Finding the narrow path

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Omen
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Finding the narrow path

Postby Omen » Wed Jul 13, 2016 11:51 pm

What brings you to Liberation Unleashed?:
I have been wondering whether I needed a guide. I have contributed and asked questions on the awakened subreddit but have tended to want to wait for "the teacher to appear" and not force things. This is the first forum which I have registered with which offers formal guides. Coming across your site and watching some of the vids, I felt I was very near the gate. Seeing Elena's youtube "Drop the observer" resonated since I am very analytical and don't seem to be able to do anything without some form of analysis.

What are you looking for? What do you expect from this?:
I have, and have had for many many years, a nagging sense of something not being quite right and that I am missing something. From my searching, I suspect i know, intellectually, that it is actually that sense of I but it is not an experience.

What is your background in terms of seeking and inquiry?:
am a 53 year old male, computer programmer. Life was pretty much meaningless throughout my early years despite having a very caring family. I hated school. I was abused by one of the teachers. I became an evangelical Christian in late teens via a powerful conversion experience whilst at university. I followed that path very actively for about 5 years believing there was much more to be found but gradually fell away. During that time I became much more intellectual than I had previously been. After several years spiritually dormant in which I married and had children, following a powerful experience my wife had, my faith re-awoke and I once again fervently followed the Christian path. After several years of practice, "I decided" to push it until something broke and following a 6 week fast, my mind began to break. I no longer clung to Christian evangelicalism but was drawn to Catholic mysticism and monasticism, both Catholic and Buddhist (esp. Thich Naht Hahn) and my prayers became much more meditative. This continued for a few months but then, for about another sixth months or so I was completely lost in a deep depression. Eventually I came through that but had once again lost my faith. I then embraced atheism/agnosticism for about 10 years. This last year, my faith revived once again and my hunger to grasp/loose something - but I don't know what. Although I still attend an evangelical church, I am open to and searching every avenue which presents itself to me. I've been reading and watching a lot of Adya, Rupert Spira, Sadhguru, Jed McKenna as well as Richard Rohr from my own tradition. I have tried counselling/psychotherapy to try and address the sense of something not being quite right which I thought may have been due to trauma when I was younger, but although it may have helped mew through difficult periods, it never touched the nagging feeling.

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). :
10

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Sarah7
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Re: Finding the narrow path

Postby Sarah7 » Thu Jul 14, 2016 6:53 am

Hi Omen
I'm Sarah and I'd be happy to speak with you.
Do you wish me to call you omen or something else?

So you have looked around our site? You know what we do here? Have you followed any other threads?

In your post then, what brought you here is a feeling that something isn't quite right? And you want that to go away, be addressed or what if I have misunderstood?
Looking forward to talking with you.
Hugs Sarah xxx
If you understand, things are just as they are; if you do not understand, things are just as they are.

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Omen
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Re: Finding the narrow path

Postby Omen » Thu Jul 14, 2016 9:35 am

Hi Omen
I'm Sarah and I'd be happy to speak with you.
Do you wish me to call you omen or something else?

So you have looked around our site? You know what we do here? Have you followed any other threads?

In your post then, what brought you here is a feeling that something isn't quite right? And you want that to go away, be addressed or what if I have misunderstood?
Looking forward to talking with you.
Hugs Sarah xxx
Hi Sarah

Many thx for responding. I'll just be S then.

So straight in ... I wonder if I have been premature.

I felt I was close to something. I couldn't find an "I" anywhere yet there was still a sense of "I". I could watch this body typing/writing/doing its thing, I could watch thoughts emerging and dissipating. Something was aware of those things and that awareness had been labelled "I" - but it wasn't clear just what it was.

Then this morning after a time of meditation, I read in Gateless Gatecrashers Eric's account, where Ilona says "The sense of something is I am. It's the sense of being". I went onto read other bits of the book but was brought back to this and then something clicked. I realised that the "I" that I was sensing is existence itself. I'd thought/intellectualised things like this before but not really felt/realised anything. This was a very small, almost incidental, realisation. It seemed incredibly trivial. As it dawned more, I could only laugh. It is obviously only a few hours since this happened so I'm back and forth, between the old self and the new, as it were. I am left with the questions "Is that it? Is there more? " but I do feel something has happened - but also feel again the seeking impulse which seems to be the thing that obscures the realisation.

I don't know if you have thoughts on this?

Many thx again for your time.

S

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Sarah7
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Re: Finding the narrow path

Postby Sarah7 » Thu Jul 14, 2016 12:07 pm

Hi S
I wonder if I have been premature.
Well lets check first shall we. I do like to be thorough! If you are ok with that? And also Im interested in what you actually experience - so if you can answer from there as apposed to what is thought, not that Im saying you haven't so far. :)

House keeping first:
In general, I will ask questions and you look deeply and respond with 100% honesty.

Responses require simple, uncontrived honest looking. There are no wrong or right answers.

Responses are best from direct experience (the physical evidence of seeing, hearing, touching, tasting, and smelling, prior to the story or explanation about them). Long-winded, analytical and philosophical or stream of consciousness answers are best avoided and may even hinder progress. Just listen very closely to the answers that arise in you, and answer to the very best of your ability at that time. (Read the article at http://www.liberationunleashed.com/Arti ... ience.html for more help on distinguishing what is direct experience.)

Please learn to use the quote function, see viewtopic.php?f=4&t=660 for instructions.

Finally, here's a couple of helpful points:
1) You can press 'subscribe to this topic' in the blue bar at the bottom of this page and receive a notification email every time I post here.

2) The site has a nasty habit of logging you out while you write a reply, which can mean you lose what you have written. One way to avoid this is to write elsewhere, then just paste the message into the 'reply' window when you're ready to send? Ok.

Lets get going then! Im not ignoring what you have wrote - but I do need to figure out where you are first. OK

How do you think, feel or experience the 'self', 'I' or ‘me’'?

For instance does it feel like its in the centre or middle of experience, is it solid or thick, does it feel fixed or permanent, is it inside the body or part of the body, does it change, does it feel uniquely different and separate, does it become more or less solid or obvious depending on experience, does it have colour or shape or texture, is it small or large, does this self own the body or the thoughts and feelings it experiences?

Is it made up of thoughts and feelings, sensations, emotions, likes and dislikes, opinions, memories and experiences, perceptions, character and personality, does this self decide, chose, act, do and control? Anything else? Is there a time when the self is not experienced?

Now have a really good look and tell me where does the 'self' that you conceive yourself to be reside? Is it in the body as a whole, part of the body or somewhere else? Can you pinpoint an exact reference point? Can it be found, at all?

Can anything exist outside the present moment? Can you find anything that does?

In your direct experience, is there anything permanent right now?
Hugs Sarah xxx
If you understand, things are just as they are; if you do not understand, things are just as they are.

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Omen
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Re: Finding the narrow path

Postby Omen » Thu Jul 14, 2016 1:12 pm

Thx Sarah
How do you think, feel or experience the 'self', 'I' or ‘me’'?
As I write, I am just awareness watching hands type on a keyboard and watching thoughts arise in response to what is being read. I am the observer. It is certainly less obvious with regard to feelings. That sense of "I", i.e. being the observer, definitely fades around feelings. Stress, panicky, bad feelings etc are all consuming and "I" pretty much disappears. I'm not sure about good feelings/experiences. When working, being caught up in a task can cause "I" to fade as well as boredom and the urge for some relief increases.
does it feel like its in the centre or middle of experience, is it solid or thick, does it feel fixed or permanent, is it inside the body or part of the body, does it change, does it feel uniquely different and separate, does it become more or less sold or obvious depending on experience, does it have colour or shape or texture, is it small or large, does this self own the body or the thoughts and feelings it experiences?
When aware of I, it underpins/sits behind experience. I cannot attribute any shape, dimensions or qualities to it. It does come and go depending on circumstance, particularly uncomfortable circumstances, as I mentioned above.
Is it made up of thoughts and feelings, sensations, emotions, likes and dislikes, opinions, memories and experiences, perceptions, character and personality, does this self decide, chose, act, do and control?

No I don't think so.
Now have a really good look and tell me where does the 'self' that you conceive yourself to be reside? Is it in the body as a whole, part of the body or somewhere else? Can you pinpoint an exact reference point? Can it be found, at all?
Although there seems to be some relationship between the body and self, I can't quite see what that relationship is - but given the experience of watching my hands type, the body would be in awareness.
Can anything exist outside the present moment? Can you find anything that does?
From experience, I don't know.
In your direct experience, is there anything permanent right now?
I can't see anything that is. That sense of "I am existence" I mentioned previously is certainly not established.

Sorry if you are going to have to drag this out of me!

S

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Omen
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Re: Finding the narrow path

Postby Omen » Fri Jul 15, 2016 6:02 am

I wonder if I can just supplement my previous response
Now have a really good look and tell me where does the 'self' that you conceive yourself to be reside? Is it in the body as a whole, part of the body or somewhere else? Can you pinpoint an exact reference point? Can it be found, at all?
So in meditation today, I became aware that the sense of "I" is definitely located in the head area. However, if I concentrated on my hands, say, the awareness of my hands was at my hands, but nevertheless there was still a sense of "I" in the head area and a kinda relative "movement" (I'm struggling to find the word, perhaps "allocation") of the awareness of the hands to the "I" in the head. If I had to give it a dialogue, it would be a bit like "you feel those hands there (a sense of distance), well that's you, that is, and they're subordinate to this "I" in your head (a sense of nearness). Feel how much nearer is this sense of "I" in your head is compared to the awareness of your hands. This is where the centre is."

So there is a more general sense of awareness, but a localised "I" but there is also awareness of that localised "I".

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Sarah7
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Re: Finding the narrow path

Postby Sarah7 » Fri Jul 15, 2016 7:59 am

Morning
That sense of "I", i.e. being the observer,
Are you the observer? If so what notices that?
Stress, panicky, bad feelings etc are all consuming
Are emotions yours? Do you own them? Do they belong to you? Can you bring them? Send them away? Control them in any way shape or form?
That sense of "I am existence" I mentioned previously is certainly not established.
Is there an expectation that this would be fixed/permanent? Where did you get that idea from? Books...?
What is an expectation? Is it a belief? And what is a belief? Is it a thought?
Hugs Sarah xxx
If you understand, things are just as they are; if you do not understand, things are just as they are.

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Omen
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Re: Finding the narrow path

Postby Omen » Fri Jul 15, 2016 6:01 pm

Hi Sarah ... thanks again for the questions. They are good ones!
Are you the observer? If so what notices that?
No I'm not. Once again there is awareness of the observer but I missed that when writing previously and thought I was the observer.
Are emotions yours? Do you own them? Do they belong to you? Can you bring them? Send them away? Control them in any way shape or form?
No, I can't. Again. I overlooked that. There is just a tensing up and once again I think I'm tensing but it is just happening and a voice telling me that I'm responsible for doing that and if only i try a bit harder I'll be in control of it.
That sense of "I am existence" I mentioned previously is certainly not established.
Is there an expectation that this would be fixed/permanent? Where did you get that idea from? Books...?
What is an expectation? Is it a belief? And what is a belief? Is it a thought?
Cool! I missed that as well. Yes there's something wanting it to be permanent, thinking it should be for some reason. It is definitely an expectation. Probably part of the (wishful) thinking that everything should be heavenly - which as you say must be a thought, but I can't quite see that.

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Omen
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Re: Finding the narrow path

Postby Omen » Sat Jul 16, 2016 6:52 am

Continuing ...

There is sitting with eyes closed. There is attention on the hands, then there is attention on the eye area. There is a sense of switching back and forth between the two areas. There is the claim made that "I" am choosing to switch the attention. But there seems to be some purpose in the switching of attention to help "me" see/get something.

There is a sense of 'nearness' with respect to the eyes, but 'further-away-ness' with respect to the hands. Nearer to what? Further away from what? These are just experiences arising and then being labelled. But the experience of "burning-hot-ness" seems to lead to action - the removal of the hand from the side of the kettle - so the label seems valid/protective in some circumstances ...

I don't understand ... who doesn't understand? There is the experience of lack of understanding arising and belng labelled ..

No way out ... or just the experience of being boxed in ...

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Sarah7
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Re: Finding the narrow path

Postby Sarah7 » Sat Jul 16, 2016 8:48 am

Mornin S
I overlooked that.
Did you overlook on purpose? Or did overlooking just happen? :)
which as you say must be a thought, but I can't quite see that.
See if you can notice it. Never take mine or anyone elses word for anything! Everything should be verified. OK?

Do you intentionally bring any of these thoughts? Or do they come and go on their own? If you do bring them from where and how?
Can you send them away, stop them or get rid? Can you suppress your next thought before it arises? Does it work?
Do you know what you're going to think before you think it? Sit quietly for a moment and try to predict your next thought. Does it work?
Do you plan what you are going to think before you think it?
Hugs Sarah xxx
If you understand, things are just as they are; if you do not understand, things are just as they are.

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Omen
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Re: Finding the narrow path

Postby Omen » Sat Jul 16, 2016 9:28 am

Thx again Sarah
I overlooked that.
Did you overlook on purpose? Or did overlooking just happen? :)
Ha.Yes. It just happened. This is infuriating!
which as you say must be a thought, but I can't quite see that.
See if you can notice it. Never take mine or anyone elses word for anything! Everything should be verified. OK?
How do you verify something, if it is just arising? Reflecting on something past is just the next experience arising. Cool. Glimpses of the endless Now and not digging into the past or trying to control the future. The word 'verification' seems to need to reference something that has happened, but it has already gone so no verification is possible. Even if there is a decision that the thing originally experienced is not what was first thought to be experienced - the traditional, egoic result of verification - in reality there is just a flowing of experiences. But "a flowing of experiences" is still just a finger and not the moon. I'm still seeing the finger - so to speak!
Do you intentionally bring any of these thoughts? Or do they come and go on their own? If you do bring them from where and how? Can you send them away, stop them or get rid? Can you suppress your next thought before it arises? Does it work?Do you know what you're going to think before you think it? Sit quietly for a moment and try to predict your next thought. Does it work? Do you plan what you are going to think before you think it?
No. They just arise. There is no control. Just mental narrative trying to claim control which itself just arises.

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Sarah7
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Re: Finding the narrow path

Postby Sarah7 » Sat Jul 16, 2016 11:08 am

To verify you just need to see it, notice it, observe it. That's it. Question what is actually experienced rather than what is thought to be experienced. Which is what you are doing. :). Sometimes noticing happens straight away, sometimes not, sometimes it needs several attempts and some intense looking, sometimes not. Whatever.
Would you do any of this? Or would it just happen?
Hugs Sarah xxx
If you understand, things are just as they are; if you do not understand, things are just as they are.

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Omen
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Re: Finding the narrow path

Postby Omen » Sat Jul 16, 2016 1:46 pm

Thx again Sarah
To verify you just need to see it, notice it, observe it. That's it. Question what is actually experienced rather than what is thought to be experienced. Which is what you are doing. :). Sometimes noticing happens straight away, sometimes not, sometimes it needs several attempts and some intense looking, sometimes not. Whatever.
Would you do any of this? Or would it just happen?
There is an experience of wanting to notice that arises in response to what is written above; a voice that says "you don't notice what is actually there. If only you could notice it, you'd be really happy, but as it is you are just frustrated. Look at what Sarah wrote! Others get it straight away - what's wrong with you?" But the voice saying "you don't notice" is just a voice - why do I believe it? What is the "I" believing the voice? There is just a hearing of the voice, the awareness of the thought. What gives the voice credibility? Ha - "the credibility of the voice" is just another voice giving credibility to the first voice!

In fact, whenever an account is read of others noticing, there is the almost predictable arising of "you haven't experienced that therefore your experience isn't valid/you are still missing something".

And then silence falls ...

When there is silence (i.e. no obvious voices), there is an initial sense of unease leading to a feeling/voice "you should be thinking about things more". That sense of unease just arises out of the silence. Recognising and seeing the sense of unease arising, there is then just the sitting in this seat, the waiting for the next thought, the seeing the trees outside, the itchiness of the skin and subsequent scatching, the searching of the mind (where are those thoughts?) - all without commentary.

More silence ...

S

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Sarah7
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Re: Finding the narrow path

Postby Sarah7 » Sun Jul 17, 2016 8:06 am

Ha - "the credibility of the voice" is just another voice giving credibility to the first voice!
voice or thought?
Just mental narrative trying to claim control which itself just arises.
Can a thought think?
Is there is a thought that you can control?
What can a thought do – what power does it have?
You experience thoughts, but do you experience the content? Is the content real?
This is infuriating!
Explore that. What is this feeling/emotion made up of?
Hugs Sarah xxx
If you understand, things are just as they are; if you do not understand, things are just as they are.

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Omen
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Re: Finding the narrow path

Postby Omen » Sun Jul 17, 2016 8:19 am

Morning Sarah ... continuing once again ...

I wonder if I could just explore this from a slightly different angle, but very much related. I suffer from eczema, that is to say, this body has eczema. Have done pretty much all my life. There is a lot of "I" habit in it and the body's response to it. There is definitely a sense of contraction/tensing up when very itchy. There can be heat as well. There is the voice, sometimes screaming, "if only I could be free from this, there would be happiness" or else, as the itchiness becomes unbearable and the itching increases, just complete identification with the body. There is no, or at least very little, space between the arising of itchiness and the "I". The "I" is very closely identified with the itchiness/discomfort in the body, if not totally. As the itchiness arises so does the "I" and the itchiness starts on waking up each morning and continues on and off throughout the day.

So an itch arises. There is a voice "don't scratch it." and another voice "it is okay to scratch it ... just watch as you scratch it, be aware". There is sometimes the sense of willpower arising trying not to scratch, just trying to let the itch be and see where it goes and what happens. Often it there is no bodily response, the itchiness seems to increase. But perhaps that is just the next sensation arising. It is a voice saying it is increasing. In fact it is just the next sensation arising. To conclude "increasing" one must have reached into the past to make a comparison with the current intensity of the itch. It must be a thought/voice, but it has gone unnoticed, previous. Wow! This is hard. So much unconscious commentary involved in here and it is happening so often throughout the day.

Then, there is the body's response. Sometimes there is the touching of the affected areas of the skin, even when not itchy. Other times, itching arises and there is a scratch response, often increasing in intensity accompanied by judgment - "You shouldn't be scratching", self pity - "How miserable is your life", or just screaming and despair - "make it stop". I watch the Dalai Lama talking and, seemingly, unconsciously itching. It doesn't seem to bother him! But it drives me potty at times. But who is being driven potty? What is going on here?

Thx S


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