Johnspayde, welcome here.

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Ilona
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Johnspayde, welcome here.

Postby Ilona » Wed Feb 15, 2012 9:49 am

Thank you for contacting me :)
Please introduse yourself and tell a bit of your story.
Truth realized will set you free.
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Re: Johnspayde, welcome here.

Postby jonspayde » Wed Feb 15, 2012 4:12 pm

Thanks, Ilona--

I'm a 60-year-old married man who works as a writer and editor and also a solo theater performer--I write and perform comic versions of "therapy" on stage.

I am also a recovering alcoholic with almost 27 years without a drink thanks to Alcoholics Anonymous. My experience of spirituality in my recovery turned me from a standard type of academic atheist (I was going to be a college professor of Japanese literature) into someone who knows God is real.

Because of my Japanese studies, I knew something about Buddhism, but in the last ten years or so I really fell in love with the Vedanta and with Sufism too, mostly through reading. I also joined the Catholic church. The thing I loved right away about the Vedanta was their idea of many paths to the same goal. Jnana, knowledge path; bakhti, devotion path; karma, path of service and work. All of them appealed to me. And the idea that all of the mystical paths--Christian, Sufi, and Hindu--had a lot in common was appealing to me as well.

I was writing a book about Christianity in 2006 and struggling--struggling with feelings of inadequacy to the task (the book was for a major publisher)--when I first began seriously reading conversations with Ramana Maharshi. I remember thinking "If this small-s self called Jon is not real, then all the pain I feel about 'can Jon do this? Is Jon good enough?' goes away. I had a little flash of what it might be like to live on the basis of simply being in the flow of life, not standing apart in my (MAYBE false--?) identity called Jon. It felt liberating, but very partial.

After that experience I would bounce around from tradition to tradition, being very serious and exclusively Catholic for a while, then plunge into Sufi reading, then more Vedanta, struggling with what I felt was a multiple spiritual identity. And always returning to Ramana from time to time, trusting his simplicity and wisdom, trying out the "who am I?" inquiry and remembering that brief feeling I had during my book-writing time.

One person I read with great joy was Lex Hixon, who, because of his adherence to many traditions, helped me feel less crazy and confused about that. I joined a Lex Hixon Facebook group, where I met Matt Openspace and AysheGul---wonderful people--and heard about LU.

Just before coming here I sent a message to Matt saying something like, "I really feel like I want to be free of this feeling that 'Jon' is real--I want to know what it is like to cast away that burden--but I can't throw God away and just agree that 'life just happens.'" He wittily replied something like "Wow, you think you can just throw God away? That's pretty powerful!" He shared with me his sense that since he has come through the gate (the gate that is not there, I hear people say) he still practices his religion, but mostly as celebration, because the "existential" element--the sense that "Matt" needs God because "Matt" exists and suffers--is gone.\

This both thrills and scares me. I have recovered from alcoholism on the basis that Jon needs God. And I am truly excited by the prospect of freedom from "Jon" as a substantial reality. But I want to love and thank God for the rest of my life, and can I do that as "nobody"? As "the openspace formerly known as Jon"?

I know that Ramakrishna, a perfectly liberated jnani, also loved The Mother, Kali, and was able to do so intensely his whole life. Comforting.

In terms of my readiness to look at whether "Jon" might be nothing more than a thought--I'm in that place of getting it intellectually but not having had the EXPERIENCE, the feeling. I still feel that "Jon" is real--present somehow behind all my thoughts. Even when I consider that this "presence" is also just a thought, I can accept it intellectually to a point, but it still feels more basic, more fundamental, more "real."

But the fact that I am here, and serious, means that I doubt the reality and fundamental-ness of the "jon" idea. And something inside me tells me that the freedom that LU talks about is more real.

Love,

J

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Re: Johnspayde, welcome here.

Postby Ilona » Wed Feb 15, 2012 5:14 pm

thank you very much for such a rich intro. *bows in honour*
ok, let's start moving. couple things i must ask- be honest as you possibly can and write when you are ready. answers, like seems, maybe, are not right answers. right answers are those, that feel true 100%.
this may change your life dramatically, so, you actually need to be ready and want to see truth no matter what. nothing that is true gets lost, only false, so nothing to fear about.

it's really simple and easy, and not at all what you think. it's something that you are seeing already, but do not get it that this is IT. so the search goes on. you won't need to through god away, hihi, only you will see that there is nothing but god. as in Life= god= reality= this.

so, for the first part, tell me what is real and what isn't. how do you see that? for example, is table, monitor real? is santa, batman real? are feelings, thoughts, sensations real? how do you know?

looking forward to your answer.
much love.
Truth realized will set you free.
http://ilonaciunaite.com
Youtube https://youtube.com/c/ilonaciunaite

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Re: Johnspayde, welcome here.

Postby jonspayde » Thu Feb 16, 2012 6:03 am

What's real? I know something is physically real if it occupies space and has weight and mass. Like the monitor and the table. Is Santa Claus real? Santa Claus is a fiction; that is, what we tell children about him is unreal in that no such person lives at the north pole. But he is real as a folk belief; he really occupies minds and is talked about and believed in. A fictional character is both unreal and real in this sense; he or she is not living and did not live but is really created in a real book and has a real claim on our attention as we read.

My thoughts are real but that reality is only partly physical; they have a physical reality (that we have not explained yet) as electrical activity in my brain. In my consciousness they have reality because they are objects of my awareness. They are presences, and what is present to me has some form of reality that is not physical.

Being held to what is 100 percent true for me is a very good thing. I would have written a lot of cloudy stuff without it.

It is driving me to an interesting place in thinking about thoughts. I know that the thought that "Jon is a real and continuing entity" is real AS A THOUGHT, as a product of my mind. Again, because that thought can become an object of my attention, as it is right now.

Much love and gratefulness for your attention.

J

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Re: Johnspayde, welcome here.

Postby Ilona » Thu Feb 16, 2012 1:00 pm

great. thinking about thoughts... hmm. it's something interesting for sure. tell me, where thoughts come from? without thinking about it, look and describe what it's seen.
can thoughts be controlled? can you know what the next thought will be? if i say think of number from 1 to 1000, can you know what number it will be before it pops in the mind?
can you stop thoughts at will?
can a thought itself do anything?
can a thought think?

that will be enough for you for now :)

much love.
Truth realized will set you free.
http://ilonaciunaite.com
Youtube https://youtube.com/c/ilonaciunaite

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Re: Johnspayde, welcome here.

Postby jonspayde » Fri Feb 17, 2012 4:22 am

Wow, I have no idea where they come from==or no awareness of them coming "from" anywhere. They just show up. I definitely do not "produce" or have any control over most of them.When I concentrate on a mental task or problem I find that I can produce and direct thoughts to some extent--but only to some extent. The directed part of my thinking is always surrounded and often invaded by thoughts over which I have no control at all.

For sure, in that "think of a number" exercise, numbers jump right into my mind. My mind "goes" to an area of number--like the 20s or the 300s--right away, and then zeroes in on a number--26 or 352, for example. I have a feeling of choice being made, but my participation in that choice--the participation of my full, conscious, working mind--feels only like 2 percent.

Even when I am working hard to "think clearly" about something, in a definite order, as I do when I am trying to write this, saying possible words in my head (and being swarmed and invaded as I described) there is absolutely no way I can predict the next thought. Zero chance. And I can't stop my thoughts at will. I practice centering prayer, a kind of meditation in which we observe our thoughts while trying not to become entangled in them, When we find ourselves "inside" a thought--not mentally observing it, losing the "witness" function--we say a word to hopefully gently restore ourselves to the "witness" position. I can make that transition mentally to some extent, but stop thoughts, no way.

Can a thought do anything? The only things it can do are arrive and fade to make way for another thought. It can't possibly think.

Most of my thoughts are quite vague. They don't form into sentences or clear pictures, but are like sketches or small bits of awareness that float in and out of focus. I can exert some mental effort and they will get somewhat clearer and more orderly, but they remain unruly.

Love,

J

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Re: Johnspayde, welcome here.

Postby Ilona » Fri Feb 17, 2012 9:31 am

Ok, I see you got the sense that thoughts have mind of their own- out of the reach of your control. All thoughts happen on their own. Can you zoom in into labelling function of the thoughts. See how mind is an automatic labelling mechanism and it responds to sensory stimulus as well as emotions, feelings and memories.

Take a slow look around the room, paying attention to objects, see how mind starts labelling things and narrate stories about them. Notice that you can not look at one item without this mechanism kicking in sooner or later. Notice that labels are starting points for stories.

Play with this for a while and write to me what you've got.
Truth realized will set you free.
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Re: Johnspayde, welcome here.

Postby jonspayde » Fri Feb 17, 2012 5:23 pm

I will do that, Ilona--but I want to share this song with you before I forget to--http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=NBSMJLyTiLU

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Re: Johnspayde, welcome here.

Postby jonspayde » Sat Feb 18, 2012 3:22 am

Yes, it's true--many of the things I look at start a remembered story in my mind; some do not, but they still feel like they are being placed in a context. It's like my mind wants to put everything into a structure. I look at something (these are familiar objects) and I get familiarity back from them. At the very least, it's the feeling that they belong in a story.

Love,

J

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Re: Johnspayde, welcome here.

Postby Ilona » Sat Feb 18, 2012 9:17 am

Great, you are seeing this- mind is labelling and that's it's job.

Now let's look at how language is constructed and how labels work. All labels point to something. It's like road signs that say there is something further. Road signs are great for orientation, but they are only pointers. :)

We have labels for objects and for actions, we have nouns and verbs. Labels for action always include a doer of action and action verb. : I walk, you run, he swims. So we get a sense of there those labels point to.

But I does not do the walking. Walking is happening. Try to walk now across the room and do the walking. Yes, be conscious of every muscle, trajectories how feet move and toes touch the ground ( don't fall over while trying to do walking, hehe).
And it's same with everything.
Reading, typing, thinking, observing, working, driving, cooking, eating... All happens no matter how mind labels it.


So here is the question- is there a doer I / me /self at all in reality? If so, in what shape or form? What is its function? Find the answer by observing what is really going on. Dive into actions.

Sending love.
Truth realized will set you free.
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Youtube https://youtube.com/c/ilonaciunaite

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Re: Johnspayde, welcome here.

Postby jonspayde » Sun Feb 19, 2012 7:52 am

This is really getting down to the core, isn't it?

"Reading, typing, thinking, observing, working, driving, cooking, eating... All happens no matter how mind labels it."

Yes, it's true--the doing is independent of the labeling as "I" or "Jon." But my sense of "doership" feels to me to exist below the level of language and labeling. It feels more basic, more primary. I "feel" a presence in myself, a continuity of self, and that feels like the place the doing comes from. Maybe this sense of presence and continuity would not feel like the "doer" if I had not spent so long labeling it "I" or "Jon" and assuming it was the doer---but there it is, and it feels quite strong, subtle, and basic. And the sense that it belongs to me, is me, is strong too.

So I guess what I am saying is, I can detach labels from this doer; I can intellectually accept that "I" and "Jon," as mere labels, are unreal, but the doer still feels real and to be a function of this body/mind I am used to and familiar with.

Very interesting--and frustrating.

Again, deep thanks for all the work and love you out into these dialogues, Ilona.

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Re: Johnspayde, welcome here.

Postby Ilona » Sun Feb 19, 2012 9:52 am

Yes, all those years of thinking that there is a doer me have been strengthening the illusion. Doing happens like breathing happens.

Good stuff that you are getting it intelectualy. Now take a look if it's true.
Alow the possibility that it might be true. If it is true, it would be obvious anywhere you look, right? If its not true, then no worries. You will know what is true. Trust that.

When frustration comes, welcome it. It is doing its job of protection. Bring it closer and ask it, what it is protecting, is there anything that needs to be protected. then take a peek with curiosity what is behind, what is there ?

Sending love.
Truth realized will set you free.
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Re: Johnspayde, welcome here.

Postby jonspayde » Sun Feb 19, 2012 9:12 pm

"Doing happens like breathing happens."--I'm looking to see if that is true...and can't see it, or I can only see it halfway. I decide to get up from my desk to pull a book out of the shelf. There's a conscious effort there that doesn't seem like breathing. A mental event happens before that--the desire to get the book. It takes effort to get up and cross the room. This body/mind that looks like me does these things.

But...

Even as I write this, I sort of get it that the "doer" is an intellectual construct that we put on top of several things: a desire, a sense of an impetus, an action. The actual doer seems hard to isolate, to find--At what point do I, or does Jon, begin or take over or have control? It's hard to see when or where that would be. A desire rises up, there is a response and a physical action--and during this time I maintain an idea of "my" doership to make this sequence of events seem like it was initiated by "me."

The fact that my body-mind is involved supports the idea of "my" doership, though.

Well, no, it doesn't exactly. All it supports is the fact that one body-mind is involved in the action.

I did not do, or create, the desire to go get the book. That just arrived in "my" head.

Then this body-mind got up from the chair in response. There is where I can identify a sense of doership. In response to an impulse that just shows up (I get that "I" have no control here), I get up--that getting up still feels to me like the voluntary act of a body-mind. A body mind who is arbitrarily named Jon, but who actually does things.

Okay, that's confused, but I am confused...So I will look at the frustration. I want the doer to go away, so I can get this, so I can go through the gate. But the doer feels very strong and in place. Why do I want to "get this," to go through the gate (that is not there, you say)? I want to experience what the freedom you talk about is like. But of course I have no assurance that you are not mistaken--you may be self-hypnotized, you may simply be wrong. STILL, something tells me that there is truth in this 3,000-year-old insight!! It's not like you and Elena made it up!

Yet the doer, "me," seems solid--even if only as a response. If it is false and protecting something, what is it protecting? I can at least play with this, although I am not sure it is false. It does not seem to be protecting anything, it just seems like a fact, and it seems like a fact I would like to move out of the way so I could "get" this. But if it is protecting something, it might be my free will, my sense of being a separate, autonomous human being, the very possibility that I can be honest, moral, good, make the right choices, because I am capable of judgment and choice and taste and all the other things that separate humans from animals. Without the doer, without me as the doer, I might lose everything that gives me respect for myself.

Wow, A lot came out there unexpectedly. I have more to say but will do so in another post...

Love,

J

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Re: Johnspayde, welcome here.

Postby jonspayde » Mon Feb 20, 2012 7:41 pm

Well, I took a breath, and it seems to me that this is where I am:

It's clear that I can't control my thoughts.
But there appears to be personal doership in my actions. When I get up to go to my bookshelf to get a book, this is how I understand it working:

An impetus to get a book shows up in my mind. (No control here.)
A decision is made to get up to get the book. From my perspective, that decision happened inside a brain that is located in the head belonging to the guy called Jon Spayde. I could call him Fred Smith for fun. The name doesn't matter much, but this brain is the one I am sure is in there when I look in the mirror and see a familiar guy with the plump body and the goatee.

Physical actions follow: this body/mind familiar from the mirror, goes and gets the book.

Did somebody do something? Well...

1) Something was done. A human being got a book.

2) That human being is one who calls himself Jon and is called Jon by people who recognize him. But even without that name, or with another name, there would be this plump guy with a goatee getting a book.

3) So there appears to be a physical doer.

4) But you have said that everything happens by itself. That COULD accommodate what I have observed so far. A human being got an idea, rose from a chair, went and got a book. One could say, from one point of view, that all of this just happened. The impetus to get the book, the physical rising from the chair, the crossing of the room, the picking up of the book just happened. But the mental events that also happened--a desire to get a book, a decision to rise, a decision to reach out a hand toward the bookshelf, etc.--the mental events appear to be connected to the physical actions, and we could perhaps prove this via neuroanatomy. So it really seems that the physical human being that people call Jon really did something, prompted by real mental events in his brain. This is what I mean by there being a doer.

But are we talking about doership in a different way?

Love,

J

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Re: Johnspayde, welcome here.

Postby Ilona » Tue Feb 21, 2012 9:43 am

There is no doership, only experience. Experience, experiencer and experienced being one.

When you focus on direct imedieate experience, what is there? Like right now?
That+ thoughts, story narrating itself - is all happening by itself. Is there a doer of thinking? Is there a doer of experiencing?

Focus right at the now and see what is going on.
Notice that raw experience and thoughts about experience is not the same thing- story can only be ABOUT experience.

Write what comes up.
Truth realized will set you free.
http://ilonaciunaite.com
Youtube https://youtube.com/c/ilonaciunaite


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