Seeing through the illusion

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Clearstream
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Seeing through the illusion

Postby Clearstream » Wed May 16, 2018 4:24 pm

LU is focused guiding for seeing there is no real, inherent 'self' - what do you understand by this?
The sense of "I" thinking, acting, feeling, and so forth is merely a mental construction. If one looks diligently into their direct experience, they discover that there is no self to be found -- at least not a separate, solid, individual self. Instead, there is just this transparent beingness, unfolding here and now.

What are you looking for at LU?
My highest goal is to be done with the seeking; to realize the true nature of my experience, and to be abide in this locationless place. I have come to LU to find guidance on this path, and hopefully to realize the truth of it for myself.

What do you expect from a guided conversation?
I am looking for pointers to my direct experience to realize that which I already am. I am looking for someone to keep me accountable when the mind intrudes on inquiry, imposing concepts and ideas upon that which cannot be understood by the mind. I am looking for someone to partner with me to see past doubt and deconstruct the illusion that seems to drive my life.

What is your experience in terms of spiritual practices, seeking and inquiry?
I have practiced Vipassana-style meditation for a few years. Over time, this developed into a strong desire to experience higher states of consciousness (read: "awakening"). A few months ago, I came across Direct Inquiry, and I was inspired by the idea that there is nothing to achieve or change, but rather I am already that which is free. I have read a couple books on the subject (resonating strongly with the likes of Rupert Spira, Loch Kelly, etc), and I have worked a bit with using phrases like "Where am I?", "Who is doing the thinking?", "To whom are thoughts arising?", etc to inquire into the nature of my reality. I'd like to take this practice even deeper, though.

On a scale from 1 to 10, how willing are you to question any currently held beliefs about 'self?
11

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gondwana
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Re: Seeing through the illusion

Postby gondwana » Tue May 22, 2018 7:30 am

Hello Clearstream,

Welcome to the Liberation Unleashed forums! Should I call you Clearstream or is there another name you would prefer?

Before we get started, just a few important preliminaries. During our conversation I will ask you a series of questions. For each, you will look at your own direct experience and answer with 100% honesty.

I point. You look. You tell me what you see right there. Rinse & repeat. Simple :)

It is best to avoid lengthy analysing, speculation and debate, the mind will try to create distraction. Usually what we are looking for is just a simple glance, a realisation...done.

It is vital then, that you really do each “experiment” I provide, and look at your direct experience — in the present moment — instead of relying on analytic thought and memory.

Please watch the below 30 second video and learn how to use the Quote function. This is important for us to have a clear dialogue around the questions and answers.
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=-fAToDNh9hQ

During our conversation, please refrain from reading any other teachings, spiritual books, writings, YouTube videos or talks. As you have already seen, seeking only feeds the ego further, which will make it much harder to see through the illusion here. If you have a meditation practice you may continue with it as usual.

Please make an effort to write here every day. This works best if we keep a constant focus on looking.

If the above all sounds ok, then I will be happy to guide you and we may begin.

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

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Clearstream
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Re: Seeing through the illusion

Postby Clearstream » Tue May 22, 2018 2:39 pm

Hi Tim,
Welcome to the Liberation Unleashed forums! Should I call you Clearstream or is there another name you would prefer?
Mike, please :)
Please watch the below 30 second video and learn how to use the Quote function. This is important for us to have a clear dialogue around the questions and answers.
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=-fAToDNh9hQ
Done.
If the above all sounds ok, then I will be happy to guide you and we may begin.
Yes, thank you!

Mike

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gondwana
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Re: Seeing through the illusion

Postby gondwana » Wed May 23, 2018 6:50 am

Great! Let's start off with a nice easy exercise, but which lays some very important groundwork. Humour me!

Try this for real, and report back what you find:

Sit at home with eyes closed. In your mind, imagine going to the kitchen and getting a piece of fruit (be sure to choose something you already have in stock as we will need if after).

Try to fully imagine actually going there, picking it up, the look of it, the colour, texture, smell, reflections of light. Then imagine biting into the fruit, tasting it, the texture, sweetness, sharpness, all the qualities. Imagine every aspect, make it as real as possible! This is an example of using thought.

Now open your eyes, and actually go to the kitchen. Take the piece of fruit out for real, and look at it, examine the colour, texture, smell, reflections of light. Now actually bite into the fruit and taste it, experience the texture, the sweetness, sharpness, etc. This is an example of actual experience (AE).

How does actual experience compare to thought?
Which feels more real?
Was thought able to fully capture all the detail and richness of the experience?
Can thought actually ever be as complete as AE?

Please answer each question individually, and answer all questions.
Seen in the moment of looking, freed in the moment of seeing.

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Clearstream
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Re: Seeing through the illusion

Postby Clearstream » Wed May 23, 2018 3:37 pm

I chose to do this with a peach.
How does actual experience compare to thought?
The actual experience was much more... visceral. It contained way more detail than my visualization. Even though I tried to make the visualization as comprehensive as possible, it's like there were gaps -- parts of the room I didn't really imagine, textures on the peach I didn't consider, sensations of the coldness of the air I didn't foresee, etc.
Which feels more real?
Actual experience.
Was thought able to fully capture all the detail and richness of the experience?
Not even close. It felt pretty real at the time, but thought paled in comparison to AE.
Can thought actually ever be as complete as AE?
No.

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gondwana
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Re: Seeing through the illusion

Postby gondwana » Thu May 24, 2018 3:25 am

Great! You have seen clearly that, while thought may sometimes be convincing, it is never reality.
Actual experience is the only thing which is real and accurate.

Thought can only do one of two things:
— Thoughts about actual experience
— Thoughts about other thoughts

You can see that:
>> actual experience <<
is completely different to
>> thoughts about actual experience <<

Let's investigate thought a little further:

Sit quietly for a minute with eyes closed.
Just passively observe thoughts, as and when they arise.
Do not get caught up in the content, or follow it down the rabbit hole.

Answer the following:
How do you decide the next thought which comes up?
Maybe with a previous thought?
Then, who decides the thought before that, and the one before that?
At which point do YOU make actually the decision, of what to think next?
Can you observe any self-authoring of thought happening, in actual experience?
Describe the process if so!

To look at it another way, when a sound is heard, do we instantly claim it as "my sound"?
Is it then correct, to claim a thought when experienced, as "my thought"?
Are thoughts simply experienced involuntarily, like the other senses?

LOOK carefully in actual experience at how thought works.

Write back with answers to the above questions when ready.
Seen in the moment of looking, freed in the moment of seeing.

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Re: Seeing through the illusion

Postby Clearstream » Thu May 24, 2018 5:09 am

I'm trying very hard to look to direct experience and report honestly, even if I think it's not what you want to hear.
That is all you need to do! I want nothing, other than simple honesty of what you see :)
Thoughts are very slippery.
Good, first observation made correctly!
Thoughts can certainly arise spontaneously. This is most clear to me when I close my eyes and ask, "What will my next thought be?" There is a short period of silence, and then a thought appears. Out of nowhere. It's very clear that "I" am not thinking it.
Great! This was seen clearly too. Good LOOKING.
But it does seem like I think some thoughts. For example, if I resolve to think "What will my next thought be?", those words arise in the mind. Experientially, it feels like I decided to think those words just before they arose.


This is simple to see through. Try it again now, and look for the following:
WHEN and HOW did you resolve to think "What will my next thought be?"?
Or, WHEN did you think the thought "I will resolve to think 'What will my next thought be?' "?

Follow the chain of thoughts back, and back, and back, as many steps as necessary, to the apparent genesis of the "idea" or "decision".
there's a sense of me deciding and then the words arising.
Don't assume anything. Saying "There's a sense of" is an ASSUMPTION.

LOOK at your direct experience, and look and look until you see conclusively see the "deciding" action happen right in front of you. If you can see it happen, then tell me how and when.
In a stream of thoughts, there is so much momentum that it's hard to feel like I'm not doing the thinking.
Quite simply, this is the mind making excuses "I don't want to look at this" -- hiding the truth through ambiguity.
I don't see any point in between the thoughts where I decide what to think next -- they just flow.
Good! This was seen clearly again.
There are also these psuedo-thoughts. A thought-like sensation that just wordlessly disappears


That's good, observation of thought is getting sharper now. This is still all thought.
Sometimes, thought can be of the sound of a "voice" speaking the content. This is a thought about a thought.
Sometimes, thought can just be the content. This is a thought.

-- like a thought was about to reveal itself and then slipped away when it realized someone was paying attention. Sometimes there's a kind of intuition to them where I know what the topic of the thought was.
memory
a story that I heard a while ago


These are also thoughts.
Here, too, though, I can find no intention to call the story to the mind.
Good, again seen clearly.
If we can just eliminate the little piece of doubt above that there was some possible authoring of thought, then we got all we need from this exercise.
In the same way that they arise on their own, though, this sense of authorship arises with it.
Is this sense of authorship, also just a thought?
Like a non-narrated, content-only thought?

LOOK again and check for yourself!
For example, I think "I will think no thoughts"... and all is silent for a moment. And then the stream starts up again involuntarily.
The only important point here is that it can restart again involuntarily. i.e. "you" are not controlling it.

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Re: Seeing through the illusion

Postby gondwana » Sat May 26, 2018 10:04 am

I'm trying very hard to look to direct experience and report honestly, even if I think it's not what you want to hear.
That is all you need to do! I want for nothing, other than simple honesty of what you see :)
Thoughts are very slippery.
Good, first observation made correctly!
Thoughts can certainly arise spontaneously. This is most clear to me when I close my eyes and ask, "What will my next thought be?" There is a short period of silence, and then a thought appears. Out of nowhere. It's very clear that "I" am not thinking it.
Great! This was seen clearly too. Good LOOKING.
But it does seem like I think some thoughts. For example, if I resolve to think "What will my next thought be?", those words arise in the mind. Experientially, it feels like I decided to think those words just before they arose.


This is simple to see through. Try it again now, and look for the following:
WHEN and HOW did you resolve to think "What will my next thought be?"?
Or, WHEN did you think the thought "I will resolve to think 'What will my next thought be?' "?

Follow the chain of thoughts back, and back, and back, as many steps as necessary, to the apparent genesis of the "idea" or "decision".
there's a sense of me deciding and then the words arising.
Don't assume anything. Saying "There's a sense of" is an ASSUMPTION.

LOOK at your direct experience, and look and look until you see conclusively see the "deciding" action happen right in front of you. If you can see it happen, then tell me how and when.
In a stream of thoughts, there is so much momentum that it's hard to feel like I'm not doing the thinking.
Quite simply, this is the mind making excuses "I don't want to look at this" -- hiding the truth through ambiguity.
I don't see any point in between the thoughts where I decide what to think next -- they just flow.
Good! This was seen clearly again.
There are also these psuedo-thoughts. A thought-like sensation that just wordlessly disappears


That's good, observation of thought is getting sharper now. This is still all thought.
Sometimes, thought can be of the sound of a "voice" speaking the content. This is a thought about a thought.
Sometimes, thought can just be the content. This is a thought.

-- like a thought was about to reveal itself and then slipped away when it realized someone was paying attention. Sometimes there's a kind of intuition to them where I know what the topic of the thought was.
memory
a story that I heard a while ago


These are also thoughts.
Here, too, though, I can find no intention to call the story to the mind.
Good, again seen clearly.
If we can just eliminate the little piece of doubt above that there was some possible authoring of thought, then we got all we need from this exercise.
In the same way that they arise on their own, though, this sense of authorship arises with it.
Is this sense of authorship, also just a thought?
Like a non-narrated, content-only thought?

LOOK again and check for yourself!
For example, I think "I will think no thoughts"... and all is silent for a moment. And then the stream starts up again involuntarily.
The only important point here is that it can restart again involuntarily. i.e. "you" are not controlling it.
Seen in the moment of looking, freed in the moment of seeing.

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Clearstream
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Re: Seeing through the illusion

Postby Clearstream » Mon May 28, 2018 7:12 am

Hi Tim,

There seems to be something very strange going on -- my post prior to your most recent one has disappeared and, in its place, is your reply duplicated under my name! Any idea what's going on there?

Anyway:
This is simple to see through. Try it again now, and look for the following:
WHEN and HOW did you resolve to think "What will my next thought be?"?
Or, WHEN did you think the thought "I will resolve to think 'What will my next thought be?' "?

Follow the chain of thoughts back, and back, and back, as many steps as necessary, to the apparent genesis of the "idea" or "decision".
In trying to replicate this experiment, I see that there is a chain of thoughts that appear to be causal and appear to have a thinker associated with them, but the thinker just comes with the thought.

It starts with a thought that I should conduct the experiment. This comes into the mind by itself. Then thoughts about the experiment arise. Then the thought itself "What will my next thought be?" Along with the thought that I resolved to think this -- but even that is a thought. There are so many layers to thinking!
Sometimes, thought can be of the sound of a "voice" speaking the content. This is a thought about a thought.
Sometimes, thought can just be the content. This is a thought.
For some reason, I had never thought of non-verbal mental activity being thought. This makes a lot of sense.
Is this sense of authorship, also just a thought?
Like a non-narrated, content-only thought?

LOOK again and check for yourself!
While writing this, I can feel a sense of ownership of these words. But yes, you're right, looking into my experience, I see no evidence for this writing to be mine. It's just happening, just effortless, automatic arising, just like my thoughts.

It's hard, though, when I experience non-narrated, content-only thought (which I think is what is happening when I say "I feel a sense of...") to recognize that these are thoughts. Any advice on how to study these and see them as such? It is certainly harder to look at than thoughts using words. I do see that this "sense" just arises spontaneously... but everything arises spontaneously, it seems. How do I know it as thought? Maybe it doesn't even matter?

Yesterday, I was writing something to which there was a lot of resistance. I felt really strained trying to write it. I did not remember to look at the time, but now that I reflect back, I think it was just layers of thought arising and obscuring the effortless flow of words.

Thanks very much, Tim!

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Seeing through the illusion

Postby gondwana » Thu May 31, 2018 8:13 am

Yesterday, I was writing something to which there was a lot of resistance. I felt really strained trying to write it. I did not remember to look at the time, but now that I reflect back, I think it was just layers of thought arising and obscuring the effortless flow of words.
Great looking going on there! This was seen correctly. Ideally we should only rely on actual experience (i.e. seeing in real-time), but in this case it’s still good progress that this could be recognised in retrospect. Keep that spotlight on looking, and it will get easier.
It's hard, though, when I experience non-narrated, content-only thought (which I think is what is happening when I say "I feel a sense of...") to recognize that these are thoughts. Any advice on how to study these and see them as such?
It is harder, agreed. Two options here. One, just through what we are doing in this thread, it will naturally get a little easier/clearer with practice.

Or, if you want to go really all-out, then “noting” style mindfulness practice is designed specifically to increase sensory clarity. Not strictly needed to see through the illusion of self, but it can be used to boost clarity if of interest. Thought is just treated as a 6th sense, like the other five. Shinzen Young’s “Unified Mindfulness” free online course is excellent and can be learned in a couple of hours, it’s very simple, and can also help with integration after we are done seeing no-self at the end of this conversation.
http://www.unifiedmindfulness.org
In trying to replicate this experiment, I see that there is a chain of thoughts that appear to be causal and appear to have a thinker associated with them, but the thinker just comes with the thought.

It starts with a thought that I should conduct the experiment. This comes into the mind by itself. Then thoughts about the experiment arise. Then the thought itself "What will my next thought be?" Along with the thought that I resolved to think this -- but even that is a thought. There are so many layers to thinking!
Good, this was seen clearly as well! Indeed, there are many layers, and they love to hide Image

Now, the REAL question is:
Is the thinker itself also only a thought?

Look again, and let me know! Image
Seen in the moment of looking, freed in the moment of seeing.

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Re: Seeing through the illusion

Postby Clearstream » Fri Jun 01, 2018 5:11 am

Or, if you want to go really all-out, then “noting” style mindfulness practice is designed specifically to increase sensory clarity. Not strictly needed to see through the illusion of self, but it can be used to boost clarity if of interest. Thought is just treated as a 6th sense, like the other five. Shinzen Young’s “Unified Mindfulness” free online course is excellent and can be learned in a couple of hours, it’s very simple, and can also help with integration after we are done seeing no-self at the end of this conversation.
http://www.unifiedmindfulness.org
Thanks for that. Good to know this would be helpful; I do actually have some limited experience with Shinzen and Unified Mindfulness!
Now, the REAL question is: Is the thinker itself also only a thought?
I see thoughts come and go freely. I cannot find anyone or anything doing the thinking. If I watch my thoughts carefully, I see that the idea of there being a thinker is, indeed, just an assumption embedded in the thoughts themselves.

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Re: Seeing through the illusion

Postby gondwana » Sun Jun 03, 2018 4:14 pm

I cannot find anyone or anything doing the thinking.
If I watch my thoughts carefully, I see that the idea of there being a thinker is, indeed, just an assumption embedded in the thoughts themselves.
Great! This was seen clearly.

It seems your sensory clarity is improving just fine, that assumption is finely embedded and usually slips by unnoticed :)

Now, let's take that realisation and look for it in some other key places. This is the really fun part!

Go outside and take a walk, try to observe yourself walking objectively.
How do you control all the micro-muscle movements and retain perfect balance and stability?
Describe the process.
Can you still walk while thinking about other things?
Do "you" need to be there at all for the walking to work?
Is there a "you" in walking at all?
Or is walking just happening?
Do this task again and again until you see through the illusion, don't give up. Then once you do, stick with it for a while and just enjoy the feeling!

Next, try watching as you talk out loud, observe the process from the background.
How EXACTLY do you talk?
How do you form the mouth shapes, control breath, and pitch to form words?
How do you do ALL those complex things right before the sounds come out?
And all while deciding WHAT to say next?
Is there actually a "you" in talking at all?
Or is talking just happening?

Next, sit and observe breathing.
How do you control the flow rate, the aperture of the entrance to the lungs, the speed, rhythm of the breath?
How DO you know exactly how much oxygen is needed for the current moment, and when to speed up or slow down?
Is there a "you" in control of breathing at all?
Or is breathing just happening all by itself?

Is there really a “you” inside there, controlling all of these things, all of the time?
Is there a walker; or is there just walking?
Is there a talker; or is there just talking?
Is there a breather; or is there just breathing?

Is it in fact also just a thought/assumption which says that "you" are the doer in all these things?

Let me know what you find!
Seen in the moment of looking, freed in the moment of seeing.

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Re: Seeing through the illusion

Postby Clearstream » Tue Jun 05, 2018 5:19 am

There's a lot here! Thank you for this wonderful pointing.
Go outside and take a walk, try to observe yourself walking objectively.
How do you control all the micro-muscle movements and retain perfect balance and stability?
Describe the process.
The mechanics of walking are beyond me. An intention to move arises in the mind, and the body moves. Meanwhile, as I look, thoughts arise, naming objects around me, trying to explain how walking happens, etc, but as usual, the thoughts arise on their own without any apparent source.
Can you still walk while thinking about other things?
Certainly, yes. And the thoughts are relentless! It all happens as if on auto-pilot.
Do "you" need to be there at all for the walking to work?
Is there a "you" in walking at all?
Or is walking just happening?
I see the walking respond to past conditioning, e.g. as a car approaches, the walking grows faster. But I find no controller of walking, no central orchestrator. Just thoughts and movement arising together.
Do this task again and again until you see through the illusion, don't give up. Then once you do, stick with it for a while and just enjoy the feeling!
Looking in this way, I found a couple times that thoughts fall to the background (but not away completely), and there's a natural, automatic flow. It's very nice, but the thoughts soon assail the foreground. I'll keep practicing with this. I have a good amount of time tomorrow to do some walking.
Next, try watching as you talk out loud, observe the process from the background.
How EXACTLY do you talk?
How do you form the mouth shapes, control breath, and pitch to form words?
How do you do ALL those complex things right before the sounds come out?
And all while deciding WHAT to say next?
Is there actually a "you" in talking at all?
Or is talking just happening?
There just seems to be an intention to talk that arises, and then talking happens. There is no conscious control over any of these things. I don't decide what to say next; it just comes to me. Sometimes, it seems like there is a strain in finding the words, but this seems to be just a feeling that arises.
Next, sit and observe breathing.
How do you control the flow rate, the aperture of the entrance to the lungs, the speed, rhythm of the breath?
How DO you know exactly how much oxygen is needed for the current moment, and when to speed up or slow down?
Is there a "you" in control of breathing at all?
Or is breathing just happening all by itself?
In my direct experience, I can't even perceive oxygen levels or changes in the lungs. Sometimes, it gets deeper, other times more shallow, but no intervention is required. The breathing happens all by itself.
Is there really a “you” inside there, controlling all of these things, all of the time?
Is there a walker; or is there just walking?
Is there a talker; or is there just talking?
Is there a breather; or is there just breathing?
When I look, it's clear that these actions are just happening. No "me" inside. It's very simple. But in the midst of thought and interaction with others, this idea of the self silently returns.
Is it in fact also just a thought/assumption which says that "you" are the doer in all these things?
When looking, it is clear that this is true.

I will continue to investigate these things until given further direction, but I wanted to at least provide an update.

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Re: Seeing through the illusion

Postby Clearstream » Thu Jun 07, 2018 2:29 am

Continuing to practice these things, I find the same thing each time: there is no "me" doing anything; there is just life happening. However, when not "practicing" (especially when around other people), my same old sense of self reappears.

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Re: Seeing through the illusion

Postby gondwana » Fri Jun 08, 2018 11:09 am

Continuing to practice these things, I find the same thing each time: there is no "me" doing anything; there is just life happening.
That’s great! All that was in the experiment was seen clearly. Basically that there cannot possibly be such thing as an “I” to control these things. No ‘doer’.
However, when not "practicing" (especially when around other people), my same old sense of self reappears.
Is there an expectation that this effect around “others” will disappear after seeing there is no self?
Is there an expectation that this all sense of self will disappear entirely?

We need to declare and flush out any expectations up front, as this final realisation will be unlike ANYTHING you can ever imagine with thought. Expectations are just thoughts about the future we expect to find. They will always be incorrect here.

Here’s the next experiment to try:

Lie down with eyes closed.
Take a few minutes to still the mind, watch the sensation of the breath at the tip of the nose, if it helps.

Do not move.
It is very important not to move, stay absolutely still!

Now, can any sensations in the body be felt?
Watch them moving and changing for a moment.
Where are these sensations located, exactly?
Do not rely on memory of the body’s shape, or any kind of thought analysis.
Just on pure sensation.
Where are the sensations located in space?

Does the feeling of a sensation come actually with a label of its physical location?
Or is this just added after by thought?

Still without moving.
Without relying on memory.
Only looking at sensation in the present moment NOW.
Can it be known how tall the body is?
Can it be known what the volume of the body is?
Can it be known where the boundary of the body ends, and the bed or other surface beneath begins?

Is the body experiencing the world?
Or is the body experienced?
Seen in the moment of looking, freed in the moment of seeing.


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