Glimpses of freedom

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Glimpses of freedom

Postby Seamist » Wed Aug 16, 2017 3:25 am

LU is focused guiding for seeing there is no real, inherent 'self' - what do you understand by this?
I don't really understand this as yet, but my current understanding is that "I" do not exist in the way that I have thought I did until recently. And that I have put a huge amount of effort in, over my life so far, into shoring up the false idea that there is a"self" in a way that I am beginning to understand that there is not.

What are you looking for at LU?
Help in more fully understanding/knowing the insight I recently had on retreat of not existing in the way that I had imagined I did. Help and guidance in building on the momentum and curiosity that this experience has triggered in me. To go more fully into this insight, and hopefully to know it more deeply and consistently.

What do you expect from a guided conversation?
To be questioned with honesty and directness, to be prodded when necessary, and to be challenged.
To be assisted to look honestly and directly at my actual experience.
To be guided to explore intensively over a period of time.
Regular email contact, daily if possible.

What is your experience in terms of spiritual practices, seeking and inquiry?
I've no experience of inquiry. I'm a Buddhist practicing within the Triratna order, and have been practising meditation for 26 years. I would like my guide to be a fellow Member of the Triratna Buddhist Order, if possible, please.

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

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Re: Glimpses of freedom

Postby ratnapani » Wed Aug 16, 2017 9:48 pm

Hi Prabhakari,
Here we go then. The first thing is to tick the 'notify me when a reply is posted' box and you will get email notification.
There is advice on how we work, the quote function etc on the site but I can send links tomorrow if you need them.
From your introduction you've got the idea of how we work.
Help in more fully understanding/knowing the insight I recently had on retreat of not existing in the way that I had imagined I did. Help and guidance in building on the momentum and curiosity that this experience has triggered in me. To go more fully into this insight, and hopefully to know it more deeply and consistently.


Can you tell me as much about this as possible. Particularly the insight you had and something of your hopes and expectations.

Metta, Ratnapani

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Re: Glimpses of freedom

Postby Seamist » Wed Aug 16, 2017 10:15 pm

Many thanks Ratnapani,
I was recently on a 10 day Spiritual Receptivity Retreat with Vessantara at Adhisthana. We were doing almost exclusively Just Sitting.
Having had a few days of recurring sloth and torpor, falling into a kind of hypnogogic state over and over, I realised that what seemed to be behind this was fear.
I asked Vessantara a question about this, and he suggested exploring just what the fear was of (s well as bringing my yidam to mind) whenever I became aware of fearfulness.
In the subsequent meditation, I suddenly knew that the fear was of my letting in the fact that I don't exist. This may sound rather oddly put, but it is how I experienced it. I knew that it was true, both that this was just exactly what the fear was, what I was trying to hold at bay, and also that the substance itself was true: that I don't exist, not in the way that I have thought I have. I felt light and joyous and relieved, a sort of " oh, THAT'S what it is!" feeling. Full of wanting to to laugh at it all.
After the meditation, it was lunch. The lentil soup was almost unbearably delicious. I went for a walk, and felt full of joy and happiness, if somewhat ungrounded. Everything was extraordinarily beautiful and blissful, yet very very, simple, ridiculously so.
This experience continued strongly for the next 24 hours, during which I could see clearly all of the efforts I had and do make to reinforce the silliness of sustaining an idea of"me" - even things like how I dress. Lots of joy and relief and happiness.
I talked to Samadevi on the second day (she has done LU and we were sharing a room) and she was reassuring, while encouraging me to stay in contact with physical sensations.
I can still contact the experience, but it's not as fully there in my awareness now, only if I bring it to mind, and in odd moments when it comes back to me.
I feel I began to understand / know something that feels real and important, and am keen to build on this now.
Hope that's useful so far
Prabhakari

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Re: Glimpses of freedom

Postby ratnapani » Thu Aug 17, 2017 9:15 am

Hi Prabhakari,

Useful ? That sounds wonderful !
In the subsequent meditation, I suddenly knew that the fear was of my letting in the fact that I don't exist. This may sound rather oddly put, but it is how I experienced it. I knew that it was true, both that this was just exactly what the fear was, what I was trying to hold at bay, and also that the substance itself was true: that I don't exist, not in the way that I have thought I have. I felt light and joyous and relieved, a sort of " oh, THAT'S what it is!" feeling. Full of wanting to to laugh at it all.
This is such a delight to read and has all the characteristics of seeing that indeed 'you' don't exist!
I think what we need to do here is make sure that what has been seen is established as well as possible.
They say what is seen cannot be unseen but it can seem too simple and obvious to be taken that seriously!

You might ask yourself ' is there an I, a me/myself in 'here' anywhere ?
Was there ever ?
What answer do you get from the heart when you look?
I can still contact the experience, but it's not as fully there in my awareness now, only if I bring it to mind, and in odd moments when it comes back to me.
The absence of 'me' is not an ongoing awareness and the joy continues for only so long. Sorry, but it should become the new normal as it works through the system.
There can still be 'selfing' - reactivity - for now which will need further inquiry.
On the other hand, when you look at Dharma, do you feel 'oh that's what it means/what they are talking about' ?

Staying with sensation is great advice, it is what we are experiencing before any fabrication can occur.

To explore this fabrication would you look into the following questions and let me know from direct experience, of course, what you come up with? It's more a guided meditation than a quiz!

Where do thoughts come from?
Where are they going?
Can ‘you’ stop a thought in the middle?

Can an 'I' be found that generates thoughts?
Does the thinker of the thought appear in experience? Can it be found?
Could it be that the 'I' that thinks is also just a thought?

Is there an 'I' that controls thoughts?
Can 'you' choose not to have painful or negative thoughts?
Can you choose what to think?
Can you choose what not to think?
Is it the brain that is thinking the thoughts?

Do you think thoughts or do thoughts think you?
Is it possible to prevent a thought from appearing?
Is it possible to prevent the thought "I" from appearing?

I look forward to your next.
Metta, Ratnapani.

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Re: Glimpses of freedom

Postby Seamist » Thu Aug 17, 2017 2:08 pm

Hi Ratnapani
Lots to ponder here!
They say what is seen cannot be unseen but it can seem too simple and obvious to be taken that seriously!
Yes, that's just it! I've been thinking is THAT it? Is that ALL it is? It seems too obvious and simple (now) to be significant.
You might ask yourself ' is there an I, a me/myself in 'here' anywhere ?
Was there ever ?
What answer do you get from the heart when you look?
On retreat, I knew that there wasn't a me "in here" anywhere, and it felt like such a relief. And I knew that there never had been. I still know that, but have to remind myself to re-connect with that knowing.
My heart leaps with joy and relief! A big YES! And a sense of bemusement.
The absence of 'me' is not an ongoing awareness and the joy continues for only so long.
As I'm finding ....
There can still be 'selfing' - reactivity - for now which will need further inquiry.
Again, as I've been noticing, finding resentment and anger coming up this week was a bit of a shock/disappointment ...where was that coming from? Who is there to be resentful/ angry after all? But maybe it's old habits.
On the other hand, when you look at Dharma, do you feel 'oh that's what it means/what they are talking about' ?
Oh yes, stuff that had previously seemed incomprehensible now makes perfect sense, and even unremarakable in a way, just a description of how things are.
Where do thoughts come from?
Where are they going?
Can ‘you’ stop a thought in the middle?

Can an 'I' be found that generates thoughts?
Does the thinker of the thought appear in experience? Can it be found?
Could it be that the 'I' that thinks is also just a thought?

Is there an 'I' that controls thoughts?
Can 'you' choose not to have painful or negative thoughts?
Can you choose what to think?
Can you choose what not to think?
Is it the brain that is thinking the thoughts?

Do you think thoughts or do thoughts think you?
Is it possible to prevent a thought from appearing?
Is it possible to prevent the thought "I" from appearing?
It seems hard to separate out these questions.
Thoughts seem to just come, mostly in a fairly repetitive and habitual way. They don't seem to be controlled by "me", they just happen, as if they are just a movement of energy, mostly along familiar channels.
I can't find a thinker, a "me" that generates thoughts. Isn't this just a fabrication?

It seems hard to stop the thought "I" from appearing, it seems to creep in at the edges at times, though there have been periods recently when it's felt absent and that I am just acting much more simply in the world. Much less selfing going on - and I've been able to understand exactly what that means for the first time!

That seems as far as I can go right now. I'm going to go out for a walk shortly and will let the questions just be there.

Hope the quoting comes over ok!
with thanks
Prabhakari

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Re: Glimpses of freedom

Postby ratnapani » Thu Aug 17, 2017 6:09 pm

Hi Prabhakari,

The quotes worked just fine !
Yes, that's just it! I've been thinking is THAT it? Is that ALL it is? It seems too obvious and simple (now) to be significant.
Just the most significant thing going, unravelling the rest of delusion starts here ! How many inspiring quotes are there about how simple and obvious it is ?
My heart leaps with joy and relief! A big YES! And a sense of bemusement.
Lovely. Bemusement ? Like what the hell have I been believing all this time, or some such ?
I sometimes wonder if the path isn't the progressive stages of not being an idiot !
Again, as I've been noticing, finding resentment and anger coming up this week was a bit of a shock/disappointment ...where was that coming from? Who is there to be resentful/ angry after all? But maybe it's old habits
.

Yeah, that can be a shock, who is there indeed. You might find that such reactions pass more quickly and leave less 'residue'.
Old habits sort of cover it. It's weird but even though the illusion is seen, what the illusion 'does' can carry on. (allowing for how can an illusion ever do anything ? !!)
That is another stage of inquiry but do keep checking back to 'Now, tell me again, who exactly is 'doing' this ?'
Oh yes, stuff that had previously seemed incomprehensible now makes perfect sense, and even unremarakable in a way, just a description of how things are.
Yes, it's so striking, all that mysterious stuff is just a description of how things are.
Isn't this just a fabrication?
Because there are thoughts there must be a thinker ? Yes the biggest fraud of them all ! It really makes sense of just letting thought come and go in meditation, if you don't really believe a word of it the power of it is gone.

I look forward to any further observation from your walk.

Here's an inspirational quote from one of the 'founders' !

There is no i at all, none as in zero. Never was. No separate entity in charge of a little piece of life, no entity as the manager, thinker, doer, feeler. No i that is making life happen. There is life flowing freely as all movement and all forms. There is being (verb) aliveness, and there are no separate alivenesses, it's all one same aliveness.

Metta, Ratnapani.

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Re: Glimpses of freedom

Postby Seamist » Fri Aug 18, 2017 8:52 am

Good Morning Ratnapani
Thanks for your responses. They are really helpful. I'm feeling very engaged with this enterprise and find I'm pondering it a lot.
In particular:
Bemusement ? Like what the hell have I been believing all this time, or some such ?
yes exactly so!
I look forward to any further observation from your walk.
More bemusement, in a way.
I realise that much of the driving force in my life up until this year has been a compulsion to try and better understand myself and other people. I trained as a mental health nurse, as a counsellor, did loads of "self-development" stuff, had lots of counselling and psychotherapy myself,and have loved personality assessments and quizes. This reached its peak for me last year when I had a temporary promotion at work and did a Leadership Course. Both reinforced my sense of "me". I was a bit uneasy about this, at the edges, but it probably would have continued nonetheless, had I not, after a year, failed to get a permanent promotion. Things began to crash in for me then - it was painful, but it also felt important, to just see how my house of cards had collapsed. I have put so much energy into trying to understand, build, and reinforce a sense of "me", when, actually, I just don't exist! What a waste of energy and time! And what a relief t have seen through it!
This experience (which was in March) and reflection around it over the immediately following months has been very fruitful, I think, and has led up to my recent experience. It feels like it's all the same experience, in a way, but now I am understanding the "big picture" much more clearly (if not all the time!)
There is no i at all, none as in zero. Never was. No separate entity in charge of a little piece of life, no entity as the manager, thinker, doer, feeler. No i that is making life happen.

Great, isn't it! Fills "me" with happiness!

with thanks
Prabhakari

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Re: Glimpses of freedom

Postby ratnapani » Fri Aug 18, 2017 6:01 pm

Hi Prabhakari,

As always it is a delight to hear from you !
I'm glad your enjoying this so much. I'm enjoying it too but then I don't really have anything to do!
I should be asking really clever questions that help you look and see there is no self but frankly (and on LU I'm not supposed to say it!) you've done that haven't you ?

That's quite a CV, both professionally and personally and I really admire the way in which you were able to depersonalise professional disappointment and look for the underlying lesson. As you say, this process was already begun.
I have put so much energy into trying to understand, build, and reinforce a sense of "me", when, actually, I just don't exist! What a waste of energy and time! And what a relief t have seen through it!
Really? Can you say it was a waste ? How do you know? Can you possibly say things could/would/ should have been different?
Can things ever be other than exactly as they are ?
Now that is worth looking at.
And what a relief t have seen through it!
Well yes, absolutely. that is a relief !
It feels like it's all the same experience, in a way, but now I am understanding the "big picture" much more clearly (if not all the time!)
We've been here before but a sense of self is not the same as the illusion of one being in place. That 'sense' will continue beyond non-returner so get used to it ! The question is if you look for an I, me/myself at any time can you, in any of the six senses, find one in any shape or form ?

Talking of the senses here's an exercise in direct experience thereof. You might have done something similar with T, I find it to be 'just sitting' meditation with guidance. (as it were).

Sit with eyes closed for about 15 minutes.
Pay attention only to the pure sensations, without relying on thoughts or mental images:

How many toes do you have?
Can it be known how tall the body is?
Does the body have a weight or volume?
What is your gender?

In your first-hand experience, does the body have a shape or a form?
Is there a boundary between the body and the clothing?
Is there a boundary between the body and the chair?

Is there an inside or an outside? If there is an inside - inside of what exactly?
If there is an outside, the outside of what exactly?
Can any ‘I’ or ‘me be found in the body?

What does the word/label ‘body’ actually refer to?
What is the actual experience of the body?

Is anything missing?

Enjoy,
metta, Ratnapani.

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Re: Glimpses of freedom

Postby Seamist » Fri Aug 18, 2017 10:12 pm

Hi again,
I should be asking really clever questions that help you look and see there is no self but frankly (and on LU I'm not supposed to say it!) you've done that haven't you ?
I wasn't sure ... though it has certainly felt like a very significant experience for me. Major, really.
What does that mean in terms of my next steps, do you think? Is it a question of integration for a while? Or? You've mentioned other Inquiries a couple of times...
We've been here before but a sense of self is not the same as the illusion of one being in place. That 'sense' will continue beyond non-returner so get used to it !
This is helpful distinction, and one that I hadn't made. So still a sense of self, but no longer the same "belief" in it? Just a sense... even if I know it's not really there?
That's quite a CV, both professionally and personally and I really admire the way in which you were able to depersonalise professional disappointment and look for the underlying lesson. As you say, this process was already begun.
I have put so much energy into trying to understand, build, and reinforce a sense of "me", when, actually, I just don't exist! What a waste of energy and time! And what a relief t have seen through it!
Really? Can you say it was a waste ? How do you know? Can you possibly say things could/would/ should have been different?
Can things ever be other than exactly as they are ?
Now that is worth looking at.
Actually, after I wrote about this to you, I reflected that that, too, was just a story that I was telling myself, part of the"selfing" habit, I guess.Time to let that mission go, to form a coherent story of who I am and of my life, go - I do feel its just a waste of time to keep doing this now, a fiction. If you see what mean.
Talking of the senses here's an exercise in direct experience thereof.
]
Interesting.. Once I'd dropped the IDEA of a body, and then the habitual labelling, there was only various sensations coming and going. The body just a concept.

Bit tired so will stop for now.
Thanks once more
Prabhakari

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Re: Glimpses of freedom

Postby ratnapani » Sat Aug 19, 2017 10:54 am

hi Prabhakari,
I wasn't sure ... though it has certainly felt like a very significant experience for me. Major, really.
Great, we had to make sure. After a glimpse of freedom it is possible to identify with "i've got it' which is not a nice place to be.
Just a sense... even if I know it's not really there?
Exactly. Looking for what is actually there in any situation is a good way of life !
there was only various sensations coming and going. The body just a concept.
I'll buy that ! I recommend this exercise in full as a meditation practice, nothing quite like it for getting in touch with 'what is'.

Here's the questions I mentioned. Please take your time and answer in full from your heart.

1) Is there a separate entity 'self', 'me' 'I', at all, anywhere, in any way, shape or form? Was there ever?

2) Explain in detail what the illusion of separate self is, when it starts and how it works from your own experience and understanding. Describe it fully as you see it now.

3) How does it feel to see this? What is the difference (if anything) between now and before you started the guidance?

4) Was there something specific you looked into or something that was mentioned during this guidance that made you fully realise? - Was there a specific moment where you 'tipped over' into realising 'no self'?

5) Describe decision, intention, free will, choice and control as you understand it now. What makes things happen? How does it work? What are you responsible for? Please give examples from experience if you can, and explain what you have realised.

6) Do you have anything further you would like to add?

Metta, Ratnapani.
.

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Re: Glimpses of freedom

Postby Seamist » Sat Aug 19, 2017 8:47 pm

Here's the questions I mentioned. Please take your time and answer in full from your heart.
1) Is there a separate entity 'self', 'me' 'I', at all, anywhere, in any way, shape or form? Was there ever?
No, and there never was. It’s an illusion. How amazing and wonderful! And what a relief to have realised it!

2) Explain in detail what the illusion of separate self is, when it starts and how it works from your own experience and understanding. Describe it fully as you see it now.
The illusion of a separate self is just that, a story we tell ourselves (and which we are encouraged to develop and believe in from a young age). I guess it starts when we are very young, perhaps as we begin to develop and understand language. It’s a fundamental misunderstanding that we make and which is reinforced culturally.
In my own experience, I see now how much of my life has involved my building up a sense of “me”. I have studied and developed skills (eg in mental health work, counselling, and self-help methods) which have encouraged me to build up a self-identity which was really only created by my imagination, by experiencing a self that was in control. It has all been a story!
Similarly, having a career that I invested in reinforced this. The crashing of my hopes around my career in March of this year was the beginning of this process for me – I began to see what a self I had built up, that it was just a creation of my imagination, somehow. Like a house built on sand – not just the career, but more significantly the image/dream that I had created of my self. Later, of course, I have realised that there is no self at all, but this experience was the beginning of my journey towards seeing that.

3) How does it feel to see this? What is the difference (if anything) between now and before you started the guidance?
It feels a relief and joyful. It makes me want to laugh out loud! I feel happier, lighter, free-er. Less fearful, too. I am no longer trying to keep something at bay. And having let in what I realised I already knew, at some level, it was no longer at all frightening. The fear was just of seeing it. Having seen, the fear evaporated.
For the next 24 hours, and at recurring times since, I have experienced great joy, bliss and happiness, as well as relief and the deep knowledge that I have understood Truth.
Discussion with my guide, Ratnapani, has helped me more fully understand and integrate this experience over the past week (He has been really helpful).

4) Was there something specific you looked into or something that was mentioned during this guidance that made you fully realise? - Was there a specific moment where you 'tipped over' into realising 'no self'?
I had an experience of “no self” about a month ago during meditation on a retreat. I had been experiencing a lot of fear in meditation, but with encouragement from the retreat leader, I asked myself what it was exactly I was afraid of. I realised quite suddenly that what I was afraid of was of letting in the fact that “I don’t exist” (as it formed in my mind at the time). I immediately knew that this was exactly what I was afraid of AND that it was the truth (ie, that “I DON’T exist). It felt such a relief! A sort of “Oh, is THAT it!” response. I felt like laughing out loud, it seemed both so simple and so obvious. I experienced great relief and joy and a sense of freedom, which was strongly present for the next 24 hours. It has not gone since, but is more of a background feature of my awareness now. The sense of lightness and relief continues.

5) Describe decision, intention, free will, choice and control as you understand it now. What makes things happen? How does it work? What are you responsible for? Please give examples from experience if you can, and explain what you have realised.
There is just a flow of awareness. How it works seems rather a mystery to me! And I am content for now to let it be so, but happy to understand that “I” am not responsible or in control in the way that I’d previously thought I was. There is no “me” at the helm, steering my life, and with that comes a letting go and sense of freedom.

6) Do you have anything further you would like to add?
I think it’s great that this process is open to all and am very grateful for the help I’ve received.

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Re: Glimpses of freedom

Postby ratnapani » Sun Aug 20, 2017 1:44 pm

Gosh, my computer did the second one all by itself, it must have free will !

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Re: Glimpses of freedom

Postby Seamist » Mon Aug 21, 2017 11:34 am

Clever, eh?!

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Re: Glimpses of freedom

Postby ratnapani » Mon Aug 21, 2017 12:23 pm

Hi Prabhakari,

Lovely answers.
This has been a delightful conversation for me.
I'll offer this to other guides to see if they have any questions.

Metta, Ratnapani

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Re: Glimpses of freedom

Postby Seamist » Mon Aug 21, 2017 12:25 pm

It's been delightful for me, too!
Big thanks to you


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