The non-existent nuisance.

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Jnana
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The non-existent nuisance.

Postby Jnana » Wed May 22, 2019 4:37 am

LU is focused guiding for seeing there is no real, inherent 'self' - what do you understand by this?
Most of us take ourselves to be the body. If not the body, the mind. However, if we look closely, there is no "entity" - no "self" - to be found anywhere in our experience.

What are you looking for at LU?
More clarity. I'm finding it hard to "finalize" the absence of self in my experience. When I look for this entity I don't find it, but I don't find anything that CONFIRMS that it's not there, either. My life is still driven almost completely by this non-existent separate self, even though intellectually I know it does not exist and I've never seen it directly in my experience, either. I know it's not there, but it still seems to be.

What do you expect from a guided conversation?
Someone to discuss this with. A one-to-one conversation from someone more experienced than I am. To know what I need to focus on - what I need to do. I feel that the most valuable thing for me will be to have someone with whom I can actually engage in discussion, as opposed to only getting the teachings from books/videos.

What is your experience in terms of spiritual practices, seeking and inquiry?
Raised Christian, left the church in my teenage years. Read Ram Dass' book "Be Here Now". Three years ago I took 300 micrograms of LSD while meditating and came face to face with the Absolute. Have been listening to, reading and practicing non-duality without drugs ever since. Currently primarily listening to Rupert Spira on YouTube.

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

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Vivien
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Re: The non-existent nuisance.

Postby Vivien » Thu May 23, 2019 1:12 am

Hi,

My name is Vivien, and I am happy to assist in exploring 'no-self' and other related topics.

At LU we are described as guides - not teachers - as our role is to directly point to what IS, through the use of exercises and questions. Your role is to LOOK carefully to what is being pointed at. It is this simple LOOKING (not thinking) that brings the realisation that there is no separate self and never has been. This is an experiential based guiding and is not a discussion or a debate.

This is YOUR inquiry. I will not be giving you new ideas and beliefs; only assisting you in examining and questioning the ones that you already have.

Before we begin, here are links to information I would like you to read please.
Disclaimer:-
http://liberationunleashed.com/disclaimer-2/

Terms & Conditions:
https://www.liberationunleashed.com/register/terms/

“Liberation Unleashed is not …” in the FAQ’s of LU.
http://liberationunleashed.com/about/faq/#faq-1041

A few ground rules:
1. Post at least once a day, if you cannot post, or need more time, please let me know.
2. Be 100% honest in your answers and inquiry.
3. This exploration is based on Actual (or Direct) Experience (AE or DE) - smell, taste, sound, sensation, color and thoughts - only. Long-winded analytical and philosophical answers are best avoided and may even hinder progress. This is not a self-improvement process. There is no ‘self’ to improve.
4. Put aside all other teachings, philosophies and such for the remainder of this investigation. Really put all your effort and attention in to seeing this reality, as it is. If you have a daily and essential meditation practice, it is fine to continue that.
5. Understand that I will be guiding you, rather than teaching you, and the more you put into this process the more you will get out of it.

A few technical support:

- You can reply to this thread by pushing the 'Post Reply" button at the left bottom of this page.
- You can learn to use the quote function, instructions are located in the link below this line:
viewtopic.php?f=4&t=660

Technology is not perfect and sometimes there is a glitch which can wipe out your responses. It is advisable that you copy and paste questions asked into Word, answer them there and then copy and paste them to your thread. Always save a copy of what you have done, it will save time in the long run.


If you are happy to agree to the above and have me your guide, we can start the process.


To begin with, so that we both become aware of what your expectations are about this exploration (for example, what life will look and feel like and what you want/hope will change or not change). Could you please answer the following questions:

How will Life change?
How will you change?
What will be different?
What is missing?

Throughout this exploration I would like you to answer ALL questions that I have written in blue text. Please answer questions INDIVIDUALLY, remembering to use the Quote function to highlight the question being answered.

Vivien
"In the seen, there is only the seen. In the heard, there is only the heard. In the sensed, there is only the sensed. You are located neither in this, nor in that, nor in any place between the two." - Buddha
http://fadingveiling.com/

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Jnana
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Re: The non-existent nuisance.

Postby Jnana » Thu May 23, 2019 2:59 am

If you are happy to agree to the above and have me your guide, we can start the process.
Absolutely.
How will Life change?
Life will be free-flowing and unrestrained by the constant worries of an apparently separate self.
How will you change?
The body/mind will be liberated from the tyranny of the apparently separate entity. If "I" am anything at that point I will be freedom and peace.
What will be different?
Suffering will end as there can't be suffering without a sufferer.
What is missing?
Peace and happiness.

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Vivien
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Re: The non-existent nuisance.

Postby Vivien » Thu May 23, 2019 5:19 am

Hi,

How can I call you?


Thank you for getting through these questions about expectations. It’s important, because every expectation is in a way of seeing what is here, right now. Every expectation is a ‘hindrance’ in realizing what IS. Expectations are about the future. But awakening cannot be found in the future.

I go through all the expectations one-by-one. While you read them, please pay attention to what arises ‘in the body’. Is there any resistance to any of it?
Life will be free-flowing and unrestrained by the constant worries of an apparently separate self.
Life is already free-flowing which includes the worries. Just because the separate self has been seen through, it doesn’t mean automatically that self-referencing thought - including thoughts about suffering or worrying -, will stop.

Self-referencing thoughts and stories still arise as ‘contents’ of thoughts. However, upon investigation it can be seen that they are only thoughts and nothing more, nothing ‘real’.
The body/mind will be liberated from the tyranny of the apparently separate entity. If "I" am anything at that point I will be freedom and peace.
The body is already free. Since there has never been a separate self, ever. So the statement, “If I am anything at all…” cannot be applied, since the ‘I’, the self is just a fiction. It’s never been there, and never will be.

So there is nothing that could have or experience freedom or peace.

Happiness or peace is a state, and no states are permanent, they are all subject to change. Seeing through the separate individual is not about not having any ‘bad’ or uncomfortable feelings any more. Rather it’s about encompassing all emotions, accepting WHATEVER is arising in this moment (even the so called negative emotions).

Many seekers believe that seeing through the separate individual is a completely different state that they are currently having, with some special qualities (happiness, bliss, constant peace or whatever). However, this is not the case.
Seeing through the illusion that there is a separate entity (self) is not a state. When it is SEEN it, the knowledge becomes factual.

For example, did you ever once believe that Santa Claus or the Tooth Fairy was real? If you did at one point, and don't now, does the experience of discovery last? Or is it that the knowledge that there is no such thing as Santa or Tooth Fairy is just another ‘fact’?

Many seekers have the impression that seeing there is no self is a state to ‘abide in’. It's not.
Suffering will end as there can't be suffering without a sufferer.
Although it can be seen that there is nothing that could suffer, it doesn’t mean that thoughts on behalf of a separate self suffering will never arise again. Since, self-referencing is the result of X years of conditionings. At LU we only go so far as no self; but seeing that the self is just an illusion is just the first step, however the most important one. X years of conditioning won’t go away in an instance, but without believing in a centre, a ‘me’, there is nothing they could attach to or stick to, so they GRADUALLY fall away. This falling can last until the end of the organism.

Before starting, please report what came up reading the comments about the expectations.
Was there any resistance to any of it?

So, what we are going to do is that I’ll give you some exercises, physical ones, in which I will ask you to describe the experience of the senses. We call this direct experience, or the uninterpreted moment. This refers to the data from the sensations themselves, before the mind tries to make sense of it and begins to describe what is happening. Observing with the five senses — seeing, hearing, smelling, tasting, touching/feeling. These exercises can help to see what is ‘real’ and what is not.

So, the first thing to investigate is to find out what you currently believe yourself to be.
This should be kept very simple and should not be anything requiring in-depth analysis or thought.

The standard view of 'I', 'me' is that of a person - A body with a mind.
The standard view is that 'I' refers to this body that appears here in awareness. I am this body. Also 'I' have control over this body.
Since 'I' am this body, 'I' see, 'I' hear, 'I' feel, etc - I perform all the senses.
This body was born - It will live a number of years - And then it (I) will die.

Feel free to reject what I have suggested if they don't match what you currently believe yourself to be.

Currently, would it be fair to say that you believe that currently you are a person sitting in a chair, looking at a computer screen and reading words off it right now?

What does the word 'I' point to?
What makes this body ‘yours’?
What makes this body ‘you’?


I will write all questions in blue, please always answer ALL of them. These questions are pointers where to LOOK. Of course, you can also reply to any other parts of my posts if you feel need to.

Vivien
"In the seen, there is only the seen. In the heard, there is only the heard. In the sensed, there is only the sensed. You are located neither in this, nor in that, nor in any place between the two." - Buddha
http://fadingveiling.com/

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Jnana
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Re: The non-existent nuisance.

Postby Jnana » Thu May 23, 2019 7:35 am

How can I call you?
My name is Michael :) Thank you for the response. Here are my comments on your responses to my expectations:
Life is already free-flowing which includes the worries. Just because the separate self has been seen through, it doesn’t mean automatically that self-referencing thought - including thoughts about suffering or worrying -, will stop.

Self-referencing thoughts and stories still arise as ‘contents’ of thoughts. However, upon investigation it can be seen that they are only thoughts and nothing more, nothing ‘real’.
Relaxation occurs in the body upon reading this. You’re right: the worrying is just another “movement” in the flowing of life - just thoughts arising.

What is it that creates the experience of suffering from the worries, though? Is it resistance to the worrying based on the belief that “I” am an entity? And is it seeing the non-existence of the self that makes the resistance (and therefore the suffering) cease?
The body is already free. Since there has never been a separate self, ever. So the statement, “If I am anything at all…” cannot be applied, since the ‘I’, the self is just a fiction. It’s never been there, and never will be.

So there is nothing that could have or experience freedom or peace.
Some resistance comes up here. What about the “I” of Awareness / Consciousness / the True Self that some teachers talk about? In the teachings I have followed (primarily Advaita Vedanta) they talk of the "Self" as opposed to the "self" – they say it’s not that there’s no self, just that there’s no separate self. They say that Awareness is the True Self, and that it is being / consciousness / bliss.

I’m willing to let these beliefs go.
For example, did you ever once believe that Santa Claus or the Tooth Fairy was real? If you did at one point, and don't now, does the experience of discovery last? Or is it that the knowledge that there is no such thing as Santa or Tooth Fairy is just another ‘fact’?

Many seekers have the impression that seeing there is no self is a state to ‘abide in’. It's not.
Some resistance arises here again. I had the impression that “abiding in the True Self” or “abiding as Awareness” was important.

The Tooth Fairy and Santa immediately became non-existent – it became just another fact. Why is it different for me in this case? I feel like I’ve seen the non-existence of the separate self (I’ve never found it in experience), but it keeps “coming back” - I keep falling for the illusion. Maybe I haven’t seen it clearly enough?
Currently, would it be fair to say that you believe that currently you are a person sitting in a chair, looking at a computer screen and reading words off it right now?
When I’m not paying attention – when I’m busy at work, for example – I take myself to be the body.
Right now, though, I can’t see what I am exactly.
I am present, I am aware, and the body seems to appear in me.
What does the word 'I' point to?
The word “I” points to me, but I don’t know what I am. I am here, I am aware – so I guess it points to awareness. But I can’t “see” awareness. I can't see what I am.
What makes this body ‘yours’?
The body is mine because it is present in my experience.
But so are other bodies...
What makes this body “mine” is its immediacy and intimacy – the fact that it’s right here, and because I can feel it (while I don’t feel other bodies).
What makes this body ‘you’?
The body isn’t “me” - it appears in me. This is my experience, but doesn’t feel "stable". I often and easily revert to the “normal” view that I am the body.

Thank you for taking the time to do this.

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Vivien
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Re: The non-existent nuisance.

Postby Vivien » Thu May 23, 2019 9:19 am

Hi Michael,
W
hat is it that creates the experience of suffering from the worries, though?
This question is based on the assumption that there must be a doer, an entity, something that is creating the experience of suffering and worries. But there isn’t any. Thoughts about worries and suffering might arise, but there is nothing in the background doing or creating it. But we will investigate this later.
Is it resistance to the worrying based on the belief that “I” am an entity? And is it seeing the non-existence of the self that makes the resistance (and therefore the suffering) cease?
We will investigate this later in the inquiry.
What about the “I” of Awareness / Consciousness / the True Self that some teachers talk about? In the teachings I have followed (primarily Advaita Vedanta) they talk of the "Self" as opposed to the "self" – they say it’s not that there’s no self, just that there’s no separate self. They say that Awareness is the True Self, and that it is being / consciousness / bliss.
I am familiar with Advaita teachings, I followed several non-duality teachers in the past. And yes, their teachings’ focal point is that there is a self-aware awareness (Self), in which all experience happens, and made of. This is something we will investigate deeply, since it’s a very important topic to look at.

But for the time of this investigation, I’d like to ask you to put aside all learned information and stop watching/reading any teachers.
You have to see for yourself, from your actual experience what is going on, and not relying on information from others. Can you do that? And are you willing to do that, just as an experiment?
I’m willing to let these beliefs go.
That’s very good.

‘Awareness is aware of being aware’ – yes, it SEEMS LIKE that, and this is the BASIS OF THE ILLUSION OF THE SEPARATE SELF.

When it’s seen that a seer, taster, smeller, feeler, thinker, etc. cannot be found, the IDENTIFICATION often GOES to the SEEMING APPEARANCE OF A SELF-EXISTENT, SELF-AWARE AWARENESS, which is the KNOWER OF EVERYTHING THAT APPEARS.
So the identification with the body and the senses (feeler, hearer, thinker, etc) is replaced with a subtle form of identification, “I am that which is aware”…. So there is still some sort of separate entity which is aware and holds and knows all experience (object). And the identification with awareness is an excellent hiding place for the separate self. Since all the seeming realness of the separate self comes from the seeming realness of a standalone awareness. So as long as awareness is not seen for what it is, the belief of the separate self is not really seen through… it’s just hiding behind the notion of a standalone awareness.

This awareness is an ultimate illusion, it really seems very real. But nonetheless, it’s still an illusion. And for those who engaged in non-dual teachings this sometimes can be a serious stumbling block.

For the time being, can you entertain the possibility that awareness / consciousness is not what it seems like?

Do you have a resistance to the notion that awareness might be an illusion too?
If yes, could you please explain why?
Some resistance arises here again. I had the impression that “abiding in the True Self” or “abiding as Awareness” was important.
For this statement to be true, first, we have to find a sand-alone awareness, and then the ‘thing’ that could abide as or in awareness.

This might not be clear for now, but that’s all right. As I said, we will look at this very deeply.
The Tooth Fairy and Santa immediately became non-existent – it became just another fact. Why is it different for me in this case? I feel like I’ve seen the non-existence of the separate self (I’ve never found it in experience), but it keeps “coming back” - I keep falling for the illusion. Maybe I haven’t seen it clearly enough?
Maybe, it hasn’t been seen through completely. “I am awareness” is a subtle form of identification, as I explained it above. And also, probably there is an expectation that after seeing no-self, identification with the illusion of the self will never happen again. But it WILL as I mentioned in my previous post.

Suffering happens when being lost in thoughts happens. It means that the thoughts in that moment are not seen only as arising thoughts (only as ‘containers’ coming and going), but rather they ‘content’, what they are about is taken as reality. And of course, since each thought is about the self, the self is taken as something real. And this, let’s call ‘delusion’ still can happen even after seeing the illusion of the self. But when it’s investigated, it can be seen for what it is. But there is no guaranty that in the next moment the story of a self won’t reassert itself. It’s a habit of the mind. It’s a conditioned pattern of thinking. It’s the result of a life-long conditioning. But upon each looking it gets a little bit weaker and weaker.

Also, personality problems, traumas, emotional pains don’t dissolve just because of seeing no self. So all the conditioned reactions that stem from them still can arise. However, if someone decides to work on these, it’s usually much easier after seeing no-self.
Right now, though, I can’t see what I am exactly.
I am present, I am aware, and the body seems to appear in me.
All right. This reply didn’t come from looking at the actual experience. There is no YOU to be present. YOU are not aware. Aware-ing (verb) is happening, but it’s not your doing, or not your property. The body cannot appear in you, since there is no you in which the body could appear in.

You might say that the body appear in awareness. Yes, that might seem that way, I certainly believed that for some time. But actually, this statement doesn’t correspond with the immediate experience.

So far what I wrote here doesn’t really differ to any teachings. Since these are just words, just intellectualization, what you can accept or not, and believe it or not. But this would be totally useless for you. You have to have experiential understanding of this. And this what our whole investigation will be about.
The body isn’t “me” - it appears in me. This is my experience, but doesn’t feel "stable".
This might seem that way. This is a very pervasive illusion.

But before starting looking at awareness, we have to look at what we mean exactly by actual experience, and also have a deep look on thoughts, since this illusion is mainly created by thoughts. And just after that we will investigate the awareness and other related topics.

As stated in my first post, my role is to directly point to what IS, through the use of exercises and questions. Your role is to LOOK carefully to what is being pointed at. It is this simple LOOKING (not thinking) that brings the realisation.

Okay, now we become aware of actual experience (AE) and what LOOKING is.
‘Looking’ is just plain looking at actual/direct experience (AE), which is simply colour (image), sound, smell, sensation, taste and the simple knowing of thought at face value that is appearing right now in the moment. You are looking at the raw experience of AE and noticing the labels and thoughts ABOUT the raw experience. The key to this exploration is the careful LOOKING. Why? Because it’s the act of actually LOOKING and not finding an “I” that brings about the realisation of there being no separate self and that there has never been a separate self.

The interpretation of actual experience happens quickly. So while inquiring, labelling and thought interpretation will always appear, but it is possible to become aware of the thoughts that appear with and overlay actual experience. Another key component of this exploration is being able to tell the difference between actual experience and the interpretation by thought of actual experience.

Here's an exercise that will help you to see what we mean exactly by direct experience. I would like you to try as many times throughout the day as you can. Label daily activities simply colour/image, sound, smell, taste, sensation, thought.

So for example, when having breakfast, become aware of:

Seeing a cup, simply = visual sight
Smelling coffee, simply = smell
Feeling the warmth of the coffee cup, simply = sensation
Tasting the coffee, simply = taste
Hearing the spoon stirring the coffee, simply = sound
Thought about drinking the coffee, simply = thought

Just break down daily activities into these categories (which are all actual/direct experience) and report back how you go.


Vivien
"In the seen, there is only the seen. In the heard, there is only the heard. In the sensed, there is only the sensed. You are located neither in this, nor in that, nor in any place between the two." - Buddha
http://fadingveiling.com/

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Jnana
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Re: The non-existent nuisance.

Postby Jnana » Fri May 24, 2019 2:19 am

You have to see for yourself, from your actual experience what is going on, and not relying on information from others. Can you do that? And are you willing to do that, just as an experiment?
Absolutely – I’ll put all other teachings and beliefs aside for now.
When it’s seen that a seer, taster, smeller, feeler, thinker, etc. cannot be found, the IDENTIFICATION often GOES to the SEEMING APPEARANCE OF A SELF-EXISTENT, SELF-AWARE AWARENESS, which is the KNOWER OF EVERYTHING THAT APPEARS.
So the identification with the body and the senses (feeler, hearer, thinker, etc) is replaced with a subtle form of identification, “I am that which is aware”…. So there is still some sort of separate entity which is aware and holds and knows all experience (object). And the identification with awareness is an excellent hiding place for the separate self. Since all the seeming realness of the separate self comes from the seeming realness of a standalone awareness. So as long as awareness is not seen for what it is, the belief of the separate self is not really seen through… it’s just hiding behind the notion of a standalone awareness.
Yeah I think this is exactly what is happening here.
For the time being, can you entertain the possibility that awareness / consciousness is not what it seems like?
Yes – it’s hard to “get a hold of it” or “see it” anyway.
Do you have a resistance to the notion that awareness might be an illusion too?
If yes, could you please explain why?
There is some resistance to the idea that awareness is an illusion. The core of the resistance, I think, is this thought: if even awareness is an illusion, there will be no “ground reality” - nothing but an absurd whirl of experience.
Here's an exercise that will help you to see what we mean exactly by direct experience. I would like you to try as many times throughout the day as you can. Label daily activities simply colour/image, sound, smell, taste, sensation, thought.

So for example, when having breakfast, become aware of:

Seeing a cup, simply = visual sight
Smelling coffee, simply = smell
Feeling the warmth of the coffee cup, simply = sensation
Tasting the coffee, simply = taste
Hearing the spoon stirring the coffee, simply = sound
Thought about drinking the coffee, simply = thought

Just break down daily activities into these categories (which are all actual/direct experience) and report back how you go.
I've done this for about a day now - some thoughts/experiences:

Sight makes up the majority of my experience. The visual field is incredibly complex, with lots of constantly moving colours, a sense of depth, etc.

There's a layer of conceptualization or interpretation over all experience, and it takes effect almost instantly. Seeing the reflection of light on a surface, for example, is interpreted as the reflection of light as opposed to just a lighter colour. It doesn’t seem to even require an active thought.

When I see subtle objects, eg. mental images, I sometimes find it hard to label them and differentiate them from each other and from the visual field, because they are so subtle. Often they’re not even noticed.

Is the activity of labeling itself a thought? When we label thoughts, are we labeling a thought with a thought?

I seem to be very interested in my sense perceptions.

Do we class mental images, eg. memories, as thoughts or as images?

Things are simplified when we experience directly. Experience is broken down into only 6 elements.

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Vivien
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Re: The non-existent nuisance.

Postby Vivien » Fri May 24, 2019 2:51 am

Hi Michael,
There is some resistance to the idea that awareness is an illusion. The core of the resistance, I think, is this thought: if even awareness is an illusion, there will be no “ground reality” - nothing but an absurd whirl of experience.
Just because awareness is seen for what it is, it doesn’t mean that the seeming perception of the self will never arise again. It WILL. So the shift of seeing no self is much subtler than you might think. So there is nothing to be afraid of.

Seeing no self is just a shift in perception, like with these images bellow. As if you were seeing only in one way for your whole life, and now there’s a shift, and you can see from a different perspective. But you can still see the original, old version too. From now on, you can switch back and forth between the two.

Image
It’s similar when you’re watching a movie which is so enchanting that you completely forget that you’re in a movie theatre, sitting in a chair, watching images projected onto the screen. It totally seems like and feels like as if you’re in scenes of the movie together with the characters. And then suddenly, you ‘wake up’ from this illusion. But the movie will still go on. You just discover that the whole movie is just a fantasy. But the movie will go on, it won’t stop appearing. So there is only a perception shift. This is the same with seeing through the self.
There's a layer of conceptualization or interpretation over all experience, and it takes effect almost instantly. Seeing the reflection of light on a surface, for example, is interpreted as the reflection of light as opposed to just a lighter colour. It doesn’t seem to even require an active thought.
Very nice looking.
Is the activity of labeling itself a thought? When we label thoughts, are we labeling a thought with a thought?
Yes! What else a label could be? A label is just a thought ABOUT the actual experience.
Do we class mental images, eg. memories, as thoughts or as images?
In a broader sense, yes. Since all those are just ‘mental’ appearances, they are not really happening.
But for this investigation, we make a difference between:

- Thoughts (as verbal thoughts, which made up of words)
- And mental images, which are mental pictures.

But when a memory is present let’s say about a holiday, there could be:

- a mental image (of the beach)
- the thought label ‘beach’
- ‘verbal’ thoughts “ohh it was so nice walking on that beach”
- and there could be even a mental sensation appearing, like a mental sensation as the feet touching the wet sand
- or mental sounds, ‘hearing internally’ the sound of the waves
- or mental tastes, imagining the saltness of the lips
Things are simplified when we experience directly. Experience is broken down into only 6 elements.
Exactly!

The whole illusion is mainly created by thoughts. So therefore, we will investigate thoughts and thought labels thoroughly.
So then let’s have a deeper look on thoughts. Sit for about 15 minutes and investigate these questions. Look for the ‘answer’ BEFORE thought interpretation kicks in.

Where do thoughts come from?
Where are they going?
Can ‘you’ stop a thought in the middle?
Can ‘you’ predict what will be the next thought?
Can 'you' choose not to have painful or negative thoughts?

Can an 'I' be found that generates thoughts?
“I think” - What is 'I'? What is the one that thinks?
What is the thinker of thoughts? – don’t think, rather look for a ‘thinker’
Does the thinker of the thought appear in experience? Can it be found?
Or could it be that the 'I' that thinks is also just a thought?
Do you think thoughts or you are just ‘being thought’?
Is it possible to prevent a thought from appearing? Including the thought 'I'?


Please go through these questions and answer and quote ALL of them one-by-one. Don’t miss any. Try to answer them only from direct experience, and leave aside all intellectual interpretation or understanding. Please, DON’T THINK about the answers, rather LOOK at what is before thoughts. Take your time.

Vivien
"In the seen, there is only the seen. In the heard, there is only the heard. In the sensed, there is only the sensed. You are located neither in this, nor in that, nor in any place between the two." - Buddha
http://fadingveiling.com/

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Jnana
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Re: The non-existent nuisance.

Postby Jnana » Fri May 24, 2019 8:50 am

Where do thoughts come from?
They don’t seem to come from anywhere, they just arise. And when they arise they don’t arise anywhere in particular – they have no location except “here”, whatever “here” is.
Where are they going?
Nowhere – they dissolve into the same place from which they came. I don’t know what or where that place is, though. I can’t see it.
Can ‘you’ stop a thought in the middle?
Yeah, I seem to be able to. It seems like I can stop the thought part-way through - starting a mental sentence but not finishing it.
Can ‘you’ predict what will be the next thought?
No. The closest I can come to prediction is having the thought “I will think about apples”, and then the thought “I’m now thinking about apples”. But I didn’t predict the first thought in that series.
Can 'you' choose not to have painful or negative thoughts?
I seem to be able to stop them part-way through, but I don’t seem to be able to stop them from arising in the first place.
Can an 'I' be found that generates thoughts?
I don’t know exactly where to look for an “I”. When I say “I”, the attention first goes to the body. But upon close inspection, the body is only a sensation (it is felt) and a visual sight (it is seen).

There’s a sense of presence, a sense of here-ness, which feels like “I” or “me”. But I can’t grasp it. I can’t see it clearly.
“I think” - What is 'I'? What is the one that thinks?
“I think” really just seems to mean “thoughts are appearing” - “I think” isn’t accurate. Thoughts don’t “come from” anyone – I can't see them being “generated” by any other thing.
What is the thinker of thoughts? – don’t think, rather look for a ‘thinker’
Again, there’s only that sense of presence – that sense of “here-ness”. It’s not a “thinker”, but it feels like the thoughts appear to it or in it.
Does the thinker of the thought appear in experience? Can it be found?
No, I can’t find a thinker who generates or thinks the thoughts.
Or could it be that the 'I' that thinks is also just a thought?
Yeah, that’s right, the “thinker” is imagined – it is another thought. There’s no “thinker”.
Do you think thoughts or you are just ‘being thought’?
I-the-thinker is just another thought. But I don’t know if I-the-feeling-of-presence is just a thought. It feels different to thought - it's not verbal, and it doesn't seem to be visual either.
Is it possible to prevent a thought from appearing? Including the thought 'I'?
Ah, interesting... Yeah, it does seem possible to stop the "I" thought temporarily. It feels like a "freeze" on experience, but it feels unstable as the "I" thought sneaks back in very quickly.

I think I'm having trouble with subtle mental objects. When you ask me to look for the “I”, the mind creates subtle images that seem to cloud my direct experience. For example, when looking at where thoughts come from, the mind imagines a subtle space-like "field" and imagines thoughts as words appearing in that field. It's subtler than that, however, which makes it hard for me to differentiate subtle imaginations from what’s “actually there” as I’m “seeing” it in both instances.

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Vivien
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Re: The non-existent nuisance.

Postby Vivien » Fri May 24, 2019 10:54 am

Hi Michael,
V: Can ‘you’ stop a thought in the middle?
M: Yeah, I seem to be able to. It seems like I can stop the thought part-way through - starting a mental sentence but not finishing it.
A thought appears saying “I am going to stop the next thought in the middle.” But what is it exactly that is stopping the next thought in the middle?

When there is a thought, how is it known that it’s just a half thought, an unfinished thought?

Where exactly is the middle of a thought?
Where does one thought end and another begin?
The closest I can come to prediction is having the thought “I will think about apples”, and then the thought “I’m now thinking about apples”. But I didn’t predict the first thought in that series.
How is it known exactly that the firs thought “I will think about apples” created the next thought, or made the next thought appear “I’m now thinking about apples”?

It seems that thought has some logical ordered appearance, but look carefully and just notice if there is an organised sequence. Or is it just another thought that says ‘these thoughts are in sequence’ or “they take content from previous thought”, or that "one thought follows another thought"?
I seem to be able to stop them part-way through, but I don’t seem to be able to stop them from arising in the first place
How is it known exactly that thought is only part-way through?

What is the exact difference between a ‘part-way through thought’ and a ‘full-way through thought’?
I don’t know exactly where to look for an “I”. When I say “I”, the attention first goes to the body. But upon close inspection, the body is only a sensation (it is felt) and a visual sight (it is seen).
Yes, exactly!
There’s a sense of presence, a sense of here-ness, which feels like “I” or “me”. But I can’t grasp it. I can’t see it clearly.
What is the actual experience of ‘sense of presence’? Is it a sound, image, smell, taste, sensation or a thought?

What is the actual experience of a ‘sense of here-ness’? Is it a sound, image, smell, taste, sensation or a thought?
Again, there’s only that sense of presence – that sense of “here-ness”. It’s not a “thinker”, but it feels like the thoughts appear to it or in it.
When a sentence starts with “It feels like” or “It seems like” then that’s a sure sign that what follows it’s just an analogy, a thought interpretation and not the actual experience.

How is it experienced exactly that thoughts appear IN or TO anything?
Can this be experienced at all?
But I don’t know if I-the-feeling-of-presence is just a thought. It feels different to thought - it's not verbal, and it doesn't seem to be visual either.
Look very carefully. “Feeling of presence”

Only sensations can be felt. So what is really felt with the ‘feeling of presence’?
And by the way, what makes this SEEMING ‘feeling of presence’ an ‘I’ (I-the-feeling-of-presence)?
I think I'm having trouble with subtle mental objects. When you ask me to look for the “I”, the mind creates subtle images that seem to cloud my direct experience. For example, when looking at where thoughts come from, the mind imagines a subtle space-like "field" and imagines thoughts as words appearing in that field. It's subtler than that, however, which makes it hard for me to differentiate subtle imaginations from what’s “actually there” as I’m “seeing” it in both instances.
This is normal. This is how we humans live our lives. We hardly see what is actually happening, because thoughts/concepts overlay the actual experience. So we see the overlay and not what is really going on. But with this investigation this is exactly what we do: we learn separate the mental overlay to see what is actually happening.
the mind creates subtle images
What is the actual experience (AE) of the ‘mind creating images’?
How is it known experimentally that the mind is the creator of images?

What is the AE of ‘mind’?


I asked a lot of questions, so take your time. Look very carefully.

Vivien
"In the seen, there is only the seen. In the heard, there is only the heard. In the sensed, there is only the sensed. You are located neither in this, nor in that, nor in any place between the two." - Buddha
http://fadingveiling.com/

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Re: The non-existent nuisance.

Postby Jnana » Fri May 24, 2019 3:10 pm

I’ve investigated these questions for a few hours now and I feel that I’ve had some little epiphanies. No “big bang” experience where the veil is torn off of reality, but a couple of small revelations.
A thought appears saying “I am going to stop the next thought in the middle.” But what is it exactly that is stopping the next thought in the middle?
Nothing – there’s no object or entity that is stopping the thought. The thought just dissolves when it dissolves. And then another thought comes and says, “I stopped the last thought”. But the “I” mentioned by the latter thought has no referent – there’s nothing in experience to which the subject of that thought actually corresponds. The thought contains a lie, and the lie is believed so completely that the thought itself brings into existence an apparent “I” – but it’s never actually there, it’s only assumed to “be there somewhere.”
When there is a thought, how is it known that it’s just a half thought, an unfinished thought?
The thought just ends after a certain amount of time, and it’s always a whole thought regardless of the content. “Half the content” doesn’t mean that it’s half a thought. The thought “Yesterday I went...” is a whole thought, even though “the remainder of the content” wasn’t present. I put “half the content” and “the remainder of the content” in quotation marks because the content is irrelevant – it has no meaning and so there’s not really “half the content” or “the remaining content” - it’s just content. Just filler.
Where exactly is the middle of a thought?
It seems like the middle of a thought could be measured in time – thoughts last for a certain duration, so the middle of a thought would theoretically occur after half the time of the full thought has elapsed. There’s no way to actually see or find this duration in actual experience, though, as we can’t know how long a thought will last in advance, and therefore can only see the “middle” of a thought in retrospect (and even then, unclearly). And again this would only be another thought making the comments about a “middle” - it’s not my actual experience that there’s a middle of a thought.
Where does one thought end and another begin?
They don’t seem to have a distinct beginning or end – I can’t “see” where a thought begins or ends, exactly. Individual thoughts do seem to be separated by time, though. There is a period where there’s thought, followed by a period of no thought, followed by another period of thought.
How is it known exactly that the firs thought “I will think about apples” created the next thought, or made the next thought appear “I’m now thinking about apples”?
The content of the thought is the same or similar – that’s the only “link”. There is nothing in experience, other than the content, which suggests any causal relationship between thoughts. I don’t see one thought causing another, I only see two thoughts arising in succession.
It seems that thought has some logical ordered appearance, but look carefully and just notice if there is an organised sequence. Or is it just another thought that says ‘these thoughts are in sequence’ or “they take content from previous thought”, or that "one thought follows another thought"?
It’s only a third thought which states that the first two thoughts are connected – if I ignore the content of thought, there’s nothing in the actual experience of the thoughts which shows that they’re related. I don’t see anything “linking them together”.

The content of thought has a whole lot to say about casual relations between thoughts, however. Haha.
How is it known exactly that thought is only part-way through?
It’s not – no thoughts are part-way through. Thought is just thought. The only difference between thoughts, other than content, seems to be length/duration.
What is the exact difference between a ‘part-way through thought’ and a ‘full-way through thought’?
There’s no difference. A third thought comes, the content of which says, “one of those previous thoughts was only part-way through, whereas the other was complete”.
What is the actual experience of ‘sense of presence’? Is it a sound, image, smell, taste, sensation or a thought? What is the actual experience of a ‘sense of here-ness’? Is it a sound, image, smell, taste, sensation or a thought?
I’ve combined the above two questions as I mean the same thing when I say “presence” and “here-ness”.

It’s getting difficult now.

The sense of presence is definitely not a sound, smell or taste; so that leaves image, sensation, and thought.

There is a very subtle mental image – a visual emphasis on “here” as opposed to “out there”. It’s hard to describe in words as it’s difficult to see the image clearly.

Sometimes the sense of presence seems to be a sensation, but I see that when that seems to be the case it’s actually the body that is being sensed.

The sense of presence is not a thought but it might be the content of a thought – similar to the “I” in the sentence in my first answer. It might be the combination of a subtle mental image and the thought content “I am here”, or just “here”, or just “I”. I’m using speculative language here because I’m “digging around” in actual experience but am struggling to see the sense of presence clearly enough to say what it is.
How is it experienced exactly that thoughts appear IN or TO anything?
Can this be experienced at all?
In actual experience, the thoughts aren’t perceived in or by anything.
The thought appears, and then another thought about “I” or the sense of presence occurs afterward – it’s not that the thought appears in the sense of presence or to me.
Only sensations can be felt. So what is really felt with the ‘feeling of presence’?
The body sensation is often mistaken for the sense of presence. It’s more complex than just that, though. It seems to be a combination of the body sensation, a subtle mental image and the content of thought which subtly says “I” or “here” or “presence”. It doesn’t seem to be the case that the body sensation is a required component of the sense of presence – “I” can feel present without it. I’m finding it difficult to see it clearly. It moves and shifts under my looking.
And by the way, what makes this SEEMING ‘feeling of presence’ an ‘I’ (I-the-feeling-of-presence)?
I think this comes from the non-dual teachings where I learned to equate “I” with “presence” or “consciousness”. There’s nothing in my experience which says that the sense of presence is an entity or a self – it is just a sense of presence. Just a sense of “being here”.

“I-the-feeling-of-presence” is a subtle version of “I-the-body”.

The “I” is imagined in both cases.

I’m still not sure what exactly the sense of presence is, however.
What is the actual experience (AE) of the ‘mind creating images’?
How is it known experimentally that the mind is the creator of images?
What is the AE of ‘mind’?
Nothing – there’s no “mind” in which mental images are contained or by which they’re created.
In actual experience there’s no mind, there are only the images.

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Re: The non-existent nuisance.

Postby Vivien » Sat May 25, 2019 12:08 am

Hi Michael,
I’ve investigated these questions for a few hours now and I feel that I’ve had some little epiphanies. No “big bang” experience where the veil is torn off of reality, but a couple of small revelations.
You did a very good looking. But if you expect a ‘big bang’ probably you’ll be disappointed and you might even miss what is happening in front of you. Seeing through the illusion usually doesn’t come with fireworks.
There is a very subtle mental image – a visual emphasis on “here” as opposed to “out there”. It’s hard to describe in words as it’s difficult to see the image clearly.
Sometimes the sense of presence seems to be a sensation, but I see that when that seems to be the case it’s actually the body that is being sensed.
One of the pillars of the self are sensations. Since sensations are present, they provide the reality effect of the illusion, alongside with thoughts and the seeming appearance of awareness. This is what I call the sense of self. But we will investigate this later.
The body sensation is often mistaken for the sense of presence. It’s more complex than just that, though. It seems to be a combination of the body sensation, a subtle mental image and the content of thought which subtly says “I” or “here” or “presence”. It doesn’t seem to be the case that the body sensation is a required component of the sense of presence – “I” can feel present without it. I’m finding it difficult to see it clearly. It moves and shifts under my looking.
This is what I wrote about above.
I think this comes from the non-dual teachings where I learned to equate “I” with “presence” or “consciousness”. There’s nothing in my experience which says that the sense of presence is an entity or a self – it is just a sense of presence. Just a sense of “being here”.
It’s good that you can see that it’s just coming from learned knowledge with doesn’t correspond with the AE.

So the sense of being here is the mixture of sensations + aware-ing + thoughts + mental images. These are welded together into a bundle creating the sense of self, the illusion of the self.
“I-the-feeling-of-presence” is a subtle version of “I-the-body”.
Exactly!
The content of thought has a whole lot to say about casual relations between thoughts, however. Haha.
That’s for sure :)

Probably you can see this already, but it’s important to be very clear on thoughts:

Thoughts can be looked at in 2 different ways:
- seeing the CONTENT of a thought, what is a thought ABOUT
- and only seeing the thought itself, as a ‘CONTAINER’.

When a thought is seen only as a container, and the content of a thought (what it’s about) is being ignored, is what we call the actual experience of a thought. Do you see the difference?

Thoughts as arising thoughts (the containers) are ‘real’, but their contents (what they are ABOUT) are not. Like when you think about Dart Vader. There is an arising thought, it cannot be denied, but its content “Dart Vader” is not real. Sometimes thoughts point to something tangible, like chair, however a thought about a chair is not a chair. A thought about a chair is just a mental concept with an arising mental image of a ‘chair’ but that image is not ‘real’. However, as an arising image is there, it is ‘real’, but not its content (what it’s about).

Certain sensations can be felt in the body that is labelled such and such emotion, like ‘cheerful’. However, ‘cheerful’ is just a mental label on the felt sensation. So the felt sensation is ‘real’, the arising mental label, simply as arising label is ‘real’, but its content ‘cheerful’ is just an idea. Can you see this?

Here is a little exercise to show this.
Close your eyes and imagine holding a watermelon in your hands. Imagine it so vividly that you can feel its weight, the shape and texture of the skin. Hold it there, sensing it. Then open your eyes.

What happened to the melon?
How about the sensation that was so believable?
Was there ever a melon in ‘reality’?

Was there an appearing mental image?
Was the content of the mental image (the melon) ‘real’?


The thoughts and mental images are real only as arising thoughts and mental images, their ‘presence’ cannot be denied. However their contents, what are they about (like the watermelon) are not ‘real’, they are just fantasies.
Can you see this clearly?

Vivien
"In the seen, there is only the seen. In the heard, there is only the heard. In the sensed, there is only the sensed. You are located neither in this, nor in that, nor in any place between the two." - Buddha
http://fadingveiling.com/

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Re: The non-existent nuisance.

Postby Jnana » Sat May 25, 2019 7:14 am

Hi Vivien,
You did a very good looking. But if you expect a ‘big bang’ probably you’ll be disappointed and you might even miss what is happening in front of you. Seeing through the illusion usually doesn’t come with fireworks.
That’s okay, no big bang required :)
When a thought is seen only as a container, and the content of a thought (what it’s about) is being ignored, is what we call the actual experience of a thought. Do you see the difference?
Yes I think so. There’s no real difference between the thought “I went to the moon” and the thought “I ate an apple” - the content differs, but the reality in both instances is just thought arising.
Sometimes thoughts point to something tangible, like chair, however a thought about a chair is not a chair. A thought about a chair is just a mental concept with an arising mental image of a ‘chair’ but that image is not ‘real’. However, as an arising image is there, it is ‘real’, but not its content (what it’s about).
Is a “mental concept” a verbal thought, or are mental concepts another category of experience?
Certain sensations can be felt in the body that is labelled such and such emotion, like ‘cheerful’. However, ‘cheerful’ is just a mental label on the felt sensation. So the felt sensation is ‘real’, the arising mental label, simply as arising label is ‘real’, but its content ‘cheerful’ is just an idea. Can you see this?
Yes. In a feeling of anxiety there’s a sensation in the body (usually in the chest area) and a thought which says “I’m not good at public speaking”, but the “I’m not good at public speaking” is just content, just “filler”, and doesn’t actually refer to anything in experience.
Close your eyes and imagine holding a watermelon in your hands. Imagine it so vividly that you can feel its weight, the shape and texture of the skin. Hold it there, sensing it. Then open your eyes.

What happened to the melon?
How about the sensation that was so believable?
Was there ever a melon in ‘reality’?
Nothing happened to the melon – there was no melon in reality.

I’m not sure what happened in regard to the sensation. There was no real sensation, only an imagined one. I’m unsure how we categorize an imagined sensation, however.
Was there an appearing mental image?
Was the content of the mental image (the melon) ‘real’?
Yes, a mental image arose – it was experienced – but the content (the melon) was unreal.
The thoughts and mental images are real only as arising thoughts and mental images, their ‘presence’ cannot be denied. However their contents, what are they about (like the watermelon) are not ‘real’, they are just fantasies.
Can you see this clearly?
In regard to mental images, could you explain a bit further the difference between the “container” and the “content”?
Example 1, a mental image of a rainbow.
Example 2, a mental image of a grey sky.
Does the “container” in Example 1 have colour while the “container” in Example 2 is only grey, or is the colour only in the content of each image? Is the "image" in a mental image real or unreal? I'm struggling to differentiate which parts are real and which parts are unreal when it comes to mental images.

Michael.

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Vivien
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Re: The non-existent nuisance.

Postby Vivien » Sun May 26, 2019 12:05 am

Hi Michael,
There’s no real difference between the thought “I went to the moon” and the thought “I ate an apple” - the content differs, but the reality in both instances is just thought arising.
Exactly.
Is a “mental concept” a verbal thought, or are mental concepts another category of experience?
I often use the following words interchangeably: concept / idea / thought / label
In a feeling of anxiety there’s a sensation in the body (usually in the chest area) and a thought which says “I’m not good at public speaking”, but the “I’m not good at public speaking” is just content, just “filler”, and doesn’t actually refer to anything in experience.
Yes
I’m not sure what happened in regard to the sensation. There was no real sensation, only an imagined one. I’m unsure how we categorize an imagined sensation, however.
We can say that it’s a mental sensation. But this is not that important, since it’s rarely comes up during the investigation.
In regard to mental images, could you explain a bit further the difference between the “container” and the “content”?
Example 1, a mental image of a rainbow.
Example 2, a mental image of a grey sky.
Does the “container” in Example 1 have colour while the “container” in Example 2 is only grey, or is the colour only in the content of each image? Is the "image" in a mental image real or unreal? I'm struggling to differentiate which parts are real and which parts are unreal when it comes to mental images.
I’m not sure if I understand your question.

The actual experience (AE) has 6 basic elements:
- thoughts
- visual sight = visual image = color
- smell
- taste
- sound
- sensation

But as I explained in one of my previous posts, there can be:

- an imagined image = mental image
- imagined sound = mental sound
- imagined smell = mental smell
- imagined taste = mental taste
- imagined sensation = mental sensation

So ALL ‘mental’ are imagined only, so they go under the category of thoughts, as sub-categories. But actually, this categorization is not that important. The point is to see what is really happening in the AE, and what is only THOUGHTS ABOUT the actual experience.

With your example of a mental image of a rainbow, and a mental image of a grey sky:

The rainbow or grey sky just imagined, they are not there, they are not happening.
But the mental image itself is there, just what the image is about (a colourful rainbow, or a grey sky) are not.
Please, don’t try to grasp it intellectually, but rather look at the experience.

Close your eyes, and imagine a colourful rainbow.
Is there is a REAL rainbow, or just an imagined one?
But the imagination (as a mental image) happened. So the mental image was REALLY THERE. But what the image was about (the colourful rainbow) was NOT. Can you see the difference?

Does the “container” in Example 1 have colour while the “container” in Example 2 is only grey
I’m not sure what you’re asking here.
Are you asking if the mental image (the container itself) has the colour of the rainbow and the greyness of the sky?
That’s not possible, since the colour of the rainbow, or the colour (grey) of the sky is just imagined (content).
The container (the mental label itself) doesn’t have any attributes or qualities.
Just as you use the word ‘filler’ for the content of thoughts. The colourful rainbow or the grey sky is just a ‘filler’, the ‘filling’ of the mental image. Do you see the difference?

Here is another exercise seeing the difference between the two:

There are two types of thoughts:
(1) Thoughts with words “Here is cup”
(2) Visual mental images of a ‘cup’

So I invite you to do this exercise:
Think of a cup. Get a very clear picture in your mind. See clearly the size, shape, colour and volume of the cup. Notice whether it is decorated or plain. Notice whether it has a handle. Notice whether it is heavy or fragile. Do you have a picture?

Now, can you physically grasp that image of a cup?
Can you pour tea into it?
Can you drink from it?

Is there a ‘real’ cup or just an image of a cup?
Is there an appearing mental image?
Is the content of the mental image (the cup) ‘real’?

The thoughts and mental images are real only as arising thoughts and mental images (as ‘containers’), their ‘presence’ cannot be denied. However, their contents, what are they about are not ‘real’, they are just fantasies. Can you see this?


Vivien
"In the seen, there is only the seen. In the heard, there is only the heard. In the sensed, there is only the sensed. You are located neither in this, nor in that, nor in any place between the two." - Buddha
http://fadingveiling.com/

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Re: The non-existent nuisance.

Postby Jnana » Sun May 26, 2019 2:11 am

Is there is a REAL rainbow, or just an imagined one?
But the imagination (as a mental image) happened. So the mental image was REALLY THERE. But what the image was about (the colourful rainbow) was NOT. Can you see the difference?

Just as you use the word ‘filler’ for the content of thoughts. The colourful rainbow or the grey sky is just a ‘filler’, the ‘filling’ of the mental image. Do you see the difference?

Now, can you physically grasp that image of a cup?
Can you pour tea into it?
Can you drink from it?

Is there a ‘real’ cup or just an image of a cup?
Is there an appearing mental image?
Is the content of the mental image (the cup) ‘real’?

The thoughts and mental images are real only as arising thoughts and mental images (as ‘containers’), their ‘presence’ cannot be denied. However, their contents, what are they about are not ‘real’, they are just fantasies. Can you see this?
I’ve now seen where I was having difficulty, so I should be able to answer all of these questions in one go.

I was having trouble with “real” vs “imagined”. In the non-dual teachings I’ve followed, not only is a mental image of a rainbow (the content) considered unreal, but actual rainbows are also considered unreal. I wasn’t intentionally referring to these beliefs while doing the investigation, but they were nonetheless informing how I was seeing things via that subtle conceptual net.

This is clear to me now – in actual experience:
- There is an arising mental image, which is real.
- The content of the image is unreal; “the cup” is fantasy. It can’t be used to drink tea.


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