Hoping for a guide

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Maitrivajra
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Hoping for a guide

Postby Maitrivajra » Sun Feb 09, 2014 9:30 pm

Hello there,

Here's hoping for a guide to help to explore why, although there seems to be intellectual understanding that there is no self, this sense of self persists.

many thanks
Maitrivajra
When I ask if you exist, I am not asking the thinking mind. I am asking the part of you that already knows.

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Canfora
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Re: Hoping for a guide

Postby Canfora » Mon Feb 10, 2014 10:54 am

Hi Maitrivajra and welcome to the LU forum!

I'm Sandra and I can be your guide if that's OK with you.

Did you read these pages:

http://www.liberationunleashed.com/

http://www.liberationunleashed.com/LU_FAQ.html

and understand what we are doing here?

Can you please tell me what's your motivation for doing this?
What are you expecting to change/happen, if anything?

Can you also talk a little about what you mean by:
there seems to be intellectual understanding that there is no self
Looking forward to your answers, Sandra

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Maitrivajra
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Re: Hoping for a guide

Postby Maitrivajra » Mon Feb 10, 2014 10:54 pm

Hello Sandra,

Many thanks for responding to my message and offering to guide me.

I have read the pages you refer to and am fine with the disclaimer. I have read Elena and Ilona’s Gateless Gatecrashers and was inspired by it, and by their interview on Buddha at the Gas Pump.

My motivation for doing this?
After 14 years of Buddhist meditation practice, which included my ordination as a Buddhist last year, I realised that one of the things that was happening was that another identity seemed to be arising to replace the unsatisfied ‘person’ that led me into the world of seeking in the first place. In spite of knowing that the Buddha said that when you look ‘No person can be found’, I realised I was still behaving as if I was a person, with volition and control. In fact, even though I was at times glimpsing the untruth of the ‘I’, there was still a sense of moral duty and ethical responsibility – and a desire to ‘become a better person.’ I now feel a deep yearning to get beyond all of this.

What am I expecting to change / happen?
Change: I guess that, even though I have been inspired by what I have read – and by what I have heard by being in the audience of people such as Tony Parsons – I realise that dialogue may be a really essential part of this process. If I can be challenged in my thinking, that would be really helpful. What may happen? Well, I have held many views on what a ‘liberated’ person might look like (serene, still, wise, peaceful, bland, emotionless, zombie-like) and a lot of that now seems to be so hopelessly wrong that I don’t really want to speculate about what may happen!

As to the intellectual understanding that there is no self: when I have moments of being relaxed and open, I sometimes get a rather exhilarating glimpse of the fact that all of this is just happening without a doer. But then my mind comes in and tells me that ‘I’ do need to do things, like going to work or behaving well and that if there wasn’t an 'I' policing these things then everything would go wrong – whatever that means! It's all a mish-mash of having moments of apparent clarity followed by whole periods of being stuck in the illusion.

All the best
Maitrivajra
When I ask if you exist, I am not asking the thinking mind. I am asking the part of you that already knows.

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Canfora
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Re: Hoping for a guide

Postby Canfora » Mon Feb 10, 2014 11:57 pm

Hello Maitrivajra and thank you for your nice answers.
If I can be challenged in my thinking, that would be really helpful.
Walking this path has nothing to do with thinking. Thinking didn't make you see the illusion and it never will. What I ask you to do is looking to experience, to reality, to what's always here.

Don't answer the questions below from what you think it's true. Look first and tell me what you see, what is experienced.

If you look to what's here-now, where is this Maitrivajra you talk about in your post?
Try to find this person that you think you are.
Can you point at it?
What makes this you real?

And if I say that this Maitrivajra never existed and doesn't exist, it's just an illusion, what is experienced?
What thoughts appear, what is felt?
Please describe.

Looking forward to read your answers, Sandra

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Maitrivajra
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Re: Hoping for a guide

Postby Maitrivajra » Tue Feb 11, 2014 9:10 pm

Hello Sandra,

Thank you for reminding me that this path has nothing to do with thinking. I guess I so easily fall into an assumption that I can think my way out of this! I have been pondering your questions all day, on and off, at work.
If you look to what's here-now, where is this Maitrivajra you talk about in your post?
Try to find this person that you think you are.
Can you point at it?
What makes this you real?
So, having a go at looking at what’s here now. What seems to be here now is a looking at the computer screen. If I let that be there, it just stays as looking. Then, it seems to be me – Maitrivajra – trying to think of something to write. Then there’s an opening and a sort of allowing, and it somehow arises to write this. Then there’s a sense of me again – ‘I’ want a cup of tea. In making the cup of tea, there’s a sense of ‘This is just happening all by itself!’ and there is a sense of delight in that. But afterwards, after a sense of allowing this to happen all by itself, it seems like there’s Maitrivajra again saying ‘I did that!’ Claiming to be the doer, as if that’s obvious and that I would be mad to refute it. On one hand this feels incredibly frustrating and on the other hilariously funny. I am in the funny right now, but spend much more time in the frustration.

The strange thing is that when you say ‘Try to find this person that you think you are, can you point to it?’ I just can’t. But later, there’s this sense of something grabbing it back – ‘Of course I’m here, I’m thinking this, aren’t I?’ I think that might be the answer to your question ‘What makes this you real?’ Well, I know it isn’t real, but what makes it seem real is the act of claiming to be real that is happening. ‘Of course I’m real. Ask your mother! Ask your boss!’
'And if I say that this Maitrivajra never existed and doesn't exist, it's just an illusion, what is experienced?
What thoughts appear, what is felt?
Please describe.'
The idea that Maitrivajra never existed has a touch of fear to it – ‘Well, that means I don’t know who I am and that’s a bad thing.’ Also a touch of relief. ‘I don’t have to try to be anything – put on a face to the world.’ As to feeling, there’s a slight trembling of emotion that could maybe turn into fear or perhaps excitement /delight. I feel tired, too, really tired, as if I might go to sleep and forget about all of this. I am not particularly underslept, so this tiredness is not physical.
When I ask if you exist, I am not asking the thinking mind. I am asking the part of you that already knows.

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Maitrivajra
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Re: Hoping for a guide

Postby Maitrivajra » Tue Feb 11, 2014 9:12 pm

I forgot to end my last message with a big thank you for your questions!

Maitrivajra
When I ask if you exist, I am not asking the thinking mind. I am asking the part of you that already knows.

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Canfora
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Re: Hoping for a guide

Postby Canfora » Tue Feb 11, 2014 10:25 pm

Hello Maitrivajra, beautiful answers, thank you!

Let's look at this first:
The idea that Maitrivajra never existed has a touch of fear to it – ‘Well, that means I don’t know who I am and that’s a bad thing.’ Also a touch of relief. ‘I don’t have to try to be anything – put on a face to the world.’ As to feeling, there’s a slight trembling of emotion that could maybe turn into fear or perhaps excitement /delight. I feel tired, too, really tired, as if I might go to sleep and forget about all of this. I am not particularly underslept, so this tiredness is not physical.
What I would like you to do if/when these sensations/thoughts appear is looking at them with curiosity, like if you never experienced them before. They're a protection mechanism and can't do you no harm. Welcome them and just allow them. Let them be.

Then try to find what's behind them.
Where are they coming from? What can you see there? What are they trying to protect?

Can you see a fearfull you? An excited/delighted you? A tired you?
What's there if you look?

Looking forward to know what you find,
Sandra

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Maitrivajra
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Re: Hoping for a guide

Postby Maitrivajra » Wed Feb 12, 2014 8:16 am

Hello Sandra,

Many thanks for this.
Can you see a fearfull you? An excited/delighted you? A tired you?
What's there if you look?
Fear: If I’m not me, then I’m nothing. It reminds me of watching my first horror movies as a teenager. Not knowing what was going to happen, but knowing it was something unimaginable and something bad. On looking at this with curiosity to see what’s behind it, there’s a sort of feeling that not being here, not being ‘me’, would be like being dead.

Perhaps this is the protection mechanism? An attempt to prevent annihilation? If someone came into the room now with a knife and threatened to kill me, I’d feel fear. I wonder if this is being mistaken for the same thing? Opening up to this message is being perceived as an attempt to kill – or even murder – ‘me’?

There’s quite a lot of thinking in there! If I relax and let the fear just be there, it’s more like the fear of a frightened child who thinks there’s a monster under the bed. Now, love comes up, and a desire to reassure. There is and never was a monster!

Delight: I keep on getting caught up in endless thinking and identification with ‘I’, but also there are moments when I see beyond that, and that is delightful. On looking at this with curiosity, it feels like I’m stuck in the small, dark room of ‘me’ and I keep forgetting that this room has a door and a window. Each time I see the window – and a glimpse of what is outside – it seems strange that I had forgotten that the door and window were there. That’s where the funny part is, that itcould ever be forgotten.

Being tired: I said I wasn’t physically tired, but when I look at this I can see that I am tired, after all, ha ha! That is so funny! I am so in the habit of ignoring these things. Being tired was just there, and I was pretending not to see it. Like so many other things!

Thank you Sandra, I feel that I am facing in a better direction somehow!
Maitrivajra
When I ask if you exist, I am not asking the thinking mind. I am asking the part of you that already knows.

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Canfora
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Re: Hoping for a guide

Postby Canfora » Wed Feb 12, 2014 11:16 am

Hello Maitrivajra,

In your last post you are describing your thoughts, not what you can see in reality :)
Being tired: I said I wasn’t physically tired, but when I look at this I can see that I am tired, after all, ha ha! That is so funny! I am so in the habit of ignoring these things. Being tired was just there, and I was pretending not to see it. Like so many other things!
This is the only part of your post where I can see that you looked.

Let's talk a little bit about what *looking* is.

Looking is the simplest thing. It's so simple that people don't understand what is meant by that.

I suppose you're sitting in a desk, looking to a screen.
Can you see the screen?
Can you feel the chair where you are seated at?
Can you hear the sounds that surround you?
Can you feel sensations, like *being tired*?
Can you feel the way the fingers touch the keyboard key?

If you can do this you are looking to what is being experienced here-now.

You can also read this article explaining Direct Experience: http://www.liberationunleashed.com/Arti ... ience.html

I will explain *looking* in another way:

If I tell you: "There's a cat inside your house! I saw it!" you would look for the uninvited cat. You wouldn't think to try to find the cat... It's the same thing with the self.

When I ask you to *look* it's just that, plain simple looking at experience with the senses. If the self exists in reality, then it's something that can be found.

Can you please have a go at it, look and describe what you can see that is being experienced now? Keep it simple and without thought content.

Looking forward to your answer,
Sandra

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Maitrivajra
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Re: Hoping for a guide

Postby Maitrivajra » Wed Feb 12, 2014 4:45 pm

Thanks for that, Sandra. I have read Neil's article and found it helpful.

Touch: There is a sensation of pressure and warmth. I can tell the story that I am sitting in a chair. In fact, all there is is pressure and warmth. I can't even say where that is in space. Something is arising - difficult to describe - that I want to call discomfort, but actually if I don't label it, it isn't uncomfortable. It's just a sensation without words. Then there's movement and the sensation goes.

I run my fingers over my face and through my hair. That’s a description. Actually, there is just a continuous change of texture – harder, softer, smooth, less smooth. Not even sure what it is that is being touched. Or even – with my eyes closed – where it is. Just as the pressure of sitting is somehow not locatable.

Sound: There is a shooshing noise that gets louder and then quieter. I ‘know’ that this is traffic passing in the rain, but it’s just sound arising and subsiding. When I think about it, it seems to be ‘out there’ and the car sounds seem to be moving in space. But without that labelling, there is just a huge variety of kinds of sound arising and subsiding.

Typing this and seeing the screen: This is much more difficult to get into as direct experience, it seems much more that ‘I’ am doing something. Looking at the screen. Typing a message, not just a series of sensation. It’s difficult to just see different colours of light around me without interpreting them…

I’ll carry on with this some more later and report back.

Thanks again.
Maitrivajra
When I ask if you exist, I am not asking the thinking mind. I am asking the part of you that already knows.

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Canfora
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Re: Hoping for a guide

Postby Canfora » Wed Feb 12, 2014 8:33 pm

Wonderful, you know how to look! Nice description of experience, Maitrivajra.
Typing this and seeing the screen: This is much more difficult to get into as direct experience, it seems much more that ‘I’ am doing something.
Are you doing something or something is being done?

Let's look at labeling. When you have the time do this exercise, please:

For 10 minutes write about what's being experienced like you're used to do, using the words I, me, my: "I'm thinking about what happened at work. I'm scratching my head. I hear the hum of the computer, (...)"

Watch the body, are there any sensations of tightening or relaxing?

Then for the next 10 minutes write without the words I, me, my. Just describe the experience as it is happening using verbs: "waiting for the next thought, typing, breathing, blinking, hearing the rain".

Now compare the two ways to label experience - is one truer than the other? If so, which one?
What is here without labels?
Do labels affect the experience or just describe it?

Looking forward to read your answers,
Sandra

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Re: Hoping for a guide

Postby Canfora » Wed Feb 12, 2014 9:07 pm

I’ll carry on with this some more later and report back.
Am I going too fast? If I am, please tell me.

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Re: Hoping for a guide

Postby Maitrivajra » Wed Feb 12, 2014 11:30 pm

Am I going too fast? If I am, please tell me.
No you are not going too fast, Sandra. I ran out of time earlier, that's all. :-)

You were right to ask whether I am doing something. I am never doing anything. Things are just happening.
For 10 minutes write about what's being experienced like you're used to do, using the words I, me, my:
I am scratching the side of one of my fingers with a fingernail. I am nibbling my upper lip. I am thinking about how much I like my friend who came for dinner. I am thinking about what we talked about. I have been lost in thought for a couple of minutes. I am feeling tired, thinking about going to bed, about needing to sleep well. I am thinking about work tomorrow. I am beginning to make a list of what I need to do. I am pulling back to the present moment. I am feeling an itch on my arm. I have just rubbed my arm. I am rubbing my forehead. I am noticing that it is a little greasy. I want a shower. I hear people in the street outside, laughing and talking. I hear the hum from the fridge. I'm looking for something to experience! The room seems very bright. I have switched off one of the lights. The room seems too dim. I turn a light on.

Body sensation during this: a bit of tension, getting a little stronger over the ten minutes. More eye movement - looking for things.
Then for the next 10 minutes write without the words I, me, my. Just describe the experience as it is happening
Sensation. Scratching side of nose. Hearing a clicking. Breathing. Some breathing noises. Rapid blinking. Feeling of opening up to experience. Sound of a car. Looking at the wall. Noticing gradation of shade. A slight whooshing sound. Holding lip between thumb and forefinger. Sensation of warmth. Sensation of moisture. Taking a deep breath. Relaxing. Mild worry about doing this exercise 'right'. Noticing the pressure of sitting. An ache somewhere. A ticking sound.
Now compare the two ways to label experience - is one truer than the other? If so, which one?
Labelling things with 'I' keeps me from the truth of the experience. It keeps me in thought, and leads to more and more thinking. Not labelling experiences with 'I' seems to allow them to come and go, for something in me to expand and to relax.

Many thanks for this exercise, Sandra. I think it might be good for me to repeat these exercises over time.

I really appreciate your help

Maitrivajra
When I ask if you exist, I am not asking the thinking mind. I am asking the part of you that already knows.

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Canfora
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Re: Hoping for a guide

Postby Canfora » Thu Feb 13, 2014 12:09 pm

When doing the exercise, did you notice how language/labels seem to increase the illusion of the existence of a separate you?

When we look to what is happening, we can see the experiencing of all these thoughts, and the majority of them is about a character, an I, an entity that thinks, acts, decides, reacts, has preferences and can control reality to a certain extent. And thinking can be such a predominant experience. We can look at thoughts and see this I but what happens if we try to find it in reality?

Please look at reality and find the "I", the entity the labels I and me point to, this you that appears in thoughts.
To do that go to a comfortable place, lie down, relax, close your eyes and play/think the story of Maitrivajra, like if you were in a cinema, seeing your favorite movie.
Make the story as real as possible: you are Maitrivajra, living life and existing without a doubt!
Feel being Maitrivajra and doing what Maitrivajra usually does.
The past story, the present story, the future story of Maitrivajra's life - make them be...
Take the time to make Maitrivajra as real as it can be.

Then open your eyes and look around.

Can you see a real Maitrivajra, when you look to what's here-now?

How does imagining an "I" and trying to experience the "I" differ?

Looking forward to your answers!
Sandra

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Maitrivajra
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Re: Hoping for a guide

Postby Maitrivajra » Thu Feb 13, 2014 8:39 pm

Hello Sandra,
When doing the exercise, did you notice how language/labels seem to increase the illusion of the existence of a separate you?
Yes, that seemed very much the case. Language and labels also seemed to increase the amount of thinking that was happening. A lot.
Can you see a real Maitrivajra, when you look to what's here-now?
In looking around, there doesn't seem to be a real Maitrivajra. Until labelling starts to happen. As soon as a thought such as:'That table is mine,' arises, then it seems, suddenly, as if there is a me to own it.
How does imagining an "I" and trying to experience the "I" differ?
In imagining an 'I' I came right out of the present moment and into thinking. Lots of emotions came up, too - what I have liked and what I haven't liked and what I would like to do in the future.

Trying to experience the 'I' was more slippery - there was nothing to grasp onto. Thinking came up every now and then. On looking at the washing machine a thought arose, 'I need to do some washing', and then I was out of what's here now and into thinking / planning to do something in the future. I needed to notice this and come back to looking now.

I am off for a swim and will see how I get on with that if I bear these exercises in mind!

Many, many thanks.
Maitrivajra
When I ask if you exist, I am not asking the thinking mind. I am asking the part of you that already knows.


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