Ready for Anything - Firelight

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Firelight
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Ready for Anything - Firelight

Postby Firelight » Fri Jun 12, 2015 8:34 pm

Hi,
First off, I want to thank all of you who take the time to help others in this quest. It is with sincere gratitude that I ask for your guidance in what I hope will be the final stage in my search for the peace and clarity that has so long eluded me.

About "me." I'm a 53 year-old man who lives in the southeastern U.S. I grew up in an alcoholic family, which experience left me estranged from even my extended family, and severely affected my ability to form trusting relationships, as well as to gain any sense of grounding on the material plane, in general. This situation drove me on a spiritual search from an early age, as I studied and practiced several paths, yet never found a real home in any of them.

A key theme of my life that has gone hand-in-hand with my never-ending spiritual search has been my failure to establish myself in any kind of gainful employment which would provide me with some measure of financial security. Through my 20's, I tried to get by doing unskilled labor and sales work, while simultaneously pursuing my true passion as a singer-songwriter. When that plan left me on the brink of starvation, I put in 6 years of university study, followed by 10 tumultuous years of work in the mental health field trying to establish myself as a professional counselor (which everything to that point had indicated was the perfect career for me), but was left with nothing to show for it when the bottom fell out of the job market for counselors in 2007.

My efforts over the next few years to transition into another field that could use my skills were also unsuccessful, and with no family support, I became homeless and almost died in the street a couple of times during that time. Then, about two years ago, I managed to start a business as a wedding officiant which showed some promise by providing me some sporadic limited income. I felt as though I had been forced by the universe into following me bliss, and had hopes of eventually growing it into a broader interfaith ministry, where I could help people a broad range of people, both as a ceremony officiant and as a spiritual counselor. While since then I feel that I have in some sense finally found my vocational calling, it is clear that I will be unable to make a living on it for some time, so my intense career/financial woes continue unabated, despite all my best efforts to solve them.

Around 2003, I discovered radical nonduality, and began reading many of the authors I'm sure many of you have: Tony Parsons, Douglas Harding, Bob Adamson, John Wheeler, etc. which seemed to offer a breakthrough in my consciousness after doing some serious self-inquiry, and promised to put an end to my search. I spoke with John Wheeler over the phone, and came as close as I've ever been to nonconceptual seeing, but it just didn't click, so I went back to the drawing-board looking for answers in still other places (including some of the ones I had already visited in the past). Still, I keep coming back to the realm of nonduality, and recently stumbled upon this website, which caught my attention for some reason I can't explain.

Needless to say, finding myself on the treadmill with these two major life undertakings, I am totally exhausted. I have no idea where to go from here with either of them, and while I certainly don't expect anyone here to solve my career dilemma (which I only described so as to provide the mundane context against which my spiritual search has transpired), I have a feeling that if I can directly see through the illusion of the separate self, then perhaps my other challenges many not seem so daunting, and I can at least enjoy my present moment experience and allow for the possibility of solutions to my life challenges to emerge without the stress of feeling I have to "make it happen.".

Its definitely "rubber hits the road" time for me, and I am truly ready for whatever illusions I have about who I am to be dispelled! So if any of you would be willing to serve as my guide, I would be most grateful.

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Re: Ready for Anything - Firelight

Postby Sarah7 » Sat Jun 13, 2015 2:33 pm

Hi Firelight!
I'm Sarah and I'd be happy to guide you. Do you want me to call you firelight or something else?
Have you looked around the site? Do you know what we do here?
Hugs Sarah xxx
If you understand, things are just as they are; if you do not understand, things are just as they are.

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Re: Ready for Anything - Firelight

Postby Firelight » Sat Jun 13, 2015 5:01 pm

Hi Sarah!

So nice to meet you. Thank you for your accepting me as my guide. Please call me Jim.

Yes, I think I have a basic familiarity with the site and how it works here. I have been reading Gateless Gatecrashers (which is how I found out about it), and I have read through the FAQ's and some of introductory posts on the forum. This is all making a very powerful impact on me, and I feel ready to see the truth once and for all. Where would you like to start with it?

Hugs,

Jim

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Re: Ready for Anything - Firelight

Postby Sarah7 » Sun Jun 14, 2015 10:34 am

Hi Jim!
There are a few house keeping standard ground rules I need you to confirm before we start if you want to proceed.

Please agree to post at least once a day, even if only to say that you're still around, and I'll do the same. Sometimes it might just not be possible for one of us to post substantively and of course we'd find a way to work round that.

I am not your teacher, all I can do is point and you look, until clear seeing happens.

In general, I will ask questions and you look deeply and respond with 100% honesty.

Responses require simple, uncontrived honest looking. There are no wrong or right answers.

Responses are best from direct experience (the physical evidence of seeing, hearing, touching, tasting, and smelling, prior to the story or explanation about them). Long-winded, analytical and philosophical or stream of consciousness answers are best avoided and may even hinder progress. Just listen very closely to the answers that arise in you, and answer to the very best of your ability at that time. (Read the article at http://www.liberationunleashed.com/Arti ... ience.html for more help on distinguishing what is direct experience.)

Put aside all other teachings, philosophies etc. for the duration of this investigation. Really put all your effort and attention into seeing this reality, as it is. (If you have a daily and essential meditation practice, it's ok to continue with that. And it's fine to read threads in this forum and the Gateless Gatecrashers book.)

Please learn to use the quote function, see viewtopic.php?f=4&t=660 for instructions.

If you haven't already seen it, there is intro info at http://www.liberationunleashed.com/, together with our disclaimer and a short video.

Please confirm that you have seen these, that you agree to the disclaimer and then we'll begin.

Finally, here's a couple of helpful points:
1) You can press 'subscribe to this topic' in the blue bar at the bottom of this page and receive a notification email every time I post here.

2) The site has a nasty habit of logging you out while you write a reply, which can mean you lose what you have written. One way to avoid this is to write elsewhere, then just paste the message into the 'reply' window when you're ready to send.
Looking forward to working with you.
Hugs Sarah xxx
If you understand, things are just as they are; if you do not understand, things are just as they are.

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Re: Ready for Anything - Firelight

Postby Firelight » Sun Jun 14, 2015 5:49 pm

Thanks, Sarah, for the excellent information and introduction to the process here. I am greatly encouraged by the clear and thorough structure the LU has devised for this endeavor. I have read and viewed the intro information, disclaimer, and video. Thanks, too, for the tip about how to avoid the reply logout problem. I will definitely do what you say there. Everything is understood and I feel ready to proceed whenever you have the time. I know I focused a bit too much on my "story" in my initial post. I know that ultimately all such stories are irrelevant, but the main thing for me, Sarah, is that I see with total clarity that there really never was a separate entity behind my lifelong belief in one. The intellectual understanding of this truth is there, but the living of it definitely isn't.

I hope this finds you well. Looking forward to hearing from you again!

With gratitude,

Jim

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Re: Ready for Anything - Firelight

Postby Sarah7 » Sun Jun 14, 2015 8:41 pm

Postby Sarah7 » June 5th, 2015, 7:05 am
Hi Jim
So lets begin then!
How do you think, feel or experience the 'self', 'I' or ‘me’'?

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?

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?

Now have a really good look and tell me 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?

Can anything exist outside the present moment? Can you find anything that does?

In your direct experience, is there anything permanent right now?
Hugs Sarah xxx
If you understand, things are just as they are; if you do not understand, things are just as they are.

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Re: Ready for Anything - Firelight

Postby Firelight » Mon Jun 15, 2015 5:14 am

Hi Jim
Hi Sarah.
So lets begin then!
Sounds good!
How do you think, feel or experience the 'self', 'I' or ‘me’'?

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?
It definitely feels VERY thick, solid, permanent (although extremely fragile/vulnerable),and like its in the middle of every experience I have. I have to say also that it feels very much part of the body/physical experience, and that my awareness is a product of my brain. This really hasn't seemed to have changed much through the years. In fact, I cannot remember a time when it didn't weigh on me as part of everything I have experienced, always judging what each experience meant to it in terms of what I needed to do to survive. Strangely enough, however, I am unable to assign a color, shape, texture, or size to it.
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?
It is sort of made up of a gestalt of thoughts, feelings, sensations, emotions, etc., and yes it does appear to have volition in the sens of decision-making. This seems to be less so in the case of thoughts and emotions, which just come and go from where I cannot fathom--and yet, I do feel that the I/me/self does have some role in creating them (unconsciously?).
Now have a really good look and tell me 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?
The focal point of it seems to be located inside my head, although that point seems to be the culmination of an almost-infinite chain of sub-points of consciousness located throughout all the cells of my body. So no, I cannot pinpoint an exact reference point for it, it has been impossible for me to discount the above-described intuition of how it works.
Can anything exist outside the present moment? Can you find anything that does?
No, nothing in my direct experience exists outside the present moment. But the problem is that I cannot shake the inference from the I/self that they indeed do!
In your direct experience, is there anything permanent right now?
Just a vague, diffuse sense of conceptual/mental suffering.

I hope I've been clear enough here to give you something to work with. Part of my problem with self-inquiry is that I have always had difficult putting my direct experience into concrete terms, such as this, but I will continue to do my best.

Hugs,

Jim

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Re: Ready for Anything - Firelight

Postby Sarah7 » Mon Jun 15, 2015 1:59 pm

Hi Jim
Thanks for that Jim – yes it was clear and yes I will ask if there is something not clear to me. Please do the same!

OK – so Im going to poke around a bit and see where you are. Whilst Im doing that I may give what seems like simple tasks. Please bear with me!

Id like you to just sit for 5-10 minutes with a paper and pen and I want you to record everything you notice from your ‘I’ list. I want you too look at what experiences come up, what actions you notice, what labels you see and WHERE they are applied, what feelings and emotions come up, and what sensations arise. Don’t add to what shows itself, don’t analyse, just plain description. Watch the body for any sensations like relaxing or tightening. Just write me a list like - I am lying in bed, I am hearing the rain, I am writing this list, I can feel a sensation of relaxing etc….

Id like you then to repeat the exercise doing exactly the same as you did above, but this time I don’t want you to use the word ‘I’ or ‘me’ when you write the list of what you notice. Again don’t add to what shows itself, don’t analyse, just plain description. Watch the body for any sensations like relaxing or tightening. Just write me a list like - waiting for the next thought, writing, breathing, listening, relaxing sensation etc…
What do you notice from doing the two looking exercises? Which feels truer?

If you say ‘my money’ and compare it to ‘money’, ‘my relationship’ compared to ‘relationship’ or ‘my time’ compared to ‘time’ – does if feel different? Does one feel heavier than the other?

Now I want you to look during your day at how labelling happens. See if you can catch ‘I’, ‘I’m’, ‘me’, ‘my’, ‘mine’, ‘I’ve’, etc See if you can see what you apply it too. Is it applied to doing, thinking etc? Is it all the time, most of the time? Is it like a commentary or like an ownership?
Hugs Sarah xxx
If you understand, things are just as they are; if you do not understand, things are just as they are.

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Re: Ready for Anything - Firelight

Postby Firelight » Tue Jun 16, 2015 3:52 am

Id like you to just sit for 5-10 minutes with a paper and pen and I want you to record everything you notice from your ‘I’ list. I want you too look at what experiences come up, what actions you notice, what labels you see and WHERE they are applied, what feelings and emotions come up, and what sensations arise. Don’t add to what shows itself, don’t analyse, just plain description. Watch the body for any sensations like relaxing or tightening. Just write me a list like - I am lying in bed, I am hearing the rain, I am writing this list, I can feel a sensation of relaxing etc….
I am sitting on the couch in my living room. It is quiet and warm, and the sun is shining through the windows. I hear our cat snoring. I feel some tension in my neck, scalp, and forehead, and I have a slight headache. I also feel some I feel the contact between the laptop computer I'm typing this on and my lap and fingers. I feel my lips touching each other lightly and my feet touching each other where they are crossed. There is some moderate indigestion pressure coming up in my chest.
Id like you then to repeat the exercise doing exactly the same as you did above, but this time I don’t want you to use the word ‘I’ or ‘me’ when you write the list of what you notice. Again don’t add to what shows itself, don’t analyse, just plain description. Watch the body for any sensations like relaxing or tightening. Just write me a list like - waiting for the next thought, writing, breathing, listening, relaxing sensation etc…
Watching through the window, typing, breathing, contraction of the arm muscles, acidic heat in the stomach, waiting for the next thought, slight breeze from the ceiling fan, silence.
What do you notice from doing the two looking exercises? Which feels truer?
Because I didn't refer the feelings and sensations back to a person, everything was just happening freely, and without the added burden of mental interpretation. It all seemed much less problematic.
If you say ‘my money’ and compare it to ‘money’, ‘my relationship’ compared to ‘relationship’ or ‘my time’ compared to ‘time’ – does if feel different? Does one feel heavier than the other?
Yes, it feels much less problematic, just as in the above example. Its more of a neutral feeling as it has nothing to do with me, personally.
Now I want you to look during your day at how labelling happens. See if you can catch ‘I’, ‘I’m’, ‘me’, ‘my’, ‘mine’, ‘I’ve’, etc See if you can see what you apply it too. Is it applied to doing, thinking etc? Is it all the time, most of the time? Is it like a commentary or like an ownership?
Yes, Sarah, I've been watching this all day today, and I was able to catch myself using those first-person references. Its very habitual, but sounds strange when looked at objectively like that. And yes, "I" apply it routinely to all doing, thinking, and experiencing of every kind! It is indeed a running commentary on experiences "I" claim to own.

Even though I see this clearly, however, it seems impossible to challenge the reality of that commentary's assertions, again, giving one the impression that there must be something very solid behind them. Having said that, I feel that there is some loosening taking place somewhere. I can't wait to hear where we go from here.

With much gratitude,

Jim

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Re: Ready for Anything - Firelight

Postby Sarah7 » Tue Jun 16, 2015 7:59 am

Marvelous start Jim!
I've been watching this all day today, and I was able to catch myself using those first-person references. Its very habitual, but sounds strange when looked at objectively like that. And yes, "I" apply it routinely to all doing, thinking, and experiencing of every kind! It is indeed a running commentary on experiences "I" claim to own.
So then is it labelled before, during or after? Can you see that?
Even though I see this clearly, however, it seems impossible to challenge the reality of that commentary's assertions, again, giving one the impression that there must be something very solid behind them. Having said that, I feel that there is some loosening taking place somewhere. I can't wait to hear where we go from here.
Well will get to that as we go Jim! :)

Have you ever noticed sometimes that you arrive at a destination and don't really recall actually making the journey? It was as if the body was just doing its thing, driving just happened. It was as if the body was just doing its thing, driving just happened. It is only afterwards that the mind grabs hold of the experience and states 'I was driving the car' or, if questioned whilst driving (a present continuous activity), it would say 'I am driving the car'.
Whether your mind is totally concentrating on each gear shift that 'I' make, each look in the rear view mirror that 'I' makes, each twist of the steering wheel . . . or the entire journey is done automatically, the same result is achieved. Similarly when doing household tasks.
Whether mind is involved or not, the task still gets accomplished. We call this autopilot. I want you to have a look how much of ‘doing’ is done on autopilot. Let me know what you spot!
Hugs Sarah xxx
If you understand, things are just as they are; if you do not understand, things are just as they are.

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Re: Ready for Anything - Firelight

Postby Firelight » Wed Jun 17, 2015 5:00 am

Hello Sarah. Thanks for the encouragement!

I have been training myself for many years to stay as mindfully aware of the present moment as possible during daily life, observing sense phenomena (both inner and experiences), from as neutral a space as possible. What I see is that the more mindful I am able to be, the more control I seem to have over my actions.

But even after all this time, maintaining such focus is very hard work, and when the mindfulness is allowed to slip, then things tend to happen as you say, with much of it happening on autopilot, with the labelling comeing afterwards.

Still this intense mindfulness approach that I've been using obviously doesn't seem to be working for me, whether in terms of finding peace, coping, or just practical efficiency. indeed, it actually seems to drive my discursive thoughts rather than slowing them down.

I sense that I am my thinking (labelling) mind is totally out of control, but I don't know how to slow it down, if observing as the neutral observer doesn't work. Is slowing the thoughts down (so you can see how they are behaving) even relevant to this investigation? Part of me says of course it is, how could it be otherwise? And another part of me now feels there is something important I've been missing here with it.

What am I supposed to do with that, though? Just give up my human role, sit back and watch everything that happens like a move, not even worrying about what I should be doing, what I'm going to say, etc. (i.e. such as I am doing right now in composing this reply to you?). What is the middle ground here/ Is there a middle ground?

I trust you can point me in the right direction from here, Sarah. Can't wait to hear what you make of all this.

Hugs,

Jim

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Re: Ready for Anything - Firelight

Postby Sarah7 » Wed Jun 17, 2015 8:25 am

Hey Jim
One step at a time Jim! And I have a little habit of answering questions with questions! :)
But even after all this time, maintaining such focus is very hard work, and when the mindfulness is allowed to slip, then things tend to happen as you say, with much of it happening on autopilot, with the labelling comeing afterwards.
Can you give me a rough percentage of how much is noticeably autopilot?
Still this intense mindfulness approach that I've been using obviously doesn't seem to be working for me, whether in terms of finding peace, coping, or just practical efficiency. indeed, it actually seems to drive my discursive thoughts rather than slowing them down. I sense that I am my thinking (labelling) mind is totally out of control, but I don't know how to slow it down, if observing as the neutral observer doesn't work. Is slowing the thoughts down (so you can see how they are behaving) even relevant to this investigation? Part of me says of course it is, how could it be otherwise? And another part of me now feels there is something important I've been missing here with it.
Is there an expectation here that thoughts need to be stopped, controlled or slowed down? Are they the enemy? Would that be another thought about a thought?

What power do thoughts actually have. Give me a few things that thoughts can actually do.

Do you control focus/attention? How? Go right to the process of controlling attention. Then notice what happens?

Do you bring thoughts? If so from where?
Do you send them away? If so where to?
Can you stop them? Choose which thought to have before you think it?

Is the content of thought real?
Hugs Sarah xxx
If you understand, things are just as they are; if you do not understand, things are just as they are.

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Re: Ready for Anything - Firelight

Postby Firelight » Wed Jun 17, 2015 6:19 pm

Hi Sarah,
One step at a time Jim! And I have a little habit of answering questions with questions! :)
No problem at all with that, Sarah. It seems to be working well for me :)
Can you give me a rough percentage of how much is noticeably autopilot?
I would say about 80% of the time.
Is there an expectation here that thoughts need to be stopped, controlled or slowed down?
Yes, that would seem to be necessary if the goal is to dis-identify from them.
Are they the enemy?
They seem to be the enemy when I identify with them, in terms of their ability to keep me on edge about everything and worrying about the future. At the same time, however, thoughts seems absolutely essential to physical survival (if one is to consider that a high priority). This is the main dilemma I haven't been able to resolve.
Would that be another thought about a thought?
Yes, I can't deny that. It is yet another thought about a thought...lol
What power do thoughts actually have. Give me a few things that thoughts can actually do.
Again--in terms of their relevance to physical survival and success on the material plane--the clarity of one's thinking appears absolutely critical to the decision-making process, which in turn can result in either advancing one's life prospects or sabotaging them. It seems that by carefully examining my options and correlating all the available data I have with respect to a decision, I have the best chances of acting in ways that will advance me toward fulfillment of my goal (e.g. figuring out my next career moves and how to achieve some measure of financial security).
Do you control focus/attention? How? Go right to the process of controlling attention. Then notice what happens?


When focusing on a certain topic or activity (e.g. revising my business plan, researching more effective marketing ideas, etc.), I feel as though I am at least generating the basic contours of the thoughts that are produced in response. Sometimes, however, I'm not able to maintain such a strong focus, and uninvited subject matter intrudes in the process, sometimes to the extent of leading me totally away from what I originally intended to focus on.

When I used to do sitting meditation or when I now try to watch my thoughts in an effort to slow them down, I felt that those few brief moments of pure awareness that come out of it energize my creativity in a way that focused thought does not. This too seems to take a lot of mental effort to achieve, though, and I have not been able to reconcile the discrepancy, which is extremely frustrating to me (which ironically results in the generation of more self-critical thoughts!)
Do you bring thoughts? If so from where?
I cannot prove it through direct experience, and there is no way that I could explain it logically, but there is a strong sense here that most of my thoughts emerge from a cellular level within my body. based upon my past conditioning and the way I have been conditioned by my experiences to view the world and my place in it. Having said that, the "thought" rings true that they probably come from nowhere at all (i.e. they just "happen" without any cause), but that is a very tough sell for the physical part of me that is very invested in the belief that focused/controlled thinking is essential for survival/life-situation improvement.
Do you send them away? If so where to?
Well, like I said with regards to my above comments on meditation, it sometimes seems like I can let go of them and experience a thoughtless state for a few moments at a time. Or, at least change the direction of my thinking if I try hard enough.
Can you stop them? Choose which thought to have before you think it?
No, I can't really do either. I probably just talk myself into believing that I can, after the fact (again based on my past conditioning). But still, such an acknowledgment doesn't seem to do anything to relieve my worries regarding solving my present challenges.
Is the content of thought real?
Its real in the sense that it manifests itself at some level. If it didn't, we wouldn't even be discussing it. Its a phenomena, but the question for me is, "Is it something I should be paying any attention to?" And if not, how am I supposed to respond to its spontaneous creation which consumes my entire field of experience?

Hoping this finds you doing well, Sarah. Please know how very much I appreciate your continuing to guide me!

Hugs,

Jim

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Re: Ready for Anything - Firelight

Postby Sarah7 » Thu Jun 18, 2015 8:44 am

Hi Sarah,
Yes, that would seem to be necessary if the goal is to dis-identify from them.
They seem to be the enemy when I identify with them,
OK – do you see that both of these are thoughts too? They are an expectation of what things ‘should’ be like. Therefore everything is compared to them. Do you see that? Can you see these thoughts? And when staring right at them - what do they do?
Again--in terms of their relevance to physical survival and success on the material plane--the clarity of one's thinking appears absolutely critical to the decision-making process,
So decisions are controlled then? So in this case a thought makes an action – yes? All decisions or some? Give me an example of a common decision we can look at in detail.
When focusing on a certain topic or activity
OK you answered the what happens bit – but not the how? Go right to the process of controlling attention. Tell me what ‘you’ do? For example do you decide/think what thought you are going to have before you have it?
I cannot prove it through direct experience, and there is no way that I could explain it logically, but there is a strong sense here that most of my thoughts emerge from a cellular level within my body.
Good first statement – but then look – here we look at direct experience only. What is actually experienced. NOT what is thought to be experienced. So do you actually experience cellular level thoughts? Or is that a thought story placed on top of a sensation – have a look.
Having said that, the "thought" rings true that they probably come from nowhere at all (i.e. they just "happen" without any cause), but that is a very tough sell for the physical part of me that is very invested in the belief that focused/controlled thinking is essential for survival/life-situation improvement.
Lovely and of course – never said this is easy! It will challenge every belief you have! But all I ask is that you look.
Well, like I said with regards to my above comments on meditation, it sometimes seems like I can let go of them and experience a thoughtless state for a few moments at a time. Or, at least change the direction of my thinking if I try hard enough.
When focusing – is there a story attached to that? A thought or a few thoughts? Is there a commentary?
No, I can't really do either. I probably just talk myself into believing that I can, after the fact (again based on my past conditioning). But still, such an acknowledgment doesn't seem to do anything to relieve my worries regarding solving my present challenges.
OK – can you give me a rough percentage of how much time is spent on future thoughts? How much on past thoughts? How much on present moment?
Its real in the sense that it manifests itself at some level.

So if you think about Santa – then he’s real? Is the thought the thing? Is the thought water actually water? Can a thought ‘know’ anything?
Hugs Sarah xxx
If you understand, things are just as they are; if you do not understand, things are just as they are.

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Re: Ready for Anything - Firelight

Postby Firelight » Fri Jun 19, 2015 6:59 am

OK – do you see that both of these are thoughts too? They are an expectation of what things ‘should’ be like. Therefore everything is compared to them. Do you see that? Can you see these thoughts? And when staring right at them - what do they do?
Touche', Sarah! You're absolutely right. What was I thinking...lol No need at all to slow them down, as "dis-identification" is only a label for something that really has no substance. When I look straight at these thoughts they simply dissolve into open awareness.
So decisions are controlled then? So in this case a thought makes an action – yes? All decisions or some? Give me an example of a common decision we can look at in detail.
Okay, I'm game. How about the decision as to how much time to put into trying to make more money versus just relaxing and enjoying something fun and relaxing instead?
OK you answered the what happens bit – but not the how? Go right to the process of controlling attention. Tell me what ‘you’ do? For example do you decide/think what thought you are going to have before you have it?
There is an intense effort to prioritize my thought energy and screen out all thinking about subjects that are not connected with the priority issue(s). I then define the problem or goal, consider my options, and weigh them in putting together a proposed course of action most likely to solve it or achieving the goal.
Good first statement – but then look – here we look at direct experience only.
Interesting...I think this is where I really run into problems, Sarah--i.e. limiting the inquiry to only direct experience, as again, there must be something behind the direct experience driving it and making it appear one way rather than another, doesn't there? Is this where I'm going wrong somehow? Because if looking at my direct experience is the only thing that is truly important, then it would seem that this means I can just stop trying to figure it all out now, right?
What is actually experienced. NOT what is thought to be experienced. So do you actually experience cellular level thoughts? Or is that a thought story placed on top of a sensation – have a look.
No, I can't say that I directly experience cellular level thoughts. It is merely an inference based on my best assessment of the cause of my thinking, based on my accumulated knowledge of science. Yes, you could call that a "story" if you choose, but again, without accepting the validity of logic (which always posits that there is a cause for every effect), then it seems one would have nothing to base one's values, decision, actions, etc. on. This, to me, would seem to be a problem, is it not?
Lovely and of course – never said this is easy! It will challenge every belief you have! But all I ask is that you look.
Thank you, Sarah, for your patience. Yes, I am committed to seeing this through. I didn't expect it to be easy, but I already feel that some things in my self-schema are beginning to unravel. Not sure where that's going, but I'm more interested than ever in finding out :-)
When focusing – is there a story attached to that? A thought or a few thoughts? Is there a commentary?
As mentioned above, I agree that one can always describe one's logical inferences as a "story," but what I want to know is what exactly does that mean? Stories (e.g. certain myths, novels, etc.) can encompass timeless truths and change the course of history. Of course, I know you're going to suggest that "history" is just a story, as well. I guess we need to decide how much credence to give the story, and I'm just saying that I don't see how you just dismiss all thought content as a meaningless commentary. Why would any of it appear and reify into such a convincing story of a separate self, unless there was some truth behind it? This is the part I'm having the most trouble getting beyond.
OK – can you give me a rough percentage of how much time is spent on future thoughts? How much on past thoughts? How much on present moment?
Sure, Sarah. I would say it breaks down roughly, as follows:

50% - Thoughts about the future.
40% - Thoughts about the present.
10% - Thoughts about the past.
So if you think about Santa – then he’s real? Is the thought the thing? Is the thought water actually water? Can a thought ‘know’ anything?
Like I said before, myths are "real" in deeper sense (archetypes), in that they are symbolic of certain psychological and cultural truths. While I don't believe in Santa in his popular form, my understanding is that this legend was based on very ancient historical roots, and probably a real person or (amalgamation of people) who did good things and which teaches certain important values (see https://en.wikipedia.org/?title=Santa_Claus

I promise I'm not trying to be difficult here, Sarah, and I realize the historical story about the origins of Santa isn't direct experienc, but this is what I'm dealing with in trying to come to terms with the idea that there really is no separate self. Is there any hope for me?

Big hug,

Jim


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