Finding no one

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Sashin
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Finding no one

Postby Sashin » Fri Sep 02, 2016 9:06 am

What brings you to Liberation Unleashed?:
I have been meditating for a few years now, and I have consumed multiple books, articles, videos and talks about spirituality, meditation, consciousness and non duality. I already fully accept that the self is an illusion at the intellectual level. I am unsure if I have realised it at the experiential level, there are still some lingering doubts. The most transformative book I've read on the subject is Waking up by Sam Harris, and one line that strikes me as particularly interesting is:

"I came yearning for self transcendence, and in a few minutes he showed me I had no self to transcend".

This seems to imply that ordinary consciousness as is, is already free of self. Am I already experiencing selflessness or is there more to it? Why do I still have this feeling like there is something more I need. Is it possible I'm just not looking correctly. I have read the Teachings of Ramana Maharshi and have practised Self Enquiry quite a lot. No matter how hard I try, no matter where I look I still to this day cannot find an ego or a sense of self. Why do I still feel like looking? Why doesn't my search feel conclusive?

I come to Liberation Unleashed in the hope I can understand the experience of self transcendence if there is such an experience at all. Is it something I haven't yet experienced because I haven't been looking right? Or have I already been experiencing it without realising or acknowledging it?

What are you looking for? What do you expect from this?:
I want to realise that the self is an illusion not merely intellectually but at the level of my experience. I want to see clearly the illusoriness of the self and if possible also be able to communicate it to others and help them realise that the self is an illusion.

What is your background in terms of seeking and inquiry?:
I have sat four Goenka Vipassana retreats, which teach anapana, vipassana and metta meditation. I have also read many books about Dzogchen, advaita vedanta, zen, as well as spirituality and non duality. Notable examples of books I have read include: Waking up by Sam Harris, The Teachings of Ramana Maharshi, I am That by Nisargadatta Maharaj, Flight of the Garuda by Keith Dowman and On Having no head by Douglas Harding. A full list of books I have read lately can be found at: http://www.sashinexists.com/books.

I have been practising vipassana and anapana for a few years, I started practising self enquiry on occasion about one year ago. I have still failed to find a glimmer of a self or ego, but the search does not feel conclusive. I have also practiced Douglas Harding's Headlessness to some effect, and have found a great deal of bliss there but it didn't last. I fully accept the non duality of consciousness, that there is no separate subject and object that there is no ghost in the machine. I fully accept intellectually that the self is an illusion.

I do not know if I have experienced it though.

How ready are you to question your beliefs about who you are and see the truth no matter what?: 11

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Xain
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Re: Finding no one

Postby Xain » Fri Sep 02, 2016 4:01 pm

Hello Sashin and Welcome to the LU forum.
My name is Xain and I am a guide here.
I already fully accept that the self is an illusion at the intellectual level.
Good. This was my understanding too before coming to LU. I was at the same sort of place as you.
I am unsure if I have realised it at the experiential level
When you realise if fully, there are no doubts It is clear and obvious. If you have doubts, they themselves would suggest that more work is needed.

I have a lot of respect for Sam Harris, although I have not read that particular book. He seems to be the cog in the machine pulling the hardened atheist community into a more accepting and open place.
The quote is good. Perhaps through my guidance, you will realise there is no self to transcend also.

As a guide, I tend not to use Spiritual concepts at all. I believe they tend to confuse things, more than they make things clear - Especially in the capacity of achieving a realisation.

I would ask that you pull all spiritual beliefs, concepts, religions, things that you've read, things that you've heard etc behind you for this guidance and approach this from a very simple perspective. Would that be OK?
This is very important. The amassing of spiritual knowledge, ideas and beliefs itself can be a hindrance to this process.
Am I already experiencing selflessness or is there more to it?
You are correct that right now, there is no inherently existing self. There never was. There never will be.
It will be realised that it has been a misperception all along, caused by self-reinforcing thoughts.
The 'more to it' would be, of course, to fully realise this.
My guidance would be to take you to a place where this is 100% certain and clear for you.
Deconstructing your own statement a little - Of course, there is no self to experience selflessness. There is just 'no self'. :-)
Is it possible I'm just not looking correctly?
Perhaps. The beauty of having a guide is that your own pitfalls and blindspots can be found and pointed out to you.
Things you are overlooking. How can you see what you cannot see?
I want to realise that the self is an illusion not merely intellectually but at the level of my experience. I want to see clearly the illusoriness of the self and if possible also be able to communicate it to others and help them realise that the self is an illusion.
That is honest and fair. It is perfectly possible to achieve this here.
I must ask for your complete honesty in this guidance, both with me and yourself.

Do you have any other expectations as to what you wish to achieve here?
Do you have any ideas about 'what life will be like' or 'how things will be' if you realise there is no self?
Please be honest about expectations you have.

Xain ♥

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Sashin
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Re: Finding no one

Postby Sashin » Fri Sep 02, 2016 10:23 pm

Hi Xain,

Thank you very much for your quick response. Your work is much appreciated.
When you realise if fully, there are no doubts It is clear and obvious. If you have doubts, they themselves would suggest that more work is needed.
This sounds like exactly what I need, the removal of doubt.
I would ask that you pull all spiritual beliefs, concepts, religions, things that you've read, things that you've heard etc behind you for this guidance and approach this from a very simple perspective. Would that be OK
Yes, this will be fine, I will put everything I know behind me and approach this nakedly from direct experience.
I must ask for your complete honesty in this guidance, both with me and yourself.
I will try my best to be as honest as I possibly can.
Do you have any other expectations as to what you wish to achieve here?
I don't think so, gaining certainty and a deeper understanding in the fact that there is no self, I think, is all I need.
Do you have any ideas about 'what life will be like' or 'how things will be' if you realise there is no self?
I'm not quite sure. I can imagine something will change if I have certainty that there is no self, I would like to believe that in the place of the illusion of the self there will be more peace. Apart from that, I think life will just continue like it always has.

Once again, thanks so much for doing this, I look forward to working with you.

Sashin

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Xain
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Re: Finding no one

Postby Xain » Wed Sep 07, 2016 8:14 am

Hi Sashin

Thank you for the 'prod'. I am sorry that I have not replied to you for a few days.
As mentioned, this is because I received no email response that you had replied (because the topic was not subscribed).
I've manually subscribed to our Topic, so this will not happen again.

About expectations:
Do you have any ideas about 'what life will be like' or 'how things will be' if you realise there is no self?

I'm not quite sure. I can imagine something will change if I have certainty that there is no self, I would like to believe that in the place of the illusion of the self there will be more peace. Apart from that, I think life will just continue like it always has.
It is important to put aside all expectations if possible. The reason for this is because the expectation will relate to a seperate self, an 'I' (for examples, 'I will be more at peace' or 'I will become a special person').
The only thing to realise would that there is no 'I' to achieve these things.
Having said this of course, if you are a seeker and the seeking itself is causing troubles this will be alleviated by this coming to an end. In a general way there may be more peace, simply because it is known that there is no self to have worries.
But yes, life will certainly continue as it always has because we realise there has never been an 'I' anyway. There is nothing to disappear or to change.

Just some ground rules and to recap on those pointers again:

Please try to post at least once per day - This is important to try to maintain a 'momentum' in the guiding.
If you know you won't be able to reply for a day or two, just let me know beforehand.
For this guidance, put aside all non-dual, religious and scientific beliefs and ideas. The guidance is to be approached very simply addressing what you TRULY BELIEVE, and not what some teacher has told you is the right answer, or from what you have read in a book.
Answer my questions honestly from what you can find or cannot find in our investigation, and not what you think I want to hear, or what you think 'the right answer really is. You are only going to achieve a realisation we've discussed by being completely honest with me, and yourself.

This guidance has only one objective - To realise there is no inherently existing self, usually termed 'I' or 'Me' or 'Sashin'.
I use the word 'inherently' meaning completely independant - Existing of itself permanently - Here and now.

So what do you believe right now that the word 'I' points to.
Just to give you an idea of the 'simple' nature we are addressing things here, do you believe that right now 'I am looking at a screen and reading some text off it'?
Do you believe 'I' points to 'the body' located here?
Do you believe that 'I' (being the body) is responsible for the senses, so 'I hear', 'I feel', 'I see' etc ?
Do you believe that 'I' controls the body, 'I move my head', 'I control my fingers when typing'?
Do you believe that 'I' has choice and free-will, 'I chose to begin this conversation', 'I will choose what to type as a reply to this message'?
Do you believe that 'I' has some control over thoughts and performs the thinking process, and that the thoughts are witnessed by 'I', 'I think', 'I had a thought the other day', 'I am thinking what the right answer is'?

Those are a few general ideas - Do they work for you? Say if they don't.
Feel free to elaborate on any other areas you feel important in your own beliefs about yourself.

What is 'I'? What does the word 'I' point to?

Xain ♥

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Sashin
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Re: Finding no one

Postby Sashin » Wed Sep 07, 2016 9:15 am

For this guidance, put aside all non-dual, religious and scientific beliefs and ideas. The guidance is to be approached very simply addressing what you TRULY BELIEVE, and not what some teacher has told you is the right answer, or from what you have read in a book.
I will try my best to be as honest as possible but it might be difficult. Those things like teachers and books appear to have influenced me, and I can often find it hard to discern what I really believe. I will try to speak from direct experience here, rather than what I "know".
Just to give you an idea of the 'simple' nature we are addressing things here, do you believe that right now 'I am looking at a screen and reading some text off it'?
Yes, it definitely feels like I am looking at a screen and reading some text off it. I feel like I know better though, that there is no looker separate from what is seen. This is from my experiences practicing self enquiry and failing to find a separate self.
Do you believe 'I' points to 'the body' located here?
Not in particular, sometimes I feel like I am in my head or behind my eyes.
Do you believe that 'I' (being the body) is responsible for the senses, so 'I hear', 'I feel', 'I see' etc ?
Yes, the body is definitely responsible for the senses, the ears for hearing, eyes for seeing, etc
Do you believe that 'I' controls the body, 'I move my head', 'I control my fingers when typing'?
When I pay close attention, when I'm walking or typing etc, it feels like it is all happening by itself. But when not paying attention it feels like I am controlling the body. I think I don't believe there's a separate entity that controls the body, the body moves on its own.
Do you believe that 'I' has choice and free-will, 'I chose to begin this conversation', 'I will choose what to type as a reply to this message'?
I don't believe we have free will. We don't think our thoughts before we think them, the next thought is as unpredictable as the next sound.
Do you believe that 'I' has some control over thoughts and performs the thinking process, and that the thoughts are witnessed by 'I', 'I think', 'I had a thought the other day', 'I am thinking what the right answer is'?
I'm not sure if the I has control over the thoughts, but it definitely feels like the thoughts are witnessed by "I".
What is 'I'? What does the word 'I' point to?
I don't know. Awareness or consciousness itself perhaps?

I found it kind of difficult to discern what I believed and answer these question, this was me trying my best to answer them honestly. I find the fact that I know intellectually that there is no self, got in the way of me trying to see what I actually believed. I tried to answer based on what it felt like here and now.

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Xain
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Re: Finding no one

Postby Xain » Wed Sep 07, 2016 10:20 am

Those things like teachers and books appear to have influenced me, and I can often find it hard to discern what I really believe.
This will make the guidance difficult. We are addressing what you truly believe. If your own beliefs flit about, then we will not be able to address them.
Yes, it definitely feels like I am looking at a screen and reading some text off it. I feel like I know better though, that there is no looker separate from what is seen. This is from my experiences practicing self enquiry and failing to find a separate self.
Please put aside all previous teachings and practices for the rest of this guidance, and approach things honesty and basically.
The more a person has a wall of ideas and beliefs, the more difficult it is to wade through them.
'There is no looker separate from what is seen' is clearly just an idea you have if it is truly believed that there is a seperate person 'I' looking at a seperate screen.
Can you see the difference here? I wish to know your honest true beliefs. I wish to know what is totally clear for you at this moment in time.
That alone is what is being addressed. The rest will just get in the way and cause us both problems.
When I pay close attention, when I'm walking or typing etc, it feels like it is all happening by itself. But when not paying attention it feels like I am controlling the body.
This is another 'I' then - The 'I' that focusses attention - 'I focus my attention'.
Strange here that at certain times, certain things appear controlled and at certain times they do not.
As if a controlling 'I' appears for a few moments, then disappears (not literally like that, but we need to investigate what is going on here, and why it appears to be that way).
Breathing is a typical example. If we 'focus' on breathing, it appears to be controlled. And yet at night when we are asleep, clearly it is entirely automatic.
I don't believe we have free will.
We are addressing your core beliefs here.
So it is 100% clear, that there was no choice in coming here for guidance with me, and there is no choice at all what words you are going to type in reply? No choice at all in reading the next sentence or not?
I mean, is that truly believed?
So what is 'I'?
I don't know. Awareness or consciousness itself perhaps
It is essential to put aside all your previous study and address what you TRULY BELIEVE.
If you believe 'I' is Consciouness, then in the phrase 'I am going into the kitchen to make a cup of coffee', you REALLY BELIEVE that Consciousness is going into the kitchen, and Consciousness is going to make the coffee.
Or do you believe that you being 'this body' is responsible for that?
Do that make any sense at all?

Xain ♥

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Sashin
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Re: Finding no one

Postby Sashin » Wed Sep 07, 2016 11:32 am

Can you see the difference here? I wish to know your honest true beliefs. I wish to know what is totally clear for you at this moment in time.
I do feel like I am looking at a screen and typing this response out right now. I think that's about as honest I can be at the moment about the experience I am having now.
So it is 100% clear, that there was no choice in coming here for guidance with me, and there is no choice at all what words you are going to type in reply? No choice at all in reading the next sentence or not?
I mean, is that truly believed?
No, it feels like it was a choice coming here for guidance. It isn't 100% clear otherwise. I'm not sure if I feel like I have that much choice in what I type any more than I have choice in what I'm about to think next. I do generally feel like I am choosing to do or not do certain things in life. Sometimes I feel like things are just happening and I'm not choosing it, for example sometimes I might be itchy and it feels like the hand is moving on its own to scratch my arm.
If you believe 'I' is Consciouness, then in the phrase 'I am going into the kitchen to make a cup of coffee', you REALLY BELIEVE that Consciousness is going into the kitchen, and Consciousness is going to make the coffee.
Or do you believe that you being 'this body' is responsible for that?
Thanks for clearing this up, I don't feel like consciousness is going into the kitchen to make coffee. I feel that I being the body is responsible for that.

I hope we can get through the walls in my mind, I'm finding it difficult discerning what I really believe about things. It doesn't always feel clear.

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Xain
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Re: Finding no one

Postby Xain » Wed Sep 07, 2016 12:06 pm

I hope we can get through the walls in my mind, I'm finding it difficult discerning what I really believe about things. It doesn't always feel clear.
You're doing fine. We'll get through those walls, even if I have to hire an industrial bulldozer ;)
If it helps, maybe approach this guidance as if you had never heard of any of this non-dual / spiritual / scientific / philosophical stuff at all, and you were just starting out.
I do feel like I am looking at a screen and typing this response out right now. I think that's about as honest I can be at the moment about the experience I am having now.
Excellent - Exactly! That's all I need.
Just be totally honest about what it is your really believe, and what appears clear for you in your present experience right here and now.

You have an intellectual understanding at the moment. That is solid. But to go beyond this to a realisation means putting the intellectual stuff to one side, and looking deeper into things. That's what this guidance is here for.
No, it feels like it was a choice coming here for guidance. It isn't 100% clear otherwise. I'm not sure if I feel like I have that much choice in what I type any more than I have choice in what I'm about to think next. I do generally feel like I am choosing to do or not do certain things in life.
Good. Again, your honesty about what is REALLY going on for you is important. If it feels like there really is a 'you' choosing, then you must be honest and say that. Else we cannot address this belief.
Sometimes I feel like things are just happening and I'm not choosing it, for example sometimes I might be itchy and it feels like the hand is moving on its own to scratch my arm.
I understand - This is a good observation, and we will be looking into this and other areas together in a similar way.
Thanks for clearing this up, I don't feel like consciousness is going into the kitchen to make coffee. I feel that I being the body is responsible for that.
Good. Again, can you see what I mean about your honest beliefs. That's what we need to focus on.

I'm sorry to have to keep bashing on about beliefs and stuff, but it is important so you know what we are addressing here, and what is required.
If we don't get this stuff sorted out at this stage, we could end up in a mess of conflicting beliefs, ideas and philosophies that achieves nothing.
You are not here for more beliefs and ideas. You have a ton of those. You are looking for a realisation! And that is going to need a certain deep level of focus and honesty about what appears clear, right here and right now.

What do you think about what I have written?

Xain ♥

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Sashin
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Re: Finding no one

Postby Sashin » Wed Sep 07, 2016 12:26 pm

If it helps, maybe approach this guidance as if you had never heard of any of this non-dual / spiritual / scientific / philosophical stuff at all, and you were just starting out.
Yes, I think I will do this from here on out.
Good. Again, can you see what I mean about your honest beliefs. That's what we need to focus on.
Yes, I think I understand what you mean now.
What do you think about what I have written?
I think it's clarifying about what you mean about being honest. Thank you again, for helping me with this inquiry.

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Re: Finding no one

Postby Xain » Thu Sep 08, 2016 9:55 am

Don't worry too much about all of this - Just do what you can and be as honest and you can.
If at times we go 'off the rails' a little bit, I'll try to point out where the problem is and bring us back on track. No big deal.

Let us begin the guidance with 'I am this body'.
This belief is mainly held in place by the ideas that the body (being 'me') is responsible for the senses. The body 'performs' the senses. 'I see', 'I hear', 'I feel' etc

Let us begin with 'Seeing'.

This is a very simple introductory exercise to try to get you to focus on the senses. One at a time.
In each exercise, I will ask you to answer ONLY from what you can find, or what is clear to you in that one sense only.
So please do not answer from what you find using the other senses, or from what you think might be the correct answer, or from previous study or teachings. Be completely honest - Just look and answer from what you can or cannot find using the one sense that we are examining. Answer from what is clear (or answer that something is not clear if you are confused).

'Seeing'.
Close your eyes.
Where you were seeing a room, a screen, a keyboard etc, now you just see 'black' - 'Darkness',
If you are close to a bright light, the darkness might not be completely 'black' - It might have a dull red glow.
Also, there might be sparkly or cloudy floaty things (maybe caused by nerves) but don't worry about that.
I am going to refer to this new experience as simply 'Darkness'. So 'What is seen' is 'Darkness'.

1) Check that the only thing you find is 'Darkness' as I described - Is that the case?
2) Just check . . . is there anything else that can be found in 'seeing' other than 'Darkness'?
3) Can what is witnessing this Darkness be found in the seeing itself? Or is there just 'Darkness'?
4) Can a body or an 'I' or an Alexander be found that is performing a function called 'seeing'?
5) Can a body or an 'I' or an Alexander be found that is experiencing the Darkness?

What can be found?

Xain ♥

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Sashin
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Re: Finding no one

Postby Sashin » Thu Sep 08, 2016 10:14 am

4) Can a body or an 'I' or an Alexander be found that is performing a function called 'seeing'?
5) Can a body or an 'I' or an Alexander be found that is experiencing the Darkness?
Did you make this post in the wrong thread?

I will answer the questions anyway.
1) Check that the only thing you find is 'Darkness' as I described - Is that the case?
Yes, all there is in my vision is darkness, just like in my avatar. It sometimes feel like there are some lighter patches in the darkness, they seem to disappear when I try to focus on them though. It's hard to describe them.
2) Just check . . . is there anything else that can be found in 'seeing' other than 'Darkness'?
No, it's just the darkness which is sometimes "patchy".
3) Can what is witnessing this Darkness be found in the seeing itself? Or is there just 'Darkness'?
No, what is witnessing cannot be seen, there is just darkness.
4) Can a body or an 'I' or an Alexander be found that is performing a function called 'seeing'?
No, no body or I can be found.
5) Can a body or an 'I' or an Alexander be found that is experiencing the Darkness?
No, there isn't anything called "I" or "Sashin" that is experiencing the darkness, there is just the darkness itself.

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Xain
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Re: Finding no one

Postby Xain » Thu Sep 08, 2016 10:47 am

Sorry, yes - I did make this post in the wrong thread, but it doesn't matter too much as it was to be your next investigation also.

Let's address what you put.
3) Can what is witnessing this Darkness be found in the seeing itself? Or is there just 'Darkness'?

No, what is witnessing cannot be seen, there is just darkness.

4) Can a body or an 'I' or an Alexander be found that is performing a function called 'seeing'?

No, no body or I can be found.

5) Can a body or an 'I' or an Alexander be found that is experiencing the Darkness?

No, there isn't anything called "I" or "Sashin" that is experiencing the darkness, there is just the darkness itself.
Good.

So now, let's take the phrase 'I am seeing darkness', Or perhaps a thought appearing suggesting 'I am seeing darkness'.
What is your opinion of this statement / thought in light of what you have discovered in that exercise?
I mean, is the 'I' in the phrase something you found?
Or could the 'I' just be a convenience of language? Just an idea - A thought - A belief?
What do you think?

Xain ♥

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Sashin
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Re: Finding no one

Postby Sashin » Thu Sep 08, 2016 11:04 am

No, I couldn't find an 'I' in the darkness of closed eyes. There was only darkness. I think that in 'I am seeing darkness', the 'I am' is just a convention of language. There is no 'I' to be found in the experience of darkness.

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Xain
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Re: Finding no one

Postby Xain » Thu Sep 08, 2016 11:36 am

Hi again Sashin

Good.
So now we do the same thing again, but with eyes open.
Now the eyes are open you will see (maybe) a room, tables, chairs, arms, legs etc.
It doesn't matter what it is, but whatever it is I am going to refer to is as simply 'What is seen'.

So with eyes open
1) In 'seeing' can anything be found other than 'what is seen'?
2) In 'seeing' can anything be found that is performing a function called 'seeing'?
3) In 'seeing' can an 'I', a 'Body' or a 'Sashin' be found that is seeing? Or is there just 'what is seen'?

What can you find?

Xain ♥

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Sashin
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Re: Finding no one

Postby Sashin » Thu Sep 08, 2016 12:03 pm

1) In 'seeing' can anything be found other than 'what is seen'?
No, all that can be found is what is seen.
2) In 'seeing' can anything be found that is performing a function called 'seeing'?
No, in seeing there is nothing there to be seen that is performing the function of seeing, there is just what is seen.
3) In 'seeing' can an 'I', a 'Body' or a 'Sashin' be found that is seeing? Or is there just 'what is seen'?
I can see the parts of the body, but there is nothing to suggest that it is doing the seeing, rather it is a part of what is seen.


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