I'm ready to know the truth.

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Stephaniet
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I'm ready to know the truth.

Postby Stephaniet » Sat Aug 25, 2012 4:52 pm

I'm a 44 year old housewife from Alabama who stumbled upon Eckhart Tolle's book A New Earth a few years ago and, thanks to that book, my life was changed, in large part by the simple understanding that I'm not my thoughts. I've been reading spiritual books non-stop ever since, listening to spiritual podcasts, etc (which is how I discovered this forum. I heard the Buddha at the Gas Pump interview with Ilona and Elena.) I'm tired of seeking and I'm ready to know the truth of my existence, beyond an intellectual understanding that there is no separate me. I want to experience it, not just have a belief in a concept. Thanks in advance to whoever feels drawn to help me.

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jimw
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Re: I'm ready to know the truth.

Postby jimw » Sat Aug 25, 2012 9:46 pm

Hi Stephanie, I'd be happy to help. I have also read a lot of Eckhart Tolle (and many others!) I am in the UK, so there is some time lag between us, but I will check in every day and do everything I can. The approach we use here (as you probably heard in the BATGAP interview) relies on personal experience and being 100% honest with yourself (and your guide). The key thing is that we do not see ourselves here as teachers, we just help you see by asking you a number of questions. It would be very helpful if we could start by you outlining what you want to get from this process and what your expectations are. Could you have a go at that to start with please ?

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Stephaniet
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Re: I'm ready to know the truth.

Postby Stephaniet » Sun Aug 26, 2012 12:20 am

Hi Jim. Thank you so much for your help.

My expectations for this process are that I will know (more than an intellectual knowing, a true experiencing) what I truly am. At this point, my experience is that I am a body and mind and that's pretty much it. I want to experience the larger me, not just the small me. And of course I hope for enlightenment, liberation, or whatever you want to call it. I also hope for an end of suffering caused by desiring things I feel I need to be happy. I want to be happy regardless of what is happening in my outer world.

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jimw
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Re: I'm ready to know the truth.

Postby jimw » Sun Aug 26, 2012 2:57 pm

OK Stephanie, so you have seen a body and a mind. First of all, could explain to me what the 'small me' and 'large me' actually are? Where are they and what are they made of ? Try to put it into words (don't worry if your post is long, or rambling, just say what comes). Secondly, tell me about suffering. What is suffering ? How does suffering work ?

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Stephaniet
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Re: I'm ready to know the truth.

Postby Stephaniet » Sun Aug 26, 2012 4:57 pm

What I call the "small" me is, I guess, the story of me: A woman who was born in 1967 and who will die at some unknown time. It also includes my memories and experiences, my thoughts and emotions, my talents and interests and my personality. I've never experienced the larger me, I've only read about it, but I imagine it to be a more expansive sense of self, connected to everything, transcendent of the world of form, not a separate self, and something that was never born and will never die.

I experience suffering as a lack of peace, a discontentment, a yearning for something I feel I need to be happy but don't have. I feel it almost constantly as a sort of background unease. I long for peace and for an end to the yearning.

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jimw
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Re: I'm ready to know the truth.

Postby jimw » Sun Aug 26, 2012 9:44 pm

Hi Stephanie, you say, 'What I call the "small" me is, I guess, the story of me'. So is Stephanie anything more than just a story ?

Talking of 'the larger me', You say that 'I imagine it to be a more expansive sense of self, connected to everything, transcendent of the world of form, not a separate self, and something that was never born and will never die'.

What exactly is the self within the memories, thoughts, emotions, talents or personality ?

Can you tell me what 'self' consists of beyond a label for a bunch of thoughts (+memories - i.e. old thoughts) + emotions + sensations ? What exactly is having the suffering for you right now as you read these words ?

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Stephaniet
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Re: I'm ready to know the truth.

Postby Stephaniet » Sun Aug 26, 2012 10:45 pm

Stephanie is just a name this body was given by my parents, I don't feel like the name is me. I also don't feel like the thoughts, emotions and sensations I experience are me. What I do feel is me is that which is aware of the thoughts, sensations and emotions.

[quote/] What exactly is having the suffering for you right now as you read these words ?[/quote]

I am aware of a tightness in my stomach, and in my throat, a feeling of sadness. I feel as if the body is suffering, and I am that which is aware of the suffering.

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jimw
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Re: I'm ready to know the truth.

Postby jimw » Sun Aug 26, 2012 11:31 pm

This is good Stephanie. So you saying that you are not your name (a label), thoughts or experiences.

Is there a 'you' in the awareness, or is there just awareness happening ?

Describe the feeling of sadness, are there any thoughts associated with it ? When you feel the tightness in your stomach are there any labels that come with it ?

What comes up (thoughts / feelings / sensations) when I say this: "there is no separate entity self in real life at all" ?

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Stephaniet
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Re: I'm ready to know the truth.

Postby Stephaniet » Mon Aug 27, 2012 2:39 am

Is there a 'you' in the awareness, or is there just awareness happening ?
I feel like there is a me in the awareness. I know intellectually that there isn't, but it does feel like I'm the one who is aware. Something is noticing the thoughts, emotions, sensations. I feel like I am that something.
Describe the feeling of sadness, are there any thoughts associated with it ? When you feel the tightness in your stomach are there any labels that come with it ?
The sadness is just a general sense of melancholy, sometimes a bit of hopelessness. The thoughts are normally something like, "My husband drinks too much," "I don't love my husband" "I wish we had a nicer house" "I wish we had more money" "I wish I had more friends" "I never get what I want," "Everyone else is happy except me" etc.
What comes up (thoughts / feelings / sensations) when I say this: "there is no separate entity self in real life at all" ?
What came up first is sadness, like I am losing a dear friend. Then happiness and relief, because intellectually I know that most, if not all, of my "problems" are caused by a belief in a separate self. And if there is not one here, and there is just life happening as this body, and I'm not responsible for what's happening, that's a big relief and very exciting. I want to KNOW it's true, to really experience, not just believe it though.

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jimw
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Re: I'm ready to know the truth.

Postby jimw » Mon Aug 27, 2012 7:47 am

Hi Stephanie,
I feel like there is a me in the awareness. I know intellectually that there isn't, but it does feel like I'm the one who is aware.
Could it be that the intellect is just labeling 'awareness' as 'me' ?
Something is noticing the thoughts, emotions, sensations. I feel like I am that something
What if you are 'no-thing' and that even saying that you are 'no-thing' is not really true either? (another pesky label) What happens if you try this - ask yourself this - the screen you are reading these words on, is it a “your” screen or just “a” screen? Which seems more true?
The sadness is just a general sense of melancholy, sometimes a bit of hopelessness. The thoughts are normally something like, "My husband drinks too much," "I don't love my husband" "I wish we had a nicer house" "I wish we had more money" "I wish I had more friends" "I never get what I want," "Everyone else is happy except me" etc
Try this - what happens when you say to yourself:
"my husband drinks to much", then try: "husband drinks too much".

Or... "at this present moment, there appears to be a lack of love for my husband" rather than "I don't love my husband".

Do the different versions have a different quality or sense to them ?
What came up first is sadness, like I am losing a dear friend. Then happiness and relief, because intellectually I know that most, if not all, of my "problems" are caused by a belief in a separate self. And if there is not one here, and there is just life happening as this body, and I'm not responsible for what's happening, that's a big relief and very exciting. I want to KNOW it's true, to really experience, not just believe it though.
Yes, yes, yes ! Sadness comes up. It is just sadness. There is nothing to loose. There is nothing there *to* loose. Life is just happening.

If you keep looking you will see this time and time again. You say that "that's a big relief and very exciting" - doesn't this imply that you have already felt the lack of self already ? Are you waiting for something to happen that already just is ?

Keep looking, this is good stuff.

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Stephaniet
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Re: I'm ready to know the truth.

Postby Stephaniet » Mon Aug 27, 2012 8:00 pm

A lot of sadness has been coming up, so I'm just watching that. I'll post a longer response soon.

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jimw
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Re: I'm ready to know the truth.

Postby jimw » Mon Aug 27, 2012 8:41 pm

That's OK Stephanie, take your time - write everything down.

It is OK for there to be sadness. Has fear also arisen ? This is OK too, and is very commonly seen in this process.

The negativity that comes up is your thinking mind trying to protect itself from something it sees as a threat. But it's OK - there is nothing to loose.

Look at the sadness and let it be without fighting it. Now look behind it. What is behind? What do you see? What needs to be protected ?

You are doing really well with this Stephanie - keep looking.

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Stephaniet
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Re: I'm ready to know the truth.

Postby Stephaniet » Tue Aug 28, 2012 2:31 pm

Hi Stephanie,

Could it be that the intellect is just labeling 'awareness' as 'me' ?
Yes, I can see that. I was driving in the car yesterday and a thought popped in my mind, "Everything is happening, but's it's not happening to anyone." It was like a very subtle, little shift happened in my mind, so I'm living with that and hoping it becomes more than an idea and more of a living reality for me.
What if you are 'no-thing' and that even saying that you are 'no-thing' is not really true either? (another pesky label) What happens if you try this - ask yourself this - the screen you are reading these words on, is it a “your” screen or just “a” screen? Which seems more true?
Just "a" screen seems more true. It's so hard to see myself as "no thing" but I'm trying.
Try this - what happens when you say to yourself:
"my husband drinks to much", then try: "husband drinks too much".

Or... "at this present moment, there appears to be a lack of love for my husband" rather than "I don't love my husband".

Do the different versions have a different quality or sense to them ?
Yes, definitely a different quality. Like there is a distance and there is not the same emotional charge as when I say, "my husband" etc.
You say that "that's a big relief and very exciting" - doesn't this imply that you have already felt the lack of self already ? Are you waiting for something to happen that already just is ?
Contemplating the idea of no self, and believing it, is very exciting and a relief to me. I'm not sure if I've actually felt the lack of self other than in small flashes, but I'm trying.

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jimw
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Re: I'm ready to know the truth.

Postby jimw » Tue Aug 28, 2012 5:11 pm

Hi Stephanie
I was driving in the car yesterday and a thought popped in my mind, "Everything is happening, but's it's not happening to anyone." It was like a very subtle, little shift happened in my mind, so I'm living with that and hoping it becomes more than an idea and more of a living reality for me.
Subtle shifts in perspective can happen - they are not an idea though, or a concept, they just *are*. The 'I' only happens once you've recognized them and labeled them.
Just "a" screen seems more true. It's so hard to see myself as "no thing" but I'm trying.
Rather than saying "I am nothing", try, "I does not exist", or "there is no me". Stephanie is just a story. There is a body called Stephanie and some memories and thoughts/sensations happening.

What happens when you read this: "there is no me to see, there is just seeing, hearing and sensations happening now"? Does this seem true ?
Contemplating the idea of no self, and believing it, is very exciting and a relief to me. I'm not sure if I've actually felt the lack of self other than in small flashes, but I'm trying.
There is no idea of 'no self'. It is not a concept or an idea. It is truth, and a truth that has been alluded to in many spiritual traditions western and eastern. No-self can be seen in the here and now. For the time being, just look at how feelings, thoughts and labels show up. A widely-held assumption is that, in order for looking to happen, there must be someone doing it, a looker. This isn't true.

Looking again and again is key to this process. Thought and concepts can be put to one side. Bear with me and try the following little exercises (they only take a couple of minutes) and see what happens.

1. Sit quietly, and notice what is real: body, furniture, feelings, thoughts, sensations, surroundings. Can you find an “I” here? Or are there just thoughts, feelings, sensations, images, sounds ?

2. Look at an object in the room you’re in (doesn't matter what - something ordinary). What happens? Can you closely observe the process, and tell me if there is someone involved in this looking process at all — someone that is not just an assumption ?

3. Raise your right arm (or don't). Can you pinpoint the exact moment of choice and find the actual entity that appears to be making that choice? In direct experience, can that moment of choice, that apparent chooser, actually be found? Or does the idea “I just chose to (not) raise my right arm” come after the event itself?

4. DO NOT THINK OF AN ELEPHANT. Really, do not under any circumstances, think of an elephant. No elephants for us. ............Did you think of an elephant ?...... I think you did. Did you have control over that thought arising ? Was there a little mini Stephanie sat inside you somewhere pushing a 'think of an elephant' button ? Don't laugh... unless you do - there is no one to choose whether that is funny for you or not :)

Try the exercises and let me know what comes up.

Keep going Stephanie, you can do this. We are here for you.

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Stephaniet
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Re: I'm ready to know the truth.

Postby Stephaniet » Wed Aug 29, 2012 12:55 am

Hi Stephanie

What happens when you read this: "there is no me to see, there is just seeing, hearing and sensations happening now"? Does this seem true ?


Yes, it seems true. But I still want to know what IS noticing, because there is definitely awareness and noticing happening. Can awareness be happening without anything being aware? I feel that something is aware.
1. Sit quietly, and notice what is real: body, furniture, feelings, thoughts, sensations, surroundings. Can you find an “I” here? Or are there just thoughts, feelings, sensations, images, sounds ?
I see objects, I hear sounds, I see and feel a body, I perceive thoughts, I see fingers typing on a keyboard, forming words is happening, breathing is happening, there is awareness of all this, but I don't find a definite "me."
2. Look at an object in the room you’re in (doesn't matter what - something ordinary). What happens? Can you closely observe the process, and tell me if there is someone involved in this looking process at all — someone that is not just an assumption ?
A water bottle is seen (by this body?) but I don't find a someone who sees it.
3. Raise your right arm (or don't). Can you pinpoint the exact moment of choice and find the actual entity that appears to be making that choice? In direct experience, can that moment of choice, that apparent chooser, actually be found? Or does the idea “I just chose to (not) raise my right arm” come after the event itself?
No chooser, raising of the arm just happens.
4. DO NOT THINK OF AN ELEPHANT. Really, do not under any circumstances, think of an elephant. No elephants for us. ............Did you think of an elephant ?...... I think you did. Did you have control over that thought arising ? Was there a little mini Stephanie sat inside you somewhere pushing a 'think of an elephant' button ? Don't laugh... unless you do - there is no one to choose whether that is funny for you or not :)
Thinking of an elephant happened, and there was no me controlling that.

I have looked and looked can't find an actual self, only thoughts about a self, but I still don't feel any kind of profound shift has happened.


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