Guide request

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John LB
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Guide request

Postby John LB » Sat Nov 23, 2013 6:49 pm

I have heard about LU from a variety of sources, some guidance would be very helpful for me I think. I have been studying the Direct path for about four years now and have an improving sense of the reality of things and perceptions, but seeing the personal self for what it really is, is, for me, more subtle and difficult. Someone to hold my hand, show the way and point out the bannana skins would be so much appreciated. Warmly and with thanks, John

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aubergine99
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Re: Guide request

Postby aubergine99 » Sat Nov 23, 2013 10:16 pm

Hello John,

My name is Brigitte and I am happy to be your guide through this journey. Here are a few things that we need to make clear before we begin. It’s a bit long but helpful nonetheless.

Which time zone are you in? - I’m in England.

There are also a few standard ground rules before we start:

You agree to post at least once a day, even if only to say that you're still around, and I'll do the same. Sometimes it might just not be possible for one of us to post substantively and of course we'd find a way to work round that.

I am not your teacher, all I can do is point and you look, until clear seeing happens. In general, I will ask questions and you look deeply and respond with 100% honesty. Responses require a simple, uncontrived, honest looking approach. There are no wrong or right answers.

Responses are best from direct experience (the physical evidence of seeing, hearing, touching, tasting, smelling, prior to the story or explanation about them). Long-winded, analytical and philosophical or stream of consciousness answers are best avoided and may even hinder progress. Just listen very closely to the answers that arise in you, and answer to the very best of your ability at that time. (Read this article: http://www.liberationunleashed.com/Arti ... ience.html for more help on distinguishing what is direct experience.)

Put aside all other teachings, philosophies etc. for the duration of this investigation. It's fine to read threads in this forum and the Gateless Gatecrashers book.

Please learn to use the quote function as shown in header of Guiding area for instructions.

If you haven't already seen it, there is intro info at http://www.liberationunleashed.com/, together with our disclaimer and a short video.

Please confirm that you have seen these, that you agree to the disclaimer, and that you'd like me to be your guide and then we'll begin.

What are your expectations for this process?

How will you know that you found it?

How will this change you?

Finally, here's a couple of helpful points:

1) You can press 'subscribe to this topic' in the blue bar at the bottom of this page and receive a notification email every time I post here.

2) The site has a nasty habit of logging you out while you write a reply, which can mean you lose what you have written. One way to avoid this is to write elsewhere, then just paste the message into the 'reply' window when you're ready to send.

I look forward to hearing from you.

Brigitte

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John LB
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Re: Guide request

Postby John LB » Sun Nov 24, 2013 8:33 pm

Dear Brigitte,

Thank you for your reply - your name sounds German - yes? My wife is from Bavaria.

I saw in your posts that you are from East Sussex - I am in Edinburgh - moved here 2 1/2 yrs ago after 15 yrs in Newcastle. I grew up in Seaford, went to 6th form college in Lewes, did my PhD in Brighton and my brother still lives in Robertsbridge - so I know East Sussex pretty well - where is home for you?

Thank you for offrering to guide me this is kind. I have been reading advaita books for 7 yrs now and have been studying with Rupert Spira for around 4 years - just about to go on another retreat (the 9th I think); I have been a few times through Greg Goode's books - 'Sanding as Awareness' and the 'Direct Path' and have made some contributions to the DP FB page. My study and enthusiasm has deepened significantly in the last three years. I explain this just to give you some background on where I am - really quite familiar with looking at direct experience but somehow still not having seen very clearly the nature of the separate self. Hope that you can help.

Yours warmly

John

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aubergine99
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Re: Guide request

Postby aubergine99 » Sun Nov 24, 2013 9:42 pm

Hello John,

I am very happy to guide you.

Actually, it is a French name (mother is French) and I have lived in Brighton, East Sussex since mid 80’s although not from this area originally. I do like it here. I like Edinburgh too as my husband grew up there and is also Scottish.

Thanks for giving me a bit of your background history. I am also very fond of Rupert Spira. There is such clarity in his teachings and they are very obviously from the Direct Pointing route.

Please can you agree to the disclaimer as mentioned in my first post to you before we begin.

Also, can you reply to the 3 questions I asked you.

Looking forward to your reply.

Brigitte x

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John LB
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Re: Guide request

Postby John LB » Sun Nov 24, 2013 9:55 pm

Dear Brigitte,

Yes I agree to the disclaimer

What are your expectations for this process?

I think simply to know properly what is meant by seeing the so called 'separate self' for what it is. Not in theory, but as a living truth, without any doubt. To know the 'I' that I am rather than the I that thought says that I am. To know my true nature - the eternity and limitless nature of the I principle - to see myself in all things i.e. to see duality as the phenomenon it is. That is, not to expect it to disappear but simply to know the truth of myself.

How will you know that you found it?

Tricky - from what I understand, it can not be expressed, but can not be mistaken either. In simple terms the expectations outlined above will be directly realised.

J.


How will this change you. On a fundamental level, not at all. On a practical level probably to not mistake the play of life for a drama. To see the joy and irony in language and 'efforts to become' and to have a lighter touch. On a more practical level still, not to get knocked into a spin of self doubt when things dont go well or to run away from potential conflicts (which is an issue for me).

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Re: Guide request

Postby aubergine99 » Mon Nov 25, 2013 10:52 am

Dear John,

Thanks for your answers. Glad to see that your expectations seem quite reasonable but of course there are no guarantees as to what this process will bring.

So, we are ready to begin.

What comes up when it is read that there is absolutely no “you” in any way, shape or form, there never has been a “you”, nor is there now, nor will there ever be?

What does “you” refer to in direct experience? Please describe in detail –does it have a shape? A size? A quality?

Warm wishes,
Brigitte

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John LB
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Re: Guide request

Postby John LB » Mon Nov 25, 2013 9:36 pm

Dear Brigitte,

I tried to open the link about Direct experience but it did not open so I’ll go with what I know – please pick me up if I get conceptual. I have always found looking for an honest DE answers really quite difficult, but here goes:

What comes up when it is read that there is absolutely no “you” in any way, shape or form, there never has been a “you”, nor is there now, nor will there ever be?
What comes up? (i) yes – heard it before (ii) Ok…. Do continue… (iii) deeper breath and stillness, a bit like a sense of relief mixed with (iv) bit of unsettled agitation in the stomach. I am trying to be true to the instructions and ‘forget other teachings’ but it is hard to put aside the reason I came here in the first place which is to realise the truth that is in the question.

What does “you” refer to in direct experience? Please describe in detail –does it have a shape? A size? A quality?

It does completely depend who is saying it. For the avoidance of doubt I assume this is the first person i.e. we are talking about me. Really difficult question. If I imagine someone at work pointedly asking the question “So, what are YOU going to do about it?” It is a feeling (sensation) in the throat/chest kind of fearful. If a friend in a friendly manner says “oh please YOU must come round to dinner soon” it is again sensation but one more in the chest and a giddy warmth. If I say whilst I’m sitting here “me” its is more like a 3D mental visual representation of a body which arises and is gone in an instant. The nearest I can explain is one of the 1980s style computer ‘net-contour’ graphics of a person but ‘seen’ in reference to a centre somewhere behind the eyes.

Please let me know if this is these are useful responses.

I read the instructions on quoting. So I highlighted some of your text, pressed the quick reply button at the bottom of the last message in the thread but the screen shown on the instructions (with the buttons) did not appear. Please can you clarify how you’d prefer to see responses.

Warmly,

John

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aubergine99
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Re: Guide request

Postby aubergine99 » Mon Nov 25, 2013 11:20 pm

Dear John,

Direct Experience (DE) - These are raw experiences: hearing, seeing, touching, smelling, and tasting. There are sensations in the body (hunger, thirst, or pain). This is what we refer to as direct experience. This is the level of experience of cats, dogs, birds, and newborn babies. Then there are thoughts. Thoughts layer concepts over these raw experiences. A thought or concept or label is never the actual. Some thoughts point to the actual, and some point to other thoughts. This is the realm of make-believe. This is the realm of “I.” Is there an “I” in direct experience?

When I ask ‘what is your direct experience of anything’, I mean what appears from your perspective only.
What does “you” refer to in direct experience? Please describe in detail –does it have a shape? A size? A quality?
If I say whilst I’m sitting here “me” it is more like a 3D mental visual representation of a body which arises and is gone in an instant. The nearest I can explain is one of the 1980s style computer ‘net-contour’ graphics of a person but ‘seen’ in reference to a centre somewhere behind the eyes.
Do you find a ‘me’ somewhere behind the eyes in DE? Have a real close look at that now. Is it even possible to look there?

In direct experience, can you find an “I” that experiences experience? Are you the hearer of sounds? Are you the seer of objects? Are you feeler of sensations?
I read the instructions on quoting. So I highlighted some of your text, pressed the quick reply button at the bottom of the last message in the thread but the screen shown on the instructions (with the buttons) did not appear. Please can you clarify how you’d prefer to see responses.
This is what I do. I copy your whole reply into a Word document, edit by selecting relevant replies and adding my response to them. I then go to the end of thread in Guiding Area, hit Post Reply and then copy in my Word doc. I then highlight selected areas, press Quote at top of page. Preview document before final submission.

Wait to hear from you,
Brigitte

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John LB
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Re: Guide request

Postby John LB » Tue Nov 26, 2013 12:37 am

Dear Brigitte,

Thank you for your reply
Do you find a ‘me’ somewhere behind the eyes in DE? Have a real close look at that now. Is it even possible to look there?
No and No.
In direct experience, can you find an “I” that experiences experience? Are you the hearer of sounds? Are you the seer of objects? Are you feeler of sensations?
No, holding close to DE there is just the seeing, hearing feeling tasting touching smelling etc. This is not new, I have been here countless times before: Genuinely honestly innocently and without guile.

Best

J.

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John LB
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Re: Guide request

Postby John LB » Tue Nov 26, 2013 12:48 am

Dear Brigitte - sorry broke the rule about forgetting all other teachings - Ooops :(

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aubergine99
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Re: Guide request

Postby aubergine99 » Tue Nov 26, 2013 11:52 am

Hi John,
No, holding close to DE there is just the seeing, hearing feeling tasting touching smelling etc. This is not new, I have been here countless times before: Genuinely honestly innocently and without guile.
So you see that experience is just happening without ‘you’ doing anything. Does the same go for thinking?

Not from what you think, but from direct experience, please say:

Where do thoughts come from?

Are you in control of them? Can you choose to think only pleasant thoughts?

Can you stop a thought from coming? Can you stop it in the middle?

Do you know what the next thought will be?

Is "I" a different thought from the thought of say, a table?

Can a thought think?

Please can you provide details, where possible, with reference to your own experience.

Is there a gap between the perceiver of thoughts, thoughts, and thinking or is there just one process that we call thinking? Test it with a sound. Stop everything for two minutes and listen intently to all sounds that are present. Is there a hearer of sounds, separate from hearing and the heard? Where does hearing happen? Listen to distant sounds. Where is the hearer then? With closed eyes, check if there is a line between here and there. Can it be defined?

Since you are not a newcomer to non-duality, is there anything in particular you are getting stuck with, John, with regards to seeing the 'separate self' is an illusion? It may help me to guide with more specific pointing if you let me know.

Look forward to hearing from you.

Brigitte x

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John LB
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Re: Guide request

Postby John LB » Tue Nov 26, 2013 6:43 pm

Dear Brigitte,

thank you for your reply. It has been a busy day at work and I am now about to join two colleagues for an evening meal. I'll return to the office after then and give the pointers some thought. If I do not answer then rest assured that I'll manage to do so tomorrow. Many thanks.

BTW when I was in Brighton I lived in Hannover and was working at the University. I do miss the place but love it in Edinburgh.

Kind regards,

John

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Re: Guide request

Postby John LB » Wed Nov 27, 2013 9:06 pm

Hi John,

So you see that experience is just happening without ‘you’ doing anything. Does the same go for thinking?
When I look – yes – it is possible to see that in a resting state of observation take listening. To start with I say that I hear a sound but when looked for neither the “I” nor ‘the sound’ can be found as identifiable objects. There is just hearing going on. And looking at that I ask, “so what is it that this hearing is appearing to?” Looking there one finds just hearing, there is no separate hearer and that which is heard. All that the so called sound is, is the hearing of it. And even that is not right because there is no ‘it’ to be found it is just hearing. Listening to a sound slowly fade and disappear one is left with the odd sense that hearing is still going on, its just that there is no ‘content’ any more.

This can be done with all the senses.

Where do thoughts come from?
Thoughts just appear, I do not know what the next one will be – because that in itself would be another thought which is just happening now. And just like hearing described above there isn’t even really a thought – its just thinking. And when thinking comes to and end one is left with the sense that, there is just the stuff of thinking, but without content.

Are you in control of them? Can you choose to think only pleasant thoughts?

Sometimes it feels like one can exercise some kind of control over thoughts for example next I’m going to think about eating an orange…. But the strange thing is that whilst yes, I have just thought about eating an orange, the level of detail imagery and texture of peeling the skin, feeling the zest oil on my fingers, the juice running down my chin etc. etc. all of that was completely unpredicted it just arose wonderfully by itself. Carrying this out shows again and again that the choosing function is an illusory.
Can you stop a thought from coming? Can you stop it in the middle?
You can’t stop a thought from ‘coming’ because before it is experienced it has no being and likewise after it has passed. One can distract oneself from unpleasant thoughts – or rather an unpleasant chain of thought. It happened last night when someone was talking about what was in the news and there was some nasty child abuse story and it took some effort but it appeared to be possible to distract the chain of thought.

This is tricky because it is only another thought which says a chain of thought – prior to that it was just thinking unfolding as it does. [I’ve never written stuff down like this before and it is clarifying a lot of things – I hope you don’t mind my brain dumping!]

Do you know what the next thought will be?
No but the example of the orange above seems to suggest some degree of ‘agency’.
Is "I" a different thought from the thought of say, a table?
I can think both words I and table and they are made of the same thinking stuff. In terms of images or other sensory imaginations e.g. the kinaesthetic imagination of putting my hand on the table then the I can imagine doing that to a part of the body, but that is as close as such imagining can get to “I” and that is not really “I” at all.

Can a thought think?
No, clear as day, no but considering this question takes you to an odd place because it shows from a different angle again that I simply can not find an object called a thought which has its own defined existence. Even if I could …. Could a thought think?.... if it could, it surely could only think about itself.

Please can you provide details, where possible, with reference to your own experience.
Since you are not a newcomer to non-duality, is there anything in particular you are getting stuck with, John, with regards to seeing the 'separate self' is an illusion? It may help me to guide with more specific pointing if you let me know.

Dear Brigitte, much of the experiential work I am quite familiar with but above I have found it useful to actually write it down as it appears – thanks. I think the area where I am getting a bit stuck, being brutally honest with myself is that I have a tendency to want to be accepted and avoid conflict and this sometimes makes it difficult to stop and say “No I don’t understand this” so I fear that I have skipped over some things in my non-dual path so far kidding myself that I have understood them when I have not. ON the other hand friends at satsangs say I ask some really good questions – they do tend to be all about the process of investigation. Some people ask about personal issues – I have rarely done this – it seems so difficult to formulate a question, but there is an ‘itch’ there. So I think the questions you are asking are good and yes we should probably go at a slowish pace just to check that I really understand direct experience and what it ‘says’ and we can progress to the personal knitty gritty which I think is probably where I am stuck.

I think a crux some how is translating these passive exercises into more active situations, where some kind of challenge or compulsive doubting or feeling of resistance arises. There is a sesnse of an individual who is on the defensive and so very quickly all that has been explored in the perceptive enquiries seems to evaporate. The important thing I think will be to investigate this sense of self and show that it is an illusory subject.

I have been on this path quite some time and something is not falling into place or is ‘holding out’ Yes one gets quiet glimpses but being honest I do find myself quite envious of friends who have profound breakthroughs and I start to question why can I not see this – am I not being honest? Do I know how to be honest enough? Perhaps its not that, perhaps something else….


….Well you did ask!.... :)

Warmly


John

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aubergine99
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Re: Guide request

Postby aubergine99 » Thu Nov 28, 2013 12:13 am

Hello again,
So you see that experience is just happening without ‘you’ doing anything. Does the same go for thinking?
When I look – yes – it is possible to see that in a resting state of observation take listening. To start with I say that I hear a sound but when looked for neither the “I” nor ‘the sound’ can be found as identifiable objects. There is just hearing going on. And looking at that I ask, “so what is it that this hearing is appearing to?” Looking there one finds just hearing, there is no separate hearer and that which is heard. All that the so called sound is, is the hearing of it. And even that is not right because there is no ‘it’ to be found it is just hearing. Listening to a sound slowly fade and disappear one is left
Great work, John. You clearly see there is just hearing going on, but more than that, you see there is no separation between the hearing and the sound. Any hearing experience has its own ‘flavour’ except flavour relates to taste, but I can’t find a better word now and hope you get my meaning. Do you also see that a sound cannot exist independently from the hearing of it? Same goes for seeing, tasting, smelling etc.?
Are you in control of them? Can you choose to think only pleasant thoughts?
Sometimes it feels like one can exercise some kind of control over thoughts for example next I’m going to think about eating an orange…. But the strange thing is that whilst yes, I have just thought about eating an orange, the level of detail imagery and texture of peeling the skin, feeling the zest oil on my fingers, the juice running down my chin etc. etc. all of that was completely unpredicted it just arose wonderfully by itself. Carrying this out shows again and again that the choosing function is an illusory.
Lovely description there. I could really see that orange. But do you know why you chose to think of an orange as opposed to a banana or a cake? Did you really choose it? If I say, think of a capital city, right now, do you see that one will just appear automatically.
You can’t stop a thought from ‘coming’ because before it is experienced it has no being and likewise after it has passed. One can distract oneself from unpleasant thoughts – or rather an unpleasant chain of thought. It happened last night when someone was talking about what was in the news and there was some nasty child abuse story and it took some effort but it appeared to be possible to distract the chain of thought.

Again, did you choose to make an effort to distract the chain of thought? It might appear so but could it be that a thought arose spontaneously suggesting a different topic of thought.
This is tricky because it is only another thought which says a chain of thought – prior to that it was just thinking unfolding as it does. [I’ve never written stuff down like this before and it is clarifying a lot of things – I hope you don’t mind my brain dumping!]
No I don’t mind - brain dumping is fine! And writing things down can really help.

Here is an exercise in choosing for you.

Decide to lift one arm up in the air after counting up to 5, say. Which arm do you decide to lift? Left or right? Can you pinpoint the moment of choice? How do you choose? Notice the thinking process in this – before and after the choosing.

Thanks for sharing your spiritual journey. If there is anything you don’t understand, please ask. My job is to guide you rather than answering questions but it all depends on the question of course. If there is something you are unclear about which could hinder your progress, then it’s best dealt with. We will work at whatever pace you are comfortable with and deal with any stickiness later on.

Direct experience is what can be sensed by the 5 senses and thoughts (but not their content). If it is not evident through these then it probably isn’t real.

Speak soon
Brigitte x

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John LB
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Re: Guide request

Postby John LB » Thu Nov 28, 2013 11:24 am

Dear Brigitte,

Just a short reply at the beginning of the working day:

Capital city – get it yes!

Why orange – yes! I hadn’t thought of it in that way.

For me it still seems to leave the quandary of a ‘chain’ of thought e.g. doing mental arithmetic or trying to recall a narrative. To say that ‘one’ thought follows another is not quite right because as we saw yesterday, being faithful to DE we can not identify any particular ‘thought’ just thinking. However – given a particular starting point, e.g. mental arithmetic 138 x 5 one tends to follow a series of steps which then closes at the end – similarly for following a joke with a punch line. If a thought (lets allow ourselves to identify one for the moment) then identifies a train of thought then we say “ that mental arithmetic train of thought” if not then, well I suppose there is no train of thought: there is just the passing appearance of the answer 690.

This feels a bit like seeing, it is only when ‘tree’ is identified and separated out from the rest that it actually exists as it were (ex sister – to stand out from). Otherwise there is just a panorama of colours with an added sense of ‘depth’.

So a train of thought(s) not really. But that is not to say that thinking does not seem to unfold in recognisable patterns, but the again the recognition of the pattern is itself just another thought (which curiously enough) stops the train / interrupts the pattern.

Again, did you choose to make an effort to distract the chain of thought? It might appear so but could it be that a thought arose spontaneously suggesting a different topic of thought.

No the interruption just happened. Brigitte – we are making progress here!


No I don’t mind - brain dumping is fine! And writing things down can really help.
Here is an exercise in choosing for you.

Decide to lift one arm up in the air after counting up to 5, say. Which arm do you decide to lift? Left or right? Can you pinpoint the moment of choice? How do you choose? Notice the thinking process in this – before and after the choosing.
Funny I was doing something similar last night before I wrote to you, but this was with two hands on the desk and wondering what was going to happen.
The MOST odd feeling initially there is a real awkward mental discomfort until you fully surrender to the not knowing, and even then that surrender, at least for me, seemed to be kind of conditional because the discomort periodically returned.

Talking about the 5 senses – the above discomfort is not at all easy to describe in these terms: I’ll try again later and report back.

Much love

John


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