Returning for another shot

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marknathan
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Returning for another shot

Postby marknathan » Sun Nov 08, 2015 9:49 pm

What brings you to Liberation Unleashed?

I initially heard about it over a year ago from friends. I had a conversation with a guide earlier this year, around the start of the summer, for about 5 or 6 weeks. I'd really like to start into it again.

What do you expect of the conversation on this forum?

To be given guidance. I know it's me that has to do all the work. I expect to be pushed to absolute honesty and to be brought up on an any theorising that I might slip into.

What is your background in terms of seeking and inquiry?

I learned to meditate when I was 18 (I'm 37 now) and eventually moved down a specifically Buddhist path. I practised as a Buddhist for quite a number of years, but pulled back from it when I realised that it had become - for me - more about being a 'good Buddhist', rather than the eager hunger for truth I'd had when I first started out. Hearing about this forum and then engaging with it earlier this year has revitalised that hunger and reminded me of why I started mediating in the first place.

As I mentioned, I was in conversation with a guide earlier in the year, and have contacted him again with a view to re-engaging, but he may be unavailable. If anyone would have the time to help me through this process, I'd be very grateful.

Mark

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Aragon
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Re: Returning for another shot

Postby Aragon » Wed Nov 11, 2015 12:44 pm

Hi Mark!

I'm available. I’d be happy to work with you. If the other guide doesn't show up?

I need you to confirm you’re happy with that – and if so, please read the following:

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If you want to go ahead, and you've got your head round all that, let me know - especially the disclaimer.

Speak soon,

Aragon
... dancing in the ebb and flow of attention, more present than the breath, I find the origins of my illusions.... - Nirmala

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marknathan
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Re: Returning for another shot

Postby marknathan » Fri Nov 13, 2015 8:27 pm

Hi Aragon,
Thanks for your reply. Sorry I'm only getting back to you now; I'd forgotten to subscribe to this thread. I'd be very happy to chat to you. All terms and conditions accepted!
Mark

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Aragon
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Re: Returning for another shot

Postby Aragon » Sat Nov 14, 2015 12:05 am

Hi Mark! Thanks for your message...

I briefly read your previous thread. You seemed there or thereabouts... So I guess I'm wondering what's up? What needs to be different to the way it is now? What would have to happen for you to be 'done'? How would 'being done' look to you? What is the sticking point?

Give me as much as you can. We need something to work with!

Speak soon,

Aragon
... dancing in the ebb and flow of attention, more present than the breath, I find the origins of my illusions.... - Nirmala

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marknathan
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Re: Returning for another shot

Postby marknathan » Sat Nov 14, 2015 12:47 pm

Hi Aragon,
Yes, there were times during my conversation earlier this year that it felt very close. There were a couple of nights in particular, especially reading Gateless Gatecrashers, when my whole body seemed to respond – heat, shaking a little – and it seemed so obvious. I burst out laughing.
Then the next morning, that feeling wouldn't be there. I know feelings come and go. Perhaps I should say, that 'perspective.'
At that time I was connecting into direct experience regularly during the day and reflecting on questions like “where is I in this experience / seeing / hearing, etc” and I think a momentum was built up.
But then there was frustration. “I” wasn't getting it. It felt like an intellectual comprehension rather than a deeply felt seeing. I suppose that's what I'm expecting: not that I'll be massively different – there're still the habits of this Mark organism – but that I'll be able to “drop into” that space of connectivity with everything. Really feel it. Not just believe it intellectually.
So where are the sticking points? Perhaps the personal nature of experience. I find myself thinking, “sure, these are just thoughts, but they're my thoughts.” If I was to play devil's advocate, I might say what difference does it make if there's no fixed entity- the experience of this psychophysical organism is still real. I'm trying to work this out as I write, Aragon, so forgive me if it comes across as a little incoherent.
Ok, so my thoughts. Who's my? Mark's thoughts. Who's Mark? I want to say, the present result of past emotional and psychological conditioning, genetics, evolution(!). The organism who's way of interacting with others is relatively predictable – what makes him angry, what moves him.
So, where is Mark now? Yes, 'Mark' is a label given to the whole – body, emotions, thoughts, feelings. And then...? This is the sticking point. What then? So, nothing's fixed. There's no fixed entity.
It seems to come down to choice, volition. I've found that helpful, I suppose because it's what really gives us the sense of being a separate person. It's very hard to pin down where it is. And there's a lot of resistance. I can't see the moment of choice. The hand moves toward the tea cup. Sure, there's a thought, “I want some tea” or even “Yes, I'll pick up the cup now”, but they're thoughts tangibly separate to the impulse to pick up the cup. So who decided to pick up the cup? I want to say no none, but I don't really believe it. I think that's pretty much where I am, Aragon :-)

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Aragon
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Re: Returning for another shot

Postby Aragon » Sat Nov 14, 2015 2:26 pm

Hi Mark,

Thanks for your honest reply.

I wonder if there is something about managing expectations here…

Bursting out laughing, noting the obvious-ness – these are common responses. But it is easy to confuse the experience with the perspective. It is the knowing that continues, even though the various feelings come and go.

I see you’ve been into Buddhism, and without getting into Buddhism too much, you might note that whilst the first three fetters (including seeing through self-view) are broken together, there are further fetters that obviously involve a sense-of-self (ill-will and desire). Seeing through self-view does not necessarily mean that the sense-of-self will no longer arise, but it will be seen for what it is.

Or in the language used more on this site, once the Gate has been passed, self-ing still occurs.
I find myself thinking, “sure, these are just thoughts, but they're my thoughts.”
Okay, so are they really your thoughts?

- Where do thoughts arise from (in experience)?
- Can you predict your next thought?
- Can you stop your thoughts (say for two minutes)?
- What is it that says, “these are my thoughts”?
- What is it that is claiming ownership of these thoughts?

I want to say, the present result of past emotional and psychological conditioning, genetics, evolution(!). The organism who's way of interacting with others is relatively predictable – what makes him angry, what moves him.

Isn’t this trying to model experience, explain it away, finding a way of understanding it – replace the old model with the new?

- Can any model (of thought) really understand this?
- Can thought understand anything?
- Is thought aware?
- Can one thought know another thought?
- What says “one thought knows another thought?


Let’s leave it there for the moment. Look at thoughts. Sit quietly and look. What is really happening? Forget everything you’ve been told – science, Buddhism, anything – just look.

Speak soon,

Aragon
... dancing in the ebb and flow of attention, more present than the breath, I find the origins of my illusions.... - Nirmala

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marknathan
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Re: Returning for another shot

Postby marknathan » Sun Nov 15, 2015 12:12 am

Hi Aragon,
I've tried to answer your questions, but I'm not feeling any clearer. Not right now at any rate.

-
Where do thoughts arise from (in experience)?
In experience, they seem to come out of nowhere. The content depends on what thoughts came before, as well as sense stimulus – sight, hearing, sensation, etc. But the thoughts themselves just arise.
Can you predict your next thought?
Definitely not!
Can you stop your thoughts (say for two minutes)?
No. The speed of their flow, or the tendency to run with them can be slowed. But stopping? Not in my experience at least.
What is it that says, “these are my thoughts”?
Well, it's just another thought, isn't it?
What is it that is claiming ownership of these thoughts?
What I come up against here is a feeling that it's just semantics to say these aren't my thoughts. They arise as a part of this organism. They're particular to it. So I might ask, is there an 'I' in this organism which claims ownership of its thoughts, feelings, body, sensations, etc? Ok, I need to be honest. 'I' is a thought which labels the totality of this organism. There isn't anything else underlying the thoughts, feelings, sensations, etc. There is a feeling of control, of volition, of something driving the whole. A me looking out. But what is that? It feels like a head-centred presence. I think that's the best I can do on that for the moment.

Can any model (of thought) really understand this?
- Can thought understand anything?
Thoughts seem to arise out of understanding, after understanding has occurred, as an attempt to articulate comprehension. But the thoughts are not the understanding.
Is thought aware?
No. In my experience, awareness seems to underlie thought, as a constant.
Can one thought know another thought?
I don't think so. They succeed one another, and seem to arise in dependence upon each other. But they are known by something else – what awareness is.
What says “one thought knows another thought?
That's just a thought again.

Yours in confusion :-)
Mark

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Aragon
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Re: Returning for another shot

Postby Aragon » Sun Nov 15, 2015 12:42 am

Hi Mark,

Don’t worry about the confusion, let’s just run with it for a while! It can be like that!
In experience, they seem to come out of nowhere. The content depends on what thoughts came before, as well as sense stimulus – sight, hearing, sensation, etc. But the thoughts themselves just arise.
- Yes
Can you predict your next thought?
Definitely not!
- Yes
Can you stop your thoughts (say for two minutes)?
No. The speed of their flow, or the tendency to run with them can be slowed. But stopping? Not in my experience at least.
- Is that attempt to slow thoughts arising as a decision, or as a response to what is happening? In reponse to what you read (from me)? Is thought initiating that action, or describing it?

Watch yourself through the day. You get up, clean your teeth, wash your face, go down the stairs, drive, eat, whatever – is thought really initiating all that? I will give you an exercise on this (below) but I think you may already have done it (raising the arm)?

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So have a closer look. How do decisions happen? What makes you choose this way over that way?


Try this: Sit or stand in a quiet place. Simply raise one of the arms above the head. Which one was raised, right or left? How did this happen? Do this a few times in a day, just watch how exactly choice happens? What is first, an impulse or thought?
------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------
What is it that says, “these are my thoughts”?
Well, it's just another thought, isn't it?
- Yes
But the thoughts are not the understanding.
- Yes
Is thought aware?
No. In my experience, awareness seems to underlie thought, as a constant.
- Underlie?
Can one thought know another thought?
I don't think so. They succeed one another, and seem to arise in dependence upon each other. But they are known by something else – what awareness is.
- Yes, but it’s not about thinking;) You need to look and see. Are thoughts aware, or do they arise in awareness? Are thoughts aware, or is there awareness of thoughts?
What says “one thought knows another thought?
That's just a thought again.
- Yes
There is a feeling of control, of volition, of something driving the whole. A me looking out. But what is that? It feels like a head-centred presence. I think that's the best I can do on that for the moment.
- Is this a feeling, or a feeling with a story (thought) attached? Can you isolate the feeling from the thought-label, and the thought-story about it?

I have another exercise for you, but maybe that'd be too much right now. So I'll wait.....

Just keep looking. I get you are trying to understand it, that thoughts are raising questions, so to speak, but the answer is to keep looking - the answer is definitely not found in thought, it is found in seeing. Trust that.

I await your reply :)

Aragon
... dancing in the ebb and flow of attention, more present than the breath, I find the origins of my illusions.... - Nirmala

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marknathan
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Re: Returning for another shot

Postby marknathan » Tue Nov 17, 2015 12:08 am

Can you stop your thoughts (say for two minutes)?
No. The speed of their flow, or the tendency to run with them can be slowed. But stopping? Not in my experience at least.
- Is that attempt to slow thoughts arising as a decision, or as a response to what is happening? In reponse to what you read (from me)? Is thought initiating that action, or describing it? 

Watch yourself through the day. You get up, clean your teeth, wash your face, go down the stairs, drive, eat, whatever – is thought really initiating all that? I will give you an exercise on this (below) but I think you may already have done it (raising the arm)?
When I referred to the attempt to slow thoughts, I had meditation in mind, when focus is given to breath or whatever, rather than the content of thoughts. However, thought only describes that slowing action, or the focusing. Thought only describes. It's mind-bending; typing this now – there is just typing. I am typing? Or just typing? There's an impulse to type – the fingers move, and it's known, what I want to say, but the decision? I can't find it.
Same when I do the arm exercise. The movement and the thoughts are completely separate. I suddenly break from typing, sigh and rest my arms beside me. But I can't see the doer – it's EXTREMELY mysterious. And a little frightening.
At times I've felt a response of fear around being trapped in my body, with no free will, unable to make independent decisions. But of course, there is NO ONE trapped in the body. There never was anyone here to make or not make decisions. But then what is there?!
Is thought aware?
No. In my experience, awareness seems to underlie thought, as a constant.
- Underlie?
What I meant by underlie, is that thoughts arise within awareness.
There is a feeling of control, of volition, of something driving the whole. A me looking out. But what is that? It feels like a head-centred presence. I think that's the best I can do on that for the moment.
- Is this a feeling, or a feeling with a story (thought) attached? Can you isolate the feeling from the thought-label, and the thought-story about it?
The feeling is one simply of being, of being alive. Then thoughts come up identifying that beingness as “mine” with a whole story about Mark – memories, ideas about who he is, how he responds to the world.


I still don't feel any closer. I think you're right about my expectations. I think I'm still expecting a "pop". :-) I'm frustrated by just getting it intellectually. I don't want another belief. So, just look, you'll say. I will keep looking.

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Re: Returning for another shot

Postby marknathan » Tue Nov 17, 2015 12:34 am

I'd love that other exercise if you think now is the time?

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Aragon
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Re: Returning for another shot

Postby Aragon » Tue Nov 17, 2015 1:05 am

Hi Mark!
It's mind-bending; typing this now – there is just typing. I am typing? Or just typing? There's an impulse to type – the fingers move, and it's known, what I want to say, but the decision? I can't find it.
- Is this intellectual understanding, or is this seen / experienced? Is ‘this is just intellectual understanding’ not just another thought describing what is being seen?
But I can't see the doer – it's EXTREMELY mysterious. And a little frightening.
- Yes. Fear can arise like this. You can ask it, ‘what are you trying to protect?’. Explore the fear, if you can. Why is it frightening?
The feeling is one simply of being, of being alive. Then thoughts come up identifying that beingness as “mine” with a whole story about Mark – memories, ideas about who he is, how he responds to the world.
- Yes, again, doesn’t sound like an intellectual understanding? You are aware, unmistakeably, no? But are you what you take yourself to be?

Let’s try this…..

When you read this, you may have an idea of the answers, but I want you to go there, do it, look,

Sit quietly in a room, meditation style. Calm yourself with a few breaths. Go to the point where the foot meets the floor.

I want you to report from experience (not thoughts about it) what is there. One way of getting this is to think you are a newborn baby, without any concepts or knowledge. Explore what is happening at this point with the curiosity of a newborn baby.
  • So what is happening at that point? What do you find?
    - Can you find a foot?
    - Can you find a floor?
    - Can you find ‘contact’?
    - If you cannot find these things, can you see how they come into existence from what you can find?
Write what you find.

Thanks,

Aragon
... dancing in the ebb and flow of attention, more present than the breath, I find the origins of my illusions.... - Nirmala

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marknathan
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Re: Returning for another shot

Postby marknathan » Tue Nov 17, 2015 11:52 pm

Hi Aragon,

I'm just checking in to let you know I read your last post and am going to give more time to it - and that last exercise - before replying more fully. Hopefully this time tomorrow.
Before I sign off, I came across this passage from Samuel Beckett's The Unnamable last night. I thought you might enjoy it:

"It’s a lot to expect of one creature, it’s a lot to ask, that he should first behave as if he were not, then as if he were, before being admitted to that peace where he neither is, nor is not, and where the language dies that permits of such expression."

:-)

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marknathan
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Re: Returning for another shot

Postby marknathan » Wed Nov 18, 2015 12:33 am

I want you to report from experience (not thoughts about it) what is there. One way of getting this is to think you are a newborn baby, without any concepts or knowledge. Explore what is happening at this point with the curiosity of a newborn baby.

So what is happening at that point? What do you find?
- Can you find a foot?
- Can you find a floor?
- Can you find ‘contact’?
- If you cannot find these things, can you see how they come into existence from what you can find?
Since I'm here, some initial description of the experience:
Sitting on a chair with eyes closed, relying only on physical sensation. Becoming more relaxed, tuning into sensation, and the feet. “Feet” is an idea. I know there are two feet there, but without knowing that, relying purely on physical sensation, there is heat down there, comfortable, pleasant-feeling warmth. Indistinct shape. Impossible to tell if there are two – if there is or isn't anything between my feet. The lines between what is and isn't “the body” become very blurry. “Floor” is also an idea – thought rushes to identify sensation, to interpret it, but staying with the sensation, where does floor stop and foot begin? Impossible to tell.
Same with hands resting on the arm rests. Perception gets “distorted”, but it's only distorted compared with the idea of what is there – two distinct hands. But the felt experience? Where they finish and the “outside of them” begins I can't tell. They suddenly feel huge.
What are the implications of this? If someone stuck a pin in the floor and then in my foot, I'd feel one and not the other.
I'll sit with this some more tomorrow.

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Aragon
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Re: Returning for another shot

Postby Aragon » Wed Nov 18, 2015 7:49 am

Hi Mark!
“Feet” is an idea.
Ok, good, an idea = a thought?
I know there are two feet there,
Who knows? Are there really two feet? In what sense? What is your actual experience of 'knowing there are two feet'?
relying purely on physical sensation,
You mean, relying on experience, rather than descriptions (conceptual formulations)of experience?
there is heat down there, comfortable, pleasant-feeling warmth.
-all labels, learned knowledge, interpretations?
“Floor” is also an idea – thought rushes to identify sensation, to interpret it, but staying with the sensation, where does floor stop and foot begin? Impossible to tell.
- Yes, just sensation?

What are the implications of this? If someone stuck a pin in the floor and then in my foot, I'd feel one and not the other.
- This is just thought spinning stories. This is not what is happening. Pinch one hand and not the other, Thought might say stuff, but what is the actual experience of pinching one hand and not the other? Is there a hand, or just sensation?

We’re looking at what is happening. What is the actual experience of ‘foot’. Outside of any thoughts about it? How would a baby experience ‘foot’’, before any concepts were learned?

Can you see you keep referring to thought? Like what thought says is somehow more real than what is actually happening?

Speak soon,

Aragon
... dancing in the ebb and flow of attention, more present than the breath, I find the origins of my illusions.... - Nirmala

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marknathan
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Re: Returning for another shot

Postby marknathan » Thu Nov 19, 2015 1:02 am

Hi Aragon,
Just checking in to let you know that work got on top of me today, and I don't want to reply until I can do so fully. Tomorrow might be the same. I'll get back to you Friday at the latest, and will keep looking in the meantime.
Talk then
Mark


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