individual self, universal self, no self?

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srh
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individual self, universal self, no self?

Postby srh » Sat Jun 29, 2019 8:22 am

LU is focused guiding for seeing there is no real, inherent 'self' - what do you understand by this?
I actually don't understand what it means. What is 'self' anyway? If there is no self, then what is 'no self'? What is anything?

What are you looking for at LU?
I need some clarification. Is it just a play with words? I don't think so, but what is it all about? It's confusing to think about 'no self' when one doesn't even know what is 'self'... Life is happening, ok, perceptions... I can see "things" or rather sensations that are assembled by "my mind" into things. There is form and color, ah... a table for example. Then, there's also a body - from which I seem to look out. I see arms with hands and fingers typing a keyboard... I see legs and feet and even my nose and mouth. When I look at a mirror I can see that whole body where I am inside (or seem to be).
So... is it "personal" perception tied to a body? Individual experience of life? Isn't that individual me? Am I? Or is there just perception? Is there any consciousness without perception?

What do you expect from a guided conversation?
Same as above. What more can I say or ask? Life (the world) is a mystery. Where did it come from, where is it going to. Where is it at all? What is it?
'Me' being in this life (world) is even more mysterious...

What is your experience in terms of spiritual practices, seeking and inquiry?
Buddhism, Zen, some Advaita... Mainly through books and thoughts and thinking about all of that. Tried meditation for some time, but it didn't 'work' for me. Trying to apply it to everyday life instead.

On a scale from 1 to 10, how willing are you to question any currently held beliefs about 'self?
8

barb
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Re: individual self, universal self, no self?

Postby barb » Mon Jul 29, 2019 2:41 pm

Hi :)

I would like to assist you with exploring the concept of the separate self. My role is to point by using exercises and questions. You don’t actually have to do anything other than to LOOK with your five senses at what is being pointed at. To see you are already seeing and always have been seeing what actually is. This is not about thinking about something, it is about Direct Experience... :)

This simple seeing also notices that there is no self here - there's just what is going on, that this is already going on for everyone right now. But the mind comes in and makes it complicated and says it's difficult and out of reach. My job as a guide is to help you to see that this basic awareness/seeing is always here and always has been.

Please read this links before we begin:


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


Please learn to use the quote function. When replying to a question, please use the quote function to highlight the question being answered. Instructions are located in the link below:

viewtopic.php?f=4&t=660

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=-fAToDNh9hQ&app=desktop

Please confirm that you have read the disclaimer and the other links and we can then begin the exploration.


Love, Barb
Looking —> Seeing....Seeing —> Freedom

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Re: individual self, universal self, no self?

Postby srh » Fri Aug 02, 2019 11:44 am

Hello there, Barb...

Thank you for offering guidance in seeing that there is no self. I read all of the stuff you told me to and I'm ready to start the exploration. :-)

Yeah, I know that I'm quite a lot into thinking in general and about that topic in particular. It seems to me that 'self' is (just) a thought itself, so I'm basically thinking about a thought which probably has no ending... :-D

So, what is my direct experience regarding a (my) self? I see a body (from which I seem to look out), but I cannot see a self. I also can hear that body making noises (not just) with a mouth, I can touch it, I can smell it, uhm... taste it. There are a lot of other things in my perception also, but the body is the main thing that "I" identify with.

"I" - who is this "I" that identifies with the body? Here I'm already getting confused, or rather, there is confusion...

Regards,
Stefan

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Re: individual self, universal self, no self?

Postby barb » Fri Aug 02, 2019 12:29 pm

Hi Stefan, thank you :)

To make the investigation as optimal as possible, some guidlines have proven useful over time:

1. Post at least once a day, or every second day. If you need more time or are unable to post for several days, just write a quick post on your thread to let me know, please.

2. Please answer what's true for you once you have looked to see what is being pointed at, rather than any sort of 'ideal' answer. Ideal answers may sound good but will be of no benefit to you in having you realize that there is no separate self. There is no one judging answers given, so please be100% honest in your answers and inquiry.

3. This exploration is based on actual experience (AE) - smell, taste, sound, sensation, colour and observed thoughts. 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. Please put aside all other teachings, philosophies, rituals, practices, books/reading and so on for the remainder of this investigation, this includes also the other threads in this forum. Really put all your effort and attention into seeing this reality, as it is. If you have a daily meditation practice, it is fine to continue that but is not necessary for this exploration. Be here with an open and curious mind.

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 in Word - it will save you time in the long run!

To begin with, so that we become aware of what your expectations are about this exploration ie what life will look and feel like and what you want/hope will change or not change etc. in your own words could you please answer the following questions::


What will it feel like the moment the illusion is seeing through?
What will change, what will remain the same?
What do you expect, what do you hope?



Please answer questions individually, remembering to use the quote function to highlight the question being answered.

I am looking forward to your answers

:)
Looking —> Seeing....Seeing —> Freedom

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Re: individual self, universal self, no self?

Postby srh » Fri Aug 02, 2019 2:03 pm

Hi Barb,
What will it feel like the moment the illusion is seeing through?
Of course I don‘t know what it will feel like, because that moment has not happend to me - mainly because seeing through means the absence of a ‘me‘ that could see through. The great joke is then that this moment will and can never happen to me... :-D

Nevertheless I have the fantasy that this moment will feel like a great relief. All confusion regarding my self (myself) will be gone and there will be clarity of ‘mind‘ (which I don‘t know if it exists because I cannot experience it, just like the ‘self‘).
What will change, what will remain the same?
Everything will change. Everything will remain the same. That‘s just what comes to my mind.
What do you expect, what do you hope?
I don‘t really expect something, but I hope I can make it through. :-D
I hope to see through the illusion of being a separate self, I hope to see the oneness of all being. I also hope to lose my fear of dying, my fear of losing my life, my fear of ceasing to exist.

So there was quite a lot usage of ‘I‘ and ‘me‘. It seems to be a strong habit, a deep rooted way to perceive, or rather to describe the world...

There is a certain understanding why in advaita literature people use a different semantic structure, avoiding this ‘me‘, ‘myself‘ and ‘I‘ sentences. It seems to be a reflection of seeing through the illusion.

barb
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Re: individual self, universal self, no self?

Postby barb » Sat Aug 03, 2019 12:58 pm

I don‘t really expect something, but I hope I can make it through. :-D
I hope to see through the illusion of being a separate self, I hope to see the oneness of all being. I also hope to lose my fear of dying, my fear of losing my life, my fear of ceasing to exist.
It's good to see which expectations are there. Some of them may be fulfilled, some of them not. Emotions and thoughts will be there aftergate too, there is no „happyeverafter“. But – yes – it could be a relief if it is seen that these emotions and thoughts don't belong to anybody, that they are also empty appearances like wind, rain, clouds, etc... :)

Nevertheless, please try for the duration of our investigation to put all expectations aside and simply look always fresh and new at what is going on from moment to moment. This simple looking and seeing notices that there is no separate self here - there's just what is going on, that this is already going on for everyone right now. :) And that expectations how „it“ has to look like are the veil...
So there was quite a lot usage of ‘I‘ and ‘me‘. It seems to be a strong habit, a deep rooted way to perceive, or rather to describe the world...
Sure... ;)
There is a certain understanding why in advaita literature people use a different semantic structure, avoiding this ‘me‘, ‘myself‘ and ‘I‘ sentences. It seems to be a reflection of seeing through the illusion
Yes, sometimes it could make sense to speak and think in this fuzzy wuzzy nonduality speech, but it does not commit that seeing through the illusion has happened...;) When it is clearly seen that „I, me, mine, etc.“ is just a means of communication, then it is no problem an much easier to use this words... Especially in everyday life, people would look at you very funny if you speak nondualish..:))

What we will do here in this investigation is to look if thoughts/words have something to do with reality and if „I“ is more than a thought...


It's good to take some time to see what direct experience is - that makes all other steps easier.

Sure, if I ask you how the weather is like, you can google it for a moment, think of it and search in your memories, what the weather forecast has said, call someone - or you just get up and look out of the window. You can only be certain if you have looked. Right?

If you look closely, can you experience something differently, then seeing, hearing, smelling, tasting, feeling physical, thinking (just the process of thinking, not the content)? Can you find anything besides that?


Most of the time, we are in the cyberworld of thought content, not participating in life through which the body goes.

Try what it is like to be in reality. In doing so, you will reduce reality to the names that are closest to perception. Do this exercise as often as possible throughout the day.

Simply name any experience as seeing-hearing-sensing-smelling-tasting-thinking.

Do this while becoming aware of various things:

To see a tree, simply = seeing 
The smell of coffee = smelling
The wind in the face = sensing
The toothpaste on the toothbrush = tasting
Hear a car pass by = hearing
Thought of the work = thinking (Thoughts can be words and mental images).
Thought of enlightenment = thinking
Tension in the neck = sensing
etc...

There are two kinds of thought:

1- The thought points to something perceptible via the senses at this moment - the thought 'labels'.
2- The thought points to another thought, this is thought-content and the story being told.

Simply subclassify all the experiences in these categories that are all direct experiences and tell me how that goes and what you've noticed - please give me a few examples.

I'm looking forward to your answers :)
Looking —> Seeing....Seeing —> Freedom

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Re: individual self, universal self, no self?

Postby srh » Sun Aug 04, 2019 6:40 am

What we will do here in this investigation is to look if thoughts/words have something to do with reality and if „I“ is more than a thought...
The 'I' thought is connected to quite a lot of things: especially the body - my body - which can be experienced directly. There are also memories of me/myself, which are just thoughts, reflections of the past. And there is a "future me" also, hopes, fears, anticipations - thoughts only... Then, somehow even more important than the body, there is this present awareness, which sees, feels, thinks... and which is even more 'me' than the body. Is it real? I cannot see, smell, touch this awareness which I identify with. There is just seeing, smelling, thinking... The separation between the seer and the seen seems to be constructed, just a thought.. Is or can there be any (empty/formless) awareness without content? Or does awareness just "appear" together with the perceived? It seems to me that light (sensation) and consciousness pop up together and you cannot really separate them - only by thought, a thought which just appears to be true but is an illusion.
Most of the time, we are in the cyberworld of thought content,
Oh dear, yes... This thought matrix drives me crazy. ;-D

So I will try to label all of my experiences just as you told me to. For how many days should I do it? There will be a lot of "thinking" though.

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Re: individual self, universal self, no self?

Postby barb » Sun Aug 04, 2019 11:13 am

The 'I' thought is connected to quite a lot of things: especially the body - my body - which can be experienced directly.
Is there a connection between thought and body? With which sense can it be perceived? Is it seen-heard-felt? Or is this just a thought-story?

Please anwer also the following question from my last post: (Try to answer not out of the mind, look with your senses!)

If you look closely, can you experience something differently, then seeing, hearing, smelling, tasting, feeling physical, thinking (just the process of thinking, not the content)? Can you find anything besides that? 
So I will try to label all of my experiences just as you told me to. For how many days should I do it?
Forever... No, just kidding... ;)) But it should be practiced whenever it comes in mind to create a new habit. This is the base of our investigation, and this is what is really here now.

To get familiar with this you can take every day 5 minutes or so (best with a timer), and concentrate on one sense perception after the other. I.e. The first minute you look around and every time the eyes come to rest on an object you label it with seeing (maybe so every 2 or 3 seconds..). The next minute close your eyes and every time a sound is recognized label it with hearing. The 3rd minute concentrate on bodily sensations and label with sensing. The 4th minute look at thinking (be not interested in the content) and label every thought you notice with thinking, and the 5th minute let it flow, and whatever comes in focus give a label. Every time you get distracted just go back gently and joyfully to labeling.. :)

And then throughout the day label raw experiences whenever it comes in mind (if you are alone it is best done speaking out loud...)
There will be a lot of "thinking" though
Sure, that's our programming... Try to be happy every time you realize that fairy tale world of thought was there again - and go back to labeling.

Please tell me tomorrow or the day after tomorrow how this goes :)
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Re: individual self, universal self, no self?

Postby srh » Sun Aug 04, 2019 4:20 pm

If you look closely, can you experience something differently, then seeing, hearing, smelling, tasting, feeling physical, thinking (just the process of thinking, not the content)? Can you find anything besides that?
No, there is surely no other experience to be found than through my senses. Thinking is the most deceptive sense, since it is often not referring to the world we live in but rather creates a imaginated world within us. As a twitter friend said, we don't live in the matrix, the matrix lives within us.
Is there a connection between thought and body? With which sense can it be perceived? Is it seen-heard-felt? Or is this just a thought-story?
The thought of 'I' connects or identifies itself with the body, because all of the senses (maybe excluding thought) are connected to or located in the body. I look through my eyes from inside my body (which I can see in a mirror), I hear through my ears, feel through my skin and so on... It's a matter of perspective - I cannot switch to some other body. What is seen, heard, felt through this body is my point of view and "naturally" attaches itself to that body-bounded perspective.

Nevertheless the connection between (the 'I') thought and body is just another thought. It isn't and can't be seen, heard or felt physically - because there is no 'I' in the real world which is accessible to the senses.
Forever... No, just kidding... ;)) But it should be practiced whenever it comes in mind to create a new habit.
Sorry, what I meant was how many days should I do it until I tell you how it goes. :-D
Ok, I will practice labeling accordingly and give feedback to you next day.

Thanks,
Stefan

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Re: individual self, universal self, no self?

Postby barb » Mon Aug 05, 2019 11:14 am

Sorry, what I meant was how many days should I do it until I tell you how it goes. :-D
Ok, I will practice labeling accordingly and give feedback to you next day
No reason to apologize, I knew what you mean, just wanted to make a little joke (although looking after the gateless gate is not over)...:)
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Re: individual self, universal self, no self?

Postby srh » Tue Aug 06, 2019 6:20 am

I did "exercise" seeing, hearing several times today and yesterday. It was difficult to focus on the senses because thoughts always sneaked in. Partly because labeling experience is also a thought process (a short comment on what is is seen, heared and so on) and partly because other thoughts (not related to the senses) did come up. When I noticed and switched back to labeling my perceptions, it did go for a while and perception was somehow more intense than usually. I noticed the gap between what was seen and the label and I also noticed how I‘m usually labeling and judging everything all day long without noticing it.

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Re: individual self, universal self, no self?

Postby barb » Tue Aug 06, 2019 12:27 pm

I did "exercise" seeing, hearing several times today and yesterday. It was difficult to focus on the senses because thoughts always sneaked in. Partly because labeling experience is also a thought process (a short comment on what is is seen, heared and so on) and partly because other thoughts (not related to the senses) did come up. When I noticed and switched back to labeling my perceptions, it did go for a while and perception was somehow more intense than usually. I noticed the gap between what was seen and the label and I also noticed how I‘m usually labeling and judging everything all day long without noticing it.

Great job, very well done!

It's just a matter of practicing. Go on with this whenever it comes in mind, it becomes more and more habitual and one day the labeling of the DE can fall away and there is just looking at what is here right now... Of course not all the time, to crash the gate does not mean that there will no more thoughts. If there is seen, that there is no separate entity to whom this thoughts belong then they may gradually lose grip... :)

You've already seen it, but let's stay with it a bit and examine more closely:

Look at the mind as an automatic labeling machine, a narrator without an on-off switch. Its purpose is to name what the senses perceive, to label feelings, and to narrate the story.

Sit for a couple of minutes, relax, slow gentle breathing, close your eyes, calm down.

Then open your eyes and look around you. Notice how thoughts spring up and label objects, tell a story about things, how they got there, without you having any control over them.

Thoughts are just that—labels that point to things, senses or ideas. Don’t pay much attention to content, but observe how the labeling mechanism works.

Close your eyes again: A sound is heard and thoughts describe what happened. A tingling sensation comes and thoughts label it. Just pay attention to how something is experienced and then labeled immediately afterward.

Can you see how everything runs on automatic?

Please tell me how this is for you :)
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Re: individual self, universal self, no self?

Postby srh » Wed Aug 07, 2019 2:33 pm

Look at the mind as an automatic labeling machine
I wonder if there is such a thing like 'mind' - can you experience it? It seems to be just another abstraction or conclusion, that there must be something which is producing all of that thoughts... The brain on the other side is something you can see, touch, smell (not usually but some people - e.g. brain surgeon - do) - but do we really know that the brain "secrete" thoughts?

Practicing goes well, things are fresh after opening the eyes - like through the eyes of a child - but then the labeling starts and everything gets "worn out", the same old table, the same old car, the same old wife. ;-D

Regarding the realization of 'no self' I still walk in circles, stand in front of the gate and do not know how to go through. I know intellectually that there is no one who could go through the gate, but it is not a realization. 'I' am still there - a persistent illusion of being a separate entity that can decide, manipulate and control things - and that will die one day.

I cannot see that all is just a "universal happening" - there seem to be too many influences, causes, decisions, forces from different sources (e.g. people who are doing things)... Sometimes there is a certain feeling, hard to describe... Like everything is flowing, moving in a natural way - everything is just "as it is" and ever changing at the same time.
Can you see how everything runs on automatic?
When I look directly, yes. But then, shortly after, analyzing starts and there's always some "doer" found. Obviously I wonder or even doubt if direct experience is the only reality. From direct experience, conclusions can always be drawn. From this follows that - if this exists, then there must be that... This way of seeing the world is very fundamental in our culture - our whole upbringing and education is designed to teach children this worldview.

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Re: individual self, universal self, no self?

Postby barb » Wed Aug 07, 2019 3:13 pm

I wonder if there is such a thing like 'mind' - can you experience it?
Try to keep on track and keep it simple...:) We have to use words for communication, every word is a concept, even the words seeing-hearing-tasting-smelling-sensing. But without we cannot write...
It seems to be just another abstraction or conclusion, that there must be something which is producing all of that thoughts... The brain on the other side is something you can see, touch, smell (not usually but some people - e.g. brain surgeon - do) -
Yes, and we are not interested in conclusions or experiences from other people... :) Can you see-hear-feel-taste-smell „your brain“ in YOUR OWN ACTUAL EXPERIENCE? Or is this just hearsay?
but do we really know that the brain "secrete" thoughts?
This investigation is not about knowing, it's about unknowing. Knowing is about knowledge which is all in the “mind” (no there is not really a mind, but let us call the summary of thought-content and also emotions so, ok?) and we are not interested in that. We are only interested in looking at and seeing what is actually going on in your present moment to moment experience. We are only interested in your direct experience in the moment.
Practicing goes well, things are fresh after opening the eyes - like through the eyes of a child - but then the labeling starts and everything gets "worn out", the same old table, the same old car, the same old wife. ;-D
:))
Regarding the realization of 'no self' I still walk in circles, stand in front of the gate and do not know how to go through. I know intellectually that there is no one who could go through the gate, but it is not a realization. 'I' am still there - a persistent illusion of being a separate entity that can decide, manipulate and control things - and that will die one day.
Let's have a look at the illusion of control:

Lift your right or left arm (or leave it down). While lifting or not lifting
a decision happens, at least something happens (or not).

Can you find the exact moment of decision and find the concrete essence which seems to make a decision?
Is it really possible to find the moment of decision as well as the apparent "decider"?
Or does the idea "I decided to lift (or not) the right or left arm” emerge only after the actual event?


Watch decisions during every day life and try to track them back to their source. Is this possible?
I cannot see that all is just a "universal happening" - there seem to be too many influences, causes, decisions, forces from different sources (e.g. people who are doing things)...
Maybe we will have a look at this a little later :)
Sometimes there is a certain feeling, hard to describe... Like everything is flowing, moving in a natural way - everything is just "as it is" and ever changing at the same time.
Beautiful :)
Can you see how everything runs on automatic?
When I look directly, yes. But then, shortly after, analyzing starts and there's always some "doer" found. Obviously I wonder or even doubt if direct experience is the only reality.
How does this "doer" look like? How does it sound and feel? LOOK with your senses, not in thought-content!
If there is wondering, can you something do against it? Doesn't it appear by itself?


Thoughts will always doubt anything, we will never know what's going on outside of experience, right? Maybe it's all a dream or a computer simulation, who knows? But: Whatever it is (we will never know :)) one thing is always there with complete certainty: that what we call perceiving.

Or has it ever been possible to experience an absence of "perceiving"? Contemplate it!
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Re: individual self, universal self, no self?

Postby srh » Thu Aug 08, 2019 8:46 pm

We are only interested in looking at and seeing what is actually going on in your present moment to moment experience.
Does it suggest that the only reality is subjective perception or experience and there is no objective reality?
Can you find the exact moment of decision and find the concrete essence which seems to make a decision?
Not long ago I thought that I can decide to lift my arm (or not) and then I would lift (or nor). I was in control, I had free will. But then I realized that it was just a thought ("I will lift my hand now") and it was not even necessarily followed by lifting my hand. I could also think "I will not lift" and it lifted. The decision took place somewhere, somehow - but I couldn't say where or how...

No, I can't find that moment of decision. It happens and then the thought that it was me (who else?) making it happen.
Or has it ever been possible to experience an absence of "perceiving"?
No, there is no experience without perceiving. There can't be because the two are one / the same. And I'm quite sure that absence of experience also means absence of 'self', 'mind' and even 'consciousness' or 'awareness' They all seem to be just a reflection and they can't be without the source, like the moon can't shine without the sun.

What, then, is perception? What is this whole world? You say we will never know...


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