Hi Tony, thnks for the post.
So I tried to look as honestly and innocently as I could at what "Tony" is all about. As you said the idea of the "I" is somewhat seen as just that ... What feels as a basic element of the self except the struggle, is the constant desire to escape the present experience. And it does that by making up stories, desires, setting goals or whatever, until I get caught in one of those, unconsciously believing that this is an escape from suffering...
Certainly some honest searching going on here, Tony, and I really admire the effort you're putting into this.. Excellent.. Lets see if we can clarify things a bit. Consider this sentence “I, myself believe that ….”
The “I” on its own, is just a word. It points to the mind/body.
The myself (my self) is also pointing to the mind/body.
The “I” and the “self” are pointing to the same thing – the mind/body called Tony. The two terms are synonyms (meaning the same), but the self is way more powerful because it brings an identity (“made up stories, desires, goals”) to the “I”
but underneath the characteristics of the personality [likes/dislikes,opinions,memories] is that sense of "raw" self that seems to be present in every experience.
When you describe the self as “underneath the characteristics of the personality” you are right. The self, from experiences, creates beliefs that “I should do this, act this way, say these sorts of things etc. These “personality traits are the outcome of conditioning (behaviour) arising from beliefs
It's almost like the self is in continuous search for relief/rest but it's own nature is struggle and fear, so every time it tries to solve this dilemma it just ends up creating more struggle. It seems like a circle from which it can never escape...
It’s the nature of the self and it’s created beliefs that whatever “I” do is“never good enough” Ever caught yourself (your self) criticizing something that you’ve done. The “critical voice” that is telling you off is voicing the self’s beliefs. The self is telling the “I” that its efforts are not good enough (when you look at it, this is crazy stuff: the dimension of “I” called the “self” is criticizing the actions of the “I” – it’s criticizing itself!!) The result, as you point out is a merry-go-round of criticism, insecurity, unhappiness, struggle
Something else came to mind that I wanted to ask...
There are times in which I can take a certain point of view and have an experience according to that. Let's say, that a thought arises, saying "examine if there is something in experience that is not new"...So I "see" life from that angle and it is much easier to see that actually nothing in my experience is not new. I can do that with other statements like "everything is part of awareness", "there is no "I" here" etc.
So, on one hand this "practice" gives me some kind of experience which I label true or more true than my "usual" experience
When an experience happens, the self will always examine that experience to derive something that can be attached to the “I”. For example, some people spend money on lotteries (the “experience”). Sometimes they win some prizes. The self will examine these experiences and can create a number of stories to add to the “I” – for example “I spend too much money on lotteries” or “I never win much” or “I’m really lucky in winning money” At any one time one of these stories will be more believable and that is the story that will be associated with the “I”. Next month, the story may change as my beliefs arising from the experiences that “I” have, change.
These stories are called beliefs. A belief is always “owned” by the “I”, like: “I am lucky, I am useless, I waste money – and so on. These beliefs are 100% creations of the mind. They might arise from an experience, but whereas the experience was real, the mind-created beliefs are pure fantasy. However, while these beliefs are 100% fabricated, they are believed by the “I” – which is another fabrication.
So, the self “spins a story about an experience that “I” had”, the truth of which “I” believe, and so “I” make the belief part of the “story of me” But its all bullshit. The only thing that happened was the experience of buying a lottery ticket. Everything after that was an illusionary belief-based story
and there is the belief that this helps the SELF wake up.
It is, of course, a rare experience that does not “wake the self up” The self ensures that we always have an opinion on everyone and everything; that we are easily upset, offended and upset, that we are always on the search for “something bigger, brighter or better”
On the other hand, it feels like I'm not totally honest and that I'm manipulating reality, creating my own subtle realities just to get some kind of pleasure.
For the self, a very valid identity for the “I” to have is guilt. Guilt (“just to get some kind of pleasure) ensures that the perpetual wanting, self doubt, self-criticism, and flow-on feelings of anguish, pain and struggle are kept “on the boil”.
There is a saying, I think from Ramana, about "using one thorn to remove an other". Do you think that this is a method that could help or create more illusion?
The only way of ending the illusion is to see that it is just that: an illusion. And the only way of doing that is to “kill off” the belief that beliefs are true, real. All beliefs are mind-created untruths. Once that is seen, belief in all beliefs (including the belief in “I”) ends. Thereafter, there is simply experience happening – WITHOUT beliefs arising. Ramana’s belief that one thorn can be used to remove another is just that – a mind-created belief.
The self is like a mirroring effect. It comes after experience.
It can know who/what it is only in relation to the perceived experience.
Once it is realized that there is no self to provide an identity to the “I”, then the illusionary “I” completely collapses, leaving the truth of who you are to shine though. From that point on, there is only experience. No “I”, no self.
So the self is a reaction to experience.
The self reacts to an experience to create a story that can be attached to the “I”
The self depends on the notion of time.
Tony – time is a belief. The past and future are mind-created and have no factual reality. Only the present moment has reality. The world around us, however uses the conventions of time, and we use those conventions to help us get though each day in an orderly way, and to provide our mind with “past memories” and “future plans”. In a dualistic world time is believed to be “real” – but it’s not. It’s an illusion
You are right though, beliefs are built over time. Once it is seen that the present moment is all there is, the belief in the realness of “time”, past” and future” is seen as an illusion. In the now, the self cannot create beliefs to sustain it. The self collapses.
Beliefs are strengthened each time the same sort of experience is encountered by the mind/body. A belief that illustrates this could be “Why is this always happening to me?
As long as there is reality in the idea of past and future, the self can be kept alive... Past tells me who I am and future gives me the opportunity to become something more/less.
All belief, all wrong. How can you possibly be better that you are right NOW?
I know who I am because of memory. It's knowledge based on repetition.
I know WHO I'M NOT because of a belief in time-based memory. Knowledge is all a mind-interpretation of an experience
Tony, while you believe that your beliefs define who you are you will not experience the serenity that dropping all beliefs can bring. Look at your beliefs as they arise. Ask “is this belief indicating a truth about me, or is it perpetuating the illusion that I am a separate person, with a separate identity and a separate existence? Keep asking that question. Eventually you’ll realize that all beliefs are simply NOT TRUE
On the one hand the identity needs continuous effort to remind me that I am a self, that I am Tony. That feels fake because there is a feeling of Being that needs no effort at all.
It is fake because it is a mind creation. An untruth. Looking to the self to give you an identity is looking completely in the wrong direction. Who you really are can only be found when the self goes and beliefs crumble. Only then will you realize the truth of who you are – and that truth is, indeed effortless
You’ve found an important truth, though. Belief in beliefs will always keep you from finding the truth of who you are
On the other hand without being reminded of who I am, I know nothing about me.
A belief. Drop the beliefs, then look. You’ll find everything you need to know about yourself. Constructing a knowing of who you are based on beliefs will keep you from finding that truth.
Somehow, unknowing gets rejected immediately.
It is always there but so is the rejection of it.
The mind is rejecting any notion that it cannot control. Why” because it is afraid. What is is afraid of? Is that fear valid, or is it a min-created fear
The goal is simply to realize that the self and all of the beliefs that the self creates are ALL illusionary. False, Unreal.
That's all I have for the moment...I will continue looking...
Great. Probe, question, analyse, dismiss. Keep doing that until you’ve run out of things to dismiss! Sounds hard, but is not. Don't give up. Just keep asking the question “is this real or not?” If it’s not it’s not worth hanging on to. Eventually, your mind will realize that you’re serious and the crumbling will accelerate.
Happy hunting, Tony!