Thanks for your patience! Unfortunately I think you’re going to need a little more for this… I have rewritten and trimmed out much of it for the sake of brevity, but I think I’ve uncovered some of my sticking points, and I’m hoping you can shed some light on them.
It's been an interesting day.
I read your last posts and then went out for a little walk (the knee is getting better day by day!) and contemplated it all. I was dictating some thoughts into my phone when I had a little bit of a satori moment.
I'll try to keep it all as brief as possible. The takeaway was that the reason why I was having such a reaction against the idea of there not being a future is because both sides of the argument, that there is a future or that there isn't, are both just thoughts and concepts. Both are unverifiable belief systems.
I'm on board with the idea that if you look at the present moment, it certainly feels like it never changes and it goes on forever. However, extrapolating that feeling into the certainty that a future doesn't actually exist, makes it into just another conceptual thought. It's the old Zen/Buddhist/Taoist admonition to not create any distinctions or take sides in either direction.
So when it occurred to me that we were doing the same thing here, I just dropped all the concepts, and I had that sudden sense of lightness and relaxation, spaciousness, and a presence of mind where (though it's a bit stereotypical) there was just the wind blowing the leaves on a tree. I walked for a while and just heard and enjoyed the sounds of a garbage truck, the sights and sounds of nature, and was quite present and open.
A little later I dictated into my phone while it was still fresh (again, the Zen poetry format wasn't in any way intentional. It was just how the words came out): "Future and no-future are still both the trap. There is just the rustling of leaves. And it's true that even the leaves aren't really rustling, but the more we try to describe them, the more it's lost."
"Future or no-future are both belief systems, and if I put both aside, then all that's left is free open awareness."
Your senses are Direct or Actual Experience - the only thing we do pay attention to - NOT THOUGHT CONTENT.
Hopefully you would agree that you can only be 100% certain by looking.
For the purpose of seeing this "no self" idea, it is very important that you are clear about this difference.
Knowing is about knowledge which is all in the mind and we are not interested in that
We are only interested in looking at and seeing what is actually going on in your present moment-to-moment experience. We are only interested in your Direct Experience in the moment..
In short, where I keep running into issues is that we seem to be crossing the line between subjective perception and statements about Absolute Reality. Where does the conviction come from that what we experience is trustworthy? I agree that looking at something in the present moment is the only way to know, as best we can, what's real and what isn't on a relative level. But the problem is that we know our brains are susceptible to all kinds of illusions and fallacies. So I do feel like, for me, any belief rooted in perception, at least insofar as it’s supposed to be taken as a hallmark of Absolute Truth and Reality, is an insurmountable obstacle.
I’m not saying that we should rely on thought either. But I guess this points to why I’m unable to believe or trust anything at all, regardless of my direct experience or perceptions. I can tell you what I experience, but I'm not comfortable extrapolating it out into assertions that that's how the universe actually works.
You have this completely backwards! No wonder you're confused! So very glad you mentioned this!
First, can you remember a time when you lied to someone you loved?
Then scan your body for any Sensation (DE), particularly in the gut or maybe the heart. Check very closely. What is found?
When I wrote this I was mindful of your idea that when we feel a sense of contraction that that’s supposed to be an indication of a lie, but in this case, there seems to be a paradoxical reaction that sometimes happens. Like for instance, if I was wearing a pair of blue socks, and I could see them, and knew that they were blue, and somebody was standing in front of me vehemently arguing that they were in fact red, I would get a tight clenching frustrated feeling because I have certainty that the socks that I am wearing are blue, and I'm being challenged on something that I have no doubt about. Does that mean I’m lying to myself? (I know from a physics standpoint that “blue socks” aren't actually blue, but that's a thought and not a direct perception.)
Previously I would say that it happens any time that it's reinforcing the sense of ego or self. In this case defending my perception over the other person's. Which you would say is also based on a lie. But it's weird that that kind of clenched certainty arises with memory, but doesn't seem to happen with future projections. I assume it's probably because I know that the future hasn't and won't happen exactly the way I envision it. But I can be reasonably sure that things did happen, at least in vaguely similar ways, to what I remember. I know we recreate our memories every time we review them, and that they are just as fallible as the rest of our perceptions, but they're at least a dubious reflection of actual events that have happened rather than future thoughts which are completely imaginary.
In your case, when you saw all of this for certain, was it like a light switch just went off and it all seemed permanently apparent and obvious? Is there a way of experiencing and knowing it that doesn't equate to, or result in, a form of belief? I ask because I have been utterly convinced of many things in the past that later turned out not to be true, and so I am on guard against falling into the same traps repeatedly.
And after this morning’s realization about the pitfalls of accepting any conceptual viewpoint, I’m simultaneously more wary of accepting any ideas, no matter how convincing, and also more open and prone to just silently observe and not believe or label anything. (Contrary to what the wordiness of this post would seem to indicate.) ;-)
Thanks again for your patience on this!