the house of me

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shivite
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the house of me

Postby shivite » Sun Jun 05, 2016 12:58 pm

What brings you to Liberation Unleashed?:
I have been following LU on facebook for a couple of months and am intrigued by the dialogue. The participants appear to be genuinely helpful, non judgmental and knowledgeable in the arena of spiritual pursuit.

What are you looking for? What do you expect from this?:
Looking for answers to questions like who am I, why am I here, who/what is god are some of the questions I have. Lately, I have been reading as much as I can on these topics on the Internet, and so far, advaita philosophy has appealed to me - perhaps because of my background. but the theoretical knowledge while satisfying leaves me wondering if that's all it is.
honestly, if I can experience _something_ --- awareness, consciousness, self realization, being a witness --- then that would encourage me to continue on my journey.

to feel "something" beyond theory.

What is your background in terms of seeking and inquiry?:
I have been reading about Advaita for the last 6 months or so. I have been listening to videos of teachers of advaita on the internet (i can name them if you wish).

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). : 8

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Re: the house of me

Postby blackh » Wed Jun 08, 2016 12:33 pm

Hello! Pleased to meet you! I'm Steve from New Zealand and I'd be happy to be your guide. What shall I call you?

I know you've been waiting for a while. There are a lot of people coming to the site at the moment.

The goal of this inquiry is for you to actually see experientially that there is no self, going beyond a mere theory of it. You said you want to experience something, and that is indeed what we are trying to achieve here.

In regard to "why am I here, who/what is God," the thing is, this process won't give you knowledge in the usual sense. If you're looking for answers to these questions, there's a good chance you won't get them. But, it's fair to say it might shed light on "who am I" but not answer it, if you see what I mean. The idea is for you to see through who you are not, so you can see what's left over. We (the guides at LU) are saying that we can point you to something we think is worth seeing.

It works like this: It's as if we're going for a walk. I'll ask you to look at things and tell me what you see. This is your inquiry and the answers are really for you, but I need to know what they are so I know what to ask next.

I ask that you try to post at least once a day, because momentum is important. Sometimes breaks are needed, so just say. Also, it would be beneficial if you could put away your spritual books and videos for the duration of this inquiry, because the tendency is to seek outwards in the world, but you need an inward focus for this, and that's where I will keep directing you.

If you accept what I've outlined, and you're happy for me to be your guide, then we can proceed.

If so, here's my first question:

What's your emotional reaction to the following statement? Write what comes up. (Note I'm not asking whether you think it's true or not.)

There is no self at all, no owner of life, no controlling entity at the centre of experience, no maker of decisions, no doer of actions. There is only life flowing freely as one movement. "You" do not exist.


Steve

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shivite
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Re: the house of me

Postby shivite » Thu Jun 09, 2016 9:31 am

hi Steve

thank you for responding and offering to guide me. Much Appreciated.

my name is Vikas. I live in California.

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shivite
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Re: the house of me

Postby shivite » Thu Jun 09, 2016 10:46 am

What's your emotional reaction to the following statement? Write what comes up. (Note I'm not asking whether you think it's true or not.)

There is no self at all, no owner of life, no controlling entity at the centre of experience, no maker of decisions, no doer of actions. There is only life flowing freely as one movement. "You" do not exist.
Emotional reaction
I feel sad. The heart feels heavier. Thoughts emerge … I have been working on the “self” all my life and to hear that it doesn’t exist is creating a resistance to the statement. Starting to get angrier as I think more about it. Essentially, questioning the futility of it all. Noises in the head, “what the f@#k”. the statements ‘there is no self at all’ and ‘you do not exist’ create the most angst. A feeling that surely this can’t be true. As to the ‘no owner of life, no controlling entity at the centre of experience, no maker of decisions, no doer of actions’ … I feel less perturbed by them; A voice that says, sure I can give up some control but not complete control. That there is ‘no control’ is not acceptable. Its futile. So, why should I even exist?

Analytical Reaction
I know you didn’t ask for this but feel like I need to clarify what “self” or “you” mean. Which is it …
1) The body is unique to me. It exists.
2) The set of behaviors/responses that I exhibit – which I have learnt over time (education, experience, environment) and are unique to me.
3) There is a set of reactions that I seem to have no control over. That is they happen before I can think about them.

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Re: the house of me

Postby blackh » Thu Jun 09, 2016 2:00 pm

Hi Vikas,

I'm happy to talk about whether the statement is true - I just find if I don't say it the way I said it, I have to ask twice to get the emotional reaction, which very important to know.

I'll clarify exactly what it is I'm saying is non-existent. Something that we loosely refer to as the body-mind exists. It acts in certain ways, and has certain patterns of reaction that we could call the personality. So, the personality exists.

Also there is an awareness that exists. Things don't take place completely unobserved, because that would be equivalent to nothing existing.

So there are certain facts of experience: there's sight apparently located in the head of a body. There are sensations relating to a body, and there are thoughts and emotions. To function in the world, the body-mind requires a working theory to explain these facts, and so the culture provides us with one:
  • There is a conscious entity called "I" or the self that senses the world, acquires knowledge that it uses to make decisions, and then controls the body and is responsible for protecting it against external threats. The self is "in here" and separate from the world "out there". There's a clear division between self and not self.

I'm saying that yes, there are sensations, thoughts that represent knowledge, decisions being made, and bodily actions taking place, but that the "I" we believe to be at the centre of it all is fictional - just a bad theory. The way it works is akin to an optical illusion.

I hope this clarifies it.

You put your desire to see this down as an 8/10. Just be aware that if the desire isn't there, there's a possibility that it may end in frustration. If the idea is truly repugnant to you then this could be a problem, but only you know about this. Believe me, I have no desire to convert you, and I certainly don't want to upset you. But - the offer to show you how you can see this for yourself is there.


Steve

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shivite
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Re: the house of me

Postby shivite » Thu Jun 09, 2016 4:19 pm

hi Steve

thanks for the clarification.

On the desire part and marking it as 8; I can tell you that I feel the desire is strong. I am here and am curious. I am asking. A lot of my day goes by thinking about this topic, discussing it whomever i can, and exploring on the web. I find that I am not interested in generic TV or other distractions and would rather contemplate this topic. I picked 8 because I wasn't sure how to quantify the strength of my desire versus others that have been on this pursuit for 40 years. All I can say is that I am eager and ready.

Also, I wasn't upset by the question/statement that was posed. I just shared my raw feelings/emotions like you had asked but i certainly did not retain the feelings post examination of the statement.

so, from my vantage point, I'd like to move forward on this path.

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shivite
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Re: the house of me

Postby shivite » Thu Jun 09, 2016 6:22 pm

There is a conscious entity called "I" or the self that senses the world, acquires knowledge that it uses to make decisions, and then controls the body and is responsible for protecting it against external threats. The self is "in here" and separate from the world "out there". There's a clear division between self and not self.
If the body-mind, personality and awareness all exist then isn’t the combination of those 3 simply the “I”. As far as I can tell, those 3 do all the things you mentioned –sense the world, acquire knowledge, make decisions and protect against external threats. Another way to pose my question is “what is the need for another label called “I” outside the combination of those 3.

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Re: the house of me

Postby blackh » Thu Jun 09, 2016 9:32 pm

Vikas,

Our primary method is looking, and it doesn't rely on thinking. But we need to do some thinking now so we know what we're talking about and what we'll be looking at.
If the body-mind, personality and awareness all exist then isn’t the combination of those 3 simply the “I”.
You're right: "I" defined that way DOES exist. The only difference between "I" and another person is the third item: awareness.

Control/free will is another factor. Is there some separate entity that controls the body-mind Vikas but not the body-mind Steve? Or are there just two body-minds acting and reacting in complex/mysterious ways?

To put this another way... You could call the decision-making of body-minds free will if you like (can this term even be defined?), but is there some "I" entity unconstrained by anything controlling it, or is it just something complex/mysterious happening?
A voice that says, sure I can give up some control but not complete control. That there is ‘no control’ is not acceptable. Its futile. So, why should I even exist?
Q: What is it that has control?

Identification is another factor: You would say "I am Vikas but I am not the coffee cup". Isn't the nature of this I-ness just a fictional concept?

The concept "coffee cup" points to something that can be experienced as real, and the concept Batman doesn't. The concept "I own the coffee cup" doesn't point to anything real either. If someone steals the coffee cup and you never see it again, do you still "own" it? Does the concept "I am Vikas but I am not the coffee cup" point to anything real?

The question we're asking is, does "I" refer to anything other than an arbitrarily defined collection of phenomena? (After a haircut, is the hair on the floor you?) I am saying that it doesn't.

Is there some "special" controlling entity there? Our method is literally to look for it.

Am I making sense?


Steve

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Re: the house of me

Postby shivite » Fri Jun 10, 2016 5:44 pm

Steve

I am trying to follow your pointers/questions.
Control/free will is another factor. Is there some separate entity that controls the body-mind Vikas but not the body-mind Steve? Or are there just two body-minds acting and reacting in complex/mysterious ways?
my first instinct is not to combine the body-mind and look for a separate entity. Rather I'd say that vikas' mind controls his body and Steve's mind controls his body.
You could call the decision-making of body-minds free will if you like (can this term even be defined?), but is there some "I" entity unconstrained by anything controlling it, or is it just something complex/mysterious happening?
I don't think vikas' mind has complete free will. there are obvious conscious choices i make; but i have noticed that there are moments when I react, perhaps even before thoughts appear that tell me how to respond. it would seem that my reactions (not rationalized responses) do not have free will.
Q: What is it that has control?
I don't know what has control. lately, I have questioned whether "I" have control and it certainly appears that I don't. Things happen that i did not wish for and did nothing to cause.

don't know if this helps --- I have always felt i am lucky. in life, i feel that get back (rewards) more than i put in (effort). I am grateful.
Identification is another factor: You would say "I am Vikas but I am not the coffee cup". Isn't the nature of this I-ness just a fictional concept?

The concept "coffee cup" points to something that can be experienced as real, and the concept Batman doesn't. The concept "I own the coffee cup" doesn't point to anything real either. If someone steals the coffee cup and you never see it again, do you still "own" it? Does the concept "I am Vikas but I am not the coffee cup" point to anything real?
this is the part of the dialogue I am struggling with the most. I immediately associate "I" with the body and the mind which we have observed to exist (not fictional). So, yes, "I am vikas" rings true to me.

What is this "I" that I should look for that is fictional?

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Re: the house of me

Postby blackh » Fri Jun 10, 2016 9:41 pm

Hi Vikas,
I don't know what has control. lately, I have questioned whether "I" have control and it certainly appears that I don't.
We'll come back to control. For now, let's turn that around and ask, what is it that doesn't (appears not to) have control?
I immediately associate "I" with the body and the mind which we have observed to exist (not fictional). So, yes, "I am vikas" rings true to me.

What is this "I" that I should look for that is fictional?
If you're saying the body and mind are "I" but the coffee cup is "not I", then there's something we can look for:

What is it about the body and mind that make them "I"?

Are you the whole body, or do you live in a particular part/have a specific location within it?

Where's the dividing line between you and not you? Is the hand holding the coffee cup you, and the cup not you? Is your head more you than your hair or are they the same? What about after a haircut? Is the hair on the floor you?

Are you your thoughts, or are you an agent that causes your thoughts?


Steve

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Re: the house of me

Postby shivite » Sat Jun 11, 2016 10:44 pm

Hi Steve,
We'll come back to control. For now, let's turn that around and ask, what is it that doesn't (appears not to) have control?
The body does not have control. It functions like a machine. Involuntary functions (like digestion) continue like clockwork on their own. The body responds to ‘orders’ from the mind/brain, that is voluntary actions like lift my arm, turn my head. The mind/brain does not have control either (although it gives orders to the body).
If you're saying the body and mind are "I" but the coffee cup is "not I", then there's something we can look for:
What is it about the body and mind that make them "I"?
I feel like I need to define “I”. So, I’ll take a stab at it. “I” is what makes me unique. “I” is the characteristics/traits other people would use to describe me. If this definition is correct then nothing about the body/mind constitutes the “I”. If this definition is correct then, at its core, “I” is my involuntary reactions (the ones that happen without thinking) and also thoughtful/considered responses.
Are you the whole body, or do you live in a particular part/have a specific location within it?
using this definition, “I” is not the whole body nor does it seem to have a specific location within it. I can’t point to something.

I can offer a hypothesis. So, I seem to share some traits/behaviors with my ancestors, besides the shape of my nose. Since the only physical “thing” passed onto me is the combination of DNA from my parents, then I have to assume that these inherited traits/instincts were encoded in my DNA and they manifest as my reactions.
Where's the dividing line between you and not you? Is the hand holding the coffee cup you, and the cup not you? Is your head more you than your hair or are they the same? What about after a haircut? Is the hair on the floor you?
based on the definition of “I”, neither the hand holding the cup nor the cup is me. The head is not me and neither is the hair.
Are you your thoughts, or are you an agent that causes your thoughts?
Hmmmm … previously I said, that “I is my involuntary reactions (the ones that happen without thinking) and also thoughtful/considered responses”, so I’d say that I am leaning more towards that “I am an agent that causes my thoughts.”

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Re: the house of me

Postby blackh » Sun Jun 12, 2016 12:48 am

Vikas,
... so I’d say that I am leaning more towards that “I am an agent that causes my thoughts.”
That's a great place to start. We'll look for this I but before we do, I want to start with a simple looking exercise or two to make sure you're looking in the right way. This will help to maximize your productivity.

Let's say you can't remember where you put your keys. What would you do? You'd look for them. That's the kind of looking we're talking about. We're going to search the house of me room by room and see if there's anyone home.

It's important to understand that you can't think your way to this realization. It can't be done. If I asked you what colour your socks are, there are two ways you could find out. You could think about it and remember what you put on earlier, or you could look. That's what you need to do. Thinking is useful in the process, but only insofar as it directs your looking and you actually look.

So, for the first exercise: Take a cup (or any other object) put it on a table, and look at it. Now, without using any concepts (cup, handle, cylinder, liquid, contain, ...), tell me 1. How is the cup experienced?, and 2. What is actually there? Of course to describe it, you will need words, which refer to concepts. That's fine. I just want you to avoid concepts about the cup itself.

Some of the questions I'm going to ask you will be really dumb ones. I just want the dumb, simple answer. There will be no trick questions. This is needed because we're questioning some really basic assumptions.

Have fun with it!


Steve

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Re: the house of me

Postby shivite » Sun Jun 12, 2016 9:08 am

Steve
1. How is the cup experienced?
light reflects from the object, which creates an image in my eyes, and the brain recognizes the image based on previous knowledge.
What is actually there?
matter that can reflect light.

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Re: the house of me

Postby blackh » Sun Jun 12, 2016 9:47 am

Vikas,
How is the cup experienced?
light reflects from the object, which creates an image in my eyes, and the brain recognizes the image based on previous knowledge.
That's a concept about how the world and the body are supposed to work, and that won't do. I need an answer that comes from looking. What answer can you get if you rely on looking only, but no concepts, apart from those needed to describe what was observed? Please look and describe the actual experience.
What is actually there?
matter that can reflect light.
What's matter, and how do you know it's there?


Steve

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Re: the house of me

Postby shivite » Mon Jun 13, 2016 4:11 am

Steve
How is the cup experienced?
the cup is experienced in my thoughts. A thought appears that confirms the cups existence. Other thoughts appear that confirm its shape, color, etc.

I closed my eyes as well. And two thoughts came ... "the cup still exists" because "I know that no one moved it".
What's matter, and how do you know it's there?
Again, a thought confirms the existence of matter.
matter is the absence of nothing.

Am I still thinking (too much)? I don't know how to stop.


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