what I am looking not to find

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Aphorism8
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what I am looking not to find

Postby Aphorism8 » Thu Sep 21, 2017 6:18 pm

LU is focused guiding for seeing there is no real, inherent 'self' - what do you understand by this?
For me, this is the crux of the matter. I've been studying nonduality, meditating, and engaging in nondual inquiry for decades now. I cannot say with a real certainty that I have ever directly apprehended the selfless nature of consciousness. And the farther I go, as absurd as it may sound, I increasingly realize that when we talk about...

What are you looking for at LU?
...looking for and not finding the self, in the actual act of engaging in the looking, I cannot say that I have a direct, non-second-hand understanding of exactly what it is I should be looking for and not finding. Therefore, I am not at all certain I would even know if I were to have an experience of direct seeing. When you add on everything I've learned about how the selfless nature of consciousness is right there on the surface, so simple to see that its very obviousness makes it easy to overlook, I often now find myself deeply despairing of the whole effort.

What do you expect from a guided conversation?
I hope that when engaging in an actual dialogue with someone who truly knows that I can get the clarity I need in order to see directly for myself. I have read many times that a direct pointing out instruction is necessary, or a least can be very helpful.

What is your experience in terms of spiritual practices, seeking and inquiry?
More than 20 years trying just about every serious discipline. If I were to describe what most aligns with me, it would be Dzogchen and Advita. Of late, Sam Harris's book "Waking Up" has been important.

On a scale from 1 to 10, how willing are you to question any currently held beliefs about 'self? 11

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Andrei
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Re: what I am looking not to find

Postby Andrei » Thu Sep 28, 2017 10:27 am

Hi there,

First of all, welcome to LU, and let's see if we can help.

When you add on everything I've learned about how the selfless nature of consciousness is right there on the surface, so simple to see that its very obviousness makes it easy to overlook, I often now find myself deeply despairing of the whole effort.
Here we use a technique called Direct Experience aka Direct Pointing.
DE is the original input one gets through SENSATIONS and SENSES, that tension you feel in your arm before labelling it as good (a tickle) or bad (a burn), the noise you hear before you interpret it as coming from a vehicle or elsewhere. DE is what is, prior to any sort of interpretations done by the mind.

So, staying in DE, is there an "I" (aka self, ego, persona) to be found anywhere?


Cheers!

Andrei

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Aphorism8
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Re: what I am looking not to find

Postby Aphorism8 » Thu Sep 28, 2017 1:50 pm

Thank you for replying. I am looking forward to communicating directly with a live person. Having read many other posts, I will try always to answer simply and directly, and to drop all the spiritual concepts accumulated from decades of reading and seeking. The honest answer is I don't think so, but I'm not sure. One big thing I'm struggling with is simply not clearly knowing, when we say there is no self (I, ego, subject, whatever), exactly what we're saying does not exist. I hope that makes sense!

For just a moment I will slip into a bit of regurgitation. In all the years of studying this, there have been many, many different ways of describing what it is that does not exist. For example, it is said that the self is a concept, a set of labels bundled into an identity. It's fairly obvious that the concepts are just concepts, but there has never been any direct seeing that a self doesn't exist on that basis.

Another common set of expressions: no doer of actions, no thinker of thoughts, no feeler of feelings. That thoughts just appear and disappear on their own is pretty obvious, but again, no direct seeing (at least I think not!) as a result. Some thoughts are clearly seen as random noise, while others seem to be semi-coherent and "willed" or "intentional," but even those are seen after they appear. I can't say I think them.

It's also been described as the absence of a separate subject. When I really try to look and see, this way of trying to look can sometime become too abstract, I think. A variation of this is the observing of the "sense of I" or "sense of I am." When I do this and look closely, there's a sense that "of course I am," but when I stop and look, I can't really say there's a sense of I am. There's just whatever is observed at the moment, and there is some sort of awareness of whatever is seen. So in that, I absolutely could not stand up and declare that there's a self, and yet I also don't definitively know there isn't one. Just what are we saying doesn't exist? That's a big stumbling block for me.

To boil it down, even though I can spout off many familiar spiritual concepts, the bottom line is I don't have a clear, sharp understanding of what I'm looking for that I will not find, and so I don't know if I would know if I were directly seeing the fact that there is no self.

Maybe I've actually seen before, and not realized it! I have always figured that the seeing we're all talking about is clear and decisive. I am not at all expecting any sort of mystical experience, but I am expecting something that leaves no doubt. I am full of doubt! The longer this goes on, the more the doubt. It's been going on so long that sometimes the effort to look and see seems to be a far bigger source of pain and suffering than whatever ordinary suffering started me down this road!

Back to your question, which you asked very simply. Looking right now, I cannot say I find anything I can confidently tell you is a self. There are all the objects (computer, desk, lamp, forearms, hands, keyboard, the tinnitus, and the songs in my head (there always seems to be one). These are all seen/known in some way; I can't deny that. But that's all I can say. Is there a self to be found anywhere here? I don't think so, but the purely honest answer is that I don't know, and also that there's a sense there must still be some sort of subtle self-feeling I haven't yet seen through, even if I can't describe what that would be. Why must there still be some subtle thing I haven't seen through? Because I can't just straight-out tell you, without any doubts, that there is no self, and because everything just feels like something is wrong in some nagging, undefined way.

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Andrei
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Re: what I am looking not to find

Postby Andrei » Thu Sep 28, 2017 6:45 pm

One big thing I'm struggling with is simply not clearly knowing, when we say there is no self (I, ego, subject, whatever), exactly what we're saying does not exist.
Its good you brought that up. You do need to clear things out, including what the self is.
So what is the "self" to you? What do you identify with? Write them down but try to be succinct.

For example, it is said that the self is a concept, a set of labels bundled into an identity. It's fairly obvious that the concepts are just concepts, but there has never been any direct seeing that a self doesn't exist on that basis.
Knowing it's just a label is a good start. Unfortunately it's just reasoning. You know that for a fact. Now you will have to start seeing.

To boil it down, even though I can spout off many familiar spiritual concepts, the bottom line is I don't have a clear, sharp understanding of what I'm looking for that I will not find, and so I don't know if I would know if I were directly seeing the fact that there is no self.
Probably because there is really nothing there lol. No worries you'll see for yourself soon.

I have always figured that the seeing we're all talking about is clear and decisive. I am not at all expecting any sort of mystical experience, but I am expecting something that leaves no doubt.
Seeing no self is indeed clear and leaves no room for doubt. From this point of view you will not be disappointed :D

I am full of doubt! The longer this goes on, the more the doubt. It's been going on so long that sometimes the effort to look and see seems to be a far bigger source of pain and suffering than whatever ordinary suffering started me down this road!
It's understandable. For the purpose of this inquiry, I will ask you to leave behind everything you know or you think you know, everything you studied, etc. I will ask questions and give you pointers showing you the direction and you will start deconstructing the self on your own.

And a second question for now:
When I say "There is no you", is there any tension, any arising fear?

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Aphorism8
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Re: what I am looking not to find

Postby Aphorism8 » Fri Sep 29, 2017 4:55 am

Thank you. Now that I've gotten all that crap off my chest, I will do my best to simply give direct answers to your questions.

2. No tension or fear. Honestly, my gut reaction was "yeah, OK." No offense intended! But it felt like just another form of familiar concepts.

1. What is the self to me? Right now, answering immediately, self is a meaningless word. It's been so beaten to death I feel like I need another term altogether. (The same for 'ego,' by the way.) What do I identify with? A person who doesn't really know anything for sure. I'm someone who loves tennis and bowling. I am a husband and father who tries really hard to do the right thing as a parent, but I don't really know what I'm doing; I don't think anyone really knows what they're doing, but most people won't admit that. I am someone who tries but fails consistently to have compassion for people, because so many people are so awful.

Gosh, that's all rather random and incoherent, but that's what's coming up.

Wow, tonight the weariness of all the concepts and all the seeking is really weighing me down.

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Andrei
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Re: what I am looking not to find

Postby Andrei » Fri Sep 29, 2017 5:30 am

I'm someone who loves tennis and bowling. I am a husband and father who tries really hard to do the right thing as a parent, but I don't really know what I'm doing; I don't think anyone really knows what they're doing, but most people won't admit that. I am someone who tries but fails consistently to have compassion for people, because so many people are so awful.
So, "somebody" who thinks he can make choices. Let's talk about that. Is there a "you" that makes choices or do choices simply happen? Not just about playing one sport or another, but bigger things like getting married, choosing one spouse over another, career, education, etc.

If the answer doesn't come easy, I have a short exercise you can do:
Take two objects/possibilities, of which you might ordinarily choose either e.g. coffee or tea, blue pen or black pen, salt and pepper, then sit and see if you can find the choice-point where you could go either way. Describe how choosing happens.

Wow, tonight the weariness of all the concepts and all the seeking is really weighing me down.
If that happens, relax. Take a break. Stop thinking about such things for a while. This is not a race to get anywhere. There's nowhere to get anyway :)

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Aphorism8
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Re: what I am looking not to find

Postby Aphorism8 » Fri Sep 29, 2017 6:35 pm

OK, here's an example in response to your question about the choice point. Last night I played tennis, and I have two of the same racquet. I took one and used the edge to tap the strings of the other, then switched. I played with the racquet whose strings were tighter (higher pitch when tapped). Looking at the whole thing, the choice to pick the one that's tighter occurred spontaneously and instantly. There was awareness of a choice having been made, but no moment at which some sort of choosing mechanism or chooser could be seen to be operating and making a decision.

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Andrei
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Re: what I am looking not to find

Postby Andrei » Fri Sep 29, 2017 7:11 pm

Perfect. Now what about the other choices you made, and I dont mean picking a racket but getting married, picking college, your career, major stuff like that. Have "you" made those choices or did they just happen?
Have "you" ever chosen anything?

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Aphorism8
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Re: what I am looking not to find

Postby Aphorism8 » Fri Sep 29, 2017 9:54 pm

I have to give the same answer. Any choice, or any thought for that matter, is registered in awareness fully formed. You can only truly say you are aware of the choice, aware of the thought, etc., but not aware of generating them. When I observe the non-stop barrage of thoughts, some are clearly randomly appearing noise. Others seem to follow a coherent "willed" path. But all that can be said is that a sequence of connected thoughts appears, cohesively enough to seem to have a purpose or intent to them.

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Andrei
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Re: what I am looking not to find

Postby Andrei » Sat Sep 30, 2017 5:45 am

Others seem to follow a coherent "willed" path. But all that can be said is that a sequence of connected thoughts appears, cohesively enough to seem to have a purpose or intent to them.
Are you sure they just "seem" to be willed? Owning thoughts is a pretty big chapter. We better not skip this one if you're not 100% sure you don't create thoughts.

What about sensations and the body? Are they "yours"?
Does a body even exist or is it just another label for sensations?

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Aphorism8
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Re: what I am looking not to find

Postby Aphorism8 » Sat Sep 30, 2017 4:36 pm

Regarding thoughts, I definitely cannot say I am 100% sure. How do I get to be sure?

Looking downward right now, I can see a torso, arms, and legs.

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Andrei
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Re: what I am looking not to find

Postby Andrei » Sat Sep 30, 2017 4:53 pm

Regarding thoughts, I definitely cannot say I am 100% sure. How do I get to be sure?
Can you create a thought right now? What would the steps be to creating a thought?

Looking downward right now, I can see a torso, arms, and legs.
Because your sight is the ultimate proof that something exists or not?
Anyway, let's say there is a body. Is it "yours"?

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Aphorism8
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Re: what I am looking not to find

Postby Aphorism8 » Sun Oct 01, 2017 1:02 am

1. No. They just arise spontaneously.

2A. What exactly are we saying with regard to the objects of the senses?

2B. I'm not sure. All I can say is that anytime I look down, those limbs and that torso are there. But whether they are "mine" vs. "me" vs. something else, I don't know yet. If I claim they are "mine," then just who or what is it that "owns" them? That puts "I" or "me" into some sort of relationship with this "body," and reinforces the notion of this so-called "I," which I have yet to pin down in its nonexistence!

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Aphorism8
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Re: what I am looking not to find

Postby Aphorism8 » Sun Oct 01, 2017 1:04 am

Q: If I am to doubt even my sight, what is the manner of the knowledge of the nonexistence of the self?

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Aphorism8
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Re: what I am looking not to find

Postby Aphorism8 » Sun Oct 01, 2017 2:50 am

Sometimes it seems fairly obvious that thoughts arise spontaneously, and yet there's still no seeing.


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