Still caught up in self

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ob3ron
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Still caught up in self

Postby ob3ron » Mon Apr 08, 2019 7:06 am

LU is focused guiding for seeing there is no real, inherent 'self' - what do you understand by this?
My understanding is that my own experience of self is only made up of self-perpetuating thoughts about self, and although those thoughts exist in reality, they are about something that does not actually exist.

What are you looking for at LU?
I feel like I have an intellectual understanding that self is only an imaginary concept, but it has not yet "clicked" at a deeper level of true knowing, and I am looking for some guidance to help this to happen.

What do you expect from a guided conversation?
I know that my mind is very slippery, and I am hoping that a guide can help me to see what I have been avoiding seeing up until now. I somehow feel like there's a realization that is close to happening, but I've been having that feeling for quite a few years, and it doesn't seem to be happening on its own.

What is your experience in terms of spiritual practices, seeking and inquiry?
I have been blessed to have spent time with a number of awakened guides. I have done a lot of Osho meditations and vipassana, and some yoga, though not much recently. In the last few years I seem to have been receiving guidance mainly from the advaita tradition.

On a scale from 1 to 10, how willing are you to question any currently held beliefs about 'self? 9

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JonathanR
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Re: Still caught up in self

Postby JonathanR » Sun Apr 21, 2019 9:25 pm

Hello Ob3ron,

Welcome to Liberation Unleashed. My name is Jon and I'll be happy to offer pointers that may be helpful. But of course you will actually do the exploring and discovering for yourself.

I read your intro with interest.
. I somehow feel like there's a realization that is close to happening, but I've been having that feeling for quite a few years, and it doesn't seem to be happening on its own.
That 'something isn't happening' is a VERY common frustration. The longer this frustration has been going on the harder it can often be to relax and stand a chance of simply noticing what"s happening right here and now. And instead of that find resdon after reason for imagining that a 'realisation' isn't happening.

I won't be offering new beliefs as much as challenging those you already have.

Please take a few moments to write down any expectations that you may have of how no self or realisation should be experienced. Even if they seem silly or irrelevant.

Looking forward to working with you.

Best wishes

Jon

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ob3ron
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Re: Still caught up in self

Postby ob3ron » Mon Apr 22, 2019 2:11 am

Hi Jon, thank you very much for offering me pointers, and I'm very grateful for your help in challenging my beliefs.

What you say about frustration resonates with me, I can see how it can just be another mind game that is an obstacle to being present.

As far as my expectations for no-self, I've already been working on eliminating them, in part by reading through some of the other conversations happening on these forums. But here are some things that I suppose I am still hoping for or expecting:

  • more of a sense of connectedness to the present moment, less attraction to getting caught up in thoughts;
  • more of a feeling of oneness, less sense of division or separation;
  • I suppose I'm expecting some kind of epiphany, that something that has never really made sense will suddenly fall into place and be self-evident;
  • a big sense of relief, a relaxation and letting go of fear.
I've been looking into fear, there is some strong fear there and I've been trying to see what it is protecting, but no real insights have come so far.

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Re: Still caught up in self

Postby JonathanR » Mon Apr 22, 2019 1:53 pm

Hi Ob3ron

By the way, are you happy for me to use this name for you or would you prefer another?
. thank you very much for offering me pointers, and I'm very grateful for your help in challenging my beliefs.
Great. Thank you. Well, onward then.
. What you say about frustration resonates with me, I can see how it can just be another mind game that is an obstacle to being present.
Yes. My main purpose in mentioning this is because when there's a big long effort to achieve or understand something that just doesn't seem to happen this can make if much harder to simply drop the struggle. Because there's an idea that something wonderful should happen. And a big investment in trying to make something happen. So I am saying, drop all expectations. Just chuck them out. And please stop reading or listening to any spiritual or no dual literature for the duration. Please let me know if you cannot agree with this? Meditation is fine.

You mention fear. After expectations (false notion of what no self must feel like, 'mean' or be) fear and anxiety is the other biggie that would seem to stand in the way.
Fortunately we do address this. Could you let me know how strong the fear is, how it is experienced, even where it is felt and about what?

Thank you. All best

Jon

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ob3ron
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Re: Still caught up in self

Postby ob3ron » Mon Apr 22, 2019 7:31 pm

Ok, yes, 100%.

Expectations: chucked.

Other literature: out. (Do you consider it helpful to read other threads in this forum, or better not to?)

Fear: it's there. It's strong. If I really go into it, there is literal trembling and shakiness that comes. It doesn't seem to be centered anywhere in particular -- I feel it throughout the body. And I can't really say what it's a fear of -- it feels similar to the fear of falling off a cliff, but more nebulous.

Perhaps related, I've been quite irritable lately, which is unusual for me. I'm choosing to see it as a positive, as I'm fired up and unwilling to put up with any bullshit, from myself or others.

I'm happy to use Oberon.

Thanks very much again!

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JonathanR
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Re: Still caught up in self

Postby JonathanR » Mon Apr 22, 2019 8:53 pm

Hi Oberon
. Expectations: chucked.

Other literature: out. (Do you consider it helpful to read other threads in this forum, or better not to?)

Well done. You may find that expectations reappear during our conversation in which case we'll deal with them but it's very good to start with this open attitude of not knowing and not expecting some particular experience to happen. It allows room.

On the whole I wouldn't bother reading threads at this stage. Yes, do in future if you like but for now let's you and me work closely on your own inquiry here?
. Fear: it's there. It's strong. If I really go into it, there is literal trembling and shakiness that comes. It doesn't seem to be centered anywhere in particular -- I feel it throughout the body. And I can't really say what it's a fear of -- it feels similar to the fear of falling off a cliff, but more nebulous.

Perhaps related, I've been quite irritable lately, which is unusual for me. I'm choosing to see it as a positive, as I'm fired up and unwilling to put up with any bullshit, from myself or others.
Both of these feelings are interesting. Both will tend to have a feeling of 'me' or 'I' about them. Am I correct.

So it would be very interesting to bring a little bit of focus on either of these feelings as sensations that (probably) feel centred or around the body? Let me know how and where such sensations are felt?

Right here and now simply notice the sensation of fear. Or anger if that is foremost. In the immediate sensation of either is there 'a person' , 'I', somehow experiencing the feeling or is there just the feeling happening?

All the bes
Jon

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ob3ron
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Re: Still caught up in self

Postby ob3ron » Mon Apr 22, 2019 11:58 pm

start with this open attitude of not knowing and not expecting some particular experience to happen

Yes, I'm enjoying this feeling of not knowing. It feels more truthful.

let's you and me work closely on your own inquiry here

Sounds good to me!

Both of these feelings are interesting. Both will tend to have a feeling of 'me' or 'I' about them. Am I correct.

Well... yes and no. If I just feel the feeling, it's just the feeling happening, and I recognize that a thought like "I am angry" or "I am feeling fear" is just a thought. But at the same time it is a personal feeling. This is a source of confusion for me.

So it would be very interesting to bring a little bit of focus on either of these feelings as sensations that (probably) feel centred or around the body? Let me know how and where such sensations are felt?

Yes, body sensations -- a feeling of muscle tension, contraction in the belly, shakiness, a bit of clenched jaw... Certainly not the most comfortable feeling, and I'm noticing a tendency to run away from it into thoughts.

Right here and now simply notice the sensation of fear. Or anger if that is foremost. In the immediate sensation of either is there 'a person' , 'I', somehow experiencing the feeling or is there just the feeling happening?

I'm struggling to come up with an honest answer to this question. The feeling is in this body-mind system. In that sense it seems personal. Is there an experiencer? There is certainly a consciousness. Is that consciousness an individual that is experiencing a feeling? I don't know -- and when I really try to look, I come up blank. And who is looking anyway?

This is where a lot of spiritual teachings keep coming to mind, but I'm trying just to stay with what's real for me right now, and set those thoughts aside. But it feels like I'm going around in circles trying to see what's really true.

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Re: Still caught up in self

Postby JonathanR » Wed Apr 24, 2019 8:38 am

Hi Oberon
. Yes, I'm enjoying this feeling of not knowing. It feels more truthful.
Very good
. Yes, body sensations -- a feeling of muscle tension, contraction in the belly, shakiness, a bit of clenched jaw... Certainly not the most comfortable feeling, and I'm noticing a tendency to run away from it into thoughts.
Well that, right there, is very helpful. Well done. It's good to notice that.

But take a look. Is it a 'you' that literally 'runs away'? Or is it more that thoughts themselves seem to get louder or more numerous at these monents?

Are you your thoughts?

Do you think thoughts or do thoughts think 'you'?

I'm aware that when I reply to you I may well focus one one thing you've said but I'm never ignoring the rest.

About fear, we can take a look at that. Dear does often go with overthinking in these inquiries so we so address the fear.

Would you say that there's, a fear of loss of control or of somehow being hurt or annihilated?

All the best

Jon

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ob3ron
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Re: Still caught up in self

Postby ob3ron » Thu Apr 25, 2019 12:48 am

Thanks, Jon. I very much appreciate your efforts to gently point me in the right direction.

I'm well aware of the teachings that the self is just another thought, that the I-thought is an illusion, etc. However I am doing my best to put aside those teachings for now, as they are not my current reality as I am experiencing it. I am trying to honestly look at and express my own experience as it is.

I'm willing to accept that I'm stuck in an illusion, but hopefully the more clear I am about how I experience my current reality, the more it will be possible for you to help me see through my illusions. Although maybe my illusions are exactly the same as everybody else's. 😄

Is it a 'you' that literally 'runs away'? Or is it more that thoughts themselves seem to get louder or more numerous at these monents?

The thoughts get louder and more numerous, and also there's a focus of consciousness that follows the thoughts, gets identified with them, and "forgets" about the uncomfortable feeling.

In meditation, there's a broader focus of consciousness that is more dis-identified with thoughts, including thoughts involving "me". The focus can also go outwards and observe the world, or an activity, or it can be entirely engrossed in a daydream.

My experience is that this focus of consciousness, or attention, is always there and always observing something. The something keeps changing, but is usually just a small part of everything that is observable in that moment. Most commonly it is thoughts or a thought process.

Are you your thoughts?

For the most part, I'm able to dis-identify from my thoughts. So far I have not had an experience of dis-identifying from my self. I've experienced inner silence in meditation, yet the sense of self has remained. So if I am a thought, I have not yet been able to observe or dis-identify from that thought.

Do you think thoughts or do thoughts think 'you'?

I'd say there are different kinds of me-ness. There are a lot of me-thoughts. Yet even without thoughts, I still experience an abiding sense of self. Or, if that sense of self is also made up of thoughts, then perhaps they are more subtle than I am currently able to observe, or perhaps I'm just so accustomed to them being there that I just can't see them.

Would you say that there's, a fear of loss of control or of somehow being hurt or annihilated?

Yes, all of those things, and a fear of the unknown. I feel like I'm holding on for dear life to a slippery slope, and have no idea what will happen if I let go. But, I'm ok with fear, I've done a fair bit of rock climbing and when I have to trust my rope and back off the top of a cliff, it's terrifying, but I still do it.

I can see that I'm overthinking, and when I read back all my words, they do seem a little crazy. I guess that's just my reality at the moment.

I've been having a lot of emotion coming up -- fear, irritation, sadness -- and it's all ok. I take it as a sign that we're heading in the right direction. So let's keep going!

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Re: Still caught up in self

Postby JonathanR » Thu Apr 25, 2019 8:14 am

Hi Oberon

. However I am doing my best to put aside those teachings for now, as they are not my current reality as I am experiencing it. I am trying to honestly look at and express my own experience as it is.
Yes. That's best. Honesty is the way. Follow your actual feelings and experience.

I read all that you have written. Thank you. As I mentioned before I'm likely to focus each time on just a couple of things.
. For the most part, I'm able to dis-identify from my thoughts. So far I have not had an experience of dis-identifying from my self
That's to suggest that there is an actual thing, 'my self', that is 'really there'.

Look now to see if it's possible to find this thing? . If its an experience, where is it located?
. I've been having a lot of emotion coming up -- fear, irritation, sadness -- and it's all ok. I take it as a sign that we're heading in the right direction.
OK. Good. During self inquiry fear can often go with over-thinking and this can create quite long but fruitless conversations if not addressed.

So, looking at fesr of annihilation or of being hurt for example, is it fair to say that something feels threatened and that the fear is a protective impulse or reaction to pull away or defend?

Fear is a kind of love. A desire to protect that which might be hurt. Perhaps misguided, because nothing can actually be hurt. Nevertheless there is the reaction of fear. So try gently speaking to the fear. Thank it for its loyal and loving attempts to protect and explain that nobody can get hurt and that it is safe now to relax.

See if that helps.

All the best

Jon

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ob3ron
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Re: Still caught up in self

Postby ob3ron » Fri Apr 26, 2019 8:47 pm

Thank you, Jon. There is more calmness now.

That's to suggest that there is an actual thing, 'my self', that is 'really there'.

Hah. Good point. There is an inkling of that being true.

Look now to see if it's possible to find this thing? . If its an experience, where is it located?

What seems to be happening is a back-and-forth between touching a place of no-self, then the mind freaking out and a cacophony of thoughts crowding in, which gradually clear and allow another touch. Then repeat.

fear can often go with over-thinking

Seems like all thinking is over-thinking. But there doesn't seem to be an off switch. Just riding the waves for now.

is it fair to say that something feels threatened and that the fear is a protective impulse or reaction to pull away or defend?

Yes. It feels really vulnerable. Like being willing to be as vulnerable as a baby.

Fear is a kind of love. A desire to protect that which might be hurt.

Thank for for that.

Thank it for its loyal and loving attempts to protect and explain that nobody can get hurt and that it is safe now to relax.

Yes, that helps. But although you may say that nobody can get hurt, from this side there is no way to know that to be true. So at the moment it feels like the only way is to tiptoe gradually into the fear and accept it.

Again -- gratitude.

oberon

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JonathanR
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Re: Still caught up in self

Postby JonathanR » Fri Apr 26, 2019 10:24 pm

Hello Oberon
. Yes, that helps. But although you may say that nobody can get hurt, from this side there is no way to know that to be true. So at the moment it feels like the only way is to tiptoe gradually into the fear and accept it.
Yes perhaps that will help, accepting that it happens.

Let me know if the fear comes on strongly though.

One of the dimensions of these inquiries is seeing that there never was a 'self'. Not just that it's possible to see that there's no self right now but an understanding that there never was a, separate, controlling entity steering a ship.

This is why nobody can get hurt. In order to get hurt a real self would have had to 'exist'. But I take your point about there being no way to know that this is true.... So we will tread gently and possibly keep recognising the roll of fear as protector and encouraging it to lie down and relax. But as I've said, let me know if fear keeps being strong?

How does what I have said fall?

All best

Jon

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Re: Still caught up in self

Postby ob3ron » Sun Apr 28, 2019 5:03 am

Had a lot of sadness coming up today -- feels like a goodbye. Also a lot of avoidance...

Can seeing only happen from a place of meditation?

When mind is there, it really seems like there is a self, who can think thoughts, make choices, take action, and steer the ship. But then, all of that happens in thought, from thought, through thought... Hmm.

Let me know if the fear comes on strongly though.

Fear just seems to always be there in the background. In moments when it seems like seeing might accidentally happen, the fear surges. But it's not debilitating fear.

One of the dimensions of these inquiries is seeing that there never was a 'self'. Not just that it's possible to see that there's no self right now but an understanding that there never was a, separate, controlling entity steering a ship.

Thank you. This is sinking in. Hah, the ship is sinking!

This is why nobody can get hurt. In order to get hurt a real self would have had to 'exist'.

I mean, that makes total sense. It's just that, subjectively at the moment, there seems to be a lot of emotion tied up in what feels like a dissolution process. And actually it feels like maybe fear is playing an important role, as a reminder to maintain balance and care and groundedness. So thank you fear.

How does what I have said fall?

It falls gently and truly. Please keep at it!

Thank you again.

oberon

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JonathanR
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Re: Still caught up in self

Postby JonathanR » Sun Apr 28, 2019 7:09 pm

Hi Oberon
. Had a lot of sadness coming up today -- feels like a goodbye. Also a lot of avoidance...
Good to notice that.
. Can seeing only happen from a place of meditation?
All depends on what is happening as 'meditation'.

I'd say that it doesn't depend on meditation.
. Thank you. This is sinking in. Hah, the ship is sinking!
The only ships that sink are long held false assumptions that create confusion. Don't worry. No self or person is harmed or sunk in this process. Was there ever a 'self' that could experience 'sinking'?
. there seems to be a lot of emotion tied up in what feels like a dissolution process. And actually it feels like maybe fear is playing an important role, as a reminder to maintain balance and care and groundedness. So thank you fear.
Things sound as though they are happening by themselves. So just take it gently and take time to feel grounded and to breathe.

Try a little exercise. Notice whatever is heard right now. There may be several sounds, quiet ones and louder ones. Just notice whatever is heard in this moment.

Now, what is the primary experience? Is it one of 'Ears hearing'? Or 'A body hearing?'. Or a 'self hearing'? Is there something that is doing hearing? Or is there just hearing?

Jon

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ob3ron
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Re: Still caught up in self

Postby ob3ron » Mon Apr 29, 2019 9:50 pm

Something feels like it's shifted -- hard to say what. Before, identification with thought processes was the default state, and it took an effort to meditate; and now, it's more the other way around. Thought identification still happens but there seems to be more of an attraction away from that towards being more centred.

There is still some resistance happening, and holding on.

There is also a... watchfulness? ...not to get more re-identified with self again.

All depends on what is happening as 'meditation'. I'd say that it doesn't depend on meditation.

The question was more whether there is a level or depth of no-thought / inner silence that can be reached, in which it becomes clear that there is no self. Or if it's simply a realization that happens independent of how busy the mind may be. Or both.

The only ships that sink are long held false assumptions that create confusion.

If you have any more tips on seeing what those assumptions might be, I'd be happy to de-assume them!

Things sound as though they are happening by themselves. So just take it gently and take time to feel grounded and to breathe.

Yes. Giving lots of time to the process. Even though there is some feeling of discomfort being in a bit of a limbo land. Just trusting that everything is happening as it should.

Try a little exercise. Notice whatever is heard right now. There may be several sounds, quiet ones and louder ones. Just notice whatever is heard in this moment.

Now, what is the primary experience? Is it one of 'Ears hearing'? Or 'A body hearing?'. Or a 'self hearing'? Is there something that is doing hearing? Or is there just hearing?

The sound just is. This is very clear when sitting quietly, less easy to see when, for example, listening to someone talk, which triggers a lot of mind activity. Still, that seems to be settling, and re-centering happens again.


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