Can you guide me through the gate. It would be Awesome!

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leet
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Can you guide me through the gate. It would be Awesome!

Postby leet » Tue May 10, 2016 6:40 pm

What brings you to Liberation Unleashed?:

I recently learnt that there is no self and that free will may be an illusion. Although I understand this intellectually I have read that a "shift" in consciousness can somehow take place that will over time enable me to live a calmer and more peaceful life and most importantly see life for what it truly is.

What are you looking for? What do you expect from this?:

I understand intellectually that the self does not exist. When I try to locate it I have equal feelings of excitement (because I feel like I'm getting closer to the truth) and feelings of frustration because it feels like I'm trying to grasp a truth that is constantly slipping through my fingers. I am about halfway through reading The Gateless Gate and what is apparent is that there can be a moment of realisation where at some point there is a clear 'feeling' of non-self as opposed to a logical /intellectual understanding of it. From what I understand, over time it seems that once this realisation has been achieved, the mind can become quieter and anxieties and problems become easier to deal with. It is this transition from an intellectual understanding to actually living and feeling 'the truth of no-self' that I am hoping you can help me with. Is this transition what it means to pass through the gateless gate?

What is your background in terms of seeking and inquiry?:

I have very little background in seeking and inquiry. Fairly recently I learnt about the Neti Neti method though Actualized.org. I practiced the technique and quickly realised two profound things. Firstly I could not locate a 'self' and therefore the self (as I previously understood it at least) cannot exist. Secondly I realised that I could not predict or control my thoughts in any real way as I previously assumed I could. This has lead me to believe that free will may not exist but although I sense this is true it is hard for me to accept.

How ready are you to question your beliefs about who you are and see the truth no matter what? On a scale from one to ten (ten being most ready). : 11

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LindaR
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Re: Can you guide me through the gate. It would be Awesome!

Postby LindaR » Wed May 11, 2016 8:19 pm

Welcome! Glad you are here.

My name is Linda and I am willing to look with you, if you like.

What would you like me to call you?

Before we begin, let’s make sure what we offer here at Liberation Unleashed is what you are interested in looking into.
Our only purpose here will be to look closely at YOUR direct experience, until it is clearly, undeniably seen that no separate entity can be found.

This exploration is not about a calmer more peaceful life. It is not about the mind becoming quieter, or anxieties and problems being easier to deal with. Some of this may happen. Or it may not happen. The experience is different for everyone. Many experience a blah-ness, a sort of “all the non-duality fuss has been about just this?!?”. So I ask you, would that experience be okay, also?
Expectations usually prove to be a big obstacle in seeing clearly what has always been right HERE, in plain sight all along, so it’s important to address them.

Seeing through the illusion of a separate self is about shifting perception from what is believed to be experienced (thought content), to what is actually, directly experienced. This is what we will explore together.

So, this is all that is being offered here. If this is what interests you, and you are able to approach this with a blank slate, leaving all expectations, beliefs, teachings, opinions, and all other concepts aside during our exploration, then I may be able to assist in the exploration.

Please consider carefully and let me know if you would like to proceed.

With Love,
Linda

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leet
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Re: Can you guide me through the gate. It would be Awesome!

Postby leet » Wed May 11, 2016 10:54 pm

Hi Linda, i'm Lee.

First of all thank-you for taking the time to help me with this, I am very grateful.

In terms of what i'm expecting, honestly, i'm not sure exactly. I feel like i'm coming to the conclusion that there is no self but I am unsure if there is something more than an intellectual understanding of this. If there is nothing more then maybe I already have what i need? It feels like there could be more though and it is this i'm hoping you can help me investigate. It makes total sense to start with a blank slate as you suggest and i would love to explore possibilities together with an open mind.

Thanks again for this, it's so appreciated,

Lee

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LindaR
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Re: Can you guide me through the gate. It would be Awesome!

Postby LindaR » Thu May 12, 2016 12:31 am

Hi Lee,
First of all thank-you for taking the time to help me with this, I am very grateful.
Honored to be here with you, Lee.
In terms of what i'm expecting, honestly, i'm not sure exactly.
Perfect. Shortly, we will look into this a bit further.
I feel like i'm coming to the conclusion that there is no self but I am unsure if there is something more than an intellectual understanding of this.
‘Coming to the conclusion’ indicates it is the mind attempting to reason, make sense, and understand. But the mind is not capable of understanding this. Thoughts are what have created the illusion of a separate self, so it is not possible to ‘think’ our way out of the illusion. What we will do here is the opposite of thinking. We will LOOK until it is undeniably seen that no separate ‘I’, ‘me’ ‘Lee’ can be found.

But first, let’s take care of a few housekeeping items before we begin.

• Write at least once a day, even if it is just to say you need more time. Total commitment to this process is what is needed.
• During our time together, refrain from reading other threads on this site, books and watching videos from spiritual teachers and philosophers. While you are here, we will be focusing on your direct experience only. Spiritual teachers and philosophers cannot help you in this exploration. This is about your experience only.
• We will journey together as two friends, side by side. I will ask questions, and you agree to look deeply in direct experience with complete honesty, and provide a response.
• For both of our benefit, please learn to use the quote function. It will eliminate a lot of confusion when reading and responding to questions. Instructions are here: viewtopic.php?f=4&t=660
• Please read our disclaimer at http://liberationunleashed.com/disclaimer-2/

Please let me know that you are okay with these, and then we will begin!

It would also be good to know what time zone you are in so we can get a feel for when posting might occur. I am in the U.S. Eastern Standard Time Zone.

With Love,
Linda

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leet
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Re: Can you guide me through the gate. It would be Awesome!

Postby leet » Thu May 12, 2016 7:24 am

Hi Laura,

This all sounds great and of course i'm ok with the housekeeping items. I'm based in the UK but hopefully the time difference won't be too much of a problem. Again I appreciate your time helping me.
We will LOOK until it is undeniably seen that no separate ‘I’, ‘me’ ‘Lee’ can be found.
This sounds great although it's unclear at this point how this can be possible. I have been 'looking' a lot recently and am unable to see a separate 'I' (which was a big revelation for me in itself) but how can anyone be sure for certain that the 'I' (or anything) does not exist? Coming at this with an open mind, is it also possible that the 'I' exists but is just eluding us all?

Maybe i'm missing the point and what's important is not being able to 'see' a separate 'I'? Maybe not being able to prove the 'I' exists is not important? Hopefully these questions help you understand what i'm grappling with :-)

I'm excited about our journey together and look forward to your next message.

Thanks again,

Lee

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leet
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Re: Can you guide me through the gate. It would be Awesome!

Postby leet » Thu May 12, 2016 7:30 am

Sorry Linda, I see that i called you 'Laura' (a good friend of mine) in my post above. I tried to change it but can't seem to find the edit button.

Apologies!

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LindaR
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Re: Can you guide me through the gate. It would be Awesome!

Postby LindaR » Thu May 12, 2016 2:54 pm

Hi Lee,
Great, thanks for all of that. We will come back to what you wrote a bit later. At which time I will ask you to answer your own questions, if they still remain. ;-).

As you are no doubt aware- this is not your typical discussion forum, but a space where actual inquiry into the fundamental nature of experience happens. It requires a willingness to refrain from theorizing as well as a devotion to honesty about your own experience. This is about seeing what is, and has always only ever been the case. This is not an intellectual or philosophical discussion.

During this exploration, I will tend to ask various questions and present some exercises. Your job is to LOOK and report on first hand, direct experience (seeing, hearing, tasting, smelling, touching/feeling) what you find. Please be sure to answer all questions and try to be as concise as possible, refraining from a lot of mind chatter. In short, I am asking you not to THINK, but rather to FEEL, what is true for you in direct experience.

So, let’s first take a good look and make sure there is a solid understanding of what is meant by direct experience. This is important because direct experience is foundational to everything we will explore together.

Simply stated, direct experience is the data from the senses (seeing, hearing, smelling, tasting, touching), prior to interpretation by the mind. Direct experience is what is happening here and now. It is the only provable way we have to determine what is factual. We experience thoughts arising in direct experience also. But instead of accepting the contents of thoughts as factual, we will investigate, and perhaps discover that the content of thoughts can never be true.

To get a good look at direct experience, I invite you to spend some time to complete the following exercises and then report back what you discover:

Exercise 1:
Think of where you last placed your house/car keys. Maybe they are currently in your pocket, key ring, a drawer, or basket. Don’t go get them though. Just think about where they are. Imagine in your mind how they feel in your hand. Notice (in your mind) how many keys are on the key ring. Notice the weight, texture, shape and design of the keys. Look (again, in your mind) at any lettering or designs on the keys.

Now go and get your keys. Hold the keys in your hand. Feel the texture, weight, shape and design of the keys. Look at how many keys are actually on the key ring. Look at the designs and lettering on the keys.

Report back the difference between the imagined keys and the actual experience of the keys.

Exercise 2:
Get a pen or pencil and lay it beside you, but out of view.
Now imagine, in your mind, that you are holding the pen (don’t actually hold it). Think about how the plastic or metal feels to the touch. In your mind, notice the hardness. Notice the mental images around the weight, length, diameter of the pen. Imagine how any special characteristics of the pen, like groves, lines, or other designs feel to the touch.

Now pick the pen up. Feel the plastic or metal of the pen. Feel the hardness and the weight of the pen. See the length and diameter. Look at and feel the design.

Report back what was the difference between experiencing the thought of the pen and directly experiencing the pen? Did one feel more alive than the other?

Exercise 3:
Get a piece of paper and pen and go sit quietly somewhere, preferably outside in nature. For the next 2 minutes, notice all that is happening, right now. Write it all down. Maybe some sensations, maybe seeing, maybe a sound heard, maybe a smell?
When thoughts pops up, acknowledge and write them down also, but don’t get involved with the content, simply notice how thoughts make commentary on direct experience.
Let me have what you write.

With love,
Laura ;-)

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leet
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Re: Can you guide me through the gate. It would be Awesome!

Postby leet » Thu May 12, 2016 3:57 pm

Thanks Linda this sounds great :-)

Here's the results of the exercises, hopefully it's concise enough!

Exercise 1:

In a lot ways the experience of imagining holding the keys was very similar to actually holding the keys but there were some differences. When I imagined they keys I did not consider their temperature. When I actually held them they felt cold which was not what I was expecting and so this was not part of my imagined set of keys. They were also sharper/rougher than I had imagined. I guess the final thing to say is that when I was actually holding the keys I could feel that there were 5. In my imagined set I had not thought about the number and just considered them as a 'bunch of keys'.

There is also a different kind of feeling to imagining the keys vs holding the keys. It's very hard to describe but I suppose what i'm getting at is that in my imagined set I could not actually use my sense of touch and so this 'real' feeling was of course missing in my imagined set.


Exercise 2:

In this exercise I had actually missed some key parts of the pen in my imagined version. For example, once I held the real pen I felt that it had a rubber grip on the end which I had 'felt' as plastic in my imagined pen. There is definitely a different feeling between the imaginary pen and the real one. I don't mean feeling as in it's texture but something else. As I said with the key exercise its very hard to describe. It sounds silly but one obviously feels 'real'. Im not sure if this is the aliveness that you mentioned.


Exercise 3:

Sounds of birds
Sounds Rustling trees
Feeling of wind on my face
Sound of an airplane
Itchy head
Sound scratching my head
Sound of car
Sound and feeling of breathing
I actually had a thought about what my thought might be as I was concious that I had not really thought about anything other than my experience since going outside:-)
Then I had a thought of a pink elephant as this reminded me of the "Don't think of a pink elephant' thing
Felt Warmth of sun
Bright sky
Feeling of bottom on seat

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LindaR
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Re: Can you guide me through the gate. It would be Awesome!

Postby LindaR » Thu May 12, 2016 11:55 pm

Excellent, Lee! Well done.
It sounds silly but one obviously feels 'real'. Im not sure if this is the aliveness that you mentioned.
Exactly :-). When you were holding the keys, holding keys was what was happening NOW. And imagining your keys was simply a thought, which had no reality in the actual experiencing of keys. A thought shows up in direct experience, sure, but can the content of thought actually ever be happening Now, HERE? Can a thought ever accurately describe THIS?
Sounds of birds
Sounds Rustling trees
Feeling of wind on my face
Sound of an airplane
Itchy head
Sound scratching my head
Sound of car
Sound and feeling of breathing
I actually had a thought about what my thought might be as I was concious that I had not really thought about anything other than my experience since going outside:-)
Then I had a thought of a pink elephant as this reminded me of the "Don't think of a pink elephant' thing
Felt Warmth of sun
Bright sky
Feeling of bottom on seat
Nice work on this!

Let’s take another look at your list and see if we can peel this back even more. Again, having a clear view between what is directly experienced through the senses, and what are thoughts, is critically important for what we are doing here, so we want to take whatever time is necessary to be crystal clear on this point, okay?

1. Read through your list again, but this time remove all the ‘I’,’my’ ‘me’ words as you read. Report back if it feels any different with these words removed.
2. Please make two lists. Name one list ‘Thoughts’ and the other list ‘Direct Experience. Then, please go back through your list above and separate the thoughts from what was directly experienced into the appropriate list.
3. When you have done that, go through your ‘Direct Experience’ list one more time and see if you can spot anything that might still be thought content (ie, labels, assumptions, concept, memory), as opposed to what is directly experienced (of course we have to use memory, and some labels, to communicate in this case, but lets make that okay so we can really zero in on what is actually happening in direct experience)
HINT: If it is directly experience you should be able to list the specific sensation (seeing, hearing, smelling, tasting, touching/feeling) being experienced next to each word/sentence. How about giving it a try and let me know what you find?

Love,
Linda

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leet
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Re: Can you guide me through the gate. It would be Awesome!

Postby leet » Fri May 13, 2016 10:10 am

Thanks Linda. The difference between thoughts and direct experience sounds key and so yes, it would be great to make sure I have understood correctly!

Here are the answers to your questions...

1.
Yes it does feel different! It now feels like each of the experiences was separate to 'me'. It's kind of like there was no real reason to link them to me in the first place.

2.
Here are my new lists:

Thoughts
----------
Thought about what my first thought might be (so funny!)
Thought of a pink elephant (so weird!)

Experiences
-------------
Sounds of of birds
Sounds Rustling trees
Feeling of wind on my face
Sound of an airplane
Itchy head
Sound scratching my head
Sound of car
Sound and feeling of breathing
Felt Warmth of sun
Bright sky
Feeling of bottom on seat

3.
This is a strange one so I hope I'm doing it correctly. If I have done it wrong I'm happy to have another try :-)

I have adapted my experience list a bit to focus on the experience itself.

Experiences
-------------
Sounds of birds
Sounds of rustling trees
Feeling of wind
Sound of an airplane
Feeling of an Itchy head
Sound of scratching my head
Sound of a car
Sound and breathing
Feeling of breathing
Feeling of warmth from the sun
Seeing the bright sky
Feeling of bottom on seat

What I also see though is the all the "things" I list such as 'bird', 'trees', 'sun', 'car' were actually thoughts as I didn't actually experience these directly. For example, I did not actually see the bird, but when I wrote it down the thought of an actual bird appeared in my head!

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LindaR
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Re: Can you guide me through the gate. It would be Awesome!

Postby LindaR » Fri May 13, 2016 2:13 pm

Hi Lee,
Yes it does feel different! It now feels like each of the experiences was separate to 'me'. It's kind of like there was no real reason to link them to me in the first place.
Excellent. It is the convention of language to include an ‘I’ ‘me’ ‘my’. But as you have seen, no such entity is needed. Life simply flows, does it not?
What I also see though is the all the "things" I list such as 'bird', 'trees', 'sun', 'car' were actually thoughts as I didn't actually experience these directly. For example, I did not actually see the bird, but when I wrote it down the thought of an actual bird appeared in my head!
Well seen!
Experiences
-------------
Sounds of birds
Sounds of rustling trees
Feeling of wind
Sound of an airplane
Feeling of an Itchy head
Sound of scratching my head
Sound of a car
Sound and breathing
Feeling of breathing
Feeling of warmth from the sun
Seeing the bright sky
Feeling of bottom on seat
So, in your list, when you say “sounds of birds” isn’t the actual experience, before thoughts arise to label the experience, really something like ‘chirping’ sounds? And when you say “seeing the bright sky” is the actual, direct experience really 'seeing colors', followed by thoughts that label those colors as 'bright sky'?

How about going through your list again, and this time really hone in on what the actual experience is (was)? When you are done, please send me your revised list.

Much love,
Linda

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leet
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Re: Can you guide me through the gate. It would be Awesome!

Postby leet » Fri May 13, 2016 3:04 pm

Thanks Linda,

Life does flow yes I see that.

Previously I could not see how I could describe my experiences without labelling the things causing those experiences. Let me have another look at the list to see if I can do a better job...

Experiences
-------------
Heard whistling sounds
Heard rustling sounds
Felt cool, refreshing sensation
Heard low roaring sound coming from above
Felt an itch
Heard scratching sound on head
Heard another 'rumbling' sound in the distance
Heard a 'breathing' sound
Felt my chest moving
Felt warm
Saw bright light
Felt bottom on seat

Is this better?

Thanks again for all your help with this,

Lee

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LindaR
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Re: Can you guide me through the gate. It would be Awesome!

Postby LindaR » Fri May 13, 2016 4:18 pm

Previously I could not see how I could describe my experiences without labelling the things causing those experiences.
Sure. To describe experience verbally we have to use labels, so there is a bit of fumbling with words while doing these exercises. Our goal is to start recognizing what is ACTUALLY being experienced prior to thoughts arising attempting to make sense of experience. This can take a little time to get used to.

Let’s have a little more fun with this list :-).
Experiences
-------------
Heard whistling sounds
Heard rustling sounds
Felt cool, refreshing sensation
Heard low roaring sound coming from above
Felt an itch
Heard scratching sound on head
Heard another 'rumbling' sound in the distance
Heard a 'breathing' sound
Felt my chest moving
Felt warm
Saw bright light
Felt bottom on seat
When you use the words ‘heard’ ‘felt’ and ‘saw’, it indicates a subject and object but in direct experience is there a ‘you’ that hears whistling sounds? Take a good, honest look at what is being experienced, prior to thoughts arising.

Try this. Turn on some music and close your eyes. Notice what is actually being experienced. Are ‘you’ or a ‘body’ hearing music or is there just hearing happening? Is there a separation between the hearing of the music, and the music, or are they one happening? If you find a separation between them, please tell me where the dividing line is.
Felt bottom on seat
If you are not already seated, please do so as focused time allows. When you are seated, close your eyes and really focus in on the sensation being felt. Can you find anything other than ‘pressure’ being experienced? In direct experience, is there a ‘you’ or ‘body’ experiencing ‘pressure’? Can you find a boundary between the bum and the seat? Or is it one happening?

It is important that you actually take quality time to do these exercises. I can tell you what is actually experienced but until YOU experience it for yourself, they will remain concepts and beliefs…and I am not here to add concepts and beliefs to the arsenal that you already have. So LOOK! ;-).

You are doing great! Very much enjoying this exploration with you!

Warmly,
Linda,

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leet
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Re: Can you guide me through the gate. It would be Awesome!

Postby leet » Fri May 13, 2016 5:22 pm

Hi Linda,

I have had another good look!
Our goal is to start recognizing what is ACTUALLY being experienced prior to thoughts arising attempting to make sense of experience. This can take a little time to get used to.
This makes sense but is indeed hard to get used to. I definitely need to work on this!
Take a good, honest look at what is being experienced, prior to thoughts arising.
I'm not sure if I have this down but it does feel like the experiences are seperated to me. A better way to describe it would be that 'I' is kind of irrelevant. It doesn't seem to play a part in the experience.
Are ‘you’ or a ‘body’ hearing music or is there just hearing happening?
The body does not seem to factor into the equation. It seems irrelevant.
Is there a separation between the hearing of the music, and the music, or are they one happening? If you find a separation between them, please tell me where the dividing line is.
I can't find any seperation between hearing the music, and the music itself. I feels very weird to try to seperated them as I can see how they could be seperated.
Can you find anything other than ‘pressure’ being experienced? In direct experience, is there a ‘you’ or ‘body’ experiencing ‘pressure’? Can you find a boundary between the bum and the seat? Or is it one happening?
No, I can't experience a boundary, it's just one experience.

I feel I should add that although it feels like I'm getting closer to these direct experiences I think it's important to say that thoughts always jumps into my head that says "don't be stupid Lee, are you 100% sure try that this is what Linda is getting at!" And then I doubt if i have understood correctly. The fact that I have just written "I have understood" is also putting doubts in my mind as you have explained that the point is not to understand this intellectually anyway. Hmmm. I need to work harder at this!
You are doing great! Very much enjoying this exploration with you!
That's very kind of you. I'm enjoying the exploration too!

Lee

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LindaR
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Re: Can you guide me through the gate. It would be Awesome!

Postby LindaR » Fri May 13, 2016 9:40 pm

Hi Lee,
It doesn't seem to play a part in the experience.
The body does not seem to factor into the equation. It seems irrelevant.
I'm not sure if I have this down but it does feel like the experiences are seperated to me. A better way to describe it would be that 'I' is kind of irrelevant. It doesn't seem to play a part in the experience.
All of this ‘seems’, Not sure if I have this down’ and ‘kind of’ means you are thinking, NOT looking. Did you actually do the exercises or just think through them?

How about giving this exercise another try and tell me if you notice anything different this time?

Turn on some music and close your eyes. Notice what is actually being experienced. Are ‘you’ or a ‘body’ hearing music or is there just hearing happening? Is there a separation between the hearing of the music, and the music, or are they one happening? If you find a separation between them, please tell me where the dividing line is.
I feel I should add that although it feels like I'm getting closer to these direct experiences I think it's important to say that thoughts always jumps into my head that says "don't be stupid Lee, are you 100% sure try that this is what Linda is getting at!" And then I doubt if i have understood correctly. The fact that I have just written "I have understood" is also putting doubts in my mind as you have explained that the point is not to understand this intellectually anyway. Hmmm. I need to work harder at this!
I would like to invite you make another ‘Thoughts’ and ‘Direct Experience’ list. This time I would like you to go through the paragraph above and place each word in either the ‘Thought’ list, or in the ‘Direct Experience’ list. For every word in the direct experience list, please write what sensation (see, hearing, tasting, smelling, touching/feeling) is experienced that makes it direct experience. Please send your lists to me.
No, I can't experience a boundary, it's just one experience.
Nice!

With love,
Linda


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