How do I realize the illusion of the separate self?

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NayaCardena
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How do I realize the illusion of the separate self?

Postby NayaCardena » Sat Jul 13, 2019 5:50 am

LU is focused guiding for seeing there is no real, inherent 'self' - what do you understand by this?
I feel that I am a separate individual. This sense of identity stems from identification with my body and thoughts in my mind. 'Awakened' people claim that I am not the body nor the mind and that self-consciousness - the observer of these things - is an illusion. After awakening the difference between the observer and what is observed collapses.

What are you looking for at LU?
I am looking for a shorter route to the 'gateless gate' than practicing hours of meditation!
Respected spiritual teachers - among them Ramana Maharshi and Adyashanti - talk about the importance of inquiring about the truth of our nature. I am searching for resources to educate myself about a method of inquiry. I have tried simply asking "who am I?" or "who is thinking these thoughts" but it doesn't do it for me. It stays on the level of the mind and I still feel that my sense of individuality is intact.
By joining LU, I hope to be put in touch with someone living in the non-dual state who could introduce me to a method of self-inquiry and give me pointers to help me see through the illusion of the separate self.

What do you expect from a guided conversation?

I would like to meet a person in whom awakening has happened and who is comfortable working with somebody who is completely green in self-inquiry. I hope to hold regular conversations with this person during which she/he could give me pointers to help me challenge my sense of identity as a separate individual.
I understand that I am not in control of the outcome of these conversations and I don't even dare dreaming that they may lead to awakening. My hope is that questioning my beliefs with the guidance of a person who knows what our true nature is, will at least, put me on the right path.

What is your experience in terms of spiritual practices, seeking and inquiry?

I was introduced to non-dual spiritual teaching through the work of Eckart Tolle in 2012 and have, since then, listened to countless hours of his talks. Eckhart's teaching has helped me realize that I was not my thoughts and has led me to notice the dysfunctional patterns of my ego on a daily basis. This however, was not enough. I was suffering from intense shame due to identification with things such as my social status, lack of success in my career, my looks, my partner's looks, etc. I longed for belonging and approval and did everything in my power to fit in and get the world's love and admiration. It was exhausting.
Then I discovered Byron Katie in 2016. I started to realize that every thought in my mind was not the truth, but a belief that could be inquired through her method called The Work. Practicing The Work on a regular basis has led me to realize in "my bones" how many of the thoughts that caused so much fear and stress in my life were not truth. While many of the spiritual teachings I previously listened to made me feel good (while I listened to the videos), The Work has been associated with the most dramatic change in my behavior. For instance, I stopped hiding and lying about certain things to fit in (I am still a work in progress!), and dropped out of a graduate program that didn't suit me after realizing that the reasons I was doing it were not true.
I started reading Adyashanti's work for the first time at the end of 2018. The first book I read from him was "the end of your world" which rocked my world. Before encountering his teaching, I had not made spiritual awakening a priority in my life. I was hoping that it may happen after several years of doing the Work of Byron Katie, but deep down, I didn't believe that it could happen to somebody as ordinary as me. I have since then read every single book he has published (and work by other authors such as Nisargadatta Maharaj and Jed McKenna) and in the process clarified my misconceptions about what spiritual enlightenment is. Since March 2019, I have also started attending a non-duality satsang in the LA area.
These books and the satsang have exposed me to the possibility that there is no self, an idea which had not caught my attention in Eckhart Tolle and Byron Katie's teachings. Prior to that, I had mistakenly believed that spiritual enlightenment was simply the end of the ego which would result in a state of perpetual bliss (and if possible getting what I want in the material plane!). When listening to Adyashanti's self study course 'experiencing no-self' it dawned on me for the first time, that awakening was not about being happy or getting what I want. I was about the end of the false self of identity around which "my" life was oriented.
I am here because I am moved by the call of many spiritual teachers in the so-called direct path who challenge us to discover our true nature first and prune the ego later - as Adyashanti would say.
I am still a little bit uncertain as to the "how". I decided to follow many teachers's advice and "be aware that I am aware" as much as possible, including doing 1 to 2 hours of formal meditation every day. I am also continuing my practice of the Work of Byron Katie and inquiring 30 min to 1 hour several times each week. I am worried that my formal meditation practice of sitting in presence is too passive and that I need to inquire more intensely about my true nature. I heard about Liberation Unleashed after watching an interview of Ilona and Elena on Buddha at the Gas Pump and here I am! I am absolutely committed to this process. Awakening is my #1 priority.

On a scale from 1 to 10, how willing are you to question any currently held beliefs about 'self? 11

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Vivien
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Re: How do I realize the illusion of the separate self?

Postby Vivien » Sat Jul 13, 2019 6:21 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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NayaCardena
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Re: How do I realize the illusion of the separate self?

Postby NayaCardena » Sun Jul 14, 2019 1:38 am

Dear Vivien,

First of all I would like to thank you for accepting to assist me through this process. I did not expect to be matched with a guide so quickly and I do not take your time for granted. I have read all the links you have sent me and agree to all the terms and conditions of LU.
These are my answers to your questions. My expectations are shaped by my personal fantasies of what awakening is; my experimentation with psychedelics a couple of months ago; and what I have grasped from reading/watching the interviews of several awakened spiritual teachers.
P.S. Is seeing through the illusion of the separate self the same as awakening (ie. knowing the truth of our nature) ?
Naya
1) How will Life change?
What will change is not Life but my relationship with it. If, as people say, everything is happening spontaneously, I will, for the most part, do the same things as I have always done (e.g. cooking, applying for jobs, exercising, interacting with other humans, and dealing with practical concerns) but with less resistance or friction.
If my actions are done with no trace of resistance or fear, they may have a positive impact on outside circumstances (e.g. I will have more energy to do things of benefit to society), but I can’t know that for sure.
In my wildest dreams Life will be a never ending bliss, full of financially rewarding professional opportunities (and yes, I have read all of the disclaimers on the LU website but I can’t help myself from having these dreams!).
2) How will you change?
- There will be a dramatic decrease if not an ending of useless thoughts about the past and the future, including the constant reveries that are always about the ‘me’ being more important or getting what it wants. Most of my thoughts will be related to dealing with practical tasks in the present moment (e.g. cleaning, cooking, planning an event).

- Living in a state of presence means that there will be less anxiety about the future (in my case, less worrying about whether I will have enough money for retirement, or who will take care of me when I get old). This doesn’t mean that challenges won’t happen, but they will be dealt with when the time is ripe.

- My long list of requirements for accepting the now (e.g. having a fit body, thick hair, looking attractive, living in a big house, being healthy at all time) will be dramatically cut down.

- There will be less or no resistance to a priori negative events appearing in the present moment (e.g. aches in the body, rejection after a job interview, being yelled at by somebody). Less resistance means that I will take whatever action is called for by the situation in a more effective way.

- There will be appreciation and gratitude for the things I usually overlook, such as walking in nature or inhabiting a human body. I will be content doing simple activities like cleaning my apartment or washing the dishes. I will not need to distract myself with lots of stimulating activities.

- I will feel a desire to be of service to society instead of looking for jobs primarily to accumulate wealth or improve my social status in the eyes of the world.

- If I realize that I am the Love awakened people talk about, I will stop chasing the approval and admiration of other people. I will be less needy in friendship and romantic relationships. I will be less fearful of becoming invisible in the eyes of men as I get older.

- On a related point, if I no longer identify with my body, I will be less fearful of becoming old and weak.

- I am very shy and afraid of other people. If I don’t see myself as different from them, I may become more open, with no need to hide or protect a self image. I will become more spontaneous. I will not avoid people on the street because of my fear or looking awkward.

- If I no longer believe myself to be a separate person, I will no longer feel a sense of debilitating shame, a sense that I am not enough because I do not conform to accepted social norms. I will stop lying and hiding about who I am to get the approval of people whose judgment terrifies me.

- Realizing my true nature also means the end of all searching for something to fulfill me in the future.

3) What will be different?
If I realize that I am not an individual separate from the world, I image that I will become like an animal or a young child. Mostly present, not needing anything other than what is now, feeling comfortable around other humans, and with less or no self commentary about what is happening (e.g. Am I looking good? Did I do the right thing? Does he or she like me? This shouldn’t be happening. Life is unfair.)
4) What is missing?
What is ultimately missing is a sense of contentment with what is. This morning, I had a walk by a beautiful beach and I was absorbed by my mind stream 99% of the time, completely oblivious to what was happening around me.
This moment is never enough which causes constant restlessness expect for the brief moments after I get what I what; for instance, after having a good meal.
I also have a long laundry list of things that are missing from my life and that I need to have in order to be happy (e.g. I need more money, my husband’s health needs to improve, I need to know that I will have enough money for my retirement, I need the aches and pain in my body to disappear, I need strangers on the street to find me attractive, etc).
Fortunately, I have played this game enough times to know that one fulfilled desire only leads to the next one.

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Vivien
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Location: Australia

Re: How do I realize the illusion of the separate self?

Postby Vivien » Sun Jul 14, 2019 5:28 am

14/07/19
Hi Naya,
First of all I would like to thank you for accepting to assist me through this process.
You are welcome :)
These are my answers to your questions. My expectations are shaped by my personal fantasies of what awakening is; my experimentation with psychedelics a couple of months ago; and what I have grasped from reading/watching the interviews of several awakened spiritual teachers.
Thank you for your honest and thorough list of 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 results in comparison. Comparison between what is happening, and the imagined expectation. Thus what has been seen can be thrown out or ignored, since it doesn’t match the expected outcome.

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?
P.S. Is seeing through the illusion of the separate self the same as awakening (ie. knowing the truth of our nature) ?
Yes and no. Yes, in a sense that awakening STARTS with seeing through the illusion of the self. However, it is just the beginning, just the FIRST STEP and not the end.

And no, because awakening is NOT about knowing the ‘truth of out nature’.
Since there is NO YOU, no self in any shape or form that could know or have a true nature.

This is a popular esoteric belief only. This belief is based on the assumption that there is a ‘higher Self’ or a ‘real self’ that could rid of the less valued little self or egoic self, so it can discover its true nature. However, this assumption is still based on the belief that there is a self in experience, I just have to figure out what my real self is.
What will change is not Life but my relationship with it.
This statement is based on the assumption of separation.
That there is a me/self + life, and thus there is a relationship between the two.
But there is no me/self at all that could have any relationship with life or anything at all.
If, as people say, everything is happening spontaneously, I will, for the most part, do the same things as I have always done (e.g. cooking, applying for jobs, exercising, interacting with other humans, and dealing with practical concerns) but with less resistance or friction.
Just because the self has seen through, it doesn’t mean that resistance will stop appearing is one swoop. It won’t. Resistance is based on many other beliefs and a lifetime of conditioning, which will require lots of further looking to untangle.
If my actions are done with no trace of resistance or fear,
When the self is seen through, resistance and fear MIGHT lessen a bit, or MIGHT NOT. This will require more work (looking) after the self is seen through.
I will have more energy to do things of benefit to society), but I can’t know that for sure.
There is NO YOU that have energy, and thus can get more.
In my wildest dreams Life will be a never ending bliss, full of financially rewarding professional opportunities (and yes, I have read all of the disclaimers on the LU website but I can’t help myself from having these dreams!).
All right :) So you have all sorts of romantic fantasies about how awakening might feel like, but it’s important to label these as only fantasies, and NOT what actually awakening is about.

It’s definitely not a never ending bliss. Can you imagine a never ending orgasm? How that would that feel like? Would that be so pleasurable after a day or a week or a month?

Bliss, happiness or peace are states, 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. Many seekers have the impression that seeing there is no self is a state to ‘abide in’. It's not.
- There will be a dramatic decrease if not an ending of useless thoughts about the past and the future, including the constant reveries that are always about the ‘me’ being more important or getting what it wants. Most of my thoughts will be related to dealing with practical tasks in the present moment (e.g. cleaning, cooking, planning an event).
This is a very unrealistic expectation. You are describing a state of no or little thoughts. States can never be permanent. It might happen for a period of time, but it cannot last. Seeing through the self is NOT about how much of thoughts are present. Actually, it has nothing to do with how much thoughts about past or future (or anything) are there.

Seeing know self is simply the EXPERIENTIAL RECOGNITION that there is nothing there behind the words me/I/self.
Seeing through the self is much simpler as one would imagine or expect.
The only thing that changes is the recognition that the self is not there, and it never has been there.
But even seeing this doesn’t happen 24/7, but mainly when looking happens.
Life will still go on from the perspective of the body, but upon looking it can be seen that there is no self anywhere.
- Living in a state of presence means that there will be less anxiety about the future (in my case, less worrying about whether I will have enough money for retirement, or who will take care of me when I get old). This doesn’t mean that challenges won’t happen, but they will be dealt with when the time is ripe.
Seeing through the self is NOT living in the state of presence. This is a romantic view which has not much to do with reality.

Anxiety or 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 their ‘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.
- My long list of requirements for accepting the now (e.g. having a fit body, thick hair, looking attractive, living in a big house, being healthy at all time) will be dramatically cut down.
This are emotional and personal issues which won’t change much with seeing through the self. If there will be an interest to work on these, then that will require further looking into many other beliefs that keeps these in place.
- There will be less or no resistance to a priori negative events appearing in the present moment (e.g. aches in the body, rejection after a job interview, being yelled at by somebody). Less resistance means that I will take whatever action is called for by the situation in a more effective way.
Resistance to things are based on other beliefs which won’t be gone just because the self is seen through. Seeing through resistance will require lots of further looking.
- There will be appreciation and gratitude for the things I usually overlook, such as walking in nature or inhabiting a human body. I will be content doing simple activities like cleaning my apartment or washing the dishes. I will not need to distract myself with lots of stimulating activities.
Appreciation and gratitude are just states, just as bliss, happiness or peace. Seeing through the self is NOT a state and doesn’t depend on the amount or the frequency of appreciation or gratitude.
- I will feel a desire to be of service to society instead of looking for jobs primarily to accumulate wealth or improve my social status in the eyes of the world.
Again, you are expecting too much. Only the core belief of being a separate self is seen through which also includes others beliefs that support this idea. However, like a rug that is beginning to unravel, there are still many knots (beliefs, patterns) that need undoing. Falling away of conditionings can last at the end of the organism. Continuing to LOOK after the realisation is very much the key. LU only guides to the realisation of ‘no separate self’.
- If I realize that I am the Love awakened people talk about, I will stop chasing the approval and admiration of other people. I will be less needy in friendship and romantic relationships. I will be less fearful of becoming invisible in the eyes of men as I get older.
There are LOTS of misunderstanding about awakening out there. Many of them are just romantic desires on behalf of the separate self. The self wants to be loved, or be love, wants to be a perfect human being. These are all fantasies holding up the belief in the separate self who could be improved and be better.

But this process is not the betterment of the self.
Rather it’s about seeing that there is NO SELF whatsoever, what would need to be improved.
On a related point, if I no longer identify with my body, I will be less fearful of becoming old and weak.
There is ALREADY NO YOU that could identify with the body.

How could the perception of life change if there has never ever been a self there?
Perception change can happen only if there were a self and upon looking this self is being removed. But this is not the case.

The self is already not there. Seeing through the self is just the experiential RECOGNITION that there is no self.
Since no self being removed, kill, annihilated, transformed, etc. therefore NOTHING changes IN EXPERIENCE.
The only thing that changes is RECOGNINTION of no-self. This is the shift.
The recognition that there has never been a self there is the shift.

It’s the seeing that there is nothing moving the body, nothing making decisions, nothing thinking thoughts, nothing making sounds coming out of the body in form of speech. Rather there is just the body functioning by itself, thoughts about decision arise, sounds coming out of the body as words. And there is no self in other bodies either.

But this ALREADY IS. This has never been any other way. When this is recognized nothing changes, only the knowing of it. Only just the belief in self is changed. Since this belief is seen untrue. That’s all.
- I am very shy and afraid of other people. If I don’t see myself as different from them, I may become more open, with no need to hide or protect a self image. I will become more spontaneous. I will not avoid people on the street because of my fear or looking awkward.
This is emotional and personality issue which needs to be resolved separately.
- If I no longer believe myself to be a separate person, I will no longer feel a sense of debilitating shame, a sense that I am not enough because I do not conform to accepted social norms. I will stop lying and hiding about who I am to get the approval of people whose judgment terrifies me.
There is no YOU that could or could not believe itself to be a separate person or not.

Shame, feeling not good enough have their roots in childhood and/or in traumas, which will require further work to see through them.
Realizing my true nature also means the end of all searching for something to fulfill me in the future.
The search for the truth can end, yes.
But there is no you that would require any fulfilment.
It’s the recognition that there is NOTHING that would need fulfilment.
If I realize that I am not an individual separate from the world, I image that I will become like an animal or a young child. Mostly present, not needing anything other than what is now, feeling comfortable around other humans, and with less or no self commentary about what is happening (e.g. Am I looking good? Did I do the right thing? Does he or she like me? This shouldn’t be happening. Life is unfair.)
Seeing through the self is just the beginning. The narrating self-talk definitely won’t stop.
Even the illusion of the self won’t stop.


However, upon each LOOKING it can be seen again and again and again that there is nothing there.
With each looking the sense of self gets a little bit weaker over a very long time (years) provided that the looking will continue after the realization of no self.
What is ultimately missing is a sense of contentment with what is.
Contentment is also a state.
This morning, I had a walk by a beautiful beach and I was absorbed by my mind stream 99% of the time, completely oblivious to what was happening around me.
There is no you that could be lost in thought. Lost in thought can happen, but it doesn’t happen TO you, it doesn’t happen to anybody or anything.
I also have a long laundry list of things that are missing from my life and that I need to have in order to be happy (e.g. I need more money, my husband’s health needs to improve, I need to know that I will have enough money for my retirement, I need the aches and pain in my body to disappear, I need strangers on the street to find me attractive, etc).

Fortunately, I have played this game enough times to know that one fulfilled desire only leads to the next one.
It’s very good that you can see this.

For the time our investigation, I would like to ask you to stop reading/listening any teachers, and rather spend your time looking. Also, I would like to ask you to put aside all learned knowledge. You have to see this experientially and not relying on others’ experiences. Can we agree on these?

Before starting, please read my above comments a few more times and tell me what comes up by reading the comments about the expectations.
Is there any resistance to any of it?


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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NayaCardena
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Re: How do I realize the illusion of the separate self?

Postby NayaCardena » Mon Jul 15, 2019 12:36 am

“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?” (…)
“For the time our investigation, I would like to ask you to stop reading/listening any teachers, and rather spend your time looking. Also, I would like to ask you to put aside all learned knowledge. You have to see this experientially and not relying on others’ experiences. Can we agree on these?”
Hi Vivien,

Thank you for your clarifications. My confusion stemmed from this idea that there was a self which dropped away after it was seen as an illusion. Adyashanti (in the no-self study course) suggested that there was an experiential shift that happened in which ego and then the self – or the other way around - were dropping off; a shift after which life was experienced directly. He made a distinction between self-transcendence (which is probably closer to what you are talking about) vs. the self dropping off permanently.

Although I will still attend a satsang once a week, I will do my best to put aside all learned knowledge when answering your questions. I say ‘do my best’ because I have already been considerably brainwashed!

My take away from your explanations is that simply realizing that there is no self doesn’t mean that life will change for the simple reason that everything was already happening by itself, in spite of my belief that I was in control. The ‘inadequate’ things that this body engages in everyday (e.g. gossiping, worrying, procrastinating) are not being done by an unenlightened me that will disappear after this realization. Also, just like realizing that I am not my thoughts didn’t end the attachment to them, realizing that there is not self will not end the attachment to this virtual entity. (Assuming that a sense of self is some form of thought identification.)

I did believe that realizing that there is no self was a short route to enlightenment, the outcome of which would be all the positive things that many awakened people talk about. If I understand you, the loosening of the grip of the sense of self is something that typically happens over time. I guess there is no free lunch!

After reading your email I felt a little bit of anxiety. I have felt the same sense of discomfort during a satsang when people started to casually mention that there was no self. I felt the fear of being annihilated in a dark void or of becoming mentally unstable. I also felt the fear of becoming a robot with nothing inside. I pictured life becoming blend, with no passion. Then I remembered the leader of my satsang telling me “well, when you feel fear, remember that you can’t lose what never existed to begin with”.

I also had some questions/comments regarding the following points. It’s OK if you think it’s more appropriate to address them at a later time.
- “There is ALREADY NO YOU that could identify with the body.”
It may be good to define what I mean by self. I see the self as the immaterial consciousness that is looking through these eyes and that is observing my thoughts and my body (the soul might be another name for it). It is the commander in chief inside my body that has free will and hence, has the freedom to set goals and take action to reach them. I get that most of my thoughts are appearing spontaneously. I also understand that many thoughts are conditioned and that until they are questioned, I can only have so much motivation to go against this conditioning. I still feel that the ‘me’ (i.e. my consciousness) has some freedom to make decisions and take action. I am also assuming that this consciousness is unique to my body. Sages claim that there is one universal consciousness which takes on different forms, including human bodies, but there is no way of proving this unless one has some sort of cosmic insight.
- “It’s the seeing that there is nothing moving the body, nothing making decisions, nothing thinking thoughts, nothing making sounds coming out of the body in form of speech. Rather there is just the body functioning by itself, thoughts about decision arise, sounds coming out of the body as words. And there is no self in other bodies either.”
I am open to seeing this. If this was true though, that would mean there would be nobody to blame for anything and nobody to be held accountable. In the End of your World, Adyashanti was talking about some of the traps in the path to enlightenment. He said that many people who behaved like “jerks” were not taking responsibility for their behavior by saying things like “But Adya, there is nobody here to do anything about it.” His statement would imply that one still has some choice to behave ethically or unethically, which seems to be true in my experience.
- “The self wants to be loved, or be love, wants to be a perfect human being. These are all fantasies holding up the belief in the separate self who could be improved and be better. But this process is not the betterment of the self. Rather it’s about seeing that there is NO SELF whatsoever, what would need to be improved.”
Let’s say that there is no individual soul inside my body. Can’t the combination of my body, conditioned thought patterns and habits still be improved? For instance, since I have been doing the Work of Byron Katie it seems that my personality issues have lessened.
- “But there is no you that would require any fulfilment. It’s the recognition that there is NOTHING that would need fulfilment.”
It seems that awakened people still like to enjoy themselves (e.g. eating good food, spending time with their family.) Do you mean that seeking pleasure happens spontaneously?
“Seeing through the self is just the beginning. The narrating self-talk definitely won’t stop.
Even the illusion of the self won’t stop.”
Good clarification. I am curious the extent to which I can see experientially that there is no self rather than simply understand this intellectually.

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Re: How do I realize the illusion of the separate self?

Postby Vivien » Mon Jul 15, 2019 3:55 am

Hi Naya,
Thank you for your clarifications. My confusion stemmed from this idea that there was a self which dropped away after it was seen as an illusion. Adyashanti (in the no-self study course) suggested that there was an experiential shift that happened in which ego and then the self – or the other way around - were dropping off; a shift after which life was experienced directly. He made a distinction between self-transcendence (which is probably closer to what you are talking about) vs. the self dropping off permanently.
It's important to mention that I am not a teacher, I won’t teach you anything. Quite the opposite. I will help you to see experientially what is seeing through the self is.
The reason I commented on your expectations is NOT because I want to defy what this or that teacher said, and want you to believe me instead of them. Not at all. I don’t want to believe me, that would be totally useless for you. You have to experience it for yourself!

The reason I commented on those expectations is that ALL of them are hindrances in seeing what is here right now. I just pointed out the falsity of those expectations. Since if you continue expecting things to happen, then you might miss what is happening right here right now, since you will compare ‘this’ experience with ‘that’ expectation, with the result that this is not it.
Although I will still attend a satsang once a week, I will do my best to put aside all learned knowledge when answering your questions. I say ‘do my best’ because I have already been considerably brainwashed!
It’s very important that you stop collecting information from others how awakening or seeing through the self should look like and feel like. No matter how much information you gather, no matter how much book you read, no matter how much satsang you attend, if you don’t LOOK for yourself and SEE it EXPERIENTIALLY all of those won’t help.

Actually, all those learned information just builds up into a huge pile of expectations, assumptions and fantasies which ALL are just intellectual thought stories and has nothing to do with the actual experience of it.
I did believe that realizing that there is no self was a short route to enlightenment, the outcome of which would be all the positive things that many awakened people talk about. If I understand you, the loosening of the grip of the sense of self is something that typically happens over time. I guess there is no free lunch!
You see, you already have a huge pile of assumptions and beliefs about how enlightenment should look like, feel like and be like. You spend time fantasizing about it, comparing what this teacher or person said compare to the other teacher. This whole comparison and trying to figure it out is all story. It’s a tale with the happily ever after ending. This is just a fantasy.
After reading your email I felt a little bit of anxiety. I have felt the same sense of discomfort during a satsang when people started to casually mention that there was no self. I felt the fear of being annihilated in a dark void or of becoming mentally unstable. I also felt the fear of becoming a robot with nothing inside. I pictured life becoming blend, with no passion. Then I remembered the leader of my satsang telling me “well, when you feel fear, remember that you can’t lose what never existed to begin with”.
Thank you for sharing this with me.

Yes, the self is ALREADY not there, so it’s literally impossible to annihilate it! Can you see this?

How could you become mentally unstable if there is ALREADY no self there?
If seeing no self meant becoming a mentally unstable, then you MUST ALREADY BE mentally unstable! Since the self is ALREADY not there! Can you see the falsity of your logic?

How could you become a robot if there is ALREADY no self there?
If seeing no self meant becoming a robot, then you MUST ALREADY BE A ROBOT! Since the self is ALREDY not there! Can you see this the falsity of your logic?

How could life become blend with no passion if there is ALREADY no self there?
If seeing no self meant life becoming blend and passionless, then life MUST ALREADY BE BLEND WITH NO PASSION! Since the self is ALREDY not there! Can you see this the falsity of your logic?

It may be good to define what I mean by self. I see the self as the immaterial consciousness that is looking through these eyes and that is observing my thoughts and my body (the soul might be another name for it). It is the commander in chief inside my body that has free will and hence, has the freedom to set goals and take action to reach them. I get that most of my thoughts are appearing spontaneously. I also understand that many thoughts are conditioned and that until they are questioned, I can only have so much motivation to go against this conditioning. I still feel that the ‘me’ (i.e. my consciousness) has some freedom to make decisions and take action. I am also assuming that this consciousness is unique to my body.
You describe beautifully the belief in the self. This ‘immaterial consciousness looking though the eyes’ is the BASIS of the illusion of the separate self.

This ‘immaterial consciousness’ itself is the illusion. We will investigate this later.
Sages claim that there is one universal consciousness which takes on different forms, including human bodies, but there is no way of proving this unless one has some sort of cosmic insight.
You see, you are relying on what you read about sages in books. You are relying on others stories about their experiences. You have to let these go. Or at least put them aside, and rather SEE it for yourself than believing what others told you.
I am open to seeing this. If this was true though, that would mean there would be nobody to blame for anything and nobody to be held accountable
Although we will investigate thoroughly if there is a chooser or decider at all, still conventionally speaking decisions are made and in the seeming story of ‘me’ there is a seeming responsibility, although it can be seen that there is no one that could have any responsibility whatsoever.

So actually there is no responsibility at all, since there is nothing there that could be accountable for anything. However, it doesn’t mean than in our everyday life, in our conventional reality we are not accountable for our actions, for example in a court.

And there is ALREADY no-one inside the body that is doing things and could be responsible for anything, and yet in our conventional reality (even after seeing through the self) we behave as if there were someone making decisions and thus accountable for their actions. So be careful and don’t mix conventional reality into seeing experience/reality directly.
He said that many people who behaved like “jerks” were not taking responsibility for their behavior by saying things like “But Adya, there is nobody here to do anything about it.”
These people probably haven’t seen through the illusion of the self completely and mainly just grasp it intellectually, and they try to cover their personality issues with the belief of no responsibility.
His statement would imply that one still has some choice to behave ethically or unethically, which seems to be true in my experience.
In conventionally speaking yes. Even after seeing through the self we have to make decisions. However, upon looking it can be seen that there is nothing there making those decisions, but decision making just happens by itself, just as before seeing through the self, decision making happens by itself.
Let’s say that there is no individual soul inside my body. Can’t the combination of my body, conditioned thought patterns and habits still be improved? For instance, since I have been doing the Work of Byron Katie it seems that my personality issues have lessened.
Yes, it can. But this wanting to improve happens by itself, both before or even after seeing through the self.
It’s not about whether it’s happening or not, but rather if it happens by itself or there is someone making it to happen.
It seems that awakened people still like to enjoy themselves (e.g. eating good food, spending time with their family.) Do you mean that seeking pleasure happens spontaneously?
Seeking pleasure and wanting to avoid pain happens spontaneously, without anything / anyone making it happen.

Are you ready to start the investigation?

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: How do I realize the illusion of the separate self?

Postby NayaCardena » Mon Jul 15, 2019 5:35 pm

Thank you for your clarifications, Vivien. Yes, I am ready to start the investigation.

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Re: How do I realize the illusion of the separate self?

Postby Vivien » Mon Jul 15, 2019 11:45 pm

Hi Naya,
Thank you for your clarifications, Vivien. Yes, I am ready to start the investigation.
All right, but before that please reply to my questions in blue in the previous post.

Yes, the self is ALREADY not there, so it’s literally impossible to annihilate it! Can you see this?
How could you become mentally unstable if there is ALREADY no self there?
If seeing no self meant becoming a mentally unstable, then you MUST ALREADY BE mentally unstable! Since the self is ALREADY not there! Can you see the falsity of your logic?

How could you become a robot if there is ALREADY no self there?
If seeing no self meant becoming a robot, then you MUST ALREADY BE A ROBOT! Since the self is ALREADY not there! Can you see this the falsity of your logic?

How could life become blend with no passion if there is ALREADY no self there?
If seeing no self meant life becoming blend and passionless, then life MUST ALREADY BE BLEND WITH NO PASSION! Since the self is ALREADY not there! Can you see this the falsity of your logic?

I would like to ask you to always reply to all of my questions (in blue). Never leave out any. My questions are pointers to you where to look. All right?


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: How do I realize the illusion of the separate self?

Postby NayaCardena » Tue Jul 16, 2019 12:56 am

Hi Viven,

Sorry, I thought these were rhetorical questions. I will address all of your questions in blue in the future.

Your observations make total sense to me. The fictitious self never had any influence on life's events. Simply realizing this cannot make it more or less better. The closest analogy I can come up with is that life happens, whether I am an atheist or believe that there is a God behind the scenes orchestrating all the events on this planet.

It is so difficult to wrap my head around the fact that there might potentially be no commander in chief inside this body that I am still worried about the beliefs that may arise if this is truly seen. The anxiety is still there but the curiosity to know the truth is stronger.

I have also come to the point where I have had enough of being this fearful, needy ‘me’ who is constantly trying to protect a self-image. So I am both fearful and intrigued.

Naya

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Re: How do I realize the illusion of the separate self?

Postby Vivien » Tue Jul 16, 2019 1:00 am

Hi Naya,
It is so difficult to wrap my head around the fact that there might potentially be no commander in chief inside this body that I am still worried about the beliefs that may arise if this is truly seen. The anxiety is still there but the curiosity to know the truth is stronger.
If this fear or anxiety comes up during our investigation, please let me know, so we can look at it together.

Let’s start it. 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 that there is no separate self and never has been.

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

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

Please write me a list as above for one period of doing this exercise. Don’t forget to add the corresponding labels as shown above.


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: How do I realize the illusion of the separate self?

Postby NayaCardena » Tue Jul 16, 2019 5:40 am

Hi Vivien,
“If this fear or anxiety comes up during our investigation, please let me know, so we can look at it together.”
Yes, I will do so. Thank you.
“Just break down daily activities into these categories (which are all actual/direct experience) and let me know how you go.
Please write me a list as above for one period of doing this exercise. Don’t forget to add the corresponding labels as shown above.”
This is what came up while seating in meditation and walking around my apartment this evening. I will keep doing this exercise throughout the day tomorrow.

Feeling pain in my lower back = sensation
Labeling the pain as undesirable = thought
Walking on the carpet and hardwood floor = sensation
Looking in the mirror = sight
Judgments about my hair being too frizzy and skin being too oily while looking in the mirror = thoughts
Virtual conversation with friends in my mind = thoughts
Feeling the body tired = sensation
Yearning to go to bed = thoughts
Looking at the shelf in front of me = sight
Listening to the neighbor playing music = hearing
Smelling the incense in the room = smell
Smelling the soap while washing my hands = smell
Drinking the water = taste and sensation
Swallowing my saliva = taste and sensation
Chewing a gum = taste and sensation
Labeling the taste of the gum as good = thought

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Re: How do I realize the illusion of the separate self?

Postby Vivien » Tue Jul 16, 2019 5:45 am

Hi Naya,

You did a nice looking.

I gave you the actual experience exercise to help you to differentiate between what is actually happening and what THOUGHTS ARE ABOUT what is happening.

Now we start investigating thoughts.
This exercise has a dual purpose. Firstly, to become aware of each and every though as they appear. Secondly, the careful looking for the gap is an example of how carefully to look when looking for the ‘separate self’.

Here is a step-by-step description of how to look at thoughts. First thing is to sit for at least 5-10 minutes quietly somewhere, several times throughout your day. Close your eyes and just notice thoughts. Don’t engage with any thought, just notice them.

1. Notice the current thought that is present.
Like when you sit observing the body, a thought might arise “this is my feet” or “here is a pain” or “my breathing is too quick” or “I am bored with this exercise” or “I have better things to do” or any sorts of thoughts.
2. This thought will pass and another thought will come. So just observe this thought passing.
3. Then wait for the next thought to come.
4. When the next thought is present, just notice it, and see how it passes.
5. Then wait for the next thought to come.

Between the 2 thoughts there is a gap. It can be very short or subtle, just a second or a few seconds before the next thought come in.

This is how to look at thoughts:
Looking how they come and go, and
Observing the short gap between them.
Noticing how the current thought is passing.
And waiting for the next thought to come.

Throughout your waking day, try to observe the gap between thoughts as often as possible. It can be done by noticing that ‘thinking’ is happening right now, then stop and just simply wait for the next thought to come. In the ‘waiting’ there is a gap between two thoughts.

Let me know how it goes.

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: How do I realize the illusion of the separate self?

Postby NayaCardena » Wed Jul 17, 2019 5:38 am

Hi Viven,

I did the exercise.

About the gap between two thoughts, I noticed that it is as expected quite short. It is hard to quantify but I would not be surprised if I was resting in awareness less than 30% of the time. The mind is however less restless than usual when I seat with the intention of watching the stream of thoughts in my mind.

Thoughts that come up are primarily about the future (anticipation about the future, dread about things that need to be done), the past (images of past events, guilt about something I have done), and judgments about what’s happening right now. There are also lots and lots of imaginary scenarios where I stand out in a positive way (e.g. I say something profound and people around me are in awe of my wisdom and intelligence).

I rarely notice when a thought starts. The noticing mostly happens after I have been engaged in a thought for a few seconds. Sometimes thoughts abate effortlessly for a longer period of time and I can listen to the silence in the room, which is very relaxing. Sometimes I have to put a little more willpower when I am engaged in a juicy story (e.g. self-righteousness tends to pull me back into a longer trance).

Even when I am resting in awareness, though, there is still an energy field in my body that feels like a ‘me’.

Naya

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Re: How do I realize the illusion of the separate self?

Postby Vivien » Wed Jul 17, 2019 6:08 am

Hi Naya,
Thoughts that come up are primarily about the future (anticipation about the future, dread about things that need to be done), the past (images of past events, guilt about something I have done), and judgments about what’s happening right now. There are also lots and lots of imaginary scenarios where I stand out in a positive way (e.g. I say something profound and people around me are in awe of my wisdom and intelligence).
Nice observations.
I rarely notice when a thought starts. The noticing mostly happens after I have been engaged in a thought for a few seconds. Sometimes thoughts abate effortlessly for a longer period of time and I can listen to the silence in the room, which is very relaxing. Sometimes I have to put a little more willpower when I am engaged in a juicy story (e.g. self-righteousness tends to pull me back into a longer trance).
In the above comment, there are statements that there is an ‘I’ that is noticing thoughts, a ‘me’ that could engage in at thought, or has to put willpower into not engaging with certain thoughts.

These are ALL assumption. What we will investigate if these assumptions are actually in line with experience.
Even when I am resting in awareness, though, there is still an energy field in my body that feels like a ‘me’.
This is another assumption, which has NOTHING to do with reality, with what is going on.

First, there is NO ME, that could rest as awareness or anything.
And there is NO awareness either to rest in.
These statements are all based on the assumption of separation.

The energy field of a body is another thought assumption only.

We have to differentiate between what is actually happening and what THOUGHTS ARE ABOUT what is happening.

Looking for gaps between thoughts were a preparation exercise to help you how to observe the coming and going of thoughts and also how to look for the self later.

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 or longer and look similarly as you looked for the gaps between thoughts. 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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Re: How do I realize the illusion of the separate self?

Postby NayaCardena » Thu Jul 18, 2019 12:36 am

“Look for the ‘answer’ BEFORE thought interpretation kicks in.”
When doing this exercise, I made the assumption that I was passively observing my thoughts, as opposed to actively thinking. My answers might be different if I was engaged in active thinking. (In fact, I tried to answer your questions in that second scenario and only confused myself.)
“1) Where do thoughts come from?”
Thoughts appear in awareness. I don’t know where they come from.
“2) Where are they going?”
They also disappear in awareness. I don’t know where they are going.
“3) Can ‘you’ stop a thought in the middle?”
There is a noticing that ‘I’ have been lost in thought, this noticing is usually followed by a temporary cessation of the thought. So yes, my personal awareness (if there is such a thing) can notice that thinking is happening and decide to come back to the present moment.
“4) Can ‘you’ predict what will be the next thought?”
Not at all.
“5) Can 'you' choose not to have painful or negative thoughts?”
No. Thoughts arise outside of my control.
“6) Can an 'I' be found that generates thoughts?”
No. Thoughts come and go. Nobody is generating them.
“7) “I think” - What is 'I'? What is the one that thinks?”
Thoughts appear spontaneously in awareness. No one is thinking them.
“8) What is the thinker of thoughts? – don’t think, rather look for a ‘thinker’”
Thoughts appear in awareness. No one is thinking them.
“9) Does the thinker of the thought appear in experience? Can it be found?”
No. Thoughts simply appear in (my?) consciousness.
“10) Or could it be that the 'I' that thinks is also just a thought?”
A more accurate description of the expression ‘I am thinking stressful thoughts.’ would be 'stressful thoughts are appearing in (my?) consciousness'. There is no ‘I’ that is producing these thoughts. 'I' is just another thought.
“11) Do you think thoughts or you are just ‘being thought’?”
When seating in a state of passivity, thoughts are just ‘being thought’.
“12) Is it possible to prevent a thought from appearing? Including the thought 'I'?”
I wish it was possible, but no.

Naya


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