Humbly requesting a helping hand

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Trancemage
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Humbly requesting a helping hand

Postby Trancemage » Thu Dec 07, 2017 8:49 am

LU is focused guiding for seeing there is no real, inherent 'self' - what do you understand by this?
To be perfectly honest I don't really understand what self is. It isn't something I can put my finger on and in I thinking about it I get some thoughts mostly images of what I look like in the third person, then and empty feeling in my chest.

What are you looking for at LU?
Assistance getting to an answer or an understanding of what I really am and am I real - why does this question keep popping up in my head? I'd like to stop the vicious cycle of searching with no end in sight or clue to what it is I am looking. I hoping to get a grasp on this "intangible" thing that cannot be learned through a traditional medium.

What do you expect from a guided conversation?
Having someone who understands where I am at and who is able to tell me or point me in the right direction. Hopefully getting to the root of why I haven't understood who/what I am, without any religious dogma.

What is your experience in terms of spiritual practices, seeking and inquiry?
I have been through many religions Hinduism, Buddhist, Christianity, Occult in search of an answer, they all say good things (some not so good) yet none can guide you (so you a path), they all are plagued with dogma and social ties that cause you to go in circles (even there regional leaders don't know anything half the time - no offense to them).

I have read countless books on spirituality so many now sit collecting dust on my shelves, they all taught me things but not what I was looking for or think I am looking for, by far the most meaningful was the Platform Sūtra of the Sixth Patriarch (Hui Neng). Practice wise I've tried Zen, Yoga, TaiChi, Meditation (on an off for years), again all are good and have had some meaningful effects but none have filled this need to know something that seems to be just out of my reach. I have also followed the works/attended classes of several people some helpful others not so much: Richard Rose, Rudi Swami, Bernie, Ramana Maharshi, KAP one course, Ramaji RASA. The list continues as there are quite a few more but again it is meaningless as none have bear fruit except to lead me to this site where hopefully I can get a conclusion or at the very least another clue to the puzzle.

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

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gondwana
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Re: Humbly requesting a helping hand

Postby gondwana » Thu Dec 14, 2017 4:38 pm

Hello Trancemage,

Welcome to LU, and thanks for the authentic responses to the introduction questions, I can see that you are ready to look!
I am happy to be your guide, if you so wish.
Hopefully getting to the root of why I haven't understood who/what I am, without any religious dogma.
This will all be very simple, a straightforward conversation between friends. We will not be needing any dogma, none whatsoever! We will have no need for beliefs or dogma, that is all the realm of thought -- we are going to look beyond thought, to something which can only be experienced directly. You only need look at direct experience and see for yourself that which is true. I will give simple pointers where to look, you tell me what you see.

Always remember to LOOK, at your own direct experience in the present moment - do not rely on prior beliefs, dogma, teachings, assumptions, theories, or any kind of thought. Simply LOOK and report back what you see in immediate present experience.

It is also very important you pause all seeking for the entirety of our conversation. This means no reading books, no articles, no watching videos or talks, or any other spiritual resources. This is for your own benefit, so we can look clearly without becoming confused by the beliefs of others.

Please try to post around once a day, it will help if we keep up the momentum.

Can you agree to the above? :)
To be perfectly honest I don't really understand what self is. It isn't something I can put my finger on and in I thinking about it I get some thoughts mostly images of what I look like in the third person, then and empty feeling in my chest.
This is a great start! Tell me what comes up in direct experience, when you bring up the thought of the self. LOOK and report back.

Are there also any expectations about what you expect to see or not see when you go looking for the self? Any pre-conceptions?

Looking forward to your reply!
Tim
Seen in the moment of looking, freed in the moment of seeing.

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Trancemage
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Re: Humbly requesting a helping hand

Postby Trancemage » Thu Dec 14, 2017 6:33 pm

Hi Tim,

I appreciate and thank you for choosing to guide me. I currently do not follow any other systems but I will stop my reading about spritual stuff for the duration of this, I also agree to try my best to post once a day (sometimes life gets in the way).
This is a great start! Tell me what comes up in direct experience, when you bring up the thought of the self. LOOK and report back.
Initially for a split second I see a fuzzy picture, a head shot of my body then it disappears and all is black. I then see the word self which comes out of no where then also fades away and then there's nothing. There also a general feeling of emptiness.
Are there also any expectations about what you expect to see or not see when you go looking for the self? Any pre-conceptions?
Initially based on reading many accounts of enlightenment and stories over the years I expected there to be a "pop" then an "ah HA" moment or a monumental change a destruction of me in the mind. I also thought that I would get everything I wanted and that there'd no longer any pain or suffering. I also thought you'd get powers or insights into things. Even now when I think about enlightenment I think of all these wild ideas about what is suppose to happen. I realize that everything that I thought of was just that a thought my mind made all of these things up. But then that leaves me with whats supposed to happen then?

Thank you!

-Kal

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gondwana
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Re: Humbly requesting a helping hand

Postby gondwana » Fri Dec 15, 2017 2:56 am

I appreciate and thank you for choosing to guide me.
You are most welcome. Let's have fun and enjoy the process of simply cutting through all dogma & confusion you suffered before. All this seeking can be ended in a single moment, by looking openly and seeing the truth in experience. That is our goal here, you will see - do not worry! :)
I also agree to try my best to post once a day (sometimes life gets in the way).
No worries at all, it's only a guideline. What can happen sometimes is that resistance may arise, and the mind tells stories about being busy with "other priorities". But that is often a fear of looking, hence we try to keep some momentum.
Initially based on reading many accounts of enlightenment and stories over the years I expected there to be a "pop" then an "ah HA" moment or a monumental change a destruction of me in the mind. I also thought that I would get everything I wanted and that there'd no longer any pain or suffering. I also thought you'd get powers or insights into things. Even now when I think about enlightenment I think of all these wild ideas about what is suppose to happen. I realize that everything that I thought of was just that a thought my mind made all of these things up. But then that leaves me with whats supposed to happen then?
This is completely normal. I once had the exact same expectations as you! In truth, any expectations will only prevent you from seeing the truth, so we must notice them - then leave them behind. They cannot help us here.

We are not looking for destruction of "me" in the mind. Rather to simply see that "me" never existed at all.

What we are looking for, is something which the mind (i.e. thoughts) cannot comprehend. It is beyond thought - it can only be experienced directly in the present moment. Since all expectations are also part of thought (they are just thoughts about the future), and since we cannot grasp this with thought, therefore all expectations must not be the truth we are looking for and should be discarded. No need to anticipate, simply look and see.



Here is a fun exercise for you, to make clear the difference between thought and direct experience:

Sit with eyes closed. In your mind, imagine going to the kitchen and getting a piece of fruit which you already have in stock. Imagine the look of it, the colour, texture, reflections of light. Then imagine biting into the fruit, tasting it, the texture, sweetness, sharpness, all the qualities. This is thought.

Now open your eyes, and actually go to the kitchen. Take the piece of fruit and look at it, examine the colour, texture, reflections of light. Now bite into the fruit and taste it, experience the texture, the sweetness, sharpness, etc. This is direct experience.

How does direct experience compare to thought?
Which feels more "real"?
Did the thought fully capture all the detail of the experience?
Can a thought about an experience ever be as complete as the experience itself?
Initially for a split second I see a fuzzy picture, a head shot of my body then it disappears and all is black. I then see the word self which comes out of no where then also fades away and then there's nothing. There also a general feeling of emptiness.
Very good! This is the LOOKING we need.

Which of these items are just thoughts about something?
Which are known in direct experience?
Seen in the moment of looking, freed in the moment of seeing.

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Trancemage
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Re: Humbly requesting a helping hand

Postby Trancemage » Fri Dec 15, 2017 3:41 am

Hi Tim,

This was very interesting exercise:
Here is a fun exercise for you, to make clear the difference between thought and direct experience:

Sit with eyes closed. In your mind, imagine going to the kitchen and getting a piece of fruit which you already have in stock. Imagine the look of it, the colour, texture, reflections of light. Then imagine biting into the fruit, tasting it, the texture, sweetness, sharpness, all the qualities. This is thought.

Now open your eyes, and actually go to the kitchen. Take the piece of fruit and look at it, examine the colour, texture, reflections of light. Now bite into the fruit and taste it, experience the texture, the sweetness, sharpness, etc. This is direct experience.

How does direct experience compare to thought?
(Made slight change from fruit to brownie, all I had)

I never thought to try this before. When I sat and thought about eating a piece of brownie, I pictured walking to the counter opening the container and cutting a piece then I ate the piece. I chewed it picturing the sensation of eating it and how sweet it tasted and the grainy texture of it and swallowed it. I then got up and did extactly that, it was surreal the difference in experience. The thought was completely hollow, while yes I could picture it there was nothing behind the taste, the sensation, and flavor. I was only able to do that when I acutally ate it. It was bizare to see and feel how hollow thinking about doing it felt at the same time it was so convincing that until I tried to eat the real thing I did not notice it lacked all the real charactistics of the real fruit.
Which feels more "real"?
Eating it felt real. The thought was more like a mirage of the real thing, it looked like and acted like it but was complete hollow.
Did the thought fully capture all the detail of the experience?
Not at all, all it manage to capture was the image and "feeling" of eating it but thats all.
Can a thought about an experience ever be as complete as the experience itself?
Never it will always be a sort of visual copy to the real thing. It reminds of this saying with a twist. "It looks like a duck, walks like a duck, quacks like it a duck"...but there is no duck.
Initially for a split second I see a fuzzy picture, a head shot of my body then it disappears and all is black. I then see the word self which comes out of no where then also fades away and then there's nothing. There also a general feeling of emptiness.
Very good! This is the LOOKING we need.

Which of these items are just thoughts about something?
I would say the word self. As its the only I think I have really experience.
Which are known in direct experience?

The fuzzy picture and the head shot of my body were both experienced as they were seen in real life first.

Thank you!

-Kal

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gondwana
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Re: Humbly requesting a helping hand

Postby gondwana » Sat Dec 16, 2017 12:23 am

Good morning Kal!
(Made slight change from fruit to brownie, all I had)
A worthy substitute ;)
It was bizare to see and feel how hollow thinking about doing it felt at the same time it was so convincing that until I tried to eat the real thing I did not notice it lacked all the real charactistics of the real fruit.
Beautiful! So you have seen how actual experience is different to thoughts about actual experience.

Thoughts can be very convincing, but that does not make them real.
Never it will always be a sort of visual copy to the real thing. It reminds of this saying with a twist. "It looks like a duck, walks like a duck, quacks like it a duck"...but there is no duck.
Great! So to put this succinctly, thoughts can basically do only one of two things:

Thoughts about actual experience
Thoughts about other thoughts


The fuzzy picture and the head shot of my body were both experienced as they were seen in real life first.
So are these actual experience, thoughts about actual experience, or thoughts about thoughts?

Call it up again and look, let me know what you find!

Seen in the moment of looking, freed in the moment of seeing.

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Trancemage
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Re: Humbly requesting a helping hand

Postby Trancemage » Sat Dec 16, 2017 2:04 am

Good morning Tim!
Thoughts can be very convincing, but that does not make them real.
Never it will always be a sort of visual copy to the real thing. It reminds of this saying with a twist. "It looks like a duck, walks like a duck, quacks like it a duck"...but there is no duck.
Great! So to put this succinctly, thoughts can basically do only one of two things:

Thoughts about actual experience
Thoughts about other thoughts
That makes perfect sense!


The fuzzy picture and the head shot of my body were both experienced as they were seen in real life first.
So are these actual experience, thoughts about actual experience, or thoughts about thoughts?

Call it up again and look, let me know what you find!
In bringing it backup up again and looking at them I would say. It started as a thought about an actual experience but then became thoughts about thoughts which then dissipates to nothing.

Thanks and have a good day!

-Kal

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Re: Humbly requesting a helping hand

Postby gondwana » Sat Dec 16, 2017 3:50 am

It started as a thought about an actual experience but then became thoughts about thoughts which then dissipates to nothing.
Good, ok we will come back to this shortly.

If I suggest three example thoughts/concepts, tell me what do each of these point to.

table
university
Santa Claus

There are three different types here, so what could we say are the three categories?
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Re: Humbly requesting a helping hand

Postby Trancemage » Sat Dec 16, 2017 5:47 pm

If I suggest three example thoughts/concepts, tell me what do each of these point to.

table
university
Santa Claus

There are three different types here, so what could we say are the three categories?
I would say for the table I think about my dinning table which is a thought about a real table which I can go look at. For the university I have thoughts about when I went to college but they are random thoughts about real events that had occurred, but also that is a memory from the past as I remember it as I had experienced it back then it could look much different today. Lastly Santa Claus brings up images of a "Santa" but I know its not linked to anything real.

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Re: Humbly requesting a helping hand

Postby gondwana » Sun Dec 17, 2017 7:40 am

Good! So what we have here, are basically three examples of the ways thought can work:

table = thought about an object in actual experience
university = thought about an abstract concept, does not relate to an actual object but which is useful for communication purposes
Santa Claus = thought about something completely fictitious (just a story)

Now call up the thought about "me" or "I" or "self" again, and report what you see.
If it helps, you can try saying the word me/I/self out loud into the air, and see what comes up when you do.

Is there an actual entity called "self" at all? Can it be found anywhere in direct experience?

Otherwise, what does the thought "self" point to? And can those thing(s) be found in direct experience?

Remember, only LOOK and report back. Do not try to understand or analyse this with thought. Just look in the present moment. It should take only an instant to see what is there/not there.

Trust only your direct experience. We have already seen that direct experience is lucidly real, while thought can be misleading or fail to represent experience accurately - remember the brownie!

What do you see when looking for a "self"?
Seen in the moment of looking, freed in the moment of seeing.

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Re: Humbly requesting a helping hand

Postby Trancemage » Sun Dec 17, 2017 4:48 pm

Now call up the thought about "me" or "I" or "self" again, and report what you see.
If it helps, you can try saying the word me/I/self out loud into the air, and see what comes up when you do.

Is there an actual entity called "self" at all? Can it be found anywhere in direct experience?
When I call up the thought me/I I see images of my body in different places, but looking beyond that I cannot idenitfy any self. It is not something I can locate. There are occasional sensation I feel but it rises and goes away and then there is nothing again. Using the term "I" feels a bit weird now as I'm no sure what "I" is as I can't really find it.
Otherwise, what does the thought "self" point to? And can those thing(s) be found in direct experience?
It points to nothing, I cannot find it via direct experience its no where to be found. Its like Santa it lives as an idea and that is all, there is no real self nothing concrete I can point at.
Remember, only LOOK and report back. Do not try to understand or analyze this with thought. Just look in the present moment. It should take only an instant to see what is there/not there.

Trust only your direct experience. We have already seen that direct experience is lucidly real, while thought can be misleading or fail to represent experience accurately - remember the brownie!

What do you see when looking for a "self"?
I can find nothing, I cannot find a "self" there is only an idea of it.

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Re: Humbly requesting a helping hand

Postby gondwana » Mon Dec 18, 2017 5:46 am

Using the term "I" feels a bit weird now as I'm no sure what "I" is as I can't really find it.
Great looking! This was seen correctly. The use of the term “I” should feel weird, because it is merely a language construct — convenient for communication.

The “myself” previously imagined when using “I” is just that — imaginary. It does not exist. Nor has it ever.
When I call up the thought me/I I see images of my body in different places
So these images would then also be thoughts, correct?

What then tells that these images relate to an “I”?
And not images of a different person?
There are occasional sensation I feel but it rises and goes away and then there is nothing again.
Let us look at these sensations. Look again at the “occasional sensations” reported and say what you see.

What does it tell us, the fact that they arise and then go away? Is this true of all sensations, if you just watch?

Try closing your eyes and sitting or lying quietly. Try to observe without attachment/aversion any sensations arising in the body, no matter where they are. If you do not react, do they disappear on their own?

Try observing thought with eyes closed. Let any thoughts arise as they wish. Observe them as a passive watcher. If you do not follow them with additional thoughts or dialogue, what happens to them? What do thoughts DO, if you just watch them with no reaction?
Its like Santa it lives as an idea and that is all, there is no real self nothing concrete I can point at.
Santa, yes exactly! “I” is imaginary character. Just a story we tell ourselves :)

It has simply become an unchecked assumption, a result of the use of “I”-style subject/object language structures. We are so used to it we never even look if it is true.
I can find nothing, I cannot find a "self" there is only an idea of it.
Only an idea, yes. And what tells that it is “you”? That you identify with it?
Seen in the moment of looking, freed in the moment of seeing.

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Re: Humbly requesting a helping hand

Postby Trancemage » Mon Dec 18, 2017 4:31 pm

Before I begin todays question/answers. I had a dream this morning in the dream I woke up in my dream in my room crying hard and then I suddenly started screaming who am I. I felt it to my core it was like I had no idea who I was. I then woke up after that feeling very odd about the whole thing.
When I call up the thought me/I I see images of my body in different places
So these images would then also be thoughts, correct?
Correct they are just thoughts.
What then tells that these images relate to an “I”?
It is the idea that "I am" this person. From looking back to when I was a child it was a programed function that my parents told me I was to be this person and since that point "I" have been inserting "I am" this person in front of any and all thought. Its like I is taking ownership but there is nothing to take ownership of.

And not images of a different person?
To be honest at times I see myself as other's/other things its very odd. Its also worth pointing out it is never a clear picture always fuzzy, I never really see my face. Why is that?
There are occasional sensation I feel but it rises and goes away and then there is nothing again.
Let us look at these sensations. Look again at the “occasional sensations” reported and say what you see.
In looking at the feeling it rises in my chest/stomach a queezy feeling like when your anxious or nervous about something. I don't see anything just a nervous feeling almost like I am afraid of something but I don't know what. But it comes and goes on it own.
What does it tell us, the fact that they arise and then go away? Is this true of all sensations, if you just watch?
For one it tell me's its never permenant and that like all other sensations they come and go, however if I grab on to them and give them time they seem to have a greater hold for a longer duration.

Try closing your eyes and sitting or lying quietly. Try to observe without attachment/aversion any sensations arising in the body, no matter where they are. If you do not react, do they disappear on their own?
I notice that they come and go on there own, the other interesting thing is I have no control over them they just seem happen.

Try observing thought with eyes closed. Let any thoughts arise as they wish. Observe them as a passive watcher. If you do not follow them with additional thoughts or dialogue, what happens to them? What do thoughts DO, if you just watch them with no reaction?
When just observing them I notice sometimes they follow from one to another then at times you will see random thoughts with no link to the previous one. I notice they are't a stream of thoughts, they popup then go way then the next will arise then go away. I find that sometimes I will get caught in the story like the ones involving things I need to do, others seem outlandish and are easier to passively observe. But they do not "do" anything, they just come and go and thats it.

Its like Santa it lives as an idea and that is all, there is no real self nothing concrete I can point at.
Santa, yes exactly! “I” is imaginary character. Just a story we tell ourselves :)

It has simply become an unchecked assumption, a result of the use of “I”-style subject/object language structures. We are so used to it we never even look if it is true.
I can find nothing, I cannot find a "self" there is only an idea of it.
Only an idea, yes. And what tells that it is “you”? That you identify with it?
I'm a bit confused by what tells me that I am, what is making me identify with it. I am not sure to be honest, maybe the conditioning?

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Re: Humbly requesting a helping hand

Postby gondwana » Tue Dec 19, 2017 12:12 pm

Normally I would like to have replied quicker but I only just arrived off a 24-hour flight, my apologies for that.
Before I begin todays question/answers. I had a dream this morning in the dream I woke up in my dream in my room crying hard and then I suddenly started screaming who am I. I felt it to my core it was like I had no idea who I was. I then woke up after that feeling very odd about the whole thing.
Well firstly, your dream is awesome, this is a good sign! I had a very similar dream to this myself, when going through this process :) It was really just saying a final goodbye to a long-held (and in truth, perhaps somewhat cherished) belief.

It's great that you brought it up. This tells us that there is some fear embedded here, surrounding really looking at whether there is a self. And this is totally normal! Many have this same fear, we have all been through it. The thing is, to offer you a metaphor (and remember, it is ONLY a metaphor), the "I" program is a bit like a computer virus - it attaches itself to every strand of thought, and comes with built-in defences to avoid being seen as actually just a fraud. But in reality, everything is perfect and there is no real danger here - everything is unfolding exactly as it was meant to.

We can look at this easily. Fear itself is not to be feared, it is just a mechanism doing its' job. Working perfectly at a security system, simply protecting something from being found out. Isn't this actually amazing and beautiful? Now look at the fear, and just relax, let it be. Try to find where in the body it is physically felt, notice any sensations. Then bring the fear closer and show kindness to it, respect it, bow to it. Then look behind the fear. What is behind it?
Seen in the moment of looking, freed in the moment of seeing.

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Trancemage
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Re: Humbly requesting a helping hand

Postby Trancemage » Tue Dec 19, 2017 8:14 pm

Hi Tim,

No problem at all, thats a long time the furthest I've done was 18 hours you must be tired! Thanks for taking the time to respond back. I'm glad the dream was a good sign it was a very odd and surprisingly shaking dream.
It's great that you brought it up. This tells us that there is some fear embedded here, surrounding really looking at whether there is a self. And this is totally normal! Many have this same fear, we have all been through it. The thing is, to offer you a metaphor (and remember, it is ONLY a metaphor), the "I" program is a bit like a computer virus - it attaches itself to every strand of thought, and comes with built-in defenses to avoid being seen as actually just a fraud. But in reality, everything is perfect and there is no real danger here - everything is unfolding exactly as it was meant to.
I notice the "I" before thought much more now, I never noticed it before like this. It is in front of every thought except the occasions where it is a direct experience. It feels strange to say I before it all as I get a feeling of hollowness when I think about "I". Does that make sense?
We can look at this easily. Fear itself is not to be feared, it is just a mechanism doing its' job. Working perfectly at a security system, simply protecting something from being found out. Isn't this actually amazing and beautiful? Now look at the fear, and just relax, let it be. Try to find where in the body it is physically felt, notice any sensations. Then bring the fear closer and show kindness to it, respect it, bow to it. Then look behind the fear. What is behind it?
In looking and interacting with fear, I feel it like a pressure in my chest. When I observe it and thank it I notice it subsides but also see that there is nothing behind it. I'm not sure what it is protecting, theres nothing behind it.

Outside of this I find that I cannot shake the feeling of no "I", "I" notice it much more frequently in thought almost like its an oddity. I also noticed the strangest thing yesterday at dinner. There was a moment when I was looking at my wife and my parents interact, and it was as if they were under an illusion of having a choice in the action they were preforming, it was as if everything is choreographed but the people in it don't realize it and they think it was there will acting and choosing even though this was not the case, I also played a role in the interaction. It was a fleeting moment but I noticed that for some reason, it was as if I saw in a third person.


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