Nothing Left To Lose

Welcome to the main forum. When you are ready to start a conversation, register and once your application is processed a guide will come to talk to you.
This is one-on-one style forum, one thread per green member.
User avatar
JonathanR
Posts: 3901
Joined: Sat Mar 01, 2014 10:14 pm

Re: Nothing Left To Lose

Postby JonathanR » Mon Aug 12, 2019 9:15 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

User avatar
LazarusLong
Posts: 12
Joined: Tue Jul 09, 2019 11:04 am

Re: Nothing Left To Lose

Postby LazarusLong » Wed Aug 14, 2019 4:30 am

Hello again, dear guide!
Surely there will always be thoughts and therefore references to 'I' or "me'. That imagined 'I' only exists as ideas ABOUT a 'separate self'.
I don't think I quite get the ABOUT thing. Are you saying, by definition, any sense of self or belief in self is ABOUT something, because it's not direct experience? I still don't quite get this. I get that 'self' is a concept made up from basic sense data (including mental sensations). Is the ABOUT part to distinguish raw sense data from concepts via which I organize the sense data (like self, other, life, relationship, world). None of those are real, per se. They're all just (problematic) heuristics for organizing experience.
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.
You mean like a homunculus? I know there's not a little guy in there. The 'in there' is the whole thing. It feels more accessible to me to conceive of everything as being my self - a different direction in which to find no separation. There's nothing that's not me. But again, that's just a state that's experienced for brief periods, and intermittently.
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.
I do seem to be losing track of whatever I thought I was doing here, but I don't know if that's the dissolution of a sort of misdirected seeking, or just a kind of giving up, or maybe those are the same thing. I get excited again when I read what seems to be the suggested objective on the home page of the site:
This triggers what we refer to as ‘crossing the Gateless Gate’: an instant in which the illusion of a separate self is seen through. A shift in perception happens.
This is no different from what I meant by 'popping'. There's a crossing, or a shift, some difference. I'm not trying to anticipate what this will be, though I still have the idea that whatever it is it will be the result of my exploration with you. So, not giving up yet, but perhaps you're suggesting I should be?

User avatar
JonathanR
Posts: 3901
Joined: Sat Mar 01, 2014 10:14 pm

Re: Nothing Left To Lose

Postby JonathanR » Wed Aug 14, 2019 11:12 am

Hello Lazarus


I don't think I quite get the ABOUT thing. Are you saying, by definition, any sense of self or belief in self is ABOUT something, because it's not direct experience?
If you're interested in exploring the ABOUT thing try the following exercise:

Find a piece of fruit. Leave it somewhere and go and sit in a different room or somewhere else. Close your eyes and imagine the piece of fruit as vividly as possible, so that it seems quite real. Give it a minute or two.

Now go and fetch the real fruit. Hold it in your hand and notice all sensations, texture, colour, scent, weight, even taste.

Now compare the experience of the actual fruit with the imagined fruit or thoughts about fruit.

It's possible to have thoughts about fruit. How real is that imagined fruit? What if the self that is imagined is no more real than this?
I still don't quite get this. I get that 'self' is a concept made up from basic sense data (including mental sensations). Is the ABOUT part to distinguish raw sense data from concepts via which I organize the sense data (like self, other, life, relationship, world). None of those are real, per se. They're all just (problematic) heuristics for organizing experience.
Where is the one doing the organising.? You say 'I organize'. What evidence it there for a one that does organizing?

It feels more accessible to me to conceive of everything as being my self - a different direction in which to find no separation. There's nothing that's not me. But again, that's just a state that's experienced for brief periods, and intermittently.]
Investigate no separation./separation

Find time to go for a walk in nature. A park will do if not the countryside or by the sea. Somewhere where everything is alive and happening. Trees, clouds, birds, grass, sun, rain, people, sounds, animals, insects and so on. The whole show going on.

Now relax and notice everything that is happening, all these sensations and also isny body sensations and thoughts or feelings as they may appear.

Now look for a line or edge within this whole experience behind which it's all 'me' and beyond which it's 'everything else'.. This should not be intellectualised but noticed, experienced. Look for a line. Look into this and see if there is separation.


I do seem to be losing track of whatever I thought I was doing here, but I don't know if that's the dissolution of a sort of misdirected seeking, or just a kind of giving up, or maybe those are the same thing. I get excited again when I read what seems to be the suggested objective on the home page of the site:
You may be feeling disappointed or confused but hang in there and try the exercises I've suggested.

All the best

Jon

User avatar
LazarusLong
Posts: 12
Joined: Tue Jul 09, 2019 11:04 am

Re: Nothing Left To Lose

Postby LazarusLong » Sat Aug 17, 2019 6:29 am

Hello, Oh John of the Guide Guild,

Sorry I've been slow in responding. Thank you for the fruitful exercises!
It's possible to have thoughts about fruit. How real is that imagined fruit? What if the self that is imagined is no more real than this?
I just ate scrambled eggs. Now as I imagine the eggs, no longer in physical evidence, I can evoke some of their qualities, but much of the richness of lived experience is lost. Most importantly, if I was still hungry, I doubt that any amount of imagining eating eggs would result in my feeling full. In that sense, I appreciate the difference between embodied experience and mental representation of that experience. The representation is, I think, what you mean by ABOUT-ness.

On the other hand, I am aware that even when the eggs are in front of me, or, for that matter, inside me, I'm still only ever representing the real thing. If we want to take the "I" out of the equation, sensory apparati and cognitive processes transform raw data into a simplified and synthesized phenomenal experience. So, not only do I never actually experience the eggs (or whatever they are before they get labeled), but even when I'm in the midst of experiencing, there's some oscillation between sense experience and the mental echoes of the experiences. Any in-the-moment experience is always made of both.

So for this reason, I don't trust my supposed raw experience to be accurate, and fantasies, dreams, and imaginings often seem more real than what's in the supposed world-out-there.

What does this have to do with the imagined self? I get that it's a higher order representation (where sense data and mental imagery are the lower order constituents), but that which is ABOUT doesn't necessarily seem less vivid or relevant or or immediate than the stuff that is supposedly prior to ABOUT-ness. So that brings me to your question (which seems to be the key question in various forms) . . .
Where is the one doing the organising.? You say 'I organize'. What evidence it there for a one that does organizing?
I'm clearly overusing my mind in this pursuit, but to make matters worse, I happen to have a Ph.D. in research psychology, so when you ask what evidence there is, I don't just look to my personal experience, but to all the research on this topic. It's not my area of expertise, and I know this is just a tangent, but there is a lot of research on "executive function" or the manager that LU tries to help debunk the existence of. For instance, when people become cognitively stressed or exhausted in various ways, they tend to make more errors on deliberative tasks, or resort to relatively poor automatic pilot functioning as a result of compromised attention.

I'm sure you'll tell me to stick to my own experience, but I wanted to spend a moment on that tangent because I think there's a lot of evidence for the one doing the organizing. It just can't be found by looking to immediate, one-moment-at-a-time "raw" sense data.

But this question keeps coming back around. Where is this hypothesized "I" who is imagined to manage or organize experience and behavior? I can get some distance from my culturally conditioned belief in the self by noticing how much happens on its own (which you've been pointing me towards) without anyone needing to step in and manage. There very well may be something doing the organizing. That something is just not "me".

Sometimes there's a sort of witnessing that happens. Thoughts are churning. Behavior is flowing out from the voice or the body in a stream. And something in thought watches it and remarks, "wow - look at what that thing is doing - how wild!" The bodymind thing is just doing what it does.

So there's a subsiding or quieting of the habit of identifying with or owning thoughts and behaviors, but it's only ever for a brief period. Don't get me wrong. That shift in awareness makes all kinds of differences in how life occurs and what's possible. But it seems to me like a practice that will still require years of strengthening before it's predominant. "I", or my habitual sense of/belief in myself keeps bouncing back.

I get similar results with your other practice.
Now look for a line or edge within this whole experience behind which it's all 'me' and beyond which it's 'everything else'.. This should not be intellectualised but noticed, experienced. Look for a line. Look into this and see if there is separation.
This is a beautiful practice. I think I've long been a sort of nature mystic, so it's somewhat familiar, though not in exactly the form you suggested.

If I try to sense where there seems to be separation, initially it seems like the border is between inside and outside. There's the light reflecting off the ocean down below, the sun on my skin, the smell of the grass, the feel of the sharp volcanic rock under my shoe - the richness of the landscape. Then there's inside the body (proprioception, interoception, auditory echoes of language in mind that occur as thought). That seems like a natural boundary, like the skin is the border.

But then it's not hard to recognize that the feel of the sun on my skin and the feel of mild hunger or internal spaciousness aren't really different. It's all just experience with no qualitative distinction between the different kinds of stimuli in awareness. If I imagine an axis with self on the left and world on the right and a point of separation somewhere halfway down the line, it doesn't seem so much like the point moves left until there's all world and no self. It's more like it moves all the way right so there's all self and no world. Like the whole scene is in me.

What really intensifies this experience for me is if I attend to action that seems willed - each step forward, turning to look at something of interest, etc. I could imagine another axis where free will was on the left and cause-and-effect or automaticity is on the right. Again, it doesn't seem like the point of separation between the two moves left until there's no will. It seems like it moves the other way such that everything in experience becomes an act of will. The breeze, the radiating sun, the foot moving forward and touching down, the crashing of the wave into the cliff, the next inbreath, the mosquito landing. It's not that "I'm" willing it, but as if the entire universe is will in action. Everything in experience is in motion and all of it is animated by something dynamically dancing with itself.

This is all powerful and beautiful to immerse into. Like other such practices, however, it seems momentary. There's nothing wrong with that, and I suspect practicing over time will make that form of awareness more predominant. But the change in awareness is a temporary state.

With much love and gratitude,
Lazarus

User avatar
JonathanR
Posts: 3901
Joined: Sat Mar 01, 2014 10:14 pm

Re: Nothing Left To Lose

Postby JonathanR » Sat Aug 17, 2019 7:21 am

. There very well may be something doing the organizing. That something is just not "me".
. This is all powerful and beautiful to immerse into. Like other such practices, however, it seems momentary. There's nothing wrong with that, and I suspect practicing over time will make that form of awareness more predominant. But the change in awareness is a temporary state.

What has this to do with whether or not there is a line or edge found?

If no edge is really found, what does 'temporary state' have to do with anything other than an idea of something that is separate?

Lazarus. I'm not here to entertain or persuade intellectuals. If you're disappointed or have a view that LU can't show you anything just say so.

What are you here for? What do you really want?


Jon

User avatar
LazarusLong
Posts: 12
Joined: Tue Jul 09, 2019 11:04 am

Re: Nothing Left To Lose

Postby LazarusLong » Sat Aug 17, 2019 3:32 pm

Hey, J!
What has this to do with whether or not there is a line or edge found? If no edge is really found, what does 'temporary state' have to do with anything other than an idea of something that is separate?
My experience was that I found a line between inside and outside, but that I could shift how I made sense of the line so that both seemed to be part of the same thing. But it's sort of a rarefied state for me. It's like if you asked me to remain perfectly still as a demonstration that everything is stillness. I would experience it for a short while, for as long as I could hold still, but as soon as I start moving again, it sure doesn't seem like stillness is all there is. It seems like everything is moving and I just have a memory of stillness. That's what I mean by a state.
Lazarus. I'm not here to entertain or persuade intellectuals. If you're disappointed or have a view that LU can't show you anything just say so. What are you here for? What do you really want?
I'm frustrated, but not disappointed, and the frustration is entirely with myself. I don't have the view that LU can't show me anything. I didn't mean at all to imply that. On an intellectual level, I am already completely convinced there is no separate self and no free will. My problem is that that understanding remains mostly intellectual for me, except for brief periods where I can shift into a state of consciousness that's at least somewhat more non-dual. Honestly, I don't even know if what I'm experiencing in those moments matches what other people seem to describe when they cross the gate.

I'm here hoping you can help me make this understanding more than intellectual, and I think that's your wish as well for me and others here. There's some pain that comes with maintaining the self illusion, and that pain is amplified when I know it's a sham but still can't seem to see through it. It's a tolerable but constant kind of existential pain. I can see out the window but I can't get outside. There's a truth I understand but can't integrate into my moment-to-moment experience. It's gotta be more than just switching from the idea that something is separate to another idea that nothing is separate.

Thanks for sticking with me!
Lazarus

User avatar
JonathanR
Posts: 3901
Joined: Sat Mar 01, 2014 10:14 pm

Re: Nothing Left To Lose

Postby JonathanR » Sat Aug 17, 2019 7:32 pm

Hi Lazarus

Thanks very much for your reply and I'm glad my point-blank questions haven't put you off.
. My experience was that I found a line between inside and outside,
OK. Please, have another go when it's possible. Where does 'Me' start and end in relation to 'everything else'?
Honestly, I don't even know if what I'm experiencing in those moments matches what other people seem to describe when they cross the gate.
Wouldn't that comparison be an academic exercise in any case?
My problem is that that understanding remains mostly intellectual for me, except for brief periods where I can shift into a state of consciousness that's at least somewhat more non-dual. 
'I can shift'. There you are. What are you talking about when you say 'I'?

Is non-duality a state of consciousness? What if it is just how everything is, regardless?
There's some pain that comes with maintaining the self illusion, and that pain is amplified when I know it's a sham but still can't seem to see through it. It's a tolerable but constant kind of existential pain. I can see out the window but I can't get outside. There's a truth I understand but can't integrate into my moment-to-moment experience. It's gotta be more than just switching from the idea that something is separate to another idea that nothing is separate.
I cometely understand what you're saying. it is more than switching beliefs, for sure, although do you notice that beliefs or ideas ABOUT non duality (or whatever) still make an appearance, (like a narrator making announcements over a tanoy?)

It's important to start to notice how this mental commentary throws up information . A story about 'I' that might... or might not... be believed, that is couched in dualistic language. Words, labels, images.

One thing you might try is to look for any gap or space between thoughts. After one thought has died away but the next one has not yet appeared.

Love

Jon

User avatar
LazarusLong
Posts: 12
Joined: Tue Jul 09, 2019 11:04 am

Re: Nothing Left To Lose

Postby LazarusLong » Tue Aug 20, 2019 10:16 am

Hello, Jon!
Thanks very much for your reply and I'm glad my point-blank questions haven't put you off.
Point-blank me anytime.
OK. Please, have another go when it's possible. Where does 'Me' start and end in relation to 'everything else'?
The thing that recurs each time I attend to this: When I have a thought about doing something, and then do the thing, that sequence has a character that seems distinct from everything else in experience. Like if I notice a wave breaking in my peripheral vision as I walk down the beach, and then turn my head to look, then pause and turn my body, then dance back to keep from getting splashed, all those actions are accompanied by thoughts about taking the actions. Even though something in the environment triggered the cascade of responses. Even though much of the responding is just done automatically by the body. Even though the thought that precede (or at least happen near to) the actions are part of some cause and effect sequence I can't find the start of. Still, the thought - more-or-less followed by an action I more-or-less chose - that seems to be me.

There's also some feeling that seems to always go with it, some sensation that seems to be in the chest. For all I know it's just persistent heartburn, but whatever it is, I've come to identify that sensation as a kind of me-ness. This part just seems like a habit, like a pairing of a familiar sensation with an I-thought. Knowing that doesn't break the habit, but it's starting to seem more arbitrary, similar to if I identified a pain in my big toe as me.

But when a thought or idea or an image is followed by an action that matches it - a micro-plan executed by a pre-imagined behavior, that is unlike anything else that's being perceived or experienced.

I feel like I'm too thick-headed to get something obvious here, but that's been my experience so far.
Wouldn't that comparison be an academic exercise in any case?
Yes, I suppose so.
'I can shift'. There you are. What are you talking about when you say 'I'?
This is the same phenomenon I'm describing when I turn to look at the wave. A thought occurs about wanting to change the way attention is being organized. Some subtle internal shifts follow that change the quality of how perception is taking place. Whatever is following planning with execution. That's what I'm calling "I".
Is non-duality a state of consciousness? What if it is just how everything is, regardless?
I appreciate that framing. I guess it would be more accurate to say that "I can shift" from looking at the illusion of separateness to looking in a way that doesn't produce the illusion as strongly. But I see the trap here. Of course it could never be possible for "me" to make that change, so the shifting probably isn't so productive.
One thing you might try is to look for any gap or space between thoughts. After one thought has died away but the next one has not yet appeared.
I'm not sure what you're pointing to here. Attending to those gaps or empty spaces seems similar to any time the mind is relatively quiet and witnessing is just happening.

Thanks and Love,
Lazarus

User avatar
JonathanR
Posts: 3901
Joined: Sat Mar 01, 2014 10:14 pm

Re: Nothing Left To Lose

Postby JonathanR » Tue Aug 20, 2019 9:30 pm

Hi Lazarus,

I'm struck by the character of your replies. Always well reasoned. Eloquent, Argued well. Thank you for being so thorough.

I wonder if you ever experience any kind of anxiety or fear about no self? Even just a bit? Enough to keep to keep the intellectual cogs whirring enough to drown out the simple enormity of it?

Please take a look at this and let me know if there is any unease in this for you? It could have a bearing.
. Even though the thought that precede (or at least happen near to) the actions are part of some cause and effect sequence I can't find the start of. Still, the thought - more-or-less followed by an action I more-or-less chose - that seems to be me.
You said it... 'seems'.
. Knowing that doesn't break the habit, but it's starting to seem more arbitrary, similar to if I identified a pain in my big toe as me.
That's a very interesting observation. Yes. I get that. I wonder if identification is a mixture of energetic sensation that is somehow assumed to be 'me' somehow in tandem with thoughts about 'me'?

Did I ask you the question are thoughts 'yours'?
. Whatever is following planning with execution. That's what I'm calling "I".
OK. I'm terribly forgetful so forgive me if I asked you to do this already but to explore this further please place both your hands on a table in front of you, palms downwards. In a minute one hand must go up into the air whilst the other must stay where it is. It doesn't matter how this happens it just must. And the object is to notice the exact moment of choice where one hand (but not the other) is chosen to go up. Notice the choice-point. With eyes closed if that helps.

Is it possible to see the choice being made? Is there a chooser choosing? What makes the hand go up in reality?

Have fun :-)

Love

Jon


Return to “THE GATE”

Who is online

Users browsing this forum: No registered users and 3 guests