feels like I'm close

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Petar
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feels like I'm close

Postby Petar » Sun Jun 18, 2017 3:56 pm

LU is focused guiding for seeing there is no real, inherent 'self' - what do you understand by this?
I understand that it is guiding attention so it can notice that there is no separate self in reality with its own, independent free will. It is essentially about guiding the attention/awareness to notice clearly that the voice in the head does not represent a separate entity which is aware of things and makes decisions.

What are you looking for at LU?
To realize clearly, once and for all, that this body and mind are not a separate entity in charge of its own decisions, but are part of the movement of the whole/the one life. Through this, I want to eventually drop all blocking beliefs so I can stop resisting negative feelings and stop seeking positive feelings, thereby being able to surrender to life and be more peaceful.

What do you expect from a guided conversation?
to point to me where exactly I am stuck and to help me notice that there is no separate self. I expect the guide to see exactly where I am stuck. I expect them to ask similar questions to the ones posed to other seekers.

What is your experience in terms of spiritual practices, seeking and inquiry?
About 10 years of being in shitty mood 80% of the time. Then, a lot of suffering occurred and I started reading spiritual literature. Neale Donald Walsch and Wayne Dyer helped me ease the suffering. Then I read The Power of Now and New Earth and these significantly helped me realize that I am not a physical self. One day, I was in the bank office reflecting on this issue of identity. I figured that since I my mind and body are not my self, then I have no self. At that moment this struck me as a very joyous realization and I understood that we are all one. Later on, one day, I drew a diagram to see clearly how the identification with a self works and how it leads to constant seeking and frustration. At that point, a shift happened. All of a sudden things became more beautiful, visually - particularly plants, and especially flowers as well as leaves with yellow on them. The white colour also seemed particularly beautiful and seemed to give off some light, as do the plants. But at the same time everything also seemed animated, like computer animation - it looked fake. This new appearance of the world around me still persists to this day, and gets even more intense when there is some realization, but sometimes the beauty gets obscured. Also, people's bodies seem fake, and sometimes, especially when I'm tired and very close (physically) to some person, I perceive them slightly as part of me. Every now and then there is this sense of feeling my body more strongly from the inside, hearing my breath more sharply, and observing the body as something that is not essentially me.

I then came across the book Liberation Unleashed and read it. Currently, I am reading Gateless Gatecrashers. I had a number of realizations while reading those. Currently though, I still seem to perceive that I am a separate self. I perceive myself as someone who wants to realize that he is not a separate self, which is obviously absurd. I think I am stuck at identifying with a mental concept of "myself" as pure awareness/formless consciousness that is about to realize no-self. So I guess the one awareness that is in reality has identified with the mental concept of "pure awareness" present in Peter's mind, and needs to see the illusion of it... I think I need help!

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

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Dennis90405
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Re: feels like I'm close

Postby Dennis90405 » Wed Jun 21, 2017 5:22 am

Hey Petar - or may I call you Peter?

Welcome to Liberation Unleashed and thank you for taking the time in the introduction.

I'm Dennis, a guide here.

We can walk along together, see how we go. :)

What do you say?

Best wishes,
Dennis

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Petar
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Re: feels like I'm close

Postby Petar » Wed Jun 21, 2017 10:24 am

Hi Dennis, thank you so much for taking the time to do this. Yes you can call me Peter, no problem :)

Let's do this, I'm ready! I only stated 9 on the scale from 1-11 in terms of readiness to question the existence of a separate self because I'm busy and that usually takes a lot of energy. Otherwise it would've been 11 :D

Best,
Peter

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Dennis90405
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Re: feels like I'm close

Postby Dennis90405 » Thu Jun 22, 2017 12:31 am

Hello Peter,

I'm happy to guide you whether your willingness is 9, 10 or 11!

The guiding here assists you to see through the illusion of separate self so that you know rather than just believe.

Guides are not teachers or gurus. We point to Direct Experience so you can see for yourself.

Could you learn the quote function? http://liberationunleashed.com/nation/v ... ?f=4&t=660
The use of quotes helps keep the questions and answers clear and understandable.

Lets start by taking a look at your expectations.

When you see through the illusion of the separate self:

How will life change?
How will you change?
What will be different?
What is missing now?
What would you like to achieve or obtain by this conversation?

Please answer the questions individually, and remember to highlight the question being answered by using the quote function.

Let our conversation begin! Have fun Peter.

Best,
Dennis

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Petar
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Re: feels like I'm close

Postby Petar » Thu Jun 22, 2017 7:13 pm

Great! Let's start.

My expectations about what will happen when I see through the illusion of separate self:
How will life change?
- I expect life to remain the same, I only expect my experience of it to change.
How will you change?
- I expect to start feeling that I don't have control over my body and thoughts (I resist this a bit). Experience will be raw, because whenever a thought about enhancing or protecting the self occurs, it will immediately be recognized as useless and my attention will be brought back to the present. As a result, I expect to accept and allow the imperfections and vulnerability of the self more easily, and thereby be much more able to maintain peace. To be honest... I do expect everything to become much more effortless. I know this expectation might be getting in the way, but I'm not sure how to let go of it.
What will be different?
- I am afraid that I will realize that the whole world is an illusion, so it is all "fake" and life is meaningless. I am afraid that this will not leave any room for excitement. Also, I am afraid I will start to feel lonely, shocked, and frightened all the time because I will realize that I am alone in the whole universe and all of the other people are imaginary, including (and especially) people that I love. I won't be able to feel love and compassion because I will know that suffering is not real - it's all imagined. I'm afraid this will all keep me depressed, apathetic, passive, and devout of liveliness all the time. I am afraid that I will disappear and find out that there is no consciousness in life (i.e. nothing which is "alive") and everything is cold-heartedly happening randomly, with no control or purpose, and no compassion for anyone. I'm afraid I will perceive people as robots without any consciousness/with no life in them. Obviously, there are contradictions in this - who is this I that will experience/observe all of this? - a response comes up with an image of some invisible awareness - something which is aware of everything happening here, now - and that "awareness" is referred to as "me". But yet that's just another thought/concept...
What is missing now?
- not sure... I just can't feel peaceful - peace is missing. I can't seem to be able to allow thoughts to arise freely because they constantly cause me suffering. I'm always alert and cautious, trying not to slip into being identified with the stream of egoic thoughts again. So I guess what is missing is the ability to be okay with thoughts that cause me suffering. These are always thoughts that want to protect, restore, or enhance my imaginary identity. I tend to judge them as wrong and resist them, and refuse to keep thinking them because I don't like the negative feelings they cause. I know this was written from the point of view of identification with a person who is bothered by negative thoughts, but I can't let go of the identification.
What would you like to achieve or obtain by this conversation?
- I want to see clearly that I am not Petar, that he's not a real self, and to stop trying to protect or enhance him. Through this, I want to become able to easily shed beliefs that resist the flow of life, and sooner or later attain the ability to remain peaceful most of the time. Hope these aren't too much of expectations... I'm just sick of this constant seeking and worrying for so many years, I've had enough! Why is it so difficult to develop some humility so I can just let go and allow life to be as it is, without constantly placing demands on it? :/

Hope I answered your questions adequately. Thank you so much for your help! Looking forward to your response (unless, if I have to be honest with you, you ask me to look at painful thoughts! :D)

Best Wishes,
Peter

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Dennis90405
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Re: feels like I'm close

Postby Dennis90405 » Fri Jun 23, 2017 2:43 pm

Hi Peter,

Lets jump in..
Hope I answered your questions adequately. Thank you so much for your help! Looking forward to your response (unless, if I have to be honest with you, you ask me to look at painful thoughts! :D)
Wonderful responses to the questions. 100% honesty is the way to go in this inquiry.

What really popped out for me are your concerns, well, fears really, about what your world might be like when you see though the illusion of separate self, of no "Peter-I-Me" as the central manager.

What will be different?
- I am afraid that I will realize that the whole world is an illusion, so it is all "fake" and life is meaningless. I am afraid that this will not leave any room for excitement. Also, I am afraid I will start to feel lonely, shocked, and frightened all the time because I will realize that I am alone in the whole universe and all of the other people are imaginary, including (and especially) people that I love. I won't be able to feel love and compassion because I will know that suffering is not real - it's all imagined. I'm afraid this will all keep me depressed, apathetic, passive, and devout of liveliness all the time. I am afraid that I will disappear and find out that there is no consciousness in life (i.e. nothing which is "alive") and everything is cold-heartedly happening randomly, with no control or purpose, and no compassion for anyone. I'm afraid I will perceive people as robots without any consciousness/with no life in them.
I highlighted the word afraid in your answer...6 times. Fear does come up in this process, but that's ok. Fear is there to protect us, but is there anything behind it to be afraid of?

Peter - the "Peter-I-Me" has always been an been an illusion, and it's an illusion right now. Life is still happening as it always has. And life will be there when you drop the "Peter-I-Me"

Let's try to verify this out in your daily life - your first Direct Experience exercise:
As you go though your day, carry this perspective with you: "there is no separate self". As often as possible notice what's happening: birds singing, cars going by, clouds in the sky, people talking, music playing. Observe by way of the raw sensations: sound, seeing, smell, taste, feeling/touch - not thoughts about the sensations.

Look!

Then report back with answers:
Did the world look different today than it did yesterday?
Did it seem flat, lifeless or imaginary?
Did you disappear?
Did people seem robotic?
Or was the world pretty much as it was the day before?

Peter, could you tell me in what part of the world you live? I'm on the west coast of the USA, pacific time.

Thanks!

Warm regards,
Dennis

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Petar
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Re: feels like I'm close

Postby Petar » Sat Jun 24, 2017 1:41 pm

Hi Dennis,

Thanks for the quick reply. Here's what I came up with:
Fear does come up in this process, but that's ok. Fear is there to protect us, but is there anything behind it to be afraid of?
- Yes, there are things to be afraid of - emotional suffering and pain. Those things feel terrible when they are intense, even in the absence of a real self. I know that from experience (not the pain, but the emotional suffering), and so it is normal to be afraid of them. There is no real self to be protected by fear, but the experiences of pain/sickness, extreme discomfort, depression, and panic still feel horrible, even if there's no one that's experiencing them.
Peter - the "Peter-I-Me" has always been an illusion, and it's an illusion right now. Life is still happening as it always has. And life will be there when you drop the "Peter-I-Me"
- That is true! I realized that I had been rationalizing things in the following way: the only reason I have been perceiving the world as real is because I have believed the Peter-I-Me to be real. And then, I thought, when I see through this illusion, I will realize that none of it has been real all along. However, it is the other way around - the world itself is real, including my body and mind, but the Peter-I-Me is an imaginary self (i.e. not real). It is just a mental label that puts artificial boundaries around my body and mind and claims that those boundaries define an entity separate from the world, making its own decisions. When I see through it, nothing will change, only the thought that my body and mind form a separate entity will be seen as false.
Let's try to verify this out in your daily life - your first Direct Experience exercise:
As you go though your day, carry this perspective with you: "there is no separate self". As often as possible notice what's happening: birds singing, cars going by, clouds in the sky, people talking, music playing. Observe by way of the raw sensations: sound, seeing, smell, taste, feeling/touch - not thoughts about the sensations. 

Look!

Then report back with answers:
- Well, I've been doing this exercise virtually every day for the past several months, ever since I read The Power of Now, so I can't really compare it to yesterday. I started including the perspective of "no separate self" during my observations more recently though. However, I discovered that it didn't help much when I tried to convince myself that that perspective is true. I also tried to include it as often as possible yesterday and today. However, it usually gets in the way of bringing my focus on direct perception without labeling anything. So, to answer your questions, compared to some time ago when I used to comment mentally on everything:
Did the world look different today than it did yesterday?
- The world looks more beautiful since I started to habitually observe it without labeling things. Also, it sometimes looks kind of cartoon-like, like an animated movie with a really good graphic and extremely high resolution. This includes people's bodies.
Did it seem flat, lifeless or imaginary?
- Not really. I definitely experience it as real, even though my visual perception of it has changed. Sounds, smell, feeling, and seeing feel like real experiences, it's just that they are experienced differently - sounds and bodily sensations are more pronounced, and the visuals are different than they were when I was completely absorbed by thought. I notice, for example, that when cars pass by, and when I really perceive them directly, without labeling, it seems that they are actually getting smaller, not that they are drifting away...
Did you disappear?
- No, I always feel like I exist
Did people seem robotic?
No. While their bodies often seem "animated", just like every other physical object, I can definitely sense life/liveliness in them. The people are alive, conscious, aware, but they are not their bodies. There's life in everyone which is felt clearly when they're moving or talking, but that life isn't something visible. It's something that's in charge of their bodies. I concluded today, from observation, that there's no physical entity that is aware/conscious of anything in and of itself. Also, I discovered today that when I noticed that I judge people as bad by their appearance, when I became aware of that, I realized that they were not their bodies, but something better than that. Also, I noticed some people who were apparently lost in thought seemed like their awareness was absent/distracted by something that didn't matter. It's like they were fooled by something.
Or was the world pretty much as it was the day before?
Yesterday, as I did the exercise, I discovered that I had assumed the world to be an illusion, and that had been bothering me. I believed it to be an illusion for 2 reasons: first, as I mentioned, it started to seem a little bit like an animated movie; and second, I know that spiritual teachers and traditions say that the physical world is an illusion (maya). So this new approach (questioning the assumption that the physical world is an illusion) gave me a relief. Every time I was about to dismiss an experience as "not real", I questioned that belief and decided to see for myself, from direct experience, whether it's real or not - and felt a relief. But then, if it's all real, that gives me even more reasons to be afraid of unpleasant experiences that can happen to me or to other people. How do you reconcile with that fear? How can you accept life when so much suffering takes place around the world? Sure, there is no one separate who is experiencing it, but the experience is still real...

Another thing I noticed today in the store was that, when I saw a laptop which looked like mine, it felt like it was a part of me, I kind of "recognized myself" in it. This has happened before, I just never noticed it. So I guess the whole confusion stems from endowing physical "objects" (more like parts of the whole defined as separate objects by placing imaginary boundaries around them) with a sense of self.

I think this is all I have to share so far, hope I'm getting there. I am from Bulgaria but I study in the Netherlands right now. That's 9 hours earlier than in the west coast of the U.S.

Looking forward to your answers, Dennis! Thank you!

Best Wishes,
Peter

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Re: feels like I'm close

Postby Dennis90405 » Sun Jun 25, 2017 5:34 pm

Hi there Peter,

Great work on the looking! Let's talk about what happened for you.

The looking I asked you to do, and the questions about what you saw, were based on fears you had expressed in your prior post.
- I am afraid that I will realize that the whole world is an illusion, so it
is all "fake"
Let's try to verify this out in your daily life - your first Direct Experience exercise:
As you go though your day, carry this perspective with you: "there is no separate self". As often as possible notice what's happening: birds singing, cars going by, clouds in the sky, people talking, music playing. Observe by way of the raw sensations: sound, seeing, smell, taste, feeling/touch - not thoughts about the sensations.
Did the world look different today than it did yesterday?
- The world looks more beautiful since I started to habitually observe it without labeling things.
Did it seem flat, lifeless or imaginary?
- Not really. I definitely experience it as real, even though my visual perception of it has changed. Sounds, smell, feeling, and seeing feel like real experiences, it's just that they are experienced differently - sounds and bodily sensations are more pronounced, and the visuals are different than they were when I was completely absorbed by thought.
Good!
I am afraid that I will disappear and find out that there is no consciousness in life
Did you disappear?
- No, I always feel like I exist
Very good!
I'm afraid I will perceive people as robots without any consciousness/with no life in them.
Did people seem robotic?
No. While their bodies often seem "animated", just like every other physical object, I can definitely sense life/liveliness in them.
Excellent looking!

When you looked at things out in the world, first came the direct raw sensation (seeing), then after a short gap a thought popped up to overlay the experience by labeling (that's a car), then maybe a story (the car gets smaller...), then a memory about a car (driving a car in the past). Do you see this?

Peter, by going out into the world and directly looking, you've just shown yourself that your fears and worries have no basis in actual experience. None of the things you fear actually happened, even though you were looking from the perspective of "there is no separate self". Does your seeing in actual experience that the world didn't change "soften" your fears?

Every time I was about to dismiss an experience as "not real", I questioned that belief and decided to see for myself, from direct experience, whether it's real or not - and felt a relief. But then, if it's all real, that gives me even more reasons to be afraid of unpleasant experiences that can happen to me or to other people. How do you reconcile with that fear? How can you accept life when so much suffering takes place around the world?
For now, the best approach is not to explain, or try to make sense. But take heart that there is no-where else to go, you are the ground. That helps a lot.

When needed, bring it back to the body, and the ground of just sitting. Nice steady, comfortable breaths. Ease into a nothing special presence, not having to be anything other than it is.

Fear, worry, expectation - are all simply thoughts. The story content within each thought is not real. But your direct experience in the world is real. Do you see this?


To guide you in the most effective way, I would like to understand "Peter's world". If I want to look at the world as you do, how do I do that? What do I tell myself? You don't have to focus on the subjects we've been talking about here - tell me what comes up.

Thanks!

Best,
Dennis

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Petar
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Re: feels like I'm close

Postby Petar » Mon Jun 26, 2017 11:38 pm

Hi Dennis,

This is going well indeed. I'm finding it helpful, great job on the guiding!
When you looked at things out in the world, first came the direct raw sensation (seeing), then after a short gap a thought popped up to overlay the experience by labeling (that's a car), then maybe a story (the car gets smaller...), then a memory about a car (driving a car in the past). Do you see this?
- yes, I've been able to observe this many times. It is still often difficult for me though not to slip into story-making. The good thing is I quickly become aware that I've engaged in story-making again and then I snap out of it. I've recently started to learn not to react negatively to this tendency, because that builds up negativity in me.
Peter, by going out into the world and directly looking, you've just shown yourself that your fears and worries have no basis in actual experience. None of the things you fear actually happened, even though you were looking from the perspective of "there is no separate self". Does your seeing in actual experience that the world didn't change "soften" your fears?
- yes, indeed it softened my fears. None of the things I feared actually happened, even though I was (trying to) look from the perspective of "no separate self". However, the thing about fear is that things that are feared are always likely to happen, and that is enough to provide justification for producing fear. Even though these particular fears that I tested were not justified, there is always the possibility of things happening that can cause pain and suffering. This possibility causes the fear.
Fear, worry, expectation - are all simply thoughts. The story content within each thought is not real. But your direct experience in the world is real. Do you see this?
- Yes, I get that, I felt good when I read it. Even though thoughts have a very strong pull, I've learned not to engage in fearful thoughts and stay present. It's true that only what's happening here, now, in direct experience is real. Everything else is imagined events in an imagined future or imagined past. However, I also learned that it doesn't always work for me to just ignore all thoughts and keep focusing on the present - I have to examine the thoughts that are bothering me every now and then. Otherwise they just keep harassing me (at least the imagined me which I can't let go of yet). I do this in a diary by writing down questions and reflections. The Work by Byron Katie has been quite helpful for me.
To guide you in the most effective way, I would like to understand "Peter's world". If I want to look at the world as you do, how do I do that? What do I tell myself? You don't have to focus on the subjects we've been talking about here - tell me what comes up.
- I'm not entirely sure what you mean with this question. I suppose you mean what normally goes on in my mind every day, and what my general view on life is. So, I think there is definitely intelligence behind the universe - it must be true, there have been so many synchronicities in my life ever since I started engaging in inner work. Also, all of those teachings and stories that agree with each other definitely point to that conclusion. I also think there are no two entities in the universe - there is one intelligence, and that is the essence of everybody and everything. I believe this intelligence has created the illusion of separate entities so that it can have a reference point to experience itself as only one. For that reason, fear is needed, so that the opposite (love) can be experienced. That's the purpose of life, as far as I know :D

Throughout my day, I do my best to keep my focus into the present experience. For that, I've learned that I need to allow things to be as they are - both internally and externally. Otherwise, I cannot become present and peaceful. I've been getting better at this, and presently I'm feeling relatively fine. However, the illusion that I am a separate self is still causing me to mentally seek future moments where everything will be perfect (i.e. I - the self, will be secure and good enough finally); causing me to resist and regret past moments when I, the imagined self, has been diminished in some way through someone's disapproval; and causing me to fear possible future moments when I, the imagined self, can be diminished through disapproval or in some other way. And so the way my days currently go are, I assume I exist, but I am not anything physical, and therefore any sense of self linked to anything physical is a delusion - this includes any mental image/concept of self, whether it's Peter or the concept of consciousness/awareness/soul, etc.. I also reflect in the following way: I know I exist, I can definitely sense it here, now. I know I am not the body and mind of Peter, but my awareness/sense of existence is centered around Peter. So, I ask, if I exist, but I am not Peter, why am I only aware of Peter's body and mind? I assume that the awareness that I am, which is also the awareness that is everybody else, has to identify with this body and mind at least partly in order to experience life from the point of view of Peter. It also does it with every other person. So I assume it's just one awareness pretending to be many people and trying to remember and experience its oneness. So the trick is not to confuse the sense of awareness/existence with any I-thought, i.e. not to believe that any I-thought is the owner of awareness/a thing which is aware. That's how the illusion of a separate self is seen through, according to me. Whew! :D I hope this was the type of answer you were looking for.

Looking forward to your answer from sunny California! Always wanted to go there ;)

Best,
Peter

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Re: feels like I'm close

Postby Dennis90405 » Tue Jun 27, 2017 4:33 pm

Hi Peter,

I'm glad you feel it's going well. I feel the same. Thank you for being open to looking!

When you looked at things out in the world, first came the direct raw sensation (seeing), then after a short gap a thought popped up to overlay the experience by labeling (that's a car), then maybe a story (the car gets smaller...), then a memory about a car (driving a car in the past). Do you see this?
- yes, I've been able to observe this many times.
As the young surfers used to say around here - Rad! :)
Peter, by going out into the world and directly looking, you've just shown yourself that your fears and worries have no basis in actual experience. None of the things you fear actually happened, even though you were looking from the perspective of "there is no separate self". Does your seeing in actual experience that the world didn't change "soften" your fears?
- yes, indeed it softened my fears. None of the things I feared actually happened, even though I was (trying to) look from the perspective of "no separate self".
Softening is good. Fighting with fear is not a good strategy.
Fear, worry, expectation - are all simply thoughts. The story content within each thought is not real. But your direct experience in the world is real. Do you see this?
- Yes, I get that, I felt good when I read it.
Very nice Peter. You've engaged Direct Experience as a way to know that seeing through the illusion of separate "Self" is nothing to fear. That is very empowering, no?

If fear comes up again, return to direct sensations - the wind on face, the colors and shapes of trees in the park. Even something as simple as the breath moving in and out, or the aliveness of the body. There is something grounding about raw unlabeled sensations.
I would like to understand "Peter's world". If I want to look at the world as you do, how do I do that? What do I tell myself?
- I'm not entirely sure what you mean with this question. I suppose you mean what normally goes on in my mind every day, and what my general view on life is. So, I think there is definitely intelligence behind the universe - it must be true, there have been so many synchronicities in my life ever since I started engaging in inner work. Also, all of those teachings and stories that agree with each other definitely point to that conclusion. I also think there are no two entities in the universe - there is one intelligence, and that is the essence of everybody and everything. I believe this intelligence has created the illusion of separate entities so that it can have a reference point to experience itself as only one. For that reason, fear is needed, so that the opposite (love) can be experienced. That's the purpose of life, as far as I know :D
Love is always a good purpose!
Throughout my day, I do my best to keep my focus into the present experience. For that, I've learned that I need to allow things to be as they are - both internally and externally. Otherwise, I cannot become present and peaceful. I've been getting better at this, and presently I'm feeling relatively fine. However, the illusion that I am a separate self is still causing me to mentally seek future moments where everything will be perfect (i.e. I - the self, will be secure and good enough finally); causing me to resist and regret past moments when I, the imagined self, has been diminished in some way through someone's disapproval; and causing me to fear possible future moments when I, the imagined self, can be diminished through disapproval or in some other way. And so the way my days currently go are, I assume I exist, but I am not anything physical, and therefore any sense of self linked to anything physical is a delusion - this includes any mental image/concept of self, whether it's Peter or the concept of consciousness/awareness/soul, etc.. I also reflect in the following way: I know I exist, I can definitely sense it here, now. I know I am not the body and mind of Peter, but my awareness/sense of existence is centered around Peter. So, I ask, if I exist, but I am not Peter, why am I only aware of Peter's body and mind? I assume that the awareness that I am, which is also the awareness that is everybody else, has to identify with this body and mind at least partly in order to experience life from the point of view of Peter. It also does it with every other person. So I assume it's just one awareness pretending to be many people and trying to remember and experience its oneness. So the trick is not to confuse the sense of awareness/existence with any I-thought, i.e. not to believe that any I-thought is the owner of awareness/a thing which is aware. That's how the illusion of a separate self is seen through, according to me. Whew! :D I hope this was the type of answer you were looking for.
Perfect. Thank you. Your answer helps me to understand what the world looks like to Peter.

It's time to move forward with more Direct Experience - with Looking. Lets go hunting.

Find a comfortable place to sit or lie, like a couch or even a bed.
Take your shoes off. Fully relax for a few minutes - take calming breaths.

For 30 to 60 seconds each, do these exercises:
Bring your awareness to your entire body - feel it fully, head to toe.
Run your hands down over your torso. Feel the solidity of it.
Now bring your awareness to your right foot. Again, feel it. Flex it.
Then bring your awareness to your left hand. Open and close it to feel it better.
Bring your awareness to your face - all of it. Touch it with your right hand.
Hold your right arm out straight away from you, then point your index finger back toward your body.
Point to where "Peter-Self" is located.
Touch the exact location "Peter-Self".

Were you able to find and feel "Peter-Self" like the other parts of your body?
Where is it?
What did you find?
Something? Anything? Nothing?

Report back.


Walking this path with you is quite enjoyable Peter. Thank you.


It's a bright warm sunny day here in Southern California...around 8:30 am. :D


Best,
Dennis

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Petar
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Re: feels like I'm close

Postby Petar » Thu Jun 29, 2017 10:09 pm

Hi Dennis, I finally found some time to respond, I was quite busy the last couple of days.
Very nice Peter. You've engaged Direct Experience as a way to know that seeing through the illusion of separate "Self" is nothing to fear. That is very empowering, no?
- yes, it was encouraging to find out that I had been fearing certain things based on assumptions. It made me realize that direct experience is an effective way of verifying what is true and disproving worrisome beliefs.
If fear comes up again, return to direct sensations - the wind on face, the colors and shapes of trees in the park. Even something as simple as the breath moving in and out, or the aliveness of the body. There is something grounding about raw unlabeled sensations.
- yes, I've been doing this every day for more than half a year already. Also, I found that it's important to acknowledge and allow the fear to be, and focus on the feeling it creates, without engaging in thinking. But sometimes it just won't leave you alone until you analyze, at least briefly, the thought processes behind it. Usually when I try to ignore fear and focus on raw sensations, that creates resistance to the fear and a build-up of negative energy.
Were you able to find and feel "Peter-Self" like the other parts of your body? Where is it?
- really interesting exercise. I did it yesterday but didn't have time to report, and I did it again about 10 minutes ago. Well, when I tried to find and feel the Peter-Self, my belief that there was no Peter-Self emerged and then I concluded the obvious, that I could not find and feel it because it didn't exist.
What did you find? Something? Anything? Nothing?
I found a sense of self linked to the body, which caused a reaction when the finger pointed at the body. The pointing felt kind of threatening the first time I did the exercise, and there was almost no reaction the second time. When I had to point at Peter, I asked the question "Where is Peter", and an image of Peter invested with a sense of self came up briefly, before being intercepted by my belief that Peter isn't a real separate self. Then I wasn't sure what to do - I was just staring at the finger. I didn't want to rationalize why the body didn't belong to an entity called Peter, because I didn't think that would help me much. I had already done that rationalization a number of times.

This is all I can report so far.
I'm enjoying walking this path with you, too! I'm looking forward to the next steps.

Best Wishes,
Petar

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Re: feels like I'm close

Postby Dennis90405 » Sat Jul 01, 2017 2:09 am

Hi Peter,
No worries about being busy. I've also been too busy to respond as quickly as I would like. If you're unable to reply for more than a day or two, just let me know in a short note here, and I will do the same. It's better to reply within a day if you can, to keep a good flow going to the inquiry.

You've engaged Direct Experience as a way to know that seeing through the illusion of separate "Self" is nothing to fear. That is very empowering, no?
- yes, it was encouraging to find out that I had been fearing certain things based on assumptions. It made me realize that direct experience is an effective way of verifying what is true and disproving worrisome beliefs.
Great. Hold that realization and rely on it for the rest of your inquiry here.
Question: If "worrisome beliefs" are not Direct Experience, what is their source?

If fear comes up again, return to direct sensations - the wind on face, the colors and shapes of trees in the park. Even something as simple as the breath moving in and out, or the aliveness of the body. There is something grounding about raw unlabeled sensations.
- yes, I've been doing this every day for more than half a year already. Also, I found that it's important to acknowledge and allow the fear to be, and focus on the feeling it creates, without engaging in thinking. But sometimes it just won't leave you alone until you analyze, at least briefly, the thought processes behind it. Usually when I try to ignore fear and focus on raw sensations, that creates resistance to the fear and a build-up of negative energy.
Acknowledging and allowing fear to be, and feeling it in the body as direct sensation lets you see there is nothing behind it.

Were you able to find and feel "Peter-Self" like the other parts of your body? Where is it?
- really interesting exercise. I did it yesterday but didn't have time to report, and I did it again about 10 minutes ago. Well, when I tried to find and feel the Peter-Self, my belief that there was no Peter-Self emerged and then I concluded the obvious, that I could not find and feel it because it didn't exist.
That is a keen bit of looking Peter!
If you look, you can't find a unicorn anywhere. Then you know you unicorns aren't real.
When you look for "Peter-Self" you can't find him anywhere. Now what do you know about "Peter-Self"?

You've seen by looking that "Peter-Self" as central manager doesn't exist. So what else could "Peter-Self" be?

Besides the raw sensations of sight, sound, taste, smell, and feeling/touch, there are thoughts.
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?

What did you find? Something? Anything? Nothing?
I found a sense of self linked to the body, which caused a reaction when the finger pointed at the body. The pointing felt kind of threatening the first time I did the exercise, and there was almost no reaction the second time. When I had to point at Peter, I asked the question "Where is Peter", and an image of Peter invested with a sense of self came up briefly, before being intercepted by my belief that Peter isn't a real separate self. Then I wasn't sure what to do - I was just staring at the finger. I didn't want to rationalize why the body didn't belong to an entity called Peter, because I didn't think that would help me much. I had already done that rationalization a number of times.
Can you see how this "sense of self linked to the body" popped up right after the raw sensation of looking for Peter-Self and not finding him?
It follows the same sequence as your earlier exercise of looking at the world: first raw sensation (see a car), then after a short gap a thought pops up to claim the experience (that's a car), and so on.

Who was it that felt kind of threatened the first time you did the exercise"?

I hope I didn't give you too many questions. Have fun with them! :)

Warm regards,
Dennis

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Re: feels like I'm close

Postby Petar » Sat Jul 01, 2017 2:58 pm

You've engaged Direct Experience as a way to know that seeing through the illusion of separate "Self" is nothing to fear. That is very empowering, no?
-yes, it was encouraging to find out that I had been fearing certain things based on assumptions. It made me realize that direct experience is an effective way of verifying what is true and disproving worrisome beliefs.
Question: If "worrisome beliefs" are not Direct Experience, what is their source?
- good question, I hadn't asked myself that exact question before. From experience, I can say that the source of worrisome beliefs is Direct Experience, which is interpreted in a certain way, through thinking, and it is automatically concluded that this experience is threatening, or it is concluded that this experience proves that a physically or emotionally painful experience is likely or certain to happen to Peter in the future. Even if Peter is believed to not be a separate entity, there is fear that such experience is happening or will happen in the "awareness" around Peter and that will feel very real and painful/disturbing, even though Peter isn't a separate self.
Example: there is the experience of reading a book. Words are perceived and turned into thoughts, and these thoughts are interpreted as true or false, threatening or relieving, based on the existing beliefs... I just realized that a lot of these beliefs have never been verified through Direct Experience, but instead are concluded through logic! They are believed because they "make logical sense". They are more based on "indirect experience", e.g. a lot of teachers say that the physical world is imagined --> I know that spiritual teachers hold the truth because I have had a lot of joyful experiences caused by their teachings --> it is true that the physical world is imagined.
Or, I read in Jed McKenna's book that the truth is "no pot of gold" and that you need to spend 2 years in an agonizing process of "self-autolysis" to realize the truth. These words are turned into thoughts, and the thoughts are interpreted as true based on the existing beliefs that: the book Liberation Unleashed seems to make the most sense when it comes to realizing the truth --> the author of the book says that she realized the truth because of Jed McKenna's books --> Jed McKenna is the highest authority on truth and on how to realize it --> I will have to spend 2 years in an agonizing process of "self-autolysis" to realize the truth. Once I'm finished with that, I will be depressed most of the time because I will realize that the truth is "no pot of gold", and life is insignificant and meaningless. Very little of this is based on Direct Experience.
If you look, you can't find a unicorn anywhere. Then you know unicorns aren't real.
When you look for "Peter-Self" you can't find him anywhere. Now what do you know about "Peter-Self"?
- well, just because you haven't seen something, that doesn't mean you know for sure that it doesn't exist. I haven't seen aliens, but it's quite possible that they exist. But I guess that's not an issue with the Peter-Self, because the Peter-self is supposed to be right here within the awareness which is here in and around this body. So, it is easier to verify whether it is real or not. I can't find a real Peter-Self, but only a voice+image of Peter-self in the mind that feels like it represents a self/it's endowed with a sense of self. All the time, images are created of a "future" in which the image of Peter, endowed with a sense of self, does something that brings enjoyment or pleasure, usually through approval, or s.th. happens to Peter which isn't good (disapproval or suffering). Also, images are created of a "past" when the image of Peter, endowed with a sense of self, was diminished - and that is resisted, or was enhanced through approval - and that causes psychological gratification.
You've seen by looking that "Peter-Self" as central manager doesn't exist. So what else could "Peter-Self" be?
Indeed, Peter-self is not a manager of the body, thoughts, and awareness here, but it is an image of a self in the form of a human being with his own awareness. The proof for that, from Direct Experience, is the fact that thoughts arise uncontrollably in response to things, including the image of Peter-self. So how can Peter-self be a real entity in charge of anything, when it's just another image (but one with an assigned sense of self/control over decisions) arising spontaneously in response to sense perceptions, emotions, and other thoughts? Without that assumption, there are simply emotions, sense perceptions, and thoughts and images that arise spontaneously here, now, within an awareness which cannot be observed and understood, but only labelled. It's a bit confusing...
Can an 'I' be found that generates thoughts?
- thoughts arise in the awareness which is within this body, so it is logically assumed that there is a mind in the body in some form, and that the awareness chooses the thoughts generated by that mind. However, there is no proof for that from direct experience. Direct experience shows that there is a sense of existence, and thoughts/perceptions/emotions arising. Reflection is occurring regarding why this awareness here, now is centered only in this body and only aware of thoughts here, seemingly arising in the body. Then this reflection is attributed to the image of Peter-Self, who is imagined as reflecting on this... it's confusing! There is an urge to understand this, and the urge is constantly attributed to the Peter-self, then this is noticed, and the noticing is attributed to a self again. There is laughter in response to that, then an image of a self realizing in the near future that it doesn't exist and sharing that with you on this forum :D
Does the thinker of the thought appear in experience? Can it be found?
- as shared above, there is no entity that thinks apart from an imagined one, which is assumed to be real based on the fact that there is an awareness concentrated only in this body and thoughts that seem to arise from within the body.
Could it be that the 'I' that thinks is also just a thought?
- yes, it seems to be an image of a thinker that is assigned ownership of awareness and control of thought.
Is there an 'I' that controls thoughts?
no, instead they seem to arise spontaneously. Once they arise, they are attributed to a self here, now who is assumed to have produced them. There is still fear of allowing those thoughts to arise freely, because it is feared that they will "bring back" the identification with a self and cause suffering again.
Can you see how this "sense of self linked to the body" popped up right after the raw sensation of looking for Peter-Self and not finding him?
It follows the same sequence as your earlier exercise of looking at the world: first raw sensation (see a car), then after a short gap a thought pops up to claim the experience (that's a car), and so on.
- yes, but in my case it goes like: there is a raw sensation, e.g. hearing kids play outside just now, and then there is the silent thought "I am still and present, perceiving the kids' voices directly, without labeling"; then that is noticed, and there are thoughts like "there is identification with a self again, bring attention back to raw sensations", "It's difficult to dis-identify from the self"; or there is anticipation of a big realization that is imagined as being about to happen shortly.
Who was it that felt kind of threatened the first time you did the exercise?
- the feeling of being threatened arose in response to the pointing at the body with the index finger, then this feeling was observed with curiosity. Nobody real was threatened, the threat was perceived as a result of the thought that there is someone who is based in this body and therefore his welfare depends on it.

Thanks for the questions, Dennis, I think they got the cart moving!
My answers were long because I tried to describe my observations as comprehensively as possible. But if you prefer shorter answers, let me know - that's no problem.

Thanks for your time, and I'm looking forward to more questions, exercises, and insight-triggering one-liners :)

Best,
Peter

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Re: feels like I'm close

Postby Dennis90405 » Sun Jul 02, 2017 1:49 am

Hey there Peter,

Let's dig in!

I've edited your responses to the core salient bits.
Question: If "worrisome beliefs" are not Direct Experience, what is their source?
From experience, I can say that the source of worrisome beliefs is Direct Experience, which is interpreted in a certain way, through thinking...
Direct Experience is not an interpretation. It's raw sensation through the senses. Interpretation is through thinking...from thoughts about DE. Do you see the difference?
I just realized that a lot of these beliefs have never been verified through Direct Experience, but instead are concluded through logic!...
Yes! Logic is a thought, as is belief.
Or, I read in Jed McKenna's book that the truth is "no pot of gold" and that you need to spend 2 years in an agonizing process of "self-autolysis" to realize the truth. These words are turned into thoughts, and the thoughts are interpreted as true based on the existing beliefs that: the book Liberation Unleashed seems to make the most sense when it comes to realizing the truth --> the author of the book says that she realized the truth because of Jed McKenna's books --> Jed McKenna is the highest authority on truth and on how to realize it --> I will have to spend 2 years in an agonizing process of "self-autolysis" to realize the truth. Once I'm finished with that, I will be depressed most of the time because I will realize that the truth is "no pot of gold", and life is insignificant and meaningless. Very little of this is based on Direct Experience.
Peter, will you please set aside all readings of spiritual, self-help or non-dual literature and videos or DVDs for the duration of your inquiry? Afterwords you are welcome to do as you please but reference to different teachers or philosophical positions can create confusions while we attempt to work together here.
If you look, you can't find a unicorn anywhere. Then you know unicorns aren't real.
When you look for "Peter-Self" you can't find him anywhere. Now what do you know about "Peter-Self"?
I can't find a real Peter-Self...
The core of your answer.
You've seen by looking that "Peter-Self" as central manager doesn't exist. So what else could "Peter-Self" be?
Indeed, Peter-self is not a manager of the body, thoughts, and awareness here... So how can Peter-self be a real entity in charge of anything, when it's just another image (but one with an assigned sense of self/control over decisions) arising spontaneously in response to sense perceptions, emotions, and other thoughts? Without that assumption, there are simply emotions, sense perceptions, and thoughts and images that arise spontaneously here, now, within an awareness which cannot be observed and understood, but only labelled. It's a bit confusing...
Could it be that "Peter-Self" is just a thought?
Can an 'I' be found that generates thoughts?
- thoughts arise in the awareness which is within this body, so it is logically assumed that there is a mind in the body in some form, and that the awareness chooses the thoughts generated by that mind. However, there is no proof for that from direct experience...
Exactly - thoughts arise. But "logically assumed there is a mind in the body" is another thought. No?
Does the thinker of the thought appear in experience? Can it be found?
- as shared above, there is no entity that thinks apart from an imagined one, which is assumed to be real based on the fact that there is an awareness concentrated only in this body and thoughts that seem to arise from within the body.
Peter, it's time for some more direct looking. Sit comfortably as in the exercise before, take a few calming breaths, then carefully scan your body using only the senses, looking for a location that thoughts arise from. Then report back what you find. (There's more Direct Experience exercises at the end.)
Could it be that the 'I' that thinks is also just a thought?
- yes, it seems to be an image of a thinker that is assigned ownership of awareness and control of thought.
Excellent Looking.
Is there an 'I' that controls thoughts?
no, instead they seem to arise spontaneously. Once they arise, they are attributed to a self here, now who is assumed to have produced them...
More excellent Looking!
Can you see how this "sense of self linked to the body" popped up right after the raw sensation of looking for Peter-Self and not finding him?
It follows the same sequence as your earlier exercise of looking at the world: first raw sensation (see a car), then after a short gap a thought pops up to claim the experience (that's a car), and so on.
- yes, but in my case it goes like: there is a raw sensation, e.g. hearing kids play outside just now, and then there is the silent thought "I am still and present, perceiving the kids' voices directly, without labeling"; then that is noticed, and there are thoughts like "there is identification with a self again, bring attention back to raw sensations", "It's difficult to dis-identify from the self"; or there is anticipation of a big realization that is imagined as being about to happen shortly.
"there is a raw sensation...and then there is the silent thought" A silent thought after DE is still a thought. Do you see this?
Who was it that felt kind of threatened the first time you did the exercise?
- the feeling of being threatened arose in response to the pointing at the body with the index finger, then this feeling was observed with curiosity. Nobody real was threatened, the threat was perceived as a result of the thought that there is someone who is based in this body and therefore his welfare depends on it.
Nice work.


Let's have you do a Direct Experience exercise now Peter.

Questions about Direct Experience from the senses:

With the eyes closed, sitting still, notice the other sensations: hearing, smelling, tasting, touching. With only the input from those four senses, and without relying on thoughts or mental images:

Can it be known how tall the body is?
Does the body have a weight or a volume?
Is there a boundary between the body and the ground?
Can you feel where the body ends?

Do you have control over this body?
Can you locate a mind?

Can you feel your ears?
Does the body hear? Or is there hearing?

In direct experience does the body have a shape or a form?
Is there an inside or outside?
What does the body consist of in direct experience?
Are you this body?

Report on the raw sensations, not the thought stream that follows.

I hope your weekend is going well!

Cheers,
Dennis

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Petar
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Re: feels like I'm close

Postby Petar » Sun Jul 02, 2017 8:59 pm

From experience, I can say that the source of worrisome beliefs is Direct Experience, which is interpreted in a certain way, through thinking...
Direct Experience is not an interpretation. It's raw sensation through the senses. Interpretation is through thinking...from thoughts about DE. Do you see the difference?
- yes, that's what I meant, sorry for the confusion. I meant that worrisome beliefs are caused by DE/they arise in response to it, and that's why DE is their source/their trigger, but the contents of the thoughts are not real experience.
Peter, will you please set aside all readings of spiritual, self-help or non-dual literature and videos or DVDs for the duration of your inquiry? Afterwords you are welcome to do as you please but reference to different teachers or philosophical positions can create confusions while we attempt to work together here.
- yes, I understand. I haven't looked at almost any other teachings since we started, and I will refrain from doing so during our conversation. I was referring to the past, when I read something which was quite disturbing, so I could give you an example of how DE has been interpreted through beliefs. I will do my best to set aside all interpretations of reality/truth based on spiritual teachings in my mind, and rely on DE instead.
You've seen by looking that "Peter-Self" as central manager doesn't exist. So what else could "Peter-Self" be?
Indeed, Peter-self is not a manager of the body, thoughts, and awareness here... So how can Peter-self be a real entity in charge of anything, when it's just another image (but one with an assigned sense of self/control over decisions) arising spontaneously in response to sense perceptions, emotions, and other thoughts? Without that assumption, there are simply emotions, sense perceptions, and thoughts and images that arise spontaneously here, now, within an awareness which cannot be observed and understood, but only labelled. It's a bit confusing...
Could it be that "Peter-Self" is just a thought?
- yes, because when I repeat "I am", "who am I", or "I am Peter", the "I" is linked to/referred to the sense of existence, i.e. it labels the sense of existence. But the sense of existence is here even without the I thought, and it doesn't need it in order to operate.
thoughts arise in the awareness which is within this body, so it is logically assumed that there is a mind in the body in some form, and that the awareness chooses the thoughts generated by that mind. However, there is no proof for that from direct experience...
Exactly - thoughts arise. But "logically assumed there is a mind in the body" is another thought. No?
- well yes, it's a thought-made description of what has been observed. And so is "thoughts arise in the awareness which is within this body" and so is "the awareness chooses the thoughts generated by that mind".
Peter, it's time for some more direct looking. Sit comfortably as in the exercise before, take a few calming breaths, then carefully scan your body using only the senses, looking for a location that thoughts arise from. Then report back what you find.
thoughts are imagined as coming from the head, but that's based on a thought that there is a mind in the head which generates thoughts, and there's no DE that proves that thoughts are coming from the head - that's just another belief based on what I've been told about the brain. So thoughts are imagined to be coming from the head, based on the thought that they are coming from the head. This image of thoughts arising in the head is perceived as taking place for real.
"there is a raw sensation...and then there is the silent thought" A silent thought after DE is still a thought. Do you see this?
- I noticed this today. There is often a silent, assumed, non-apparent mental description of every action as "I am about to do this now", or "I am doing this now", or "she is looking at me doing this", or "I did this", or "what should I do". When that's noticed, there is often the same subtle conclusion of "I noticed this" or "I got identified with a self again". Then there is usually a hesitation as to what to do next.
With the eyes closed, sitting still, notice the other sensations: hearing, smelling, tasting, touching. With only the input from those four senses, and without relying on thoughts or mental images:
Can it be known how tall the body is?
- not an easy one. Well, I tried finding out how tall it is by running my hand from toe to head, but then I noticed that the only way that could help determine the height is if the touch sensations were translated to an image of the body. With no ability to visualize a body, I don't think the touch perceptions would be able to be translated into any image. With no images at all, there are only sense perceptions and nothing else. So final answer: no.
Does the body have a weight or a volume?
- I found it impossible to focus on perceptions only, when asking whether the body has a weight or volume - an image would immediately show up every time I tried. So the only proof of weight or volume is offered in the form of an image, so it seems that even volume and weight are labels! Answer: no.
Is there a boundary between the body and the ground?
- well, without using any images, a body and floor cannot be perceived - there is only a sense of pressure and that's it. Since a body and a floor cannot be imagined, a boundary cannot be imagined either.
Can you feel where the body ends?
- No, because without imagining anything, I cannot locate anything. There is only a sensation. I cannot locate the sensation unless I imagine that part of the body where it is occurring. Again, I didn't manage to deliberately search for the location of the sensation in my feet without an image popping up automatically.
Do you have control over this body?
- without thoughts and images, there is no "I" who can have control, and no body to be controlled - there are only sensations left. "I" and "body" are just thoughts. When the question "do I have control over this body" is being asked, there is observation of the question, and then there's no answer, since images and thoughts are excluded.
Can you locate a mind?
- no, there are only different sensations. The "mind" is a mental concept.
Can you feel your ears?
- yes
Does the body hear? Or is there hearing?
- in response to that question, an image of my body perceiving sounds occurs, but that's an image based on the assumption that the body hears. Or, images of the things making the sounds occur. Again, it's very difficult to focus only on the sounds without having any imagery pop-up. It seems that, without thoughts, there is just the sound perception - i.e. just hearing, and other sensations.
In direct experience does the body have a shape or a form?
- again, virtually impossible to do this for more than half a second without images of the body automatically popping up. Without images/thoughts, there is no body, but only sense perceptions. These perceptions cannot be used to outline any body with a shape without using thought. So the answer is no again.
Is there an inside or outside?
- no, without thoughts, nothing can be imagined. An inside or outside cannot be imagined, so there is no inside or outside, since they can only exist as thoughts.
What does the body consist of in direct experience?
Well… with eyes closed, without having any thoughts, there are only sense perceptions, while the body can only be imagined. So I guess in that type of Direct Experience it doesn't exist as a thing.
Are you this body?
Well… without thoughts, there is no "I" to be, and no body for it to be, because these two things are thoughts. There are only sensations. So the question makes no sense in DE.

Whew, this was exhausting! :D

My weekend was fine, I saw a great movie yesterday. I hope you've had a good weekend too!

As always, I'm looking forward to your feedback :)

Best Wishes,
Peter


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