So as you look now how do you experience the 'self', 'I' or ‘me’'?
As a series of thoughts, sensations and emotions over which there seems to be very little control that seem to be owned by some reference point somewhere ‘here’.
For instance does it feel like its in the centre or middle of experience, is it solid or thick, does it feel fixed or permanent, is it inside the body or part of the body, does it change, does it feel uniquely different and separate, does it become more or less solid or obvious depending on experience, does it have colour or shape or texture, is it small or large, does this self own the body or the thoughts and feelings it experiences?
‘I’ feels like it is at the centre of experience. It has no shape, colour, texture, size or any other attributes that come to mind. ‘I’ feels ‘here’ although I cannot find any single geographic location that can be attributed to ‘I’ anywhere.
Is it made up of thoughts and feelings, sensations, emotions, likes and dislikes, opinions, memories and experiences, perceptions, character and personality, does this self decide, chose, act, do and control? Anything else? Is there a time when the self is not experienced?
Although as explained above I cannot find a single location anywhere that can be attributed to ‘I’, there is still a subtle sense of ownership of anything that enters my experience, including thoughts, sensations and emotions when it is sensed that a (me) has been affected by the experience.
It seems to me that the more intense the experience the more difficult it is to deny the existence of an ‘I’. During or following a more subtle experience its easy to carry out a quick investigation and see that there is no ‘I’ to be found. But then who’s the one carrying out the investigation??? – definitely a sticking point for me!
Experience has shown me time and again that there is little control over thoughts and emotions. In fact the only real thing ‘I’ seem to be able to do to experiences is to label them as good or bad and then by seeming autopilot spend enormous amounts of energy trying to get more good ones and reject the bad ones – something which fails spectacularly almost all the time but doesn’t seem to dissuade me from trying!
‘I’ don’t choose to have the opinions I have – in fact I wish many of them were different. A lot of time and energy is spent on wanting my opinions to be different. In fact a lot of time and energy is spent wondering why if ‘I’ am in charge of my life why I can’t simply change anything about me (personality, likes, dislikes etc.) that I don’t like. It’s so obvious I am neither in charge of my life or what experiences are presented to me. So why do I continue to spend so much energy trying to change it? (how utterly ridiculous that I plainly know the answer but there’s something there (a me??) that keeps on asking the same stupid questions over and over again!!).
When you ask is there a time when the self is not experienced? are you referring to Tom or Awareness in the non-dual sense? I have always struggled with this one. In my direct experience Tom does not exist when he is not being thought about. Though writing this sentence seems to bring Tom into existence! Maybe we can come back to this?
Where does the 'self' that you conceive yourself to be reside? Is it in the body as a whole, part of the body or somewhere else? Can you pinpoint an exact reference point? Can it be found, at all?
I hope I have answered this above.
What is it that wants things different from what they are? What tells you you are separate?
This is a difficult one. There is something here that can’t be defined that wants things to be different. In recent years there has been an almost complete reversal in the way the world is viewed. ‘I’ used to want the world to be different. ‘I’ now accept that things can’t and won’t ever be different than the way things are. It’s me that feels the need to change to accept the world the way it is.
It’s like there’s 2 of me. Theres a me that completely and utterly accepts the world the way it is and sees how simple and easy it would be to live a life of complete acceptance. Then there’s a second me that just wont give in to it. I can’t find either of these me’s anywhere I look. That brings me back to who on earth is looking for these 2 me’s!!!!! is there a 3rd? and a 4th looking for the 3rd? arrghhh frustrating!
By naming or labeling a ‘me/I’ a subtle sense of separation is felt. For example ‘I’ can see this computer screen. ‘You’ can’t. I cant help explaining my experience in this way.
Is anything permanent – if so what?
There is nothing in my daily experience that has any permanence at all. Whether it be the feeling of the keys on the keyboard as I type, the bricks of the house in which I’m sitting, the sun in the sky or the mind which is thinking about these words. None if it will last forever.