc.are happening
Tell me more about this 'space'. Is it still present? How big is it? What size?
where are the edges?

Let's look at hearing on it's own to make things simpler-

put on a piece on music you've never heard before, without words. Relax and look at the experience of 'hearing music'
normal language says 'i am hearing the music'...

But looking carefully at the experience itself-

Can two things, music/sound and a separate hearer of the sound be found?

Try this one as well.
Take your right index finger right now and point to 'stephane/me/I', don't think about it, just let the finger end up somewhere. Where did it go?

Then take a look at why it might have gone there, are there any particular sensations there?
i can see that the story of my "I" is still there and strong (i probably expect it to go away somehow someday).
Thank you for doing what I asked and honestly sharing this expectation.
Let's look at if that idea is reasonable.

When a thought about I/me/Stephane pops up, try to look at it and answer these questions from what is found-

Did anything 'author'/create that thought?
Is anything controlling or choosing the words that appear?
Where does that thought come from? Is it possible to know that from the experience itself? And where does it go to?

Is there anything there that could make the ideas/words/story of Stephane change or go away?

And how is that story 'mine'? What owns it?

xx
Are there keys in your pocket? Is the sky blue? Is there an 'i, a self?' LOOK! :)

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Re: Seeing (thru) the ego

Postby stephaneHKG2015 » Tue Oct 13, 2015 5:29 am

Hi Hannah,

thanks for your prompt reply. A lot of material to work with... I prefer to continue this dialogue with you: using English as a medium compels me to keep it simple. And i found this conversation very fruitful so far.

It seems? Or it is? Was a self/Stephane found existing outside thoughts/words/ideas talking about such a thing?

In my floating tank experience, I found that i almost lost the boundaries of my body (which are not very clear even in my daily life), no sights, smells nor sounds . What remained were thoughts, thinking about thinking and labelling those thoughts as belonging to / being Stephane.

Tell me more about this 'space'. Is it still present? How big is it? What size?
where are the edges?


Especially when i ask myself the question "Am I aware at this moment?", i have a more vivid impression of that space where things are occuring. Boundaries or edges are difficult to find but it seems contained within my body.

Can two things, music/sound and a separate hearer of the sound be found?

I did that experience: i did not find a separate hearer but smth like "music is heard".

Where did it go? Then take a look at why it might have gone there, are there any particular sensations there?

My finger went to my face, at the eye level. Is it because i've just read your message a few seconds before? Looking was occuring at that moment.

Did anything 'author'/create that thought?
Is anything controlling or choosing the words that appear?

From direct experience, i have to answer that i can't find no one.

Where does that thought come from? Is it possible to know that from the experience itself? And where does it go to?
I can't tell where they come from (unless using a label such as "space", "consciousness" and so on) nor where they're disappearing. It's not possible to point at a precise "place".

Is there anything there that could make the ideas/words/story of Stephane change or go away?

It appears that i have no control over the thoughts, ideas or words as they arise.
For the story itself to change or go away, i find that i have no way to prevent it from occuring. I can only try to deal with (but afterwards, keeping that story in my memory so to say) using other words, ideas, stories.

And how is that story 'mine'? What owns it?

Strange: a collection of thoughts i have no control over that i call mine or me...That's smth i need to ponder! Thank
you very much for your time!

x

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Re: Seeing (thru) the ego

Postby Hannah B-T » Tue Oct 13, 2015 6:58 pm

Great- yes now we are back in dialogue i am planning on one exchange every 24hours like we originally agreed, unless something means that is not possible. I also find writing to someone who does not have english as the first language useful, as it means less metaphor and poetic language is used. If something is lost is translation, let me know.
I found that i almost lost the boundaries of my body (which are not very clear even in my daily life),
this very much relates to this...
Boundaries or edges are difficult to find but it seems contained within my body.
try this exercise. Sitting on a chair, have eyes closed for a lwhile. Now go to the sensations of 'butt on chair'. Try and see if there are any images appearing as well as the raw sensations. Now reporting about the sensations themselves, not images or words, what is the response to these questions...

Are there two things there, 'butt' and 'chair' with a boundary between? If so describe how that boundary is known/experienced.

Is there a 'feeler' of those sensations labelled 'butt/chair' separate to them?


The great thing about this inquiry is it doesn't actually require special conditions like flotation tanks or meditation. These sensory experiences are constantly present, and ready to be looked at.

Feet on floor...hand on wall...check as much as is needed and let me know what is found.
I did that experience: i did not find a separate hearer but smth like "music is heard".
ok so a thought says 'music is heard'? Fine, no problem, this is how language works. subject and object.

But looking beyond that, is music/sound really being heard BY something?
Or it just IS?

My finger went to my face, at the eye level. Is it because i've just read your message a few seconds before? Looking was occuring at that moment.
Great, this is a very common response.
Is there a feeling of Stephane, a self existing there, behind the eyes? Take a close look at that.
Did anything 'author'/create that thought?
Is anything controlling or choosing the words that appear?
From direct experience, i have to answer that i can't find no one.

Where does that thought come from? Is it possible to know that from the experience itself? And where does it go to?
I can't tell where they come from (unless using a label such as "space", "consciousness" and so on) nor where they're disappearing. It's not possible to point at a precise "place".

Is there anything there that could make the ideas/words/story of Stephane change or go away?
It appears that i have no control over the thoughts, ideas or words as they arise.
For the story itself to change or go away, i find that i have no way to prevent it from occuring.
Great! This is just the looking I am asking for. Very simple, but sometimes surprising what is found that doesn't match the ideas about that experience.
Is there any circumstances that thoughts still seem to be under control? if so let's look at that together
I can only try to deal with (but afterwards, keeping that story in my memory so to say) using other words, ideas, stories.
Is there a 'you' there keeping thoughts in memory? Can a 'memory' actually be found? Or is there just thoughts talking about other thoughts?

You are doing fine so far. Let me know if i'm giving you too much to look at once.
Are there keys in your pocket? Is the sky blue? Is there an 'i, a self?' LOOK! :)

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Re: Seeing (thru) the ego

Postby stephaneHKG2015 » Wed Oct 14, 2015 5:30 pm

Hi Hannah,

I'll try keep on posting / replying every day although i've had some issues with my internet connection recently.

About the chair experience: sounds… heart beat… breathing movements… contact with the floor / chair…

Are there two things there, 'butt' and 'chair' with a boundary between? If so describe how that boundary is known/experienced.

I can’t find a chair + a butt: I can only feel a sensation at the butt level.

Is there a 'feeler' of those sensations labelled 'butt/chair' separate to them?

It seems there is “ a feeler” in the sense that I feel an all-inclusive sort of field where that butt-chair sensation is found as well as sounds, smells, etc.Hard to tell whether it feels 'separate'; i would say 'distinct'.

ok so a thought says 'music is heard'? Fine, no problem, this is how language works. subject and object.
But looking beyond that, is music/sound really being heard BY something?
Or it just IS?


Hearing doesn’t need an “I”.

Is there a feeling of Stephane, a self existing there, behind the eyes? Take a close look at that.

Where is “I” ? Spontaneously I’d say within my body, not in a specific place. But how do I know that ? Through feelings, sensations, etc. that are happening within what I call “my body”. It feels like:I= bodily sensations + feelings + thoughts mostly.

Is there any circumstances that thoughts still seem to be under control? if so let's look at that together.

When I’m planning for example, it seems that I’m controlling thoughts by making choices, adjusting etc. I can see they are occurring “by themselves” but there is apparently a form of “quality control” over them afterwards. You may well say those thoughts are the products of the previous and i can't really control any of them!

Is there a 'you' there keeping thoughts in memory? Can a 'memory' actually be found? Or is there just thoughts talking about other thoughts?

Well, memory looks like a bunch of thoughts stuck together…and it seems it’s not always exactly the same. Where can it be found? I don’t know: it’s happening when certain thoughts are occurring, it seems they trigger each other off.

Yes, it is a lot to look at but it is fine with me so far. I'll let you know if it becomes overwelming.Thanks again.

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Re: Seeing (thru) the ego

Postby Hannah B-T » Wed Oct 14, 2015 7:35 pm

I'll try keep on posting / replying every day although i've had some issues with my internet connection recently.
ok, that is fine.
I can’t find a chair + a butt: I can only feel a sensation at the butt level.
Great looking! So where does the 'butt' and 'chair' stuff come in? Words? Images? what is found?
It seems there is “ a feeler”
I'm not happy with 'it seems'- we are going for nothing less here than what is or is not found in the experience happening now.
“ a feeler” in the sense that I feel an all-inclusive sort of field where that butt-chair sensation is found as well as sounds, smells, etc.Hard to tell whether it feels 'separate'; i would say 'distinct'.
I'm not sure you quite get what i meant there. I meant something separate to the butt-chair sensation feeling it. Just like we did with sound and something separate hearing it. Could you check again for me.

Regarding this 'field' of sensation. In english language the definition of a 'field' is a space (like a patch of grass with cows in it, a container) with a defined boundary and other stuff outside it.
So what is the edge, boundary of this field of sensation/sounds smells etc? How big is it? What are the edges made of?
Hearing doesn’t need an “I”.
Just to be clear, are you reporting that when this was looked at, the experience of sound/music was going on, but something, an 'i' hearing it could not be found? Check again if needed. Thanks.
Where is “I” ? Spontaneously I’d say within my body, not in a specific place. But how do I know that ?
These are good questions. Don't rush to a conclusion just yet.

Is there an 'I' within the body at all? If so you should be able to clearly describe it to me. Give it a try.
It feels like:I= bodily sensations + feelings + thoughts mostly.
what are you meaning by 'feelings' here? Emotions or sensations. What is the difference between an emotion and say, the bodily sensation of a headache or a stubbed toe?
it seems that I’m controlling thoughts by making choices, adjusting etc.
We'll look closer at choice and control yes, but let's stick with the body stuff right now.
You may well say those thoughts are the products of the previous and i can't really control any of them!
It's not about what I say. Honestly. It's only about what is found from the looking.

I'm challenging you to prove to me/show me this 'i' that controls thoughts. Any of them. Ever...
it seems they trigger each other off.
Do thoughts trigger each other off? Is that actually the experience of thought? If so describe how one thought does this triggering rather than thoughts/words/image just appearing and disappearing in a sequence.
Are there keys in your pocket? Is the sky blue? Is there an 'i, a self?' LOOK! :)

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Re: Seeing (thru) the ego

Postby stephaneHKG2015 » Thu Oct 15, 2015 5:27 am

So where does the 'butt' and 'chair' stuff come in? Words? Images? what is found?

Those are just different labels placed on the experience itself I’ve found. A translation into language of different sensations.

Is there a 'feeler' of those sensations labelled 'butt/chair' separate to them?

Ok, I see more clearly what you mean: I can’t see an entity separate from those sensations; at the same time, I see thoughts arising trying to map or describe the experience itself.

So what is the edge, boundary of this field of sensation/sounds smells etc? How big is it? What are the edges made of?

Ok this is what I can see: looking for the boundaries of a smell, a bodily sensation, etc., I can’t find any. On the other hand, I’m used to (may be because of Vipassana mediation habits Goenka style) looking for sensations in different places in the body: in doing that I find that there is some identification with those different sensations. But in looking directly at them, I can’t find precise edges to them; they occur “somewhere”, which has no size.

Just to be clear, are you reporting that when this was looked at, the experience of sound/music was going on, but something, an 'i' hearing it could not be found? Check again if needed. Thanks.

In listening to outdoor sounds or a piece of music that I’ve never heard before, I can’t see
an “I” (by that I mean a personal story, a blah blah about Stephane). Just sounds, some thoughts, sensations and a few images.

Is there an 'I' within the body at all? If so you should be able to clearly describe it to me. Give it a try.

There is something unclear to me when we use the word “I” or “self”. They could refer to the ego / self referential thoughts / story. Then I can’t locate it. Also those words could point to a sense of being present / alive: then it is something I can feel. Hard to describe as it’s changing with the experience (moving, still, touching, etc.).


What is the difference between an emotion and say, the bodily sensation of a headache or a stubbed toe?

Well, I can’t really see any. Feelings to me are (un)pleasant bodily sensations, emotions
feel more mind/ thoughts originated. But when they’re occurring, I can’t see the difference.

Do thoughts trigger each other off? Is that actually the experience of thought? If so describe how one thought does this triggering rather than thoughts/words/image just appearing and disappearing in a sequence.

Ok, it seems that they trigger each other off (that’s what I’ve read, the associative nature of thoughts…). But in looking in direct experience, I can only say that they’re appearing one after another…So that triggering thing is just another label to describe an appearance that cannot be found in experience. Interesting!

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Re: Seeing (thru) the ego

Postby Hannah B-T » Thu Oct 15, 2015 9:50 pm

I'm afraid work has left no time to respond tonight, i'll post in the morning, thanks
Are there keys in your pocket? Is the sky blue? Is there an 'i, a self?' LOOK! :)

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Re: Seeing (thru) the ego

Postby Hannah B-T » Fri Oct 16, 2015 10:46 am

Those are just different labels placed on the experience itself I’ve found. A translation into language of different sensations.
yes. keep looking at how language talks about subject and object, chairs, walls, and 'I'.
An experience of colour and sensation can be found from which the label 'chair' corresponds to.

What about 'I/me'? What raw experience is being labelled there?
I can’t see an entity separate from those sensations; at the same time, I see thoughts arising trying to map or describe the experience itself.
yes, good.
looking for the boundaries of a smell, a bodily sensation, etc., I can’t find any.
nice.
I can’t find precise edges to them; they occur “somewhere”, which has no size.
good.
It's fine to carry on your Vipassana meditation, but yes, when that was learnt it came with it's own built in 'rules' about how things work, that might also need looking at and testing out.
I can’t see
an “I” (by that I mean a personal story, a blah blah about Stephane).
Is Stephane anything more than a story? a blah blah?
Is the label Stephane pointing to anything different to say Batman or Father Christmas?

They could refer to the ego / self referential thoughts / story. Then I can’t locate it.
Take a look during the day at the self referential thoughts and give me a rough idea what it seems they are talking about? Other thoughts? What the body is doing? Get curious about that and let me know what is found out.
Also those words could point to a sense of being present / alive: then it is something I can feel. Hard to describe as it’s changing with the experience (moving, still, touching, etc.).
I know it's hard to describe but hopefully these can be answered about this sense of aliveness...

Is it that 'I am feeling sense of aliveness'? If so what is this I made of/experienced as that is feeling it?

Is this sense of aliveness in any way personal? Is it Stephane? Is it limited or boundaried in any way?

Well, I can’t really see any. Feelings to me are (un)pleasant bodily sensations, emotions
feel more mind/ thoughts originated. But when they’re occurring, I can’t see the difference.
Here's my idea, see if it matches the experience you find.

Emotions are sensations with a story/thoughts happening at the same time about how those sensations are affecting, or what they mean to an assumed 'I', to Stephane. This makes this whole dynamic appear more 'personal'..

'I don't like this'
'he hurt me'
'i need more of that'.

Which comes first? The sensations or the story. Look carefully. You are saying the story 'mind originated'...is that really the case?
(that’s what I’ve read, the associative nature of thoughts…)
it's great you can see that these ideas have been picked somewhere up along the way, and are open to taking a fresh look at them. That is key. It has been called 'unlearning'.
But in looking in direct experience, I can only say that they’re appearing one after another…So that triggering thing is just another label to describe an appearance that cannot be found in experience. Interesting!
Isn't it! :)
Are there keys in your pocket? Is the sky blue? Is there an 'i, a self?' LOOK! :)

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Re: Seeing (thru) the ego

Postby stephaneHKG2015 » Fri Oct 16, 2015 3:46 pm

What about 'I/me'? What raw experience is being labelled there?

In activities, primarily, there is thought (“I need to wash the dishes”), then movements / bodily sensations occur with(out) emotions (labeled as boredom for example), seeing and hearing, arising of related or unrelated thoughts. So sense experiences (including the mind).

Is Stephane anything more than a story? a blah blah?
Is the label Stephane pointing to anything different to say Batman or Father Christmas?

I see but the label is sticky in a sense that thoughts seem to ‘wrap up’ the whole experience and to claim it belonging to Stephane.

Is it that 'I am feeling sense of aliveness'? If so what is this I made of/experienced as that is feeling it?

This feeling sense of aliveness, let’s call it that way, is made of sensations/ feelings/ sounds/ images/ thoughts – sense experiences.

Is this sense of aliveness in any way personal? Is it Stephane? Is it limited or boundaried in any way?

Yes boundaries are blurry. I have no way to tell whether it’s personal or not in my experience.

Emotions are sensations with a story/thoughts happening at the same time about how those sensations are affecting, or what they mean to an assumed 'I', to Stephane. This makes this whole dynamic appear more 'personal'..

This definition makes sense, I will take a close look during interactions with people.
It feels like, there are thought and sensation and comment/ judgment about this sensation.

Which comes first? The sensations or the story. Look carefully. You are saying the story 'mind originated'...is that really the case?

Ok, I’ll look and report what I’ve found.By the way, i've just found the audio files on the website. I find them useful but they can't replace direct looking i believe.

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Re: Seeing (thru) the ego

Postby Hannah B-T » Fri Oct 16, 2015 9:05 pm

there is thought (“I need to wash the dishes”), then movements / bodily sensations
What role does a thought 'I need to wash the dishes' have in the activity? Does it in any way make the activity/movement happen? Control it?

Or are those thoughts just commentating or what is already happening or making a guess what might happen?

I see but the label is sticky in a sense that thoughts seem to ‘wrap up’ the whole experience and to claim it belonging to Stephane.
How can a thought 'wrap up' experience? Are thoughts physical, like a sheet of wrapping paper?
Or sticky, like a piece of cellophane sticky tape?
Or is that just metaphors? What can be seen to be going on without the metaphors?

Is it that 'I am feeling sense of aliveness'? If so what is this I made of/experienced as that is feeling it?

This feeling sense of aliveness, let’s call it that way, is made of sensations/ feelings/ sounds/ images/ thoughts – sense experiences.
That's not quite a direct answer to what I asked. Please try and directly answer the questions.
Yes boundaries are blurry.
Go outside and find a tree. take a good look at it. Then ask- where does this sense of aliveness stop and the tree's aliveness begin? Now touch it with eyes closed like the butt on chair exercise. Any boundaries there?
there are thought and sensation and comment/ judgment about this sensation.
Aren't comments/judgements just the content of thoughts about the sensations as well?
So what we are left with is simply-
sense experience including the experience of thought...
and the 'content' of that thought (words/images talking about/judging/defining that experience)
Ok, I’ll look and report what I’ve found
perfect. Look forward to it.
've just found the audio files on the website. I find them useful but they can't replace direct looking i believe.
Very true, but just like i'm doing, they contain 'pointers'. Have you heard the story of the finger pointing to the moon? The trick is to just look where the finger is pointing to, not get too hung up/worried about the pointers(words) themselves.

Let me know if anything from those files is found to be particularly helpful.
Are there keys in your pocket? Is the sky blue? Is there an 'i, a self?' LOOK! :)


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