the end of suffering?

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vegansatori
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Re: the end of suffering?

Postby vegansatori » Fri Dec 02, 2022 4:23 am

Hi Matteo,
How are you doing?

Thanks for these answers.

I'll wait to give you anything more until I get your responses from the rest of my last message. (No rush.)

But in the meantime:
Can what is witnessing 'what can be seen' be found?
the only thing I find is a body.
Is the body separate in a meaningful way from everything else that can be seen?

Can a pair of eyes, an 'I' / 'me', a Matteo, be found that is witnessing 'what can be seen'? Or is there just simply 'what can be seen' being found?
I find a Matteo in the form of a body, thoughts and sensations, but those things aren't witnessing.
It's good that you recognize what's there, and that they aren't witnessing! A subtle point, but CAN you actually find Matteo in the form of a body, thoughts, and sensations? What is Matteo other than a concept? There are a body, thoughts, and sensations, but where is the Matteo-ness about them? Why are they not a Bob, or a Martha, or not indicative of anything specific at all?
What do you find? Can an INHERENT SEER be found?
I only find perceptions
Would anything that is suggested as the seer, be anything other than a concept/idea/thought?
. The seer is a concept.
Well seen.
So where does that leave you?
-Todd
That relaxation of the clenched "myself" feels like having been roused from a dream to find oneself alive and aware...Each moment feels fresh, different from any other, and entirely unspeakable...And that is sufficient.- Robert Saltzman

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Re: the end of suffering?

Postby Matteo » Fri Dec 02, 2022 7:28 pm

What would make it clear to you if that was the case? What feels like it MIGHT be a sense of me? Look deeper into it.
I think that's the sense of me. The sense of having a location, behind the eyes. That's where I feel "myself" the most.
Who is the “I” that experiences things? Does that I actually exist, or is it another physical sensation and/or thought? Again, the crux of it is to really home in on that assumed “I” who is experiencing
I'm getting confused about what I mean when I say "I", because I call the body "I", but if I have to locate myself, I point behind my eyes. Whatever "I" is, it's an object of perception, like the image of the body or the thought of my face.
Try this:
You know what it’s like to experience life through Direct Experience, right? When there’s no thinking about what’s being experienced, and instead there are just sights, sounds, etc appearing, but not relating back to anyone or anything. You’ve experienced that, right?

Drop in there now, and get a good feel for what that’s like.
Then after a little while, go back to “normal life”.

What feels different in this experience versus the Direct Experience?
Is something here now that wasn't there in DE?

Be as specific as possible!
I'm not sure I've experienced that. Once I had the experience of seeing "my" shoes, but they weren't "mine" anymore. There was no relation with me, but the me was it here I think. What do you mean by "relating things to myself"? Is the relating made of thoughts, or is it more subtle?
Okay, so this is great. It’s true that the first part of your answer is all in thought (imagination). But I appreciate your insight that what you usually refer to “I” is just sensation, and that sensations can’t witness anything.

What does it feel like to see this?
It feels normal, I already knew that there's nothing that isn't a perception. Or there is something else?

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Re: the end of suffering?

Postby vegansatori » Fri Dec 02, 2022 9:05 pm

Hi Matteo,
I think that's the sense of me. The sense of having a location, behind the eyes. That's where I feel "myself" the most.
I remember we discovered this in our chat. I would suggest to keep investigating that spot behind your eyes until it really clicks that it's only sensation. You have it intellectually, but it seems that the paradigm shift hasn't come along with it yet.

It might help to amp it up by "intentionally" looking around the room and feel as centered behind your eyes as you can. Really enhance the feeling of being a looker in control of your eyes. And then once that feeling is really strong, investigate into it to find out what that feeling is really made of. Is it physical sensations, internal images, thoughts, a combination of all of them? Don't just look quickly once and assume that's good enough. Stick with it repeatedly, really exploring the current experience of what it feels like to be a self located behind the eyes.
I'm getting confused about what I mean when I say "I", because I call the body "I", but if I have to locate myself, I point behind my eyes. Whatever "I" is, it's an object of perception, like the image of the body or the thought of my face.
It's a normal confusion because even after seeing no self we still use the term "I" in conventional speech because it's just more functional in society. The question is, are you using the term conventionally for the sake of communication, or do you really believe on some level that you ARE the body?

Good that you're noticing that whatever you're calling "I" is always the object of perception and not the perceiver. However, like my last question, do you believe that the "I" actually is the body, or thoughts about your face, etc.? Or are you just slapping an arbitrary label on whatever sensations and perceptions happen to be seen?
I'm not sure I've experienced that. Once I had the experience of seeing "my" shoes, but they weren't "mine" anymore. There was no relation with me, but the me was it here I think. What do you mean by "relating things to myself"? Is the relating made of thoughts, or is it more subtle?
Ah, sorry about that. Have you ever done any Open Awareness kind of meditation practices? Or ones where you focus all your attention on sights or sounds outside of you? You can have this kind of experience where your visual field, or auditory field, become slightly brighter/louder/closer/more vivid. And the thinking tends to quieten way down, or even stop temporarily.

In my experience, with that there tends to be a lack, or at least a lessening, of relating back to the person/subject/doer/experiencer. It's a bit more subtle than just a lack of thoughts saying "I'm seeing that tree." There is just an image of something we're labelling "tree" without it necessarily being seen by anyone. It's a hard thing to put into words, but it's like a change in your internal feeling/awareness.

Sorry if that doesn't help much...

It feels normal, I already knew that there's nothing that isn't a perception. Or there is something else?

Again, our issue is that you have a very clear intellectual knowledge of what you're looking for, or expect to find or not find. But the internal shift around it apparently hasn't happened yet.

Again, if the spot behind the eyes is the most persuasive place of feeling like a self, do what I said earlier in this post. Keep coming back to the sensation every time throughout the day that it's noticed. And then really search it for anything that could be considered a permanent, unchanging self that can actually move the eyes and control experiences.

Take some time drilling into this over and over until it really clicks for you that there's nothing there doing the seeing, or controlling.

Also remember, when we're doing the inquiry practices, don't worry about coming up with the correct answers, or relating the insights to me. Just relax, and Look at what's there, right now, in Direct Experience. Not relating to concept or thought, and not judging or criticizing your progress. Just Look with a kind of scientific curiosity, or the curiosity of a small child. Keep it relaxed and fun! Stressing out and tensing up will only reinforce the illusion of selfhood. (Which of course gives you something more to investigate!)

Let me know how you make out!
-Todd
That relaxation of the clenched "myself" feels like having been roused from a dream to find oneself alive and aware...Each moment feels fresh, different from any other, and entirely unspeakable...And that is sufficient.- Robert Saltzman

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Re: the end of suffering?

Postby Matteo » Sat Dec 03, 2022 4:10 pm

Hi Todd,

there are a lot of points in your last reply. For now, I'm going to focus on the head and see what happens. What I refer to as "I" is Matteo, the person. Me and you, Matteo and Todd, that's the meaning of the label.

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Re: the end of suffering?

Postby vegansatori » Sat Dec 03, 2022 7:58 pm

Hi!
there are a lot of points in your last reply. For now, I'm going to focus on the head and see what happens.

Sounds like a good plan!
What I refer to as "I" is Matteo, the person. Me and you, Matteo and Todd, that's the meaning of the label.
We seem to be going in circles on this point, and I'm not quite sure where you're landing.

Honestly, please answer these:
Do you FEEL that this "I/person/Matteo" is real?
Do you BELIEVE that this "I/person/Matteo" is real?
Do you WANT this "I/person/Matteo to be real?

Can you write the most detailed description of what the "I/person/Matteo" is?
Where is it?
What is it made of?
Which sense faculty perceives it?
Can you show it to me?
Does it ever change?
What is enduring about it?
Tell me anything else you can find about it.


Keep up the inquiry, but I'm very curious to hear your reply to these answers.
Hope to see you at the meeting tomorrow!
Have a good night,
-Todd
That relaxation of the clenched "myself" feels like having been roused from a dream to find oneself alive and aware...Each moment feels fresh, different from any other, and entirely unspeakable...And that is sufficient.- Robert Saltzman

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Re: the end of suffering?

Postby Matteo » Tue Dec 06, 2022 4:50 pm

Hi Todd, How are you?
Do you FEEL that this "I/person/Matteo" is real?
I feel that is real.
Do you BELIEVE that this "I/person/Matteo" is real?
I don't believe it's real in the sense that there is an appearance of a person, but it's the intepretation of that appearance that makes it into a person.
Do you WANT this "I/person/Matteo to be real?
not consciously, but maybe?
Can you write the most detailed description of what the "I/person/Matteo" is?
Where is it?
What is it made of?
Which sense faculty perceives it?
Can you show it to me?
Does it ever change?
What is enduring about it?
Tell me anything else you can find about it.
it is here, in the middle of my visual field. It's made of the thing that makes everything else in the visual field, and all the other senses. It appears mainly through the sense of sight and sensations. I can show it to you because it's visible. It does change, in time. What's enduring about it is some aspects of the appearance, especially after a certain age. However, it's completely different from when I was a child and will probably be quite different when I'll be old, so there's nothing unchangable in an "absolute" way. What I also find that would be part of the person are thoughts.

I've been focusing inside the head, eyes, skull, nothing special to report till now. This morning I suddently remembered an important aspect of my first LSD experience, which I didn't notice I forgot. I saw the visual field without interpretation, like I was in a fake room, with everything made out of the same material, only resembling a room, but not being one, like it was a fake cardboard representation of it. I was thinking about that this morning, and I asked myself "how would it be like to see my surroundings in this moment in that way, right now?" that didn't made me see things that way, maybe it pushed me 0,001% in that direction, but what I did accomplish is that I got scared. I didn't expect to get scared, but it felt relevant.

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Re: the end of suffering?

Postby vegansatori » Wed Dec 07, 2022 3:53 am

Hi Matteo!
Good to hear from you. Sorry I didn’t see you at the meeting this week. Is everything okay?
Do you FEEL that this "I/person/Matteo" is real?
I feel that is real.
Okay, can you trust that feeling? What makes you think it’s telling the truth? Have you ever had a feeling that turned out to be wrong?

Specifically, what FEELS real about it? Is there a thought claiming that it’s real, or is there something more tangible, something more convincing for you?

Do you BELIEVE that this "I/person/Matteo" is real?
I don't believe it's real in the sense that there is an appearance of a person, but it's the intepretation of that appearance that makes it into a person.
I think I know what you mean here, but can you please elaborate on what you mean by the interpretation making it into a person?

If I understand correctly, you’re saying it’s only thought which is contributing to the assumption of there being a person there, right?

Do you WANT this "I/person/Matteo to be real?
not consciously, but maybe?
Good that you see there’s a maybe. Is there anything even the smallest bit frightened of non-existence? Any traces of fear in there?
Can you write the most detailed description of what the "I/person/Matteo" is?
it is here, in the middle of my visual field.
Is it inside or outside of the head?
I want you to try this exercise. Do this multiple times before you respond:

Head 1
Try this:
Close your eyes, and feel all the tiny sensations of your face. Do they appear to be appearing in front of you?
Now feel the back of your head in as fine detail as possible. Are those sensations really appearing behind you?
Now feel the top of your head. Are those sensations above you?
Feel all three regions at the same time. Do you feel like your awareness is contained within these walls, or does it transcend them?
Now open your eyes and repeat the exercise.

It's made of the thing that makes everything else in the visual field, and all the other senses. It appears mainly through the sense of sight and sensations.
So is it different from the chair or walls in your room? Or the sound of a passing truck? Is it something separate which is witnessing sights and sensations?

I can show it to you because it's visible.
Do you mean to say this, or was that a typo? If you can show it to me, PLEASE DO! I truly want to see it!!!
It does change, in time. What's enduring about it is some aspects of the appearance, especially after a certain age. However, it's completely different from when I was a child and will probably be quite different when I'll be old, so there's nothing unchangable in an "absolute" way. What I also find that would be part of the person are thoughts.
Okay, so a related, but divergent question. Did Stacy ever do the exercise with you to write what is an Experience vs what is a Thought?

I want you to take your last paragraph and label each sentence as either DE = something which is known by Direct Experience, or T = something which is only a thought.

How do you know right now that the self feeling is completely different from how it used to be, or what it might become in the future? Can you access the past or future right now?
I also find that would be part of the person are thoughts.
Okay, I agree that thoughts are part of the illusory mirage that we are calling the self/person. But are they REALLY indicative of an actual lasting self?
I've been focusing inside the head, eyes, skull, nothing special to report till now. This morning I suddently remembered an important aspect of my first LSD experience, which I didn't notice I forgot. I saw the visual field without interpretation, like I was in a fake room, with everything made out of the same material, only resembling a room, but not being one, like it was a fake cardboard representation of it. I was thinking about that this morning, and I asked myself "how would it be like to see my surroundings in this moment in that way, right now?" that didn't made me see things that way, maybe it pushed me 0,001% in that direction, but what I did accomplish is that I got scared. I didn't expect to get scared, but it felt relevant.
This is really interesting. It might be a glimpse of something related to the Fetter 6/non-duality perspective. But don’t worry about that now. That will come later. At this point just put it on the shelf as an interesting memory, and maybe it will inspire something at some point. Who knows?

But for now, let’s focus on just seeing through the self. Cool?

Let me know how you make out with this stuff, and then we can decide how to proceed.
Have a great day!
-Todd
That relaxation of the clenched "myself" feels like having been roused from a dream to find oneself alive and aware...Each moment feels fresh, different from any other, and entirely unspeakable...And that is sufficient.- Robert Saltzman

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Re: the end of suffering?

Postby Matteo » Fri Dec 09, 2022 5:16 pm

Good to hear from you. Sorry I didn’t see you at the meeting this week. Is everything okay?
Yes everything is ok, I couldn’t attend because I miscalculated the date.
Do you FEEL that this "I/person/Matteo" is real?
I feel that is real.
Okay, can you trust that feeling? What makes you think it’s telling the truth? Have you ever had a feeling that turned out to be wrong?
It could be just a perception that the brain is making up, so it hasn’t to be real.
Specifically, what FEELS real about it? Is there a thought claiming that it’s real, or is there something more tangible, something more convincing for you?
There is a thought saying “there is a person”, the concept of what a person is, plus a feeling of “being” that either is hard to describe, or is not there at all. Is the knowledge that I exist.
Do you BELIEVE that this "I/person/Matteo" is real?
I don't believe it's real in the sense that there is an appearance of a person, but it's the intepretation of that appearance that makes it into a person.
I think I know what you mean here, but can you please elaborate on what you mean by the interpretation making it into a person? if I understand correctly, you’re saying it’s only thought which is contributing to the assumption of there being a person there, right?
What I mean is that before the symbolic mind does anything, there is just a field of colors, shapes and other things, unrecognized by memory. Then there is a projection that isolates a particular section of the visual field and calls it “a person” or “me”. So the person is there, but only as a projection of memory onto reality.

Do you WANT this "I/person/Matteo to be real?
not consciously, but maybe?
Good that you see there’s a maybe. Is there anything even the smallest bit frightened of non-existence? Any traces of fear in there?
Yes. There is no fear of non-existence, but there is fear of “radically different existence” and fear of loosing all refrences that I use to navigate life right now. The thought of what could happen if I go too deep with this stuff scares me, but I’m still convinced that I want to go all the way.
Can you write the most detailed description of what the "I/person/Matteo" is?
it is here, in the middle of my visual field.
Is it inside or outside of the head?
Is not outside. I thought that I’m deciding if it’s the head, or if it is inside, but that makes it arbitrary. I think I’m identifying myself as the brain and everything that is connected to it. Something comes to my mind about consciousness not being produced by the brain, but “streamed” by it. Some scientist is saying that. If that is true, then there’s no way I’m a person.

I want you to try this exercise. Do this multiple times before you respond:

Head 1
Try this:
Close your eyes, and feel all the tiny sensations of your face. Do they appear to be appearing in front of you?
Yes.
Now feel the back of your head in as fine detail as possible. Are those sensations really appearing behind you?
I don’t know if they’re really behind, but they feel behind.
Now feel the top of your head. Are those sensations above you?
They feel above me.
Feel all three regions at the same time. Do you feel like your awareness is contained within these walls, or does it transcend them?
It feels it’s contained.

It's made of the thing that makes everything else in the visual field, and all the other senses. It appears mainly through the sense of sight and sensations.
So is it different from the chair or walls in your room? Or the sound of a passing truck? Is it something separate which is witnessing sights and sensations?
The only difference is that it’s always in the center of my visual field, and there are sensations that arise when it’s touched, while the chair has no sensations.
I can show it to you because it's visible.
Do you mean to say this, or was that a typo? If you can show it to me, PLEASE DO! I truly want to see it!!!
I can show you the body, were you referring to something else? Like awareness? I can’t show you awareness. I don’t know what that word means to me.
It does change, in time. What's enduring about it is some aspects of the appearance, especially after a certain age. However, it's completely different from when I was a child and will probably be quite different when I'll be old, so there's nothing unchangable in an "absolute" way. What I also find that would be part of the person are thoughts.
Okay, so a related, but divergent question. Did Stacy ever do the exercise with you to write what is an Experience vs what is a Thought?
I want you to take your last paragraph and label each sentence as either DE = something which is known by Direct Experience, or T = something which is only a thought.
It does change, in time. T
What's enduring about it is some aspects of the appearance, especially after a certain age. T
However, it's completely different from when I was a child and will probably be quite different when I'll be old, so there's nothing unchangable in an "absolute" way. T
What I also find that would be part of the person are thoughts. The labels “person” and “thoughts” are T, what they refer to is DE.
How do you know right now that the self feeling is completely different from how it used to be, or what it might become in the future? Can you access the past or future right now?
I know it by memory, but I can’t access past or future.
I also find that would be part of the person are thoughts.
Okay, I agree that thoughts are part of the illusory mirage that we are calling the self/person. But are they REALLY indicative of an actual lasting self?
They are associated with a self, but it doesn’t have to be lasting. What I know is that thoughts are there, their content refers to the body, and I know most people don’t hear my thoughts.

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Re: the end of suffering?

Postby vegansatori » Sat Dec 10, 2022 3:31 am

Hi Matteo,
Yes everything is ok, I couldn’t attend because I miscalculated the date.
Ah, bummer. It was a good meeting. Hopefully you can make the one on the 18th.
I feel that is real.
Okay, can you trust that feeling? What makes you think it’s telling the truth? Have you ever had a feeling that turned out to be wrong?
It could be just a perception that the brain is making up, so it hasn’t to be real.
Okay, I might have mentioned this before, but when we say “I feel that” we’re really saying “I think that”. How do you know the feeling of Matteo is not just another thought? What sense faculty does it appear in?
Specifically, what FEELS real about it? Is there a thought claiming that it’s real, or is there something more tangible, something more convincing for you?
There is a thought saying “there is a person”, the concept of what a person is, plus a feeling of “being” that either is hard to describe, or is not there at all. Is the knowledge that I exist.
By “knowledge that I exist” you mean “thought that I exist.”

Again, in precisely which sense faculty does the “feeling of being” appear? Could it be that it’s not there at all?

I think I know what you mean here, but can you please elaborate on what you mean by the interpretation making it into a person? if I understand correctly, you’re saying it’s only thought which is contributing to the assumption of there being a person there, right?
What I mean is that before the symbolic mind does anything, there is just a field of colors, shapes and other things, unrecognized by memory. Then there is a projection that isolates a particular section of the visual field and calls it “a person” or “me”. So the person is there, but only as a projection of memory onto reality.
Okay, I get what you’re saying. Thanks for the clarification. What you say is true about there just being shapes and colors before the application of concepts and labels. And this process of labeling and making a “thing” out of a fluid field is happening for every “object” we see.

But is there a specific thing, other than the body, which can be labeled as Matteo in this way?
Yes. There is no fear of non-existence, but there is fear of “radically different existence” and fear of loosing all refrences that I use to navigate life right now. The thought of what could happen if I go too deep with this stuff scares me, but I’m still convinced that I want to go all the way.
Okay, thanks for being honest about this. At this level of seeing through the self, it’s not likely that that would happen, but I can’t give any certainties because everyone functions differently. Are you really sure you want to proceed? If so, we can work with the fear if you want.

Does the fear come up when you are doing inquiry? Do you think it might be causing a blockage from you going further?
Can you write the most detailed description of what the "I/person/Matteo" is?
it is here, in the middle of my visual field.
Is it REALLY??? Or is there a sensation of some sort that is being labeled as the “I”?

\
Is not outside. I thought that I’m deciding if it’s the head, or if it is inside, but that makes it arbitrary. I think I’m identifying myself as the brain and everything that is connected to it. Something comes to my mind about consciousness not being produced by the brain, but “streamed” by it. Some scientist is saying that. If that is true, then there’s no way I’m a person.
Again, the problem is that everything in that last paragraph was just a thought, a concept. In your DE, how do you even KNOW that you have a brain? Can you experience it in some way? Any theories about consciousness need to be put on a shelf for now because that’s not going to help you.

How many times did you try these exercises? For how many minutes did you them?
I would like you to try them again, and sit with each step for at least 3-5 minutes. Keep your attention focused on the specific sensations asked for, and really watch closely to see if anything changes while you do it. (I'm giving you a slightly expanded version, btw.)

Head 1
Try this:
Close your eyes, and feel all the tiny sensations of your face. Do they appear to be appearing in front of you?
Now feel the back of your head in as fine detail as possible. Are those sensations really appearing behind you?
Now feel the top of your head. Are those sensations above you?
Feel all three regions at the same time. Do you feel like your awareness is contained within these walls, or does it transcend them?
Now open your eyes and repeat the exercise.

Head 2
Close your eyes.
What EXACTLY are the experiences of your head?
How can you tell it exists?
Where is it?
Again, is hearing happening literally inside of it?


Feel all around what you take to be the borders or perimeter of your head.
Can you tell exactly where each side and appendage of it begins, ends, or is in contact with the air around it?

Now open your eyes.
Where is your head?
How do you know you have one?
Can you see it without looking in a mirror?
Can you feel it without using your hands?
Can you hear it, taste it, smell it?


Close you eyes.
Take a drink of something, but before you swallow, swish it around in your mouth.
Where is the taste being tasted?
Does it appear exactly where you think your mouth is in space?

Swallow it.
Where exactly are the sensations of swallowing happening?

Smell whatever the drink is.
Is the smelling happening directly inside the nose? Further away?
What is the sensation of scent really like?

Now most importantly, did you find a Matteo in any of these sensations?
Did you find a head?
Where is everything being experienced, and by whom?

So is it different from the chair or walls in your room? Or the sound of a passing truck? Is it something separate which is witnessing sights and sensations?
The only difference is that it’s always in the center of my visual field, and there are sensations that arise when it’s touched, while the chair has no sensations.
Technically the chair having no sensations is an assumption, and not something knowable in DE. But I’ll let that slide. ;-)

What do you mean by “sensations that arise when it’s touched?” What’s the IT in this sentence? What can touch the sense of self?

We need to do something to investigate this feeling of being centered in the visual field.
Does that feeling persist with your eyes closed?

I can show you the body, were you referring to something else? Like awareness? I can’t show you awareness. I don’t know what that word means to me.
That's fine. Words like Awareness and Consciousness mean so many things to so many people that it's not worth using them for the most part. Except in very specific ways, like peripheral awareness vs centered attention.

So my original question was to describe the I/person/Matteo in detail, and you said “it is here, in the middle of my visual field. It's made of the thing that makes everything else in the visual field, and all the other senses. It appears mainly through the sense of sight and sensations. I can show it to you because it's visible.”

So is the thing in the middle of your visual field the body? Can you show me what’s in the center of your visual field?
What's enduring about it is some aspects of the appearance, especially after a certain age. T
However, it's completely different from when I was a child and will probably be quite different when I'll be old, so there's nothing unchangable in an "absolute" way. T
What I also find that would be part of the person are thoughts. The labels “person” and “thoughts” are T, what they refer to is DE.
Good job on this. Yes, just to clarify, the actual sensations that you are labeling “person” are themselves DE, and the fact that thoughts are arising is DE, however the content of the thoughts is not. Are you clear on that distinction?
I know it by memory, but I can’t access past or future.
Good, in other words, you know it by unverifiable thoughts, right?
Okay, I agree that thoughts are part of the illusory mirage that we are calling the self/person. But are they REALLY indicative of an actual lasting self?
They are associated with a self, but it doesn’t have to be lasting. What I know is that thoughts are there, their content refers to the body, and I know most people don’t hear my thoughts.
Yes, thoughts are definitely here. And their content might occasionally refer to a body, but where is an ACTUAL self in that? There’s a label called “self”, but that label is itself another thought, isn’t it?

As well as doing the past Head exercises again, very slowly, try this one out and see how it goes. Again, feel free to do these a few times a day for a few days each before answering. What is revealed by doing them is more important than the answers you give!

Seeing

Put your inner sight in the middle of your head, somewhere behind the eyes and between the ears. You can scan around. What do you see? Can you find a self there?

Now drop the imagined image of what you’re looking at.
How are you experiencing that point now?
Is it through physical sensations?
What do you experience?
Where are these sensations appearing?
How close are they?

Now notice, does there appear to be a “you” who is still witnessing these sensations?
If so, how far away is it from the sensations?
Where is the witnesser located?
How can you tell? Is something else witnessing the witness?
Are one or both of these witnessers actually just thoughts?
Can you merge with the sensation?

Let it be the only thing of importance. Focus fully on it, allowing it to get closer and closer.
Is there really any distance at all between the sensation and the experience of the sensation?


Good luck with it, and let me know how you make out!
-Todd
That relaxation of the clenched "myself" feels like having been roused from a dream to find oneself alive and aware...Each moment feels fresh, different from any other, and entirely unspeakable...And that is sufficient.- Robert Saltzman

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Matteo
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Re: the end of suffering?

Postby Matteo » Sat Dec 10, 2022 1:16 pm

Hi Todd. While I take the time to do the exercises properly, I can answer all the other questions.
How do you know the feeling of Matteo is not just another thought? What sense faculty does it appear in?
It could be a thought. I can't point to a specific feeling or sensation and call it "the feeling of Matteo" by itself.
Again, in precisely which sense faculty does the “feeling of being” appear? Could it be that it’s not there at all?
what I call "feeling of being" is probably just beeing, sensations in the body. There is no special sensation called "feeling of being".

But is there a specific thing, other than the body, which can be labeled as Matteo in this way?
no, there's no other thing apart from the body that I would label as "Matteo".
Are you really sure you want to proceed?
Yes.
Does the fear come up when you are doing inquiry? Do you think it might be causing a blockage from you going further?
Not during inquiry, but only when I imagine how would it be to live in a different paradigm of existence, perceiving things differently. This is probably because I'm projecting my psychedelic and non-psychedelic experiences into the future, and I'm also rememering all the people that reported things like "loosing interest in conversations and people, choosing a more solitary life" and stuff like that.

Is it REALLY??? Or is there a sensation of some sort that is being labeled as the “I”?
sensations + colors and shapes is what I'm labeling as "I".
In your DE, how do you even KNOW that you have a brain? Can you experience it in some way?
in direct experience there is no brain. I've never seen my brain, it only appears as a thought.
How many times did you try these exercises? For how many minutes did you them?
around 10 minutes, tried only once.
What do you mean by “sensations that arise when it’s touched?” What’s the IT in this sentence? What can touch the sense of self?
the "it" is the body. when the shape that I label as "body" touches something, sensation arise. The touching is also a conceptual projection, because for two things to touch they have to be considered two separate things, otherwise it would be just colors and shapes morphing.
We need to do something to investigate this feeling of being centered in the visual field.
Does that feeling persist with your eyes closed?
yes. it feels like I'm behind the blackness that's there with eyes closed.

So is the thing in the middle of your visual field the body? Can you show me what’s in the center of your visual field?
yes, it's the body. I see the body in my experience, but I can't show my visual field to you.

the fact that thoughts are arising is DE, however the content of the thoughts is not. Are you clear on that distinction?
yes.
I know it by memory, but I can’t access past or future.
Good, in other words, you know it by unverifiable thoughts, right?
those thoughts are unverifiable in the absolute sense, but they seem reasonable. Why whould they be there otherwise? why would anybody have them?

Yes, thoughts are definitely here. And their content might occasionally refer to a body, but where is an ACTUAL self in that? There’s a label called “self”, but that label is itself another thought, isn’t it?
there is a label called "self". it appears as a mental sound that says "I" + "did this, did that, been here, etc.". What you mean by "an actual self"? There is a shape that I label "body". That label to me is a synonym with "I".

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Re: the end of suffering?

Postby vegansatori » Sun Dec 11, 2022 8:26 pm

Hey Matteo!
Take your time on the exercises, but I’ll respond to these now. Just a heads up, my Monday and Tuesday are looking pretty busy this week, so I might be absent.
It could be a thought. I can't point to a specific feeling or sensation and call it "the feeling of Matteo" by itself.
Good, that’s very important. So keep looking for that “feeling/sensation” and see what information it gives you to make you think it’s Matteo. It might be one of the 100 different sensations that are being misinterpreted as Matteo. That’s totally possible. But if it isn’t the whole self, it can be seen as just a sensation, or a thought, and allowed to either be there or disappear.

Think of it like this: At first we feel like there is a self here because it’s never been investigated. Then once we start to investigate, we find a checklist of dozens of different physical sensations, thoughts, internal images, etc which all pop up and try to claim ownership of the self/Matteo. So we investigate each of these individually so that you can see clearly that it isn’t the self. It’s just a sensation/thought/etc. So you can check it off the list and move on to the next thing. Eventually you will run out of new sensations (you might need to investigate them each many times) and the other shoe will drop when you realize that there truly is no self in there. It’s just a collection of constantly changing stuff.
what I call "feeling of being" is probably just beeing, sensations in the body. There is no special sensation called "feeling of being".
Okay, good. So deeply investigate them. Where exactly, to the millimeter are these sensations in the body? Describe them in as much detail as possible. Focus all of your attention on them and tell me what’s really there.
no, there's no other thing apart from the body that I would label as "Matteo".
Okay, fantastic. So if you cut off your leg, is that leg still Matteo? Is the rest of the body still Matteo? When it’s just a lifeless corpse, will that corpse be Matteo? Are you using the name Matteo in the relative way, like how I still refer to myself as Todd, and have Todd’s drivers license, etc? Or are you still attached to the feeling of actually BEING the body?
Are you really sure you want to proceed?
Yes.
Cool. Let me know if at any time you change your mind.
Not during inquiry, but only when I imagine how would it be to live in a different paradigm of existence, perceiving things differently. This is probably because I'm projecting my psychedelic and non-psychedelic experiences into the future, and I'm also rememering all the people that reported things like "loosing interest in conversations and people, choosing a more solitary life" and stuff like that.
Yeah, as much as psychedelics can help open people to other possibilities of perception and consciousness, it can also instill unrealistic expectations about awakening. Being awake can feel like being more grounded in some ways. It’s not like being on a 24/7 acid trip. People who are fully awake still hold down very difficult and high-stakes jobs. There’s just an openness and freedom because you don’t feel like everything is personal in the way that you currently do. Sure, some people do experience a restructuring of priorities, and that might include changes in career or hobbies or relationships. But it will eventually feel perfectly natural and liberating because you’re aligning your inner and outer worlds in a way that is most beneficial for your growth and contentment. None of us know for sure how we’re going to react, but none of the things you are worried about are happening right now. So you are nervous about a figment of your own imagination that is rather unlikely to play out the way you are anticipating. Does that help?
sensations + colors and shapes is what I'm labeling as "I".
Okay, good. So are you STILL labeling them “I”? Or are you saying that it’s an unconscious habit?
in direct experience there is no brain. I've never seen my brain, it only appears as a thought.
Great! Well seen!

So in DE, is there a self?
around 10 minutes, tried only once.
Yeah, like I said, you’re going to want to do these longer and more frequently. It’s not enough to do it once and hope for an explosion.
the "it" is the body. when the shape that I label as "body" touches something, sensation arise. The touching is also a conceptual projection, because for two things to touch they have to be considered two separate things, otherwise it would be just colors and shapes morphing.
Okay, I like where you’re going with this. Is this seen directly, or intellectual thought?
yes. it feels like I'm behind the blackness that's there with eyes closed.
Let’s see what happens with the last set of exercises I gave and we’ll go from there.
So is the thing in the middle of your visual field the body? Can you show me what’s in the center of your visual field?
yes, it's the body. I see the body in my experience, but I can't show my visual field to you.
I’m not quite following about you seeing your body in your experience. Do you mean you can see your hands, legs, torso, etc. when you look down? Can you see your head? If you look straight up at the ceiling, is your body still in the middle of your visual field?
Good, in other words, you know it by unverifiable thoughts, right?
those thoughts are unverifiable in the absolute sense, but they seem reasonable. Why whould they be there otherwise? why would anybody have them?
Mmm, it’s treading on dangerous ground asking why thoughts would be there if they aren’t real. Is there a reason? Do you trust all of your memories? I’m not saying that some aren’t useful for basic daily functioning. We need our memory of salient facts (our birthdate, name, address, etc.) But we don’t need all of the episodic memories about the ups and downs in the story of our lives. They are our projections of what we think happened (not what necessarily happened as witnessed by an outside observer.) And as we know from science, every time you remember something, the brain is essentially recreating the memory. So details change, parts are hazy, etc. And every time you remember the same memory over and over, you’re really recreating just the most recent version of the memory, not the original one. But they all feel completely convincing and real to us, so we don’t doubt them, or notice how flawed they are.

All of which is a bit of diversion, as my original point was just that when we are doing self-inquiry, the only thing we rely on is DE. If you are returning to memories, or making projections about the future, we are just appealing to unverifiable thoughts that may or may not have happened, or may not ever happen. And they all distract us from looking RIGHT HERE NOW.
there is a label called "self". it appears as a mental sound that says "I" + "did this, did that, been here, etc.". What you mean by "an actual self"? There is a shape that I label "body". That label to me is a synonym with "I".
Okay, I think I kind of covered some of this with my checklist analogy earlier. But I would like you to make a complete list of all aspects of your experience that you are labeling “I”. But again, the question is, are you really believing that they are “I” or are you just using them as a convenient label?

Are you defending the existence of an “I”?

Again, I might not be able to write back until Wednesday, so feel free to take your time with all of these exercises!
Have a great day,
-Todd
That relaxation of the clenched "myself" feels like having been roused from a dream to find oneself alive and aware...Each moment feels fresh, different from any other, and entirely unspeakable...And that is sufficient.- Robert Saltzman

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Matteo
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Re: the end of suffering?

Postby Matteo » Mon Dec 12, 2022 10:42 pm

it feels like I'm going in circles about the I = body. I'll make a series of statements, tell me if they are correct:

1. there is experience
2. we don't know what experience "is". We only know it's there.
3. experience, before concepts subdivide it, is just one piece.
4. experience gets subdivided into objects, and one of those it's been called "Matteo".

When you ask me if I believe there is an I, my answer is: as a concept, yes. one of those shapes in the field of experience is perceived as an object by itself, but that's only because the whole experience is fragmented by the overlay of concepts.

I saw experience without concepts, so by contrast I know that objects are "less real" if compared to raw experience. I'm not presently perceiving that raw experience without divisions as clearly as I did during one of my experiences.

I have the feeling that when you ask if I believe in the "I", you're not really asking about the body itself, but what the body does or is responsible for. The body is there as a concept, but maybe what's not clear is what are the implications of the body not "really" being there, but just being a concept? what does change if one knows this? I'm not getting that. I know what changes when those overlays of concepts become less prominent and direct experience "shines" through them, it changes everything, but from what you say that's beyond the scope of our conversation. Am I making myself clear?

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vegansatori
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Re: the end of suffering?

Postby vegansatori » Tue Dec 13, 2022 1:43 am

Hi Matteo!
it feels like I'm going in circles about the I = body.
Yeah, it seems to be an issue of language (not English vs Italian, but the fact that we use the same words to mean so many different things).
I'll make a series of statements, tell me if they are correct:
1. there is experience
True
2. we don't know what experience "is". We only know it's there.
True
3. experience, before concepts subdivide it, is just one piece.
True, though again this is something which doesn’t necessarily get fully seen until later on the awakening path, and isn’t necessary for seeing through the illusion of self, though for some people it can help.
4. experience gets subdivided into objects, and one of those it's been called "Matteo".
This one I’m not entirely clear on. Can you define what you mean by "object" in this sentence? Like cars, and chairs, and bird song, and the smell of cinnamon, or something different?

I would say that experience gets subdivided into individual senses, (seeing, hearing, bodily sensations, etc.) and thoughts about past, present, and future. (And some of those thoughts further subdivide the sense data into separate objects like cars, chairs, etc)

And some other thoughts mistakenly grasp at certain other types of thoughts, and certain sensations (physical and otherwise), and then create an illusory story out of them that they are proof of an unchanging entity that we refer to as “I, me, Matteo.”

It’s not that there is one discrete part of our experience which is “I/Matteo.” Does that make sense? “I/Matteo” is only the concept, the label.

When you ask me if I believe there is an I, my answer is: as a concept, yes.
Exactly.
one of those shapes in the field of experience is perceived as an object by itself,
I'm sorry, this is the part where I don’t follow you. Can you describe exactly what you mean by “the shape in the field of experience” that is appearing as the self? With which sense faculty do you sense this shape? Can you touch it, see it, smell it, etc?
but that's only because the whole experience is fragmented by the overlay of concepts.
Again, this part I agree with.
I saw experience without concepts, so by contrast I know that objects are "less real" if compared to raw experience. I'm not presently perceiving that raw experience without divisions as clearly as I did during one of my experiences.
That’s to be expected. Again, this is in the realm of the 6th and 7th fetters, but we are still working on the first. So it’s great that you had glimpses of this, but don’t get too hung up on that now. Again, these aren’t necessary in seeing through the illusion of self. (I don't experience everything without division all the time either!)
I have the feeling that when you ask if I believe in the "I", you're not really asking about the body itself, but what the body does or is responsible for.
Okay, so to clarify, when I use the word “I” I’m referring only to a conceptual overlay. I’m not specifically referring to a body at all. Some people are convinced that the “I” is the same thing as the body. It is not, but it needs to be seen to be true by the person.

Others don’t believe that the “I” is the body, but they think that it’s somewhere in the head, or the chest, or that it’s an intangible awareness around the body, or any number of other things. And they all need to be investigated until it’s seen once and for all that it’s not in any of those places either. And then the whole illusion starts to crumble.

I’m not asking you if the actual physical body exists. Of course, it both does and does not. The narrative of all it’s been through is just thought. The label of this as being “my body” is false. Who is the owner of the body? The idea of it as a whole unchanging unit is obviously, scientifically, false. However there is something there that can get injured, sick, and that can stop functioning altogether. So we treat it as though it’s as real as we believe it to be, even though we know that it’s really a collection of atoms that are mostly empty space.
The body is there as a concept, but maybe what's not clear is what are the implications of the body not "really" being there, but just being a concept? what does change if one knows this? I'm not getting that.
Good question. Again, I’m not really pointing so much to the notion that the body doesn’t exist. It can lighten up your grip on the solidity of objects to see this, but again, it’s not totally necessary for seeing through self. It can, however, be helpful for the people who are fully identified with the body.

Just to be clear, are you one of the “I am my body” people at this point?

As for the issues of doership, control, and responsibility, personally I never equated them with the body. To me, they always felt like they were coming from something which was using the body to act, like a person piloting a giant robot. But we can see through that too. Do you feel like doership and control are related to the body? Do we need to investigate those? Do you feel like you have agency and control?
I know what changes when those overlays of concepts become less prominent and direct experience "shines" through them, it changes everything, but from what you say that's beyond the scope of our conversation. Am I making myself clear?
Yes, that’s totally clear, thanks. Did my explanation clear it up at all?

I’m trying to find out precisely which elements of your experience you are still turning to as proof of a self. So we’re trying to rule out anything that pops up.

There can be a body, but is that body really Matteo? Is that body unchanging and the same creature that has existed for as long as the story of Matteo has been going on?

And if not, in which other sense faculty or thought does the self seem to be existing?


Does this help?

Thanks for asking!
-Todd
That relaxation of the clenched "myself" feels like having been roused from a dream to find oneself alive and aware...Each moment feels fresh, different from any other, and entirely unspeakable...And that is sufficient.- Robert Saltzman

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Matteo
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Re: the end of suffering?

Postby Matteo » Tue Dec 13, 2022 7:58 am

Just an aside before the full reply. During the night I woke up (not spiritually), and couldn't sleep. So I started doing inquiry on the sensations In the head. I thought about when I said to you that I'm behind the blackness of the eyes. So I asked: what do I think is exactly behind the eyes? It's gotta be something specific if I think it's there. Then I noticed that I feel there's an empty space, that the blackness seems distant on 3d space from where I'm supposed to be. Seeing this, I understood that I experientially identify as "the observer". I would say that I identify as the observer and the body, but it seems to be a different kind of identification. The one with the observer really gives me a sense of location and separation from everything else. Some time ago, I found an exercise called "the room is looking at itself", and it asks to imagine that. I thought about it because if I didn't place me as an observer behind the eyes, that's what probably would remain with eyes open: a room looking at itself. Tomorrow I'll respond to your other questions.

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Re: the end of suffering?

Postby Matteo » Fri Dec 16, 2022 3:14 pm

4. experience gets subdivided into objects, and one of those it's been called "Matteo".
This one I’m not entirely clear on. Can you define what you mean by "object" in this sentence? Like cars, and chairs, and bird song, and the smell of cinnamon, or something different?
yes, I mean something like cars, chairs and so on.
It’s not that there is one discrete part of our experience which is “I/Matteo.” Does that make sense? “I/Matteo” is only the concept, the label.
Matteo is a concept that refers to a section of experience, composed by a certain shape in the visual field + sensations + thoughts.
one of those shapes in the field of experience is perceived as an object by itself,
I'm sorry, this is the part where I don’t follow you. Can you describe exactly what you mean by “the shape in the field of experience” that is appearing as the self? With which sense faculty do you sense this shape? Can you touch it, see it, smell it, etc?
I sense this shape throught the visual field, thought field, and sensation field. Is the person/body.

Who is the owner of the body?
either it owns itstelf or it has no owner, the body just is. The body is animated, it has life, but I wouldn't say that the animation "owns" the body".
Just to be clear, are you one of the “I am my body” people at this point?
I would say I identify both as the body and as something behind my eyes, something immaterial.
Do you feel like doership and control are related to the body? Do we need to investigate those? Do you feel like you have agency and control?
I feel like I have agency and control. Thoughts make the body do things.
I know what changes when those overlays of concepts become less prominent and direct experience "shines" through them, it changes everything, but from what you say that's beyond the scope of our conversation. Am I making myself clear?
Yes, that’s totally clear, thanks. Did my explanation clear it up at all?
yes.
There can be a body, but is that body really Matteo? Is that body unchanging and the same creature that has existed for as long as the story of Matteo has been going on?
And if not, in which other sense faculty or thought does the self seem to be existing?
The body is changing. Matteo is a label that has been attributed to this body. This is possible because although it is changing, it changes slowly and it's recognizable throught time, at least through the perspective of memory. If I don't consider memory and consider only direct experience, then "Matteo" is a label attributed to a particular body which is present in experience in this moment.


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