Requesting guidance

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Treelife
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Requesting guidance

Postby Treelife » Sun Jun 11, 2017 6:31 am

LU is focused guiding for seeing there is no real, inherent 'self' - what do you understand by this?
I understood that the self I identify with is flawed. I recently gained insight that the identify is flawed, more so than the self. I note my experiences of sensations and taught, then I noticed that there is an observer of these sensations and taught. But when I try observe the observer it reduces to a sensation/taught that is the observed.

What are you looking for at LU?
I realise that I am seeking relief from suffering. I started looking for healing from trauma and possibly the experience of joy in my otherwise successful life. Therapy brought me so far so now I take the spiritual path with the hope of challenging the foundations of the false identity and the completely unfair and unrealistic expectations I have been enduring. I have faith that there is truth beyond (or different from) the identity I have built around myself. I have faith that this truth offers me an alternative to enduring and futile suffering I had come to expect. I do not anticipate nor do I need an easy ride. I do not expect LU to deliver nirvana or heaven on earth, I do hope it gets me onto a path that may progress to an improved relationship with my existence/experiences that I can be more connected with, more content with. To a truth that can start to transform the false self and help process pointless suffering.

What do you expect from a guided conversation?
I expect I will be challenged. I hope the challenges will provoke me to focus on the areas of darkness that have been maintaining my false self. I hope for guidance on the journey.
Although I am open to challenge, I hope for a guide who can embody empathy and compassion for what can potentially be a difficult journey. I would like connection if possible and will contribute to creating that, once it does not compromise my own truth.
I expect honesty.

What is your experience in terms of spiritual practices, seeking and inquiry?
I did a 10 day vipissana in 1996 but did not maintain a regular meditation practice. I recommenced regular meditation practice 5 years ago, am an almost daily meditator. I attend occasional 3 day vipissana retreats. Last year I started as a student of the Diamond Approach - inquiry based practice workshops/retreats.
In the past I have had positive experiences with spiritual plant medicines. I am an accredited psychotherapist and have undergone psychotherapy myself.

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

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JonathanR
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Re: Requesting guidance

Postby JonathanR » Sat Jun 17, 2017 7:09 pm

Hello Treelife,

Welcome to Libetration Unleashed. My name is Jon and I'm offering to guide you.

Let me know if you'd like me to call you Treelife or if you'd prefer some other name?

I read your introductory post with interest. We guide towards the realization that there is no self or that 'you' are not any kind of identity or identification.

This insight can sometimes help to reduce psychological suffering, however, almost any expectation of a particular outcome or effect from this guiding can stand in the way of what may otherwise have been a very beneficial kind of relaxation. Even to encourage an expectation that it must result particularly in relaxation is wrong. It simply cannot be predicted how seeing that there is no self will be experienced and there must be an open mind about this.
I have faith that there is truth beyond (or different from) the identity I have built around myself.
Good. I'm hoping that it will be your discovery that there is. This is Your inquiry, You will investigate (with some assistance from me) and I will not be presenting you with beliefs or teachings but instead an invitation to really look at your immediate experience for any answers or to see what is true.

If you'd like to accept my offer please let me know and we can begin?

Here is a question to get us started:

Please tell me what is your current understanding of what 'you' are?

Warm regards,

Jon

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Treelife
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Re: Requesting guidance

Postby Treelife » Sat Jun 17, 2017 10:31 pm

Hi Jon,
Thanks for agreeing to be my guide.
Regarding you comment of psychological trauma let me reassure I do not assume that Liberation Unleashed or inquiry into the self, or the realization that there is no self will bring an end to suffering. More it is that I am on a path of 'self' discovery and also on a path of dealing with past issues and their impact upon my present and future, these two paths do criss cross - but they are not the same thing. I feel I am being 'pulled' into a non-duality quest and have decided to follow it.

Please call me Mic.
Joh I am going to be away from next Friday for about 5 or 6 days and cannot guarantee I'll have access to a computer - although I will try. Is that acceptable to you or would you prefer to hold off until after that?
Please tell me what is your current understanding of what 'you' are?
Hmmmmmm, the story about what 'I' is that I hear me telling to myself is this. I experience that there are multiple selves or personalities and multiple identities. Each with their own view of the world and way of experiencing it. My awareness shifts between them, therefore my identity or my sense of 'I' shifts between them, not fixed, not solid, not stable - therefore I question if there is a true I. I did/do wonder if 'I' is the experience of observing the multiple sense experiences and thoughts - (or maybe even observing the multiple sub-personalities). But.... when in meditation I look for the 'I' that is the observer of the observed (the subject over the object), I often experience a sense, or a feeling of a watcher that I can locate, but as soon as I get there then that in turn becomes the observed (vanishing like smoke), leaving me to again seek the observer (the I) that is observing that sense experience that was only moments ago represented the experience of 'I'; and the experience goes on and on and it is laughable...
Of course some times (especially in work or in my role of parenting) I get completely pulled into my thoughts and sensations and emotions and I experience that as an I, in that moment.

Looking forward to doing this Joh,
Much thanks,
Mic

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JonathanR
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Re: Requesting guidance

Postby JonathanR » Sun Jun 18, 2017 7:12 am

Hi Mic,
. Regarding you comment of psychological trauma let me reassure I do not assume that Liberation Unleashed or inquiry into the self, or the realization that there is no self will bring an end to suffering. More it is that I am on a path of 'self' discovery and also on a path of dealing with past issues and their impact upon my present and future, these two paths do criss cross - but they are not the same thing
Thank you for clarifying that.
. I feel I am being 'pulled' into a non-duality quest and have decided to follow it.
Interesting. Well you have come to the right place.

Thanks for letting me know that you will be away for some days. That's fine. We can talk here for a while until then and resume the conversation afterwords.

On the whole, otherwise, let's post at least once a day? That will help the guiding.

I don't know how familiar you are with what we do here at LU but I will be asking you a series of questions that will not be arbitrary or even conversational in nature (though we will be having a conversation). Each question will be an opportunity for you to check with your own experience to see what is true or not. And we will focus on looking to see that there is no self.
.therefore I question if there is a true I.
Here is a little exercise to try:

Right here and now, the words on this screen are seen. What are they seen by?

Conventionally it is said that it is eyes or perhaps the body that are doing the seeing..

Check the actual experience. What is really going on? Is there an experience of 'eyes seeing' or 'the body, seeing'...or is it just seeing?

Thank you,

Jon

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Treelife
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Re: Requesting guidance

Postby Treelife » Sun Jun 18, 2017 10:51 pm

Thanks Jon
Nice question.
Right here and now, the words on this screen are seen. What are they seen by?
Conventionally it is said that it is eyes or perhaps the body that are doing the seeing..
Check the actual experience. What is really going on? Is there an experience of 'eyes seeing' or 'the body, seeing'...or is it just seeing?
Ok so ye the retina picks up light, sends a signal up the optic nerve blaa blaa blaa but what are they seen by? The experience of seeing is that there is an experience of images, a moving picture. The picture is seen by 'who ever' is in the observers seat in the moment and what inclination they have for operating the joystick. Or let me put it another way, the pictures are 'seen by' the experience of making sense out of the pictures. The observer (or I)...... is that which is making sense out of the images/pictures. How that is done is contingent on 'their' disposition, 'their' bias, 'their' orientation to responding to those particular images. The observer may see different colors & shapes; the observer may see white lines flowing down a page that is being broken up by small black marks; the observer may observe not visual images but be represented by actual words, cognitive/conceptual experience - and this is when it gets really interesting as the merry go round can really spin in unpredictable directions.

This experience of difference can change quite quickly, the different 'seen by' entities spin around, negotiate, argue with an inner conflict. There is a complex interacting process with the body. Imagine (if I can use a metaphor) the observer operating a joystick, the eyes can be moved, left, right, up down. The focus can be panned in or panned out, therefore the actual images change thus creating a multi-layered reciprocating process.

....Or let me put it another way, the pictures are 'seen by' the experience of making sense out of the pictures. The observer (or I) is that which is making sense out of the images/pictures. There is inevitably an emotional experience going on here also, a sensation somewhere in my body. This bodily experience can really hook me in with identifying with an 'I', it often feels like this is me, unless I can take a reflecting position _ make that into the observed.

This is by best attempt to put my experiences into works within the amount of time available to me. Looking forward to your next installment Joh.

With love and gratitude,
Mic

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JonathanR
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Re: Requesting guidance

Postby JonathanR » Tue Jun 20, 2017 4:41 pm

Hi Mic

Apologies for my delay in replying. I was busy with work, On the whole it will be good if we can both post to each other daily. This regular exchange helps to build focus.
Ok so ye the retina picks up light, sends a signal up the optic nerve blaa blaa blaa but what are they seen by?
Yes. That's what is learned. But is there an experience of 'signal sent to optic nerve'?

We hear or read that this is suposed to be going on and there can be thoughts that this is what is going on. Is there any immediate experience of 'retina' or 'optic nerve' other than one superimposed by reasoning?
....Or let me put it another way, the pictures are 'seen by' the experience of making sense out of the pictures. The observer (or I) is that which is making sense out of the images/pictures.
I wonder if the seeing is the same thing as the making sense of ?
This bodily experience can really hook me in with identifying with an 'I',
That's interesting and it is why I am asking you to explore certain sensations.

Change tack and notice hearing. For this investigaton find somewhere to sit where you will not be disturbed and simply begin to notice everything that can be heard right now. This could include quiet sounds such as breathing, birds in the distance or louder sounds such as the rumble of traffic or voices that come and go outside? Just accept any sounds and don't feel that you have to filter anything out or concentrate too hard on any one sound.

Now, look directly into this hearing experience. Is there someone, an entity, 'I' that is doing hearing, making hearing happen? Or would you say that there is just the hearing?

Look for a 'self' that is experiencing hearing? Is there an experiencer of hearing to be seen or found? Or does the hearing seem to be happening by its self, so to speak?

What about thoughts? Do you notice thought about this exercise? Are the thoughts the same thing as the hearing, or something extra, more like a commentary on it?

love,

Jon

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Treelife
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Re: Requesting guidance

Postby Treelife » Tue Jun 20, 2017 10:48 pm

Hi Joh

Ok so ye the retina picks up light, sends a signal up the optic nerve blaa blaa blaa but what are they seen by?
Yes. That's what is learned. But is there an experience of 'signal sent to optic nerve'?
No, not at all. It was the rest of my message that was referring to my experience.
I wonder if the seeing is the same thing as the making sense of ?
I get what you mean. After todays exercise I can now realize there that there is some space between the sense experience and the 'making sense of'. I experience this better with sound than with images though.
Now, look directly into this hearing experience. Is there someone, an entity, 'I' that is doing hearing, making hearing happen? Or would you say that there is just the hearing.... Look for a 'self' that is experiencing hearing? Is there an experiencer of hearing to be seen or found? Or does the hearing seem to be happening by its self, so to speak?
Great question. There are two answers to what is my experience of hearing. Initially I got the entity, or self that was receiving the hearing. It was the something that was narrating in response to the hearing, or guiding the exercise, or making sense out of the sounds (categorizing them) or the part that was in some way filtering &/or organizing the sounds. So this is very much an experience of there being something receiving the hearing (a something that is quite fluid though and is impermanent). However on closer scrutiny it was apparent that there is a tiny space between the sound and the response. There is a subtle experience of just hearing, just sound - it really struck me, and then the narrator is back in the game......
What about thoughts? Do you notice thought about this exercise? Are the thoughts the same thing as the hearing, or something extra, more like a commentary on it?
The thoughts actually are separate, I knew that (cognitively) but in the exercise I got that in experience. They are not easily separated, but they are not the same thing. However (in keeping with my previous email report) it is difficult to keep the hold a separation between the two in my mind (sense experience and mental response). The experience of merging (or self'ing) is pervasive.

Nice exercise thanks Jon and looking forward to the next installment.
With love,
Mic

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JonathanR
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Re: Requesting guidance

Postby JonathanR » Wed Jun 21, 2017 5:57 pm

Hi Mic,
I get what you mean. After todays exercise I can now realize there that there is some space between the sense experience and the 'making sense of'. I experience this better with sound than with images though.
Very good. It doesn't matter if this works better with hearing. The main thing is that it does work and that you see that there can be the hearing on the one hand, the sensing experience and on the other the interpretation or 'making sense' that is to do with thoughts.
Initially I got the entity, or self that was receiving the hearing. It was the something that was narrating in response to the hearing, or guiding the exercise, or making sense out of the sounds (categorizing them) or the part that was in some way filtering &/or organizing the sounds. So this is very much an experience of there being something receiving the hearing (a something that is quite fluid though and is impermanent).
Yes yes. It can seem like this is what is happening, that there seems to be a 'someone' that 'receives' and filters and comments on the sounds. I'm glad you went a little further in looking at this though.
However on closer scrutiny it was apparent that there is a tiny space between the sound and the response. There is a subtle experience of just hearing, just sound - it really struck me, and then the narrator is back in the game......
Great! It's very good that this direct, immediate experience of pure hearing was noticed and then also that the narrating was starting again.

The thoughts actually are separate, I knew that (cognitively) but in the exercise I got that in experience. They are not easily separated, but they are not the same thing. However (in keeping with my previous email report) it is difficult to keep the hold a separation between the two in my mind (sense experience and mental response). The experience of merging (or self'ing) is pervasive.
I understand. And we will address this as we go along.

Take another go at the hearing exercise again, just as you did before. It has to be done for real though, otherwise, it won't work. This time, notice the hearing as it actually is... just hearing. And notice thoughts that appear alongside that may be like announcements about what is going on, or some sort or commentary.

Is it clear that whatever the thoughts are about or 'say' , they themselves are not the hearing? And that the direct experience of hearing is not the same thing as thoughts ABOUT it?

love

Jon

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Treelife
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Re: Requesting guidance

Postby Treelife » Wed Jun 21, 2017 7:54 pm

Hi Jon,
Take another go at the hearing exercise again, just as you did before. It has to be done for real though, otherwise, it won't work. This time, notice the hearing as it actually is... just hearing. And notice thoughts that appear alongside that may be like announcements about what is going on, or some sort or commentary.
Again the experience of hearing and the mental response are so close to each other, they can appear to be the same. However they are not the same - even if they are welded together. Using a meditation focus I can hold my directed attention on hearing and within that turn down the volume on thoughts (for part of the exercise this was helpful). Get to the point that the only thoughts I have to contend with is thought form, (without words). In that I can experience the sounds and alongside that there is an entity that is, at minimal level, keeping the focus from slipping off sound (it brings focus attention back onto the attention object which in this incidents is sound). And with the intention of understanding if sound and that mental activity are the same or not, I could understand that they are not. Sound is sound, the other guy (who is holding the focus) is not sound, it is 'holding the focus' (a mental form). 'Holding the focus' is a non verbal narrative that feels seductively like a SELF - I am not that although it is very easy to fit into its identity.
I tried this also with physical sensations (awareness of the breath at the nostrils) and also vision/image, and it was the same. With the intention of knowing images as images I can find the separation of images from mental activity.
Is it clear that whatever the thoughts are about or 'say' , they themselves are not the hearing? And that the direct experience of hearing is not the same thing as thoughts ABOUT it?
Now that I have found it - thanks to the direct pointing thank you very much - I think I can find it again.
Above I have outlined sound and the 'holding the focus' character. But 'holding the focus' was not the only mental activity. There was a lot more happening but I use 'holding the focus' as an example to articulate because that was the lowest level I could get to. If I eliminated that then I was at serious risk of losing focus on sound. (well I have convinced myself of that, maybe I should experiment with that and see if it is actually true, but that's another exercise)

Thanks Jon, This is really interesting.
Mic

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JonathanR
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Re: Requesting guidance

Postby JonathanR » Thu Jun 22, 2017 10:30 am

Hi Mic,

Again the experience of hearing and the mental response are so close to each other, they can appear to be the same. However, they are not the same
So true.
even if they are welded together.
That's interesting. Perhaps they are sort of welded? The hearing and then the appearing thoughts that 'say' things do seem to appear together even though they are not the same

Since we have started to mention thoughts, I wonder if it is possible to prevent thoughts from appearing?

Try preventing a thought from appearing.

Try creating a thought too. Is it possible?

If we create our thoughts, if there is a self that creates or 'thinks' thoughts, then surely it should be possible to choose to think only pleasant thoughts? Does it work this way?

love

Jon

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Treelife
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Re: Requesting guidance

Postby Treelife » Thu Jun 29, 2017 9:10 pm

Hi Jon,
There is a story - I did respond to your last entry immediately and then I was away without computer access (as we previously discussed). However when I did respond something went wrong as today when I checked the site my last entry did not go (was not sent). Anyway no problem, here is another go at it. My observations on this one are based on experiences from meditation (both formal and informal). Also I will be going on the family holiday in two weeks for two weeks (last two weeks in July) and it will be hard to make long entries as the only device I will have will be my phone - lets see how it goes (maybe I'll have cracked it by then - joking).
Since we have started to mention thoughts, I wonder if it is possible to prevent thoughts from appearing?
No!
Try preventing a thought from appearing.
Not possible! Thought distractions are not under conscience - not for me anyway. Through regular meditation I can reduce the number of distractions but that is the best I can do.
Try creating a thought too. Is it possible?
Any thought that I have is contingent on the thought that preceded it. Thoughts have their own mind - well not literally - but there is no central place that sets off thoughts. There is no central location that decides what thoughts are in and what thoughts are out.
If we create our thoughts, if there is a self that creates or 'thinks' thoughts, then surely it should be possible to choose to think only pleasant thoughts? Does it work this way?
I try. When I am in a strong meditative space I can work on it being positive, compassionate, but again it is a shifting locus.

Thanks Jon,

Mike

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JonathanR
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Re: Requesting guidance

Postby JonathanR » Thu Jun 29, 2017 9:52 pm

Hi Mike,

Glad you have posted.

Just to let you know, my broadband is up the spout and I'm not sure when it will be fixed. Please do check back in the next day or two though. I'll write to you as soon as the internet is working again,

Jon

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Treelife
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Re: Requesting guidance

Postby Treelife » Thu Jun 29, 2017 10:31 pm

Thanks man
Mike

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JonathanR
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Re: Requesting guidance

Postby JonathanR » Fri Jun 30, 2017 10:15 pm

Hi Mike,

Thanks for letting me know about your two week holiday. Let's see how it goes.

I don't know about the mysterious disappearing posts. Frustrating. Though once or twice I have lost what I have written on the forum. It might be worth copy and pasting into an external editor and even saving your reply before submitting it?
. Not possible! Thought distractions are not under conscience - not for me anyway. Through regular meditation I can reduce the number of distractions but that is the best I can do.
Distractions for whom or what?

IMPORTANT. Is it possible to prevent thoughts from appearing, including the thought 'I'?

All the best

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Treelife
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Re: Requesting guidance

Postby Treelife » Sun Jul 02, 2017 11:03 am

Hi Jon
I'm away camping with my son so am sending this from my phone, hope it works.
It is not possible to stop thoughts. I can bring a lot of focus onto senses and the closer I am to that, then the less tought process, but cannot make the thoughts actually stop coming. With strong focus I can spot an incoming thought when it is at a conceptual level that has not yet formed into words. But that which spots and diverts thoughts could in itself be known as a thought. On summary it is not possible to STOP thoughts.
Keeping me focused on an object needs some level of thought input.
In terms of distractions, it relates to my intention (which is usually characterized by thought but not always) being in the center of consciousness and it then being hoodwinked by a different thought. That which holds the center of consciousness tends to be identified as the I (a bit like king of the castle) only to be pushed off by the next thought/I/king of de castle. There is a constant movement and flux of consciousness of sense objects and thoughts and behaviors; all impacting upon each other and passing/taking the parcel of I from one to another.
Regards
M


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