Nothing Left To Lose

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LazarusLong
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Nothing Left To Lose

Postby LazarusLong » Tue Jul 09, 2019 11:06 am

LU is focused guiding for seeing there is no real, inherent 'self' - what do you understand by this?
At some point in human development, a belief in ME becomes a kind of heuristic for organizing experience and navigating the social environment. It becomes a well-rehearsed habit, despite that fact that it was always an illusion, a convenience with a cost. In theory, there's a next stage of development in which that illusion is popped.

What are you looking for at LU?
I understand these ideas pretty well in theory, and I've had many moments in which the illusion subsided, albeit temporarily. Reading Gateless Gatecrashers, I believe some real shift is happening for people, but it looks to me as if it's an intellectual shift, as if self is being defined out of existence, as if it's semantics. I would like help in taking this shift beyond the realm of intellect, to see if it can be a real and permanent change for me.

What do you expect from a guided conversation?
I would wish for someone who can direct me to have an irreversible experience of popping. I would like help with how to answer the questions in a way that's really about direct experience, not mental gymnastics, as fun as those are. Ideally, I'd wish for a guide who's not averse to engaging intellectually, but who can point me in a direction that's not about the mind.

What is your experience in terms of spiritual practices, seeking and inquiry?
I've been leading personal growth workshops for 25 years, many of which involve inquiry, deconstructing limiting beliefs, learning to shift states of consciousness, not knowing, and becoming free. I've never been a regular meditator, but I've tried to integrate meditative practice into normal life activities. I've tried many kinds of practices from many traditions. Once, use of psychedelics was integral to my learning how to open awareness and free my mind. I've been collaborating for some months now with Jed McKenna (or, the real person the fictional character of Jed is based on), trying to develop an advances course in letting go and getting free.

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: Nothing Left To Lose

Postby JonathanR » Wed Jul 31, 2019 11:18 pm

Hi Lazaruslong.

Welcome to Liberation Unleashed. I'm Jon and will be happy to work with you by offering pointers.
. Once, use of psychedelics was integral to my learning how to open awareness and free my mind. I've been collaborating for some months now with Jed McKenna (or, the real person the fictional character of Jed is based on), trying to develop an advances course in letting go and getting free.
Very interesting. Is there a reason for moving away from psychedelics?

Very interesting to hear that you have been collaborating on a book with Jed McKenna.

What is that needs to let go or get free?

. I would wish for someone who can direct me to have an irreversible experience of popping.
Tell me what irreversible popping should be like? How would it feel?
. I would like help in taking this shift beyond the realm of intellect, to see if it can be a real and permanent change for me.
Beyond the intellect yes. Permanent change for a 'me' might be tricky.?

After reading my reply I hope that you will be inclined to accept my offer?

Warm regarxs

Jon

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LazarusLong
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Re: Nothing Left To Lose

Postby LazarusLong » Thu Aug 01, 2019 7:28 am

Hi, Jon!

Thanks so much for offering to guide me!
Is there a reason for moving away from psychedelics?
I still use them occasionally. There's lots to be learned from various ways of altering states. I meant only to say that many years ago, psychedelics showed me something I hadn't know about, expanded my awareness to include non-dual experiences. I don't expect to gain anything more from drugs in that domain at this point. I don't believe they're the key to freedom!
What is that needs to let go or get free?
In the course we're working on, we're helping people to let go of the many kinds of accumulations and constructs they may be dragging around with them: roles, memories, identities, preferences, desires, beliefs, and so on. Though this culminates in letting go of the illusion of a separate self and free will, and letting go of their conceptual model of the world, the earlier work remains important. Enlightenment doesn't make people psychologically, emotionally, or interpersonally skilled or intelligent. We're trying to mitigate the risk of spiritual bypassing by giving people ways to let go on those other levels along the way.
Tell me what irreversible popping should be like? How would it feel?
Fuck if I know! I do like the Santa Claus metaphor from the GG book a lot, though. Whatever I think I've seen about the illusory nature of the self has changed me, but it doesn't stop me from thinking that Santa is the one who left those presents. While I can question it in various way, I still feel like a 'me'. That sense of self is far looser than it once was, but it only ever temporarily subsides. I still keep thinking Santa's coming down the chimney, which is even worse given that I'm Jewish!
Beyond the intellect yes. Permanent change for a 'me' might be tricky.?
Yes. That must be true by definition. I know that "becoming free", for instance, is just a shorthand way of saying, "discovering that you were free all along", but the discovery changes something, yes?
After reading my reply I hope that you will be inclined to accept my offer?
Oh, yeah! I'm so down! Thanks for offering your hand and your eyes along the journey.

Lazarus

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JonathanR
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Re: Nothing Left To Lose

Postby JonathanR » Thu Aug 01, 2019 10:13 pm

Hi Lazarus
. I still use them occasionally. There's lots to be learned from various ways of altering states. I meant only to say that many years ago, psychedelics showed me something I hadn't know about, expanded my awareness to include non-dual experiences. I don't expect to gain anything more from drugs in that domain at this point. I don't believe they're the key to freedom!
I see. Yes. Thanks.
. In the course we're working on, we're helping people to let go of the many kinds of accumulations and constructs they may be dragging around with them: roles, memories, identities, preferences, desires, beliefs, and so on. Though this culminates in letting go of the illusion of a separate self and free will, and letting go of their conceptual model of the world, the earlier work remains important. Enlightenment doesn't make people psychologically, emotionally, or interpersonally skilled or intelligent. We're trying to mitigate the risk of spiritual bypassing by giving people ways to let go on those other levels along the way.
That sounds like interesting and worthwhile work.
. That sense of self is far looser than it once was, but it only ever temporarily subsides. I still keep thinking Santa's coming down the chimney, which is even worse given that I'm Jewish!

Ha ha ha! And with a great sense of humour too..

But seriously, who or what is supposed to control identification? What if it cannot be prevented?

What if the illusion of self won't subside?
. That must be true by definition. I know that "becoming free", for instance, is just a shorthand way of saying, "discovering that you were free all along", but the discovery changes something, yes?
Yes. It's often described as awakening, isn't it? But what is it that 'becomes free'?

What is it that is free or not free?

Love

Jon

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LazarusLong
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Re: Nothing Left To Lose

Postby LazarusLong » Fri Aug 02, 2019 7:00 am

But seriously, who or what is supposed to control identification? What if it cannot be prevented? What if the illusion of self won't subside?
I like having a self. I've been skeptical for a long time about whether I'll ever transcend it, skeptical even about whether anyone actually does. So if identification persists and I keep believing I have a self, life will still be pretty groovy. It's not that I never suffer, but suffering isn't driving me to try to wake up, like it seems to for some people. If this process here doesn't work out, I trust I can still keep enjoying the dream. But, I'd still prefer to wake up, even if the dream keeps getting better.
What is it that is free or not free?
This is the heart of the matter, right? Let me see if I can find what I can know about that right now.

I've been sitting here at a cafe writing on my laptop. Sometimes, the writing is spontaneous. It feels kind of effortless to write and I play with it more. I keep going without much distraction. I'm kind of "in the zone" as it were, less metacognition going on, fewer thoughts about 'me'. Just ideas being played with and expressed in words. Other times, writing is much harder. I second guess it a lot. It feels too difficult to get it right and I tense up and judge myself about my laziness.

So in that first mode, there seems to be more freedom or authenticity or creativity. In the second, more of a feeling of constraint and pushing the river. One mode is characterized by a greater sense of freedom than the other. I seem to have only middling control over which mode I wind up in at any given time.

What is it that's experiencing one of these modes or the other? It seems like there's a pattern of activity. It includes more or fewer thoughts that include self-evaluation or the word "I". It includes a feeling of openness and unrestricted breathing, or a kind of tightness and narrowness of attention. There's a pattern of thoughts and thoughts-about-thoughts, feelings and feelings-about-feelings, over a period of activity, and I'd call that pattern 'me'. And "I", as that pattern, changes, and one kind of change is how freely I think and feel and behave.

Is this a helpful kind of response, or is there a different kind of way you'd like me to look for the answer(s)?

Thanks and Love
Lazarus

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JonathanR
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Re: Nothing Left To Lose

Postby JonathanR » Fri Aug 02, 2019 8:05 am

Hi Lazarus
. Is this a helpful kind of response, or is there a different kind of way you'd like me to look for the answer(s)?
Yes. Very helpful. Don't worry. If I need you to look at anything differently I'll let you know. .
. I like having a self. I've been skeptical for a long time about whether I'll ever transcend it, skeptical even about whether anyone actually does
Yes. What is the entity that would get to transcend the entity?

Also, has the imagined self ever actually been a thing that is 'there' to be 'transcended'?
. It's not that I never suffer, but suffering isn't driving me to try to wake up, like it seems to for some people
There can be a lot of talk about needing to get rid of self so I was very surprised to discover that the bigger thing than that tight knot is LIFE IT'S SELF! Yipee!

No self is no separation. There is literally no one that is 'separate' from experience of everything as it happens right now. What do you think of that?
. So in that first mode, there seems to be more freedom or authenticity or creativity. In the second, more of a feeling of constraint and pushing the river. One mode is characterized by a greater sense of freedom than the other. I seem to have only middling control over which mode I wind up in at any given time.
I wonder if this, were explored thoroughly, whether there is any 'control' as such?
. And "I", as that pattern, changes, and one kind of change is how freely I think and feel and behave.

And maybe the other change is how it seems that a person, Lazarus, struggles?
Love

Jon

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LazarusLong
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Re: Nothing Left To Lose

Postby LazarusLong » Sat Aug 03, 2019 6:04 am

Maybe it keeps things neater if I respond to all of your questions, and in order, but I suspect in some way they're all the same question, so I'm going to jump to the one that stopped me in my tracks:
No self is no separation. There is literally no one that is 'separate' from experience of everything as it happens right now. What do you think of that?
When I read this, I can feel tears well up behind my eyes. There's this sense of lightness, like the lifting of burden. Yet I remain hovering on some sort of edge, not tipping over. (Sorry for the mixed metaphors!)

When I was a kid, I wanted to learn astral projection. I followed the instructions in a book, relaxing my body systematically until it was completely heavy and still. I felt like I could almost just lift off out of my body, if not for one thing. I couldn't stop breathing. No matter how slow or shallow I breathed, every breath still broke the stillness.

This feels somehow similar. I know what you're saying is right. There is nothing but experience of everything as it happens right now. I imagine there's a stream or a current of experience in motion. And it feels like "I" am just made of the current, and I want it to take "me" away with it, but something keeps cohering me into a rock in the stream and the current just flows around. The something in this case isn't my breath, but some mental habit I can't quite isolate.

I know I'm not seeing this correctly. Breathing could never have been the problem, and nor could any mental habit. I know there's no self to get rid of. It was never there. All there has ever been is experiencing. So I can't be a rock in the stream. Maybe a whirlpool, something that maintains its identity only so long as current flows into and out of it, but still has its own form.

I keep reading the statement,
No self is no separation. There is literally no one that is 'separate' from experience of everything as it happens right now.
Your words offer so much relief, but something I don't know how to investigate keeps holding on to the old burden. Can you help me look for what that might be?

Love
Lazarus

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LazarusLong
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Re: Nothing Left To Lose

Postby LazarusLong » Sat Aug 03, 2019 3:34 pm

I've been feeling into this all day and I have something to add.

There may be no one separate from experience of everything as it happens, but perhaps experiencing is not all that's happening. If I think of consciousness as a screen, then experiencing is simply occurring (through perception and sensation and mental sensations). It's not difficult to recognize that experiencing is happening, almost passively, without an experiencer required. If I think of consciousness as also being the projector, that's where I get caught.

I am not merely perceiving experience. I'm also producing it. Experiencing without an experiencer is easier for me to grok than deliberating without a deliberator, deciding without a decider, running without a runner, arguing without an arguer, and so on. It's not that I believe in free will. I don't. It's just that when it comes to internal or external action, that's where I seem to keep reappearing. That's the equivalent of my breath stopping me from leaving my body.

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JonathanR
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Re: Nothing Left To Lose

Postby JonathanR » Sat Aug 03, 2019 11:33 pm

Hello Lazarus

Forgive me for taking all day to reply to you. Twas rather busy at my end.
. I am not merely perceiving experience. I'm also producing it. Experiencing without an experiencer is easier for me to grok than deliberating without a deliberator, deciding without a decider, running without a runner, arguing without an arguer, and so on. It's not that I believe in free will. I don't. It's just that when it comes to internal or external action, that's where I seem to keep reappearing. That's the equivalent of my breath stopping me from leaving my body.
I'd like to focus on this as you saw fit to focus on this in particular.

I understand what you are saying. It is relatively easy to notice that there is no fixed or separate self.

And it can be another thing to see that there is no doer. No deliberation without a deliberator or decider without a decider, as you put it

Rather than an intellectual argument about this I suggest a practical exercise or two.

In exercise one you look for the chooser that chooses (as between alternatives). Place both hands on a, table in front of you, palm downwards. In a minute one hand must be raised into the air whilst the other must stay down. The thing to do is to notice throughout this exercise the exact moment when the 'choice' is made. Look for the choice point. Notice as I e hand goes up and the other doesn't. Tell me if you find the choice as it is chosen?


The other exercise involves noticing how decisions happen. We're not suggesting that 'choices' or 'decisions' do not happen but our interest is to notice what really goes on (or not) during these moments.

So, next time you drive or walk somewhere please notice the experience for a few minutes and report back to tell me if you could find a decider deciding to do all the bits and pieces necessary to turn out into the road, pull away, cruise, adjust controls, check mirror, switch on radio, plug in seat belt and so on and so forth all the way to the end of the journey.?

If its walking just see if a decider decides on how to ballance the torso as one leg is thrust forward, foot applied to the ground in just the right way to shift weight precisely so as not to fall into the nearby hedge? And so on... is a decider found deciding all these details?

Love

Jon

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LazarusLong
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Re: Nothing Left To Lose

Postby LazarusLong » Tue Aug 06, 2019 8:24 am

Hey, Jon!

Now *I* have to apologize for being so long in replying! Or, in current terminology, apologizing appears to be happening, and mental activity, as usual, is taking credit for it. I was in transit for a day. Please take all the time you need in replying. I have so much gratitude for your assistance.

Thank you for the exercises. Here are my experiences doing them.
In exercise one you look for the chooser that chooses (as between alternatives). Place both hands on a, table in front of you, palm downwards. In a minute one hand must be raised into the air whilst the other must stay down. The thing to do is to notice throughout this exercise the exact moment when the 'choice' is made. Look for the choice point. Notice as I e hand goes up and the other doesn't. Tell me if you find the choice as it is chosen?
In this exercise, it's easy to observe that a choice or rationale for choosing simply arises. Sensations in one hand intensify, for instance, and the mind then follows up the sensations by selecting the hand, followed by a subtle impulse to lift it, and the matching muscular action.
So, next time you drive or walk somewhere please notice the experience for a few minutes and report back to tell me if you could find a decider deciding to do all the bits and pieces necessary to turn out into the road, pull away, cruise, adjust controls, check mirror, switch on radio, plug in seat belt and so on and so forth all the way to the end of the journey.? If its walking just see if a decider decides on how to balance the torso as one leg is thrust forward, foot applied to the ground in just the right way to shift weight precisely so as not to fall into the nearby hedge? And so on... is a decider found deciding all these details?
I'm in Cambodia and the entire rainy season seems to be happening all in one week. I'm riding my bicycle into town, and many of the roads are flooded or have long, deep puddles. My body is doing a pretty great job all on its own pedaling and weight shifting and responding to all the bumps and inconsistencies in the road. Lots of activity is happening without executive control needed, fairly automatically. No identified mover or decider. Interspersed with that are moments where a a perceptual awareness subroutine notices a vehicle in peripheral vision or hears one approaching. Then I seem to appear, making micro-evaluations of risk and how much berth to give the other driver, especially if I'm choosing whether to enter a puddle and get splashed to avoid them. Where I really seem to show up, though, is in looking ahead down the road a ways and plotting out a course, say going to the left of the puddle even though I'm supposed to drive on the right, or rerouting to avoid making a turn into a flooded area. I make these evaluations quickly and sometimes feel as if it's me making the decision to stand up on the pedals for a power thrust or to lean dramatically to intensify a turn. I leave the rest of the work of carrying out my route plan to the automatic processes that move the bicycle where I want it to go.

So it's a mix, in my experience. Thank the gods that I don't have to maintain executive control over most of the little stuff. I'm sure I would forget to breathe within minutes if I had to be in charge of it! Small moves are always happening on their own. But there's also some higher level planning and watching for feedback as the plan is executed, then adjusting accordingly. This involves more explicit mental activity, accompanied by a sense of ownership of the process of anticipating, goal setting, planning, problem solving, etc.

FWIW, I've spent many hours in meditation attempting to observe the inception of a new thought. When I attend at this level, it always seems as if thoughts come into being as if from the void, or that they flow down the stream of consciousness from some upstream source that has nothing to do with me. If I watch one thought at a time, they seem simply to come of their own accord. If I attend to perception and movement impulses at the micro level during a brief present moment, they also seem to happen on their own, without the interference or management of a self.

But all that's at the micro level. When moments get strung together to make a more complex experience, my self seems to cohere. I show up to witness, scheme, deliberate, direct attention, sort through and reject possible solutions to problems, take experimental actions, evaluate how it's all going, and make meaning about it. While many of those things can happen when I'm relatively checked out or running on automatic pilot, they also sometimes happen intentionally and with awareness. While I know in theory that it's not "me" doing any of it, that no me is required even in the intention and awareness, that remains mostly theoretical for me.

Hope I'm not being too tough of a case. I'm not meaning to be stubborn or hold a position, but please let me know if you think I'm doing that.

Thanks and Love
Lazarus

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Re: Nothing Left To Lose

Postby JonathanR » Wed Aug 07, 2019 12:24 am

Hi Lazarus.

It's OK. I don't think that you are stubbornly holding a position. You have clearly looked at how things happen, or appear to be happening and have given a fair account in detail.
. But there's also some higher level planning and watching for feedback as the plan is executed, then adjusting accordingly. This involves more explicit mental activity, accompanied by a sense of ownership of the process of anticipating, goal setting, planning, problem solving, etc.
What makes it 'higher level' exactly? And are other processes 'lower'?

Yes, I understand what you mean about anticipating, goal setting and planning. Here there is only one solution and that is to look right into any such process to find evidence of a static, separate entity that is 'doing' any of this. Its best to explore in the present moment, whatever the activity may be. Investigating what is going on right now is likely to prove fruitful, whereas analysing in retrospect or at a, different time probably won't be.
. While I know in theory that it's not "me" doing any of it, that no me is required even in the intention and awareness, that remains mostly theoretical for me.
This underlines the need for investigating how things happen only in the immediate moment that is experienced, as I said earlier.
. If I watch one thought at a time, they seem simply to come of their own accord. If I attend to perception and movement impulses at the micro level during a brief present moment, they also seem to happen on their own, without the interference or management of a self.
Try looking at the gap or space between one thought and the next This involves paying a little attention to the 'space' after one thought has finished and another has not yet appeared.

Live

Jon

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LazarusLong
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Re: Nothing Left To Lose

Postby LazarusLong » Mon Aug 12, 2019 3:05 am

Hey, Jon. Sorry for the long gap. I was waiting to see if I might mine something valuable from the inquiry as I understand how to do it so far, but I haven't found anything new.
What makes it 'higher level' exactly? And are other processes 'lower'?
What I mean by this is that a decision to switch gears on my bike in order to keep momentum up a hill is a higher order process than all the small adjustments that comprise the activity (changing pedaling speed, timing of clicking shifters, weight shifting, breathing faster, etc., etc.). And deciding which route to take and fitting the timing of the ride into my day's schedule is higher order than that (and requires regular monitoring to keep my attention on where the turns are and how long it's taking me to get there). The higher order processes don't just happen in the moment, per se, but require me to construct a sense of continuity where information from the past informs choices in the present, including the choice to hold present information in my thoughts to keep it available for my theoretical future self.
Here there is only one solution and that is to look right into any such process to find evidence of a static, separate entity that is 'doing' any of this.
I would say I 'know' better than to try to look for a static or separate entity, but I am still looking for a dynamic one that is constituted by and constitutes its moment-to-moment activities. When I've read other people's dialogues, they seem to get some real insight when they notice that they can't find any 'self' in the immediate moment. I also can't find any self in the immediate moment, but that doesn't seem to change anything. That's been a part of my awareness for a long time. But it just seems to me that that's the wrong place to look for a self. It doesn't appear in an instant, but as a pattern over many instants.
Try looking at the gap or space between one thought and the next This involves paying a little attention to the 'space' after one thought has finished and another has not yet appeared.
I enjoy this practice. It's very rich for me. I find that my state of consciousness quickly shifts when I attend to that gap, just a sense of pure sensory vibration comprising the whole of existence. I also feel an expanded quality to my awareness and have fewer thoughts after doing this for a while, and that lasts some minutes or longer. None of those state shifts, though, cause anything to pop.

It still remains elusive to me, whatever the insight is people seem to get from this process. It seems more to me just like these are worthwhile insight practices, but I don't yet know how to see through the veil.

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Re: Nothing Left To Lose

Postby JonathanR » Mon Aug 12, 2019 8:12 am

Hi Lazarus

On the whole it is probably better to post daily and in short amounts of writing than let several days pass before posting, if you can do that?
. When I've read other people's dialogues, they seem to get some real insight when they notice that they can't find any 'self' in the immediate moment. I also can't find any self in the immediate moment, but that doesn't seem to change anything.
It's true.. Noticing that there is only ever what's happening right now puts all the thoughts 'commentating' ABOUT everything in perspective.
. None of those state shifts, though, cause anything to pop.
I'm going to be very frank and hope that you will not feel alienated by my remark but really, what are you talking about?

What is supposed to 'pop'? It's just a fixation on an idea. Like 'nothing causes the tooth fairy to appear'.

Perhaps you should consider dropping this word 'pop'?
. It seems more to me just like these are worthwhile insight practices, but I don't yet know how to see through the veil
There's no veil and no you to see through one.


Love
Jon

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LazarusLong
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Re: Nothing Left To Lose

Postby LazarusLong » Mon Aug 12, 2019 11:42 am

On the whole it is probably better to post daily and in short amounts of writing than let several days pass before posting, if you can do that?
Will do - thanks!
It's true.. Noticing that there is only ever what's happening right now puts all the thoughts 'commentating' ABOUT everything in perspective..
I get that there's only what's happening right now, but sometimes what's happening right now includes contextualizing the experience in the moment in terms of the memory of recent moments and the imagining of upcoming moments, even if the memory and the imagining are both happening right now. To say that there is no self because it doesn't appear in the immediate moment seems to me like saying that there is no narrative structure to a story or a movie because the narrative doesn't occur in the immediate moment. Both self and narrative seem to me like a function of time. However imaginary time is, we still function in the moment as if something of relevance occurred before now and something relevant will happen soon.
I'm going to be very frank and hope that you will not feel alienated by my remark
Thank you for your thoughtfulness in how you phrased this, but I don't think you could alienate me. I don't at all mind playing rough if that's what makes the difference. Please feel free to be direct or even critical.
but really, what are you talking about? What is supposed to 'pop'? It's just a fixation on an idea. Like 'nothing causes the tooth fairy to appear'. Perhaps you should consider dropping this word 'pop'? There's no veil and no you to see through one.
Clearly, the way I'm imagining the goal of this process we're in is wrong, or at least a distraction. I can certainly drop the word 'pop' and the idea that goes along with it. But are you saying there's no goal to what we're doing?

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Re: Nothing Left To Lose

Postby JonathanR » Mon Aug 12, 2019 9:13 pm

Hi Lazarus

. To say that there is no self because it doesn't appear in the immediate moment seems to me like saying that there is no narrative structure to a story or a movie because the narrative doesn't occur in the immediate moment.
There are two related ideas here that are tangled up. Surely there will always be thoughts and therefore references to 'I' or "me'. That imagined 'I' only exists as ideas ABOUT a 'separate self'. That is why it is often called 'illusion'. But in terms of an actual entity, hanging out 'inside a body' or 'inside a head', pressing knobs and pullung levers and making things happen. We look for evidence of that one. It's possible to see the 'self' illusion whilst it appears and to understand that there never was a separate entity.
. I can certainly drop the word 'pop' and the idea that goes along with it. But are you saying there's no goal to what we're doing?
It really depends a lot on what goal is imagined. No, there is not so much a goal as an exhausting of the mind. A running out of viable hiding places for a separate self. Sometimes there can be a dropping of seeking.

Jon


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