Can non-duality and self improvement co-exist?

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Luke3822
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Can non-duality and self improvement co-exist?

Postby Luke3822 » Tue Mar 27, 2012 2:12 am

I am getting more and more interested in non-duality, and since reading various books, most notably Tim Freke's Lucid Living and Jeff Foster's Liberation in the Mist of an Ordinary Life, I am starting to notice that the world is more like a dream.

This is an amazing feeling becuase it has allowed me to transend many of my fears and reservations and become more conected to others becuase I don't identify as much with my body. Of course I am not perfect at this yet and I keep struggling with the perspectives. Its kind of like the metorphore Tim uses: that its a change in perspective similar to one of those pictures of coloured dots that transform into a 3d image.

This is all well and good, but I'm talking to myself in my head most of the time during this transition, which is not a bad thing, but I never get to a point like many describe as awakening. Its like being in a lucid dream, but the concepts and seperation are still there, I'm just intellectually aware that its all one.

The thing I really want is to have a moment of realisation, to know it for real, not just think about it.

But I don't want to let go of my interest in self development. I have no interest in giving up my free will and just watching my life unfold. Really I am hoping that it is possible to awaken to the oneness of reality, then create the best experience within that oneness.

So where am I at right now?

Well I know that I am not seperate, that I am just an experiencer of the experiences that are happening. I am not too identified with my body, although I keep getting sucked back into my story.

I know that the present moment is all there is and that any thought about the past or future exist in the present moment.

I know that I never really go anywhere, that I am the constant presence that is always present. That all that is really happening is a flow of experiences which my mind is labeling and creating a story out of, which I am aware of and therefore mistaking as me.

I know all this from books and introspection. I know it on the level of the mind. Even if I step back and just observe my thoughts through meditation, I still don't fully realise it.

I know it, but I can't feel it.

I also know that I ramble on too much and that I'm a terrible speller.

Thanks for taking the time to read this =]

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Patrick
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Re: Can non-duality and self improvement co-exist?

Postby Patrick » Tue Mar 27, 2012 11:57 am

The sentences in green are from your answers.

That all that is really happening is a flow of experiences, which my mind is labeling and creating a story out of, which I am aware of and therefore mistaking as me.

Nice that you already know this. The liberation is to ‘see’ this. It is just seeing what is real and what is imaginary. To simple for the mind who prefers his own stories.

Let us start with having a look at what direct experience is and what thought is.

Direct Experience:
Hearing, seeing, touching, smelling, tasting. Sensations in the body like hunger, thirst, pain.
This is the level of experience of animals, newborn babies.

Thoughts:
Mind activity. labeling, judging, analyzing, narrating, commenting. Usually ”heard” as your voice in your native language. The images/pictures envisioned in the mind.


Thoughts layer concepts over the direct experiences.
A thought (concept or label) is never the actual. Some thoughts point to the actual and some point to other thoughts. The content of every single thought is just a story.
Either a story about the actual or a story about another story, but a thought or story cannot be the reality.

Describe a direct experience.
Is there is an ‘I’ or a ‘me’ present in the direct experience?
Look at this very closely with total honesty. Do not jump to conclusions.
See how the mind begins to label the direct experience.

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Luke3822
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Re: Can non-duality and self improvement co-exist?

Postby Luke3822 » Wed Mar 28, 2012 12:16 pm

I see what you mean, the objects themselves don't have the labels, infact as far as my direct experience is concerned, if I ignore the labels there are no objects, just an ever changing experience of colours and tones which.

I supose then my mind labels the image, splits it up into objects, labels them, then produces an emotion and stream of thoughts to give the impression that there is a story.

This is the story of the mind as I see it right now.

I am sat in my room right now and there is sunshine outside, there are girls in summer dresses and people laughing. My computer is buzzing and I am tired from too little sleep, thinking about how I have to do my washing, go to the gym then follow up a study. All of these thoughts are based in the future, but they are actually happening in the present moment. Even when the thoughts manifest, I will be doing my washing in the present moment ect...

But those things are not really happening if I look close enough. I can see my mind labeling and creating emotion. For example I am experiencing a feeling of time wasting. Its sunny outside and I'm in here on the computer, my mind is creating discontent. But the sunny day outside is just as much an experience as sitting in here on the computer.

In fact I have just noticed how much my mind constantly says: You should be doing this, you should be like this... why?

Becuase... no answer.

I?

This is what I have been thinking about most of the time. I is just the label, I guess the word I points to the center of the experience, the experiencer who is experiencing the experiences.

Damb this is tricky to do in language lol.

I cannot find an I, if my body looks in the mirror my mind screams, THIS IS YOU, THIS IS THE I.

The way I'm seeing it at the moment is that I am experiencing a body, I am experiencing sounds, emotions and so on. So what I supose I am if I had to put it into words would be the unchanging present presence within which a changing experiences are experienced.

So I am what is experiencing the sences and the mind, but also I am the sences and the mind, like an all or nothing paradox.

I can't be seperate from the experience becuase I am experiencing it, if I was seperate that would be impossible.

But I can't be the experience because it is always changing, and I am constant.

I can't find the I... In fact a question that I thought before reading this was the most rediculous thing in the world, has now become an enigma.

Do I exist?

I supose not, there are experiences happening. I like the words, its happening in awareness, but then awareness is just a concept withing awareness, which is a concept within the concept and so on and so on.

But even without the I, what is left still feels like it has control. Like rather than direct action, for example the body walks and talks and does the washing up, all while the mind is off somewhere else. But there feels like theres an intention, and that is what is guiding the ever flowing experiences. That the intentions lead the different flows of sound, colour, tastes, sensations, which are then labeled.

Even if the story is an illusion, it is still within awareness, just a valid an experience as the sounds and sights experienced.

Sorry for the length of rambling.

Thanks for reading though.

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Re: Can non-duality and self improvement co-exist?

Postby Patrick » Wed Mar 28, 2012 6:29 pm

You begin to see it directly.
Only the mind doesn’t understand what is going on and still wants to understand what is happening by creating strange concepts. ‘awareness’, ‘consciousness’ are concepts invented by the mind to label what is not understandable by the mind.
Keep it simple.

Try to write what you wrote in your last message without using the word ‘I’.
Does this make a difference?

The ‘character’, the ’player’ called ‘ Luke’ was born with a lot of likes and dislikes, preferences, talents, abilities and inabilities. People give this character a name to differentiate it from other characters called humans. This character is still playing his role in life as life. It’s the way life expresses itself.
Over the years he told himself that he has a ‘me’ that is in control of this character. But this ‘me‘ is just an illusion. The character is always itself. How could it be else? No need for an ‘I’ story.

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Re: Can non-duality and self improvement co-exist?

Postby Luke3822 » Thu Mar 29, 2012 12:53 pm

There is something strange that happens, the charactar Luke was at work last night, really focusing on what is, intimatly, allowing everything and relaxing beleifs and concepts. Then the area around suddenly seemed incredibly real, like waking up in a dream, like being lucid.

The ground seemed like the end of the world, the edges of perception were the edge of reality, but in a sence there was no edge, it was just image, colour.

There was no movement, like a TV screen shows an ever changing image but never really moves, just the illusion of movement. There where sounds, the music track at work that "I" hated suddenly became just sound, just perception. There was a feeling of discontent at the music, there was dislike, but not in a way that can be discribed.

The idea of other seperate people became a completly rediculous idea, it was like everything I was experiencing was me, there was just the experience, perfect as it was. Yet the body was walking, stacking, thinking.

Another strange thing is that the objects that my arms were putting onto the shelves did not feel like seperate objects. There was a feeling and a series of colours, then there was concepts,ie, this is a tin of dog food in my hand. But it was just a feeling, a sensation, and to be honest it was amazing. There was a feeling of peace, of perception, just like waking up in a dream.

What I usually thought of as control faded away, the body continued to stack, to think, to listen. But there was just thinking, listening, experience. There was no I, no story, and yet there was an I and a story. The I was part of the story. It can't really be described. But even without the I, it was great to see the story, to experience the story. No need for it, but theres no need to get drunk at the weekend.

Like waking up in a dream there was still control, just nobody controlling. The I was consciousness itself, the space in which all of the experience was happening, there was a feeling of total responsibillity and total control, but at the same time no responsibillity and no control. Weird huh? I can't really explain it. In a sence I was the seer the seen and the seeing, the heard, the hearing, the sound, the listener, the taste, the taster. There was no sence in grammatical tences, they were all discribing the same thing, all from different perspectives, they were just words. For the first time I really got what Jeff Foster says in the begining of his book about how words are not life, but maybe they can point to it.

This lasted for around 20 minutes and it was the most peaceful and enlightening experiences of my life.

Although I've noticed that if I really concentrate on my the feeling of the feet as they walk along the ground, I can get back some of the feeling.

Is this meant to happen or am I going insane?

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Re: Can non-duality and self improvement co-exist?

Postby Patrick » Thu Mar 29, 2012 6:03 pm

You experienced a ‘state of oneness’. But because this is a ‘state’ it is not lasting. Don’t try to go back to this state.
Use what you have seen to look for the liberation from the sense of self. See now directly that ‘I’, ‘me’ is not real. Only direct experience is real. Thoughts are also real but not there content. You don’t have to be in a special state to see this. This makes that you can continue to function as usual in the world. The only difference is that there is no build up of a 'personality' story anymore. There is no ‘I’, ‘me’ or sense of self to hook-on to these stories.

It’s like the story of Santa Claus. A child believes in Santa until he is told that Santa is not real. From then on the child will never count anymore on this imaginary person to get something.
So is it the same for the ‘I’. You have experienced that there is no separate self, that there is no real ‘I’. Why to continue to count on it?

The whole Universe is one unified existence that is in a constant state of transformation and change and movement and functioning. So the change of seasons, the transformation of forms, death and life, and all the rest,is the functioning of that oneness. It is a seamless flow of forms, as the continual creation of all.

“There is a Zen saying that the birds have no desire to be reflected in the lake, the lake has no desire to reflect the birds, but it still happens. The birds are reflected, the lake reflects, although the desire exists neither on the part of the birds nor on the part of the lake.
In this desireless-ness everything happens, nothing is done.”

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Luke3822
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Re: Can non-duality and self improvement co-exist?

Postby Luke3822 » Fri Mar 30, 2012 12:05 pm

Wow that was really inspiring. I realise that the state of oneness is just a state, I even remember having experiences like this as a child, I was always inquiring the I, and how the world works, whether we have free will, why and I here and so on. Unfortunatly I told my mum about this, shes a big beleiver in objective reality and thought my questioning was dangerous.

I had anouther little experience yesterday which was quite startling, something plainly ordinary.

We were in the allotment turning over the soil when a friend of mine picked up what appeared to be a small seed germinating. My mind said "wow this is a seed that has begun to germinate."
But then the green but moved, it was infact a caterpillar on a smooth brown stone. So my mind said "I got that wrong, its a catapillar on a stone"

In that moment I noticed that what I was seeing was neither of those things, that the thing itself did not change when I applied a new lable to it. It just was.

So the label was not wrong, it was just a label, exept the sencond label people would agree with, and the first one other people would say my label is wrong.

I think I'm starting to see it. I get it in a sence, but I don't feel like any realisation has taken place.

Am I looking for something that does not exist, maybe I am already where I am trying to go?

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Re: Can non-duality and self improvement co-exist?

Postby Patrick » Fri Mar 30, 2012 6:08 pm

I think I'm starting to see it. I get it in a sense, but I don't feel like any realization has taken place.
Am I looking for something that does not exist, maybe I am already where I am trying to go?


When you already familiar with the sense of oneness, that there is no separate ‘I’, then it’s normal that no big shift happens. You are just coming home. Coming home seems so normal that you don’t believe it and thinks that it is somewhere else.

To check this and to see if there are still some points that need to be cleared out could you answer the following questions with total honesty and in your own words:

Is there a 'me', at all, anywhere, in any way, shape or form? Was there ever?

Explain in detail what the illusion of separate self is, when it starts and how it works.

How does it feel to see this?

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Luke3822
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Re: Can non-duality and self improvement co-exist?

Postby Luke3822 » Tue Apr 03, 2012 2:01 pm

Is there a 'me', at all, anywhere, in any way, shape or form? Was there ever?

No, I reffer to myself as me, thats the language anyway. As I look closer though there is just an experience happening. Almost like a dream, when I'm asleep I am associated with the charactar, everything makes sence. But when I wake up I realise that the dream all existed within my mind, and didn't really make any sence. I'm kind of getting the feeling that when I look for me, the I whatever, there is just a flow of experience. The sence I think is going on is the story, but there is no sence, the logic is just a construct of my mind.

I'm using the words I, me and mine, but I can't find a me.

The me comes from being associated with the body, the sences and the mind. Its weird that I keep switching between feeling oneness and seperateness. The seperatness makes no sence, when I look for it, it disapears so I can't really discribe it.

Its almost like getting lost in the mind, the focus is shifted to thought and gives the illusion that the world and thought are different. But when I look closer I realise that thought exists in the same space as all the other sensations.

When I look in to find the I, there is nothing, theres no in and no out. Theres just what is.

When I notice this, everything becomes incredebly real, almost peaceful. I feel happiness, sadness, fear, joy, anxiety, ect. But they are accepted.

Yesterday when I was hung over I started getting anxious (it brings back feelings of when I used to get panic attacks.)

So I started looking for the I that was having the anxiety.

Then the association fell away, there was no me being anxious, just anxiety happening, and it was ok. I just allowed it, no resistence. I actually started to laugh at the idea that I had ever tried to resist it, that there was ever a me that was anxious.

I can't describe the illusion of the seperate self, as soon as I try, or look for it, there is no me or I to feel. The me is just the label that reffers to my particular perspective, a langual tool so that I can relate to the world in my story.

If I could find two words to describe the way I feel when I try to see the I, they would be love and peace. Love for, and peace with all that is.

I know you said that I shouldn't chase the oneness feeling, but it is just starting to arrise more and more as I see through the illusion of me.

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Re: Can non-duality and self improvement co-exist?

Postby Patrick » Tue Apr 03, 2012 6:54 pm

Great answers, nicely done with the feeling of anxiety.

I know you said that I shouldn't chase the oneness feeling, but it is just starting to arise more and more as I see through the illusion of me.

That’s fine. You are not trying to go back via the memory of a state but the feeling of oneness arises now of itself. Let it be as it is. Everyone has its own way to pass the gateless gate.

The following sentence is a little bit confusing:
If I could find two words to describe the way I feel when I try to see the I, they would be love and peace. Love for, and peace with all that is.
Are you saying that: when I see that there is 'no I' the two words are love for and peace with all that is.


There a two more questions:

How would you describe the illusion of the self to somebody who is very interested, but has never heard about this illusion.

What was the last bit that pushed you over, made you see the illusion of the self?

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Luke3822
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Re: Can non-duality and self improvement co-exist?

Postby Luke3822 » Thu Apr 05, 2012 11:20 am

Are you saying that: when I see that there is 'no I' the two words are love for and peace with all that is.

Yes, like an overwhelming feeling that everything is ok.

Even though I have seen the illusion, I still cannot grasp it, I still got lost in the I.

Its like if you have ever seen one of those 2d images that when you focus on becomes a 3d image. I have seen the 3d image, but then I've lost it again. I can get it back for a few minutes, maybe an hour, then I am sucked back.

Also I am now finding myself bombarded with constant thought. There are thoughts happening, all the time, its like having an annoying person sat in my head constantly talking about nonsence, dreaming up situations. I keep getting sucked in to this voice and its illusions about who, what and where I am, even though the voice is boring in comparison to real life.

Sometimes he starts talking about non-duality, philosophising, pretending that he is the awakening, that he is the realisation, that what is being experienced is not the true liberation. Then I find myself seduced into the illusion, his drama, beleiving that I am the voice, that I am the thoughts, opinions, judgements, wants, needs, stories. It goes on and on.

But when I am in the state of realisation, when I see that the thoughts are not me, that bloody voice infects all of what is happening with its labels and judgements.

Now I am doubting, have I seen the self, or did I just create a new charactar in my ego, because this chap is a nightmare to live with, I want him gone. When I experience oneness there is no voice, no drama, no problem.

But when there just is what is, there is also the inner dialogue, and there is annoyance at the inner dialogue.

As for explaining this to others, I will not entertain the idea until I am absolutely certain that I am in a position to do so, tis only fair =]

Thanks for reading all of this, I realise its a pretty long and probably confusing read.

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Re: Can non-duality and self improvement co-exist?

Postby Patrick » Thu Apr 05, 2012 6:35 pm

Even though I have seen the illusion, I still cannot grasp it, I still got lost in the I.
Who has to grasp it? Who is lost in the I ?

But when I am in the state of realisation, when I see that the thoughts are not me, that bloody voice infects all of what is happening with its labels and judgements.
Realization or liberation is not a state and it doesn’t want to change anything to the thoughts.
Just seeing that the ‘I’, the sense of self is an illusion is enough. Don’t change the illusion. Let these thoughts come and go.

Does the experiencing of being require an 'I'?
Is there a separate individual who is experiencing?
Do you exist as an individual?

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Luke3822
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Re: Can non-duality and self improvement co-exist?

Postby Luke3822 » Fri Apr 06, 2012 7:36 am

There is only an experience happening, the thoughts and the effort to produce them, the annoyance and the seeking, the stress, happiness, its all just arising.

The more allowing there is, the less thought there is, just a flow. But there is no-one allowing, its just happening.

Theres an ego happening, a personallity happening, but theres no one its happening to.

Haha, when I was told that this could not be expressed in words I imagined some other worldly state. What a mess. Its really just to simple to describe, it was here all along, just the act of looking for the realisation existed within it. Nothing is any different than before, it is still happening as it was.

Thank you!

So how would I describe this to somebody who had never heard of it before?

I have no idea, I would probably ask them questions to lead them in the right direction. Not much in the way of philosophising, that stuff I think is what held me back.

What pushed me over the edge?

I decided to relax my concepts and expectations completely. I was trying to ignore the voice in my head and focus on the present moment. Rather than ask myself questions and talk to myself with answers, I just silently looked. Just allowed what is to be and relaxed everything I thought I knew. Then I got in the shower about half an hour ago and the realisation just dawned. It was so rediculous I just started laughing, this was it, it was here all along, just flowing, just happening. Nobody seeing, thinking, feeling. I can't describe it becuase the words make it into an object, but the realisation was not a concept or an idea or anything for that matter. To call it a realisation detracts from what it is. So simple, no fireworks, no spiritual feelings, just this.

So my original question, Can non-duality and self improvement co-exist?

Doesn't even make sence anymore, there is nothing and no-one to be improved, yet self improvement could still happen in the sence of the actions and beleifs it is made up of could occur, but there is nobody being improved, just the flow of life happening, just the ever changing moment unfolding as it is.

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Patrick
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Re: Can non-duality and self improvement co-exist?

Postby Patrick » Sat Apr 07, 2012 4:16 pm

Thanks for your answers.
Nice that you found the answer to your own question.
The LU guides confirm that you see it.
I'll send you a private message to join our facebook group.


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