Looking for an available (buddhist?) guide

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moondog
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Re: Looking for an available (buddhist?) guide

Postby moondog » Sat Feb 08, 2014 4:11 pm

Hi Steve,
ALL thoughts arise into awareness out of the blue. No matter how hard I try to control. Even if the thought arises (unbidden), “Ok, for this test I want the next thought to be the number 6” and then an image of the number 6 arises, in direct experience there is no actual evidence of causation. The image also just arises out of the blue, and there is nothing that knew that it was going to. It's only on thinking back on the process that I have the thought that the first thought obviously caused the second thought. In direct experience there is no evidence to show that the 1st does directly cause the 2nd, and so the belief that it does is just another thought, unfounded in direct experience.
It may sometimes happen that I think that I know what I'm going to think about next, but that in itself is just another unbidden thought.
Really good observations from direct experience Steve. You see how it is with thoughts and thinking.
ALL thoughts arise into awareness out of the blue. No matter how hard I try to control.
And there's no one even to try to control is there?

Looking forward to your answers on doing and controlling actions later.

Pete x
'Just consciousness taking the shape of experience from moment to moment.
Just this'

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Softsocks
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Re: Looking for an available (buddhist?) guide

Postby Softsocks » Sat Feb 08, 2014 7:46 pm

Hi Pete,
It's clear that when we breathe, blink, digest food etc. there's no 'I' involved, but how is it for you when walking?

How is it when doing various everyday things like say, brushing your teeth, washing up, that kind of thing? 
Try all kinds of stuff.

Is there any 'I' there for any of these actions, or are they just like 'automatic'?
There is no I involved in any activity. There is often, but not always an initial thought that precedes (not causes) the activity. Then just activity – lots of sensations – that just happen. There is sometimes a running commentary of thoughts. Sometimes, particularly for more complex activities, these thoughts might involve 'advice' or instruction, such as “I need to boil the water” or “put the lid back on the toothpaste!” or “I've forgotten to close the fridge” but these thoughts aren't chosen, and there is nothing to chose to act on them – they get acted on or they don't.

I was feeling tense this morning about this whole area of control – I was concerned about what I might do, or who I might become if left to my own devices (so to speak). It was helpful to realise I was again not attending to direct experience but rather thinking about past experiences, or thinking about the consequences of the not being in control in the future. Thinking about these thoughts about experience was leading to tension and confusion. But when actually living aware of the present, attending to direct experience, there is no tension or confusion around the idea of being out of control – there's just living.

with thanks,
steve

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moondog
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Re: Looking for an available (buddhist?) guide

Postby moondog » Sun Feb 09, 2014 3:27 pm

Hi Steve,
There is no I involved in any activity. There is often, but not always an initial thought that precedes (not causes) the activity. Then just activity – lots of sensations – that just happen. There is sometimes a running commentary of thoughts. Sometimes, particularly for more complex activities, these thoughts might involve 'advice' or instruction, such as “I need to boil the water” or “put the lid back on the toothpaste!” or “I've forgotten to close the fridge” but these thoughts aren't chosen, and there is nothing to chose to act on them – they get acted on or they don't.
Really good observations Steve. That's how it is. Nothing to add.
I was feeling tense this morning about this whole area of control – I was concerned about what I might do, or who I might become if left to my own devices (so to speak). It was helpful to realise I was again not attending to direct experience but rather thinking about past experiences, or thinking about the consequences of the not being in control in the future. Thinking about these thoughts about experience was leading to tension and confusion. But when actually living aware of the present, attending to direct experience, there is no tension or confusion around the idea of being out of control – there's just living.
As above. There is, as you say, just living. Terrific.

Doing and controlling sort of merges into deciding and choosing. There's plenty of overlap. So, let's look at these latter aspects of experience now, with the following exercise:

Raise your right arm (or don’t). In that process of raising the right arm (or not), a decision is made, or at least something happens (or doesn’t). But can you pinpoint the actual 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?

Also, can I ask you to have a look at the following short video clip from BBC Horizon - The Secret You on Neuroscience and Freewill: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=-i3AiOS4nCE . It demonstrates scientifically that our decisions and choices are made a full 6 seconds before we think we make them, i.e. before a thought arises saying, "I decided to do this." There is no substitute for looking in direct experience, but this is excellent scientific corroboration for what is to be found, or rather not found, in direct experience.

Pete x
'Just consciousness taking the shape of experience from moment to moment.
Just this'

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Softsocks
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Re: Looking for an available (buddhist?) guide

Postby Softsocks » Sun Feb 09, 2014 11:14 pm

Hi Pete,
Raise your right arm (or don’t). In that process of raising the right arm (or not), a decision is made, or at least something happens (or doesn’t). But can you pinpoint the actual 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?
I couldn't see an actual moment of choice or chooser. Just spontaneous sensation, and interpretation of sensation.

I've seen that clip once before and it's interesting stuff (6 seconds is a long time!).

with thanks,
steve

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moondog
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Re: Looking for an available (buddhist?) guide

Postby moondog » Mon Feb 10, 2014 12:46 pm

Hi Steve,
I couldn't see an actual moment of choice or chooser. Just spontaneous sensation, and interpretation of sensation.
That's good to know!

Let's just take a look at one other fundamental area where a self might be found, the body.

As always, in direct experience:

Does the body experience sensations and thoughts?

Is the "body" just another thought label for sensations (namely tactile & kinaesthetic)?


Pete x
'Just consciousness taking the shape of experience from moment to moment.
Just this'

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Softsocks
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Re: Looking for an available (buddhist?) guide

Postby Softsocks » Mon Feb 10, 2014 2:44 pm

Hi Pete,
As always, in direct experience:
Does the body experience sensations and thoughts?
Is the "body" just another thought label for sensations (namely tactile & kinaesthetic)?
It's clear that there are just sensations, often quite vague and without any definite shape. The interpretation of the sensations is what provides fingers, arms etc.

I'm really enjoying these last couple of exercises. I'm finding it's quite easy to notice and remember to notice that my 'body' is just doing it's thing, without any guidance or control - no mater what it's doing.

There are a couple of thoughts I might need to write about later, but we'll see.

with thanks,
steve

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moondog
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Re: Looking for an available (buddhist?) guide

Postby moondog » Mon Feb 10, 2014 4:45 pm

Hi Steve,
It's clear that there are just sensations, often quite vague and without any definite shape. The interpretation of the sensations is what provides fingers, arms etc.
That's right. You got it.

Well, we've been moving through things pretty smoothly recently and you certainly seem to be seeing clearly the absence of a separate self wherever I've pointed you to look. Now seems like a good time to just look back over where we've been, to see if there are any areas or aspects that you'd like to look at in any greater depth. Also, this might be where you want to bring in the 'couple of thoughts' that you mention.

As always, in direct experience:

Have you been able to find, a ‘self’ that is the ‘experiencer’?

Or a self that is the doer, or can control what happens?

Or a self that ‘makes’ decisions?

Or a self who ‘does the thinking’?

Is the "body" just another thought label for sensations (namely tactile & kinesthetic)?

Are the five body senses made to arise or experienced by this ‘self’?

Is there a self ‘in here’ which is separate from the world and others ‘out there’?

Is there doubt or unclarity that in all these cases the ‘self’ is nothing other than a mental fabrication?


And finally:

Are there any doubts about seeing through the illusion of separate self? ]

It's a bit of a long list of questions but the answers can be brief unless, as I said, there is something you'd like to examine some more.

Pete x
'Just consciousness taking the shape of experience from moment to moment.
Just this'

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Softsocks
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Re: Looking for an available (buddhist?) guide

Postby Softsocks » Mon Feb 10, 2014 11:19 pm

Hi Pete,

The smooth ride may be about to come to an end!

I'm currently experiencing pretty strong doubt about the answer to a number of these questions.
Have you been able to find, a ‘self’ that is the ‘experiencer’?
No, but right now, I am less certain than previously. And by that I mean I'm comparing my current experience to what I previously wrote for this question, and I'm wondering how I saw it so clearly the first time but not so clearly now, wondering if perhaps I wasn't seeing it at all, and with that are sensations of sadness and of slight nausea.
Or a self that is the doer, or can control what happens?
No, but with the same proviso as above.
Or a self that ‘makes’ decisions?
Decisions are made, and are either spontaneously acted out or appear as thought, but I can't find anyone that makes them.
Or a self who ‘does the thinking’?
I am clear that I don't get to choose or direct thoughts. Thoughts just happen.
Is the "body" just another thought label for sensations (namely tactile & kinesthetic)?
Yes, that's clear.
Are the five body senses made to arise or experienced by this ‘self’?
The 5 senses aren't made to arise by the self – sensations also just arise, without anyone to control them.
Is there a self ‘in here’ which is separate from the world and others ‘out there’?
There are sensations, and these sensations all happen in the same 'place', which is neither in here or out there, but both (sort of!).
Is there doubt or unclarity that in all these cases the ‘self’ is nothing other than a mental fabrication?
Are there any doubts about seeing through the illusion of separate self?
Before I started writing this I would have said that I could see that self was a mental fabrication but the belief was still clinging on. Now I'm not even sure as the extent I've actually seen anything. I've had the recurring thoughts that I've understood everything well but not really seen – up until now I've dismissed that as a thought and ended up fairly sure I was seeing things fairly clearly. Not so much at the moment.

I understand that there's no one here able to do anything about any of this anyway, but understanding seems to be all I have at the moment!

with thanks,
steve

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Re: Looking for an available (buddhist?) guide

Postby Softsocks » Tue Feb 11, 2014 10:09 am

Hi Pete,

One of the things I was going to mention yesterday, and perhaps my most persistent doubt is around thoughts and their value (or lack thereof). I can see that thoughts aren't created, or controlled by a self. And I can't see any direct causal connection between thoughts and any decisions or actions that follow after them.

The doubt is that, although I can't see how in direct experience, they do seem to influence experience. If they didn't then this forum would not work for anyone, and in fact there would be no value in ridding oneself of a belief anyway. At times it seems that whether they influence at all is irrelevant - they do or they don't - and the problems begin when I believe that they do - and I can just let go and let things appear how they appear without worrying about it.

The example that keeps popping to mind is needing to do something at work, and writing a reminder to myself to do it. The writing of the reminder is controlled by me, and doesn't guarantee the work will be remembered, but it does seem to increase the likelihood. Writing now, it doesn't seem to matter. The reminder was written, I remember to do the task, that's all there is to it. It's not like I have to put aside ever writing myself reminders, or learning how to better organise my work.

Anyway, that's been running through my head a bit, so there you go!

With thanks,
steve

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Re: Looking for an available (buddhist?) guide

Postby Softsocks » Tue Feb 11, 2014 11:42 am

Hi Pete,

Just realised more about the doubt I mentioned in my last post. The belief behind it is that if thoughts have any sort of influence at all then I need to be careful which thoughts I attend to or act on etc.

Only I don't get to choice which thoughts I attend to, there is nothing that does any choosing, Thoughts arise or they don't. They get acted on or they don't. Life goes on.

I think this particular doubt seems to be slowly losing it's grip.

with thanks,
steve

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Re: Looking for an available (buddhist?) guide

Postby moondog » Tue Feb 11, 2014 1:12 pm

Hi Steve,
I'm currently experiencing pretty strong doubt about the answer to a number of these questions.

Before I started writing this I would have said that I could see that self was a mental fabrication but the belief was still clinging on. Now I'm not even sure as the extent I've actually seen anything. I've had the recurring thoughts that I've understood everything well but not really seen – up until now I've dismissed that as a thought and ended up fairly sure I was seeing things fairly clearly. Not so much at the moment.
Well ok. What you describe isn't at all unusual for the stage you're at in this process and, to put it in relative and metaphorical terms, now it really feels under threat because it sees that it's being uncovered as a fraud, your ego is trying to fight back, using doubt, i.e. thoughts about doubt, as its main weapon. Anyway, put more simply, there's certainly the perception of a threat and this is 'your' response. I can only point you where to look, and it appears from your latest answers to the 'sweep-up' questions that your areas of doubt are in relation to experiencing, which here meant seeing, hearing etc., and actions i.e. doing and controlling, although I imagine your uncertainty must have leached into other areas. All that will 'work' is to go back and just look, look, look in each aspect of experience where doubt seems to predominate until it's obvious that there's just no self anywhere to be found. The more sure you are, the deeper your realisation will be. Ignore the thoughts and focus on the feeling of not finding.

What happens when you do this?

Seeing clearly that there is no self and accepting that, in the same way that you accept that Santa doesn't exist, is completely independent of, and unconnected to, whether or not you still experience anxiety, anger, doubt etc. Such feelings and thoughts are only relevant in this context if you give them credence as real and true, believing that they are created by/part of 'you', and so allowing them to function as a distraction from actually seeing.
Just realised more about the doubt I mentioned in my last post. The belief behind it is that if thoughts have any sort of influence at all then I need to be careful which thoughts I attend to or act on etc.
Only I don't get to choice which thoughts I attend to, there is nothing that does any choosing, Thoughts arise or they don't. They get acted on or they don't. Life goes on.
I think this particular doubt seems to be slowly losing it's grip.
As will the remainder, so long as you look at them in this same way. Just relax and look at 'your' direct experience Steve. No worries, you're just about 'there'. Don't expect fireworks (or anything in particular). They may come, or the realisation may be much more gradual, gentle. It doesn't matter a jot.

Pete x
'Just consciousness taking the shape of experience from moment to moment.
Just this'

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Re: Looking for an available (buddhist?) guide

Postby Softsocks » Tue Feb 11, 2014 9:12 pm

Hi Pete,

Thanks for your last post – it was really helpful.
All that will 'work' is to go back and just look, look, look in each aspect of experience where doubt seems to predominate until it's obvious that there's just no self anywhere to be found. The more sure you are, the deeper your realisation will be. Ignore the thoughts and focus on the feeling of not finding. 

What happens when you do this?
Ok, so I realised that after looking in each area the first time, and not finding a self, every time since I've been looking and telling myself that there is no self to be found instead of questioning and not still-not-finding.

So today I've been looking, searching, and finding nothing but experience, and no self anywhere to be found in it. It's been a pretty pleasant day! Since the falling off of the belief mentioned in my last post, the doubts I was having before haven't been getting in the way, though they are still there I can see them as just part of experience.
Staying present in actual experience has been easier and I've been noticing myself being a little more open and spontaneous with others (fear had tended to get in the way of that for me – and I'm sure there's still work to be done there).
Seeing clearly that there is no self and accepting that, in the same way that you accept that Santa doesn't exist, is completely independent of, and unconnected to, whether or not you still experience anxiety, anger, doubt etc. Such feelings and thoughts are only relevant in this context if you give them credence as real and true, believing that they are created by/part of 'you', and so allowing them to function as a distraction from actually seeing.

Don't expect fireworks (or anything in particular). They may come, or the realisation may be much more gradual, gentle. It doesn't matter a jot.
Another thing I noticed today is how I've been assessing myself to see how I'm getting on, so to speak. I've been doing it by imagining future situations and picturing how I might experience them differently...
oops...
more than a little silly!
It's definitely been better to just notice the present.

Even after what you have said I have to admit that it would feel a little uncomfortable to say I'm 100% convinced whilst experiencing the nervousness I'm experiencing in my gut (even though I can accept it clearly as just experience), but if I'm not 100% I think I am pretty close to it. I'll keep looking even though I'm not expecting to find anything, or to be overwhelmed by thoughts in the way I was yesterday.

with gratitude,
steve

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Re: Looking for an available (buddhist?) guide

Postby Softsocks » Wed Feb 12, 2014 11:14 am

Hi Pete,

I've realised that I've been confused about conflict - when I think I should do one thing but am doing something else, or am thinking about something else. I wasn't sure quite sure what I needed to do to resolve the conflict. I've realised that there isn't any conflict - just different thoughts and different sensations, all part of the same experience. Nothing needs to mediate, or resolve anything, or work anything out. There's experience and eventually a 'decision' is made, and that's all there is to it. It's quite a relief.

I'm noticing that I often seem to forget and get caught choosing sides (as an example), or end up lost in thoughts - and with that comes the continued feelings of anxiety. But I'm often remembering to come back to the actual experience of that anxiety, rather than the interpretations, so I'm not too concerned about it at the moment.

with gratitude,
steve

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moondog
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Re: Looking for an available (buddhist?) guide

Postby moondog » Wed Feb 12, 2014 5:44 pm

Hi Steve,
Thanks for your last post – it was really helpful
Good. I'm glad.
Ok, so I realised that after looking in each area the first time, and not finding a self, every time since I've been looking and telling myself that there is no self to be found instead of questioning and not still-not-finding.
Yes, this shows two important things. First, the seductive power of thoughts to fool 'you' into believing something that's not the case and second, the fundamental importance of actually looking in direct experience. I'm still doing it. Accept no substitute!
So today I've been looking, searching, and finding nothing but experience, and no self anywhere to be found in it. It's been a pretty pleasant day! Since the falling off of the belief mentioned in my last post, the doubts I was having before haven't been getting in the way, though they are still there I can see them as just part of experience.
Staying present in actual experience has been easier and I've been noticing myself being a little more open and spontaneous with others (fear had tended to get in the way of that for me – and I'm sure there's still work to be done there).
Really good stuff.
Another thing I noticed today is how I've been assessing myself to see how I'm getting on, so to speak. I've been doing it by imagining future situations and picturing how I might experience them differently... oops... more than a little silly! It's definitely been better to just notice the present.
Mmm, that doesn't necessarily just go away. It's merely thoughts arising, pretending there's an actual past and an actual future, instead of just thinking happening, right now. It's born out of long-embedded habit but, once the self is seen to be an illusion, noticing all of this becomes far easier and more frequent, and so therefore does being present, as you're now noticing.
Even after what you have said I have to admit that it would feel a little uncomfortable to say I'm 100% convinced whilst experiencing the nervousness I'm experiencing in my gut (even though I can accept it clearly as just experience), but if I'm not 100% I think I am pretty close to it. I'll keep looking even though I'm not expecting to find anything, or to be overwhelmed by thoughts in the way I was yesterday.
I know it's just a figure of speech and I get exactly what you mean, but I was just wondering what 100% would literally mean in this connection, and how it would ever be measured. Anyway, no matter, if, as now seems to be the case, you can't find a self anywhere in direct experience, and you've no doubts about that, and there is only reference to a self in thought, i.e. as a concept, which you know can't be real and needn't be taken seriously, and you no longer have any doubts about this that you take seriously, that's it. Let me know if this is now so.
I've realised that I've been confused about conflict - when I think I should do one thing but am doing something else, or am thinking about something else. I wasn't sure quite sure what I needed to do to resolve the conflict. I've realised that there isn't any conflict - just different thoughts and different sensations, all part of the same experience. Nothing needs to mediate, or resolve anything, or work anything out. There's experience and eventually a 'decision' is made, and that's all there is to it. It's quite a relief.
It's good that you can see that nothing needs to be done with what is, right now. It's only believing our thoughts that things should be different to the way they are that causes us to believe that to be the case, and so to suffer.

You seem to have clarified a lot of residual stuff. But before we move into the final phase, I' d just like you to look at all of this from a different perspective. As always, from direct experience:

With 'you' revealed as a thought story, what remains?

What experiences?

What thinks?

What does?

What is aware?


Pete x
'Just consciousness taking the shape of experience from moment to moment.
Just this'

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Softsocks
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Re: Looking for an available (buddhist?) guide

Postby Softsocks » Wed Feb 12, 2014 8:58 pm

Hi Pete,

I'm back to being extremely uncertain. I'm experiencing doubts, which I am definitely being sucked in by, and taking seriously. Sure, I can see through them when I look, but as soon as I turn away they are back.

So back to looking and focusing on the feeling of not finding.

Anyway, here are the answers to your question - as I see them at the moment.

With 'you' revealed as a thought story, what remains?
Everything - nothing at all is being taken away.
What experiences?
there's just experience - I can't find anything that experiences.
What thinks?
there are just thoughts - I can't find anything in direct experience that thinks - thoughts are just another experience. I have wondered if I might be believing in an I as an experiencer of thought, rather than a creator or controller of thoughts (which I think I am clear about) so I will look at that.
What does?
Doing just happens - sometimes with commentary, sometimes without.
What is aware?
I'm not sure I know what this is - I can't find awareness within my experience.

with thanks,
steve


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