Aaron wants to see the truth

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Aaron23
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Aaron wants to see the truth

Postby Aaron23 » Mon Oct 17, 2016 7:32 am

What brings you to Liberation Unleashed?
I stumbled on LU after several years of seeking, and I see something here that represents the end to that seeking.

My view of reality seems more like a selection of concepts that i agree with that i have assembled as a model. When things happen around me or to me i use them as evidence or proof of the validity of the model. Im not entirely sure i "know" reality directly.

What are you looking for? What do you expect from this?
I want to SEE the truth, to KNOW the truth, not just agree (or not) with the best possible concept or mental model of the truth.

I have no real expectations, more of a hope and gratitude that someone will give their time to help me over this "final" hurdle, and that perhaps once I'm there, I can help others. I'm willing to do whatever it takes, whatever is asked of me.

What is your background in terms of seeking and inquiry?
I was raised Christian, and for many years rejected all organized religion, considering myself mostly atheist. In my late 30s, feeling like perhaps there was more to life after all, I started investigating belief systems such as Buddhism, etc. in an attempt to find one that most resonated with me. I then stumbled on Eckhart Tolle's A New Earth and the seeking process really accelerated for me. I finally separated from my thoughts and emotions and was able to observe them. I finally understood this "God" everyone was talking about, at least at a conceptual level. I felt some level of freedom, but also an intense desire to dig deeper. I read book after book, building up this model of reality, that I refined a little bit with each new piece of information I encountered that roughly aligned with that model.

When I stumbled on Liberation Unleashed and Gateless Gatecrashers, I was excited, and for a few days felt free. Free in the same way as when I discovered Eckhart Tolle last year. Now I've realized it's less that I really see the truth, and more that I've simply found a dramatically better, more refined model. I started reading the books on your recommended reading list, and that is when I came to the realization that I was still seeking, still refining that mental model. I want to go beyond that.

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

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Andrei
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Re: Aaron wants to see the truth

Postby Andrei » Mon Oct 17, 2016 12:05 pm

Hi Aaron

Welcome to LU.
You already seem to have a good understanding of what seeing through the illusion of the self entails, so let`s turn the reasoning to actual seeing.
What we use here is a technique called 'direct experience'. There are raw experiences: hearing, seeing, touching, smelling, and tasting. There are sensations in the body (hunger, thirst, or pain). This is what we refer to as direct experience.
Let me know if it`s not clear enough and you require more examples.

What I want you to do now is simply look and see if there`s an "I" in direct experience and tell me what you found.

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Aaron23
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Re: Aaron wants to see the truth

Postby Aaron23 » Mon Oct 17, 2016 11:37 pm

Thank you so much for your time... I sincerely appreciate what you guys are doing!
simply look and see if there`s an "I" in direct experience
There are thoughts arising, emotions arising - usually simultaneously with a thought and usually a fearful or anxious thought/emotion, actions just happening (body moving), sensations happening - usually changing right after the body takes an action. There are also thoughts about thoughts, thoughts about thoughts about thoughts, thoughts about actions, sensations, and emotions, thoughts about those thoughts, etc. all just happening.

When I feel a sense of "I" it is behind the eyes, and could be best described as the observer, or the presence that is witnessing all of the stuff described above. I can see directly that all of this happening without a manager, without a "me" making them happen, but I still feel the "I" as the witness to it all.

I can intellectually adjust my attitude towards this observer or perhaps better said as my interpretation of this observer. More accurate to say that that adjustment happens by itself. It shifts from being localized inside my body as the "me" that is observing to a mental concept or model of non-duality. All is one, there are no separate "people", all of this is just life manifesting itself as all of this, including these thoughts, thoughts about thoughts, emotions, sensations - all of it, including the shift that happened from "me" to "not me". But then even that is recognized as yet another thought, observed by this sense of "me", and I feel stuck again.

I see that the thought that there is no I is the same (same level, made from the same stuff, equally as meaningless) as the thought that there is an "I" observing.

So no, I can't find an "I", only thoughts of an I. I know that the thought of "I" is a fiction, but I can't see beyond it, or around it, or through it.

Also this --> Fear. What if I'm wrong. What if this is all bullshit and there really is an I and I really should be trying and striving and making better or different decisions. What if this is just a cop-out, a convenient excuse for laziness and irresponsibility. Physical sensation of adrenaline and fear and failure. Sitting with the fear, realizing that it's just another thought / emotion.

Let me have it, you wont hurt "my" feelings :-).

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Andrei
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Re: Aaron wants to see the truth

Postby Andrei » Tue Oct 18, 2016 8:07 am

When I feel a sense of "I" it is behind the eyes, and could be best described as the observer, or the presence that is witnessing all of the stuff described above. I can see directly that all of this happening without a manager, without a "me" making them happen, but I still feel the "I" as the witness to it all.
Let`s call that awareness, shall we?
It is indeed one of the trickiest one.
Could it be it`s so tricky because it just seems to be THERE all the time? Is that what makes it more likely to be the "I" than thoughts or the body or feelings?
Where is awareness when you`re asleep?
So no, I can't find an "I", only thoughts of an I. I know that the thought of "I" is a fiction, but I can't see beyond it, or around it, or through it.
You seem to be complicating things a bit. Let`s keep it simple: Is the I-thought just like any other thought or is it more than that?
Look and see and trust in your seeing. It`s the mind that tells lies.
Also this --> Fear. What if I'm wrong. What if this is all bullshit and there really is an I and I really should be trying and striving and making better or different decisions. What if this is just a cop-out, a convenient excuse for laziness and irresponsibility. Physical sensation of adrenaline and fear and failure. Sitting with the fear, realizing that it's just another thought / emotion.
So you have a sensation, followed by a thought (or thoughts) describing it with due exaggeration and distortion, and then you calm down and look at it and realize it was all a bunch of thoughts and emotions independent of am "I". Perfect.

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Aaron23
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Re: Aaron wants to see the truth

Postby Aaron23 » Tue Oct 18, 2016 1:26 pm

Where is awareness when you`re asleep?
There seems to be some level of awareness in the dream state... whether or not it is remembered. In deep sleep or if you are knocked out, awareness is either MIA or nonexistent - it's not ALWAYS there. There is a period of time where other things happen (breathing happens, heart beats, blood flows) that is not witnessed by awareness. There is also no control over when that awareness is or isn't - it just happens (or doesn't).
Is the I-thought just like any other thought or is it more than that?
It's a repeated, persistent pattern thought. Almost always there. A product of conditioning and habit. Different than "I should get up and get ready for work". It's persistent, always there whenever awareness is there. It happens while other thoughts happen - as in "I" am having a thought about getting ready for work.

Thanks :-)

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Andrei
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Re: Aaron wants to see the truth

Postby Andrei » Tue Oct 18, 2016 2:07 pm

There is also no control over when that awareness is or isn't - it just happens (or doesn't).
So awareness happens (or doesn`t) independent of an "I".
Any doubts here?

It's a repeated, persistent pattern thought. Almost always there. A product of conditioning and habit. Different than "I should get up and get ready for work". It's persistent, always there whenever awareness is there. It happens while other thoughts happen - as in "I" am having a thought about getting ready for work.
All right, it`s a thought, or a pattern thought, or a behaviour model, or whatever. All these are concepts. It`s mind. They are useful when you`re writing a dissertation.
Question here is: is there an "I" creating or controlling them (thoughts, I-thoughts, patterns, models, etc.) or do they simply happen?

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Aaron23
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Re: Aaron wants to see the truth

Postby Aaron23 » Wed Oct 19, 2016 12:44 pm

So awareness happens (or doesn`t) independent of an "I".
Any doubts here?
Correct - no doubts.
is there an "I" creating or controlling them (thoughts, I-thoughts, patterns, models, etc.) or do they simply happen?
No I. All thoughts, including "I" thoughts, simply happen with no one making them happen.

Thoughts / emotions of doubt and fear arise, like reality is seen but the mind doesn't want to accept it. Like "I've" just realized Santa isn't real but don't want to believe it. Will those thoughts subside in time, as long as they are not believed?

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Andrei
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Re: Aaron wants to see the truth

Postby Andrei » Wed Oct 19, 2016 1:52 pm

No I. All thoughts, including "I" thoughts, simply happen with no one making them happen.
Perfect.
Thoughts / emotions of doubt and fear arise, like reality is seen but the mind doesn't want to accept it. Like "I've" just realized Santa isn't real but don't want to believe it. Will those thoughts subside in time, as long as they are not believed?
Funnily enough, it`s good you`re going through these episodes of doubt and fear. See, this "seeing that there is no self" is basically a shift in perspective. Nothing changes but they way you look at things.
However in order for you to get there, there has to be a struggle, a threshold. Otherwise how would you know you made the shift, right? So maybe this mind-fighting-back is your threshold.

What you can do is simply watch these thoughts, emotions and see where they come from. Is there a "you" creating them or do they just pop out? Is your mind a form of self or is it just a mechanism that goes on and on like a nagging old granny chatting continuously simply because that is what the brain was designed to do?
Go deep into those thoughts and fears and see if there`s anybody there.
Will those thoughts subside in time, as long as they are not believed?
Subside yes.
Your mind will get bored showing you stuff you no longer believe in. You don`t wake up every now and then asking yourself what if there really is a Santa at the North Pole and that your parents lied to you so they don`t have to give you presents any more. That chapter is done.
But also every now and then you might feel doubts whether the shift really happen, have you really seen through the illusion of the self or was it just another illusion? But by that time it will be like child`s play, especially that you have a working technique - direct experience.

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Aaron23
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Re: Aaron wants to see the truth

Postby Aaron23 » Thu Oct 20, 2016 12:58 pm

Awesome! Ok, I I've got it!

I'm pretty sure I glimpsed it a couple of weeks ago (when I initially read Gateless Gatecrashers), but then the mind spun up the doubt/fear machine and I wasn't armed with the realization that the "I" thoughts were just as un-caused by an "I" as any other thought - that is what got me through.

I needed you to guide me through the process, helping me rise above the mind's tendency to over-complicate and keep the focus on direct observation - this really works! Also, you are right about the threshold - in the initial seeing it was too easy - it needed to be challenged and upheld, so to speak.

The seeing is fragile. Life is so busy at the moment it's easy to slip back into that illusion, believing the conditioned assumption that there is an "I" behind it all, striving and trying and evaluating options and making decisions.

I'll remain vigilant, observing it all, happening by itself, including thoughts that it's not! I'll look behind all thoughts and emotions, and see that there isn't a "me" creating them, that they are just happening. If I can keep that focus, I'm sure this will all get easier in time - it already has. I'll check in periodically and let you know how it's going.

By the way, about a week ago I read Adyashanti. The End of Your World: Uncensored Straight Talk on the Nature of Enlightenment.. I sort of understood it, intellectually, but i'm going to re-read it now... It's very highly recommended for anyone who has just reached the "I see it! What now!?!" point, as I have.

Much gratitude for the time and guidance!

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Andrei
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Re: Aaron wants to see the truth

Postby Andrei » Thu Oct 20, 2016 1:29 pm

I wasn't armed with the realization that the "I" thoughts were just as un-caused by an "I" as any other thought - that is what got me through.
The mind can be a very tricky thing.

The seeing is fragile. Life is so busy at the moment it's easy to slip back into that illusion, believing the conditioned assumption that there is an "I" behind it all, striving and trying and evaluating options and making decisions.
If you like we have some extra resources to help newly-gaters, including a few Facebook groups for helping with seeing, chatting with other gaters, extra search, etc.
If you would like to join I will need you to answer a few more questions. Let me know if that is all right.

Much gratitude for the time and guidance!
My pleasure! Frankly, I don`t even feel like I did much. You were just there on the brink needing an extra push.

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Aaron23
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Re: Aaron wants to see the truth

Postby Aaron23 » Thu Oct 20, 2016 5:43 pm

If you would like to join I will need you to answer a few more questions. Let me know if that is all right.
Excellent! Happy to answer any additional questions.

Thanks again!

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Andrei
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Re: Aaron wants to see the truth

Postby Andrei » Thu Oct 20, 2016 7:31 pm

All right, here it is. They are pretty standard questions so we might have talked about some of it before.
Take as much time as you need.

1) Is there a separate entity 'self', 'me' 'I', at all, anywhere, in any way, shape or form? Was there ever?
2) Explain in detail what the illusion of separate self is, when it starts and how it works from your own experience. Describe it fully as you see it now.
3) How does it feel to see this? What is the difference from before you started this dialogue?
Please report from the past few days.
4) What was the last bit that pushed you over, made you look?
5) Describe decision, intention, free will, choice and control. What makes things happen? How does it work? What are you responsible for? Give examples from experience.
6) Anything to add?

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Aaron23
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Re: Aaron wants to see the truth

Postby Aaron23 » Fri Oct 21, 2016 1:12 pm

1) Is there a separate entity 'self', 'me' 'I', at all, anywhere, in any way, shape or form? Was there ever?
Short answer: No, there isn't and there never was. Long answer, see next answer :-)
2) Explain in detail what the illusion of separate self is, when it starts and how it works from your own experience. Describe it fully as you see it now.
The illusion of a separate entity I knew as "Aaron" and wholeheartedly believed myself to be was nothing more than a structure or pattern of thoughts, memories, conditioned/learned responses based on memories or beliefs. We are born with awareness but without this illusion, as we are born without knowledge (memories) or beliefs. Very young children can be observed to be free of this illusion. When I think about my kids when they were babies, they didn't seem to know about you vs. me, mine vs. yours, etc. They are taught this by the people around them that are under the illusion. The gift of illusion... ironic indeed.
3) How does it feel to see this? What is the difference from before you started this dialogue?
Please report from the past few days.
It feels amazing, but at the same time completely the same. It's like looking at one of those objects or drawings that appears to be one thing until looked at from a different perspective. The truth of the thing is now known, but it's easy to understand how the old or limited perspective could have been so convincing.

When I first read Gateless Gatecrashers, I had gotten to the point of being a "me" that was conscious, aware, and observing thoughts, emotions, etc. but I really still thought "I" was observing those thoughts, or feeling emotions, or taking actions. I was taught to be present and let the moment be as it was, but I still thought "I" was the the one who was being aware, being present, allowing the moment, etc. - some days succeeding, many days not. I distinctly remember the moment of realizing that the awareness was simply aware - without a me. I was turning back towards the door to come inside after letting the dogs out. "Ah, I get it". For a few hours, maybe a couple of days I had the experience of observing all of this happening by itself, without a manager, but then I fell back into doubt, and the "I" thoughts along with a conceptual belief of what no-self should look and feel like took over.

When I started this recent dialog I was convinced logically that it had to be true, but there was still a very strong thought pattern that there was an "I" observing life happening by itself. This was seen through when these "I" thoughts were revealed to also be happening spontaneously, without anyone creating them, just like any other thought.
4) What was the last bit that pushed you over, made you look?
As I mentioned, I had seen it briefly, but the thoughts of "I" were so persistent and so firmly attached to the experience of awareness that it was easy to believe that there was an "I" that was aware. Two things happened that unraveled this:
1. I saw that awareness (this awareness that was labeled as "I") couldn't be controlled. It came and went as it pleased (for example in sleep).
2. I saw that the thoughts of I", the last thoughts forming the illusion of awareness being something other than pure awareness, were arising just as autonomously as any other thought.
5) Describe decision, intention, free will, choice and control. What makes things happen? How does it work? What are you responsible for? Give examples from experience.
These are the things contributing most to the illusion for me, and the things that the illusion is/was most afraid of losing. They are all still happening, but do not have or require a doer/decider/intender/chooser/controller.

Evidence is weighed and decisions / choices are made - what to have for dinner, which thing to prioritize at work, how to do this or that. These decisions can now be observed as simply occurring by themselves, without anyone making them.

There is still the intention to someday live at the beach and drive a convertible, or go over there, or be warm instead of cold, but it is seen now that there is nothing behind that intention, it just happened.

There is still sometimes the attempts to control things, for example - setting curfews for my teenage children. That desire for control / attempt at control happens without anyone desiring or controlling, it's just happening.

What am "I" responsible for... silly question it seems given my new frame of reference. There is no one there to be responsible. How wonderful to simply be life unfolding!
6) Anything to add?
There is a feeling of tremendous gratitude that I stumbled upon LU, and that you took the time to walk me though this process - to challenge my mind ramblings and force me to keep looking until I saw. I know it seems from your perspective to be just a few simple questions, but the power of those few simple questions - the right questions, is profound. Thank you!

One interesting thought that keeps arising: The whole process of being under the illusion, of coming to believe that this pattern of thoughts, emotions, sensations, body movements, etc. was an entity called "Aaron", and then teaching each of my children the same, was all part of life unfolding and could not have been any other way.

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Andrei
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Re: Aaron wants to see the truth

Postby Andrei » Fri Oct 21, 2016 3:32 pm

Question from a fellow guide:

You've wrote that awareness can't be controlled. Can you describe your experience of awareness? Where is this awareness that can't be controlled? What is it and what can it do?

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Aaron23
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Re: Aaron wants to see the truth

Postby Aaron23 » Sat Oct 22, 2016 6:25 pm

You've wrote that awareness can't be controlled. Can you describe your experience of awareness? Where is this awareness that can't be controlled? What is it and what can it do?
Awareness = consciousness. I'd describe the experience as a field, or a canvas, or an infinite void, upon which things arise and dissolve. These things can be thoughts (mind), they can be emotions and other sensations in the body, they can be sensory perception. These things can also be recorded in the memory and recalled on this field of awareness. Sitting here now I don't feel it localized anywhere, it just is, all around and in / part of everything captured or sampled by the senses.

I guess you could use the analogy of the computer. Consciousness / awareness is the operating system software or firmware, the thing that makes a computer something other than a lump of plastic and metal and electrical impulses. When executing, this software (awareness/consciousness) is reading inputs from sensor hardware (sense organs and the brain's processing of this input), and storing things in memory - some long term, some short term. It's using the hardware of the computer (brain/body) to perform calculations, make decisions, and take actions. It can also run other programs, which are essentially pre-determined patterns of calculation and action based on input. These programs were written in the past and stored in memory. One of these programs is kind of rogue, with some "artificial intelligence" properties (the mind). It runs randomly, pulling from memory, running unauthorized calculations and spitting out erroneous conclusions into the mix. Sometimes it becomes so real and complete that it fools the operating system into thinking it is the only software running.

So sitting here now, on this field of awareness is vision - seeing the room and people in it. There is sound - the fire crackling, clock ticking, the heat humming, a crow screaming outside. There are sensations in the body - some weakness and tiredness from staying up too late. The pressure of one foot on the other, the tips of my fingers hitting the keys, the temperature of the air in the room. There is action - heart is pumping, lungs are breathing, eyes are blinking, head is turning in response to an abrupt sound, typing is happening... There are thoughts, most of them arising as these words are typed, but a few extraneous thoughts - I should have a beer. There is memory recall happening, and all of this other stuff is being analyzed in relation to that memory, and the results of that also being stored in memory. Seeing a ferry slide by on the lake - memories of the same sight last night in the dark and the conversation amongst friends. Hearing my wife's voice, checking with memory, memory says "that's your wife".

If I were to doze off, I can't say for sure if awareness stops or continues, but I can say for sure that whatever arises on the field of awareness during deep dreamless sleep is not recorded in memory. During dreams the dream is recorded on the memory, sometimes very firmly, as when one awakes during or immediately after a dream, and sometimes very lightly, making recall difficult or impossible.

I'm not sure that tells you what you need to know...


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