breaking through

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Watashi
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breaking through

Postby Watashi » Fri Jan 05, 2018 4:12 am

LU is focused guiding for seeing there is no real, inherent 'self' - what do you understand by this?
That there is no core such as a soul or any other entity or substance which could be considered a self or an ego. That by closer inspection of mental processes one will eventually discover that there is nobody in control, that there are mental processes happening sort of automatically - there is cause and effect . . .

What are you looking for at LU?
I am looking for someone who has a deep personal understanding of this topic and who can guide me, help me to really break through, to go beyond intellectual understanding so that this illusion is seen through, so that direct seeing replaces thoughts and concepts.

What do you expect from a guided conversation?
I hope that my guide will be able to see any wrong ways of thinking, point out blind spots or undermine any wrong believes or unhelpful expectations and lead me on in a way so that I can learn to see how things really are as opposed to how I think they are.

What is your experience in terms of spiritual practices, seeking and inquiry?
I started by reading a lot about Zen, later practiced in the Buddhist Theravada tradition for many years, spent time in meditation centres in Sri Lanka, Malaysia and Thailand. I now mostly meditate on my own in the Vipassana tradition and my main interest is the observation of the mind.

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

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Barbarossa
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Re: breaking through

Postby Barbarossa » Thu Jan 11, 2018 12:44 pm

hi watashi,
i would like to walk a few steps with you.

have you allready read the announcements?
if not, please do so.

also would i ask you to put all books, teachings, and every knowledge about buddhism/zen/non duality for the duration of our investigation aside.
it may hinder this process.

if you are fine with that, we can get startet.
If you use your mind to study reality, you won't understand either your mind or reality.
If you study reality without using your mind, you'll understand both.
-Bodhidharma

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Watashi
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Re: breaking through

Postby Watashi » Thu Jan 11, 2018 1:09 pm

hi Barbarossa,

Thanks for your reply and your willingness to help!

Yes, I have read through the introductory info and also started reading the Gateless Gatecrashers.

Yes, I m fine with letting such books and teachings aside - knowledge I don't know: I can certainly try to put that aside too, or at least be aware of it . . .

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Barbarossa
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Re: breaking through

Postby Barbarossa » Thu Jan 11, 2018 3:32 pm

fine :)
unhelpful expectations
what are your expectations?
how would it be to have seen trough this illusion?
direct seeing
what do you mean by that - what's your understanding of 'direct seeing'?
If you use your mind to study reality, you won't understand either your mind or reality.
If you study reality without using your mind, you'll understand both.
-Bodhidharma

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Watashi
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Re: breaking through

Postby Watashi » Fri Jan 12, 2018 4:22 am

Thinking about expectation made me wonder, why I wrote 'unhelpful expectations' - aren't they all unhelpful in a way?

Still, there is this expectation to gain clarity about where I am at, spiritually speaking. My own experience indicate that I actually had a major break-through about 10 years ago but this was not in line with the tradition I was practising in. So when I heard about the LU approach I was at first very sceptical but then, after reading some of those conversations I felt that there was genuine seeking and understanding. There needs to be clarity about where 'I' am at so that there can be further progress.
how would it be to have seen trough this illusion?
freedom, the freedom to act in a way more appropriate to any given situation instead of reacting in accordance with live-long conditioning. I experience some form of aversion or greed on a daily basis. This must be the result of holding views and opinions, for example expecting people to behave in a certain way instead of simply accepting them as they are. Now that would be freedom
what do you mean by that - what's your understanding of 'direct seeing'?
Seeing what there is instead of seeing what I think or believe there is, seeing without judging, seeing the causes and effects and learning from that, it could be called pure awareness, maybe . . .

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Barbarossa
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Re: breaking through

Postby Barbarossa » Fri Jan 12, 2018 5:05 pm

Thinking about expectation made me wonder, why I wrote 'unhelpful expectations' - aren't they all unhelpful in a way?
that's the point :)
if there are expectations, then you are waiting for something to change/happen.
that may hinder the view at what is here and now.
and that's all we are going to do - looking at what is right here and now.
so please put any expectation aside.
Still, there is this expectation to gain clarity about where I am at, spiritually speaking. There needs to be clarity about where 'I' am at so that there can be further progress.
that should not be necessary.
major break-through about 10 years ago
could you tell me more about this - i'm curious.
Seeing what there is instead of seeing what I think or believe there is
that's all we're going to do: looking at what is here and now, and if there is a separate inherent self, or not.

so, here's a little exercise:
please sit on a chair/couch, close your eyes and relax a little.
now look what can be experienced right now.
bring your attention to the sensations of your body.
thoughts may appear like: "i can feel the pressure of my back and butt against the chair/couch, and my feet on the ground".

but put aside what thoughts say, look what the actual experience is:
is "pressure of back and butt against the chair/couch, and feet on the ground" actually experienced?
- or are there just sensations, LABELLED as "pressure of back and butt against the chair/couch, and feet on the ground"?

does the actual experience tell anything about "pressure/back/butt/feet/chair"?

is there an inside and an outside of the body?
is there a separation of the body and chair/couch?
has the body a specific shape? -a specific weight? -a specific height?
If you use your mind to study reality, you won't understand either your mind or reality.
If you study reality without using your mind, you'll understand both.
-Bodhidharma

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Watashi
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Re: breaking through

Postby Watashi » Sat Jan 13, 2018 4:45 am

major break-through about 10 years ago

could you tell me more about this - i'm curious.
happened in a meditation centre, where the emphasis was on observing mental activities, once you get into this space of being aware of being aware, it is possible to distance yourself from emotions and just observe them, try to understand how they are caused, watch them disappear etc. One day I decided to look into the mind's decision making process, to just observe, how decisions are being made. I would give myself a specific task, say, go for a walk, and then just observe how the decisions are made. So I walk out of the building I lived in and already had to make the first decision - turn left, right, go straight? I tried to see the mental activities which influenced this decision making process but I could not. So I figured that this must be happening in a part of the mind not accessible to my awareness. Anyway, I continued observing the mind, curious to see whether I could learn anything more about how decisions were made. Being in this space, it first slowly dawned on me that decisions were just happening, just like digestion was just happening, seemingly beyond my conscious influence until one day it really hit me: There is no-one in control, whatever happens, happens. So, at this stage, identification with the body and feelings sort of fell away but - while that felt liberating, a real break-through - the concept of 'I' did not disappear. Unless my awareness was sharp and continous, I was still identifiying with views and opinions, I kept getting angry and greedy for sensual pleasures. Since then I have learned to act more skilfully in such situation and I rarely become angry and don't hold grudges against anyone really. I made it a habit to reflect on my thoughts and feelings every time I got angry and learned from that.
so, here's a little exercise:
please sit on a chair/couch, close your eyes and relax a little.
now look what can be experienced right now.
bring your attention to the sensations of your body.
thoughts may appear like: "i can feel the pressure of my back and butt against the chair/couch, and my feet on the ground".

but put aside what thoughts say, look what the actual experience is:
is "pressure of back and butt against the chair/couch, and feet on the ground" actually experienced?
- or are there just sensations, LABELLED as "pressure of back and butt against the chair/couch, and feet on the ground"?

does the actual experience tell anything about "pressure/back/butt/feet/chair"?

If I just look at the experience, there are just sensations. There is no pressure, no couch, no body, no feet. There is the understanding, that there are sensations in, say, the hands, but this is due to a mental image of the body. If I observe the situation for some time, this mental image becomes fuzzier and fuzzier and eventually the body, i.e. the mental image of it disappears. Even basic sensations like 'pleasant' or 'unpleasant' are mental labelling, I can see that clearly.

So, the actual experience does not give me any information about the situation at all. Such information is created by the mind on the basis of the actual experiences, it is created on the basis of experience and aquired knowledge.

is there an inside and an outside of the body?
is there a separation of the body and chair/couch?
has the body a specific shape? -a specific weight? -a specific height?
Intellectually I know of course the answers to all those questions. I can also see, where the body ends, see the shape of couch or body. Once I close my eyes and simply rely on my immediate experience, I can no longer tell the answer to any of these questions. Intellectually I know that I have sensations in a particular area of my body because there is contact with the sofa, so I know there is body and sofa. When I look closely and just let the experience speak, I cannot see inside, outside nor the separation.

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Barbarossa
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Re: breaking through

Postby Barbarossa » Sat Jan 13, 2018 9:34 am

hey watashi, your break-through experience sounds awesome. we'll soon come back to that. :)

also what you wrote about the exercise sounds great.
So, the actual experience does not give me any information about the situation at all. Such information is created by the mind on the basis of the actual experiences, it is created on the basis of experience and aquired knowledge.
we've looked at sensations, but what about the other senses - what about seeing, haering, tasting, smelling?
does any of these give you any information?
- for example: if you look at the couch, is there more than colour and the thought-label "couch"?
separate from thought
...is there more than colour in the seen?
...is there more than sound in the heard?
...is there more than taste in the tasting?
...is there more than smell in the smelling?

can a couch really be found, or are there just sensations and thoughts about couch?
If you use your mind to study reality, you won't understand either your mind or reality.
If you study reality without using your mind, you'll understand both.
-Bodhidharma

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Watashi
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Re: breaking through

Postby Watashi » Sun Jan 14, 2018 2:07 pm

I have been working with your questions. Intellectually speaking, the answers are easy and straightforward but I need more time to explore them experientially. I want to understand more clearly, just how this process of sense perception and consequent classifying and labelling works. There is an interest in getting closer to a 'pure' experience by focussing not only on the sense perception but also seeing the mental activities stimulated by it. So I will take another day or two exploring this space before I write down my observations.

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Barbarossa
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Re: breaking through

Postby Barbarossa » Sun Jan 14, 2018 3:52 pm

I want to understand more clearly, just how this process of sense perception and consequent classifying and labelling works. There is an interest in getting closer to a 'pure' experience by focussing not only on the sense perception but also seeing the mental activities stimulated by it.
I hope that my guide will be able to see any wrong ways of thinking, any wrong believes
what we are doing here at LU, is pure LOOKING AT what is, to see, that there is no 'self'.
that's all we are going to do, and that is pretty simple.
you can only see that there's no 'self'. the understanding of 'mental activities' or any other understanding won't help.

One day I decided to look into the mind's decision making process, to just observe, how decisions are being made. I would give myself a specific task, say, go for a walk, and then just observe how the decisions are made. So I walk out of the building I lived in and already had to make the first decision - turn left, right, go straight? I tried to see the mental activities which influenced this decision making process but I could not. So I figured that this must be happening in a part of the mind not accessible to my awareness. Anyway, I continued observing the mind, curious to see whether I could learn anything more about how decisions were made. Being in this space, it first slowly dawned on me that decisions were just happening, just like digestion was just happening, seemingly beyond my conscious influence until one day it really hit me: There is no-one in control, whatever happens, happens.
in my opinion, we are not able to see everything. and as you experienced on your own, it's not neccesary.
as you said, you've looked, and you have seen through the illusion of control.

if you would answer the questions of the last exercise, we could continue with investigations of thoughts (which may be more interesting to you :) )
If you use your mind to study reality, you won't understand either your mind or reality.
If you study reality without using your mind, you'll understand both.
-Bodhidharma

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Watashi
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Re: breaking through

Postby Watashi » Mon Jan 15, 2018 4:51 pm

we've looked at sensations, but what about the other senses - what about seeing, haering, tasting, smelling?
does any of these give you any information?
- for example: if you look at the couch, is there more than colour and the thought-label "couch"?
separate from thought
...is there more than colour in the seen?
...is there more than sound in the heard?
...is there more than taste in the tasting?
...is there more than smell in the smelling?

can a couch really be found, or are there just sensations and thoughts about couch?
No, there is just sound, taste, smell, the rest is categorizing and labelling.When I was observing hearing it was particularly obvious how the mind interpreted what caused a sound and sometimes even changed the interpretation. The mind assumes that barking is connected to dogs actually doing it, but in fact the sound could come just as well from a recording device via a loudspeaker. The same principles apply to seeing, and when I made the effort to stay in this space of just perceiving colour and shapes I could very easily observe the mental labelling. The direct experience is clearly that there are different shades of grey at night and that there are colours when there is light but perceiving a colour as 'red' is already labelling again.

So the couch is not a direct experience, it is a mental construct, it is neither the seen nor the sensed . . .

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Barbarossa
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Re: breaking through

Postby Barbarossa » Mon Jan 15, 2018 8:02 pm

awesome :)

does the experience of, what you called 'the barking of a dog', get influenced by the label?
does it make a difference if it is labelled 'the barking of a dog', 'sound from a recording device' or 'jallajalladingdong'?

is there listening and sound?
or is there just sound?
is there someone doing the listening?


now let's take a look a thoughts:
think of a number between 1 and 10.
which number did you choose?
did you decide between two (or more) numbers?
or was there just a number appearing?
if you did choose one out of two numbers, how did these appear in the first place?

The mind assumes that...
what is the actual experience of 'mind'?
is it more than just thoughts, and thoughts ABOUT thoughts?
If you use your mind to study reality, you won't understand either your mind or reality.
If you study reality without using your mind, you'll understand both.
-Bodhidharma

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Watashi
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Re: breaking through

Postby Watashi » Tue Jan 16, 2018 3:24 am

does the experience of, what you called 'the barking of a dog', get influenced by the label?
does it make a difference if it is labelled 'the barking of a dog', 'sound from a recording device' or 'jallajalladingdong'?
No, the actual experience is the same. The thoughts and emotions will be different though.

is there listening and sound?
or is there just sound?
is there someone doing the listening?
Yes, there is listening and sound. To me there is a difference between listening and hearing. Hearing is happening automatically, without effort but listening happens when there is a mental effort to analyse or understand. Listening happens when there are mental components such as curiosity or fear. But since they are all processes beyond control and constantly changing depending on conditions and conditioning, an actual 'I' doing it cannot be seen.

now let's take a look a thoughts:
think of a number between 1 and 10.
which number did you choose?
did you decide between two (or more) numbers?
or was there just a number appearing?
if you did choose one out of two numbers, how did these appear in the first place?
Only number 5 popped up, no idea why. Of course if I start thinking about it I can come up with an explanation but how the decision to pick 5 happened could not be observed.

what is the actual experience of 'mind'?
is it more than just thoughts, and thoughts ABOUT thoughts?
Mind cannot be seen or experienced. What can be experienced are mental activites, so you could either argue that there are just mental activities or that 'mind' is the 'space' in which mental activities take place. I believe that mind is just a concept which we use to refer to all mental activities, whether we are aware of them or not. By being aware of mental activities I seem to be less of a 'victim' of habitual tendencies and create opportunities for a different reaction - still of course within the limits of conditions and conditioning.

Yes, mind - or mental activities - include more than thoughts. There are feelings and emotions, there are memories and conditioning plus there is awareness.

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Barbarossa
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Re: breaking through

Postby Barbarossa » Tue Jan 16, 2018 9:07 am

No, the actual experience is the same.
great

Yes, there is listening and sound.
what i've meant by 'listening and sound' is,
if you close your eyes and listen closely what can be heard:
is there sound and the receiving of sound experienced?

Only number 5 popped up, no idea why. Of course if I start thinking about it I can come up with an explanation but how the decision to pick 5 happened could not be observed.
so, there is no thinker of thoughts? -thoughts just appear?
or do you create thoughts?
if so, how do you create them?

Mind cannot be seen or experienced.
like the couch we've talked earlier? -a mental construct?

Yes, mind - or mental activities - include more than thoughts. There are feelings and emotions, there are memories and conditioning plus there is awareness.
please sit down, close your eyes, relax a little.
take a look at your 'mental activities', - don't analyse, don't interpret -, just look at what is.
thoughts, thoughts about thoughts, feelings/emotions, memories (thought-stories).
do you see anything else?

I believe that mind is just a concept which we use to refer to all mental activities, whether we are aware of them or not. By being aware of mental activities I seem to be less of a 'victim' of habitual tendencies and create opportunities for a different reaction - still of course within the limits of conditions and conditioning.
since, like you've said, everything is happening, no-one is in control, how is this possible?
If you use your mind to study reality, you won't understand either your mind or reality.
If you study reality without using your mind, you'll understand both.
-Bodhidharma

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Watashi
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Re: breaking through

Postby Watashi » Tue Jan 16, 2018 11:50 am

what i've meant by 'listening and sound' is,
if you close your eyes and listen closely what can be heard:
is there sound and the receiving of sound experienced?
Ah, I think I understand now what you mean. No, there is just the process of hearing or listening, sound is not a direct experience . . .
so, there is no thinker of thoughts? -thoughts just appear?
or do you create thoughts?
if so, how do you create them?
Yes, no thinker can be seen, thoughts just appear, somehow triggered by circumstances

Mind cannot be seen or experienced.

like the couch we've talked earlier? -a mental construct?
yes, it is just a useful concept
please sit down, close your eyes, relax a little.
take a look at your 'mental activities', - don't analyse, don't interpret -, just look at what is.
thoughts, thoughts about thoughts, feelings/emotions, memories (thought-stories).
do you see anything else?
yes, I can also perceive a process of awareness, apart from that, nothing else, just these processes

I believe that mind is just a concept which we use to refer to all mental activities, whether we are aware of them or not. By being aware of mental activities I seem to be less of a 'victim' of habitual tendencies and create opportunities for a different reaction - still of course within the limits of conditions and conditioning.

since, like you've said, everything is happening, no-one is in control, how is this possible?
continuity of awareness brings a new element into the situation, it enables a deeper understanding of what is happening, of causes and effects, in other words, it brings wisdom into the equation, it is wisdom which brings about change, which brings about different reactions


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