looking for clarity

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Ilona
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Re: looking for clarity

Postby Ilona » Sat May 25, 2019 4:09 pm

Wonderful, thank you for taking time and putting all this into words.

Yes, illusion is showing up and is going to continue to do so. Until all is seen and cleared, there is cleanup work to do. And noticing patterns consciously is liberating the old.
Being sucked in ordinary daily situations and limited way of thinking is an invitation to explore. And so the show continues.

It’s a bit like this analogy:
You walk in a desert and see an oasis further down. And you run there looking for water and shade. But it’s a mirage. No oasis. Only an illusion of water. You keep walking and see another oasis. And run towards it, but nah, that’s an illusion. And so you keep walking and see another one... at some point you stop running as you recognise, that’s an illusion. Not real. It’s clear.

Thoughts about the character are not making the character separate from life happening. It is life chapenkng as thoughts about the character and all the emotions connected.

Tell me, is it clear that I as a separate self is an illusion?
Is there any doubt?

Love.
Truth realized will set you free.
http://ilonaciunaite.com/book

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arus7
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Re: looking for clarity

Postby arus7 » Sun May 26, 2019 4:44 pm

Hi Ilona, yesterday I decided to give more time to studying restlessness and disturbance. So I sat on a bench in a nature preserve, surrounded by beautiful tall trees, a creek, insects, people passing periodically, and I waited again for restlessness and disturbance to emerge. Although there were a variety of thoughts going through that I got attached to every now and then, they were mildly tiresome but not that disturbing. It took an hour and a half before I felt a restless, and then I started to focus on this feeling that I wanted to get up and go, but then even that feeling went away and I could just keep sitting without difficulty. Ultimately, after the two hour point I had to go to the bathroom, and went back home. The funny thing is that after I was home, I looked back on that episode and thought "how boring!", a kind of afterthought. But at the time I was fine, not ecstatic, but fine. I had "problems" back home with the family, and things to do, but it did not disturb me at all while sitting.

During this sitting, I looked for a separate self many times, till I was not even sure what I was asking. I did not have the feeling of "being one with nature", except in fleeting moments. So in that sense there was some implicit feeling of "I am sitting here in the woods", "I am looking at the woods", until I zoomed in and focussed on whether there was a separate "I" doing these things or not. Then it was seen that there were just the thoughts and body sensations giving the mirage of a separate "me", and that even the "outside world" was just more visual, auditory and smell sensations. But as you say, it is a repeated process of confirming this because the mirage of being a separate entity "in the world" is quite persistent. In fact I notice that even when I feel I am sitting quietly, thought is often not completely still, it gives a subtle overlay on top of the senses, interpreting them in terms of a thought-world. It is in this thought-world that there is a separate "me". It is a fog of illusion that descends when not noticing. Then when there is full attention, the thought-fog lifts to reveal only sensations and random thoughts.

I also see a discontinuity between ordinary interactions with people versus when I am quietly sitting. Ordinary interactions still give a sense of a separate self, and everything happens so fast it is hard to catch the thinking that maintains this illusion. But I will try to look during such times as carefully as I can.

So you ask if it is clear that the separate self is an illusion? My answer is that it is clear every time I check, but the subtle thought-fog that interprets senses in terms of a thought-world with a separate "me" is often in the background process. Until it is questioned directly. I do not walk around in a continuous state of clarity, in particular when I'm in heated interaction with others. Beyond the quiet sitting, I see that I must give attention to what I am during interactions with others and standard activities. Having said which, I am considerably calmer than previously, even in interactions. There is a growing sense that there is nothing to hurt or protect, regardless of what happens. There are lots of "bad" things that can happen, and yet in some way it is ok.

Thanks

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Re: looking for clarity

Postby arus7 » Sun May 26, 2019 4:48 pm

Other than focussing repeatedly to see the illusory sense of separate self that comes up in the heat of ordinary life, what else can I do to maintain clarity? Or is this sufficient? The looking happens more frequently now.

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Re: looking for clarity

Postby Ilona » Mon May 27, 2019 1:51 pm

Awesome!
Yes, every time you look it’s clear. Keep looking :)
This moment is ever fresh.

Is awareness obstructed by thoughts about ‘me’?
Is it ok for thoughts about ‘me’ to show up?

Love
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Re: looking for clarity

Postby arus7 » Mon May 27, 2019 3:16 pm

Went on long walk in nature yesterday, repeatedly coming back to looking at all experience. With nature it seemed straightforward enough, there is no time, there is no separate "me", what would be even be the point? I am all of the experience. Then I would see some other walkers and the mind would say "you're one of them, a person". And in the thought-constructed world of course I am a person.

Towards the end of the walk, thought said "I am tired, my legs ache", and there was the sense of "me" in those thoughts. Only when I looked more closely, could I see that there were the aching sensations, but they were not evidence of a separate "me".

It is clear that the feeling of separation arises with thought. While some thoughts are very "visible", the thought "I am a separate person" is less obvious, disguised with some body perceptions and thoughts and emotions. It arises often when dealing with other people. It wants to take charge.

So it is not good enough to test the absence of a separate self only when alone, it has to be tested in the heat of interactions.
It is reflexive for it to arise then, and say "ah, this is where I am needed, I have to take charge for anything to get done, to deal with these other people. You can drop me when you're meditating but you need me for real life". I must look to see if I must operate in ordinary life from a position of a separate self. I will try to tune in at such times to see.

Right now is such a time, after an emotional interaction with a family member. The emotions are there inside me (and them) and felt as a heaviness and memory of the interactions replaying periodically, and anxious anticipation of the fallout. Not a huge deal, but painful enough to be worth looking at. Giving my full attention to the emotion, it feels like just a glowing energy, not even unpleasant. A small miracle. There is no separate "me" who owns the emotions. As attention wanders, thought starts up in the background, and there is a sense of "me". But I can return to just looking where everything just is.

Suffering seems to enter when one tries to escape from the feelings, when one doesn't have time for them, or labels them unpleasant. But when one takes the time to dive into the pool of emotions, and leave thought behind, it is cool and not unpleasant. Ordinarily I am trying to do so many things, subtly or explicitly bent on escape, so there is no room for staying with painful emotions, and suffering enters. Now I have more time, I know there is no great escape, no hopes and dreams, to pursue, so I can respond to the emotions as I notice them, and hold them in awareness.

Is it ok for thoughts about "me" to arise? Yes and no. Yes, it is ok for them to arise if they are recognized as thoughts and not reality, then they are no big deal. No, if such thoughts are mistaken for reality, then a lot of suffering seems to be attached to those thoughts, and the "I" thoughts have their own self-interests which always seem vulnerable, so there is fear. Ultimately, one could say that even that is ok, nothing can harm awareness or what is, not even illusion. But for that point to be meaningful, one cannot be identified with a separate self.

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Re: looking for clarity

Postby Ilona » Tue May 28, 2019 1:06 pm

What is the one that identifies with a separate self?
What is that needs an identity?

When you say that I thoughts have self interest, are you giving power to a thought? Can a thought have a self interest? What is really going on there? Can a thought think? Can a thought do anything? Can a thought be vulnerable?

And look for the sense of separateness, is there really such a sense?

Looking forward to hear what you find out.
Love
Truth realized will set you free.
http://ilonaciunaite.com/book

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Re: looking for clarity

Postby arus7 » Wed May 29, 2019 1:47 pm

Well, all your questions hit the target -- in the sense that they are very simple questions, they are absolutely central, and they have bothered me for a long time now. I wrestled with them all day, over and over again, frustrated that I could not see the answers that I feel must be right in front of my nose. Let me put down what I have so far, but I'm not satisfied.

Thought imagines eating a lime, and the mouth produces real saliva, even though there is no real lime there. Such is the nature of belief. Thoughts of a separate "me" arise, a "me" that must be protected, and the body shrinks in some way, even though there is no separate "me". We can say that this thought+body-response bundle is the "sense" or illusion of separateness. But there is no actual separateness, just as there is no actual lime in my example. Awareness contains all this, sees all this, but of course it is not affected by it.

Thinking can occur, like a chess-playing computer programmed to win a chess game, in that sense having a "self-interest", and being "vulnerable" to losing the game. Of course the chess-computer does not really SUFFER from losing, and does not FEEL any self-interest, it is just a set of programmed calculations and responses. In the same way there seems to be some level of calculation inside me, "if I do this the consequences will be this, but if I do that...", and it also has its "self-interest" in that sense. The calculations inside me are calculating some risks and vulnerabilities such as "don't drive so fast, this is a dangerous curve". Yesterday, I was pointing out that a lot of calculation in my thinking centers on an "I" whose fate the calculations are trying to "improve", and the calculations are assessing risks, vulnerabilities, options. If you watch a chess computer's moves for long enough you learn something about its programming, for example whether it is programmed to make "black" win or lose. If I look at my own actions, I learn something about the calculations going on within and what their "self-interests" are.

As all the calculations and commentaries are going on in thinking, the bodily sensations are correlated, shrinking with "fear" or rippling with "exhilaration". Thoughts by themselves are pretty dead things, but the bodily sensations that go with them seem to lend them juice.

Perhaps the more that one confirms directly that there is no separate self, despite what thought says, the bodily reactions will stop taking place as if fearful for the separate self? Or perhaps once this process is seen, one can let the bodily reactions continue to respond to thoughts of a separate vulnerable self because there is the understanding that these reactions are not pointers to a truly separate self. Just like once I know my thoughts of a lime have stimulated saliva, I can let the saliva be there without further interpreting it as evidence for a real lime!

But who is this "I" that let's things go on, having understood all this?

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Re: looking for clarity

Postby Ilona » Thu May 30, 2019 1:59 pm

Thank you for reply.
You are making it all too complicated. So let’s go back to simplicity. It’s all very simple. There is no i. There is no doer, thinker, manager that makes things happen. All is happening naturally as situations flow, thoughts feelings, sensations are showing up simultaneously.
Who is I that lets things go? There isn’t an i. That’s the point. It appears as there is, because language says that there must be. But question who is asking for a subject, while in actuality there is only movement, no doer. You don’t ask who is raining or who is making waves appear on the surface of a lake. But you are asking who is letting things go as if there is still a belief, that there must be a doer.
But look this way- how everything looks if there really is no agency, no one at home making things happen. How does it look right this moment? Everything is here: sounds, colours, sensations, thoughts, feelings, emotions, sense of being. What are you doing right now for all this to be? Are you making this happen or all this already is? Is there a need for an idea of doer? Is there anyone letting this happen?
Look at simplicity. The answer is there.

Love.
Truth realized will set you free.
http://ilonaciunaite.com/book

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Re: looking for clarity

Postby arus7 » Thu May 30, 2019 4:17 pm

Hi Ilona, yes there is no separate doer, thinker, manager. I have looked for such a one and have never found it, and indeed it seems a bit nonsensical. Life and the world are just flowing along, as are my thoughts and feelings. This is my direct experience. When I look in this fashion, right now, there is just the feeling of that flowing, nothing to look for. It is a powerful feeling to be that and look no further.

Does anything have to be done to maintain this flow of life? My thoughts answer, "yes you have to eat and survive or this flow of life will end, or your seeing of it will end, so something has to be done." But either hunger will arise and my body will eat, or maybe my body will get sick and die. Whatever happens it will also be part of the flow of Life, nothing has to be done to maintain that flow.

Who is letting go? Either thoughts will stop invoking a separate "doer" or they won't. If they do we might say "I let go", but this is also part of the flow of happenings, that some thoughts about a separate "me" were dropped, but not dropped by "someone".

You say that it appears as if there is an "I" because language says there is. But here I can't understand you, because it seems that language is only tracking the mirage, not creating it. If I see a mirage in the desert, language will say "Water!". The water does not appear because of language. But because there is an illusion of water, language gives it a name, even though there is no reality behind what is named. So with the separate "I" the question arises why is there a mirage of "I" in the first place, followed by language naming it? Or do you say that purely by chance our culture has introduced a linguistic term "I" where none was required, and it has taken on a life of its own and many of us have fallen under its spell? This question is important to me because this spell creeps up reflexively when not paying attention.

I have other questions, given that all experience is just the flow of awareness of thoughts and sensations. What is a belief, a thought or a sensation? What is suffering or resistance, a thought or a sensation? What is it that wakes up or realizes truth, is it that certain "confused" thoughts just stop? These are very confusing to me, and I somehow feel they are holding me back from understanding. Please help, or direct my looking!

Or is the whole point to just see that all experience is a flow of thoughts and sensations, and to stay with that, just being the whole "waterfall" as it flows, no questions?

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Re: looking for clarity

Postby Ilona » Fri May 31, 2019 8:23 pm

As long as there are questions there is a call for answers. But what do you need to know right now in order to be?
Looking for answers may be fun but what do you really know?

Language is doing its function- it delivers meaning. And when word I is said or read it points to the speaker. Practical. But is there I without language?

We can describe everything with verbs and nothing gets lost. Like breathing is happening, rather than I am breathing. Somehow I is assumed to be the one that breathes. But as you see, the I is empty.

Please answer all your questions from your post as you see now.

Love.
Lo
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Re: looking for clarity

Postby arus7 » Sat Jun 01, 2019 3:01 pm

Hi Ilona, I have long given up wanting to know answers for purely intellectual satisfaction or fun. Any intellectual answers would not feed me. I was asking because I felt blocked in terms of what we might call "living understanding", understanding that is felt deeply rather than just with the intellect.

But I do not need to know WHY most of us think and speak in terms of a separate self, whether it is a trick of language or some other form of illusion or cultural baggage. I can let this question go. The only important truth is that there is no separate self. Whenever I look, I see this. Nothing is lost by dropping the "I" and keeping just the verbs, as you say.

When I am dealing with some crisis or another and finding myself helpless on certain fronts (as was the case last evening) and with great uncertainty ahead, in the heat of the moment I still remember to look, but the thoughts come racing back again and again and the thought-world projects a separate isolated helpless "me", saying "what will happen to ME?!". Then I remember to look around again, and confirm that there are only thoughts, bodily feelings, and perceptions, no separate "me". Then thoughts race in again, talking about the desperation of "me". And repeat.

At such times, in the heat of a crisis, I still remember to look at the "suffering" I am feeling, and I see that the actual bodily shaking or rippling is there, but it is not overwhelming in itself. It cannot by itself account for this overwhelming "suffering". But the thoughts are racing at a high rate, searching for a way out of the crisis or emergency, pushing this way and that. Even then I remember to stop and look at what is causing the "suffering", is it just the frantic pace of thoughts that cannot solve the problem? Is it thought looking at these racing thoughts, saying "these racing thoughts should not be" , and then some accompanying feelings?

What is the minimum I need to know, not to just speculate intellectually? I feel in times of crisis and helplessness that I am suffering. When I look, all I see are thoughts and feelings and perceptions. The suffering is always just out of sight. The racing thoughts and feelings are directly felt NOW, but the sense of suffering always feels a split second away. It seems like a very persistent illusion. There is no suffering NOW. NOW, there are just thoughts and perceptions. Among the thoughts is the thought that I am suffering. But this is a label for the racing thoughts that cannot solve their problems. Such a torrent of thoughts may be disorienting, but it does not rise to the level of "suffering".

So to answer one of my earlier questions, all there is are thoughts and sensations, suffering is not made of just these innocent things, so there is no suffering! Just the thought "suffering".

What are beliefs? They are just repetitive thoughts again, saying "2+2 = 7", and acting on such thoughts. Until thought corrects this to "2+2 = 4", and then acts accordingly. "I am suffering" is a belief.

What is it that wakes up? There is that awareness that experiences thoughts and sensations. It does not wake up because it does not sleep. Waking up can only be the dropping of beliefs, the falling away of wrongheaded thoughts like "I am a separate self". But thoughts cannot themselves awaken, they are lifeless.

Awareness is awake, and in it everything is flowing along as you said. There are thought-floods, panicky thoughts, chest-pounding feelings, perceptions of the trees and the sky, so-called "lows" and "highs". But all of this is just happening, there is nothing to be done. In seeing this, the thought "something must done, something is terribly wrong with this racing of thoughts and feelings, something is wrong because I can't solve a problem, something is wrong because there is dangerous uncertainty", drops away.

Those are my answers to my earlier questions.

Thanks.

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Re: looking for clarity

Postby Ilona » Mon Jun 03, 2019 2:54 pm

Dear arus, how is it going?
What are you noticing?
Is there any doubt about the nature of the i?
Is seeking energy still here? If so, what would satisfy it fully?

Love
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Re: looking for clarity

Postby arus7 » Mon Jun 03, 2019 3:34 pm

Hi Ilona, just for context, the family crisis got worse and I have had no choice (I could see) but to leave my home, my kids choosing to be with me. So we are juggling school and work and hotel etc. Of course such crises come to many people, and sometimes far worse, but this has been upsetting for all.

Nevertheless, I have asked how to use this as an opportunity for looking rather than an opportunity for "suffering". In last couple of days there has been fear, uncertainty and desperation, and the mind has been racing to sort out the various challenges, and racing even when it would clearly do no good such as in the middle of the night. Attention has repeatedly come back to the present moment, looking around and feeling sensations, but then thoughts frantically rushing in and taking over for some minutes, before the next noticing in the present takes place. So that has been what is happening, other than activity itself. Even when things seem darkest in the stream of thoughts, I have paused to look around and see that nothing is actually wrong right NOW. Even when undergoing fear and panic, I have paused to check what these actually feel like in the body, or feel like as thoughts. When I look, I cannot see the thoughts getting hurt, and while I can feel the pounding heart and trembling in the body, it does not match the feeling of panic. So again, I have the strong sense that I am feeling fear and panic, and yet whenever I pause and just take a look at what is happening to me, I cannot find anything so terrible as "fear and panic", just some body sensations and racing thoughts.

I ask myself if I am seeking an end to this misery. At some level, I am working out what is to be done, how to manage the kids and keep up spirits, so I am working on addressing challenges. But I ask myself, do I NEED this to be resolved to be happy, because if it is not this crisis it will soon be another crisis, and the question is whether I need to take it all so personally, because Life itself is just flowing along and there is no threat to that, whether I make the right decisions and actions or not. I do not want to have to have my circumstances dictate whether there is joy. So in that sense I am not seeking. Instead I am looking whenever looking comes up, whenever there is a break in the torrent of anxious thoughts. I am asking myself at those times to look and see what is suffering, what is suffering?

What would satisfy me fully? I don't know. I cannot settle for some "happy ending" at the level of outward circumstances. For one thing, there is no such permanent happy ending, that would be monstrous. Secondly, I no longer fully believe in suffering, so asking for relief from it does not fully make sense. What would fully satisfy me is to see the truth clearly, to have my thinking align with this understanding rather than delude me away from the truth again and again.

Is there any doubt about the nature of the "I"? The pattern seems clear: there is a torrent of thoughts that are all about the vulnerable "me and my family", and as long as the thoughts race through I keep thinking there is this "me", at least implicitly as the subject of all the frantic thoughts. But when there is a pause in the thoughts, and I return to looking at the sensations and seeing thoughts without fully believing them, then it is clear there is no separate "me". This is happening ON OFF ON OFF throughout the day. Bit exhausting. So it is fair to say that my thinking keeps up the story of "me in crisis" very strongly. When I look without thinking, as I am doing right now, I see the trees outside waving peacefully and I feel that peace.

Thanks

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Re: looking for clarity

Postby arus7 » Wed Jun 05, 2019 9:57 am

Hi Ilona, it's the middle of the night in a hotel, been awake for a couple of hours. There has been fear over that time. I have stayed just looking at the feelings in the body as much as possible, the body sensations are more intense with fear, more out of control. Thoughts are coming in quite frequently, but there are enough spaces for just looking at the body sensations, and sometimes able to watch the thoughts without believing them.

In this state, I would previously have said "I am very fearful and uncertain" with a separate "I". But now I am looking afresh, right now, eyes closed. There are bodily sensations felt, random thoughts passing through, irritation at the random thoughts, sounds of air conditioning, otherwise silence and darkness. All are experienced in the same space of awareness, I can shift focus from one to another in this space. There are only these happenings, no separate self.

Repeatedly, maybe as thoughts arise, it feels "bad", as if there is "someone suffering", but when I drill down into the experience there is no separate self.

Thanks

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Re: looking for clarity

Postby Ilona » Wed Jun 05, 2019 2:53 pm

Thank you for answering.
Now that it’s clear that there is no separate self, are you ready to relax into it?
Are you willing to end the search?
Or is there a notion, that a self can come back?

How do you see this?
Love
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http://ilonaciunaite.com/book


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