Seeking a Buddhist Guide.

This is a read-only part of the forum. All threads where seeing happens are stored here and come from this forum, the Facebook guiding area and various LU blogs. The complete list, sorted by guide, contains all links. The archives include threads of those that came to LU already seeing as well.
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CaptainNemo
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Seeking a Buddhist Guide.

Postby CaptainNemo » Fri Mar 03, 2017 1:14 am

What are you looking for at LU?
I'm looking for friendly challenge to my hidden assumptions about how things are. I also want to test out whether my experiences of no-self are genuine and go far enough. I feel like I know; I need to discover whether that's right. If I find out that i don't know, then I want help to work with that until I know for certain that 'I' know.
I'm looking to take my intellectual understanding and turn it into a visceral certainty, in direct experience.

What do you expect from a guided conversation?
From the side of the guide, I imagine direct, kind, prodding and probing communication.
Also, patient support and encouragement when I'm stuck.
I'm just expecting a human being who sees clearly, rather than having any inflated ideas of how a guide should be.
Some laughs and lightness along the way...
But I expect a lot in a way - that out of this some seeing happens that hasn't happened before - something, simple, obvious, that doesn't change anything but makes a difference to everything.

What is your experience in terms of spiritual practices, seeking and inquiry?
I've practised Buddhism for quite a while now, in different contexts. I've done a couple of Zen sesshins, had Tibetan teachers, and also explored some western more eclectic Dharma.

On a scale from 1 to 10, how willing are you to question any currently held beliefs about 'self?: 9

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Xain
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Re: Seeking a Buddhist Guide.

Postby Xain » Mon Mar 06, 2017 1:51 pm

Hi CaptainNemo

I saw your post hadn't been answered for a while.
My name is Xain and I am a guide here.
Whilst I am not a Buddhist, I do have a very good knowledge of Buddhism and terminology, and how the realisation offered here at LU fits in with Buddhist understanding.
I'm looking for friendly challenge to my hidden assumptions about how things are.
Yes, that is essentially 'it'. Challenging our assumptions . . . assumptions which aren't seen as that . . . they are seen as 'absolute truth' and not questioned.
The usual Buddhist pointer of 'the finger pointing at the moon is not the moon'. We mistake the words, thoughts, ideas and language that we use for inherently real things. The main one in this guidance is that there word 'I' or 'me' points to an inherently real 'thing' (and that it is not 'empty' / we fail to recognise the emptiness of what we are referring to).
The guidance shows that the belief of 'self' is held in place by circular thoughts and misperceptions.
If I find out that i don't know, then I want help to work with that until I know for certain that 'I' know.
The guidance is to get you to a position where it is completely clear, and you have realised what we are pointing to 100%.
Nothing else would be satisfactory.
From the side of the guide, I imagine direct, kind, prodding and probing communication.
Yup - I'll do some of that. Maybe get the old Zen Stick out if you drift off into speculation.
Also, patient support and encouragement when I'm stuck.
That too - Honesty is very important. If things are not clear (or you don't understand what is being mentioned) feel free to mention that and we can go into it until things understood.
I'm just expecting a human being who sees clearly, rather than having any inflated ideas of how a guide should be.
Some laughs and lightness along the way...
For certain! The people at LU call me Mushroom, because I'm such a Fun-Guy. ;-)
But I expect a lot in a way - that out of this some seeing happens that hasn't happened before - something, simple, obvious, that doesn't change anything but makes a difference to everything.
This is a VERY wise position to approach this from. Many people come here with very lofty ideas about what this is all about - The ideas themselves can prevent the realisation, or bring about disappointment if an over-emphasised goal is not achieved.
When this is seen, it is realised to be the most simple thing imaginable - Even having comments 'It's so obvious, yes of course, it's always been this way, why on earth didn't I see this before'.
Conversely, because it is so simple it is the most difficult thing to see because of it. The human mind desperately wants to 'work it out' and the 'working it out' is actually the cause of 'not seeing it'.

Do you have any concerns or fears about the guidance or the outcome?

Xain ♥

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CaptainNemo
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Re: Seeking a Buddhist Guide.

Postby CaptainNemo » Tue Mar 07, 2017 12:42 pm

Hi Xain,

Many thanks for diving into the pool of people looking for guides and fishing me out. I'm happy to work with you. Looking for a buddhist guide wasn't about wanting to end up with my buddhist views reinforced -- just that it would save time if I could use some of my buddhist vocabulary occasionally as a way of explaining things. It sounds like you can do that, and anyway what we're talking about is our experience as human beings, not views, so I'm sure we'll be fine.

I've just spent some time rooting around in myself, trying to find any concerns about this process, and what might come out of it. I can only find two, and they're both ghostly and in the background. One is that I won't get to the 100% clarity that I'm looking for (and I felt very encouraged by your response that nothing less than that would do!) The other one is a semi-conscious sadness that if my mind completely stops organising itself in terms of a self then 'I' won't be there to witness that success. (I can see that doesn't make sense, but the feeling is there -- a bit like a nostalgia for a way of being that's been there for so long.)

So from my side we're good to go.

Nemo.

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CaptainNemo
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Re: Seeking a Buddhist Guide.

Postby CaptainNemo » Fri Mar 10, 2017 11:27 am

Hi Xain,

It's been three days since I posted here to say I was happy for you to guide me, and all set to go. Since then I've also emailed you and not had any response. I'm wondering where to go from here.

Is it normal for it to take a while for a dialogue to get going? (You seem to be very active on here.) Is there something else I should be doing, or do I carry on just kneeling here, Zen-style, in the snow outside the temple gate, looking for the 'me' whose knees and back are getting sore?

That said, I'm off walking this weekend, and don't know how much signal there will be, so it may be Sunday before I can pick up messages.

All the best,
Captain Nemo.

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Xain
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Re: Seeking a Buddhist Guide.

Postby Xain » Fri Mar 10, 2017 1:38 pm

Hi again Nemo

I am sorry for the delay - For some reason the system fails to inform me that people have replied on the threads.
I've tagged the conversation now, so it won't be a problem in the future.
Is there something else I should be doing, or do I carry on just kneeling here, Zen-style, in the snow outside the temple gate, looking for the 'me' whose knees and back are getting sore?
Come in, disciple - Warm yourself by this roaring log fire . . . and here's some Savlon ;)
One is that I won't get to the 100% clarity that I'm looking for (and I felt very encouraged by your response that nothing less than that would do!)
Actually the very nature of the realisation is that when it's clear, it's totally clear.
The other one is a semi-conscious sadness that if my mind completely stops organising itself in terms of a self then 'I' won't be there to witness that success.
What a fascinating and thought-provoking expectation.
But you see . . . there is no real self NOW. There is no real self organising anything. All that is to be done is to realise this :-)

Some pointers before we begin:

> Be completely honest with me, and yourself.
> Most of the guidance I will ask you what you can FIND, not what you THINK might be going on.
If you find yourself analysing or thinking what the correct answer is, you are not answering from what you can find.
> The more determined you are to see this through, the more likely you are to achieve it.
> Put aside all non-dual beliefs, spiritual, religious, scientific and medical knowledge. Approach this whole thing as simply as possible from basic principles.
> Please try to reply at least once per day - This maintains a momentum in the guiding which is important. If you know you won't be able to reply for a few days, just let me know beforehand - It's ok.

Oh . . . in order to reply 'in quotes' like I have done, a guide for that process is here:
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=-fAToDNh9hQ

Ready to start?

Xain ♥

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CaptainNemo
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Re: Seeking a Buddhist Guide.

Postby CaptainNemo » Sun Mar 12, 2017 6:36 pm

Hi Xain,

And thanks for the Savlon...

I'm back from walking - just what i needed after all that kneeling in the snow. I should be able to post every day, and will let you know if I won't be able to. I've taken on board the other guidelines you laid out.

So yes, ready to start!

Nemo.

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Xain
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Re: Seeking a Buddhist Guide.

Postby Xain » Sun Mar 12, 2017 7:10 pm

Ok, let us being by addressing 'I' or 'me' - The word that represents what we believe we are.
What does that point to for you? What does the word reference?

As mentioned in the last reply (and I won't harp on about this) but the guidance isn't about fancy non-dual beliefs or spiritual stuff - This is very much 'grass roots' level - A really simple basic level of who or what you believe you are.

For example, do you truly believe that right now you are a person looking at a screen and reading words off it?
As simple as that.

Perhaps 'I' refers to the body - The body is doing the seeing . . . the body is reading of the words, the body is hearing sounds around it and feeling the chair or seat in which it is sat.
Perhaps 'I' refers to the body that it has control of itself. 'I move my arms', 'I move my hands when typing'.
Perhaps 'I' chooses and decides - 'I chose to begin guidance at LU', 'I will be deciding what to type in a reply to you'.
Perhaps 'I' thinks and experiences those thoughts - 'I am thinking what to say', 'I had an idea yesterday', 'Right now I am seeing an object in my imagination'.

Those are a few pointers which I believe most people would agree with. Maybe they ring true for you?
What do you think? Let me know your own thoughts and opinions of what 'I' means or refers to.

Xain ♥

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CaptainNemo
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Re: Seeking a Buddhist Guide.

Postby CaptainNemo » Mon Mar 13, 2017 7:52 pm

Great, good questions.

My first response, which I know is based on past experience, is that 'I' or 'me' is actually a very shifting, shifty concept. It can refer to any or all of the body, thoughts, emotions, or awareness. And when I look at experience, it’s clear that none of those are a ‘me’ – except in the sense that ‘I’ or ‘me’ can be used as a kind of shorthand for ‘the body, thoughts, emotions, etc.’ And yet, still some of the time there’s a sense of an ‘I’ or ‘me’ that ‘hangs around’.

‘I’ don’t really believe in a ‘self’ any more. I can see how incoherent and inconsistent the whole thing is. It’s as if I’ve reached a point where I’ve done enough seeing to be convinced rationally that the body, thoughts, etc. aren’t any kind of ‘real me’, so there’s no firm identification with any of them. And yet, and yet… at times body and mind can respond as if there’s a self somewhere in the middle here, so there isn’t that 100% clarity we were talking about.

It feels like being a haunted house – the owner of the place (belief in a ‘me’) died years ago, but the ghost of a ‘me’ can still appear, sometimes in one room sometimes in another. And, if I lose awareness, then I’m back to acting as if there’s a ‘me’, and that ‘me’ can be identified with any or all of the thoughts, emotions, body or awareness.

That’s to give you a kind of feeling for the story so far. The work that I’m aiming to do, that I hope you can help with, is exorcising that ghost of ‘me’. (And yes, I know that really the house has always been empty, and the proprietor and the ghost never really existed, but it’s still unpleasant for me and people around, when I fall back into believing in them.)

Hopefully that’s enough to start us off. I’m assuming the way forward is to look into exactly how and where this ghostly remains of the belief in a ‘me’ turns up in experience?

Kind regards,
Nemo.

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Xain
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Re: Seeking a Buddhist Guide.

Postby Xain » Tue Mar 14, 2017 9:48 am

Feel free to talk in normal language.

It might be that you understand mentally that 'I' is a concept.
But is there a belief that there is a body that is 'you' is looking at a screen and reading words off it right now.
Yes or No would do. Either answer would be OK.
And when I look at experience, it’s clear that none of those are a ‘me’
Ok, good. Can you give some examples of where you are clear this is true?
And, if I lose awareness, then I’m back to acting as if there’s a ‘me’, and that ‘me’ can be identified with any or all of the thoughts, emotions, body or awareness.
Whilst I understand what you are saying, are you referring to a real 'me' that looses awareness? Or a real 'me' that is or is not identified with things?

Do you believe you had free-will in starting this guidance?
Do you believe you have a choice in what you are going to write as a reply to this message?
Again, yes or no would do and either answer is fine.

Xain ♥

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Re: Seeking a Buddhist Guide.

Postby CaptainNemo » Tue Mar 14, 2017 9:09 pm

Thanks for that, Xain.
It might be that you understand mentally that 'I' is a concept.
But is there a belief that there is a body that is 'you' is looking at a screen and reading words off it right now.
Ok, as I sit here, to start with there's a subtle sense that 'I'm here', which seems to come from a sense of location in the body, particularly in an area between the heart and the navel. What happens if I examine more closely?

Mm, what happened was that I relaxed into things, and arrived at a point where 'I' disappeared: no thinking, no-one looking at anything. Now, having come out of it, typing these words, there's a sense of freedom, but again a subtle sense of 'me here' and a 'screen 'over there'.

You were asking for examples of where I've been clear that thoughts, emotions, body and awareness aren't 'me' or 'self'. A lot of the time I can watch thoughts arise and know that they're 'just thoughts' and there isn't anything there, let alone them being my possession or me. The same happens often with emotions -- there's a big momentary whoosh of irritation or whatever, and the next moment it's more or less gone because I can see that the whole thing is ridiculous -- just feelings in the body, words in the head, energy churning around, but nothing to take as real or get hung up on.

Whilst I understand what you are saying, are you referring to a real 'me' that looses awareness? Or a real 'me' that is or is not identified with things?
No. I suppose i could put every use of 'I' or 'me' in inverted commas. But, as I say, some of the time I'm clearly acting as if 'I' do believe in a real self.
Do you believe you had free-will in starting this guidance?
Well, the whole question is a minefield. I don't believe in free will if that means being free to decide independent of the web of conditions. But that doesn't mean I believe everything is pre-determined. Also, I can see that all through the day I'm making what objectively you could call 'choices', but most of them don't feel that way. (For instance, I just put my coffee mug to the right of my desk. There were other spots in among all the clutter here where I could have put it instead, but I had no sense of 'making a choice'.) A sense of 'choice' seems to come up where there's some degree of internal conflict. And when I look into it, I can't find anyone making these 'choices'.
Do you believe you have a choice in what you are going to write as a reply to this message?
It feels as if there are different possibilities, different futures. But, in the end, typing just happens or it doesn't.

I don't feel very satisfied with what I've said, but I hope you can make something of it. Starting this process is making me look mroe closely and consistently at my actual experience during the day, so that's very helpful in itself.

Kind regards,
Nemo.

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Xain
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Re: Seeking a Buddhist Guide.

Postby Xain » Wed Mar 15, 2017 4:18 pm

Mm, what happened was that I relaxed into things, and arrived at a point where 'I' disappeared: no thinking, no-one looking at anything. Now, having come out of it, typing these words, there's a sense of freedom, but again a subtle sense of 'me here' and a 'screen 'over there'.
What is it that is going into a relaxing mode, and then coming out of a relaxing mode?

When you say 'me here' and 'screen over there', I need to make sure you are aware that the 'distance' in the senses isn't something that will change.
This can be addressed later on; It is beyond the scope of the guidance here. There may be an apparent distance between the objects in experience, and an apparent location where the seeing is being done from. What we are addressing here is 'what is at the point where the seeing is (apparently) being done from'.
Is there an 'I' there? Is there a body there?
Can we even 'go' to that point? If we cannot, then could anything that we suggest is doing the seeing anything more than just an idea - A belief?
just feelings in the body
Is the body doing the feeling?
Are the senses linked to, or 'being performed by' the body?
some of the time I'm clearly acting as if 'I' do believe in a real self.
We will look into this a little further later on.
I don't believe in free will if that means being free to decide independent of the web of conditions. But that doesn't mean I believe everything is pre-determined.
We will look into this later.
Just notice that you've set up a logical difference - Either 'free-will' or 'pre-determination'.
Both of these would require a self through-which the mechanism could be operate.
'I did that through my own free-will'
'I did that not of my own free-will, but because it was pre-determined'.
What if there is no 'I', no separate self?

Xain ♥

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Re: Seeking a Buddhist Guide.

Postby CaptainNemo » Wed Mar 15, 2017 10:58 pm

Thanks again Xain,

Lots of good pokes and prods.
What is it that is going into a relaxing mode, and then coming out of a relaxing mode?
Looking into this, I can't find anyone going into, through or out of the eperience. There's just relaxing and then subtle tensing again.
What we are addressing here is 'what is at the point where the seeing is (apparently) being done from'.
Is there an 'I' there? Is there a body there?

Can we even 'go' to that point? If we cannot, then could anything that we suggest is doing the seeing anything more than just an idea - A belief?
If it's ok with you, I'd like to just stay with this question, and keep going with it for a bit -- what's at 'the point of the viewer'? Is there anything or anyone there, and can that point even be found? It feels like a fruitful 'place' to keep looking at...

So, as i sit here now, although i can produce mental images of light rays all coming in to my retinas, and someone sitting behind my eyes somewhere, in experience there's just the expanse of what's here -- this table, this keyboard, curtains, plants, a dog basket. All that, all this is present without any need for a viewer. It's all just here, appearing all by itself without any need to add on an idea of someone looking.

Then there's the body, which can feel like the subject of the experience. But 'body' here is an idea made up partly of these 10 pink things moving on the keyboard, which are just more movements in the field of form and colour. Partly the idea of 'body' is also produced by feelings. Like now there's a slight uneasy feeling in what I think of as my stomach. But where is that exactly? In theory, the visuals are 'out there' and the feelings in my stomach are 'in here' or 'back here', but in experience i can't say what relation the visual field and those sensations have to one another.

And there's still a sense of 'someone trying to work all this out. And when i look for them, all I find are more physical sensations and some thoughts, and where are they happening?...

Does this sound on track?

Kind regards,
Nemo.

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Xain
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Re: Seeking a Buddhist Guide.

Postby Xain » Thu Mar 16, 2017 12:21 pm

Looking into this, I can't find anyone going into, through or out of the experience. There's just relaxing and then subtle tensing again.
Would it be acceptable to say that it is only an IDEA that there was a person having two separate experiences?
Or is the belief that there really was a person with these two things?
If it's ok with you, I'd like to just stay with this question, and keep going with it for a bit -- what's at 'the point of the viewer'? Is there anything or anyone there, and can that point even be found? It feels like a fruitful 'place' to keep looking at...
It is! I might say that if you can make headway in the understanding of one of the senses, then all the other senses will be found to 'follow-suit'.
So, as i sit here now, although i can produce mental images of light rays all coming in to my retinas, and someone sitting behind my eyes somewhere, in experience there's just the expanse of what's here -- this table, this keyboard, curtains, plants, a dog basket. All that, all this is present without any need for a viewer. It's all just here, appearing all by itself without any need to add on an idea of someone looking.
Excellent - Yes. So we can say perhaps 'There is a visual experience'.
You suggested 'an idea of someone looking' . . . well could we say that's all it could be?
'I am seeing', 'Eyes are seeing', 'Brain is seeing' . . . are these anything more than 'added on beliefs' (essentially the content of thoughts that appear)?
Does this sound on track?
Yes, it does!

At this point, I will offer you this simple exercise for the sense of 'feeling'. See what you make of it.

Please close your eyes for this exercise, as the 'seeing' sense is very powerful and may take you away from answering only from the feeling sense alone.

Place a hand on a desk or table (flat surface) - Close your eyes.
Now 'go to' the sensation which we would normally refer to as 'hand on desk' and answer from what you can FIND.

1) How many things do you find? I mean, are there two things (and hand and a desk) or is there one thing - A sensation.
2) Do you notice 'one thing feeling another thing'? Or is there just 'a sensation'?
3) Do you find an 'I', a body, a hand 'feeling' . . . or is there just 'a sensation'?

In the other examinations we were getting close to 'can't find a separate witness in seeing and hearing', or rather, any suggestion about a separate witness is via thought - What about 'feeling' now?
This includes 'the body' as witness.

Xain ♥

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CaptainNemo
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Re: Seeking a Buddhist Guide.

Postby CaptainNemo » Thu Mar 16, 2017 10:15 pm

Hi Xain,

Thanks for the encouraging feedback.
Would it be acceptable to say that it is only an IDEA that there was a person having two separate experiences?
Or is the belief that there really was a person with these two things?
I'm clear, whenever I look into it, that there's only an idea of a person that is having those two different experiences.

I've been carrying on my exploration of the supposed 'perceiver' of the visual field, I'm getting more confident that, with the sense of sight, there's no-one looking at anything. At regular intervals during the day, I look into the sense of sight, and each time there's a sense of a subtle alienation from the visual field dissolving away. There's a sense of relief and relaxation in the body, and of becoming 'part of the picture', a bit of a feeling of coming home.
In the other examinations we were getting close to 'can't find a separate witness in seeing and hearing', or rather, any suggestion about a separate witness is via thought - What about 'feeling' now?
This includes 'the body' as witness.
Yes, if there's no 'me' here, in the sense of a perceiver 'behind the eyes', then the next possibility is that "I'm here because I can feel the body."

And i just did your feeling exercise, with my hand on this desk, and no there aren't two things coming together, there's just one sensation. (And I'm also aware, not just as theory, that 'one, two,three' are all ideas, so finally I can't even say that there's one sensation, but relatively speaking 'one' is much closer to the truth than 'two'.)

This morning, while meditating, I was looking into the senses, and came to a point where...mm, these things are difficult to talk about. Usually all my experience feels like it's of a piece, all the senses working together. Here, it was as if I was sensing how the mind puts information from the different senses together to construct a sense of a seemingly-convincing reality. A bit like if you had a silent video, and then later you recorded a soundtrack to go with it. If that's true for experience in general, then it's obviously true for how the sense of 'me' is constructed. But, this intuition isn't fully in focus yet.

I do get though, that these sensations in the body don't imply a 'me', and I have no idea what their relationship is to the visual field. I build up an interpretation of 'visual objects out there' and 'feelings in here', but it's becomng clear that all that is an assumption.

I'm finding this exploration very engaging. Thank you.
Nemo.

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Xain
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Re: Seeking a Buddhist Guide.

Postby Xain » Fri Mar 17, 2017 9:53 am

I'm clear, whenever I look into it, that there's only an idea of a person that is having those two different experiences.
Great!

Just to make sure . . . a very simply contemplation.

Right now there is 'an experience' or perhaps 'experience'.
Is the experience happening to a person? Is it happening to a body? Is the experience personal?
Compare what you find in the experience itself, to what THOUGHTS suggest.
(And I'm also aware, not just as theory, that 'one, two,three' are all ideas, so finally I can't even say that there's one sensation, but relatively speaking 'one' is much closer to the truth than 'two'.)
Excellent. Yes. I fully understand.
We still have to communicate these ideas somehow :-)
Even 'sensation' is a label . . . a conceptualisation of what is assumed to be there.
I build up an interpretation of 'visual objects out there' and 'feelings in here', but it's becoming clear that all that is an assumption.
It is - But as mentioned previously this is the examination of the 6th fetter (perceived distance in the senses).

Let's continue on to 'choice and control' now. From what you've mentioned, you've already looked into these things and made headway.

We'll do 'control' first.

Here's a very simple exercise you can do while sat down.

Choose one of the hands, it doesn't matter which. Actively make a choice of one hand or the other.
Then when you've chosen one and you feel you wish to, raise that hand into the air.

Do this as many times as you like, but each time you do it - Inquire on this:

1) Can what is making the hand / arm rise into the air (the muscles contract etc) be FOUND?
2) Can an 'I', a Person, (or the body itself??) be found making that happen?
What exactly is making that happen?
What do you FIND?

Perhaps make the distinction between what you can find (or cannot find) in the experience, and what the content of thoughts might suggest.

Xain ♥


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