Looking for an available (buddhist?) guide

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Softsocks
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Looking for an available (buddhist?) guide

Postby Softsocks » Sun Feb 02, 2014 10:13 pm

Hi,

I'm looking for a guide. Is there someone available with a buddhist practice (maybe with experience of the Triratna buddhist community)?

With Thanks,
S

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moondog
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Re: Looking for an available (buddhist?) guide

Postby moondog » Mon Feb 03, 2014 2:22 pm

Hi Softsocks,

My name's Pete and I've guided quite a few people to see that there's just no self, anywhere, ever. I was involved in Triratna for about 15 years and was an Order member for about half that time (as Saralamati). I left at the beginning of last year to pursue a more specifically non-dualist path, but still maintain good connections with the Triratna community.

Would you like me to guide you?

Pete x
'Just consciousness taking the shape of experience from moment to moment.
Just this'

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Softsocks
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Re: Looking for an available (buddhist?) guide

Postby Softsocks » Mon Feb 03, 2014 2:42 pm

Hi Pete,

Yes please, I'd be very grateful for your help!

S

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moondog
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Re: Looking for an available (buddhist?) guide

Postby moondog » Mon Feb 03, 2014 4:05 pm

Hi Softsocks and welcome,

Thanks for accepting me as your guide. Would you like me to call you Softsocks?

There are a few things that we need to go over before the journey begins.

Tell me a bit more about yourself, how you came to LU and what it is that you're looking for. Also, what time zone are you're in? I'm in Somerset in the UK.

There are also a few standard ground rules before we start:

You 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, 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 http://liberationunleashed.com/nation/v ... ?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 that you'd like me to be your guide and then we'll begin.

Let's start with a summary of what you're looking for and what you expect to find. I know you've already answered some of these, but please forgive any overlap and just fill in the gaps where you haven't, and we'll get started.

What are your expectations for this process?

What is it that you are searching for?

How will you know that you found it?

How will this feel?

How will this change you?


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.

Don't worry, I don't intend to send any more posts this long, if I can help it! This is just to set things up for you nicely.

I look forward to hearing from you.

Lots of love,

Pete
'Just consciousness taking the shape of experience from moment to moment.
Just this'

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Softsocks
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Re: Looking for an available (buddhist?) guide

Postby Softsocks » Mon Feb 03, 2014 9:58 pm

Hi Pete,
Would you like me to call you Softsocks?
Softsocks will be fine, thank you.
Tell me a bit more about yourself, how you came to LU and what it is that you're looking for. Also, what time zone are you're in? I'm in Somerset in the UK.
I've been involved with Buddhism, and triratna specifically, for 18 or so years off and on. As far as any actual practice goes it has been more off than on, as I've not found a way to engage in a way I can maintain. I withdrew my ordination request a few years back. I've since been experimenting with less goal orientated approaches to meditation, mainly via Jon Kabbat-Zinn.

Friends talking about LU got me interested. Several of those friends have now seen through the illusion of self through this process. It's time to try it myself.

I'm tired of being so afraid of life. I'd like to be able to be more responsive to others and to the needs of my own life. I am looking for meaning, but adding meaning to life by doing meaningful things hasn't been getting the job done. I'm thinking that life is inherently meaningful, but I need to get these blinkers off before I'm really going to be able to see it.

I'm in Cambridge, UK.
Please confirm that you have seen these, that you agree to the disclaimer, and that you'd like me to be your guide and then we'll begin.
Seen and agreed. Thanks for taking me on.
What are your expectations for this process?

I expect it to be frustrating/confusing/difficult and I suppose I expect to fail
I also expect to find it exciting at times
What is it that you are searching for?
Freedom from this fixed, separate self that seems responsible for most of my fear, anxiety, loneliness. I'm looking for the meaning I'm sensing is all around me but which I'm not seeing somehow.
How will you know that you found it?
I'll be able to see, clearly and effortlessly, the thoughts of 'I' for what they are, without buying into them or acting out of them.
How will this feel?
I find it hard to imagine. I guess that physically it will pretty much feel the same as it does now, though without the stories, and I am not sure how the lack of story will affect things. I'm hoping I will feel more present and relaxed.
How will this change you?
I might be more open and responsive to life/living. Other than that I really do not know (which is both exciting and scary)

with gratitude,
S

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Re: Looking for an available (buddhist?) guide

Postby moondog » Tue Feb 04, 2014 4:22 pm

Hi Softsocks,

Thanks for letting me know a bit about yourself and for accepting all the various conditions etc. No adjusting needed for time zones between Somerset and Cambridge.
I expect it to be frustrating/confusing/difficult and I suppose I expect to fail
I also expect to find it exciting at times
Mm, it will involve you spending quite a bit of time looking into your direct experience, but that should be fun and liberating, and exciting. Don't take thoughts telling you that you'll fail seriously. How would they know?
Apart from that, I'm glad that you don't have any particularly strong or unrealistic expectations. It's natural, of course, to wonder and speculate about what this liberation/awakening will be like but, by its very nature, I can assure you that it's just not like anyone expects, although it does differ for each one of us. I'd just stress that the work we do is definitely not intellectual or thought-based. That being so, it's best to put aside any expectations, as they reside in thoughts about the future and so are not within direct experience.

Rest assured, that when you see that there isn't and never has been a 'you', a self-entity, with my guiding to help you see that fact for yourself, you'll just know. In exactly the same way that you know that unicorns aren't real, Batman doesn't exist, and there's no Santa Claus. It isn't fundamentally at all difficult, amazingly simple in fact, but only if you don't rely on trying to figure it out by thinking it through but, instead, just LOOK, LOOK, LOOK in direct experience.

So, great, as I've already said, actually seeing for sure that there is no separate self, and never has been, is different for everyone. It can come with a definite pop of realisation, or it might creep up gradually until it is seen. Also the effects on life lived after liberation can vary widely.

It’s worth mentioning at this early stage that what can hold a lot of people back, and something that we can perhaps knock on the head now, are assumptions around what one would 'be like' or what life ought to 'look like' once it’s seen that there’s no self-entity. There is a view that 'getting it' is tantamount to kind of somehow seeing it all the time, or being in some kind of state in which negative emotions or problems don’t arise.

It's really helpful to be clear that it's not any kind of state - it's simply direct knowing, insight. The Santa example puts it very well - 'seeing through' Santa, i.e. knowing for sure that there is no Santa, doesn't mean that little kids then spend the rest of their lives constantly thinking, 'there's no Santa'! Nor does it mean that Santa isn't apparently spotted in shopping malls in December. It's just that the story has been seen through. The direct knowing of no-self may be recollected at any time, but states still continue to come and go - pleasant, unpleasant, 'positive', 'negative'. However, that said, changes will be noticed, some possibly quite dramatic, including in relation to suffering arising from a pre-occupation with a separate self that simply doesn't exist!

I'll post once a day, perhaps occasionally more, and will tell you in advance if I know I won't be able to post. It would be good if you could do the same.

I hope that's helped to clarify the background stuff a bit. Don't hesitate to ask me about any of this.

Moving on towards the core of this work - just look at the following statement, and ponder it every which way you can:

Nothing exists outside the present moment.

Can you find anything, anything at all, that does?


And next:

How do you conceive the 'self' or 'I'/ me' that you hold 'yourself' to be?

Now look directly at the flow of experiencing. Where in that flow does the 'self' that you conceive reside? Can it be found, at all?


Pete x
'Just consciousness taking the shape of experience from moment to moment.
Just this'

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Softsocks
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Re: Looking for an available (buddhist?) guide

Postby Softsocks » Tue Feb 04, 2014 8:53 pm

Hi Pete,

I will need to spend more time on this before getting back to you. I may be able to reply later this evening, otherwise it will be tomorrow.

with thanks,
S

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Re: Looking for an available (buddhist?) guide

Postby moondog » Tue Feb 04, 2014 9:03 pm

Ok, no problem Softsocks.

Thanks for letting me know.

Look forward to hearing from you later.

Pete x
'Just consciousness taking the shape of experience from moment to moment.
Just this'

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Softsocks
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Re: Looking for an available (buddhist?) guide

Postby Softsocks » Wed Feb 05, 2014 8:42 am

Hi Pete,
Moving on towards the core of this work - just look at the following statement, and ponder it every which way you can:

Nothing exists outside the present moment.
Can you find anything, anything at all, that does?
There is a cup on my table:
“it's been there for a while” is just thought and story. It's a convincing story and it may be accurate, but it's just made up of thoughts and the cup does not exist within them.
“It will probably still be there in a few minutes” is the same, just thoughts/expectation. The cup does not exist within them.
The cup itself only exists now. This applies to everything and I can't find anything that exists outside the present moment.
How do you conceive the 'self' or 'I'/ me' that you hold 'yourself' to be?
a collection of thoughts, emotions, bodily sensations – forming likes, dislikes, and particular habits, all of which exist separate and isolated from the rest of the world (in/with this body), and that has a continutity through time (I have a past and future).
Now look directly at the flow of experiencing. Where in that flow does the 'self' that you conceive reside? Can it be found, at all?
In direct experience, there are thoughts and sensations but nothing that I can identify as me at all. There are thoughts of I, which often refer to other (convincing) thoughts of past and future, but I can't find anything in the present.

With gratitude,
Softsocks

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Re: Looking for an available (buddhist?) guide

Postby moondog » Wed Feb 05, 2014 12:12 pm

Hi Softsocks,
Nothing exists outside the present moment.
Can you find anything, anything at all, that does?
There is a cup on my table: “it's been there for a while” is just thought and story. It's a convincing story and it may be accurate, but it's just made up of thoughts and the cup does not exist within them.
“It will probably still be there in a few minutes” is the same, just thoughts/expectation. The cup does not exist within them. The cup itself only exists now. This applies to everything and I can't find anything that exists outside the present moment.
Good comments and observations about past and future being really only thoughts. And thoughts only exist now don't they? I'd add that even 'cup' is really just a label.
How do you conceive the 'self' or 'I'/ me' that you hold 'yourself' to be?
a collection of thoughts, emotions, bodily sensations – forming likes, dislikes, and particular habits, all of which exist separate and isolated from the rest of the world (in/with this body), and that has a continutity through time (I have a past and future).
Again, really good; you see this well. It may not be that there is any separation/isolation from the rest of the world, but we'll get on to that as we move through this process.
direct experience, there are thoughts and sensations but nothing that I can identify as me at all. There are thoughts of I, which often refer to other (convincing) thoughts of past and future, but I can't find anything in the present.
Spot on.

As you' might have noticed, all of these initial questions point you towards looking into 'your' direct experience which is where I will be frequently pointing you to look, and where this investigation will take place. That's as opposed to thought content. Direct experience is the very core of what we're doing here with this. Essentially, and utterly fundamentally, all there is, and can ever be, is here right now in this moment. So looking to see whether a separate and separating self is to be found can only take place within direct experience of this. Now. There's nothing else. It follows therefore that all of our work to realise and actually know that there is no self is done by investigating In direct experience. To this end, we can divide direct experience into thought, sensations (seeing, hearing, smelling, tasting, feeling [tactile and kinaesthetic] and an unmistakable sense of Aliveness (presence/being). I referred to the useful article on direct experience in the introductory post which you might want to look at again.

As I've just said, the whole of this investigation centres around looking in direct experience to see if a self-entity can be found anywhere there. This is accompanied by seeing that it is in thoughts and only in thoughts that 'I' ever 'occurs' and that 'I' doesn't actually occur there either because thoughts, or at least their contents, are neither reliable nor real in any sense.

My approach in guiding you to see that there is no self, no 'you', will be to take you in a loosely structured, relaxed and informal way in turn through each of the areas where a self entity might be lurking, so that you can see for yourself, in 'your' direct experience, that there simply isn't one there, or anywhere. So, let's start investigating in direct experience where a self-entity might be by looking at sense arisings and the self as experiencer (or not). First, here's a quote from the Bahiya Sutta, which succinctly sums up our investigation into no-self, when the Buddha says:

Then, Bāhiya, you should train yourself thus: In reference to the seen, there will be only the seen. In reference to the heard, only the heard. In reference to the sensed, only the sensed. In reference to the cognized, only the cognized. That is how you should train yourself. When for you there will be only the seen in reference to the seen, only the heard in reference to the heard, only the sensed in reference to the sensed, only the cognized in reference to the cognized, then, Bāhiya, there is no you in connection with that. When there is no you in connection with that, there is no you there. When there is no you there, you are neither here nor yonder nor between the two. This, just this, is the end of stress.

So, at last, looking for a self in sense arisings:

When you look at something, a book, a tree outside or whatever, can you find an 'I' that is looking or seeing, or is there just seeing?

If there is an 'I', where are the boundaries between what is being seen, the seeing process itself and the seer?

Please do the same with hearing: birdsong, music, a pneumatic drill or whatever; and similarly with each of: tasting, tactile feelings and smelling.


Pete x
'Just consciousness taking the shape of experience from moment to moment.
Just this'

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Re: Looking for an available (buddhist?) guide

Postby Softsocks » Thu Feb 06, 2014 1:07 am

Hi Pete,
When you look at something, a book, a tree outside or whatever, can you find an 'I' that is looking or seeing, or is there just seeing? 

If there is an 'I', where are the boundaries between what is being seen, the seeing process itself and the seer?
No, I can't find an I that is looking. Just the seeing of the 'object'. The experience of an object being thought based – below the thought is just shape, colour, pattern, and on that level there is no distinction between seer, seeing and seen.

Please do the same with hearing: birdsong, music, a pneumatic drill or whatever; and similarly with each of: tasting, tactile feelings and smelling.

Sound is the same. There are some quick and subtle thoughts that try to locate the sound in space in relation to 'me', but below those thoughts, all sounds I hear happen right here, so to speak. There is no boundary – no hearer - just hearing.

The same is true of the other senses.

I suspect I may be trying harder than necessary to do all this. I think I have an expectation that I ought to be experiencing things differently in DE somehow, and if I can just 'do' DE properly I'll 'get it' and see through the illusion of self right then and there. I think I'm slowly beginning to realise that DE isn't like that, but is actually far simpler and more ordinary than I thought and perhaps I just need to relax and open to it. Would that sound about right to you?

Talking of relaxing, I've changed my mind about the name. I'm going to sign off as Steve from now on, so you can call me that, or whatever you like!

with thanks,
Steve

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Re: Looking for an available (buddhist?) guide

Postby moondog » Thu Feb 06, 2014 1:42 pm

Hi Steve,
No, I can't find an I that is looking. Just the seeing of the 'object'. The experience of an object being thought based – below the thought is just shape, colour, pattern, and on that level there is no distinction between seer, seeing and seen.
Sound is the same. There are some quick and subtle thoughts that try to locate the sound in space in relation to 'me', but below those thoughts, all sounds I hear happen right here, so to speak. There is no boundary – no hearer - just hearing. The same is true of the other senses.
Yes, really good noticing Steve. It's amazing isn't it, that when you're looking at something, listening or whatever, and look just in direct experience, it's plain to see that there's just seeing (or hearing etc.), nothing else outside that, no outside (or indeed inside), no you as seer, no separate objective 'object, just awareing i.e. being awareness.

One point, you say The experience of an object being thought based. Do you mean that? If so, please explain. Or do you mean that there's a tendency for the raw experience to be overlaid or obscured by thought content?
I suspect I may be trying harder than necessary to do all this. I think I have an expectation that I ought to be experiencing things differently in DE somehow, and if I can just 'do' DE properly I'll 'get it' and see through the illusion of self right then and there. I think I'm slowly beginning to realise that DE isn't like that, but is actually far simpler and more ordinary than I thought and perhaps I just need to relax and open to it. Would that sound about right to you?
Yes, you don't need to try at all to be aware of what's happening , which is all that direct experience is. Stuff just happens all the time, always in this moment, as life living itself, with no effort. In fact there's really no such thing as effort in the sense of trying harder, just thoughts telling 'you' to try or try harder, or that you are trying, but whichever, there's no you to try! So yeah, 'your' direct experience is just what it is and can't be any different in this moment. Again, it's just thoughts telling you things should be different which, of course then gives rise to dukkha and suffering. As you say, just relax and be open to experience. As we move through the areas and aspects of direct experience, you'll be able to see for yourself whether there's a 'you' anywhere to be found.

Which brings us to thoughts and thinking.

Not from what you think, but from direct experience, please say:

Where do thoughts come from?

Are you in control of them?

Can you stop a thought from coming?

Can you stop it in the middle?

Do you know what the next thought will be?

Is 'I' a different thought from the thought of say, a table?

Can a thought think?


I think our investigation is going well so far; you're doing well. How is it for you Steve?

Pete x
'Just consciousness taking the shape of experience from moment to moment.
Just this'

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Re: Looking for an available (buddhist?) guide

Postby Softsocks » Fri Feb 07, 2014 12:42 am

Hi Pete,
One point, you say The experience of an object being thought based. Do you mean that? If so, please explain. Or do you mean that there's a tendency for the raw experience to be overlaid or obscured by thought content?
Yeah, poor choice of words I think. I meant that I couldn't even find an objective object (to borrow your words) in direct experience, just the experience itself and that the breaking of the experience into objective objects seems to arise from (pretty subtle) interpretation of that experience. Is that any clearer?

Not from what you think, but from direct experience, please say:

Where do thoughts come from?
Don't know. They just turn up.
Are you in control of them? 
Oh wow, that's a tricky (and exciting) one! To think something specific I need to think about thinking it! There's always a thought at the start of that process that I haven't chosen to think! So no, I'm not in control of them. (it's really exciting to notice this)
Can you stop a thought from coming?
I find this one hard to investigate. I can't think of a thought to stop without thinking of the thought to begin with.
Can you stop it in the middle?
Only if the thought to stop the thought mid thought arises...
Do you know what the next thought will be?
Usually no, they are pretty wild. Having said that, if the thought arises to think something very simple and specific, then usually that will be the next thought.
Is 'I' a different thought from the thought of say, a table?
Well the thought of a table is fairly visual, and the thoughts of I are often fairly auditory (but not always). Certainly they are the same in as much as they share all of the characteristics above. I can't control them, neither of them can think etc
Can a thought think?
A thought can't think. A thought might lead to a second thought, but I can't actually see a causal connection in direct experience. There is a belief that the second thought was caused by the first, but I can't find any actual evidence for it.
I think our investigation is going well so far; you're doing well. How is it for you Steve?
I'm really enjoying the process so far, thank you. Definitely exciting. I had a conversation with someone earlier about my future. I would normally avoid talking to anyone about my future as thinking about it tends to bring my mood down (fear, despondency etc). Today I was able to talk about it, fully engaged, and remain really pretty positive about it, and I didn't even have to try particularly. Sensations were there, thoughts were there, it was all fine. I'm taking that as a good sign.

with gratitude,
steve

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Re: Looking for an available (buddhist?) guide

Postby moondog » Fri Feb 07, 2014 1:54 pm

Hi Steve,
I meant that I couldn't even find an objective object (to borrow your words) in direct experience, just the experience itself and that the breaking of the experience into objective objects seems to arise from (pretty subtle) interpretation of that experience. Is that any clearer?
Yep, that's clear Steve.
Oh wow, that's a tricky (and exciting) one! To think something specific I need to think about thinking it! There's always a thought at the start of that process that I haven't chosen to think! So no, I'm not in control of them. (it's really exciting to notice this)
Yes, wherever the start of a thought is, that's when it just pops into awareness. I still find that exciting!
I can't think of a thought to stop without thinking of the thought to begin with.
It's a conundrum, but the answers no isn't it?
Do you know what the next thought will be?
Usually no, they are pretty wild. Having said that, if the thought arises to think something very simple and specific, then usually that will be the next thought.
I hope you don't think I'm being over-pedantic with what follows, but I really do need to eliminate all doubt at every point. Given that thoughts are seen in direct experience just to pop up, to arise unbidden, isn't the start of this, just another of those thoughts that pop up? If you think that you can control some of your thoughts, isn't that at variance with your earlier replies? What would it be that knew what the next thought would be, and what have you seen in direct experience that demonstrates that?
Well the thought of a table is fairly visual, and the thoughts of I are often fairly auditory (but not always). Certainly they are the same in as much as they share all of the characteristics above. I can't control them, neither of them can think etc
They're essentially the same aren't they. All that might be said is that the 'object' to which the table thought refer , in everyday terms, is tangible; it can be seen, touched etc. None of this can be said of the I in an I-thought.
A thought can't think. A thought might lead to a second thought, but I can't actually see a causal connection in direct experience. There is a belief that the second thought was caused by the first, but I can't find any actual evidence for it.
Excellent. I really like your observations about the lack of any evident causation between thoughts.
I'm really enjoying the process so far, thank you. Definitely exciting. I had a conversation with someone earlier about my future. I would normally avoid talking to anyone about my future as thinking about it tends to bring my mood down (fear, despondency etc). Today I was able to talk about it, fully engaged, and remain really pretty positive about it, and I didn't even have to try particularly. Sensations were there, thoughts were there, it was all fine. I'm taking that as a good sign.
It's good that you're enjoying this. It really helps. The positive changes that you've noticed in the way you're responding to stuff is a good sign.

So, now let's move on to doing and controlling, to see if, in direct experience, a self can be found there:

It's clear that when we breathe, blink, digest food etc. there's no 'I' involved, but how is it for you when walking?

How is it when doing various everyday things like say, brushing your teeth, washing up, that kind of thing?
Try all kinds of stuff.

Is there any 'I' there for any of these actions, or are they just like 'automatic'?


Pete x
'Just consciousness taking the shape of experience from moment to moment.
Just this'

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Re: Looking for an available (buddhist?) guide

Postby Softsocks » Fri Feb 07, 2014 11:03 pm

Hi Pete,
I hope you don't think I'm being over-pedantic with what follows, but I really do need to eliminate all doubt at every point. Given that thoughts are seen in direct experience just to pop up, to arise unbidden, isn't the start of this, just another of those thoughts that pop up? If you think that you can control some of your thoughts, isn't that at variance with your earlier replies? What would it be that knew what the next thought would be, and what have you seen in direct experience that demonstrates that?
This is really useful, thanks. It's clear I didn't answer this one from direct experience but was instead looking back on the process and confusing myself. There are elements of the same interpretation in the answer to the question on control as well. So, here's what I see after looking again:

ALL thoughts arise into awareness out of the blue. No matter how hard I try to control. Even if the thought arises (unbidden), “Ok, for this test I want the next thought to be the number 6” and then an image of the number 6 arises, in direct experience there is no actual evidence of causation. The image also just arises out of the blue, and there is nothing that knew that it was going to. It's only on thinking back on the process that I have the thought that the first thought obviously caused the second thought. In direct experience there is no evidence to show that the 1st does directly cause the 2nd, and so the belief that it does is just another thought, unfounded in direct experience.

It may sometimes happen that I think that I know what I'm going to think about next, but that in itself is just another unbidden thought.
It's clear that when we breathe, blink, digest food etc. there's no 'I' involved, but how is it for you when walking?

How is it when doing various everyday things like say, brushing your teeth, washing up, that kind of thing? 
Try all kinds of stuff.

Is there any 'I' there for any of these actions, or are they just like 'automatic'?
I'll give this some time and will write more tomorrow.

With thanks,
steve


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