Goodbye self!

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Kelly17
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Goodbye self!

Postby Kelly17 » Sun May 28, 2017 11:47 am

LU is focused guiding for seeing there is no real, inherent 'self' - what do you understand by this?
Self is an illusion, we are all one.

What are you looking for at LU?
I understand the concept of no separate self, and at times during meditation I get a glimpse. But the realisation is not total - I can feel it is not, but I can also feel it getting closer. I just started meditation about 5 months ago, after reading The Untethered Soul, which changed my life.

What do you expect from a guided conversation?
Hoping to learn from someone who has passed through the gate, chiefly by being challenged, and that the illusion starts to fade through extremely honest enquiry. I expect direct questions. I do not expect philosophical discussions, or to find a personal teacher. This is all very clear from your site, which is excellent. Deepest gratitude to those who give their time to guide others.

What is your experience in terms of spiritual practices, seeking and inquiry?
Raised a Christian. Have been meditating by myself for 5 months. This is changing absolutely everything. I'm feeling a bit alone on the journey, however. Perhaps this is okay but I thought it wise to reach out to those who can guide.

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

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Flicki
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Re: Goodbye self!

Postby Flicki » Sat Jun 03, 2017 6:59 pm

Hello there,

Nice to meet you and welcome to LU! My name is Christina and I can be your guide. Shall I call you kelly17 or do you prefer another name?

Before we start, please have a good browse around the forums and see how everything works (including the quoting function, which can help to keep a better overview in a conversation thread...). I would also recommend looking at the FAQ and maybe some of the resources, so you know what LU is (and isn't) all about.

What we will do here is basically to have a conversation, the aim of which would be for you to understand the true nature of 'self'. In order to help you to get there, I will ask you questions or give you little hints or exercises to explore as this process is not about theories or concepts, but about experience. It would be great if you could write once a day or if you do not have the possibility to write longer to send a short message saying so. I will do the same.

My first question is: What do you mean with 'I' in your sentence
I expect direct questions
?

Looking forward to your answer!

All the best,
Christina

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Kelly17
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Re: Goodbye self!

Postby Kelly17 » Sat Jun 03, 2017 10:18 pm

Hi Christina, wonderful meeting you. Looking forward to the process. Thank you very much for taking the time to guide. Please simply call me Kelly :)

To answer your question: "I" in this case means the 'unit of measurement' (for lack of a better term) of life that is seeking a conversation.

It's hard to communicate without using a subject (I or me), and I hope this isn't getting too much on the side of semantics and not answering your question. The I is the bundle of neurons firing enough to seek help and type? I know the answer to that - the body, the mind is not the self. But they are there and at the moment I guess that's what I mean, if I'm being honest.

I get that the 'self' is a made-up framework employed to give us a sense of control of events, when there is in reality no control. The idea that self is an illusion seems really obvious, and something I've always felt deep down. This feeling became even more present after the death of my late husband when he was age 27 (I was 28). Since then (about 15 years ago) I have referred to myself not as Kelly but as 'the Kelly' to close friends and family. (For example, "The Kelly is hungry.") It's weird but feels honest. Seeing myself as not exactly a 'self', but more of a character, has been going on for awhile.

Yet, my sense of self is very strong. I can't help but feel like I'm a 'unit of measurement' of some kind, something that exists.

Clearly I need help. Despite several paragraphs and lots of honestly I already feel I am not answering the question. But it's a start. Thanks for your patience.

Best,
Kelly

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Flicki
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Re: Goodbye self!

Postby Flicki » Sun Jun 04, 2017 1:46 pm

Hello Kelly!

Nice to read from you so quickly! I read your post with interest and now I have a few questions.
To answer your question: "I" in this case means the 'unit of measurement' (for lack of a better term) of life that is seeking a conversation.
What exactly do you mean by 'unit of measurement'?
It's hard to communicate without using a subject (I or me), and I hope this isn't getting too much on the side of semantics and not answering your question.
Nah, don't worry about that kind of stuff. Just try to answer the questions as honestly as you can in the words that you think describe your experience best.
The I is the bundle of neurons firing enough to seek help and type?
When typing, can you feel neurons firing? What exactly is your experience of 'typing'?
I get that the 'self' is a made-up framework employed to give us a sense of control of events, when there is in reality no control.
Yes, that is quite possible! Could you imagine to let go of that 'sense of control'? What does that idea feel like?
. Seeing myself as not exactly a 'self', but more of a character, has been going on for awhile.
What is the difference between the self and the character? Is one more real than the other?

Lots of questions, I know! But I am really trying to understand what you are saying there!

Looking forward to your answer!

Christina

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Kelly17
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Re: Goodbye self!

Postby Kelly17 » Mon Jun 05, 2017 6:07 pm

Hi Christina,

Thanks for the thoughtful response.

By 'unit of measurement' I guess mean a quantifiable unit of life. At the risk of overcomplicating things: my body/mind is not attached to yours. We are separate 'units' that can be measured, and my unit is called Kelly, yours Christina. Kelly's unit senses a sort of 'life force' attached to it that is harder to measure and quantify - this part is peaceful.

Thanks for calling me on the neuron nonsense - of course I cannot feel them firing. This is an assumption based on what we know of neuroscience. When I type I experience a mind body connection - thoughts trigger the learned physical response of pressing keys, which has become rather automatic over the years through repetition. The feeling of the squishy buttons on the fingertips never gets old somehow.

You asked if I could imagine letting go of a sense of control. Part of me loves the idea, and feels warm, peaceful and somewhat familiar with the actual practice of this, but I have to really concentrate to keep that experience. It is not a default state.

The part of me that doesn't love the idea of totally 'letting go' is concerned with the implications of 'not doing', like ignoring an injustice or poverty, let's say. Or ignoring a relationship. I know this is probably cliche, but it's a concern. There is a strong part of me that wants to make the world a better place, and for some reason in practice that translates to trying to control. Concerned about apathy if I totally let go. And of a loss of free will.

Your last question is the difference between the character 'Kelly' and the self. I see the character as the life and storyline of the unit called Kelly (school, work, relationships, etc). The 'self' feels more like a caretaker of the character.

Hope I'm making sense! :)

Best,
Kelly

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Flicki
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Re: Goodbye self!

Postby Flicki » Mon Jun 05, 2017 10:12 pm

Hello Kelly,

Thanks again - I found your text very interesting to read! Let's dive right into it, shall we? :-)
By 'unit of measurement' I guess mean a quantifiable unit of life. At the risk of overcomplicating things: my body/mind is not attached to yours. We are separate 'units' that can be measured, and my unit is called Kelly, yours Christina. Kelly's unit senses a sort of 'life force' attached to it that is harder to measure and quantify - this part is peaceful.
Now I have a better idea of what you mean! I'd really like you to have a closer look at this, however. Could you please try the following at one point today, please? You said you have some experience with meditation, let's use that. Please sit down in a meditation pose that works for you with your back straight, face relaxed, eyes closed and follow the breath for a while. Then, without opening your eyes, slowly divert your focus to sensation. Follow what happens on a sensational level. Then please try to zoom in a bit and feel where exactly your body ends and where the rest of the world begins. Look really closely! Then please let me know what you found out!
Thanks for calling me on the neuron nonsense - of course I cannot feel them firing. This is an assumption based on what we know of neuroscience.
Well, you know, we're not denying neuroscience here, of course, but I'm way more interested in your direct experience of things! :-) So let's stick with that!
When I type I experience a mind body connection - thoughts trigger the learned physical response of pressing keys, which has become rather automatic over the years through repetition. The feeling of the squishy buttons on the fingertips never gets old somehow.
Very well described! Are you really sure though that there are thoughts first and then there is a physical response? Would you mind looking at that again? Also, where do the thoughts come from? Where do they go? What is causing the thoughts? Can you look closely and tell me a bit more about this?
The part of me that doesn't love the idea of totally 'letting go' is concerned with the implications of 'not doing', like ignoring an injustice or poverty, let's say. Or ignoring a relationship. I know this is probably cliche, but it's a concern. There is a strong part of me that wants to make the world a better place, and for some reason in practice that translates to trying to control. Concerned about apathy if I totally let go. And of a loss of free will.
Well, the thing is... if there really is no such thing as a self (and there isn't, but look for yourself! :-)), then there hasn't been one all along. And trying to control doesn't mean that there is such a thing as control! At the same time, you have been able so far to not be apathetic. Nothing would really change if you let go of a self. Kindness isn't lost, human relationships are still possible... and very much so! :-) See, I can still talk to people, I haven't turned into some kind of vegetable either! :-)

On another note... you write about 'the part of' you 'that doesn't love the idea'... could you tell me a bit more about that part? Where is it? Is it something you can see, feel, hear or smell? What is it like? What are its properties?

Looking forward to read more! :-)

So far,
Christina

[/quote]

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Flicki
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Re: Goodbye self!

Postby Flicki » Tue Jun 06, 2017 12:26 pm

PS: Sorry I forgot to ask you if you have read the disclaimer...https://liberationunleashed.com/register/disclaimer/ Could you please confirm that you have? Thanks! :-)

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Kelly17
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Re: Goodbye self!

Postby Kelly17 » Tue Jun 06, 2017 4:01 pm

Hi Christina,

Loved reading your response, thanks. Particularly your reassurance that I will not turn into some sort of vegetable! Point well made.

Thanks for asking me to do the mediation/sensing exercise, asking where the body ends and the rest of the world begins. It was thrilling, something I've never focused on before quite in this way. I found that where there is no contact with other surfaces (for example, the head) I could not feel a beginning and ending. Where there was contact with clothing and surfaces, I could feel contact with something other than the body but could not determine the exact place where I end and the rubber mat, for example, begins. I could feel the bottom of one thumb resting on the thumbnail of the other, but could not find beginning or end for either thumb. Interestingly, when I opened my eyes and looked at the thumbs, I thought I could feel an ending and beginning, the clear meeting point of thumb to thumb. A sense of separation required vision.

You asked if typing requires thoughts first then a physical response. I think yes in that I have to decide what I am going to say before I can physically type. Even if the time lapse between brain and hands is less than a second, the fingers don't decide what I'm planning to say. It does feel like a sequence. I'm sorry, I have a sense I might have missed something, but this is how I experience it.

Where do thoughts come from and where do they go? Not sure! I seem to experience different kinds of thoughts. One kind is for basic needs - these thoughts come from the brain, for survival (strategies for acquiring food, shelter, safety, emotional wellbeing - for example: "do I have enough change to buy that bottle of water, I'm thirsty"). The brain is getting water for the body.

The other kind is a useless sort of running commentary that doesn't seem to serve a 'basic needs' purpose (for example: "if i buy the bottle of water am I destroying the ocean... but it's okay it will get recycled... what if it's not really recycled, how can we really know what happens to the plastic we use" etc). Where these come from I have no idea. One guess is that what I think of as my thoughts are simply things I've heard elsewhere. These things are stored in the brain and maybe just circle around passively?

Where do thoughts go? They fade, but I'm not sure if they die or get recycled in some way (continuing in an endless cycle) or just really cease to exist. I can't feel them arise, and I can't feel them die. I can't really feel them generally, and try to ignore most of the 'useless' kind. But I do feel emotions that are sometimes attached with them. They can create a physical response (like sweating for example).

You asked about the part of me that 'doesn't love the idea' of letting go. That part is fear of the unknown, experienced by a pain in the chest, but I feel I've let go of it since reading your reassurance that nothing will change (relationships, caring) when I let go of the self :) It's amazing to have a guide, deepest thanks.

PS, regarding the disclaimer - yes, have seen and I agree, thanks.

Best,
Kelly

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Flicki
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Re: Goodbye self!

Postby Flicki » Tue Jun 06, 2017 8:16 pm

Hello Kelly!

Thanks for your reply. I'm really enjoying this conversation! :-)
Thanks for asking me to do the mediation/sensing exercise, asking where the body ends and the rest of the world begins. It was thrilling, something I've never focused on before quite in this way. I found that where there is no contact with other surfaces (for example, the head) I could not feel a beginning and ending. Where there was contact with clothing and surfaces, I could feel contact with something other than the body but could not determine the exact place where I end and the rubber mat, for example, begins. I could feel the bottom of one thumb resting on the thumbnail of the other, but could not find beginning or end for either thumb.
Very good! That is exactly what is meant by direct experience! So in sensation, there is no clear separation between self and the world!
Interestingly, when I opened my eyes and looked at the thumbs, I thought I could feel an ending and beginning, the clear meeting point of thumb to thumb. A sense of separation required vision.
If you want to, you can also try another exercise. Start again like yesterday with a good meditation pose, a bit of relaxation, but then stay with the breath and notice how there is breathing in and breathing out. After a while 'zoom in' on the nose. If the breath enters the nose, where exactly does is cross the line from being 'outside the body' to 'inside the body'?

If you like, you can also focus again on sensation after that and see if this 'shift' in observation when you open your eyes changes with time. It is likely that this is a conditioned response that dissolves with a bit of training in openness. Keep looking at that, okay? And please tell me about it, too! :-)

[/quote]
You asked if typing requires thoughts first then a physical response. I think yes in that I have to decide what I am going to say before I can physically type. Even if the time lapse between brain and hands is less than a second, the fingers don't decide what I'm planning to say. It does feel like a sequence. I'm sorry, I have a sense I might have missed something, but this is how I experience it.[/quote]

Wait... you really experienced that a 'time lapse between brain and hands is less than a second'? :-) That sounds a lot like conceptual thinking! Please look again and this time don't focus on the thoughts, just observe! It is well possible you come to the same conclusion, but so far I am not convinced that this is your experience! :-)
Where do thoughts come from and where do they go? Not sure! I seem to experience different kinds of thoughts. One kind is for basic needs - these thoughts come from the brain, for survival (strategies for acquiring food, shelter, safety, emotional wellbeing - for example: "do I have enough change to buy that bottle of water, I'm thirsty"). The brain is getting water for the body.

The other kind is a useless sort of running commentary that doesn't seem to serve a 'basic needs' purpose (for example: "if i buy the bottle of water am I destroying the ocean... but it's okay it will get recycled... what if it's not really recycled, how can we really know what happens to the plastic we use" etc). Where these come from I have no idea. One guess is that what I think of as my thoughts are simply things I've heard elsewhere. These things are stored in the brain and maybe just circle around passively?
Just to summarise what you wrote from experience (because a lot of what you wrote is thoughts about thoughts! :-)): There are thoughts and you don't know where they come from. Can we agree to that?
Where do thoughts go? They fade, but I'm not sure if they die or get recycled in some way (continuing in an endless cycle) or just really cease to exist. I can't feel them arise, and I can't feel them die. I can't really feel them generally, and try to ignore most of the 'useless' kind. But I do feel emotions that are sometimes attached with them. They can create a physical response (like sweating for example).
And again: Thoughts aren't stable, they come and go and they can have effects. Right?

So from your experience, is there some entity, something you might call 'self' or 'I' that causes or controls these thoughts?
You asked about the part of me that 'doesn't love the idea' of letting go. That part is fear of the unknown, experienced by a pain in the chest, but I feel I've let go of it since reading your reassurance that nothing will change (relationships, caring) when I let go of the self :)
Do you still feel anything holding you back... some pain or tension for example... when you think of letting go of a self? Anything else you'd like to address here?
PS, regarding the disclaimer - yes, have seen and I agree, thanks.
Great, thanks for that!

Okay, that's it for today! Looking forward to reading from you again! :-)

So far,
Christina

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Kelly17
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Re: Goodbye self!

Postby Kelly17 » Thu Jun 08, 2017 3:27 pm

Hi Christina,

Thanks, I'm really enjoying our conversation, too :)

I did the breathing exercise and was not able to sense where the breath crosses the line into the body. I've also been focusing more on sensation generally over the last few days, as you suggested - I still notice a separateness when I have my eyes open, but it dissolves with my eyes closed. Will keep going with that and will keep you posted.

As to typing: it's not that I can feel a lapse, it's just that I experience thinking first. Like right now, I'm forming the sentence in my head, and I can hear myself saying in my head what I'm planning to type, and then the fingers do the work. I know it's a sequence because my thoughts move faster than my fingers, and at times I have to stop the flow of thoughts while I wait for my fingers to finish typing a word. But the actual typing is automatic - it's not as if I'm thinking "the right index finger goes up and down". So in that sense there is no sequence or thought driving it. Hope that makes sense.

Yes, totally agree that there are thoughts and I have no idea where they came from, that they aren't stable, come and go, and can have effect. There is no entity or self that controls these thoughts - they just come and go. I used to identify with the thoughts, but I try not to do that anymore.

You asked if there was anything holding me back, like pain or tension, and I can honestly say no. When I think of letting go I smile :)

Best,
Kelly

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Flicki
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Re: Goodbye self!

Postby Flicki » Fri Jun 09, 2017 7:51 am

Hi Kelly!

Nice to hear back from you!
I did the breathing exercise and was not able to sense where the breath crosses the line into the body. I've also been focusing more on sensation generally over the last few days, as you suggested - I still notice a separateness when I have my eyes open, but it dissolves with my eyes closed. Will keep going with that and will keep you posted.
This is great to read, you really sound quite enthusiastic! :-) If there is no real crossing line around the body, however, can you tell me where inside begins and where outside ends? Btw, do you wear glasses? I'm asking because I'm legendarily short sighted, but it gives me lots of opportunities, too: When I have my glasses on, my perception of the world is just as you describe it. When I take them off... not at all! :-) So if you do, please try the same exercise without glasses and see for yourself!
As to typing: it's not that I can feel a lapse, it's just that I experience thinking first. Like right now, I'm forming the sentence in my head, and I can hear myself saying in my head what I'm planning to type, and then the fingers do the work. I know it's a sequence because my thoughts move faster than my fingers, and at times I have to stop the flow of thoughts while I wait for my fingers to finish typing a word. But the actual typing is automatic - it's not as if I'm thinking "the right index finger goes up and down". So in that sense there is no sequence or thought driving it. Hope that makes sense.
Ah, thanks, this does sound like direct experience now! :-) This answer makes more sense to me. The only point I'm stumbling about here is the sentence 'I'm forming the sentence in my head, and I can hear myself saying in my head what I'm planning to type'. Could you look very closely at that again, please - what is really happening there? How are the thoughts formed? Do you know what your next thought or idea will be? Can you stop a thought from coming? Can you stop a thought in the middle?
Yes, totally agree that there are thoughts and I have no idea where they came from, that they aren't stable, come and go, and can have effect. There is no entity or self that controls these thoughts - they just come and go.
Great!
I used to identify with the thoughts, but I try not to do that anymore.
What brought about the change? How do you try not to do that anymore?
You asked if there was anything holding me back, like pain or tension, and I can honestly say no. When I think of letting go I smile :)
:-)

Okay then! Looking forward to your reply and have a nice weekend!

So far,
Christina

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Kelly17
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Re: Goodbye self!

Postby Kelly17 » Fri Jun 09, 2017 6:41 pm

Hi Christina!

Thanks for the great questions. With my eyes closed, I can't feel inside or outside - no beginning or end. There's nothing there. With my eyes open I see the body's epidermal layer and take that to be a barrier between the body and the world.

Interesting about your glasses! Thanks for the suggestion but I don't wear them.

You asked if I can look at typing again. The thoughts while typing aren't random floating thoughts, but more for the purpose of communicating something specific. So the thoughts are mostly trying to find the words to articulate an idea. I'm doing it right now to try to explain my experience to you. I don't know where I get the ideas, or the urge to communicate something specific. I cannot stop an idea. But I can choose not to type it. This is why I think it's a linear process of thought then physically pressing keys to type. But once I've decided to type a series of words, it's automatic.

As to identifying with thoughts, I stopped doing it after reading a book (The Untethered Soul). This has changed my life. I also started mediating which helps with the daily practice of detachment from thoughts. I just watch the thoughts but don't apply them to a self concept. It's getting easier, but sometimes during stressful periods at work it's hard to keep up. I'll judge myself and then have to remind myself that there is no self, it's all an illusion. And then I feel peace again.

So as I said, there is nothing holding me back. And I think I see that the self does not exist. At times during meditation I just feel like a 'life force' and nothing else. But I don't know if I'm there totally? How can you tell? I do feel that I'm missing something.

Have a lovely weekend as well! Thanks again for the guidance :)

Best,
Kelly

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Flicki
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Re: Goodbye self!

Postby Flicki » Sat Jun 10, 2017 9:37 am

Hello Kelly!

Thanks again for your reply!
With my eyes closed, I can't feel inside or outside - no beginning or end. There's nothing there. With my eyes open I see the body's epidermal layer and take that to be a barrier between the body and the world.
Exactly! There is no inside and outside, no clear border between 'you' and the world! You already said so in the introduction, but later on you referred to yourself as a 'unit of measurement', so I wasn't sure if you really got it at that point. Sounds good to me now!
You asked if I can look at typing again. The thoughts while typing aren't random floating thoughts, but more for the purpose of communicating something specific. So the thoughts are mostly trying to find the words to articulate an idea. I'm doing it right now to try to explain my experience to you. I don't know where I get the ideas, or the urge to communicate something specific. I cannot stop an idea. But I can choose not to type it. This is why I think it's a linear process of thought then physically pressing keys to type. But once I've decided to type a series of words, it's automatic.
Well, I'm basically curious because your experience of typing is a little different from mine! :-) You write, however "I can choose not to type". How does that work exactly?

If you're tired of watching typing we can try another exercise. :-) I suggest you go and make yourself a cup of tea. (Or get another beverage of your choice, but preferably something that needs a bit of preparation). But before you do that, just sit for a few minutes (on a chair or on your cushion, whatever seems convenient right now), loosely paying attention to whatever arises, calming the mind a little. Then please get up and make yourself the drink.

Who chooses when to do that? With every action you do, please observe how that action arises. Do 'you' decide to do the next thing? Is there a choice? What is going on? Please report!
I also started mediating which helps with the daily practice of detachment from thoughts.
Yes, that can be very helpful indeed!
I just watch the thoughts but don't apply them to a self concept. It's getting easier, but sometimes during stressful periods at work it's hard to keep up. I'll judge myself and then have to remind myself that there is no self, it's all an illusion. And then I feel peace again.
Would you mind looking at something else there? You wrote "I just watch the thoughts but don't apply them to a self concept." That sounds as if there is no identification with thoughts, but, again, is there a decider? What decides? How does that 'not applying' work? Can you tell that from direct experience?
So as I said, there is nothing holding me back. And I think I see that the self does not exist. At times during meditation I just feel like a 'life force' and nothing else. But I don't know if I'm there totally? How can you tell? I do feel that I'm missing something.
I'm happy to read that nothing is holding you back, that is great! And I can very much relate to the 'life force' experience... it's so much fun! :-) Yet again... "I think I see that the self does not exist" is not the same as experiencing that there is no self. I share that feeling that something is missing. So I suggest we explore a little more, shall we?
Have a lovely weekend as well! Thanks again for the guidance :)
Thank you! And you're more than welcome...

So far,
Christina

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Kelly17
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Re: Goodbye self!

Postby Kelly17 » Sun Jun 11, 2017 12:07 pm

Hi Christina,

I've been doing some thinking and investigating. Am going to do more today and will report back soon.

Have a lovely day!

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Flicki
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Re: Goodbye self!

Postby Flicki » Sun Jun 11, 2017 12:13 pm

Thanks for letting me know! Be careful not to overthink... experiencing is the key! :-)


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