Thanks for the suggestions around looking during the day. It’s a little difficult to find a question appropriate for the moment when there’s thinking going on. I was using “when am I” for almost a year, but it doesn’t seem to prompt real looking. Hmm…
Asking ‘when am I?” or ‘Who/what am I?” are not too productive questions, since these questions imply that there is an ‘I’ I just have to figure out who/what/when. So the question itself is ‘faulty’. Looking through the self with these kind of questions can take a lots of time.
You can ask questions like these:
What is having these thoughts?
What is saying that? – when there is a thought narration going on
Where is the thinker?
What does this sensation/thought happening TO?
Where is the feeler?
Where is the hearer?
Where is the doer/choser/controller/wanter?
What does this experience happening TO?
Where is the experiencer?
I can see this, and it’s not completely clear. I didn’t recall to do this test many times today, so I only have a few samples. But from my looking, I saw that sometimes “negative” thoughts could appear with little or no detectable sensation, where as other negative thoughts came with noticeable sensation. These sensations of contraction persist much longer than the thought. The sensation and thought didn’t have a connection in actual experience. In other words, they are unrelated, or just related by suggestion or assumption. I can see why I mistake so-called negative thoughts as being unpleasant. But, the thought isn’t causing a sensation. The thought isn’t unpleasant. Why they appear together, I don’t know.
What makes you think that you cannot see this clearly? You gave a very nice description of AE.
Yes. Wanting isn’t in direct experience. There are thoughts that might say “I want” or even just images arise of a desirable “object” or situation, and this is what is mistaken for wanting. Sometimes there are thoughts about wanting, then my body goes and gets what is thought about which reinforces the illusion of wanting.
Thank you for the guidance around thoughts/images being like a movie. I’d like to print this out and refer to it during the day. Do you think it would help to think about this during the day?
Thinking about it won’t help too much, because with thinking there is no looking. It stays only on the intellectual level. So it doesn’t have too much worth of thinking about no-self, rather LOOK for the self as often as you can.
Now, let’s investigate the notion of awareness or consciousness, or in other words the knower.
When it’s seen that a seer, taster, smeller, feeler, thinker, etc. cannot be found, the identification often goes to the seeming appearance of a self-existent, self-aware awareness, which is the knower of everything that appears.
So the identification with the body and the senses (feeler, hearer, thinker, etc) is replaced with a subtle form of identification, “I am that which is aware”…. So there is still some sort of separate entity which is aware and holds and knows all experience (object). And the identification with awareness is an excellent hiding place for the separate self.
Does this belief has come up for you “I = awareness”?
Or the belief that there is a stand-alone independent awareness / consciousness that is aware of what is going on?
I don’t know if you have this assumption that “ I = awareness” or the existence of an independent awareness, but nevertheless, let’s investigate this.
In English, awareness is a noun, not a verb. Nouns imply agencies, or entities.
But can such thing be found as an independently existing awareness?
Stop for a moment now and take a thought. Be aware of the presence of the thought.
Can a thought be separated from the knowing or awareness of it?
Try your best to separate the two from each other. What happens?
Is there a dividing line between the thought and the knowing or awareness of it?
Can you find the line where the thought ends and the knowing of it starts?
Can you find a thought without the knowing of it?
Can you find knower or awareness without any object (like thought, sensation, color, sound, taste, smell)?
In other words, can there be a knowing without a known?
Repeat this exercise many times during the day. Experiment not just only with verbal thoughts, but also with visual thoughts, sounds, taste, etc. Let me know how it went.