Time for a Guide

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FarMatt
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Time for a Guide

Postby FarMatt » Tue Apr 16, 2013 5:42 pm

Hi,
I have been reading Non-duality stuff for about six months now, soaking up lessons mostly from Greg Goode's book "The Direct Path: A User's Guide", and from GP Walsh. I feel like I have a reasonable logical comprehension of what non-duality means, but I think I am still clinging on to the old, "normal" way of looking at things, and I don't really experience non-duality as true yet. I would love to have a guide help me through the gate.

Thanks!

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nonaparry
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Re: Time for a Guide

Postby nonaparry » Thu Apr 18, 2013 5:23 pm

Hi Matt,

I enjoy Greg's work, too!

I will assume you have read our disclaimer; if not, please go to the Home page and read it.

How we work here is I ask questions and you answer with complete honesty from your own experience. You agree to post here at least once every day, even if only to say you can't reply today.

If you agree to the above contract, please reply by telling me what your expectations are, what you hope or want to get from this.

love
Nona
"When you eliminate the impossible, whatever remains—however improbable—must be the truth." ~ Sir Arthur Conan Doyle

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FarMatt
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Re: Time for a Guide

Postby FarMatt » Thu Apr 18, 2013 9:50 pm

Hi Nona,
Yep - I read the disclaimer, and I agree to the contract. I'm excited to begin, and want to thank you for agreeing to help me!

I guess I don't have much in the way of expectations. I've read a number of people's descriptions about the experience of the self dissolving, but all descriptions seem esoteric and vague, so I guess I really have no idea what it might be like. Furthermore, a lot of people talk about "end of suffering" when the self dissolves, but I don't think I really have a conception as to what that experience would actually feel like either. I can see how if there is no self, then there is no self to be insulted or hurt or to worry, but no self doesn't mean that the world stops turning, or that experiences stop, so again I'm not sure what that would actually feel like. I have a feeling that it would be not that different from now, but just like an opening or a feeling of lightness.

So, I guess those are my expectations. GP Walsh has said many times that you shouldn't embark on this inquiry with the hope of getting anything out of it, because ultimately it is the self that wants to get something, and its the self that dissolves, so of course the self can't get anything from dissolving. So I've tried to take it to heart and not approach this thinking it will bring me anything. I mostly just want to know the truth of the nature of reality, awareness, and experience.

As I'm writing this I also feel a bit weird every time I write the word 'I', since I'm kind of in a non-dual mindset right now and it just feels a bit weird to write about "my" expectations when we're talking about the "me" behind the "my" not being there at all, but I guess thats just the limitation of our language.

Anyway, I hope that is a good starting point!
-Matt

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nonaparry
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Re: Time for a Guide

Postby nonaparry » Thu Apr 18, 2013 11:25 pm

Hi Matt,

Excellent. No expectations is great, and if any do happen to arise, please mention them!

We begin: What comes up, how do you react, when I state "there is no separate self in reality, no "you" that is in control of some personal slice of life."

Please respond in detail from your direct experience.

love
Nona
"When you eliminate the impossible, whatever remains—however improbable—must be the truth." ~ Sir Arthur Conan Doyle

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Re: Time for a Guide

Postby FarMatt » Fri Apr 19, 2013 8:01 am

The first thought that comes up is that the "correct" answer is that I agree with the statement and it makes sense.

The second thought is "yeah, but..." accompanied by an uncomfortable feeling and a desire to distract myself and do something else.

Its mostly just a feeling, but maybe the best way to describe it is: disbelief, but no concrete logical objection. I guess maybe it feels like there is a "me" in control of some personal slice of life.

From Greg Goode's book, I followed along well with the whole section on how external objects can't be objective, and how everything, including our own bodies is subjective and may or may not actually exist. It logically makes sense to me that the only way we can perceive anything is through our senses, which exist essentially as thoughts within our awareness. Like how there is the physical function of sight (the retina in our eye reacting to light stimulus), and then there is seeing (the mental construction of what we think is out there), and you can't have sight function without seeing happening. Then, it makes sense to me that since seeing is completely in our minds, that it can't be objective. You still see things when you're in a dream, and none of that can possibly exist. So its irrelevant whether sight is accurate or not, because sight gets turned into seeing, and seeing is not reliable. Same thing goes for the other senses, but yet the only way we can interact with the outside world is through our senses, so the conclusion that the outside world may or may not exist at all seems perfectly valid to me.

So, moving from that level of understanding to the statement you started with, I can see how there could be no physical me, but it still does feel like there is something that is me that thoughts and sensations (seeing, hearing, etc.) all appear to. It feels like there is something there to which all the thoughts appear, and that somehow that thing to which thoughts and sensations appear must be "me". I know that the response will be that its not me, but I don't understand what that thing is, and why its not "me". I guess it feels like "me," like I'm a separate entity with my own thoughts and sensations. It actually feels kind of lonely, since I'm not sure if any of the people or things I interact with actually exist or not, so it feels like there's a chance that I'm here, with thoughts and sensations arising to me, and its all imaginary, and there's nobody else that even exists.

I'm not sure how clear that is, but its the best I can do right now. I'm looking forward to whats next.
-Matt

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Re: Time for a Guide

Postby nonaparry » Fri Apr 19, 2013 11:15 am

Dear Matt,

Thank you for a really nice job of describing what your current thinking is!
Now for the duration of our conversation together, I am going to ask you to answer from conventional reality, in sensation and direct experience, rather than from whatever understanding of the subjectivity of perception you have developed. And if a problem relating to the subjectivity of perception does come up, mention it and we will deal with it.
For the purposes of our exercises, we will assume that what is tangible exists.
As you wrote,
yet the only way we can interact with the outside world is through our senses
I ask this because 'understanding' is entirely in thought, and so far, no one I know of has seen through the illusion of a separate self by Thinking about it.
I am going to Point to where you should LOOK with all your physical powers of observation: seeing, hearing, smelling, tasting, touching, and other sensations. These physical sensations we call Direct Experience.
it still does feel like there is something that is me that thoughts and sensations (seeing, hearing, etc.) all appear to. It feels like there is something there to which all the thoughts appear, and that somehow that thing to which thoughts and sensations appear must be "me".
Yes; that is the Story we were told, and rather than question it, we use our powers of thought to reinforce the idea that thoughts and sensations require or imply a Thinker and a Sense-er. We will check if this is true.

First, let's attempt to locate this "me".
Close your eyes, and lift a hand. With a finger, point to where the "me" is most clearly or deeply felt, to that thing to which thoughts and sensations appear.
When you are pointing to this "me", open your eyes and report exactly what you see.

love
Nona
"When you eliminate the impossible, whatever remains—however improbable—must be the truth." ~ Sir Arthur Conan Doyle

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Re: Time for a Guide

Postby FarMatt » Fri Apr 19, 2013 7:56 pm

Nona,
Ok - makes sense. This in particular is helpful: "'understanding' is entirely in thought, and so far, no one I know of has seen through the illusion of a separate self by Thinking about it." I definitely have a tendency to get too wrapped up in concepts and theories.

As for the exercise - when I opened my eyes, I saw my hand in front of my face and felt my finger touching the middle of my forehead. I saw the colors and shades that make up the skin on my hand, and the shirt I'm wearing. I saw the colors that make up the walls and furniture and stuff on the desk in my office, and I saw out of the corner of my eye through the window the movement of cars driving. I also heard things and felt things and smelled things, but you asked for what I saw, so there it is.

When my eyes were closed, I tried not to pay too much attention to what my thoughts were doing, and instead tried to pay attention to where I mostly deeply felt the "me" was. There was a bit of a pull towards chest/heart area, but my finger definitely went pretty much straight toward my forehead.

-Matt

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Re: Time for a Guide

Postby nonaparry » Fri Apr 19, 2013 10:27 pm

Hi Matt,

Terrific reporting of your experience!!
I definitely have a tendency to get too wrapped up in concepts and theories.
Boy have you come to the right place!! I was so "mental", it took me a while to notice that my guide was directing me to LOOK, not to THINK!
when I opened my eyes, I saw my hand in front of my face and felt my finger touching the middle of my forehead. I saw the colors and shades that make up the skin on my hand, and the shirt I'm wearing. I saw the colors that make up the walls and furniture and stuff on the desk in my office, and I saw out of the corner of my eye through the window the movement of cars driving.
Excellent. And did you see a "me" anywhere at all? I'm guessing not, since your description of what you did see is very full and detailed.
The middle of the forehead is a very safe place for a "me" to hide, as you cannot see it directly with the eyes in the head.
When I put a finger to the middle of my forehead, I can see the finger, though not the forehead itself; depending on the actual size of your "me", if it is as large as a pea for example, it should be possible to see it by looking upward.
Please touch the middle of the forehead to discover if there is anything actually there other than skin and maybe some hair. Is there a "me" there?
You might also look at the reflection of the body in a mirror to try to discover this "me", but of course the reflection will be secondhand. Still, it is worth a try—if you find a "me" in the middle of the forehead, the search is over.


In the event you do not find a "me" there, the next exercise is this: Write what you are experiencing right now using the words "I" and "me". Get right to the point, no past or future fantasy, just a plain description of what's happening here and now.
Like this—
I am sitting in a chair. I am breathing. I am typing these words.
Do this for 10 minutes. Be aware of the body; what physical sensations are there?

Then for the next 10 minutes write what is being experienced right now without the words "I" and "me". Just describe the experience as it is happening using verbs:
Waiting for the next thought, typing, breathing, blinking, hearing rain.
Again be aware of body sensations.

When you have finished, compare these two ways to label experience: how are they experienced?
Were the physical sensations experienced different with and without the use of the labels "I" and "me"?

love
Nona
"When you eliminate the impossible, whatever remains—however improbable—must be the truth." ~ Sir Arthur Conan Doyle

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FarMatt
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Re: Time for a Guide

Postby FarMatt » Mon Apr 22, 2013 2:57 am

Hi Nona,
Darn. I just realized that the post I submitted yesterday got lost because I must have been timed out of the site, and of course what I wrote is gone... Foolish of me - I'll make sure from now on to write everything in a text editor on my computer and copy and paste in instead. I've got to run at the moment, but I'll try to log back on later tonight or tomorrow morning to re-write what I had written before.

Thanks,
-Matt

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Re: Time for a Guide

Postby nonaparry » Mon Apr 22, 2013 7:40 am

Hi Matt,

Writing in a text editor works; what I do is write my reply, then select all and copy. If I've timed out, I just paste my reply back in and voilá, it's all there.

Cheers
Nona
"When you eliminate the impossible, whatever remains—however improbable—must be the truth." ~ Sir Arthur Conan Doyle

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Re: Time for a Guide

Postby FarMatt » Tue Apr 23, 2013 12:11 am

Nona,
Here's my re-write of what I already wrote. Ha.

You're right, I did not see a "me" anywhere in my direct experience. The image that I create of the me is kind of amorphous, and with fuzzy boundaries, and maybe the size of a tennis ball, but when I touch my forehead, its only skin and hair (and my finger and fingernail on the other side). So yep, no me directly experienced.

---

On to the next exercise - "I and me description of what's happening":

Right now I'm noticing a pressure on the back of my thighs and my butt where I am sitting on my chair. I feel pressure on my feet where they're pushing on the ground, and I feel a subtle sense of position in my back, shoulders, neck, chest, and arms. I feel a sense of movement in my legs as I rock them back and forth, and in my hands and arms as I type. I feel a subtle sense of touch along most of my skin where my clothing is putting a gentle pressure and texture. I feel the cool air moving in and warm air moving out of my nose, throat, and lungs.

I can hear the air passing in and out through my nose. I hear the clicks of the keys and I press them down on the keyboard, and the quiet fan in my computer. Every now and then I hear a noise from down the hall, like a door closing or a voice or a cough. I can also hear cars going by outside on the street, muffled by the walls and window between me and them, and the quiet hum of the big fan in the heater/air conditioner on the other side of the wall.

I have the taste of the salad dressing left over from lunch still in my mouth. I don't really smell anything at the moment.

I can see the bright colors that make up screen of my computer, and with the words appearing as I type them. I can also see colors and shades that make up all the items on my desk, the walls, and the room around me. I can see movement of my fingers, hands, and arms, and in my peripheral vision I can see cars moving outside the window. I can also see occasional movement of my eyelashes and eyelids when I blink.

While I've been describing the sensations that I'm having I'm also creating thoughts, trying to come up with the best words to use to describe the sensations, connecting certain sensations to causes and naming those causes.

---

Now "No-I and no-me description of what's happening":

Sitting, pressure on backs of legs and butt. Pressure on bottom of feet from the ground. Slight sensation of tension in neck and position of back, shoulders, arms, neck, head. Itch on leg, and on head. Movement of legs, fingers, forearms while typing on keys. Stretching shoulders back and moving neck around in a circle.

Colors and shades of wall in front of me, noise of phone vibrating as a text comes in. Colors and shades that make up desk and all sorts of objects on desk. Bright colors on screen, movement as words appear from typing. Occasional movement barely noticeable off to side of cars driving by outside window. Movement of fingers and hands.

Thoughts about things that need to be done coming up, and questioning who the text is from, but deciding not to look yet.

Hearing noise from air conditioner/heater, then hearing it shut off and noise is gone. Noise of fan in computer remains, and noise of keys tapping/clicking as they are pressed. Noise of air moving in and out of nose.

Cool feeling of air moving into nose, throat, lungs, and warm movement as air moves out. Bigger noise and more sensation as a yawn comes on, moving and stretching jaw. No particular smells, but taste of salad dressing still on tongue.

---

The actual sensations were the same whether I used the words "I" or "me" to describe them or not. There may have been a subtle shift in perspective of the sensations based on trying not to label the sensations as "mine" in any way, but mostly it just felt the same and it was only in my thoughts and the sentences I was formulating in my head and then watching as they appeared on the screen that the difference came in. Life seems pretty much the same either way - a yawn is a yawn whether I call it "my yawn" or "the yawn".

-Matt

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Re: Time for a Guide

Postby nonaparry » Tue Apr 23, 2013 5:17 pm

Dear Matt,

Nice work!! Your powers of observation and description are truly excellent!
I did not see a "me" anywhere in my direct experience. The image that I create of the me is kind of amorphous, and with fuzzy boundaries, and maybe the size of a tennis ball, but when I touch my forehead, its only skin and hair (and my finger and fingernail on the other side). So yep, no me directly experienced.
Where is "The image that I create of the me"? Can you locate it? Are you aware of how you came by it?
Colors and shades of wall in front of me, noise of phone vibrating as a text comes in. Colors and shades that make up desk and all sorts of objects on desk. Bright colors on screen, movement as words appear from typing.
Is see-ing separate in any way from the seen?
Does a see-er rush in from stage left to control the see-ing?
Hearing noise from air conditioner/heater, then hearing it shut off and noise is gone. Noise of fan in computer remains, and noise of keys tapping/clicking as they are pressed. Noise of air moving in and out of nose.
Is hear-ing separate in any way from the heard?
Does a hear-er rush in from stage right to control the hear-ing?

Or are seeing and hearing simply part of Life, and inseparable from the seen and heard?
The actual sensations were the same whether I used the words "I" or "me" to describe them or not.
YES. Good to notice!! So then to what exactly do the words "I" or "me" refer?? What do you mean by them? To what are you referring when you use them?

Some of the labels we use in communication refer to Real things. For example, when I say table, chair, and computer I am referring to the objects of my perception that are presently in front of me right now.
I can also refer in communication to Imaginary things. For example, if I ask you to look around the room and find Batman, or the Tooth Fairy, you won't bother. Why? Because they are imaginary; they are fictional characters that only operate in a story.
Self is a fictional character that only operates within as story, too. Check it! Unless "I" is being written, spoken, or thought about, in language, there is no "I". "I" is not experienced outside of language/thought. It is a label without a referent.
Where is there ever an "I/self/me" that is not a label?
There may have been a subtle shift in perspective of the sensations based on trying not to label the sensations as "mine" in any way, but mostly it just felt the same and it was only in my thoughts and the sentences I was formulating in my head and then watching as they appeared on the screen that the difference came in. Life seems pretty much the same either way - a yawn is a yawn whether I call it "my yawn" or "the yawn".
Yes, exactly.
Where does this ownership arise?
By the side of this laptop there is a cup.
Which is more true: "it is my cup" "it is your cup" or "it is a cup"?

Mind claims ownership of an object or an event, after the fact. This is interesting and easy to see.
As you go about your day, notice how the story of "I" gets created, moment by moment. An event happens, for example, the coffee in the machine finishes brewing, a cup gets warmed, and hot coffee is poured into the cup. Mind announces "I did it. I ground the beans, I filled the machine, I pressed the buttons, I warmed a cup, I poured the coffee."
Mmmmm, first sip of the fresh brew. Mind announces "I tasted that."
Cup is carried out to the desk, to its home next to the computer. Mind says "I carried that; I put that there."
But DID "I" do any of that at all? Check it!! Does an "I" come dashing in to do the grinding, the pouring, the carrying?? Or do these events just happen as part of the morning, without a separate Grind-er, Button-push-er, Cup-fill-er, Carry-er, Sip-er at all? Isn't the morning routine just another example of Life living itself?

To see through the illusion of self you will find it necessary to bypass thinking about your experience and go straight for what exactly is being experienced in the present moment.

looking forward to your reply,
love
Nona
"When you eliminate the impossible, whatever remains—however improbable—must be the truth." ~ Sir Arthur Conan Doyle

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Re: Time for a Guide

Postby FarMatt » Fri Apr 26, 2013 2:14 am

Nona,
Lots of questions to respond to this time! I had to contemplate for awhile on some of them.
"Where is "The image that I create of the me"? Can you locate it? Are you aware of how you came by it?"
The image is only in my imagination. It appears in my awareness, and I can't locate where it is physically. I also don't know how I came by it. When I think of the word "me" that image just spontaneously arises. Part of me is still resistant to this. I can appreciate that it isn't a physical thing, since it has no physical space that it takes up. If the "me" were to be any physical thing, I supposed it would have to incorporate my entire body, because there isn't a defined area within my body that clearly contains the me. But the "me" being my entire body doesn't work either, because if you cut off one of my toes (as gruesome as that sounds) I'm still me. So my toe isn't part of me, but there is no hard boundary where the "me" within my body begins and ends.
"Is see-ing separate in any way from the seen?
Does a see-er rush in from stage left to control the see-ing?"
No - I don't experience any sight that happens before the seeing does - they are one and the same. I don't experience sight happening in my eyes, and then editing, modulation, and interpretation converting it into seeing and popping up in my awareness. There is only seeing happening in my awareness.
"Is hear-ing separate in any way from the heard?
Does a hear-er rush in from stage right to control the hear-ing?
Or are seeing and hearing simply part of Life, and inseparable from the seen and heard?"
Same as sight - there isn't any hearing that happens separate from things being heard. Seeing and hearing (and smelling and tasting and feeling) are what I experience, and I don't experience anything other than those sensations. I don't have any direct experience of the supposed sights and sounds other than my seeing and hearing.
"So then to what exactly do the words "I" or "me" refer?? What do you mean by them? To what are you referring when you use them?

Some of the labels we use in communication refer to Real things. For example, when I say table, chair, and computer I am referring to the objects of my perception that are presently in front of me right now.
I can also refer in communication to Imaginary things. For example, if I ask you to look around the room and find Batman, or the Tooth Fairy, you won't bother. Why? Because they are imaginary; they are fictional characters that only operate in a story.
Self is a fictional character that only operates within as story, too. Check it! Unless "I" is being written, spoken, or thought about, in language, there is no "I". "I" is not experienced outside of language/thought. It is a label without a referent.
Where is there ever an "I/self/me" that is not a label?"
But what is the thing which is doing the perceiving, the experiencing, the thinking? Is that the "I"? I guess it still seems to me like there must be something that has the experiences and thoughts. It doesn't matter what label is applied to it. Even if you give it a different label, isn't the thing that has the experiences and thoughts and makes decisions a "self"?
"Mind claims ownership of an object or an event, after the fact. This is interesting and easy to see.
As you go about your day, notice how the story of "I" gets created, moment by moment. An event happens, for example, the coffee in the machine finishes brewing, a cup gets warmed, and hot coffee is poured into the cup. Mind announces "I did it. I ground the beans, I filled the machine, I pressed the buttons, I warmed a cup, I poured the coffee."
Mmmmm, first sip of the fresh brew. Mind announces "I tasted that."
Cup is carried out to the desk, to its home next to the computer. Mind says "I carried that; I put that there."
But DID "I" do any of that at all? Check it!! Does an "I" come dashing in to do the grinding, the pouring, the carrying?? Or do these events just happen as part of the morning, without a separate Grind-er, Button-push-er, Cup-fill-er, Carry-er, Sip-er at all? Isn't the morning routine just another example of Life living itself?
But what about if I stop for a minute, and contemplate, and decide I want tea instead of coffee this morning. And then the tea gets made instead. Isn't there something there to make the decision?

And if there is no I that is making the coffee, then why do I identify with the coffee being made when "I" do it, but I don't identify with it when my girlfriend makes the coffee and I watch it happen? It feels like I have an awareness that has experiences, thoughts, and agency, and she has an awareness that has experiences, thoughts, and agency of her own...

It kind of gets my mind a bit twisted up in knots thinking about this stuff... :-)

-Matt

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Re: Time for a Guide

Postby nonaparry » Sat Apr 27, 2013 9:34 am

Hi Matt,

I am traveling and want to take especial care in my reply to you; I hope to respond today or tomorrow.

love
Nona
"When you eliminate the impossible, whatever remains—however improbable—must be the truth." ~ Sir Arthur Conan Doyle

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Re: Time for a Guide

Postby FarMatt » Sat Apr 27, 2013 5:56 pm

Sure, no problem. I'm in no rush. :-)


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