Looking For Guidance

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PepperAlmond
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Looking For Guidance

Postby PepperAlmond » Wed Feb 21, 2018 6:39 am

LU is focused guiding for seeing there is no real, inherent 'self' - what do you understand by this?
Intellectually, I know that "I" am just a story, a fiction. "I" am a very intense belief that I have been believing (I don't know how) ever since I was a child. In reality, there is no me. There's just sensory experience happening (sights, sounds, feelings, thoughts). I haven't had a direct experience of this.

What are you looking for at LU?
I'm looking to see the truth, which, I've heard, might set me free. :) I'm looking for help on this path of looking. I'm a former philosophy student so I've always been interested in the truth. Recently, I've been feeling lost on my spiritual journey. I feel like I don't know who I am and what I should be doing in this life. I feel like I have a mission here but I just don't know what it is. I want to help the world, but something is keeping me stuck. I've heard that seeing the truth of no-self can really help with this. So those are my two main objectives.

What do you expect from a guided conversation?
I expect that the conversation will point me in the direction of the direct experience of no-self. I hope to find out what I have been doing wrong so far. I don't expect but I really hope that this could be the place and time for me to see through the illusion of the self. I expect that I will have to do 99% of the work, which will require intense consentration and looking at my direct experience. If I may say so, I also hope that the guide is kind and patient with me. :) I'm quite fluent in English, but it is not my first language. Some misunderstandings might therefore happen.

What is your experience in terms of spiritual practices, seeking and inquiry?
I heard about enlightenment three years ago. Two years ago, I had a shift in consciousness, where I saw that I am not my body and I am not my mind. I do not control my movements - they happen by themselves. I observed thoughts flow by as if I was standing on the bank of a river. I didn't get attached to any of them. I was separate from them and the mind. I saw that they were nothing important. I looked at myself in the mirror and my face looked strange and alien.

This lasted for a few hours and it was probably the most profound and beautiful moment of my life. This happened two years ago, and ever since then I've been trying to get back there, but haven't been successful.

I've meditated for a few years. I've read self-help books and listened to self-help, enlightenment and spirituality videos. I did one three-day-long solo meditation retreat. I've done a few sessions of self-inquiry, asking questions like "What am I?" and "Where am I?".

I was recommended this site by a woman through a Facebook discussion. I made a post to get support for feeling lost and meaninglessness on my spiritual journey, and she said that she felt that way too for many years until she saw the truth of no self and it helped her. It really resonated with me and I was drawn to this site.

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

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gondwana
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Re: Looking For Guidance

Postby gondwana » Wed Feb 21, 2018 6:42 am

Hello,

Welcome to the LU forums! I will be most happy to guide you.

It sounds like you have had a pretty interesting experience and profound experience already :)
Could you start by telling me what you currently understand the "I" to be? How does it work?

And where are the sticky points, where you still believe in being an "I" day to day?

Looking forward to our conversation.

-Tim
Seen in the moment of looking, freed in the moment of seeing.

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PepperAlmond
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Re: Looking For Guidance

Postby PepperAlmond » Fri Feb 23, 2018 7:59 am

Hello, Tim!

Sorry I didn't answer before. I was expecting an e-mail when my post would be answered and didn't get one or missed it. I just noticed that you answered my post two days ago!

Just letting you know that I'm here. Thank you for answering. I'm looking forward to our conversation too.

I will look into your questions and get back to you shortly. :)

-Vera

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PepperAlmond
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Re: Looking For Guidance

Postby PepperAlmond » Fri Feb 23, 2018 10:14 am

Hi,

I sat down to look and write down what came to me.

Could you start by telling me what you currently understand the "I" to be? How does it work?
At the moment my belief of what the "I" is seems to fluctuate between two things. Either the "I" is the collection or totality of all the sensory phenomena (sights, sounds, feelings, thoughts) or it's something that perceives these phenomena. When I sit down and concentrate, it seems that "I" could only be something behind the sensory phenomena, sitting there quietly and perceiving it all happening.

On the level of language the ”I” is a concept that points to different things depending on the situation. It can point to the physical body or to the mind or thoughts.

Even though I can't find the "I" when I look, it feels real. It feels like it has to be there somewhere.

For me, the illusion of ”I” feels the most solid/real in the feelings of the body and in thoughts. What I mean by this is that when I look for the ”I”, I first look inside the body, grasping at different feelings (Am I this? Am I this?) and then when I can't find it there, I look inside my head (I must be the voice. I must be the story. I must be an image or a belief.). There, I only find the concept of ”I”, but not the real ”I”. Then, there's a disbelief. ”It cannot be true. I must be doing something wrong. Let me look again. 'I' must be somewhere.” And so it continues.

Below, I wrote some functions of the "I" that I have observed.

It seems that the ”I” is a delicate and complex structure. It's complex, because when I'm inside it, when the illusion is going, I am very much invested in it. I believe in it. It's very convinsing.

At the same time it's delicate, because when I start looking at it and questioning it, it starts fighting back. ”Don't look at me!” Like it's being threatened. (And of course, that's exactly what's going on.)

It's funny. It's a very convinsing and persistent illusion as long as you don't look straight at it.

Also, it's like a living organism in a way, because it's looking for ways to sustain itself and get stronger. Self-help et cetera. ”Make me stronger!” You know? It's a very cunning illusion. It's like it has a mind of its own. It's so clever.

The ”I” likes things that make it stronger, such as many spiritual things, books, theories, interesting ideas. It tricks me into thinking that all these spiritual practices are good for me when in fact they are just distracting me from looking straight at it!

The ”I” also likes lists, accomplishing things and it cares about what other people think of it. The ”I” likes hobbies, decorations, actions that make it more full, more defined. It loves personality tests and stuff like that. Anything to make it stronger. And yet, the stronger it gets, the least satisfaction there is. The more it accomplishes, the more I want to get rid of it, because it's making my life miserable.

I've noticed the ”I” to be absolutely miserable. It fluctuates between bliss and misery, and most of the time is spent in misery. It gets challenged and attacked from every direction. Like, whenever I read a news article, the ”I” gets invested and strong feelings come up, lots of thoughts come up. The ”I” feels like it has to defend itself in some way. It starts fighting against what is, basically. It's invested. It cannot detach. The more feelings are buzzing through the body and the more thoughts are going through the mind, the more solid the ”I” feels.

And where are the sticky points, where you still believe in being an "I" day to day?
I believe in being an ”I” all the time or most of the time. I do tell myself sometimes that there is no ”I”. When I meditate and self-inquire (and sometimes when I don't), I think I get glimpses of no-self. I'm not sure, because they're too brief for me to really inspect. The glimpses are one, maybe two seconds, long.

It seems that there are degrees to the ”I”'s stickiness. Like, when it's not threatened, it lessens and becomes more flexible and accepting. But if it's attacked, then oh boy! Then it really flares up and makes a big deal about being the most important thing in the world. For example, meditation becomes difficult and actually physically painful if the ”I” feels stressed out about some issue. It only cares about being stressed out (threatened) and doesn't want to permit any consciousness work.

As I'm writing this, I'm capable of looking at the ”I” like it's a being that is separate from me. Also throughout the day, I can observe it most of the time. Before, I would just react. Nowadays, I react and I also watch myself reacting.

When I had the experience that I wrote about in the first post, I didn't know about self or no-self enough to do any looking into the matter. But in retrospect, I think maybe I experienced the no-self. I remember that there was a stream of thoughts, which went on as it had before. And there was the body that was just doing stuff like it had been doing before. But I don't remember there being a self. I remember thinking "I'm trapped inside this physical body and mind for this lifetime. I better put them to use. They can accomplish such great things in this world."

I also want to tell this little story, because it seems relevant.

A couple days ago I was doing a guided self-inquiry process. I didn't get a direct experience of no-self, but afterwards when I went out, something interesting happened. A dog barked at me and shortly afterwards a strange man yelled and cursed at me. I felt fear at both instances, but the fear felt very different than it has ever felt before. It was like an electrical current throughout all my body. It felt like free flowing energy. It wasn't unpleasant!

Another thing that was different about it is that there were some worried and fearful thoughts about the incident and about the future, but they subsided incredibly quickly! Usually, I would be worrying about an incident like this for hours and maybe even days (telling my friends, maybe posting on social media, writing to get my feelings out...). But this time maybe one hour passed and most of the fear was gone. The next day, there was zero trace of even worry, barely any thoughts about the whole incident at all. I was ”over it”, so to say.


By the way, I hope you don't mind that my posts are so long. If you feel like I'm distracting myself or derailing from the process, please let me know! With this post, I mainly wanted to give you information that could help you in guiding me.

I got really confused when I was writing this post, which is a good thing, I guess. I hope you can help me see where I'm being honest and where I'm tricking myself, because I'm not sure anymore.


Thanks!

-Vera

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gondwana
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Re: Looking For Guidance

Postby gondwana » Sun Feb 25, 2018 3:11 am

Hi Vera,

No worries at all!

The first thing I would recommend is at the bottom of this post, you click the "spanner" icon, and then click on "Subscribe Topic" in the pop-up menu. This will ensure that you get email notifications in future. (If it says "Unsubscribe Topic" instead, it has already been selected).

I'd suggest you also take a look at this quick instructional video on how to use the quote function, if you are not already familiar. It makes the conversation so much easier.
https://m.youtube.com/watch?v=-fAToDNh9hQ

And so to begin the process, one simple guideline to follow. Whenever I ask you to LOOK at something, it means look directly at your own experience, in the present moment - the NOW. If you have to resort to analysis, debate, consideration, or referring to historic experiences/memories/data, these are all resorting to thought. What we are looking for is beyond thought. It can only be seen in the present moment with your own direct experience. We call this actual experience (AE). So I will ask you to please set aside all prior practice and looking (you may continue daily practice of course) but the point is to LOOK in the NOW each time I ask - do not rely on prior knowledge and experiences. The answer may be different when you look again.
By the way, I hope you don't mind that my posts are so long. If you feel like I'm distracting myself or derailing from the process, please let me know! With this post, I mainly wanted to give you information that could help you in guiding me.
I certainly will ;-). But this was a good start, it gives me all I need to know about where you are currently 'at'.

So let's begin.
Either the "I" is (...) or it's something that perceives these phenomena
Now, if this is the case:
- What exactly is this "I" made up of?
- Where is this "I" located?
- Can you point to it precisely, right now, with your finger?
Please take a look now, and tell me what is true in the present moment.
Even though I can't find the "I" when I look, it feels real. It feels like it has to be there somewhere.
Again, this is a good opportunity to point to it with your finger.
Describe the location where it is believed to be located.
The more it accomplishes, the more I want to get rid of it, because it's making my life miserable.
How would life be different, without an "I"?
What would change, and what would stay the same?
As I'm writing this, I'm capable of looking at the ”I” like it's a being that is separate from me.
Isn't our default language strange? You just said "I" am looking at "I" as if "I" is a separate being!
How can that possibly be true?
What is doing the looking, exactly?
Is there a 'doer' here?
Seen in the moment of looking, freed in the moment of seeing.

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PepperAlmond
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Re: Looking For Guidance

Postby PepperAlmond » Mon Feb 26, 2018 12:31 am

Hi, Tim!

Thanks for your reply. I've subscribed to the thread and checked out the quote function video.

I understand what is meant by looking and why you are asking me to do that only. Everything else is a distraction, right? I will look and report from my actual experience to my best ability. (I'm used to calling it ”direct experience” so if I say that, this is what I mean.)

One question, though. When you say "look", do you mean just casually look as I go through my day? Or do you mean sit down in a quiet place, prepare yourself mentally for looking, breathe deep, relax, and concentrate hard? Or something different? Those two situations would yield two different answers.

Yesterday was a frustrating day. In the morning I had a little breakthrough. For the first time my mind opened to the possibility that there is no one perceiving the sensations. I felt grief at the thought. And then spent the rest of the day angry, sad and frustrated. My mind tried to distract me a lot, telling me ”you're never going to get it” and ”you should just stop now before you embarrass yourself in front of Tim”.

The ”I” fought back and felt sticky and solid then. I pushed through and looked at the questions, but it was difficult to concentrate. I've heard that when emotions come up, it means that I'm getting closer to the truth, because the ego is fighting back.
The answer may be different when you look again.
It's good that you said this, because it's so true! Awakening is not linear, is it. Sometimes I see something, but then the next day I've lost it. This happens all the time. It's so frustrating.
Either the "I" is (...) or it's something that perceives these phenomena
Now, if this is the case:
- What exactly is this "I" made up of?
- Where is this "I" located?
- Can you point to it precisely, right now, with your finger?
Please take a look now, and tell me what is true in the present moment.
I've lost the sense that I'm the perceiver of the phenomena. So I will answer from what is true right now.
- In the present moment I feel like I'm the body and the mind. On the other hand I am the perceiver as well as the body and the mind. The body and the mind are perceiving things. At the same time I'm also the perceiver of the body and the mind. So I'm both the body and the mind and also perceiving the body and the mind at the same time?
- I'm located inside the body.
- When I point my finger to myself, I point it to my chest. That's what I'm the most identified with.
Even though I can't find the "I" when I look, it feels real. It feels like it has to be there somewhere.
Again, this is a good opportunity to point to it with your finger.
Describe the location where it is believed to be located.
- It's located in my chest. Or my head. One of those or both. I'm really identified with those two locations. But when I look there, I can't find the ”I”. But I'm not satisfied with that result, the mind dismisses it. I think, ”I just haven't looked properly. Look again. I must be there somewhere.” And also, ”Maybe I can't find myself because I don't know what I'm looking for.” What exactly am I looking for?
The more it accomplishes, the more I want to get rid of it, because it's making my life miserable.
How would life be different, without an "I"?
What would change, and what would stay the same?
This is speculation based on my past experience. Without an ”I”, everything would be less personal, less serious. Even when something serious or grave would happen, like a death of a family member, I wouldn't become completely invested in it. I would feel the grief purely, as it is, watch the thought accompanied fly by, and then I would let go.

Letting go is how I would characterize life without an ”I”. With an ”I”, it's so difficult to let go! Someone hurts me and I'm invested in the hurt, I grab onto the hurt and hang onto it for years and create stories about how this thing ruined my life et cetera. And I believe those stories to be true and they would obstruct my vision and prevent me from enjoying anything.
When I realize that ”I” don't exist, life becomes impersonal, beautiful, a miracle. Everything, no matter if it's good or bad according to the mind, is as it should be and perfect. I cannot control anything so why bother trying? Right now, I try to control so much, and it creates a lot of suffering.

There is still suffering without the ”I”, but it's impersonal, farther away. It's not about ”me” and how ”I” was wronged this time. It's not about excuses to not enjoy my life anymore.

From the outside, you basically couldn't tell the difference. Thoughts would still be there. Sensations would still be there, like they are now. Everything would still be there, but without an ”I”, it's empty. It's without anyone to whom it all happens. So it's all okay. Good things, bad things, even death is okay. Impersonal. I expect to see that I cannot die. The body and the mind die, but I cannot.

I expect that gradually, life will become more relaxed. There will be less trying to control the unconrollable. And basically, life will become utterly free. What is, is. And I will be free to do whatever I want to do, because I will not believe the stories about ”I can't” and ”I'm not good enough” anymore. Right now, getting myself to do what I want to do is a real struggle. And it's because I'm too afraid of what would happen to ”me” if I fail somehow.
As I'm writing this, I'm capable of looking at the ”I” like it's a being that is separate from me.
Isn't our default language strange? You just said "I" am looking at "I" as if "I" is a separate being!
How can that possibly be true?
What is doing the looking, exactly?
Is there a 'doer' here?
This question completely baffles me. I don't even know what to say! So confused. Maybe it would be more accurate to say that I'm noticing thoughts that claim to be me and I believe them?

I know that we've just started and that I shouldn't be too hard on myself, but I'm disappointed so far. I feel like I haven't gotten anywhere much and I've actually even taken a step back! I will try not to trust those feelings. I will try to trust in the process instead.

The biggest insight so far has been that I've noticed the mind to be much more deceptive than I thought. I've been watching my thoughts. They a) claim ownership and control of everything that happens, b) try to persuade me to stop looking by giving me "more interesting" things to think about, or by dismissing my efforts, or by scaring me.

-Vera

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gondwana
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Re: Looking For Guidance

Postby gondwana » Tue Feb 27, 2018 4:05 pm

The biggest insight so far has been that I've noticed the mind to be much more deceptive than I thought. I've been watching my thoughts. They a) claim ownership and control of everything that happens, b) try to persuade me to stop looking by giving me "more interesting" things to think about, or by dismissing my efforts, or by scaring me.
This was seen very clearly, nice.

And this (b) response you identified is a self-protection mechanism to keep the illusion from being seen through. Instead of viewing this as a confrontation with the supposed ‘self’, simply look with innocent curiosity, like a child seeing something for the first time. There is no real threat or danger here, in reality. That is also an illusion.

And this, what you did above, is all the kind of looking that is required! Just a quick glance, note the process/state of what‘s going on, report back. Simple.

Deep concentration/relaxation may or may not help focus when stuck, but in truth, it’s just another piece of the illusion of control. Anyway looking while doing something in ordinary physical life leads to seeing the really good stuff.
This question completely baffles me. I don't even know what to say! So confused. Maybe it would be more accurate to say that I'm noticing thoughts that claim to be me and I believe them?
Yes! THIS :)

—>thoughts claiming to be ‘me’ + belief in them being true<—

So, what would happen if one day you just stopped believing in those thoughts being true?

Take a quick look now, and actually see if they ARE true.
What happens?
I know that we've just started and that I shouldn't be too hard on myself
Given your first responses above, I’d say don’t be!
Seen in the moment of looking, freed in the moment of seeing.

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PepperAlmond
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Re: Looking For Guidance

Postby PepperAlmond » Wed Feb 28, 2018 7:50 am

Instead of viewing this as a confrontation with the supposed ‘self’, simply look with innocent curiosity, like a child seeing something for the first time. There is no real threat or danger here, in reality. That is also an illusion.
Thanks for the tip! I have already been trying to do this. When there was fear or something else, I tried to "catch" it and say, "Ha! You're just trying to distract me. Won't work."

This time thoughts tried to persuade me to stop looking by calling this ”boring”. They gave me very shiny and tempting distractions. They said stuff, like "You're wasting your life!". This actually worked much better than scaring me with other things! I'm terrified of boredom. Nevertheless, before long I noticed what was going on and kept looking.

I have been watching my thoughts some more. I'm noticing more the tendency to say ”I” in front of everything.

”I just feel so angry!”
”I wonder how that works...”
”I want that too!”
”I never get to do that. Now I feel sad.”
”I'm hungry.”

Et cetera. Same thing when I speak. I put ”I” in front of everything. I think I've always done that but I'm just noticing it for the first time. Is it just a habit?

Once in a while when I think, for example, ”I'm angry”, I ask myself, ”Who's angry?”. I feel like answering ”Well, I am!” but there's also a pause and I detect a hint of something. Maybe doubt?
So, what would happen if one day you just stopped believing in those thoughts being true?

Take a quick look now, and actually see if they ARE true.
What happens?
I was applying for some jobs today and as I was doing that, my mind filled with many negative thoughts, such as ”no one's gonna hire you” and ”you have nothing to offer”. Then I thought, hey, what happens if I don't believe these thoughts? After all, they aren't necessarily true. How would my mind know what is going to happen in the future anyway? It's just talking. And it can't possibly know what other people are thinking either.

I felt a little calmer. There was less anxiety. I thought, I don't really know what's gonna happen, and this thought felt good.

I can see that there is a strong possibility that these negative thoughts aren't true. It's quite clear now. But what about less prominent thoughts? What about those thoughts that just quietly sneak by, that I hardly even notice? What about thoughts like ”I'm angry”? How do I start seeing through those?
And this, what you did above, is all the kind of looking that is required! Just a quick glance, note the process/state of what‘s going on, report back. Simple.

Anyway looking while doing something in ordinary physical life leads to seeing the really good stuff.
You make it sound so easy, and yet the illusion of the self seems so difficult to see through. When I just quickly look, I don't feel like I'm working hard or making progress. I feel like I'm working hard and making progress when I sit meditating or doing self-inquiry for a longer time. Can looking amongst my daily life really be enough? If it is, why do people spend decades meditating? Aren't they after this very same thing?

Aha, I just realized! It's the same thing that I mentioned in my earlier post. The ”self” tricks people into doing all this spiritual stuff and working hard, doesn't it! It makes people think that they're getting closer to enlightenment when in reality they're getting nowhere! Anything to avoid actually looking.

Sorry for derailing, but I'm just curious. I mean, I've heard people say that seeing through the illusion of the self is super hard and you have to work decades to achieve it. Yet here's a site (LU) where people are guided to see so fast! How can this be? It's really mind-twisting. If it's really so simple, why does it feel so hard? Difficulty is just an illusion?

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gondwana
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Re: Looking For Guidance

Postby gondwana » Sat Mar 03, 2018 8:41 am

Some great LOOKING there!

We can easily highlight this effect clearly. I want you to do the following:

Please take a notepad and write down everything that is happening right now for about five minutes using "normal" language. Like this:
I am sitting here
I am writing
I am hearing a car
I am sensing the chair
...

Afterwards, please go to another place (out in nature is best) and again, write down what's happening using only verbs.
Like this:
Sitting
Writing
Sensing the jacket
Hearing a bird
Seeing the landscape
...

How does it feel to use these two different ways of language(thought)?
Which one does feel more familiar?
Tell me, what you've found!
Seen in the moment of looking, freed in the moment of seeing.

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PepperAlmond
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Re: Looking For Guidance

Postby PepperAlmond » Mon Mar 05, 2018 9:43 am

Hi!

I did the exercise.
How does it feel to use these two different ways of language(thought)?
Which one does feel more familiar?
Tell me, what you've found!
I didn't feel like I thought it would.

The mind was way more active when I used the "normal" language. It was almost like it went into a storytelling mode. Compared to the verb language writing, it felt like I was writing a story if that makes sense.

In the second half of the exercise, on the other hand, the mind was more still. It felt like I was writing down what was really happening. It was less exciting and less entertaining but more real in a way. It was kind of boring but also more peaceful feeling maybe. There was a sence of acceptance, whereas in the "normal" writing there were impulses to control.

Does it sound like I saw something? I'm not sure. Maybe I should do the exercise again and do it for a longer time?

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Re: Looking For Guidance

Postby gondwana » Mon Mar 05, 2018 3:57 pm

You looked at it correctly. This was really just to highlight a simple fact of how the way we commonly use English language is in fact an arbitrary choice, but one that unfortunately leads to some assumptions about reality.

Which of the two styles felt more natural, maybe more direct? (I think you already answered this one)

Is the use of an “I” really necessary at all for language to work?
Can it work without?
What assumption does the use of “I” oriented language imply?
Is this assumption actually true?

Please answer each question individually and answer all of them.

Of course please feel free to try the exercise again if needed, to answer the questions.


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Seen in the moment of looking, freed in the moment of seeing.

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Re: Looking For Guidance

Postby PepperAlmond » Tue Mar 06, 2018 1:29 am

Hi. I did the exercise again.
This was really just to highlight a simple fact of how the way we commonly use English language is in fact an arbitrary choice, but one that unfortunately leads to some assumptions about reality.
Yes, definitely. I see this clearly. How we choose to use the language is always a matter of agreement. Language doesn't represent the reality. It's not true, in that sense. Language is only a tool and it points to different things to make communication and life in these complex societies easier. But one can easily see the limits of language even in everyday life. There are so many misunderstandings, for example. People don't even need to be coming from different countries or cultures to misunderstand each other.

Also, different languages point to reality in completely different ways. I speak several languages, so I see this clearly. In some languages, there exist words or consepts that are completely missing from other languages. I also know that in some languages there isn't a word for ownership, for example. This only further highlights how arbitrary languages are and how completely they are dependent on the people who use them.

Not to mention that there are so many things in this reality that you can't even talk about with languages, because there are no words! Experiences, feelings, and non-duality of course. This is where art comes in. People make pictures to represent something that words cannot.
Which of the two styles felt more natural, maybe more direct? (I think you already answered this one)
The verb style felt more unpretentious and direct. But I'm more used to the "normal" way of speaking. On the other hand, I also noticed that it depends on what I'm writing. When I wrote about thinking or parts of the body, the "normal" style felt "right". It felt more natural writing "I think..." and "my hand". But when I was writing about sights and sounds, the verb style felt more natural and "right". I wanted to write "there is a lake in front of me" and "there are sounds of the water".

I don't identify with the sights and the sounds, but I do indentify much more with thoughts and the body.

When I was writing about feelings and sensations, the preference of style was varied. I noticed that I don't identify with my hair, the sensations of cold air on the skin or the sensations of clothes on my body. But I do identify more strongly with various tensions, pains and other sensations inside my body. And I do want to write "my body". Writing "the body" just feels weird.
Is the use of an “I” really necessary at all for language to work?
No. I can see how there might be language without the "I" (maybe that kind of language even exists or has existed). We just use the pronoun, because there are a lot of established phrases, like "I love you" or "this is mine" or "I think that [insert opinion]". But they are not necessary. I even get the feeling that life would be better without them. :D Even "I love you" implies some kind of ownership. It would be more pure to just show love naturally with actions, for example.
Can it work without?
Yes. It would be very different, but it can definitely work without. I don't see any important missing if we got rid of the "I". Maybe I can try living without using the word "I" for a day and see what happens.

It's confusing, because many spiritual teachers use the word "I". It either points to the higher self or to the human self, and you have to figure out which one from the context. But it doesn't mean that the "I" is necessary. They just use it because they have to teach in this language that we have.
What assumption does the use of “I” oriented language imply?
It assumes that there is an experiencer, a person separate (in a way) from other people. It assumes that this person can own things, claim things as their own. There is an assumption that if something bad happens to this one person, other people remain untouched, because they are separate. Therefore people feel more entitled to hurt other people. Same with positive things. They happen to different people separately.

Also, in this type of language we talk about our opinions a lot, like they are true. "I think this or that." "...and this is how I feel." Even though thoughts and feelings are just... Hmm. Well, they're true, and I don't want to say that they're meaningless, because they're not. But it's like they don't really belong to anyone. A thought appears suddenly out of nowhere and then it disappears, and another (sometimes very different) thought appears. It just seems silly to take a bunch of these thoughts and try to build some sort of a house of cards out of them, when in the next moment a gust of wind will blow that whole house of cards apart! I know I do that too. When I'm angry, I feel very justified and right to feel hurt, and all my thoughts feel so true in those moments. But then it passes and I realize that it was just that moment and now it's on to the next moment. In the past I used to hang on to some thoughts very tightly though. Like if someone hurt me, I would think and feel hurt for years afterwards. But now I see that I can let those go. It's difficult from where I am now, but not impossible.
Is this assumption actually true?
I already discussed opinions. They are not really true. They are there and they consist of real thoughts, but they change so much and so often that sometimes it feels meaningless to say anything at all. It's gonna change soon anyway.

Ownership is definitely an illusion. I see this clearly, at least theoretically. I cling to posessions too, but definitely not as much as I used to.

I still assume that there is an experiencer of everything. If you asked me, where's the proof that such an experiencer has to exist, I wouldn't be able to tell you. I don't see any proof. I don't see any reason why there would need to be an experiencer. But the belief runs very deep. It just seems absurd that there could be experience without an experiencer. I'm very very used to thinking that way.

The illusion of complete separateness is crumbling though. For example I see how I'm connected to nature and animals. Also with people, it is definitely not true that you can hurt others and remain untouched yourself. Competition feels stupid because of this. Also envy (which I feel a lot) falls under this category. I see how envy doesn't really make sense, it's just thoughts. And still I get affected by it.

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gondwana
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Re: Looking For Guidance

Postby gondwana » Tue Mar 06, 2018 1:49 pm

Yes. It would be very different, but it can definitely work without. I don't see any important missing if we got rid of the "I". Maybe I can try living without using the word "I" for a day and see what happens.

It's confusing, because many spiritual teachers use the word "I". It either points to the higher self or to the human self, and you have to figure out which one from the context. But it doesn't mean that the "I" is necessary. They just use it because they have to teach in this language that we have.
Yes. This serves to highlight further how there is no "right" or "wrong" way to use language. It is all an arbitrary choice or societal consensus.

The point here was to see that even though language implies an "I", this is just a language convention. It does not mean that an "I" really exists in reality.

Just because it is used in language, does not make it real. Looks like this has now been seen clearly from the exercise.
Also, in this type of language we talk about our opinions a lot, like they are true. "I think this or that." "...and this is how I feel." Even though thoughts and feelings are just... Hmm. Well, they're true, and I don't want to say that they're meaningless, because they're not.
Ok, we will come back and look at thoughts in some detail shortly. This deserves a good look.
Ownership is definitely an illusion. I see this clearly, at least theoretically.
When I wrote about thinking or parts of the body, the "normal" style felt "right".
It felt more natural writing "I think..." and "my hand".
I don't identify with the sights and the sounds, but I do indentify much more with thoughts and the body.
I do want to write "my body". Writing "the body" just feels weird.
You state rightly that ownership is an illusion, then proceeded to own every aspect of the body ;-)

Let us look at this closely now.
If there is a little "I" inside the body there, owning it and running it, where is this "I"?
Can you point to it with your finger?
Reach out your hand and point back towards yourself, and point at where the "I" lives.
Tell me where you feel it is located exactly?
Seen in the moment of looking, freed in the moment of seeing.

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PepperAlmond
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Re: Looking For Guidance

Postby PepperAlmond » Wed Mar 07, 2018 1:37 am

Yes. This serves to highlight further how there is no "right" or "wrong" way to use language. It is all an arbitrary choice or societal consensus.

The point here was to see that even though language implies an "I", this is just a language convention. It does not mean that an "I" really exists in reality.

Just because it is used in language, does not make it real. Looks like this has now been seen clearly from the exercise.
Yes, I see that it's arbitrary and up to agreement how we choose to use the language.

In language, there are abstract concepts that don't point to any ”objects”, such as ”education” or ”time”. It's easy to see how these kinds of concepts are completely arbitrary.

There are also words that point to ”physical objects”, such as ”hand” or ”cat”. Because these concepts are more concrete (less vague), they are more solid and it's not as easy to see that they are arbitrary. But I can see it.

”I” is the type of word that has felt in the past very concrete and solid to me, but now it's starting to disassociate with its ”normal” meaning. It is usually used to point at the body, like in a phrase ”I will get the bucket”. It means ”The body / Vera's body will get the bucket.”. Or it is used to point at the thoughts, like in the phrase ”I understand”. It means ”understood” or ”understanding has occurred”. Or it can also be used to point at a combination of body and thoughts. The name ”Vera” points to the body as well as a bunch of thoughts about the human character Vera. Together they form like a ball of stuff that feels solid.

So the word ”I” can point to the body or to some thought/s or a combination of them, but I can see that there's no particular ”object” that it is pointing to (except for the body, of course). I'm confused.
Ok, we will come back and look at thoughts in some detail shortly. This deserves a good look.
Yes, please.
You state rightly that ownership is an illusion, then proceeded to own every aspect of the body ;-)
Oh, that's right! Thanks for pointing this out!

I didn't extend to concept of ownership to the body. I just meant other things outside the body. It feels strange to think that I'm not the body, that the body is sort of separate from me. I mean, sometimes it feels less strange. But for example now I feel like I'm in control of the body. I feel like I'm choosing what to say and my hands obey me. I feel like I am the body. If I'm not moving my hands, who is? More confusion.
Let us look at this closely now.
If there is a little "I" inside the body there, owning it and running it, where is this "I"?
Can you point to it with your finger?
Reach out your hand and point back towards yourself, and point at where the "I" lives.
Tell me where you feel it is located exactly?
It is located in the middle of the chest, about ten centimetres below the dip between the collar bones. It is not located on the surface of the skin, though, but inside. Whenever I point to myself I point to that place. (Not always. Sometimes I feel like ”I” is inside the throat or the head. The little ”I” is moving around.) But there's nothing really there. Just a feeling. A "me" feeling.

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gondwana
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Re: Looking For Guidance

Postby gondwana » Fri Mar 09, 2018 12:06 pm

We will come back to these other items one by one later.

For now, it is vitally important we LOOK very closely at the “I” thought.
It is located in the middle of the chest, about ten centimetres below the dip between the collar bones. It is not located on the surface of the skin, though, but inside. Whenever I point to myself I point to that place. (Not always. Sometimes I feel like ”I” is inside the throat or the head. The little ”I” is moving around.) But there's nothing really there. Just a feeling. A "me" feeling.
For this exercise, I want you to pay extra care to focus, as always, at LOOKING at what is true in the present moment immediately right here. Do not rely on thought and analysis.

Find a quiet spot and a quiet time. Close your eyes, if you wish to.
Bring up the thought "I" and look at it. To bring it up, say it loudly many times out loud, or just as a thought.
Ignore the surrounding thought-stories about this "I", look at this particular thought exclusively in isolation.
When it's right there in front of you, observe it like a hawk bearing these questions:

Does the thought "I" react?
Does "I" do anything? Can "I" do anything else than to appear as "I"?
Does "I" think?
Seen in the moment of looking, freed in the moment of seeing.


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