thread for Drewan

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thread for Drewan

Postby perrym » Tue Sep 03, 2013 10:58 pm

Hi Drewan,

Thanks for the invitation to guide you!

A few preliminaries:
  • Please could you confirm that you have read the Disclaimer on the home page
  • This site has a nasty habit of quietly logging you out while you are writing ... then when you click 'submit', it tells you "Oh look, you need to log in!", and you lose everything you have written. To avoid gnashing of teeth, it is best to write your replies elsewhere, then copy and paste them in to the reply window - this way, you still have a copy in case the website has logged you out
  • You may find it helpful to click the 'subscribe topic' link at the very bottom of the page to ensure you get an email whenever a reply comes in
  • Let's aim to write once a day if possible, it is a good way to keep up the momentum
.... so to get the ball rolling, please could you say a little about what brings you here, and particularly, what you think/hope could come out of the process if successful?

Looking forward to hearing from you!

Perry

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Re: thread for Drewan

Postby Drewan » Wed Sep 04, 2013 10:20 pm

Hi Perry,
Thanks for taking me on and setting up this thread. I can confirm that I have read the disclaimer.
What brings me here? My immediate answer is ‘a taste of freedom’. I have been practising Buddhism for a number of years now and in the last two years have felt more and more interested in insight and particularly in investigating self and no self as a means to insight. Somehow I sense this to be an area where profound change can occur for me and this has a taste of freedom.

More recently I have been reading some of the archived threads on this site and trying out observing my experience in terms of the senses; seeing hearing etc and asking what is doing the seeing? Suddenly, while doing this the other day,there was a shift into seeing clearly that there was no me there but just the seeing. It all seemed much simpler than ‘I’ had previously thought and all of a sudden the ‘I’ stories lost their power and there wasn’t much going on at all.

This felt strangely disappointing as a voice started saying ‘but I like me’ and I saw how much is invested in the me story, making it interesting and colourful and dramatic, but all of a sudden it just kind of dropped into a calm inactivity and clear seeing of there not being a me doing the seeing, that ‘I’ was not used to. I felt kind of disillusioned, in the negative sense of the term. The next day there was also fear in my experience, but as the day proceeded my mood lightened as I kept seeing the emptiness of the me-ing that kept arising, usually in the form of thoughts and feelings arising together. The disappointment and the fear subsided into an awareness that this could be the key to really seeing no self and a taste of freedom returned but in a calmer, steady way, no frills attached. I realized that ‘I’ like creating frills and making things more dramatic than they probably really are and somehow this keeps the ‘I’ stories going.

That was five or six days ago and this new awareness has subsided and the old me-ing is up and running again, though with a bit less taking myself seriously. So now if I ask myself ‘what brings me here’ I think it is wanting to deepen this awareness and simple seeing of an emptiness of the selfing that goes on, through dialoguing with you and attending to my experience in ways that will aid this. So I feel like I’ve had a flash of seeing no self but need to enter the territory more deeply and fully and make that a more permanent knowledge or seeing.

This is now also what I think or hope will come out of this process if successful. I got a sense of a radically different perspective that is much less ‘I’ centred and that this could actually be freeing in a deeper and simpler way than I had previously imagined. So all previous thoughts and hopes have been rather blown out of the water since then, though a more ‘I’ centred view of all this has been creeping back in over the last few days. If you had asked me those questions a week ago I would have given you different answers, but this is what is current for me now. . I hope that all makes some sense and if I am completely barking up the wrong tree I hope to find the right tree and to see clearly the truth of no self.

I look forward to engaging in this process with you,

Best wishes,

Drewan

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Re: thread for Drewan

Postby perrym » Sat Sep 07, 2013 11:29 pm

Hi Drewan,

Many thanks for your answers!

Family engagements have made it really difficult to get time in front of the computer for the last couple of nights - I should get some time tomorrow though,

Best wishes, and apologies!

Perry

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Re: thread for Drewan

Postby Drewan » Sun Sep 08, 2013 7:33 pm

That's fine Perry. Thanks for letting me know. Drewan

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Re: thread for Drewan

Postby perrym » Mon Sep 09, 2013 12:21 am

Hi Drewan,

Thanks for painting such a clear picture of where you're at. We're starting off quite a way along the road, really - it seems that you have essentially 'got it', but perhaps it would help to consolidate some more. I'm very happy to kick things around together it if helps!
trying out observing my experience in terms of the senses; seeing hearing etc and asking what is doing the seeing? Suddenly, while doing this the other day,there was a shift into seeing clearly that there was no me there but just the seeing. It all seemed much simpler than ‘I’ had previously thought and all of a sudden the ‘I’ stories lost their power
Good stuff, this is the essence of it all really. Yes it is essentially very simple.
the old me-ing is up and running again
yup, this is normal, I like the term 'me-ing' by the way :-)

So where to from here? Things are moving fast, no doubt, so please feel free to ignore what follows if things have already moved on, but here's what comes to mind based on what you wrote a few days ago:

The first thing is to be clear about the distinction between a 'state' and a 'realisation' ... not that you seem particularly unclear about it, but it is worth mentioning just because a bit of clarity here helps to avoid the pitfall of faulty expectations....

So 'seeing through the illusion of self' is a realisation, a cognitive shift, the opening up of a new perspective on experience, which is essentially irreversible in the sense that something, once seen, is never un-seen. However, this does not mean that one will therefore remain in some particular mental state, or that this realisation will be 'always there' - mental states change, and any mental state that has occurred in the past is likely to occur again. (Profound changes are likely in the longer term, but in the shorter term, often not much!)

Often people feel that the 'state' that follows realisation should last forever, in which case it can be disconcerting when the 'me-ing' starts up again - "hey, have I lost it?". This is just the consequence of faulty expectations, and a bit of a distraction! 'Me-ing' has been going on your entire life, it is not going to drop away all at once. It may be helpful to bear in mind that even when 'me-ing' is going on, no 'me' is actually created thereby!

OK, moving on... so we're not expecting this realisation to be 'always there', but do you find this 'seeing' to be fairly easy to re-connect with? By habit, 'self-based' thoughts and emotions will spark up during the day, but sitting here right now, is it obvious that, although there may be sensations that are habitually labelled 'my self', there is no entity 'self' apart from the components of experience? A little while ago you first noticed that seeing 'just happens', there is no self doing it .... how does it feel to recall this now? Are there other ways that you've found to slip from the habitual assumption of self into the clear perception that there is no self to be found?

One of the places that 'self view' can hang on most stubbornly is in the sense of 'agency', free will, deciding and controlling ... does it seem that there must be an "I" to decide, will and control? What of free will if there is no self? Just describe what comes to mind, there are no marks for right or wrong answers :-)

Lastly, if you recall a state in which the 'sense of self' is really strong, does the 'belief in self' follow, or is it clear that these are just sensations / thoughts / feelings / stories, devoid of really existing self?

Best wishes,

Perry

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Re: thread for Drewan

Postby Drewan » Mon Sep 09, 2013 10:38 pm

Thanks for your reply Perry.

Yes, very interesting stuff! You are right things have moved on so maybe I will say a bit about that first. My behaviour is changing quite markedly! My girlfriend says so, so it must be true! It’s all rather new so I am a bit tentative about this, but there is a new lightness in my experience and a remarkable ability to stay loose to whatever is going on without getting caught up with ‘me’ reactions to events. My girlfriend says I am much more relaxed and kind, which is heartening. I notice tightening and me-ing thoughts happening at times but then it’s like a bubble bursts and I can’t take my ‘self’ seriously and whatever was starting to bother ‘me’ doesn’t seem to matter anymore. While my initial response to this ‘clear seeing’ was a kind of disappointed disillusionment, I am getting a stronger sense of the freedom that can come through not buying into the selfing at all, and that is also heartening, though strangely no big deal because it is the me-ing process which makes things a big deal.

I like and understand the distinction between realisation and experience that you elucidate. I can see that some kind of realisation has probably taken place but the strange thing is that it doesn’t feel like it is ‘mine’, or maybe that isn’t strange and the fact that it doesn’t feel ‘mine’ is the point.

Looking at the questions you ask:
OK, moving on... so we're not expecting this realisation to be 'always there', but do you find this 'seeing' to be fairly easy to re-connect with?

When ‘I’ try to reconnect with ‘it’ tension and tightening arise with trying to connect through thinking, and an experience of frustration ensues. But if I let go a bit and open to ‘something’ that doesn’t seem to be thinking based, then ‘it’ is there. It doesn’t seem to be ‘me’ but that is where the clarity lies, so it seems. Again, this all feels rather new, so that’s my best shot just now. I just read out what I’ve written and laughed out loud – it’s kinda hard to put this into words!

You wrote:
By habit, 'self-based' thoughts and emotions will spark up during the day, but sitting here right now, is it obvious that, although there may be sensations that are habitually labelled 'my self', there is no entity 'self' apart from the components of experience?

Again if ‘I’ try to think about this ‘I’ get quickly discombobulated. It is interesting that you ask if it is obvious. I am hesitant to answer ‘yes’. I can say that I don’t believe there is a self anymore and when I touch into this non-thinking seeing then it seems right, although it’s not cognitively that sophisticated or something?!/? I notice also there are ‘me-ing’ voices expressing fear and wanting to attach to a self as well.

You asked:
A little while ago you first noticed that seeing 'just happens', there is no self doing it .... how does it feel to recall this now? Are there other ways that you've found to slip from the habitual assumption of self into the clear perception that there is no self to be found?

I think this letting go connects me to this, and funnily as I sit here observing and reflecting it feels like it is getting easier to ‘tune in’ through doing this.

I have also been noticing, to my surprise, a clarity around other people when they are expressing views which appear to me to be confused because there is a belief in self in there somewhere. It is like I feel a freedom that is enabling me to see where others are getting caught up. I have had a few interactions recently when this has appeared very obvious to me, and I have felt increasingly clear and confident about my appraisal, and have acted with clarity and also kindness. That feels good, it is like I am not caught up in ‘me-ing’ so there is no ‘me’ in the way of seeing others clearly, so it seems. This isn’t happening all the time but has happened a few times.

You say:
One of the places that 'self view' can hang on most stubbornly is in the sense of 'agency', free will, deciding and controlling ... does it seem that there must be an "I" to decide, will and control? What of free will if there is no self? Just describe what comes to mind, there are no marks for right or wrong answers :-)

When I read this first I burst out laughing. At some level there is no issue with this at all. I haven’t been reflecting on this though, it just doesn’t seem like an issue at present. I am currently trying to make decisions about where to live as I need to move next month. While ‘I’ am engaging in this process and trying to work out the best options, it all feels rather light and ‘it’s in the lap of the gods’ and at a certain level that feels completely fine. This is new for me. In the past ‘I’ have tried to control ‘my’ conditions quite strongly at times but somehow that seems like a bit of a joke now. If experience is just happening without a ‘me’ then ‘I’ don’t need to be that bothered about it.

I just read the above out to my girlfriend and she has reminded me that I was getting a bit anxious when expecting a phone call earlier, so at times I have to say there is a ‘me-ing’ still wanting outcomes and trying to control conditions.

You say:
Lastly, if you recall a state in which the 'sense of self' is really strong, does the 'belief in self' follow, or is it clear that these are just sensations / thoughts / feelings / stories, devoid of really existing self?

No the belief in self does not follow, although I get this ‘thinking’ discombobulation trying to work out the second bit. Actually the sense of self tries to go down the ‘belief in self’ route as of old, but the bubble bursts when awareness comes in, it is not sustainable. This bubble bursting has an immediacy at times which maybe doesn’t relate to ‘these are just sensations/thoughts/ feelings/ stories, devoid of any really existing self’ though as I write it I can see what you mean.

Well it is getting late. That is about it I think. I hope all is well with you, and thanks for taking the time to do this,

Best wishes,

Drewan

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Re: thread for Drewan

Postby perrym » Tue Sep 10, 2013 10:45 pm

Hi Drewan,
My girlfriend says so, so it must be true!
yup, that is incontrovertible proof I'd say :-)
I notice tightening and me-ing thoughts happening at times but then it’s like a bubble bursts and I can’t take my ‘self’ seriously and whatever was starting to bother ‘me’ doesn’t seem to matter anymore.
this is a great description - what you describe is very characteristic of the shift that happens 'post gate'
When ‘I’ try to reconnect with ‘it’ tension and tightening arise with trying to connect through thinking, and an experience of frustration ensues. But if I let go a bit and open to ‘something’ that doesn’t seem to be thinking based, then ‘it’ is there. It doesn’t seem to be ‘me’ but that is where the clarity lies, so it seems. Again, this all feels rather new, so that’s my best shot just now. I just read out what I’ve written and laughed out loud – it’s kinda hard to put this into words!
another great description - this is gold :-)
Again if ‘I’ try to think about this ‘I’ get quickly discombobulated. It is interesting that you ask if it is obvious. I am hesitant to answer ‘yes’. I can say that I don’t believe there is a self anymore and when I touch into this non-thinking seeing then it seems right, although it’s not cognitively that sophisticated or something?!/? I notice also there are ‘me-ing’ voices expressing fear and wanting to attach to a self as well.
interesting, yes, these questions are hooking up your 'thinking' in an unhelpful way, sorry about that! But anyway, you've answered my question loud and clear - the gist being, this was not a one-off flash in the pan, but something that is still alive (in spite of any bouts of 'me-ing')

and on 'free will':
When I read this first I burst out laughing. At some level there is no issue with this at all.
best possible answer :-)

there is, indeed, no issue, it is a non-question, but this is very hard to see pre-gate.

well, from a strictly LU point of view, there is nothing for us to do - as far as I'm concerned, you're most definitely through. As far as the LU process is concerned, the only thing outstanding would be to go through the formal 'confirmation' process (answering a set of questions, then I'll get some other guides to give their opinion). Then there are various 'aftercare' groups that might be of interest where you can share experience and get more support if necessary.

that said, it is all a bit abrupt, so i'm very happy to hang around and chat some more if you like (though the way I write seems to have the unfortunate effect of snagging your thinking and discombobulating you, so it's not necessarily terribly helpful!)

for reference, if you feel like giving the confirmation questions a go, here they are:

1) Is there a separate entity 'self', 'me' 'I', at all, anywhere, in any way, shape or form? Was there ever?

2) Explain in detail what the illusion of separate self is, when it starts and how it works from your own experience. Describe it fully as you see it now.

3) How does it feel to see this? What is the difference from before you started this dialogue? Please report from the past few days.

4) What was the last bit that pushed you over, made you look?

5) Do you decide, intend, choose, control events in Life? Do you make anything happen? Give examples from your experience.

6) Anything to add?

Very best wishes,

Perry

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Re: thread for Drewan

Postby Drewan » Thu Sep 12, 2013 11:04 pm

Thanks Perry,

I appreciate your responses very much and find them very affirming. Yes I also feel that I have gone through, something has ended and a whole load of new stuff just begun. I've been ill the last few days and physically a bit washed out so will reply in more detail in next couple of days. Just wanted to post a quick one to say thanks and will be in touch,

Best wishes,

Drewan

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Re: thread for Drewan

Postby perrym » Fri Sep 13, 2013 9:20 pm

Hi Drewan,

Thanks for the update - I was starting to wonder!

I hope you feel strong again soon,

best wishes,

Perry

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Re: thread for Drewan

Postby Drewan » Sat Sep 14, 2013 7:23 pm

Hi Perry,

I am feeling better now and glad to be writing again.

I am kind of embarrassed to say this but I think I have derailed a bit with all this. I'm not sure how it happened but I think the me-ing that tends to conceit rather liked the idea of having gone through the gate and somehow subtly got stronger and maybe more strongly identified with that. I guess it has been a goal of 'mine' for the last x number of years and to put it simply I think it went to my head rather.

This has led to some confusion and fear and alienation to some degree. It is like a part of me is holding on somehow and is afraid to let go again. It's been really quite intense at times, but also there comes and goes a sense that it is all Ok and the clarity and simplicity of seeing there is no self here comes into view and there is no problem, because it's all just 'me-ing', there is no me to get hung up about all this.

Is this something that happens to people sometimes? It's like 'me' has started up again and identified with 'someone' who has seen 'something', and is now desperately defending this position, with a fear of losing it.

If you have any advice on how to respond to this kind of thing I'd be grateful. I am kind of doing Ok with it but it is all rather new and I think some guidance could be helpful.

Best wishes,

Drewan

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Re: thread for Drewan

Postby Drewan » Sun Sep 15, 2013 5:57 pm

Hi Perry,

I am glad to say that the storm is abating and my inner world feels a lot better today. All is not lost it seems and a thread of no- self awareness keeps coming back and a certain release and ease as well. That was quite an intense 36 hours or so. I'm not completely sure what went on, but have a feeling that some painful old patterns were playing themselves out and hooking 'me' in and the experience involved quite a bit of fear and confusion.

I'm not sure what else to say about it now. In relation to our dialogue and exploration of no self, I have noticed a bit of confusion around 'agency', although when I sit quietly and tune into a sense of presence, it doesn't bother me particularly. Questions like 'If there is no agency, what about being responsible for ones behaviour?' and your question to me from a few days ago – 'What of free will if there is no self?' seem pertinent and I think worth me looking at more. So yes can we kick this around a bit more? I'd like to let this storm die down some more and then get back to you on these.

If you have any suggestions or further questions I'd be glad to hear them.

Thanks,

Drewan

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Re: thread for Drewan

Postby perrym » Mon Sep 16, 2013 1:29 am

Hi Drewan,

Wow, stormy times!
[...] rather liked the idea of having gone through the gate and somehow subtly got stronger and maybe more strongly identified with that.
It seems like it should be impossible, yet 'ego' can even 'appropriate' the realisation of no self!

It makes no sense, does it? Who could possibly own this realisation? Yet the habit of 'me' and 'mine' gets to work and weaves a story out of it all.... it is probably inevitable if 'realisation' has been desired in the past, this is just the playing out of that stored energy.

Although it may not be possible to prevent the stories from arising, they normally drop away quite readily. When they are first recognised, it is probably obvious that there is something a bit 'wrong' ... a little investigation will normally reveal the absurdity of the story. These 'in-rushes' of grasping are not very comfortable, I'm afraid, but they don't last forever!
the clarity and simplicity of seeing there is no self here comes into view and there is no problem, because it's all just 'me-ing'
yes, this is like a backdrop .... tumultuous stories might erupt, but no need to panic, they subside, and clarity returns. It can be helpful and reassuring to be able to 'reconnect' deliberately with this clarity, but of course this 'clarity' is just another temporary mental state - the realisation has happened, whether or not that particular mental state happens to be present. Sometimes people can worry about having 'lost it', because they identify the 'realisation' with a particular mental state, but, as they say, once you know that Santa Claus is not real, you never go back to believing in him!
Is this something that happens to people sometimes? It's like 'me' has started up again and identified with 'someone' who has seen 'something', and is now desperately defending this position, with a fear of losing it.
yep! a lifetime's habit doesn't (normally) just vanish immediately once no-self is seen. Realisation is the start of a lot of reorganisation, not a final plateau.

Is there a difference, though, between what has started up now and the 'me-ing' that might have gone on before seeing no-self? Is there a difference in how thoroughly it is 'believed' or 'bought into'?
the storm is abating
jolly good, though I doubt that is the end of it all!
a thread of no- self awareness keeps coming back and a certain release and ease as well.
the advantage of going through a full 'guiding process' (which you kinda short-circuited!) is that one gets a chance to develop the skill of 'seeing through' whatever appears as 'self' (real, solid, separate, fixed) at the time. You can still start with whatever is your current direct experience and enquire - what, here, is fixed, what is separate, where is there 'self'? You speak of a thread of awareness - even if this thread seems completely 'lost', it does not mean that the realisation has been 'lost'. It is natural, at first, to identify the 'realisation' with a particular state of clarity, but actually, the realisation can be 'applied to' ('recollected in') any mental state - indeed, it only becomes truly liberating when applied/recollected more broadly, otherwise one ends up trying to live in one little mental channel. I know, I have made the same point above, but I make no apology, it is a pretty important point!
I have noticed a bit of confusion around 'agency', although when I sit quietly and tune into a sense of presence, it doesn't bother me particularly. Questions like 'If there is no agency, what about being responsible for ones behaviour?' and your question to me from a few days ago – 'What of free will if there is no self?' seem pertinent and I think worth me looking at more.
These kinds of questions are kind of teasing.

Pre gate, they are unavoidably real, post gate they can just vanish, leaving no purchase .... yet if one is 'forced' to consider them, it is not like there is necessarily a clear answer, which is why they are such a tease. Discovering that a question is a non-question is not quite the same as answering it!

although you could probably just drop them, perhaps they are worth looking at, as a way of integrating the perception of no-self....

So I'd suggest, first off, just playing with the two states of mind ... on the one hand, can you work up the state of mind in which "I have free will, I am responsible for my actions" makes sense? Can you 'feel your way into' the state of mind in which this is self-evident (or at least credible!)? How about, then, the state in which it makes sense to say something like "there is no self that could exercise free will; impulses, choices and decisions all arise in dependence upon conditions - how could it be otherwise?" Don't get hung up on these particular words, but just play with the two perspectives, the 'there is an issue' perspective and the 'there is no issue' perspective - what do you find?

Another thing that could be valuable is to investigate decision making and willing - IS there a self at work here? Yes, we 'know' there isn't, but what is the direct experience when, say, looking through the fridge choosing a snack? Or looking over a bookshelf deciding on a book to read? Or walking around the room waving your arms around? Choices are made, is there an 'I' making them? How do they come about? What of free will and personal responsibility in the light of this experience?

Best wishes,

Perry

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Re: thread for Drewan

Postby Drewan » Mon Sep 16, 2013 2:24 pm

Thanks Perry,

Yes, very pertinent advice, and I feel a whole lot better for it. I am off line for a couple of days now but wanted to write a quick reply beforehand to say thanks and that I think I can run with this bit for a while:

you said:
You can still start with whatever is your current direct experience and enquire - what, here, is fixed, what is separate, where is there 'self'? You speak of a thread of awareness - even if this thread seems completely 'lost', it does not mean that the realisation has been 'lost'. It is natural, at first, to identify the 'realisation' with a particular state of clarity, but actually, the realisation can be 'applied to' ('recollected in') any mental state.

Yes I've been doing that since I received your reply and can see it's a good thing to do, so will run with it for the next couple of days and get back to you.

Best wishes,

Drewan

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Re: thread for Drewan

Postby perrym » Mon Sep 16, 2013 10:40 pm

looking forward to hearing from you whenever you feel so inclined :-)

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Re: thread for Drewan

Postby Drewan » Wed Sep 18, 2013 10:00 pm

Hi Perry,

Well I think I am starting to get the hang of this. Though thinking that might be the start of it going to my head again! Thanks again for your advice on checking my experience for anything fixed or ‘me’, and for also mentioning Santa! That helped. No I still don’t believe in or see a ‘me’ and agency is clearly a non-issue again.

It is kinda strange territory though. Like there are two levels, or worlds, or paradigms going on at the same time, or one after the other: the ‘old’ ‘normal’ me, just getting on with life (or at the weekend, experiencing a lot of fear and confusion), and the other not taking ‘me’ seriously any more at all, and that is often accompanied by an experience of letting go and release, and gratitude and bubbles of joy and laughter. I think that over the weekend I did lose sight of the insight at times and that was difficult. Now I feel more relaxed about it and it is more present, even though most of the day I am in ordinary mode. It does feel like a period of getting used to, or integration is needed somehow (and maybe starting to happen).

Checking my experience like you suggested really helped to reconnect and ‘apply’ seeing no-self to the selfing stories that were coming up. I felt a little crazy at times trying to do this – like I was inhabiting both worlds at the same time or switching between them very quickly, and didn’t know which way was up, but that seems to have calmed, at least for the time being and ‘I’ feel more stable.

My external life is also unsettled at present so that might be affecting this process as well. I still haven’t found a place to live and am living out of a suitcase, having just started attending a course in a new town. This currently all feels fine and I am glad of not feeling so attached to ‘me’, as it is making it easier in some ways. My mind is rather occupied by other things though, so I think I could do with a bit of time to allow this process to play out a bit and get more used to ‘it’, to keep checking in with you regularly, and to seek your counsel when needed, before I have a go at the six questions.

I hope that’s ok with you – I am open to any suggestions you may have.

With gratitude,

Drewan


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