freedom from the character I've created to protect myself

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gobs
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freedom from the character I've created to protect myself

Postby gobs » Wed Feb 27, 2019 6:03 pm

LU is focused guiding for seeing there is no real, inherent 'self' - what do you understand by this?
When you inquire into the "I" at the center of all self-referential thinking, nothing can ever be found. I understand this both intellectually, and experientially in my own practice. Though hundreds of "I" thoughts have been seen through, there still seems to be a recycling where thoughts reemerge.

What are you looking for at LU?
I am looking for pointing that can meet me where I currently am. I am not yet ready to give up my family, I still want to be able to function in the world as a Father and a Husband. However, I want to live courageously and with absolute faith in the Truth. I am tired of holding together the story that is my life. I am tired of playing different characters, for different people, because I am desperate for validation and I fear being unloved.

What do you expect from a guided conversation?
If a guide is addressing me directly, I hope this direct questioning will take me to a more immediate experience of the Truth than I have gained from reading or watching videos alone. If the inquiry is directed to 'me' in this moment, it should have more power.

What is your experience in terms of spiritual practices, seeking and inquiry?
I have been watching Advaita Vedanta teachers on Youtube for about 8 years now. My 'practice' is questioning the root of identity in my suffering thoughts, when that suffering gets to be too much to bear. I guess I have been trying to escape life through my practice, but have not really found a solid foundation to give me the courage to truly face life in all its challenges.

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

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gobs
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Re: freedom from the character I've created to protect myself

Postby gobs » Thu Feb 28, 2019 1:32 pm

Today marks a milestone birthday. I feel sadness

By some accounts, I have now moved into 'middle age'. I cannot believe how quickly the past 5 years have passed, and I am not any closer to happiness or fulfillment in my life.

Life seems to be accelerating as I get older. The story of my life is ending more quickly, with every passing year.

When we are young, it seems like the future is infinite. All possibilities are open in front of us. Now, with half my life gone by, I am left with a very narrow range of possibilities, and what was once infinite seems to be shrinking day by day.

Whose story is it that is ending? I will try to inquire into this "I" thought.

I saw something that frightened me yesterday

There was an image on the television that sent strong waves of fear through my body. Fear is such a strong emotion for me, when I am overcome by its intense energy, I cannot find the space to inquire at that moment.

I have had irrational fears of the supernatural since I was a child. There has always been the threat of some monster, that is just outside of my awareness that could surprise me and destroy me at any moment.

The scary picture had large, intense eyes. These eyes seem to cut right through everything and stare into my soul. Who is the one who is seen by these eyes? Who could this monster jump out and attack? I tried to inquire into these thoughts. Where is the 'me' that is vulnerable? I want to hide from the monster's gaze, but where is the 'me' that those large eyes can see? I felt some relief as I investigated, but ultimately hit some sort of 'wall' where I could not go beyond. Ultimately, some force in me turned back away from the fear rather than facing it.

I intuitively know that this fear, my most intense emotion energetically, holds a clue to my investigation.

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Florisness
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Re: freedom from the character I've created to protect myself

Postby Florisness » Tue Mar 12, 2019 10:43 am

Hi gobe,

Thank you for sharing that. I would be happy to help out, if you like.
I am looking for pointing that can meet me where I currently am. I am not yet ready to give up my family, I still want to be able to function in the world as a Father and a Husband. However, I want to live courageously and with absolute faith in the Truth. I am tired of holding together the story that is my life. I am tired of playing different characters, for different people, because I am desperate for validation and I fear being unloved.
This is very good. You don't have to give up your family or anything else. It's good that you're tired of the story, that can help you have the willingness to actually LOOK and not just theorize.

I've read your second post, and hope that this investigation can put things into a little different perspective or non-issue :)

There are a few ground rules though:
- Try posting every day, in this way there will be a momentum.
- Try being as honest as possible
- What we do here is simple, we look at our experience. Please read: http://www.liberationunleashed.com/reso ... xperience/ This part is very important.
- I would ask questions, you will look deeply and honestly and respond.
- Please learn to use the quote function; viewtopic.php?f=4&t=660

If you could confirm you have seen all the above and would like me to be your guide - then we can begin.

Floris

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Re: freedom from the character I've created to protect myself

Postby Florisness » Tue Mar 12, 2019 10:44 am

Sorry gobs, I misread your name in my previous post.

Take care,

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gobs
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Re: freedom from the character I've created to protect myself

Postby gobs » Tue Mar 12, 2019 1:51 pm

Hello Floris,

Thank you so much for responding. I would be honored to have you as my guide.

I will do my very best to abide by the ground rules. Please do not hesitate to call me out, if my responses do not align accordingly.
What we do here is simple, we look at our experience. Please read: http://www.liberationunleashed.com/reso ... xperience/ This part is very important.
I think I understand intellectually, but to be honest with my direct experience...there still seems to be a separate "I" entity here who is experiencing the 'outside' world.

Please proceed with the first question, when you have time, and I will answer as honestly as possible from my direct experience.

Thanks again,

Gobs

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Re: freedom from the character I've created to protect myself

Postby Florisness » Tue Mar 12, 2019 6:46 pm

Hi Gobs,

Thank you so much for responding. I would be honored to have you as my guide.

I will do my very best to abide by the ground rules. Please do not hesitate to call me out, if my responses do not align accordingly.
great. And no worries, the zen stick is waiting for you to slip off ;-)

I think I understand intellectually, but to be honest with my direct experience...there still seems to be a separate "I" entity here who is experiencing the 'outside' world.
Good, we will investigate this.

I would like to point out that any expectations often get in the way. So notice any expectations that might be running concerning how seeing or realisation would occur, what it would be like, what would change, etc and know or consider that they might not be accurate or helpful.

there still seems to be a separate "I" entity here who is experiencing the 'outside' world.
that's a good start.
Could you try to make a sort of description of what this entity is? Look at this experience you have you think of as an entity, as if it's the first time you ever experienced it. What is it made of, and does seem like it can do things and perceive things? it doesnt need to be true what you come up with, don't worry about that, just try to get a sense of what this entity experience is like. tell me what your findings

Floris

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gobs
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Re: freedom from the character I've created to protect myself

Postby gobs » Wed Mar 13, 2019 1:46 pm

notice any expectations that might be running concerning how seeing or realisation would occur, what it would be like, what would change, etc and know or consider that they might not be accurate or helpful
I guess I am expecting the story of 'me' to change, to transform into an endless and perfect state of blissful happiness. Thinking about it now, I don't even know what that would look like.

I understand that realization is not about enhancing the ego's story. Still there is some element of 'hope' that this is not really the truth, and that there can be some happy ending for 'me'. But how can there be an ending? Life is continuously moving. Logically I know that this cannot make sense.

"I" exist only in time. How could "I" ever be happy in some static unchanging state?

"I" the ego is the source of all suffering, which at times can seem unbearable. So I understand that suffering cannot disappear until "I" disappear. But I do not want to disappear. As much as believe the story torments me, I am attached to the story and do not want it to end.
Could you try to make a sort of description of what this entity is?
I sat with this question for quite some time. I could not find any consistent entity there.

I guess there are still some thoughts that feel automatic, and others that I am in control of... or rather, I have the automatic thought "I need to regain control". Like when I found my attention drifting from this exercise, and a few minutes later would find myself doing something else, I would have a feeling of guilt that I had lost control of my automatic thoughts and behaviors. Then when I was able to regain my focus and begin the exercise myself, I felt like this was the 'true' me regaining control over what I previously lost control of.

Every thought has an self-referential 'I' in it. Although I can see that maybe that 'I' in each thought is separate from the next, somehow it feels like there is a common entity referred to in each. I understand that in Truth, these thoughts of 'I' stand alone and appear and disappear on their own, yet in my experience there seems to be a consistent thread.
and does seem like it can do things
Sometimes, but mostly I am out of control. I see now that this has been a large part of suffering in my life. The thought 'you need to do this, or you need to not do this', but the reality is that 'I' am completely out of control.

In the moment where I regain control, it feels like 'I' am doing something. After the action is taken, I can see that maybe it was still automatic, I cannot find the exact moment where I had the thought to act or where it came from. I might even realize this immediately after the thought and action occur. But in the moment they are occurring, it feels like I am an entity who is steering the ship.
and perceive things?
Yes, absolutely. I feel like 'I' am the perceiver of all. I am at the center of this experience. The sense most identified with this is sight, as my eyes can see the world around me, and therefore I feel like I have a consistent position in the world and that is where 'I' exist.

Hope my rambling thoughts make sense, thanks again for taking the time to guide me!

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Re: freedom from the character I've created to protect myself

Postby Florisness » Wed Mar 13, 2019 4:27 pm

Hello,

Hope my rambling thoughts make sense, thanks again for taking the time to guide me!
my pleasure, and you're doing very well!

I guess I am expecting the story of 'me' to change, to transform into an endless and perfect state of blissful happiness. Thinking about it now, I don't even know what that would look like.
haha, yes that's a common one. It's not realistic this is going to happen, so if you can just try to notice those expectations for what they are.

"I" the ego is the source of all suffering, which at times can seem unbearable. So I understand that suffering cannot disappear until "I" disappear. But I do not want to disappear. As much as believe the story torments me, I am attached to the story and do not want it to end.
that's good noticing. It's normal to have attachments to those stories, but you'd be just fine without them.

I guess there are still some thoughts that feel automatic, and others that I am in control of... or rather, I have the automatic thought "I need to regain control". Like when I found my attention drifting from this exercise, and a few minutes later would find myself doing something else, I would have a feeling of guilt that I had lost control of my automatic thoughts and behaviors. Then when I was able to regain my focus and begin the exercise myself, I felt like this was the 'true' me regaining control over what I previously lost control of.
yes good work, some noteworthy things in your description there.
So here: "I felt like this was the 'true' me regaining control over what I previously lost control of." so previously some actions were taking place, rather unconsciously and when it was noticed there came the feeling of a "true me" which was regaining control. Is this an accurate interpretation of what you said?
So this true me wasn't felt/experienced earlier but came on later when something was noticed. So what is exactly this true me? If it wasn't felt/experienced earlier, could it be that it was or is only a feeling/sense of 'me'?

Can you see if you can find the following things.
- can you find something that could be in or out of control over actions or thoughts?
- can you find something that is doing these exercises?
- can something be found that can regain control?

In the moment where I regain control, it feels like 'I' am doing something. After the action is taken, I can see that maybe it was still automatic, I cannot find the exact moment where I had the thought to act or where it came from. I might even realize this immediately after the thought and action occur. But in the moment they are occurring, it feels like I am an entity who is steering the ship.
Yes the same as the previous point. In actuality there is no entity who is steering the ship at all, but it can certainly feel like that at times.
Because, aren't you talking about a feeling here? "it feels like I am an entity who is steering the ship."

Yes, absolutely. I feel like 'I' am the perceiver of all. I am at the center of this experience. The sense most identified with this is sight, as my eyes can see the world around me, and therefore I feel like I have a consistent position in the world and that is where 'I' exist.
Clear, we can look into this later.

Floris

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Re: freedom from the character I've created to protect myself

Postby gobs » Fri Mar 15, 2019 2:46 am

my pleasure, and you're doing very well!
Thank you again for your support and guidance
Is this an accurate interpretation of what you said?
yes, exactly
So this true me wasn't felt/experienced earlier but came on later when something was noticed. So what is exactly this true me? If it wasn't felt/experienced earlier, could it be that it was or is only a feeling/sense of 'me'?
yes, it is certainly possible that it is just another thought and was not experienced earlier

I guess in the past I thought of it as maybe falling asleep. losing my conscious ‘higher mind‘ to the automatic urges, and waking up minutes or hours later to realize I had been asleep and out of control. Like gaining awareness in a lucid dream. But if this is the case, what control did i have of when I ‘woke up’ and regained control. I guess it was automatic as well
- can you find something that could be in or out of control over actions or thoughts?
- can you find something that is doing these exercises?
- can something be found that can regain control?
I have been contemplating these questions for a long time today. I want to spend more time on them, but in keeping with the rule to respond every day, I will do so now.

No, I cannot find anything there at all when I look. I cannot even find who is writing this or contemplating these questions when I look. I cannot find who is looking.

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Re: freedom from the character I've created to protect myself

Postby Florisness » Fri Mar 15, 2019 10:56 am

I guess in the past I thought of it as maybe falling asleep. losing my conscious ‘higher mind‘ to the automatic urges, and waking up minutes or hours later to realize I had been asleep and out of control. Like gaining awareness in a lucid dream. But if this is the case, what control did i have of when I ‘woke up’ and regained control. I guess it was automatic as well
Good ponderings
No, I cannot find anything there at all when I look. I cannot even find who is writing this or contemplating these questions when I look. I cannot find who is looking.
Excellent, now that we made more of an opening into this, let's look at the matter from another angle. If it goes too fast for you at any point, please tell.

Let's investigate perceiving, most people feel that they are entities who are perceiving things, like the sight of a dog, the sound of a car, the sensations of touching something. This is evident in statements such as 'I am seeing a hand'. There are 3 assumptions there to look at now:
- The 'I am' which is seeing the hand'
- The 'seeing' which is what this 'I' is doing/undergoing
- The 'hand' which is the seen object by the 'I'.

To investigate/contemplate.
Optimally be somewhere where you can be relaxed and undisturbed, pull out your hand, or any other object you like, and look at it. Then answer these questions from your experience:
- Can you find an I which is (doing) seeing?
- Can you find eyes or anything else, which are (doing) seeing?
- Can you find the experience 'the seen thing, e.g. the hand' going to a place in the head where it is received?
- Can you find something which is intrepeting the seen thing?

After these, 'go to' (notice) the experience called seeing, and then 'go to' the experience called the seen thing, e.g. the hand. Toggle your attention between the place/experience of these two thing, the 'seeing' and the 'seen thing(s)', and answer:
- Are these 2 pointers leading you to different experiences, or are they referring to the same experience?
- Would it be accurate to say these are (seeing and the seen) the same experience?

After that, what do you think about the statement 'I see a hand'? is this your experience, or if not, then what is?

Good luck!:)

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Re: freedom from the character I've created to protect myself

Postby gobs » Fri Mar 15, 2019 8:13 pm

- Can you find an I which is (doing) seeing?
Not when I look, no. The illusion only persists when it is not being questioned.
- Can you find eyes or anything else, which are (doing) seeing?
- Can you find the experience 'the seen thing, e.g. the hand' going to a place in the head where it is received?
No, but to be honest, I have never experienced 'eyes' or the place in the brain where vision is received. These are beliefs that I was taught in my life, but they are abstract concepts when compared to my direct experience. Seeing just 'is', and that's how it has always been from my perspective.
- Can you find something which is intrepeting the seen thing?
No. There are thoughts that are interpreting, distracting, trying to understand, etc... but if I look at any particular one of them I can see that there is no one there. If I am not questioning, then the illusion remains that these thoughts are my own.
- Are these 2 pointers leading you to different experiences, or are they referring to the same experience?
- Would it be accurate to say these are (seeing and the seen) the same experience?
Yes, I can see now that the seeing of the hand, and the hand which is seen are the same experience.

The thoughts that are interpreting it are a separate experience. These two experiences seem to get interwoven, but I can see that they are separate.

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Re: freedom from the character I've created to protect myself

Postby Florisness » Fri Mar 15, 2019 8:39 pm

Hi Gobs,
No, but to be honest, I have never experienced 'eyes' or the place in the brain where vision is received. These are beliefs that I was taught in my life, but they are abstract concepts when compared to my direct experience. Seeing just 'is', and that's how it has always been from my perspective.
Do you mean that you never really believed eyes, brain, or whatever was doing seeing?
No. There are thoughts that are interpreting, distracting, trying to understand, etc... but if I look at any particular one of them I can see that there is no one there. If I am not questioning, then the illusion remains that these thoughts are my own.
good noticing! :)
The thoughts that are interpreting it are a separate experience. These two experiences seem to get interwoven, but I can see that they are separate.
Yes, yes! Glad you noticed that. noticing this in emotional reactions also lowers the intensity a lot, thought and feeling get mingled up there, creating the emotion.

How about feeling? Let's broaden what we did with seeing, and apply it to the feeling aspect. I won't go into hearing, smelling, tasting, but you could do it on your own if you want to explore this. If so, I suggest looking into hearing, the other 2 senses are less significant.

Normally we say 'I feel a table', so, let's explore that. Put your hand on something that gives some sensations to work with, e.g. the table, close your eyes and inquire:
- can you find something which is doing the feeling? An I, a hand, a body..
- without refering or using thought, can you find something that is the object of the feeling (like a table)? Or perhaps do you just find sensations?
- what could be said about the experience, without believing thought?
- do you notice how images/thoughts are imposed onto the experience?
- Do you find the sensations going to a perceiver or interpreter?

After doing that, is 'I feel a table' your experience? If not, then how does feeling work?

Floris

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Re: freedom from the character I've created to protect myself

Postby gobs » Sat Mar 16, 2019 9:04 pm

Do you mean that you never really believed eyes, brain, or whatever was doing seeing?
I did believe it. I suppose I trusted the education from others over my own direct experience. My direct experience was always just 'seeing', but thoughts and beliefs that came after that would say 'my eyes are seeing'.
- can you find something which is doing the feeling? An I, a hand, a body..
No, I cannot find it in my direct experience. There are many thoughts and images in my mind's eye (eyes are closed) about what my hands and body look like. But these thoughts come after the direct sensation of feeling.

It is very hard to separate them. I am having more difficulty with this exercise than the vision. Especially with my eyes closed. It is easier for my mind to go into imagination and for me to lose focus on the direct experience of the present moment.
- without refering or using thought, can you find something that is the object of the feeling (like a table)? Or perhaps do you just find sensations?
No, the table is an interpretation in my mind that comes after the sensation. When I am truly in the present moment focused on the sensation, there is no difference between hands and table. There is only one sensation of hands on table.
- what could be said about the experience, without believing thought?
I don't know. Without thought, the experience just is. I wanted to say it was a pleasant feeling experience, but also that is a thought. There is no way for me to describe anything about the experience without thought.
- do you notice how images/thoughts are imposed onto the experience?
Yes, constantly. And they are always changing. But they are separate.

I am having trouble focusing on the experience without thought. I know that the feeling is there when I'm not thinking about it, but I cannot find any way to describe it or interpret it without thought. It almost seems like it is in the distant background, and the thoughts that rush in are very loud and in the foreground.
- Do you find the sensations going to a perceiver or interpreter?
Not in my direct experience, no. I cannot find any perceiver. The sensations are merely perceived, and then thoughts/interpretations are perceived. I can see this clearly for only brief glimpses, most of the time it is hard to separate the two.

I also have many thoughts coming in that say 'This is crazy... of course you have hands and a body. You are deluding yourself by asking these questions. What are you trying to accomplish?' They make me very restless and it is difficult to sit with this exercise for long periods of time.
After doing that, is 'I feel a table' your experience? If not, then how does feeling work?
Not really. Even though I am having trouble controlling my mind, I do not have a strong experience of 'I feel a table'. There is feeling, and then there are thoughts which interpret feeling. Feeling is another phenomenon just like vision or sound. The mind tries to interpret and tie all these experiences together.

I'm not sure if I'm ready to move on. I think I have experienced the separation of feeling and thoughts, but my mind is telling me things like 'you're not ready... you will never understand' and other things that doubt whether or not I'm on the right track.

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Re: freedom from the character I've created to protect myself

Postby Florisness » Sun Mar 17, 2019 10:35 am

Hello,

I am having trouble focusing on the experience without thought. I know that the feeling is there when I'm not thinking about it, but I cannot find any way to describe it or interpret it without thought. It almost seems like it is in the distant background, and the thoughts that rush in are very loud and in the foreground.

I also have many thoughts coming in that say 'This is crazy... of course you have hands and a body. You are deluding yourself by asking these questions. What are you trying to accomplish?' They make me very restless and it is difficult to sit with this exercise for long periods of time.

I'm not sure if I'm ready to move on. I think I have experienced the separation of feeling and thoughts, but my mind is telling me things like 'you're not ready... you will never understand' and other things that doubt whether or not I'm on the right track.
I understand. Honestly I find you're doing very well and give good answers. I'm not expecting or needing your answers to be perfect, or for you to be able to seperate thoughts and sensations completely. The small technical details are not important, and you don't even have to have them correct.
The questions and exercises are just for you to see that your experience is not in line with what thoughts suggest or imply, and that looking into these matters opens you up, beyond just blindly going with what was assumed/conditioned to be true, without need for an (correct) answer per se.
We could not move further as you implied, but in so far I haven't seen reason to, because your answers are already better than I would need them to be :-) For now I'm going on with the next thing, but if the feeling persist to take it more slowly, then please say so.
If you get the bigger picture right, de details will work themselves out, I'd like for you to get the bigger picture, if uncertainties or doubts remain, these might fall away by themselves, or are easily seen through when more progress is made.
So relax, don't effort, don't have the feeling you need to give correct answers/descriptions, just focus on if you can notice what is pointed at. I'm not going to respond to your findings, as they are just spot on.


Let's look at thought in a similar way. This might be more tricky, so if needed we take some extra time. Just follow where the questions leads to, and notice what's there. Some questions might overlap, and some are just the same question, put in a different jacket:)

Please sit, relax, go to the experience called thinking, and inquire:
- can you find a thinker of thought?
- can you find something that knows thought?
- can you find where thoughts come from?
- can you find something that knows or interprets thought?
- can you find anything at all, responsible for thought?
- can you find something thought belongs to?
- can you find an brain, mind or I producing thought?

- is it known what the next thought will be?
- can you select a range of thought, and choose to not have certain thoughts arise?
- can thought be stopped? Not by hitting your head with a pole, or trying to distract yourself, but directly?


Floris

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gobs
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Re: freedom from the character I've created to protect myself

Postby gobs » Sun Mar 17, 2019 8:46 pm

I understand. Honestly I find you're doing very well and give good answers. I'm not expecting or needing your answers to be perfect, or for you to be able to seperate thoughts and sensations completely. The small technical details are not important, and you don't even have to have them correct.
Thank you very much for this feedback. I wanted to be honest about doubts that have arisen. I am afraid that if this process of seeing somehow fails, it will because I was somehow dishonest in my answers.

I do believe that I have understood all of the pointers thus far, through my direct experience. I will try to relax and trust the process as we move forward.
- can you find a thinker of thought?
No. The thinker is a thought. Each thought may or may not have a sense of a thinker. This thinker can not see any other thought.
- can you find something that knows thought?
No, I cannot find anything beyond the thought itself
- can you find where thoughts come from?
No. When unexamined it might seem like thoughts follow a logical path. But this is not always true. Random thoughts pop into awareness all the time. Sometimes they are related to the previous thinking, sometimes they are not. I cannot see where the next thought will come from or what it will be.
- can you find something that knows or interprets thought?
As with the question above, no I cannot find it.
- can you find anything at all, responsible for thought?
This is an illusion that I have struggled with a lot in my life... That somehow I am responsible for thinking myself into and out of bad situations in life. I've spent a lot of time trying to think of ways to fix ongoing problems with myself and the outside world. But it is impossible to use willpower to try and think the next thought... which I hope somehow will solve my life's problems.

I have no control of the next thought. I don't know where it will come from or what it will be. Maybe sometimes it feels like I can access old thoughts in my memory (I now see there is no 'I' choosing to remember thoughts either), but in terms of having a new and insightful thought... it's impossible to control.
- can you find something thought belongs to?
No
- can you find an brain, mind or I producing thought?
No
- is it known what the next thought will be?
No. In between thoughts, there is no one even there to know.

I thought 'ok, I will try to choose the next thought on my own', then there is a space, then there is some other thought. But I do not know what that other thought is until after it has already happened. Who could have chosen it? There is no one
- can you select a range of thought, and choose to not have certain thoughts arise?
No. Despite spending much of my life trying to force out negative thoughts, it is impossible. I proved it once again to myself while doing this exercise. It is impossible to focus on one thought and block out any others.
- can thought be stopped? Not by hitting your head with a pole, or trying to distract yourself, but directly?
There can seem to be space between thoughts, but I cannot stop ongoing thought or stop any new thoughts from appearing.


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