A tough nut to crack?

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FrancisP
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A tough nut to crack?

Postby FrancisP » Wed Feb 26, 2014 9:42 am

I am stuck, and looking for a guide to help shift me. While there is intellectual understanding that there is no self, why do I still behave (quite often) as if it exists? Please help me move from this annoying position.

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aubergine99
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Re: A tough nut to crack?

Postby aubergine99 » Wed Feb 26, 2014 11:11 am

Hello Francis,

I am happy to guide you. Can you tell me a little bit about your journey and what brought you here to LU?
What are your expectations in this process?

I am based in UK. And you?

Please watch the video on the Home page and also confirm you have read and agree to the Disclaimer too.

Look forward to hearing from you.

Brigitte

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Re: A tough nut to crack?

Postby FrancisP » Wed Feb 26, 2014 3:43 pm

Cool. Many thanks for agreeing to help me, Brigitte.

OK, so my journey thus far looks like this: I am a 54 year old male and have been practicing meditation in a Buddhist context for about 15 years. More recently (over the last 4 /5 years) my “meditation” has largely become periods of reflection and inquiry. I am familiar with exercises in which one seeks for the “I” in body, sensations, thoughts, feelings, … and it never can be found. Actually I am really bored of searching for this non-existent “me”. Therefore, I “believe” that the self is a fiction. However, on some level, somewhere, I must still believe in the “I” or I would be awakened !

One other bit of background that may (or may not) be relevant: I was very ill a couple of years ago and almost died. There was one particular day in hospital when I was sure that I would die later that day. And suddenly it was OK. And in that OK-ness, everything seemed whole. Subsequent to this, my sense of “me” was extremely attenuated for a long time (weeks); there was a sense of “just visiting,” as if I were simply waiting to go somewhere else. Like those last few days at school when you are leaving it forever – the rules suddenly seem petty and irrelevant. The whole world seemed like that.

In terms of what I expect from this process, I am not interested in getting into a “different” mental state (I now view my near-death experience as a very long-lived, very positive mental state) because all mental states come to an end when the conditions that gave rise to them alter. I want a permanent shift. I don’t ask for the moon – I’m not hoping for full enlightenment. I just want what in Buddhism is called Stream Entry, which you might call going through the gate. That’s “all”.

How I’m feeling right now can be phrased in three words: Excited, Cynical, and Afraid.
Excited, because entering into this dialogue feels huge, and hopefully will give rise to a new perspective on what I really am. It feels almost naughty.
Cynical, because there is a view that this is all just a semantic trick of language, to which I will be found to be immune. Awakening isn’t going to happen to me. Other people maybe, but not me.
Afraid, because it might actually work, and then what am I going to do…!

I am ready for this. btw, I have read the Gateless Gatecrasher book, and the quotes app, and the Disclaimer etc. And yes, I am based in the UK.
Love
Francis

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Re: A tough nut to crack?

Postby aubergine99 » Wed Feb 26, 2014 6:45 pm

Hello Francis,
I am familiar with exercises in which one seeks for the “I” in body, sensations, thoughts, feelings, … and it never can be found. Actually I am really bored of searching for this non-existent “me”. Therefore, I “believe” that the self is a fiction. However, on some level, somewhere, I must still believe in the “I” or I would be awakened !
Great that you are familiar with some exercises already. This enquiry is certainly not about adding or changing any beliefs, only about looking in direct experience. I will guide you where to look and you do the work. It’s that simple.
One other bit of background that may (or may not) be relevant: I was very ill a couple of years ago and almost died. There was one particular day in hospital when I was sure that I would die later that day. And suddenly it was OK. And in that OK-ness, everything seemed whole. Subsequent to this, my sense of “me” was extremely attenuated for a long time (weeks); there was a sense of “just visiting,” as if I were simply waiting to go somewhere else. Like those last few days at school when you are leaving it forever – the rules suddenly seem petty and irrelevant. The whole world seemed like that.
Thanks for sharing your ‘near death experience’. Is it possible that feeling of OK-ness was due to a sense of surrendering to life ? It’s quite paradoxical how letting go and facing fear can sometimes bring a sense of peace.
I want a permanent shift. I don’t ask for the moon – I’m not hoping for full enlightenment. I just want what in Buddhism is called Stream Entry, which you might call going through the gate. That’s “all”.
Do you find anything permanent in life?

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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 or will there ever be?

Brigitte x

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Re: A tough nut to crack?

Postby FrancisP » Thu Feb 27, 2014 9:23 am

Hello Brigitte
Thanks for the response to my post. I intend to post regularly (once a day), and for my part I will try to be completely honest in the moment, and precise. Please let me know if I seem not to be doing this. I have read the piece on Direct Experience as requested.
In your message you ask,
“Do you find anything permanent in life?”
This is, of course, ridiculous. Everything changes all the time. Moods, thoughts, people, things, events, all arise and then disappear over time. Why, then, do I want “a permanent shift” in consciousness? What I really mean is an irreversible shift. I want to see clearly, once and for all, that there is no “me”. Thank you for forcing me to be clear about language. This is great.

You also say,
“Is it possible that feeling of OK-ness was due to a sense of surrendering to life? It’s quite paradoxical how letting go and facing fear can sometimes bring a sense of peace.”
Yes, I absolutely agree. Somehow I was able to do that then. It was quite clear that I could not control the course of my illness at that point, so I gave in (and I was ill enough not to really care which way it went). I have a horse sense that this is what is needed now, but I just can’t do it, apparently.

“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 or will there ever be?”
What comes up first is wonder, and a sort of learned belief in the truth of it. I so want this to be true, because I am sick of “me” and my often negative judgements and opinions on the world. But there is also disbelief. And a desire to be argumentative about it – to take a contrary position. It seems too pat to say that just because I can’t find “Me” in body, sensation, or in thoughts, it doesn’t exist. My eyeballs exist even though I can never see them directly with the faculty of sight. Writing this is bringing up feelings of irritation about the whole “no me” thing, actually. There is a certain energy there. And there does seem to be a consistent lens through which “I” view the world, day on day on day. Moods, thoughts and feelings come and go, certainly, but there seems to be a consistent something in experience, subtending all of this. So, in summation, an unlooked-for resistance comes up when presented with the statement that there is no “me” and never has been. Not what I expected to write!
Best regards
Francis

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Re: A tough nut to crack?

Postby aubergine99 » Thu Feb 27, 2014 11:07 am

Good morning, Francis
Do you find anything permanent in life?
This is, of course, ridiculous. Everything changes all the time. Moods, thoughts, people, things, events, all arise and then disappear over time. Why, then, do I want “a permanent shift” in consciousness? What I really mean is an irreversible shift. I want to see clearly, once and for all, that there is no “me”. Thank you for forcing me to be clear about language. This is great.
I take it you once believed in Santa Claus as a child and at some point you discovered that he didn’t really exist. Well, seeing through the illusion of ‘self’ is quite similar. Once it is known that ‘I’ was never there in the first place, it cannot be unknown, however, an illusion is what it is.
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 or will there ever be?
What comes up first is wonder, and a sort of learned belief in the truth of it. I so want this to be true, because I am sick of “me” and my often negative judgements and opinions on the world. But there is also disbelief. And a desire to be argumentative about it – to take a contrary position. It seems too pat to say that just because I can’t find “Me” in body, sensation, or in thoughts, it doesn’t exist. My eyeballs exist even though I can never see them directly with the faculty of sight. Writing this is bringing up feelings of irritation about the whole “no me” thing, actually. There is a certain energy there. And there does seem to be a consistent lens through which “I” view the world, day on day on day. Moods, thoughts and feelings come and go, certainly, but there seems to be a consistent something in experience, subtending all of this. So, in summation, an unlooked-for resistance comes up when presented with the statement that there is no “me” and never has been. Not what I expected to write!
I see there is resistance here in the form of disbelief and irritation. Just acknowledge that and sit with it. Do you see that whatever comes up is automatic? Do you create these emotions, any emotions, or do they just appear? Do you have any control over them?

Do you find a ‘me’ in your daily activities? When you get up and walk, is there a ‘me’ in charge? Do it now. Do you control the physical movement or is it automatic? Take a close look when you wash up, take a shower, or prepare a meal. Try to focus your attention on what is happening in each moment and not thoughts about it. Just look at the action taking place.

Speak soon.

Brigitte x

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Re: A tough nut to crack?

Postby FrancisP » Thu Feb 27, 2014 11:12 pm

Hello again,
This is rather interesting!
You ask me,
“Do you see that whatever comes up is automatic? Do you create these emotions, any emotions, or do they just appear?”
Well, emotions simply arise in dependence on certain thoughts, apparently. If I allow the thought “Brigitte is telling me that there is no “me”,” then resistance in the form of annoyance arises. I do not make it happen, it just happens. Physical sensations also attend this: a certain tightening in the body, around the belly. I am not making this happen either. This also just happens by itself.
“Do you have any control over them?”
Well, I seem to be able to choose whether or not to indulge the emotion. I could either fuel it (by adding more thoughts to it) or I could let it subside by just letting it be there and ignoring it. So to that extent there seems to be control.
“Do you find a ‘me’ in your daily activities? When you get up and walk, is there a ‘me’ in charge?”
Again, I have to say “no”. Walking just happens. I am not “doing” the walking. Likewise with other physical activities (including breathing, obviously. How exhausting it would be to have to remember to breathe all the time!) On this level I see that there is no author here. I get that there is no author of experience. But apparently there is an owner, one who claims the experience as “mine”. When walking is happening, there does seem to be a “me” carried about by the movement. The one who knows that walking is happening. The experiencer.
And again, when selecting one physical activity over another, “I” seem to choose what to do. There seems to be volition. For example, right now, I have chosen to sit here and type this rather than do the washing up that I can see stacked up by the sink. Choosing seems to be important. There is a story running that I have constantly to choose the right actions, otherwise “bad things” might happen. I have to be vigilant all the time to prevent these so-called bad things from happening to “me”. If I don’t, my life will become a mess. This is the dead-end I often find myself in. On the one hand being able to see that there is no author of experience (with the exception of choosing), but on the other hand unable to get past / get over / get round the felt sense of being the owner of experience.
******
I have just been swimming, and then came home and read over what I wrote previously. It’s ridiculous. I see now that I have constructed an idea of “me”: This “me” is totally passive (with the exception of a bit of choosing) and just gets carried along for the ride, in order to claim experience as its own. This is hilarious! But here’s the sticky part. I see that as plainly ridiculous, as a construct; and yet it does seem to be “my” experience… But then there are glimpses of it all just happening naturally, as flow, with noticing simply happening. It’s happening now. A sort of emptying out, almost disinterest – although that’s not quite right. This is getting really interesting now  The phrase “surrendering to noticing” seems appropriate here. And there’s a wanting to hold on to that… OK that’s all for the moment. I am going to sleep on this.
Francis.

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Re: A tough nut to crack?

Postby aubergine99 » Fri Feb 28, 2014 10:25 am

Dear Francis,
Do you see that whatever comes up is automatic? Do you create these emotions, any emotions, or do they just appear?
Well, emotions simply arise in dependence on certain thoughts, apparently. If I allow the thought “Brigitte is telling me that there is no “me”,” then resistance in the form of annoyance arises. I do not make it happen, it just happens. Physical sensations also attend this: a certain tightening in the body, around the belly. I am not making this happen either. This also just happens by itself.
Great comments!
And again, when selecting one physical activity over another, “I” seem to choose what to do. There seems to be volition. For example, right now, I have chosen to sit here and type this rather than do the washing up that I can see stacked up by the sink. Choosing seems to be important.
Yes, choices are made but is there really a ‘you’ making them or are there just thoughts arising and, at some point, a thought settles on either option? Look.

Do this simple exercise. Count slowly from 1 to 5 and then on 5 decide to raise your left or right hand (or not) in the air. Can you pinpoint the moment choice happens, how it happens? Was it automatic? Did the action follow a thought and then you said, ‘I made that choice’?
I have just been swimming, and then came home and read over what I wrote previously. It’s ridiculous. I see now that I have constructed an idea of “me”: This “me” is totally passive (with the exception of a bit of choosing) and just gets carried along for the ride, in order to claim experience as its own. This is hilarious! But here’s the sticky part. I see that as plainly ridiculous, as a construct; and yet it does seem to be “my” experience… But then there are glimpses of it all just happening naturally, as flow, with noticing simply happening. It’s happening now. A sort of emptying out, almost disinterest – although that’s not quite right. This is getting really interesting now  The phrase “surrendering to noticing” seems appropriate here. And there’s a wanting to hold on to that… OK that’s all for the moment. I am going to sleep on this.
Swimming seems to be bringing clarity, Francis! Some excellent noticing here.

You appear to see yourself as a ‘passive experiencer’. Let’s look at this closer.

In direct experience, when looking at objects around you, do you experience an ‘I’ that is looking or is there just awareness of looking? Try this with hearing too. Focus on any sounds. Do you experience an ‘I’ that is hearing or is there just awareness of sound? Look at the raw experience without resorting to thoughts.

Is there a separating line between the seeing and the seen? Between the hearing and heard? Can one exist without the other? Take a look.

Have fun.
Brigitte x

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Re: A tough nut to crack?

Postby FrancisP » Fri Feb 28, 2014 4:05 pm

Hello Brigitte
Thank you for your last post. Very interesting questions you posed.
“Yes, choices are made but is there really a ‘you’ making them or are there just thoughts arising and, at some point, a thought settles on either option? Look.”
These are my reflections from my morning shower: Showering is happening. There are sensations of water on the skin, of warmth, of the bath underfoot, etc. There is turning about under the stream of water, there is reaching for the soap, washing the body. If looked at closely, these things are all just happening. Nobody is deciding to pick up the soap, or deciding to turn in a certain way. It just happens. It only seems like choice if the existence of a “me” is assumed. With that assumption in place, the natural conclusion is to believe that “I” made those choices. But actually this is an illusion. It’s just a belief. Choices are simply thoughts, like any other.

So what about thoughts themselves? I seem to be able to direct my thoughts. For example, I can say ‘I am now thinking of a tennis ball that is bright orange and the size of Jupiter’. On the face of it, this seems like a directed thought that I have chosen to have. After all, I have thought this particular thought rather than another one, and I chose to do it. But did I really? Actually, if I look hard, I can see that the thought just popped up – just as if someone had asked me to think of a number between 1 and 1,000. The response comes randomly, and automatically. This means that I never choose my thoughts. Thoughts, too, just happen, based on certain criteria. What I mean is, as I type this, thoughts about the mechanics of thinking arise, rather than thoughts about the Forestry Commission, or thoughts about basketball. Thoughts about those things might also occur, but it would be much more unlikely because the conditions are not conducive for those thoughts to arise. Therefore, the act of choosing or directing thought is also an illusion based on a supposed “me” who “does” it. This holds for more apparently obvious kinds of “choosing” also - i.e. choosing to type this rather than to do the washing up. Because “choosing” is just thinking, (thinking ‘I’ll type this’) and thinking itself just happens. Therefore “choosing” just happens. Oooooooh!

So that just about nails it for choosing, and for authoring thoughts. (Oh, this is big!) Even though I have written all this I still can’t quite believe it. I need to keep looking at it.
“You appear to see yourself as a ‘passive experiencer’. Let’s look at this closer. In direct experience, when looking at objects around you, do you experience an ‘I’ that is looking or is there just awareness of looking? Try this with hearing too. Focus on any sounds. Do you experience an ‘I’ that is hearing or is there just awareness of sound? Look at the raw experience without resorting to thoughts.”
Ah. The knotty problem of the “Experiencer”. I still have trouble with this. I’m “looking” for the Experiencer now, as I look around the room, and as I type this, but it seems to be somewhat in abeyance right now. Hmn. There’s certainly a knowing of what is happening. Certainly a sense of presence. And there’s a sense of continuity. This presence feels the same as it did yesterday. This, I think, is what I think of as “me”. This is the thing to which all experience happens, apparently. Ha ha! I have now ascribed the article “me” to a “sense of presence.” Another construct. More rarified and exotic than the previous definition, but still a construct. Come to think of it, any thought I can possibly have about what “me” is can only ever be just that – a thought.

But to get back to your question: With regard to hearing sound, it is soon obvious that nobody is “doing” the hearing. Hearing is happening automatically. Who is hearing it? In direct experience, nobody. As to the faculty of sight, this seems much stickier. More difficult for some reason. Again, I can get as far as “nobody doing the looking,” as in “sight is just happening automatically,” but the images do seem to be received by something located in the head behind the eyes. Or is that just the habitual story? I am uncertain now. I can’t answer this question properly yet. Sorry. It’s all very tantalising. I can’t quite get to what I mean. I need more clarity here. I’ll have to look some more.

OK : there’s almost a sense of panic to find that sight is arising all on its own, and goes nowhere. It’s not being processed by “me” after all. I don’t have words for this… What I thought was “me” processing sight is just an idea of “me” ascribed to the act of seeing, together with spontaneous labelling going on in the mind. This seems to happen by itself. In fact, I can’t switch it off. If I glance round the room very quickly the labelling becomes more general (such as “red” or “shadowy”) but I can’t get rid of it completely.
“Is there a separating line between the seeing and the seen? Between the hearing and heard? Can one exist without the other? Take a look.”
An interesting question. I am not sure I completely understand it, though. I am going to break it down into three parts: The act of seeing, the object seen, and the “one who sees”. I suppose I’d say that they are not two (or even three) things; collectively they are an event. So, staying with direct experience, the sight of this screen arises, it is perceived, and that’s all I can say about it. I don’t have to tell myself that I am seeing the screen. This is already known.
I am not at all sure that this answers your question!
Btw is it normal to have crazy, disturbed sleep during this process?
Love Francis.

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Re: A tough nut to crack?

Postby aubergine99 » Fri Feb 28, 2014 5:33 pm

Dear Francis,

Well done, you are doing great and almost guiding yourself.
Therefore, the act of choosing or directing thought is also an illusion based on a supposed “me” who “does” it. This holds for more apparently obvious kinds of “choosing” also - i.e. choosing to type this rather than to do the washing up. Because “choosing” is just thinking, (thinking ‘I’ll type this’) and thinking itself just happens. Therefore “choosing” just happens. Oooooooh!

So that just about nails it for choosing, and for authoring thoughts. (Oh, this is big!) Even though I have written all this I still can’t quite believe it. I need to keep looking at it.
Yes, it’s quite a revelation when you first see this.

You already seem to be pretty clear that there is no ‘I’ doing, choosing or thinking but do you want to look some more? When looking at this life, do you see that all it consists of is ‘your’ direct experience and thoughts about it, or do you find anything else?
Ah. The knotty problem of the “Experiencer”. I still have trouble with this. I’m “looking” for the Experiencer now, as I look around the room, and as I type this, but it seems to be somewhat in abeyance right now. Hmn. There’s certainly a knowing of what is happening. Certainly a sense of presence. And there’s a sense of continuity. This presence feels the same as it did yesterday. This, I think, is what I think of as “me”. This is the thing to which all experience happens, apparently. Ha ha! I have now ascribed the article “me” to a “sense of presence.” Another construct. More rarified and exotic than the previous definition, but still a construct. Come to think of it, any thought I can possibly have about what “me” is can only ever be just that – a thought.
Excellent!! This is a gigantic step forward.
But to get back to your question: With regard to hearing sound, it is soon obvious that nobody is “doing” the hearing. Hearing is happening automatically. Who is hearing it? In direct experience, nobody. As to the faculty of sight, this seems much stickier. More difficult for some reason. Again, I can get as far as “nobody doing the looking,” as in “sight is just happening automatically,” but the images do seem to be received by something located in the head behind the eyes. Or is that just the habitual story? I am uncertain now. I can’t answer this question properly yet. Sorry. It’s all very tantalising. I can’t quite get to what I mean. I need more clarity here. I’ll have to look some more.
Without reference to memory and thought, can the sense of sight point to a source?
Is there a separating line between the seeing and the seen? Between the hearing and heard? Can one exist without the other? Take a look.
An interesting question. I am not sure I completely understand it, though. I am going to break it down into three parts: The act of seeing, the object seen, and the “one who sees”. I suppose I’d say that they are not two (or even three) things; collectively they are an event. So, staying with direct experience, the sight of this screen arises, it is perceived, and that’s all I can say about it. I don’t have to tell myself that I am seeing the screen. This is already known.
I am not at all sure that this answers your question!
Do you experience ‘the one who sees’ or is there just a thought that says there is one?

Look again at the screen. You are aware there is looking and also a screen. Is it even possible to be aware of one without the other? Can there be looking of nothing? Can the screen be experienced without sense of sight or touch being involved?

I do think it is quite common to have disturbed sleep patterns and this should settle down. The mind naturally tries to process all this and make sense of it.

Love Brigitte

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Re: A tough nut to crack?

Postby FrancisP » Sat Mar 01, 2014 9:54 am

Good morning Brigitte
I hope you are well and happy today.
Thank you so much for staying with all this. It’s extraordinary. Despite having read many accounts of this journey, on this site and elsewhere, having a direct one-to-one dialogue with a guide is a TOTALLY different order of experience. They are not comparable at all. So thank you for this amazing opportunity.

After another slightly crazy night of “sleep,” today seems like a settling down day. Lots of BIG stuff to assimilate here. There’s been a major reduction in thought, and a sort of evenness settling. Thoughts don’t seem to take hold very much. Interesting. But of course I will try to answer your latest questions! :)
“Do I want to look some more?”
Hell, yes!
“When looking at this life, do you see that all it consists of is ‘your’ direct experience and thoughts about it, or do you find anything else?”
This now seems so totally obvious it seems incredible that it wasn’t spotted previously. How could there be anything else than just this? It’s just the persistent “I” thought that complicates the whole thing. There’s a sense almost of underwhelmed-ness about this, actually. This is the big secret? It’s hilarious. Can I have my money back? : )
“Look again at the screen. You are aware there is looking and also a screen. Is it even possible to be aware of one without the other? Can there be looking of nothing? Can the screen be experienced without sense of sight or touch being involved?”
Sight happens on its own. Nobody is doing that. Awareness of an object in view arises (let us say the screen here). Without sight, this would be impossible. Without the sight-object this would be impossible. There cannot be looking at nothing. This would not be a looking but an absence of sight stimulus… And without awareness it would all be impossible. Thank you for clarifying this.
“Do you experience ‘the one who sees’ or is there just a thought that says there is one?”
This is an old story. The story of a “me” who is the Experiencer of experience… Glancing around the room now, there is a weak attempt to claim ownership of sight. But this is only a habit. Actually, only a thought. It was so seductive a few days ago. Now it feels a bit silly. There’s a mild fear response to this, also. But that sort of slides away, too. I might have said “the me feels mildly afraid at this challenge to its function and existence” but that is another story. How can something that doesn’t exist fear its own non-existence? The layers of assumption of a “me” required here to make this kind of thinking plausible are staggering. It goes really, really deep, doesn’t it?
“Without reference to memory and thought, can the sense of sight point to a source?”
No. There is only direct seeing. Memory and thought step in to say, “that’s my computer screen.” Labelling, naming, owning. Some of that is useful, and some of it isn’t!
OK, I am going walking today to let this settle a bit more.
Thanks again
Love Francis.

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Re: A tough nut to crack?

Postby aubergine99 » Sat Mar 01, 2014 2:55 pm

Good afternoon, Francis

Hope your day is going well.
Thank you so much for staying with all this. It’s extraordinary. Despite having read many accounts of this journey, on this site and elsewhere, having a direct one-to-one dialogue with a guide is a TOTALLY different order of experience. They are not comparable at all. So thank you for this amazing opportunity.
You’re welcome.
When looking at this life, do you see that all it consists of is ‘your’ direct experience and thoughts about it, or do you find anything else?
This now seems so totally obvious it seems incredible that it wasn’t spotted previously. How could there be anything else than just this? It’s just the persistent “I” thought that complicates the whole thing. There’s a sense almost of underwhelmed-ness about this, actually. This is the big secret? It’s hilarious. Can I have my money back? : )
The ‘big secret’ is right under our noses although we often fail to spot it. Simple yet awe inspiring!
Look again at the screen. You are aware there is looking and also a screen. Is it even possible to be aware of one without the other? Can there be looking of nothing? Can the screen be experienced without sense of sight or touch being involved?
Sight happens on its own. Nobody is doing that. Awareness of an object in view arises (let us say the screen here). Without sight, this would be impossible. Without the sight-object this would be impossible. There cannot be looking at nothing. This would not be a looking but an absence of sight stimulus… And without awareness it would all be impossible. Thank you for clarifying this.
Good.
Do you experience ‘the one who sees’ or is there just a thought that says there is one?
This is an old story. The story of a “me” who is the Experiencer of experience… Glancing around the room now, there is a weak attempt to claim ownership of sight. But this is only a habit. Actually, only a thought. It was so seductive a few days ago. Now it feels a bit silly. There’s a mild fear response to this, also. But that sort of slides away, too. I might have said “the me feels mildly afraid at this challenge to its function and existence” but that is another story. How can something that doesn’t exist fear its own non-existence? The layers of assumption of a “me” required here to make this kind of thinking plausible are staggering. It goes really, really deep, doesn’t it?
The story of ‘you’ has been ongoing for some time. Deeply entrenched habits and conditioning will take time to dissolve but the story of ‘you’ is just that, and will continue, as that is all part of the illusion of ‘I’. Thoughts may well continue to appear about ‘you’ but once seen through they lose their hold as there is nothing for them to identify with.

Do you see that a thought is experienced but do you ever experience its content? Do you see that a thought about a slice of indulgent chocolate fudge cake served with vanilla ice cream (yum-yum) does not compare to the real deal? You cannot take a bite out of a thought! Is it ever real? Reality is directly experienced and there are also thoughts about it and other thoughts etc. What do thoughts ‘know’ about anything? They can only ever point to the truth – they never are it.

Let’s look at identification as the body.

Who or what experiences? Is it Francis or the body?

Is Francis the same as the body?

Is the body experienced? By who/what? Check DE.

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

Love Brigitte x

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FrancisP
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Re: A tough nut to crack?

Postby FrancisP » Sat Mar 01, 2014 10:48 pm

Hello Brigitte
Thanks for your latest questions. They are really helping to clarify how this all works.
“The story of ‘you’ has been ongoing for some time. Deeply entrenched habits and conditioning will take time to dissolve but the story of ‘you’ is just that, and will continue, as that is all part of the illusion of ‘I’. Thoughts may well continue to appear about ‘you’ but once seen through they lose their hold as there is nothing for them to identify with.”
This makes sense. A bit like chopping the tap-root of a tree. The rest of the tree takes time to die, although from the moment the root is cut it is destined to die. Good news in the long run.
“Do you see that a thought is experienced but do you ever experience its content? Do you see that a thought about a slice of indulgent chocolate fudge cake served with vanilla ice cream (yum-yum) does not compare to the real deal?”

Thanks for this example. It is very clear from this that thoughts refer to things. These referents may be abstract or concrete, real or imagined. But the thought itself is never anything but a thought, referring to something else. Thinking the thought “pride” right now is not equivalent to experiencing the emotion associated with that word. (One possible exception might be a performative/reflexive thought such as “this is a thought” but that could be wrong. Ignore that.) This means that thoughts (stories) about “me” are not “me” and never have been. The statement “A part of me is afraid it will cease to exist” is simply a thought without a referent. Ha ha ha! Thinking about “me” is not synonymous with experiencing “me”. The reality, in direct experience is “a bit of fear is arising now”. This is exactly where the escape hatch is - and it is also precisely how the illusion of a self comes into being. In confusing a thought with an actual concrete referent.
“Is it ever real?”
No, content of thought is never real. The thought itself is real, but the content is abstract. It refers to something else. Some thought content is true and some thought content is false. The thought “typing is happening” is true, but the thought “there is a giant duck beside this chair” is false.

“Let’s look at identification as the body. Who or what experiences? Is it Francis or the body?”
Right now there are sensations of resistance/pressure in the buttocks and back from contact with the chair, a tightness in the bended knees, sensations of the soles of the feet on the floor. Slight movement in the body as typing happens. The sensations of the fingers typing, awareness of the ambient temperature of the air against skin, the feeling of clothing against skin, a slight tingling around the eyes, tension in the calves, a sense of aliveness generally in the body. This is simply hard data. No “me.” No Francis doing it. The story of a Francis is not required for these sensations to arise and to be experienced. A creature without reflexive consciousness can experience all these things. What happens is that the sense organs feed sensory data to the brain constantly. (I cannot experience this directly, however, it’s an assumption). There is in experience sight, sound, touch, smell, taste, and thought. So it’s the body and only the body that experiences anything. There are just sensations arising, and changing constantly. Thought can come in afterwards and attempt to add “I feel the keyboard beneath my fingers” but the experience comes first.
“Is Francis the same as the body?”
No. The idea of Francis is completely separate from the body. If a body part was lost the thought “A bit of Francis has been lost” would not come up.
“Is the body experienced? By who/what? Check DE.”
Hmn. Not really. There is just a variety of sensations happening. Sensations in what I call “hands” – which is a concept anyway – are simply present. So refusing thought and memory, and with eyes shut, it is impossible to ascertain the shape, size and position of “hands”. It is simply a locationless blob of sensory experience.
“Is the "body" just another thought label for sensations (namely tactile and kinesthetic)?”
Yes, that’s exactly what it is. OK. So there is no “body” experienced, but there is sensation arising. Where is it arising, and for whom/what? Well, it’s arising “here” certainly. Formerly, I might have said the witness/observer experiences these sensations, but that is just a rarified, attenuated version of “me”. A partly dis-identified awareness still caught in a loose “me” story. Previously, there was this idea of a kind of progression from being totally identified with the “me” thought, so that sensations were “mine” (“bad”) to a looser non-identified observer of experience, who is somehow distanced from the experience, not caught up in it. Noticing, observing. (Much “better,” more “spiritual.”) This was what I was trying to “achieve” in meditation. But that’s not right. There is actually no distance between sensation and experience. It’s immediate. There is no space for an “observer”! Sensation and experience arise simultaneously. So there is no “whom” for experience to arise for. There is only experience arising in awareness, or actually, arising as awareness. Otherwise awareness would have to exist prior to sensation, and I can’t find an “awareness” devoid of sensation. This has triggered sensations of feeling very very untethered, for some reason.

Love Francis.

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aubergine99
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Re: A tough nut to crack?

Postby aubergine99 » Sun Mar 02, 2014 11:52 am

Dear Francis,
This means that thoughts (stories) about “me” are not “me” and never have been. The statement “A part of me is afraid it will cease to exist” is simply a thought without a referent. Ha ha ha! Thinking about “me” is not synonymous with experiencing “me”. The reality, in direct experience is “a bit of fear is arising now”. This is exactly where the escape hatch is - and it is also precisely how the illusion of a self comes into being. In confusing a thought with an actual concrete referent.
Yes. Good noticing how the illusion of a self comes into being.
Let’s look at identification as the body. Who or what experiences? Is it Francis or the body?
There is in experience sight, sound, touch, smell, taste, and thought. So it’s the body and only the body that experiences anything. There are just sensations arising, and changing constantly. Thought can come in afterwards and attempt to add “I feel the keyboard beneath my fingers” but the experience comes first.
In DE, do you find a body experiencing anything? Yes, sensations are experienced, but is there a separate experiencer? With eyes closed, rub your hands together. Do you actually experience hands at all without resorting to thoughts? Is there anything present in DE other than the sensation? Are there two separate hand sensations or just one?
Previously, there was this idea of a kind of progression from being totally identified with the “me” thought, so that sensations were “mine” (“bad”) to a looser non-identified observer of experience, who is somehow distanced from the experience, not caught up in it.

Noticing, observing. (Much “better,” more “spiritual.”) This was what I was trying to “achieve” in meditation. But that’s not right.
Is there an ‘I’ that can try to achieve anything?
There is actually no distance between sensation and experience. It’s immediate. There is no space for an “observer”! Sensation and experience arise simultaneously. So there is no “whom” for experience to arise for. There is only experience arising in awareness, or actually, arising as awareness. Otherwise awareness would have to exist prior to sensation, and I can’t find an “awareness” devoid of sensation. This has triggered sensations of feeling very very untethered, for some reason.
Yes!! No space for an observer or observed. Just observing. A known experience.

Love Brigitte x

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FrancisP
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Re: A tough nut to crack?

Postby FrancisP » Sun Mar 02, 2014 8:09 pm

Hell Brigitte
How's life?

Here are my responses to your latest questions.
“In DE, do you find a body experiencing anything? Yes, sensations are experienced, but is there a separate experiencer? With eyes closed, rub your hands together. Do you actually experience hands at all without resorting to thoughts? Is there anything present in DE other than the sensation? Are there two separate hand sensations or just one?”
Thanks for this exercise. It revealed that the body is just another label, or even a concept. The body doesn’t experience anything. There are just sensations happening. Doing the hands exercise you suggested reveals the layers of labelling that goes on, all slapped onto raw experience. I see that you need memory and an imaginary body image to be able to describe these sensations as taking place in “hands”. Both memory and an imaginary body image are thoughts/ideas. Actually, all we can really say is that some sensations are arising here. Not even a specific location. Although there is a sense that the sensations are happening relative to some other sensations happening elsewhere. Wait. No, that is subtle body image also. This illusion fades if “I” open up to the sensations more fully. (Easier in context of meditation.) Then there really is only amorphous sensation arising. Is it possible to exist with all these labels removed?
“Is there a separate experiencer?”
Absolutely not. There is sensation arising, and a knowing of that. Not even “observing,” which suggests a distance from that which is experienced.
“Is there an ‘I’ that can try to achieve anything?”
There is a story that says so! (Which is only thought, of course!) This sense of agency runs deep and is an old, old story. In the past, things have come to be that “I” wanted to come to be, so the thought comes in “I must have made that happen.” Actually, it was just happening, based on conditions. Just like the so-called “choosing” that “I” thought “I” was doing. Decisions can be made without Francis having a say in them. Decisions to study this, take that exam, embark on a particular career. All the time Francis thought he was deciding, but really it was sort of inexorably happening all by itself. One thought prevailed over another thought at any given time. That is all. Just like the exercise a few days ago about raising the arm. The whole of life works on exactly the same principle! (This is wild!)
This begs a question, in fact. Yesterday I decided to meditate for the first time since beginning this dialogue. In that sit there was just this hole in experience where the “meditating Francis” usually resides. It was suddenly clear the extent to which meditation was habitually performed to refine “me”; to make “me” calmer, happier. Basically for “me” to get something, achieve something… When it is revealed that “me” is only an idea, not an actual person, the goalposts shift somewhat, don’t they? What now? What is meditation really for, then? The refinement of “me” is clearly a red herring of some kind! However, the historical Buddha, who was fully enlightened, clearly set great store by meditation and performed it throughout his life. Why? This will have to remain a mystery for the moment. But for the present meditation seems totally redundant. Do you have any advice/input about this?

This dialogue is proving exhausting. No complaint btw :) I can't believe it's been less than a week. Like being put through a mangle several times. Fear arising in the night, staying with the fear, watching it try to attach to a story about something in the future, seeing that it is just a bunch of physical sensations arising, and pouf! if disappears. What is all that about?

Love Francis.


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