Who am I?

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Gilford
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Who am I?

Postby Gilford » Wed Sep 14, 2016 12:42 pm

What brings you to Liberation Unleashed?
I want to wake up, for good. I am tired of seeking. I see so many people that have spent most of their lives seeking and I don't want that to be me. I have seen some of the good work that is being done here and I really hope that someone can help me.

What are you looking for? What do you expect from this?
To be done with seeking. To finally recognize who I really am, whom I have always been and always will be. To wake up from the illusion of self permanently, instead of just seeing glimpses here and there.

What is your background in terms of seeking and inquiry?
I have been seeking the truth for a few years now and regularly practice meditation and self inquiry. I can see that the self is an illusion when I meditate but it doesn't 'stick'. I see that thoughts arise out of nowhere and that the ego is constructed from identifying with thoughts. I know that I am not 'my' thoughts. But I still feel like a separate self.

How ready are you to question your beliefs about who you are and see the truth no matter what?
11

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blackh
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Re: Who am I?

Postby blackh » Sat Sep 17, 2016 8:25 pm

Hi!

I'm Steve from New Zealand and I'd be happy to be your guide. What would you like me to call you?

It would be good if you could look to post at least once a day, and put your spiritual books, videos, etc, aside for the duration of this inquiry. These both help to maintain focus, which is important. If you have a mediation practice then by all means continue with it.

If you're happy with that and you'd like me to be your guide, we can proceed.

So, how do you experience me/I/self? Does it have a location in the body, size, shape, or other qualities, or sensations, reactions, emotions or thought patterns?


Steve

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Gilford
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Re: Who am I?

Postby Gilford » Sat Sep 17, 2016 10:25 pm

Hi Steve, thank you for agreeing to be my guide. Please call me Patrick.
So, how do you experience me/I/self? Does it have a location in the body, size, shape, or other qualities, or sensations, reactions, emotions or thought patterns?
After i read your post, i had a few thoughts; "I am meeting a friend later. I should reply to Steve before i leave. I should take the time to observe my thoughts, experiences before i reply to Steve". The sense of me came up a few times straight away. I need to do something. I know that these are just thoughts and that i do not control them. They just happen. They rise and then they pass. When things are quiet, like now, i can see these as just thoughts. When i look for a me that is having / seeing these thoughts, i do not find anything.

Other times, there is a thought and it feels like there is an emotion behind it. If the thought is that i have to do something in work today that i don't want to do, then it feels like anxiety. I know that emotions aren't real. That it is just a thought and a sensation in the body and that this sensation feels bad. Or the mind has labelled it as bad. When i look at this more closely, i see that it is just a thought and a sensation and it disappears. The sensation may come back again but i know that it is just a sensation. Sometimes i think that the intellectual understanding is preventing me from going deeper. Sometimes i think that going deeper is just the mind analyzing itself, or just creating more thoughts. This is where it gets confusing.

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Re: Who am I?

Postby blackh » Sun Sep 18, 2016 1:00 am

Hi Patrick,

Great description! Thanks for that - very helpful.

It seems like you're pretty far along, but I think some basics will help bring some clarity.

Take an object, such as a cup, and place it in front of you. Look at it (just with sight) and tell me...
What do you know about it from the direct evidence of the senses?
What is 'filled in' by thought?


Steve

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Gilford
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Re: Who am I?

Postby Gilford » Sun Sep 18, 2016 6:25 am

Hi Steve,

This puzzled me probably more than it should have. When i look at the cup, i can see it's shape, colour and texture. I do not know if i know it's a cup. What i mean is, i'm not sure if knowing it is a cup is one of the things that is filled in by thoughts. Or if the knowing it is a cup precedes thoughts. I guess the mind labels it a cup. Thought also labels it as 'my' cup.

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Re: Who am I?

Postby blackh » Sun Sep 18, 2016 10:37 am

Hi Patrick,

Nice work. This labelling of objects by the mind is a key mechanism of the illusion of self.

Spend some time to notice how it works. It can be good to do this while walking, because it gives you a constant supply of objects appearing. Each time you see a new object, thoughts and emotions about that object will appear.

I use the word 'thoughts' to refer to a broad range of mental objects, including words, images, concepts or information. Notice what kinds of thoughts arise.

So, see what you can observe and write a little bit about it. Make yourself sure on that area of doubt about whether labelling precedes thought.


Steve

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Re: Who am I?

Postby Gilford » Sun Sep 18, 2016 8:28 pm

Hi Steve,

I have been observing the thoughts and emotions that arise when i look at objects. When i look at a tree for example, i can see the different shades of colour, the way the light hits it, the shape etc. but i don't know anything about it. Thoughts say so much about the tree. Thoughts label it a tree and say that 'this tree is pretty' or 'this tree is tall'. Likes and dislikes are attached to different objects and bring up emotions. There's a sense of satisfaction and awe at noticing how the sun light hits the leaves of a tree.

It is like this for all objects. When i see the dirty dishes in the sink, subtle thoughts and feelings arise about them. 'I have to clean the dishes'. I need to make time to do this. I see dark clouds moving in and thoughts arise about how it 'looks like it is going to rain'. But these are just thoughts and sensations in the body. It's difficult to look at something without thought, without an opinion. But i can detach from the thought when attention goes to it.

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Re: Who am I?

Postby blackh » Sun Sep 18, 2016 10:22 pm

Hi Patrick,

Great. When you see a cup, what you're really looking at is blobs of colour but the mind projects "cup" with information about what cups are for, who owns it, whether it needs cleaning, what time it needs to be cleaned by, etc.

Of course there's no guarantee that any of this information is correct. The classic example is mistaking a rope for a snake.

This information is all in the form of thought content. So tell me,

Are thoughts real? That is, do they exist?

Is the content of thought real? For example,
imagine a glass of water. Can you drink it? Can you think of any way in which thought content can be real?


Steve

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Gilford
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Re: Who am I?

Postby Gilford » Sun Sep 18, 2016 11:05 pm

Are thoughts real? That is, do they exist?
Yes thoughts are real. Yes they exist.
Is the content of thought real? For example,
imagine a glass of water. Can you drink it? Can you think of any way in which thought content can be real?
If i'm out walking and i see a huge fire with 15' high flames and a thought arises, 'if you walk into those flames, you will burn' then i would believe that. Well, to be more accurate, the body would burn. The content of the thought is that the flames would burn the body. If i'm being honest, i'm pretty sure that that would be correct. But i guess i couldn't know for sure that the thought is correct.

Sometimes i ask myself, 'am i aware?' I observe and i think, 'i am aware'. I'm sure i've heard spiritual teachers say this before. Even highly regarded spiritual teachers. And i believed this. I've said this and i believed it. But is there an 'I' that is aware or is there just awareness? I'm not sure any more.

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Re: Who am I?

Postby blackh » Mon Sep 19, 2016 12:42 am

Patrick,
Yes thoughts are real. Yes they exist.
Good!
If i'm out walking and i see a huge fire with 15' high flames and a thought arises, 'if you walk into those flames, you will burn' then i would believe that.
There's a difference between thought content being correct and being real.

Think about a cup that's in front of you. Now think about Santa. The first thought is about something real, and the second is about something fictional. Santa consists of thought content only. In the case of the cup, there is a real physical cup, and then there are thoughts about that cup. So, is the thought content about the cup more real than the thought content about Santa?
Sometimes i ask myself, 'am i aware?' I observe and i think, 'i am aware'. I'm sure i've heard spiritual teachers say this before. Even highly regarded spiritual teachers. And i believed this. I've said this and i believed it. But is there an 'I' that is aware or is there just awareness? I'm not sure any more.
I will give you some exercises that will help you decide this for yourself, but it's better to look at this a little later. Don't worry, I definitely won't forget.
After i read your post, i had a few thoughts; "I am meeting a friend later. I should reply to Steve before i leave. I should take the time to observe my thoughts, experiences before i reply to Steve". The sense of me came up a few times straight away. I need to do something.
This is a good example of what we call the sense of self. Often it is experienced only fleetingly. We'd like to find out whether there is an actual someone who needs to do something. But it won't stay around long enough to get a good look.

Work on that a bit. You might not be able to pin it down, but you can get an idea of the flavour of the experience. See what you can find and let me know.


Steve

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Gilford
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Re: Who am I?

Postby Gilford » Mon Sep 19, 2016 4:57 am

Hi Steve,
There's a difference between thought content being correct and being real.
Got it. Thanks.
So, is the thought content about the cup more real than the thought content about Santa?
The thought about the cup is about something real. The thought about santa is about something that is not real. The content about the 2 thoughts is the same - neither are real.
This is a good example of what we call the sense of self. Often it is experienced only fleetingly. We'd like to find out whether there is an actual someone who needs to do something. But it won't stay around long enough to get a good look.
The sense of self is definitely fleeting. One minute, 'i am happy'. Wait 2 minutes and then 'i am worried' or some other emotion. Once my attention goes to it, the sensation in the body fades. I see it as just a thought and a sensation. And then there are just the usual sensation of the body, sights and sounds again etc.

I look for the self now as i've done so many times before and i can't find it. It's not there. It doesn't exist. And when a thought occurs that brings about the sense of self, i look again and i cant find anything. How do you find something that doesn't exist?! You don't, obviously. So why do i look for something that doesn't exist? In the hope that one of these times the penny drops?

It seems ridiculous when i think about it. Liberation is seeing that the self doesn't exist. Yet the false self is seeking liberation. So the self is looking to see that the self doesn't exist. And the self is just a concept. It is just the current thought. But wait, the self can't be seeking liberation if the self doesn't exist. So who is seeking liberation?. I'm going to let this sit with me for a while and see what i come up with.

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Re: Who am I?

Postby blackh » Mon Sep 19, 2016 11:40 am

Patrick,
The thought about the cup is about something real. The thought about santa is about something that is not real. The content about the 2 thoughts is the same - neither are real.
Great. This is an important point. The belief in Santa seems to explain the mysterious appearance of presents at Christmas time. The belief in self seems to explain the mysterious appearance of thoughts and actions. There are a lot of useful parallels here.
So why do i look for something that doesn't exist? In the hope that one of these times the penny drops?
There are various techniques for this and we'll go through them. Note that looking for the self, and looking for the sense of self are not the same thing. At the moment we're focusing on the sense of self.

Here's a good method. See how you go with it. Start by looking for the sense of self, then flip it around and look for the one who is looking for the sense of self. That feeling of being the searcher is a sense of self. Try to get a handle on that feeling, as if you're trying to glimpse a mouse before it hides. All you're trying to do is catch what it looks like.
It seems ridiculous when i think about it. Liberation is seeing that the self doesn't exist. Yet the false self is seeking liberation. So the self is looking to see that the self doesn't exist. And the self is just a concept. It is just the current thought. But wait, the self can't be seeking liberation if the self doesn't exist. So who is seeking liberation?. I'm going to let this sit with me for a while and see what i come up with.
The mind has a way of making thought content appear to be reality. The word 'projection' is sometimes used for this. Could this be involved?

I'm deliberately trying to avoid telling you the answer too directly here, because what you find yourself is most beneficial.


Steve

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Re: Who am I?

Postby Gilford » Tue Sep 20, 2016 4:14 am

Start by looking for the sense of self, then flip it around and look for the one who is looking for the sense of self. That feeling of being the searcher is a sense of self. Try to get a handle on that feeling
To be honest, this exercise is just causing a lot of confusion right now. Maybe i'm tired. Even trying to grasp the sense of self is causing confusion. The sense of self isn't always the same. It's rarely the same. The sense of self yesterday is very different to the sense of self this morning and it's different again now.

It's always just a thought but as the content of the thought changes, so does the sense of self. I was just looking at why some thoughts seem to cause more resistance / emotions than others. But they're all just thoughts. Is it because they go longer without being noticed? No, that's not it. Thoughts are just labelled differently. Some are labelled as important and some aren't.

The sense of self feels stronger, more solid with some thoughts. But it's hard to put my finger on why it feels more solid. Is it just more emotion? Certainly, the self cares quite a bit about how other people see it. It likes to be seen a certain way. It's very protective about certain ideas and opinions about itself. But why the mind labels some objects / opinions as 'important' and others as 'not important', i'm not sure.

Sorry i haven't been able to come up with more today. Work was a big distraction.

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Re: Who am I?

Postby blackh » Tue Sep 20, 2016 8:39 am

Patrick,

No problem at all.

Thoughts are marked as 'important' if there's a threat that's believed to be real.

To take a concrete example, you needed to meet your friend but you also wanted to reply to me. There's a risk you might write a bad reply because you didn't spend enough time, and there's a risk you might be late for your friend. "You" could get this wrong. Thoughts love you and want to protect you, so they produced a warning message about this "you" character.

So, let's check some underlying assumptions.
Is there a self with free will that is capable of making a decision of how best to spend the time?
If not, how was the decision made?

If you can't answer, don't worry. I'll point you in the right direction.


Steve

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Re: Who am I?

Postby Gilford » Tue Sep 20, 2016 3:08 pm

Is there a self with free will that is capable of making a decision of how best to spend the time?
No. There can't be. Self is just a thought and a thought can't do anything. A decision is just another thought. There is thinking about something in the future. We feel that we are trying to decide something because there are conflicting thoughts. In these moments, the self appears as something concrete.

Now, there is a thought that 'I need to go and get ready for work or i will be late'. Although, this is about something real (as we discussed previously) the assumption is that there is an 'I' that needs to do something. But there is no i here. There are just thoughts followed by more thoughts that give rise to this sense of i.
If not, how was the decision made?
Is the decision even real? It's a thought and the thought is real. But the content of the thought, that something has to be decided, is not real. There's 2 assumptions - 1) something has to be decided. 2) someone has to decide it. But these assumptions are illusions. I guess it just happens. It doesn't feel that way, but what other answer could there be?


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