The Penny Drops

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Penrose
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The Penny Drops

Postby Penrose » Tue Aug 16, 2016 1:26 am

What brings you to Liberation Unleashed?
I suspect that I have spent the whole of my life searching in one way or another. After rejecting the dogma associated with my religious upbringing I was never able to fully abandon a spiritual exploraiton. I have spent most of my adult life teaching psychology and on my retirement began studying for a diploma in Consciousness, Transpersonal Psychology and Spirituality. I have now completed this. During the course I experienced approach and avoidance. At times I was fascinated and felt my world and my thinking expanding at other times I rejected what seemed to be too 'far fetched' or did not resonate with my own experience. During the course we created our own 'Integral Practice' which we followed for three months but, although I engaged in this, I think I lacked a full sense of commitment. When the course ended I was glad to set it all aside. During the course some other students became very involved in conversations about non-duality but at the time I never really 'got' what they were talking about. In recent months various family challenges have lead me back to engaging with some of my Integral Practices, particularly centring prayer. A friend from the course posted a link to LU on a Facebook page and I began to look again and read some of the materials. In doing so I had a deep sense of 'the penny dropping'. For the first time I felt I was beginning to understand in what sense 'the self' is illusory and I experienced a great sense of relief as I was able to drop quite a lot of 'baggage'.

What are you looking for? What do you expect from this?
I am looking to deepen this understanding to ensure that it is something I know in my experience and not just in my intellect. I don't know that I have any expectations as I am already beginning to learn that expecting something to arrive in a particular form can mean that you miss something more subtle.

What is your background in terms of seeking and enquiry?
I think that perhaps I have addressed this in my first paragraph. For many years I was rooted in the Christian faith and this provided the context for my spirituality when I was young. However, as an adult I have explored a number of methods of meditation, non of which I have seriously followed up on, except now with Centring Prayer. About ten years ago I came across Eckhart Tolle and his teachings had a profound influence on me. More recently I have found Jeff Foster and Rupert Spira. Both have great resonance.

How ready are you to question your beliefs about who you are and see the truth no matter what?
9

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Alexw
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Re: The Penny Drops

Postby Alexw » Tue Aug 16, 2016 3:30 am

Hi Penrose,

My name is Alex and I would be happy to accompany you on your journey.

Could you please tell me a bit more about this:
I felt I was beginning to understand in what sense 'the self' is illusory
What did you understand? In which way is it illusory? What is this "self" anyway? Where can it be found?
I am looking to deepen this understanding to ensure that it is something I know in my experience and not just in my intellect.
We will do a few exercises that will point out the illusory nature of the separate self. We are not really interested in building a logical understanding, we are looking to achieve realisation from direct experience only. Thought is mostly not more than story and belief, but can you doubt the feeling of the wind on your skin or the taste of a grape in your mouth?

Please try this:
Sit down and relax. Simply look, hear, feel. Thought will be there talking about what is being perceived and maybe about many other things. Now focus on an object close to you. A cup, a lamp... Thought might say "I see a cup!"
Is this statement in any way true? Does it match with the direct experience of looking?
Please try to find this I that thought says is looking at a cup. Have you found it? Where is it?
If you think you have found this I then please describe it in some detail. If not then please just describe what is there in this simple experience of looking.
I don't know that I have any expectations as I am already beginning to learn that expecting something to arrive in a particular form can mean that you miss something more subtle.
Great! Please keep that in mind as expectations are one of the stumbling blocks on this journey.

Regards
Alex

PS: Please have a look at this post http://liberationunleashed.com/nation/v ... ?f=4&t=660
It explains how to use the quote function :-)

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Penrose
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Re: The Penny Drops

Postby Penrose » Tue Aug 16, 2016 3:09 pm

Alex
Thank you for being my guide. I have just spent some length of time replying and decided to save as a draft. I now seem to have lost my reply. Do you know where I might find it or is it gone for good?

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Alexw
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Re: The Penny Drops

Postby Alexw » Tue Aug 16, 2016 11:48 pm

Hi,

Hmmm.. If you access the User Control Panel (click on your username when logged in) then you should find a link to Manage Drafts. Have a look there.

I normally copy the text into the clipboard (ctrl A then ctrl C) before posting as sometimes the website has problems and then everything might be gone... But I guess you will find your message in drafts.

Good luck,
Alex

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Penrose
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Re: The Penny Drops

Postby Penrose » Wed Aug 17, 2016 11:47 am

Ah well… first lesson learned! No sign of a draft so start again. Cut and paste in future!!
So this is a second attempt at addressing your questions - probably a combination of remembering plus slightly shifted perceptions.

So firstly my understandings on my own ‘self’ and the sense in which I can see it as illusory. My ‘self’ is a combination of habitual ways of behaving and thinking, attitudes, values and beliefs. Its nature seems to shift with learning and experience but there is a sense of it having always been present. It tends to seek the approval of others and to see itself as being generally ‘right’. It has believed that it had a purpose which it needed to fulfil and has spent much time trying to work out what that might be! This has meant that very often when engaged in some work there has been an underlying discontent, a feeling that this wasn’t it, that there was some other ‘grander’, more important work. There were beliefs around the need to ‘fulfil potential’ and around not being quite good enough. This self also enjoys engaging in this kind of self-reflective thinking and gains a kind of energy from it. It does not like having nothing to think about!

However, very recently, I had this experience of ‘the penny dropping’. As a consequence of dipping into the LU materials, reading and listening to Rupert Spira and re-commiting to a daily practice of centring prayer I began to see that all this was so many thoughts and ideas which come and go in awareness. They can be observed. I have also been reading ‘Cosmos and Psyche’ by Richard Tarnas and am drawn to the idea that the cosmos is not just a collection of inert rocks but is infused with pattern and meaning. I like to believe that there is meaning beyond my ‘own’ limited thinking. Hence I suddenly felt able to relax more deeply into whatever is arising. If the ‘I’ is illusory then suddenly “I’ am not responsible. There is no potential which ‘I’ have to fulfil. It is OK to enjoy today as it is without feeling it should be different. However, there is still a ‘body mind’ here whose actions clearly impact the world. So there are many puzzles and paradoxes. It is also easy to accept ‘today’ when things in the apparent outside world are going well, there is food on the table, health, friends and family. How long would this ability to accept what is arising last if the events of life were painful?

The looking exercise

I sat gazing at the lamp on my table. The initial experience is one of the lamp somehow being seen in my head. If I close my eyes there is no experience of it being there, so there is a feeling that what is ‘out there’ is somehow being seen by ‘me’ in my head. I do not experience it in my legs or my feet, it is closely linked to my eyes. However, on staying with this for a little longer it becomes harder to say that this perception is happening in my head, I don’t know where it is happening. There is just something which I call a lamp being seen. It is my ‘thinking’ which says it is in my head.

Thanks for reading.

Penrose

PS It would be useful if somewhere there was a guide to using this system. I looked at the link to using quotes but I'm not sure how I lift a quote from what you have said. Also can't find anything about saving drafts. So not initially obvious how you do these things!

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Alexw
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Re: The Penny Drops

Postby Alexw » Thu Aug 18, 2016 2:53 am

Yes, the forum has its weak spots and might take some time to getting used to...
If you want to put something I have said in the quote-box then you simply stop writing and keep the blinking cursor where you want the box to appear, then you scroll down until you see the part of the text you would like to neb quoted, highlight/mark the text and then scroll up until you see the quote button [ " ] in the top right corner of my post. Click it and the selected text should now appear as a quote in your post - you can press the [ Preview ] button under your post to check how that will show up once its posted...

Thank you for doing the exercise. Well done!
However, on staying with this for a little longer it becomes harder to say that this perception is happening in my head, I don’t know where it is happening. There is just something which I call a lamp being seen. It is my ‘thinking’ which says it is in my head.
Yes... it is only a thought stating that something is happening inside or outside... well seen!
Please do the same exercise again - sit down and look at this same lamp.
You said that there is "something which I call a lamp being seen" - you didn't say "I see a lamp" - you didn't mention an I doing the seeing - why? Does this current experience still confirm that there is simply something called lamp being seen? Or do you find a separate seer, an entity that is responsible for the seeing of this something called lamp?

Now also have a closer look at this something... that we call a lamp. If you wouldn't have a word for it, you don't know what a lamp is, how would you describe this something? What do you really see? Do you see a lamp? What is really there in pure seeing? Please try to describe this direct experience of seeing with words as basic as possible.
My ‘self’ is a combination of habitual ways of behaving and thinking, attitudes, values and beliefs. Its nature seems to shift with learning and experience but there is a sense of it having always been present.
Yes, agree, this self (the ego), is only a combination of conditioned thought patterns and beliefs and its always changing, nothing permanent in it.
This sense, that you call "sense of self", is this something that is sensed, is it perceived at all? Or is it simply here as presence itself? Simply here without being objectively here, maybe rather here as the here-ness itself..?
Have another look at this "sense of self" - can you find it anywhere? Does it have any objective qualities at all? Or is it somehow present as the "flavour" of every experience?
It tends to seek the approval of others and to see itself as being generally ‘right’. It has believed that it had a purpose which it needed to fulfil and has spent much time trying to work out what that might be!
Now look again... can this "sense of self" really do any of that? Does it need approval? Does it have to be right?
Or do all these things have really nothing to do with this "sense of self"? Maybe all these things only belong to (or make up) this mirage that we call ego, this permanently shifting combination of conditioned thought patterns and beliefs..?
I began to see that all this was so many thoughts and ideas which come and go in awareness. They can be observed.
Yes, well seen. They can be observed.
If something can be observed, and this includes sounds, sensations, feeling and also thoughts, then can they be "you"? Or are you simply observing them?
If the ‘I’ is illusory then suddenly “I’ am not responsible. There is no potential which ‘I’ have to fulfil. It is OK to enjoy today as it is without feeling it should be different. However, there is still a ‘body mind’ here whose actions clearly impact the world.
Yes, there is still a body/mind, just as there is still an "I", but only in a conventional way. The body does what is does, can this "I" do anything to change that? Do "you" control this body at all? When you type this text, when you walk or drive a car, be observant of how all of that works. Do you have to do anything for the legs to move perfectly, balancing your body, holding it upright? Try to find one activity of the body that this "I" seems to control. Look at it in detail and please report what you find.

The same works for thought. Yes, there still are thoughts happening and they will happen no matter if there is a belief in an "I" controlling these thoughts... When you have a quiet moment, look at how these thoughts arise and how they vanish. Is there any controlling entity present at all? Or is this one that should be in control, this I, also just another thought?? Can a thought control more thought?
How long would this ability to accept what is arising last if the events of life were painful?
As long as you believe that there is someone, an identification with specific thought structures, that can accept or reject something you will have this "problem".
If there is no one that has pain, no owner, then pain will still show up and there will be natural responses to reduce this pain, but the psychological suffering (which is the only suffering there is) will not be there.

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Penrose
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Re: The Penny Drops

Postby Penrose » Thu Aug 18, 2016 4:45 pm

The ‘looking at a lamp exercise’ is both simple yet also difficult. You said:

You said that
You said that there is "something which I call a lamp being seen" - you didn't say "I see a lamp" - you didn't mention an I doing the seeing - why?

Of course, if I am trying to be totally honest, my first response would have to be that I feel that ‘I” am seeing ‘a lamp’. The lamp is over there and ‘I” am over here. It is only when pushed to try and examine the experience more closely that it becomes possible for the perception to be challenged or to shift.
If I say ‘I” see the lamp then the image of the lamp is ‘outside’ and separate from the ‘I’ that is seeing it. But there is a sense in which the image of the lamp is within and hence not separate so it is part of the “I” that is seeing it. There is an “I” that can give this experience a label and say ‘I am seeing a lamp with a glass shade and a chrome base.” In this case the lamp is an outside object. But the experience of the lamp just is. I think and hope I am being honest here about what I think the experience is but even trying to put things into words forces ‘me’ into the thinking “I’ who has probably been influenced over time by what it has read.
Now also have a closer look at this something... that we call a lamp. If you wouldn't have a word for it, you don't know what a lamp is, how would you describe this something? What do you really see? Do you see a lamp? What is really there in pure seeing? Please try to describe this direct experience of seeing with words as basic as possible.
In some respects this seems like an impossible task as I am only substituting one word for another. I suppose if I say I see a lamp the word lamp limits what I see and defines it. I might say that what I see are colours, shapes, forms. I might say that the object is not really separate from the background which also relates to it. But any word is limiting in some way.
This sense, that you call "sense of self", is this something that is sensed, is it perceived at all? Or is it simply here as presence itself? Simply here without being objectively here, maybe rather here as the here-ness itself..?
Have another look at this "sense of self" - can you find it anywhere? Does it have any objective qualities at all? Or is it somehow present as the "flavour" of every experience?
The sense of self is, as you say, a ‘sense’. It is that aspect of being alive which is and always has been present and it is different from thoughts and feelings. I agree that it is different from ego. Ego is the part which wants approval and wants to be right. Sense of self is different. I suppose it is a question of what we choose the word ‘self’ to refer to.
If something can be observed, and this includes sounds, sensations, feeling and also thoughts, then can they be "you"? Or are you simply observing them?
It would seem that the answer to this has to be no. But when describing the lamp I said that its image was within and not separate. So in the same way any thought which arises and which can be observed is also part of me and not separate. So I reflect on the difference between observing an object and observing a thought. Is one more real? It would seem that the object is more 'real' yet thoughts have tremendous power, so they too have a reality.
Try to find one activity of the body that this "I" seems to control. Look at it in detail and please report what you find.
Yes, the body does most things without ‘me’ doing anything about it. Yesterday I was trying to recall a name. I knew it was there somewhere and after a few minutes it popped into my head. “I” wasn’t looking for it in a conscious sense yet there was a desire from somewhere to recall the name. It does feel that the desire to recall the name was conscious and in this sense was ‘my’ desire but the name was recalled at some other level of awareness. It feels that there is an “i” choosing to write this. I could equally choose not to engage with this process. It feels very strange to deny what feels so real and leaves me feeling like an automaton or robot! I just wonder how much of this is semantic - what words we use to describe different elements of our being.

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Re: The Penny Drops

Postby Alexw » Fri Aug 19, 2016 2:47 am

I might say that what I see are colours, shapes, forms. I might say that the object is not really separate from the background which also relates to it. But any word is limiting in some way.
Yes, colours and shapes, well seen. The only thing that separates the (seeming) object from the background is its colour...
You are also correct in that words are limiting in a sense as they are not the experience itself, they are always only a pointer.
But as you have seen, colour/shape is really as close as we can get to direct experience when using verbal descriptions. The experience itself is still beyond the description, isn't it? When you say "This is a silver shape." then you are describing a perception / experience that really can not be contained by thought or by verbal definitions. By spelling it out we really veil the truth of the experience itself. Do you see that?
It would seem that the answer to this has to be no. But when describing the lamp I said that its image was within and not separate. So in the same way any thought which arises and which can be observed is also part of me and not separate. So I reflect on the difference between observing an object and observing a thought. Is one more real? It would seem that the object is more 'real' yet thoughts have tremendous power, so they too have a reality.
Yes... this is a certain paradox for logical thinking... but in perceiving there is no such issue at all.
As we have found out before, the "lamp" is really only colours/shapes, right? Would you agree that colour/shapes is the same as seeing itself? Seeing is made of colours/shapes which then are processed in some way and thought comes up with the label "lamp".
Now... if this lamp is made of the colours/shapes and if colour is the same as seeing, perceiving then... what is there in reality? Is there a lamp or is there only perceiving? And then perceiving of thoughts that state "lamp".
When a thought arises, it is the same deal, there is no thought separate from the thinking, is there? And if this is so, is thinking really different from perceiving? Maybe thoughts are also only perceived - not actively thought by a separate thinker - just like a sound is perceived and heard by a separate hearer...
Have another close look at your lamp and try to find out what it is really "made of". What are thoughts made of? What about sounds? Maybe they are all made of the same "material" that your lamp is made of?

Lets concentrate on this exercise and lets have a look at what you wrote regarding the body a bit later.

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Re: The Penny Drops

Postby Alexw » Fri Aug 19, 2016 2:50 am

sorry that should read:
sound is perceived and NOT heard by a separate hearer...

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Penrose
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Re: The Penny Drops

Postby Penrose » Fri Aug 19, 2016 11:51 pm

Alex
Just need to say that I have had a busy day today with no time to give to my lamp! I will return to this tomorrow.

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Re: The Penny Drops

Postby Alexw » Sat Aug 20, 2016 2:06 am

Ok, thanks for letting me know.

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Penrose
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Re: The Penny Drops

Postby Penrose » Sat Aug 20, 2016 12:07 pm

I am with the lamp!

But before I try to engage with it I need to ‘download’ the range of thoughts which arose this morning. So here they are:
  • why do you want to bother with all this, you know that you can be perfectly happy without all this exploring
    just look at your husband he has no need of all this and lives at total peace with himself, no need for religion no need for any spiritual practices, no need for anything, just live life as it unfolds being kind
    your mind is never going to work this out anyway because it is beyond thinking
    is this all just a repeating pattern which has been going on in one way or another for years?
    if there is no ‘I’ then who or what is doing the questing?
    is it something greater than the ‘I’ which is in a very real sense living through ‘me’, if so can ‘I’ relax into this and take it where it might lead?
    am I just playing a game?
    all this thinking, whilst on the one hand it is ‘fun’ on the other hand is wearing. ‘I’ am trapped by thinking.
These thoughts create inner turmoil. But then to some extent I recognised them for what they are ‘just thoughts’. Hence I am now sitting in front of the lamp and reading your comments.

I feel slightly stuck. You say
if this lamp is made of the colours/shapes and if colour is the same as seeing, perceiving then... what is there in reality? Is there a lamp or is there only perceiving?
I think the logical conclusion is that in reality there is perceiving. But that is based on the first assumption which may or may not be true. I cannot know the ‘reality of the lamp, I can only know my experience of it. The experience I have of ‘the lamp’ is qualitatively different from the experience I have of a thought.This would lead me to conclude that although both arise in awareness they are different in their essential nature.

PS You will notice that I haven't learned how to use the list function!

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Alexw
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Re: The Penny Drops

Postby Alexw » Sun Aug 21, 2016 2:49 am

why do you want to bother with all this, you know that you can be perfectly happy without all this exploring
Yes... why...? Did you have a choice? Do you have a choice to stop now?
Does a plant have the choice to stop growing?
This doesn't mean that you cant stop this exploration - if it stops it stops, but I would question the idea of there being a separate I making this decision...
if there is no ‘I’ then who or what is doing the questing?
Thats the question... Or: "If there is no I then who is doing the exploring?"
So who is exploring, who is asking this question? What do you find?
The experience I have of ‘the lamp’ is qualitatively different from the experience I have of a thought.This would lead me to conclude that although both arise in awareness they are different in their essential nature.
Yes, it has a different quality but does this mean that they have to be of a different nature?
Diversity is not the same as separation, is it?
Is red different from green? Is a sound really different from a thought? Sure they are conceptually, but isn't awareness the same, no matter if there is awareness of sound, thought or any other sensation?
I cannot know the ‘reality of the lamp, I can only know my experience of it
Maybe the reality of the lamp is the same as experiencing... Not the concept lamp, but simply the pure experience/perception/awareness.
But: Is this experience owned by an "I"?
I think the logical conclusion is that in reality there is perceiving.
Dont find logical conclusions - simple perceiving is just fine.
Sure, there will be thoughts translating this perception into conceptual structures, but this happens after looking. If it happens only as a chain of logical thought, which is not the outcome of direct perceiving, then it is based on old, dead information, not on the living reality that this moment is.

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Re: The Penny Drops

Postby Penrose » Sun Aug 21, 2016 10:44 pm

In some respects it is quite a relief to consider that ‘I’ never had a choice in all this, there really is a curious sense of liberation in being more playful about it all. Something beckons, it seems curious, Penrose can follow…or not. Either choice will lead to an outcome which will arise in awareness.

Who is doing the exploring? It feels as if an ‘I’ is exploring and that with enough exploring “I’ will find an answer or indeed the answer. However, what is perceived or what arises in awareness is thinking, circular thinking, more and more thinking, attempts to find words, concepts, language. I might assume that this body/mind is generating the questions but if I go directly to my experience it is just more thought arising.

To think, or not to think, that is the question! The thinking mind longs to grasp an answer, to understand. It feels that the thinking mind is important in leading the way. But it can get in the way of what is ultimately so simple.

But who now accepts that self is an illusion? Self is still there. Self arises in awareness, but the knowledge of its illusory nature also arises. Yet in many ways this all still exists as concepts in the thinking mind rather than direct experience. An experience of no-self has not arisen. I could write that an orange is spherical, glows like the sun and tastes something like a grapefruit, but in my heart I would not know the flavour if I had not tasted it. I suspect that there are stages in this growing recognition, in this increased ability to perceive without thought and that a meditation practice might enable the mind to quieten and to enable a more direct perception. I certainly feel very separate from the world ‘out there’ I do not have a sense of awareness extending beyond the body or being connected to a universal awareness. So in that sense there is perhaps a way to go?

One of the things which feels difficult is the apparent denial of everything which has seemed to be true. Denial of the self can seem to imply that as there is no ‘me’ who is responsible I can go and do what I like guilt free. So whether I choose to support good causes or not is OK as its not my responsibility. But I suppose if there is no ‘me’ and no ‘them’ but just a unity it is in everyones interests for love and care to be shared freely because why would we choose differently? In loving others I love myself.

So here endeth today’s ramblings in consciousness! Thanks for being there…and being here!

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Re: The Penny Drops

Postby Alexw » Mon Aug 22, 2016 5:22 am

At first there is a path, it is made of thought. Thoughts arise and project an I, someone that is walking this path, someone that is looking to find something, someone that wants to experience its own absence, a no-self experience...
Can a thought experience its own absence? Can it experience anything at all?
Can absence be experienced at all... Or is all that can be experienced this presence itself? So, when we talk about a no-self experience then this is not really a special experience, it is much rather a realisation that every experience is a no-self experience. Why? Because you are never experiencing a self in the first place. Yes, there are beliefs, thoughts, that refer to such an entity, and therefore one believes to experience such a personal self, but when looked close enough it is never there, is it..?
The problem is that thought doesn't find an experience without a self that can like or dislike this experience in any way interesting as there is nothing for it to grasp.

This no-self experience is simply pure awareness, pure perceiving happening without the idea of a perceiver.
As soon as you look or listen with the idea of getting something out of this experience you create the illusion of a perceiver. But now this perceiver wants to experience its own absence... This will only work if you give up the idea of there being a perceiver in the first place - this no-self experience is simply the giving up of this idea. What remains is always a no-self experience as there is no one there perceiving - there is just perceiving but no one doing it... This might not make sense for logical thought, it might even be scary, but simply look and see. When the idea arises that "I see" then simply realise that there is no separate I required for seeing to happen... Seeing happens, hearing happens, thinking happens... All working perfectly fine without a controlling entity that perceives, decides and anticipates...
But who now accepts that self is an illusion? Self is still there. Self arises in awareness, but the knowledge of its illusory nature also arises.
Yes... who accepts it? Can a thought accept anything? Or maybe the clear seeing of this fact is all the acceptance that is required... It doesn't matter if thought says "I accept it" or "I don't accept it" - thought has no say in any of that.
I suspect that there are stages in this growing recognition, in this increased ability to perceive without thought and that a meditation practice might enable the mind to quieten and to enable a more direct perception.
Yes, in a way... It certainly can help to sharpen your skills of perception - it is not a goal oriented practicing, its not about blocking thoughts - its only about being aware. Its about observing in silence, seeing what is happening, being consciously aware about thoughts happening, about visual perception, sounds, sensations... This will enable you to also be aware of being aware. The sensitivity of perception will increase. This is your natural state - not this dream like state of being caught in thought stories.
I certainly feel very separate from the world ‘out there’ I do not have a sense of awareness extending beyond the body or being connected to a universal awareness. So in that sense there is perhaps a way to go?
Can you please describe this feeling of separation. What is it that is separated and by what?
Is this body a border where this awareness ends?
When you feel this body, these tingling and pulsating sensations that you perceive, are they really contained by a specific border? Sit down, close your eyes and simply focus on your hands or your feet or any other body part. Now please describe in detail what is being experienced. Not any stories about the experience, but the direct perception only.


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