Wanting help in creating & sustaining momentum

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Seek3r
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Wanting help in creating & sustaining momentum

Postby Seek3r » Thu Jan 31, 2019 12:28 pm

LU is focused guiding for seeing there is no real, inherent 'self' - what do you understand by this?
The self is an illusion generated by self-referential thoughts. It comes on strongest when the default brain network is active - when we're idling. There is no single thing we can pin-point as the self. It is a list of expectations, stories, thoughts, habits etc. we tell ourselves and do.

What are you looking for at LU?
I'm looking to find deeper insights into awakening and to keep a strong momentum of contemplation and inquiry going by way of guidance of an experienced practitioner. I hope to be able to reach a state of non-duality as a baseline for the rest of my life.

What do you expect from a guided conversation?
For someone to finally convince me beyond a shadow of a doubt that there is no self. I want to find evidence for myself, that there is no self - right now I feel like there is a self, that 'I' have a choice.

What is your experience in terms of spiritual practices, seeking and inquiry?
I have a daily meditation practice based on Shinzen Young's version of mindfulness. I have some knowledge of Buddhist insights and practices. I've been able to experience states of very high alertness and concentration a handful of times.

I've seen videos on free-will and determinism by Sam Harris and Gary Weber. I have never really engaged in inquiry based techniques but am open to learn. I've had glimpses of non-duality after some meditation sessions - like the ground is holding me up, that whatever I'm touching is an extension of my consciousness - I'm sure the way I'm explaining this is fairly flimsy.

On a scale from 1 to 10, how willing are you to question any currently held beliefs about 'self?
8

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JonathanR
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Re: Wanting help in creating & sustaining momentum

Postby JonathanR » Sat Feb 16, 2019 9:55 am

Hello Seek3r,

Welcome to Liberation Unleashed.

I may be able to assist you and am offering to guide. Please let me know if you accept?

You may wish to take a look at one or two of your aims right now. These statements are interesting :
. I'm looking to find deeper insights into awakening and to keep a strong momentum of contemplation and inquiry going
How do you intend to do that?

What would deeper insights look like? Must they happen in a certain way?
by way of guidance of an experienced practitioner. I hope to be able to reach a state of non-duality as a baseline for the rest of my life.
What if non-duality is not a state and nothing needs to be reached?

I can help provide pointers toward no self. It would be up to you whether or not you wish to look there. We could work together on this?

. It would be good to drop any expectations whatsoever about what no self ought to look like or what kind of experience it should be . This cannot be known and absolutely will get in the way.

Please could you take a little time to consider any and all expectations that you may have, however small or even insignificant these may seem? And let me know? This would be a very helpful start.

Warm regards

Jon

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Seek3r
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Re: Wanting help in creating & sustaining momentum

Postby Seek3r » Sat Feb 16, 2019 11:39 am

Hi Jon, thanks for doing this.
How do you intend to do that?

What would deeper insights look like? Must they happen in a certain way?
By practicing SOMETHING - just as I have a meditation practice, I think a guided self-inquiry practice could do some good. I don't know what deeper insights look like, they happen the way they happen - and my understanding of it the same way.
What if non-duality is not a state and nothing needs to be reached?
I'm happy to disabuse myself of that notion and to proceed with whatever is in store

My expectations will come and go as they please, whatever fantasies I have about no-self is just another happening in consciousness.

I'm ready to look if you're ready to point :)

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JonathanR
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Re: Wanting help in creating & sustaining momentum

Postby JonathanR » Sat Feb 16, 2019 11:05 pm

Hi Seek3r,

Would you like me to use another name for you, by the way?
.
I'm ready to look if you're ready to point :)
Great. Let's get going then.
. My expectations will come and go as they please, whatever fantasies I have about no-self is just another happening in consciousness.
This placing to one side of all expectations is very important. As you suggest, expectations may come and go.
. What if non-duality is not a state and nothing needs to be reached?
I'm happy to disabuse myself of that notion and to proceed with whatever is in store
Very good. The preparedness to question assumptions is very helpful.

So, if I say now that there is no self, never was and never will be, anywhere in experience, how does that land?

Let me know how you feel about this or any reaction that you may have to this statement I make?

Sending good wishes,

Jon

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Seek3r
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Re: Wanting help in creating & sustaining momentum

Postby Seek3r » Sun Feb 17, 2019 12:58 am

You can call me by my name -- Peter.
So, if I say now that there is no self, never was and never will be, anywhere in experience, how does that land?

Let me know how you feel about this or any reaction that you may have to this statement I make?
My immediate reaction is to be skeptical and to find evidence to as to why that might be false. My resistance to your statement is mostly conditioning from my environment telling me that there always has been a self (from teachers, parents etc). Therefore there is conflict, and a yearning to learn what is really the truth, whatever that might mean or entail.

A sense of self happened as soon as I read your statement. It feels like somewhere I allowed the expression of analysing or thought to take the reins. But I see that I am not my thoughts, they just happen and formulate in whatever way they wish - however, I feel I have it in me to place/direct myself, brain, consciousness or whatever you want to call it, into a state of reverie to think and type this.

After about 5 minutes writing the above, more thoughts appear to challenge what I just said and endless possibilities open up. The longer I stay in reverie the more uncertain I feel about any of what I wrote but I'll leave it for you to interpret.

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JonathanR
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Re: Wanting help in creating & sustaining momentum

Postby JonathanR » Mon Feb 18, 2019 7:26 pm

Hi Peter
. there is conflict, and a yearning to learn what is really the truth, whatever that might mean or entail.
That is good. Not the conflict so much but level of commitment.
. My immediate reaction is to be skeptical and to find evidence to as to why that might be false. My resistance to your statement is mostly conditioning from my environment telling me that there always has been a self
Yes. That is a very common finding. As kids did we have any choice in the matter of such conditioning?

But what is 'self' actually?

If there really is one 'there' so to speak, like an entity or person maybe, shouldn't we be able to take a look to check? If we imagined that there is someone standing just behind us in the room but we're not quite sure, what would we do to check?

But also, please take a look at the resistance experienced that was so definite at first. An immediate reaction, as you say. Sometimes there can be slight fear or anxiety about the very possibility that actually there might really be no separate self. What then? Do take moments to look at this to see if there is any anxiety. (If there is don't worry).
. The longer I stay in reverie the more uncertain I feel about any of what I wrote
Does it seem that after a while it isn't even clear that a single 'person' thought all of this?

Best

Jon

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Seek3r
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Re: Wanting help in creating & sustaining momentum

Postby Seek3r » Tue Feb 19, 2019 12:24 am

Hey Jon,
Yes. That is a very common finding. As kids did we have any choice in the matter of such conditioning?
No we didn't have a choice in our conditioning. The concept of choice and freewill is perplexing to think of.
But what is 'self' actually?
As to what is self? The moment I ask myself this question it feels like I'm running into a paradox. At times I can be still and just witness everything arising and going, along with the sense that I am authoring myself - usually shortly after sitting sessions.

I know there is no one thing that we can claim to be the 'self' - it's more of an amalgamation of all my happenings. When they trigger each other it feels like the mass of happenings causes a tangling that very much feels like a 'self'. For instance, when I think (internally hear and see) of something funny I laugh spontaneously - why did I find that funny? Who found that funny?

Sometimes it feels like the one that exercises absolute control is the 'self'. For instance, if I have an urge to eat junk-food but I manage to abstain - what or who produced that result? What is it in me that can conclude to a complete 180 of what was originally/compulsively decided?
Sometimes there can be slight fear or anxiety about the very possibility that actually there might really be no separate self. What then? Do take moments to look at this to see if there is any anxiety. (If there is don't worry).
There is no anxiety present - more of a mild frustration than anything. I feel like a scent hound that has the scent and is on the hunt. Or like a cat waiting for a mouse to come out of its hole. Perhaps the metaphor or a thing watching for another thing isn't so helpful on this journey, haha.
Does it seem that after a while it isn't even clear that a single 'person' thought all of this?
It definitely does not seem like a single person wrote all of that - it seemed more a result of my conditioning. Which is the influence of countless people.

Regards,

Peter :)

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JonathanR
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Re: Wanting help in creating & sustaining momentum

Postby JonathanR » Wed Feb 20, 2019 8:47 am

Hi Peter
. than anything. I feel like a scent hound that has the scent and is on the hunt. Or like a cat waiting for a mouse to come out of its hole. Perhaps the metaphor or a thing watching for another thing isn't so helpful on this journey, haha.
It's great that there is no anxiety. A bit of focus does tend to help actually and a willingness to investigate. What if no mouse is there and cannot appear?

. For instance, when I think (internally hear and see) of something funny I laugh spontaneously - why did I find that funny? Who found that funny?
Noticing this is helpful. And interesting that you mentioned 'internally hear and see' rather than just leaving it at 'thought'. Thought is very probably part of this experience but what is it that does the noticing of it?

Here is an intetesting exercise. Try it:

Conventionally it is said that 'I see' and it is assumed that it is eyes or the body that is 'me' that is doing the seeing. The words on this screen are seen but what is it that is doing the seeing? Its important not to just think about this but notice, right here and now the immediate experience of seeing.

Is it 'eyes' or 'the body' that are doing seeing? Is something 'seeing through' from an inside place?

:-) Jon

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Seek3r
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Re: Wanting help in creating & sustaining momentum

Postby Seek3r » Wed Feb 20, 2019 10:59 am

Hey Jon,
Thought is very probably part of this experience but what is it that does the noticing of it?
It's the strangest thing, and very difficult to put into words. When I focus on thought, there is just thought - just like there is sight, or feeling. Then there's a moment where thought about 'self' being aware of thought arises ever so subtly. I default to clinging to it when it arises. But if I retroactively look at it, I see that I am a silent observer - but not always - only when I 'flip on the switch'.
Here is an interesting exercise. Try it:

Is it 'eyes' or 'the body' that are doing seeing? Is something 'seeing through' from an inside place?
It certainly doesn't feel like the eyes are doing the seeing. I can detect the feeling of eye in my body, against the eyelids, its movement in its socket, the urge to blink. But sight is an entirely different thing all together. Sight is outwards. When I still myself to focus, the experience of distance (between myself and object) become simultaneously intense and at times very hard to discern.

Is my goal then to keep the switch flipped on?

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Seek3r
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Re: Wanting help in creating & sustaining momentum

Postby Seek3r » Wed Feb 20, 2019 11:13 am

As to who is seeing. There's just sight, as a very neutral experience. No-one sees, sight just is. But a sense of self arises (as thought, commentary etc) if I slack off and allow thought to supersede the experience of sight; but even when that happens I can recognise that it doesn't see for me, nor does it or can it see.

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JonathanR
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Re: Wanting help in creating & sustaining momentum

Postby JonathanR » Thu Feb 21, 2019 1:12 am

Hi Peter
. It's the strangest thing, and very difficult to put into words. When I focus on thought, there is just thought - just like there is sight, or feeling
Yes. Somehow there is both the content of thought, what thoughts are 'about' AND the noticing of thought?
. But if I retroactively look at it, I see that I am a silent observer - but not always - only when I 'flip on the switch'.
Is there an intrinsic awareness of whatever (idea, image, sound, taste, touch, smell)? Is that the 'silent observer' element in experience?

How do you flip on the switch?

:-)

Jon

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Seek3r
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Re: Wanting help in creating & sustaining momentum

Postby Seek3r » Thu Feb 21, 2019 2:01 am

Hey Jon,
Yes. Somehow there is both the content of thought, what thoughts are 'about' AND the noticing of thought?
So many of my thoughts are about 'self' noticing thought. Up until this point I've only noticed the obvious ones. I've somehow managed to still superimpose a self to describe an experience/insight. But what it really is, is more thought about 'self' going undetected.
Is there an intrinsic awareness of whatever (idea, image, sound, taste, touch, smell)? Is that the 'silent observer' element in experience?
There is an intrinsic awareness of whatever object that may come around. It seems I bounce between direct experience of something to an ever so subtle thought about 'self' experiencing something that I have called a 'silent observer'. But it's just more 'self', but simply being reined in to be 'silent'. Instead of sitting with this question, as I've always done - I'm going to explore and maybe I can answer your question a little more fruitfully.
How do you flip on the switch?
I'm not sure if it's more of a 'turning on' or an 'unburdening of' at the moment. Whether I start noticing or what has always been noticed is finally being noticed without an oily film to distort experience.

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JonathanR
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Re: Wanting help in creating & sustaining momentum

Postby JonathanR » Sat Feb 23, 2019 9:07 am

Hi Peter,

Please for give my two-day response rate. Normally I'll reply daily but things have been very busy for me.. It helps actually to post each day so well done fir doing that yourself. I'll try to match it :-)
. So many of my thoughts are about 'self' noticing thought. Up until this point I've only noticed the obvious ones. I've somehow managed to still superimpose a self to describe an experience/insight. But what it really is, is more thought about 'self' going undetected.
Do you think that thought about 'self' may be the origin of what appears to be an entity., 'me' ?
. There is an intrinsic awareness of whatever object that may come around. It seems I bounce between direct experience of something to an ever so subtle thought about 'self' experiencing something that I have called a 'silent observer'. But it's just more 'self', but simply being reined in to be 'silent'. Instead of sitting with this question, as I've always done - I'm going to explore and maybe I can answer your question a little more fruitfully.
Great. Good idea.
. I'm not sure if it's more of a 'turning on' or an 'unburdening of' at the moment. Whether I start noticing or what has always been noticed is finally being noticed without an oily film to distort experience.
Great. You're doing some good investigation. I'd like to give you another exercise to help with this...

At a time when you won't be disturbed sit somewhere quietly. Allow a few moments to pass just tuning into whatever can be heard. This can be quiet sounds such as breathing, maybe a background hum of a fridge or something electrical. Then also maybe something like birdsong outside as there is outside my back window. Or louder sound such as cars or voices. If it helps do this with eyes closed. It's up to you.

Whatever is heard notice it. Now, in this hearing is there just the experience of hearing, or is there a 'me' separate from it, hearing'?

Is a 'me' found doing 'hearing' ?

Outside I hear a pigeon calling. Notice any sound happening at a distance.

Is the sound somehow 'separate' from the hearing of it?


:-) Jon

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Seek3r
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Re: Wanting help in creating & sustaining momentum

Postby Seek3r » Sat Feb 23, 2019 11:51 am

Hello Jon,

That's absolutely fine and completely understandable. It was nice to have a little buffer between replies because ever since Thursday (when I made my reply to your last message) my relationship to 'self' has changed.

Thought has a very distinct quality now. From Thursday till now I've been able to track my thought in what feels like a moment to moment basis. I can 'tap' into the auditorium where thought arises and vanishes (although the moment when it vanishes seems a bit little harder to detect). I can see that the belief in a 'self' arises from clinging onto the thought of 'self'.

I have mentioned I've managed to reach states of very high concentration/alertness previously. Over the past few days, it feels like I can fall into this state at will. There's a great stillness when I drop into it, this is a new experience for me.

Nothing has changed besides a little realization simply concentrating on the qualities/characteristics of thought - I just never thought to double down on it till I started exploring different possibilities on Thursday.

Could you tell me if I hit a milestone or something? Will this fade?

On to your questions now!
Do you think that thought about 'self' may be the origin of what appears to be an entity., 'me' ?
Yep.
Whatever is heard notice it. Now, in this hearing is there just the experience of hearing, or is there a 'me' separate from it, hearing'?

Is a 'me' found doing 'hearing' ?
I'm hearing my crickets. There's just hearing. A 'me' can be found making commentary, but in no way does hearing feel separate... at all. The commentary by 'me' is a thought, and thoughts feel like any other experience. They just happen. That thought of 'self' feels separate from Me if that makes sense. I feel impartial to both experiences.

I keenly await your response :)

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JonathanR
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Re: Wanting help in creating & sustaining momentum

Postby JonathanR » Sun Feb 24, 2019 4:04 pm

Hi Peter

Great to receive your post!
. Thought has a very distinct quality now. From Thursday till now I've been able to track my thought in what feels like a moment to moment basis. I can 'tap' into the auditorium where thought arises and vanishes (although the moment when it vanishes seems a bit little harder to detect). I can see that the belief in a 'self' arises from clinging onto the thought of 'self'.
Wow. That's good.

This is the first time that you have clearly stated this. Perhaps its not so very important to detect the exact moment when a thought vanishes but to say that the belief in a 'self' arises from clinging onto the thought of 'self' is very much in the right ballpark.
. I have mentioned I've managed to reach states of very high concentration/alertness previously. Over the past few days, it feels like I can fall into this state at will. There's a great stillness when I drop into it, this is a new experience for me.
Fantastic. I'm so pleased.
. Nothing has changed besides a little realization simply concentrating on the qualities/characteristics of thought - I just never thought to double down on it till I started exploring different possibilities on Thursday.

Could you tell me if I hit a milestone or something? Will this fade?
We can check to see if you like? I'll ask a few questions.

Is there now, was there ever, will there be a separate self entity?

If not, where does this illusion come from? Where does it start? How does it work?

Do 'you' make anything happen?


Disappointment can be an issue if there was an expectation that any experience must last or represent a permanent state or achievement. Then there can be an idea that 'I didn't really get it' or 'nothing's really changed'.
Let me know if that happens.

All the best

Jon


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