Does Awareness say "I"?

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JohnWoo
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Does Awareness say "I"?

Postby JohnWoo » Mon May 27, 2019 4:02 pm

LU is focused guiding for seeing there is no real, inherent 'self' - what do you understand by this?
That there is only seeing, hearing, sensing, perceiving, thinking etc. but no individual person doing these functions.

What are you looking for at LU?
A final clarification about the identification of "I as awareness". As I explain below, there is this identification of "I am Awareness" that keeps separation and my spiritual search ongoing. I'd like to be free of the "I am awareness" idea.

What do you expect from a guided conversation?

To get an experiential answer to my final question. Is there an I as Awareness? Coming with this question are all the follow-up questions like "Is there awareness ("I") after the death of the body?". I am aware of Nisargadattas teaching of going beyond the "I am" but until now it was always the "I am" trying to go beyond the "I am". I know this is impossible, but this is what is happening. As long there is an "I" left, it doesn't matter how spacious it is.

What is your experience in terms of spiritual practices, seeking and inquiry?
I know and have done them all over 25+ years - so I'm not interested in learning any new practice. My "goal" is to find the answer to my final question experientially once and for all. Luckily I came into contact with Advaita Vedanta already when I was 18 years old. I met Papaji and one of his teachers he "sent out" to the West in 1996/97. There the sense of I dropped away and was gone - incl. the world as separate existence - for many weeks/months. The identification with I unfortunately returned - mainly because of what I would now say were "uncooked seeds" of a 20-year old guy - wants and longings, unfulfilled tendencies. From then on seeking continued - different than before because of the experience. I'd say the focus was of the imagined I to return to the state of I-lessness, although it was clear that this is futile.
What happened along the way was a deep identification of the self with awareness. This was automatically due to teachings of different Advaita teachers who guide you to "stay with the I am", "stay as awareness" or "be the space in that everything appears and disappears".
What I can see now is, that the self somehow managed to identify as this "space of awareness", but there is obviously still a self that sees itself as "I, awareness" and there is the rest of the world appearing in that awareness. So there still is separation - maybe on a different level, but undeniably still separation. There is this tiny (but experientially huge) feeling of "I am awareness" and this recreates the whole show of illusion in daily life - questions like "Is there Awareness before birth and after death?" or "Is Awareness eternal?" are driving this spiritual search and can't be answered experientially. It doesn't matter how often you hear Mooji telling people that "they should stay as Awareness" and that "Awareness is the unborn and undying" - the sad truth is, that all these well-meant pointers are not helpful because of the subtle I that believes to be this eternal Awareness.
Maybe I'm at a point, where I need someone to tell me that all these spiritual teachers are wrong and there is no such thing as an "eternal awareness that I am". This would be a huge relief in a very funny but quintessential way. :)

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

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Vivien
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Re: Does Awareness say "I"?

Postby Vivien » Tue May 28, 2019 1:36 am

Hi,

My name is Vivien, and I am happy to assist in exploring 'no-self' and other related topics.

At LU we are described as guides - not teachers - as our role is to directly point to what IS, through the use of exercises and questions. Your role is to LOOK carefully to what is being pointed at. It is this simple LOOKING (not thinking) that brings the realisation that there is no separate self and never has been. This is an experiential based guiding and is not a discussion or a debate.

This is YOUR inquiry. I will not be giving you new ideas and beliefs; only assisting you in examining and questioning the ones that you already have.

Before we begin, here are links to information I would like you to read please.
Disclaimer:-
http://liberationunleashed.com/disclaimer-2/

Terms & Conditions:
https://www.liberationunleashed.com/register/terms/

“Liberation Unleashed is not …” in the FAQ’s of LU.
http://liberationunleashed.com/about/faq/#faq-1041

A few ground rules:
1. Post at least once a day, if you cannot post, or need more time, please let me know.
2. Be 100% honest in your answers and inquiry.
3. This exploration is based on Actual (or Direct) Experience (AE or DE) - smell, taste, sound, sensation, color and thoughts - only. Long-winded analytical and philosophical answers are best avoided and may even hinder progress. This is not a self-improvement process. There is no ‘self’ to improve.
4. Put aside all other teachings, philosophies and such for the remainder of this investigation. Really put all your effort and attention in to seeing this reality, as it is. If you have a daily and essential meditation practice, it is fine to continue that.
5. Understand that I will be guiding you, rather than teaching you, and the more you put into this process the more you will get out of it.

A few technical support:

- You can reply to this thread by pushing the 'Post Reply" button at the left bottom of this page.
- You can learn to use the quote function, instructions are located in the link below this line:
viewtopic.php?f=4&t=660

Technology is not perfect and sometimes there is a glitch which can wipe out your responses. It is advisable that you copy and paste questions asked into Word, answer them there and then copy and paste them to your thread. Always save a copy of what you have done, it will save time in the long run.


If you are happy to agree to the above and have me your guide, we can start the process.

To begin with, so that we both become aware of what your expectations are about this exploration (for example, what life will look and feel like and what you want/hope will change or not change). Could you please answer the following questions:

How will Life change?
How will you change?
What will be different?
What is missing?


Throughout this exploration I would like you to answer ALL questions that I have written in blue text. Please answer questions INDIVIDUALLY, remembering to use the Quote function to highlight the question being answered.

Vivien
"In the seen, there is only the seen. In the heard, there is only the heard. In the sensed, there is only the sensed. You are located neither in this, nor in that, nor in any place between the two." - Buddha
http://fadingveiling.com/

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JohnWoo
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Re: Does Awareness say "I"?

Postby JohnWoo » Tue May 28, 2019 9:48 am

Hi Vivien!

Thank you for picking me up and I'm looking forward to our exploration.

How will Life change?
The content of Life won't change, but the experience of it. I guess the subtle seeking mode will fall away and the constant pressure of trying/needing to remember and blaming myself for forgetting.

How will you change?
Once it is seen clearly that there is no-self - not even as a mysterious spacious entity called "awareness" - the biggest fear of death will fall away, because if there really is no-one (being as awareness), then it can't die. I won't try to figure Life/Awareness out anymore. Life will become lighter.

What will be different?
The focus of attention will be different. At the moment the attention is on staying as Awareness. When it is seen that there is no-one "trying to stay as Awareness" then all is left is a natural functioning of seeing, hearing, perceiving, being etc.
The sense of Awareness being personal will drop away.

What is missing?
I wouldn't say that something is missing. I'd say, that there is too much here: too much pressure, too much trying, too much knowing, too much wanting, too much clinging to the idea of "staying as Awareness" and trying to "stay as the witness".

Thank you and looking forward to our journey!

John

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Vivien
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Re: Does Awareness say "I"?

Postby Vivien » Wed May 29, 2019 12:14 am

Hi John,
Thank you and looking forward to our journey!
You’re very welcome :)

First, I would like to ask you to learn using the quote function, since I will ask lots of questions later, and without quotation it could be hard to read your reply.

Here is the link again:
viewtopic.php?f=4&t=660

Thank you for getting through these questions about expectations. It’s important, because every expectation is in a way of seeing what is here, right now. Every expectation is a ‘hindrance’ in realizing what IS.

I go through all the expectations one-by-one. While you read them, please pay attention to what arises ‘in the body’. Is there any resistance to any of it?
The content of Life won't change, but the experience of it. I guess the subtle seeking mode will fall away and the constant pressure of trying/needing to remember and blaming myself for forgetting.
It seems that there is an expectation here that the sense of self will be gone completely, never asserting itself ever again. But this is not the case. Due to a lifetime of conditioning, self-constructs still arise out of habit. It needs time and lots of further looking for it to gradually dissolve.
Once it is seen clearly that there is no-self - not even as a mysterious spacious entity called "awareness" - the biggest fear of death will fall away, because if there really is no-one (being as awareness), then it can't die.
Yes, this could happen, but there is no guaranty for it.
The focus of attention will be different. At the moment the attention is on staying as Awareness. When it is seen that there is no-one "trying to stay as Awareness" then all is left is a natural functioning of seeing, hearing, perceiving, being etc. The sense of Awareness being personal will drop away.
This is the same expectation I wrote about above. In Buddhism, they describe the process of awakening in four stages. Awakening starts with ‘stream entry’, which is the result of seeing that there is no inherently existing self as an agency. This seeing cannot be taken away. However, the illusion still can be taken as a reality, and sometimes it could seem as if there is still a separate self. But when it looked at closely, it’s clear that there is nothing there. As someone goes through the stage of awakening, this sense of self gets weaker and weaker, but it dissolves only at the final stage. So with the first stage (where we usually guide to here at LU), might bring some or lots of relief, and lessening of suffering, but the sense of self after stream entry still can arise (and arises in almost all cases). But there is a difference between the ‘sense of self’ and believing in the inherent existence of a self. But although, seeing that the self is just an illusion cannot be taken away, moments of ‘delusion’ still happen, but after further looking it’s easy to see that there is no self to cling to.

Suffering happens when being lost in thoughts happens. It means that the thoughts in that moment are not seen only as arising thoughts (only as ‘containers’ coming and going), but rather their ‘content’, what they are about is taken as reality. And of course, since each thought is about the self, the self is taken as something real. And this, let’s call ‘delusion’ still can happen even after seeing the illusion of the self. But when it’s investigated, it can be seen for what it is. But there is no guaranty that in the next moment the story of a self won’t reassert itself. It’s a habit of the mind. It’s a conditioned pattern of thinking. It’s the result of a life-long conditioning. But upon each looking it gets a little bit weaker and weaker.

Also, personality problems, traumas, emotional pains don’t dissolve just because of seeing no self. So all the conditioned reactions that stem from them still can arise. However, if someone decides to work on these, it’s usually much easier after seeing no-self.
I wouldn't say that something is missing. I'd say, that there is too much here: too much pressure, too much trying, too much knowing, too much wanting, too much clinging to the idea of "staying as Awareness" and trying to "stay as the witness".
This trying to stay as the witness definitely has to go away.
Is there an I as Awareness? Coming with this question are all the follow-up questions like "Is there awareness ("I") after the death of the body?"
There is no ‘I’ as awareness or anything else. There is no ‘I’ in any shape or form. This will be our main investigation.
There the sense of I dropped away and was gone - incl. the world as separate existence - for many weeks/months. The identification with I unfortunately returned
This was a peak experience, and experiences come and go. But seeing through the self is not a state. It’s a deep conviction that there is no-self in any shape or form. And this cannot be taken away. Many seekers have the impression that seeing there is no self is a state to ‘abide in’. It's not.

So it’s important that you don’t try to compare the ‘result’ of our investigation with this experience.
was a deep identification of the self with awareness. This was automatically due to teachings of different Advaita teachers who guide you to "stay with the I am", "stay as awareness" or "be the space in that everything appears and disappears".
This is very good that you can see the identification with awareness clearly. ‘Awareness is aware of being aware’ – yes, it seems like that, and this is the basis of the illusion of the separate self.

When it’s seen that a seer, taster, smeller, feeler, thinker, etc. cannot be found, the identification often goes to the seeming appearance of a self-existent, self-aware awareness, which is the knower of everything that appears.
So the identification with the body and the senses (feeler, hearer, thinker, etc) is replaced with a subtle form of identification, “I am that which is aware”…. So there is still some sort of separate entity which is aware and holds and knows all experience (object). And the identification with awareness is an excellent hiding place for the separate self. Since all the seeming realness of the separate self comes from the seeming realness of a standalone awareness. So as long as awareness is not seen for what it is, the belief of the separate self is not really seen through… it’s just hiding behind the notion of a standalone awareness.

This awareness is an ultimate illusion, it really seems very real. But nonetheless, it’s still an illusion. And for those who engaged in non-dual teachings this sometimes can be a serious stumbling block.

Can you entertain the possibility that awareness is not what it seems like?

Do you have a resistance to the notion that awareness might be an illusion too?
If yes, could you please explain why?
There is this tiny (but experientially huge) feeling of "I am awareness" and this recreates the whole show of illusion in daily life - questions like "Is there Awareness before birth and after death?" or "Is Awareness eternal?" are driving this spiritual search and can't be answered experientially.
Maybe it can.
Maybe I'm at a point, where I need someone to tell me that all these spiritual teachers are wrong and there is no such thing as an "eternal awareness that I am".
I’m not saying that they are wrong. But there is no ‘eternal awareness that I am’. But this are just words, and you need to see this experientially. If the ‘I am awareness’ is really in correlation with the actual experience and seeing if there is really a subject-object relation going on. So we will investigate this topic very carefully. But first, we have investigated thoughts, since the whole illusion is mainly created by thoughts Also, we will look at decision, body, sensations, emotions, sense of self and some other related topics.

But before starting, please report what came up reading the comments about the expectations.
Was there any resistance to any of it?


Vivien

Vivien
"In the seen, there is only the seen. In the heard, there is only the heard. In the sensed, there is only the sensed. You are located neither in this, nor in that, nor in any place between the two." - Buddha
http://fadingveiling.com/

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JohnWoo
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Re: Does Awareness say "I"?

Postby JohnWoo » Wed May 29, 2019 2:35 pm

It seems that there is an expectation here that the sense of self will be gone completely, never asserting itself ever again. But this is not the case.
Yes when I look, you are right - there still seems to be the belief of „being finally done“ lurking in the background. It’s like a „I am finally done“ person projected into the future. Good to see! I’ll keep on looking for that.
And this, let’s call ‘delusion’ still can happen even after seeing the illusion of the self. But when it’s investigated, it can be seen for what it is.
Yes, I’m aware of that. It’s clear that I can’t be found in any thought, sensation, body or whatever is appearing. Years of neti-neti have made that clear. The I-thought will continue to appear, but there is no real I in the I-thought.

I’m at the point where (to use the famous analogy) I’m aware that the eye can see everything but it can’t see itself - but there is still the sense of „being the eye/I“. This sums up the dilemma I’m in.

It’s like „Of course I can’t be found anywhere, because I am the one looking“. Now with our inquiry, I have begun to question the „all-seeing eye“ (=awareness) itself….
Many seekers have the impression that seeing there is no self is a state to ‘abide in’. It’s not.
So it’s important that you don’t try to compare the ‘result’ of our investigation with this experience.
That’s clear. I just told this story to give you some background and yes, I tried for many years to go back there, but not anymore. It’s just a story.
But before starting, please report what came up reading the comments about the expectations.
Was there any resistance to any of it?.
Before we are getting to the juicy parts and straight to the core to question my experience of awareness itself (it feels exciting already), I want to answer your resistance question:

There was none so far, so I looked at the topic of resistance itself. What would you need to say, to trigger resistance in me?
Well, there is not much that could do that, but I came up with one that is very interesting and worth to look out for:
I guess I would feel triggered when you would give me the impression that I’m a beginner in all this and treat me like I’m totally new to inquiry.
Say hello to the spiritual-arrogant „I am an advanced spiritual person“ self LOL - long time no see - funny and good to be honest about this and return to „beginners mind“ …. fresh looking instead….
So the identification with the body and the senses (feeler, hearer, thinker, etc) is replaced with a subtle form of identification, “I am that which is aware”….
This and the following sentences you wrote are a perfect description of where I am at the moment. Thank you!
Can you entertain the possibility that awareness is not what it seems like?
YES! I love the clarity of this question! It’s like asking me to drop anything I know about this awareness that seems to be me - including the „seeming to be me“ part Yes, I’m open to that. It feels kind of exciting to maybe discover something totally new about awareness or even that there is no awareness.
Do you have a resistance to the notion that awareness might be an illusion too? If yes, could you please explain why?
No resistance - I’m willing to drop any belief I got - that’s why I’m here.
If awareness is an illusion, then what is this feeling of „I am aware“? Is it another sensation? Very good question. I’ll sit with it a little more today.

Thank you for this great start!

Much Love,

John

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Vivien
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Re: Does Awareness say "I"?

Postby Vivien » Thu May 30, 2019 1:13 am

Hi John,
It’s like „Of course I can’t be found anywhere, because I am the one looking“. Now with our inquiry, I have begun to question the „all-seeing eye“ (=awareness) itself….
This is just a thought conclusion which doesn’t correspond with the AE.
I guess I would feel triggered when you would give me the impression that I’m a beginner in all this and treat me like I’m totally new to inquiry.
I was smiling while reading this :) We will go through everything from the beginning. And it doesn’t matter if you’re a beginner or not, there could be some unfinished things going on, so we will look everywhere. We will do everything from the beginning as if you never done any inquiry at all. Repetition is fundamental in an experiential based inquiry.
It’s like asking me to drop anything I know about this awareness that seems to be me - including the „seeming to be me“ part Yes, I’m open to that. It feels kind of exciting to maybe discover something totally new about awareness or even that there is no awareness.
It's very good that you have openness to question awareness. It will make things much easier for you.
If awareness is an illusion, then what is this feeling of „I am aware“? Is it another sensation?
It’s more than that, but yes, sensations play a huge role in this. Certain sensations are labelled as the location of awareness.

Let’s start it. As stated in my first post, my role is to directly point to what IS, through the use of exercises and questions. Your role is to LOOK carefully to what is being pointed at. It is this simple LOOKING (not thinking) that brings the realisation that there is no separate self and never has been.

Okay, now we become aware of actual experience (AE) and what LOOKING is.
‘Looking’ is just plain looking at actual/direct experience (AE), which is simply colour (image), sound, smell, sensation, taste and the simple knowing of thought at face value that is appearing right now in the moment. You are looking at the raw experience of AE and noticing the labels and thoughts ABOUT the raw experience. The key to this exploration is the careful LOOKING. Why? Because it’s the act of actually LOOKING and not finding an “I” that brings about the realisation of there being no separate self and that there has never been a separate self.

The interpretation of actual experience happens quickly. So while inquiring, labelling and thought interpretation will always appear, but it is possible to become aware of the thoughts that appear with and overlay actual experience. Another key component of this exploration is being able to tell the difference between actual experience and the interpretation by thought of actual experience.
Here's an exercise that will help you to see what we mean exactly by direct experience. I would like you to try as many times throughout the day as you can. Label daily activities simply colour/image, sound, smell, taste, sensation, thought.

So for example, when having breakfast, become aware of:

Seeing a cup, simply= visual sight
Smelling coffee, simply = smell
Feeling the warmth of the coffee cup, simply = sensation
Tasting the coffee, simply = taste
Hearing the spoon stirring the coffee, simply = sound
Thought about drinking the coffee, simply = thought

Just break down daily activities into these categories (which are all actual/direct experience) and let me how you go.

Vivien
"In the seen, there is only the seen. In the heard, there is only the heard. In the sensed, there is only the sensed. You are located neither in this, nor in that, nor in any place between the two." - Buddha
http://fadingveiling.com/

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JohnWoo
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Re: Does Awareness say "I"?

Postby JohnWoo » Thu May 30, 2019 10:18 pm

Hi Vivien!
This is just a thought conclusion which doesn’t correspond with the AE.
I agree that this is a thought, but it's also AE that I can't be found anywhere and that there is the impression of "I'm the looker". In a way this is why we are doing the inquiry now, right?
Repetition is fundamental in an experiential based inquiry.
No problem with that. It's just that I'm doing that for 20+ years and it always ends with the same result: I can't be found anywhere and still what remains is the I who is inquiring. It's time for the inquirer to be finally exposed.
Just break down daily activities into these categories (which are all actual/direct experience) and let me how you go.
I did that, but there is not much to report about it. All that I could say now would be another story about my imagined day or could be broken down further (e.g. thinking about my AEs today, seeing words appear on the screen etc).
In fact this is what's happening anyway naturally the whole day - seeing, hearing, tasting, sensing, thinking.
Normal natural functioning. It's clear, that there is no seer in seeing, but there seems to be an awarer of the awareness of seeing. LOL Again back to the start...

One insight I can share is this:
There is actually no experience of Awareness itself. There is only an experience of nothingness, stillness, love, spaciousness that are interpreted as qualities of Awareness. These qualities are then called Awareness.
So I've never experienced Awareness itself but only sensations (that are labels themselves) that feel like if they were Awareness. And even that is not true in the end, because in the moment of experiencing nothingness for example, there is not even the label "nothingness" there. This is just a word, that appears afterward like now when I want to communicate it to you.

While I'm typing this, I can see how empty words are. They seem like these facades in old Western movies with nothing behind them. I have to laugh now, because maybe there is not only no real I behind the I-thought, but there is nothing behind any other word or thought too. They are all without substance.

I don't reread what I've written and hope this makes any sense - if not, don't worry, I just ran out on words for today....

John :)

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Vivien
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Re: Does Awareness say "I"?

Postby Vivien » Fri May 31, 2019 1:14 am

Hi John,
but it's also AE that I can't be found anywhere and that there is the impression of "I'm the looker". In a way this is why we are doing the inquiry now, right?
Exactly! That’s the aim to see that there is no looker whatsoever.
I'm doing that for 20+ years and it always ends with the same result: I can't be found anywhere and still what remains is the I who is inquiring. It's time for the inquirer to be finally exposed.
That’s why you are here. I won’t let you go until the looker/inquirer hasn’t been seen through :) So don’t worry… as long as there is a belief that there is a looker or an inquirer the self hasn’t been seen through. So we definitely won’t leave out looking them very carefully.
It's clear, that there is no seer in seeing, but there seems to be an awarer of the awareness of seeing. LOL Again back to the start...
I see that there is a burning desire to jump right to investigating awareness, but please bear with me. If we jump there right now, then it could be difficult to see through it, as long as previous layers are not totally covered. For example, without seeing thoughts totally clearly, it’s very easy to be fooled by their interpretation and not seeing clearly what is really going on. We will get to awareness, but first we have to do a clean-up, so to speak. All right?
There is actually no experience of Awareness itself. There is only an experience of nothingness, stillness, love, spaciousness that are interpreted as qualities of Awareness. These qualities are then called Awareness.
Yes, there is no direct experience of awareness.
But there is no actual experience of nothingness, stillness, love, spaciousness either (regardless of the labels are there or not) That’s why we have to investigate thoughts first.
So I've never experienced Awareness itself but only sensations (that are labels themselves)
Sensations don’t label themselves. That’s why we have to look at thoughts first.
And even that is not true in the end, because in the moment of experiencing nothingness for example, there is not even the label "nothingness" there. This is just a word, that appears afterward like now when I want to communicate it to you.
Just because the label of ‘nothingness’ is not present when the experience happens, still there is NO AE of ‘nothingness’.
But let’s leave this aside for now, and start investigating thoughts.
While I'm typing this, I can see how empty words are. They seem like these facades in old Western movies with nothing behind them. I have to laugh now, because maybe there is not only no real I behind the I-thought, but there is nothing behind any other word or thought too. They are all without substance.
That’s very good that you can see this. This is important.

So then let’s have a deeper look on thoughts. Sit quietly for about 30 minutes and notice the arising thoughts. Just let them appear as they appear. Try your best to COMPLETELY ignore what they are saying and just notice how they appear, without you doing anything at all.

Did you do anything to make a particular thought or thoughts appear?
Could you have done anything to make a different thought appear at that exact moment instead?

Can you select from a range of thoughts to have only peaceful thoughts?
Can you pick and choose any kind of thought?

Where do thoughts come from?
Where are they going?

Can ‘you’ stop a thought in the middle?
Can ‘you’ predict what will be the next thought?

What is generating thoughts? – look for the ‘generator’ itself

What is the thinker of thoughts? – don’t think, rather look for a ‘thinker’
Does the thinker of the thought appear in experience? Can it be found?

Is it possible to prevent a thought from appearing? Including the thought 'I'?


Please go through these questions and answer and quote ALL of them one-by-one. Don’t miss any. Try to answer them only from direct experience, and leave aside all intellectual interpretation or understanding. Please, DON’T THINK about the answers, rather LOOK at what is before thoughts. Take your time.

Vivien
"In the seen, there is only the seen. In the heard, there is only the heard. In the sensed, there is only the sensed. You are located neither in this, nor in that, nor in any place between the two." - Buddha
http://fadingveiling.com/

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Re: Does Awareness say "I"?

Postby JohnWoo » Fri May 31, 2019 8:31 pm

Hi Vivien!
We will get to awareness, but first we have to do a clean-up, so to speak.
No problem - if we find anything to clean up, then let's do it. I trust your process but can't promise you to not jump right into looking at awareness itself. This is simply happening too during my day and there have been some insights I can't hide...
Sensations don’t label themselves.
Sure - there may be a misunderstanding. When I wrote "I've never experienced Awareness itself but only sensations (that are labels themselves)" I meant exactly this. Sensations often come with labels - that are thoughts in the end - as an overlay. The moment I write about them, it happens with words and words are thoughts. I can differentiate between sensations and thoughts. So that's clear.
Just because the label of ‘nothingness’ is not present when the experience happens, still there is NO AE of ‘nothingness’.
I am aware that "nothingness" is a word that is used to describe an AE and that the word is not the AE, but if I can't use this word, there is no way to communicate.
But there is no actual experience of nothingness, stillness, love, spaciousness either (regardless of the labels are there or not)
I don't know what you want to say with this. There is no one doing that or experiencing that, but these seem as real as the computer I'm writing these words. And yes, if we play the game of deconstruction, even "computer" can be broken down to different perceptions. I'm aware that there is no computer, but only different sensations that are then labeled "computer". Is that what you mean?
I honestly see no value in deconstructing experiences though. I'd prefer looking for the one having them... and there is no one...

So now to the easy part - the exercise:
Did you do anything to make a particular thought or thoughts appear?
No. Thoughts come and go by themselves.
Could you have done anything to make a different thought appear at that exact moment instead?
No. That would be another thought.
Can you select from a range of thoughts to have only peaceful thoughts?
No. I can't find anyone who could do or want that. Thoughts also don't come with a menu.
Can you pick and choose any kind of thought?
No, never have. The picking would be another thought that makes it look like there would be a choice. There is none.
Where do thoughts come from?
Where are they going?
They come from emptiness and return to emptiness. And yes, also "emptiness" is a word. Silence....
Can ‘you’ stop a thought in the middle?
Can ‘you’ predict what will be the next thought?
No. Thoughts either stop by themselves or continue flowing. There is no need to stop them nor predict what comes next, which would just be another thought added on top of others. Also, I can't find anyone who could do or want this.
What is generating thoughts? – look for the ‘generator’ itself
I can't find a generator. Thoughts are just like a radio playing.
What is the thinker of thoughts? – don’t think, rather look for a ‘thinker’
Does the thinker of the thought appear in experience? Can it be found?
No. That was actually the most profound insight today. The quality of looking changed. Previously I was looking for a "self that is not there" and imagining a "non-self" entity to look for. What changed in the quality of looking was - actually after reading some passages in the Gatecrasher book today - that I suddenly looked for the self like looking for a real thing like a pencil.
That was funny to realize, that all these years I had been looking for an imagined "non-self" instead for a self.
It was like changing the looking from a spiritual (and imagined) perspective to a scientific perspective!
Don't know if this makes sense, but with that change in looking there came a huge shift!

So no, there is no thinker to be found and most important: there is also no "non-thinker" of thoughts to be found!
Is it possible to prevent a thought from appearing? Including the thought 'I'?
No it's not possible. The I-thought appears like all other thoughts. The important thing is, that there is no real I behind the I-thought. The thought itself is all that exists of I. There is nothing behind it.

So all in all, I'm excited to explore the new scientific way of looking. I stopped looking for a non-self - that's quite a relief!

John

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Vivien
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Re: Does Awareness say "I"?

Postby Vivien » Sat Jun 01, 2019 2:04 am

Hi John,
I trust your process but can't promise you to not jump right into looking at awareness itself. This is simply happening too during my day and there have been some insights I can't hide...
That’s all right. There is no problem with that, as long as you do the exercises too.
I'm aware that there is no computer, but only different sensations that are then labeled "computer". Is that what you mean?
Yes.
I honestly see no value in deconstructing experiences though. I'd prefer looking for the one having them... and there is no one...
The main purpose of our investigation to looking for the one having the experience. But occasionally we have to deconstruct some other beliefs too, which are the holding pillars of the self.

You did a nice looking with thoughts.
V: Where do thoughts come from?
Where are they going?
J: They come from emptiness and return to emptiness. And yes, also "emptiness" is a word. Silence....
All right, you see that the word emptiness is just a label, just as silence.

But still, there is a hidden assumption here, that thoughts are coming from somewhere, whatever it is called, and going back to that ‘place’.

But there is NO AE of thoughts coming from and going to anywhere.
They are either there or not.
Can you see this?
That was funny to realize, that all these years I had been looking for an imagined "non-self" instead for a self.
It was like changing the looking from a spiritual (and imagined) perspective to a scientific perspective!
Very good! :) We need to look for the self as we were a scientist who is investigating something very strange phenomenon. We need the precision of a scientist, exactly :)
I stopped looking for a non-self - that's quite a relief!
What an unachievable task looking for a non-self, it’s destined to fail. Maybe that’s why you felt stuck… we will see.

What can a thought do?
Does a thought have volition?
Can it manipulate other thoughts or think new thoughts?


It seems that thought has some logical ordered appearance, but look carefully and just notice if there is an organised sequence. Or is it just another thought that says ‘these thoughts are in sequence’ or “they take content from previous thought”, or that "one thought follows another thought"?

Thoughts can be looked at in 2 different ways:

- seeing the CONTENT of a thought, what is a thought ABOUT
- and only seeing the thought itself, as a ‘CONTAINER’.

When a thought is seen only as a container, and the content of a thought (what it’s about) is being ignored, is what we call the actual experience of a thought. Do you see the difference?

Thoughts as arising thoughts (the containers) are ‘real’, but their contents (what they are ABOUT) are not. Like when you think about Dart Vader. There is an arising thought, it cannot be denied, but its content “Dart Vader” is not real. Sometimes thoughts point to something tangible, like chair, however a thought about a chair is not a chair. A thought about a chair is just a mental concept with an arising mental image of a ‘chair’ but that image is not ‘real’. However, as an arising image is there, it is ‘real’, but not its content (what it’s about).

Certain sensations can be felt in the body that is labelled such and such emotion, like ‘cheerful’. However, ‘cheerful’ is just a mental label on the felt sensation. So the felt sensation is ‘real’, the arising mental label, simply as arising label is ‘real’, but its content ‘cheerful’ is just an idea. Can you see this?

Is this clear that an arising thought or mental image is real, it’s there, it’s happening (as a container) so it’s AE, but what the thought or the mental images is ABOUT, the CONTENT, is not real, it’s not happening, it’s not AE?


Vivien
"In the seen, there is only the seen. In the heard, there is only the heard. In the sensed, there is only the sensed. You are located neither in this, nor in that, nor in any place between the two." - Buddha
http://fadingveiling.com/

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Re: Does Awareness say "I"?

Postby JohnWoo » Sat Jun 01, 2019 5:44 pm

Hi Vivien!

What came to my mind is the joke question „Have you ever seen Batman and me in the same room together?“. Of course, this joke should suggest that I am Batman, but the real joke now is, that I’m neither Batman nor myself and that’s why we can both not be found in any room ever! LOL

The cool thing with this scientific approach is, that it can be shared with people without needing to indoctrinate them first in Advaita or any philosophy or spiritual belief system. I love that - makes things way easier.
I may now even be able to talk to people without preaching! ;))

Another funny thing before I dive into your questions:
I always thought that only the biggest of gurus like Ramana Maharshi or Nisargadatta Maharaj could help me with the final step. Who would have thought that a nobody like Vivien could do that job? LOL
Don’t get me wrong, I’m full of gratitude to you and your guidance, but this belief alone shows a lot. First, that the names of gurus were associated with a real „enlightened person“ who is able to help me better than others (everything in this belief seems to be wrong now…) and second, that there is (or should be) another real person who can/should help me to get enlightened! That’s hilarious to see how totally fucked up this spiritual search is. Another thing that I see clearly now is, that the only real help is in directly looking and not in „someone helping me get enlightened“.
But there is NO AE of thoughts coming from and going to anywhere. They are either there or not. Can you see this?
Yes, I can see that. They are there or not - that’s all that can be said in AE.
What can a thought do?
It can do nothing on its own. When believed, it seems as if it can color the experience - like wearing sunglasses - but there is no volition or choice on the color of the glasses.
Does a thought have volition?
No, a thought has no volition but there is also no outside agent of volition over thoughts. It’s like there is no volition at all happening. Volition is a myth and totally made up.
Can it manipulate other thoughts or think new thoughts?
It can tell a story about doing that, but in direct looking there is no actual relationship between thoughts.
Or is it just another thought that says ‘these thoughts are in sequence’ or “they take content from previous thought”, or that „one thought follows another thought“?
Yes, this describes the experience best. When I don’t listen to the content of these thoughts but instead just focus on thinking itself, it’s just sound - silence - sound and so on.
Do you see the difference?
Yes, I can see that. Just sound, but this sound doesn’t mean anything nor does it hint to something real. (...and yes, even "sound" is a label)
Is this clear that an arising thought or mental image is real, it’s there, it’s happening (as a container) so it’s AE, but what the thought or the mental images is ABOUT, the CONTENT, is not real, it’s not happening, it’s not AE?
Yes, that is clear.

One last funny story for now... I'm currently playing a Vampire game on Playstation. There are insights hidden in that. One is, that even if there may be the impression while playing the game that there is a choice whether I let people live or suck the whole city of London dry, there actually is none - a Vampire does what he has to do according to his nature. The most funny but true insight though was this: I am at the same level of reality as Dr. Jonathan Reed, the doctor transformed into a Vampire in 19th century London - both John and Jonathan are equally real/unreal - both are just a story. I guess that may be the reason why we play these games... :))

Dr. John

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Vivien
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Re: Does Awareness say "I"?

Postby Vivien » Sun Jun 02, 2019 12:58 am

Hi John,
Another thing that I see clearly now is, that the only real help is in directly looking and not in „someone helping me get enlightened“.
Exactly. I won’t teach you anything. I will just point to a direction to look, but you have to do the looking.
When I don’t listen to the content of these thoughts but instead just focus on thinking itself
“When I don’t listen to the content of thoughts” - What does the word ‘I’ refer to in this sentence?
What is it exactly that listens to the content of thoughts?
Where is the ‘listener’ exactly? – find the location
both John and Jonathan are equally real/unreal - both are just a story.
Yes, exactly.

Here are some statements based on our investigation so far. Please read them careful, and see if you are clear on them. If any of them are not totally clear, please let me know.

- In actual experience thoughts don’t come and go from anywhere. They just there when they are there. And when they are not there anymore, then they are just simply not there.
- The supposed ‘me’ has no power over thoughts. None.
- Thoughts just appear on their own, without anyone or anything doing it.
- There is nothing that is thinking thoughts. Thinking happens, or rather say thoughts appear but without a thinker. There is no thinker of thoughts.
- Thoughts have no power whatsoever. They cannot think or do anything.
- Thoughts have no volition. There might be thoughts about intentions, but not the thoughts themselves intending or wanting it. They just ‘talk’ about wanting or intending.
- In actual experience there is not even a mind. There might be thoughts about a ‘mind’, but ‘mind’ as such cannot be found.

Look at each statement carefully. Is there anything in the above text that is not totally clear?

Here is an exercise.
Get a sheet of paper and draw a line that divides that sheet in half. Label one half 'self' and the other side 'other'. Sit down and start a timer for 5 minutes. Every time you have a thought make a mark on the sheet. If that thought is about the self, put a mark on the self side, if it’s about something else, write down the thought itself (not just a mark). If a thought about food occurs due to feeling hungry, mark that on the self side. Any thought that refers back to a self should go on the self side. (I'm bored, I'm tired, is the door locked (my safety) that video was funny (I was amused), my back hurts, I am frightened, I wonder what is my daughter doing in school (‘my’ daughter), etc.

Let me know how you go and what you notice. Also please share with me what was written under others.
Then investigate the thoughts what was written under others. Are those thoughts really about others?


During the day, try to observe as many thoughts as you can. Particularly try to pay attention to narrating thoughts. Thoughts that are constantly narrating and judging what’s going on from the perspective of ‘me’.
Let me know what you find.

Vivien
"In the seen, there is only the seen. In the heard, there is only the heard. In the sensed, there is only the sensed. You are located neither in this, nor in that, nor in any place between the two." - Buddha
http://fadingveiling.com/

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Re: Does Awareness say "I"?

Postby JohnWoo » Sun Jun 02, 2019 4:47 pm

Hi Vivien!
“When I don’t listen to the content of thoughts” - What does the word ‘I’ refer to in this sentence? What is it exactly that listens to the content of thoughts? Where is the ‘listener’ exactly? – find the location.
I woke up very early and immediately sat down with these questions. Unfortunately I fell asleep on the couch again and had a dream - something that very rarely happens - at least I can never recall my dreams.
In this dream I was hungry and in a shopping mall. I sat down to eat Pizza and there were endless options I could choose from. Since I was so hungry, I just wanted something to eat. When the Pizza finally arrived, it was without any tomato sauce and no cheese - just a dry „thing“. So I went to the cook, who was so overwhelmed, got a nervous breakdown and quit on the spot. LOL
It was getting later and later and I thought that the hunger was killing me, so I just went to McDonalds. There a very similar thing happened and not even them were able to serve me a reasonable meal.
When I woke up completely enraged, I realized that I was not even hungry, but all this was about the belief that „it’s late and I have to eat something“ :))
So my looking into the listener of thoughts became a hunger to find something to eat and no cook to be found. :))
Have I died hungry in a shopping mall? Was I even hungry or was there just this conditioned search going on?

Yes, there is no listener to be found. Previously I would have answered this question with „Awareness is doing the listening“ as if awareness would be a thing that I am. In direct looking this idea is loosening up, but there is still the tendency to identify as awareness - an unmoving, spacious and still screen where the movie of life is projected on. Years of Advaita teaching have put this into „my“ mind to „be the movie screen“ instead of the movie projected onto it. The I is still alive as this screen from time to time.
What’s already changing is, that this identification is not taken that serious anymore…

In direct looking there is no listener and no location to be found.
What keeps the search alive is the thought „Ok, maybe you can’t find the listener now, but maybe you haven’t looked long enough or in the wrong direction!“. When this thought (that happens thousand times in different varieties over the day) is believed, the search continues. If it is seen as just another thought that has no substance, everything is fine.
Look at each statement carefully. Is there anything in the above text that is not totally clear?
I’ve gone over these statements several times and they are clear - no doubt or resistance to be found.
Let me know how you go and what you notice. Also please share with me what was written under others.
Then investigate the thoughts what was written under others. Are those thoughts really about others?
That was an awesome exercise and worth repeating!
I would have previously said that about 80% of thoughts are about me, but it’s actually 99,9%. Mostly I could see immediately that even thoughts that disguise themselves as being about others were in fact also about the „I“ and with the rest it maybe took a few seconds to see.
The only thought that stood there in the others-section in the end was: „How does this recognition help the world?“.

I’m also aware, that for doing this exercise it was necessary to focus on the content of thoughts. Without listening to the content, it’s impossible to say whether a thought is about a self or others. If every thought is just seen as „sound appearing“ then there is no difference if it’s about a self or others - it’s just sound.

Ok, now I have the experience that nearly all thoughts are about a phantom - how it is feeling now or in the imagined future. Since there is no volition, they also can’t be prevented nor is there one real entity that could (or want to) prevent them.

I’m starting to like this innocent inquiry like I’ve never done it before.
It’s way easier like this than to go into mindfuck-resistance. I have to admit, that I’ve read some of your dialogue with Michael on the other thread on awareness and even though I know this kind of arguing over words very well, this is of no interest anymore. Direct looking is totally refreshing and Truth doesn’t need arguing.

Thank you!

John

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Vivien
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Re: Does Awareness say "I"?

Postby Vivien » Mon Jun 03, 2019 3:43 am

Hi John,
Yes, there is no listener to be found. Previously I would have answered this question with „Awareness is doing the listening“ as if awareness would be a thing that I am. In direct looking this idea is loosening up…
…. What’s already changing is, that this identification is not taken that serious anymore…
Great!
In direct looking there is no listener and no location to be found.
What keeps the search alive is the thought „Ok, maybe you can’t find the listener now, but maybe you haven’t looked long enough or in the wrong direction!“. When this thought (that happens thousand times in different varieties over the day) is believed, the search continues. If it is seen as just another thought that has no substance, everything is fine.
This just shows that the belief in the listener is still there in a weakened form. So every time doubting thoughts come up, then look. Don’t just try to see through this thought. But really look. Again and again and again. Looking and looking and not finding what brings the realization. So look until no doubt is left. All right?
I’m also aware, that for doing this exercise it was necessary to focus on the content of thoughts. Without listening to the content, it’s impossible to say whether a thought is about a self or others. If every thought is just seen as „sound appearing“ then there is no difference if it’s about a self or others - it’s just sound
Yes, but those thoughts are referring to a self, to ME. Those thoughts are on behalf of the self. So it’s not enough to see the thoughts only as thoughts, only as ‘containers’, but it needs to be SEEN repeatedly that what they are supposedly pointing at, the self, the me, is not there. Can you see the difference?

Is this totally clear EXPERIENTIALLY that there is no self or me in any shape or form? Or is it partially intellectual?
Direct looking is totally refreshing and Truth doesn’t need arguing.
It’s good to notice this.

Almost every thought, if not all, is about the self. Sometimes it might not be as obvious, but when looked at it a bit more closely, it turns out that this ‘narrating mind’ is always about me (some way or another).

Actually, these narrating thoughts create the illusion of the self.
These thoughts describes ‘what I am’.
They describe my past, present and future.
They produce a story of my life.
They describe how I feel, and what I have to do.
They describe what things in the world and others mean to me and can give to me.
These thoughts define who I am and what is my relationship to the world.

Please read carefully the above sentences. Look if they are really true. Let me know what you find.
Since there is no volition
All right, let’s start to investigate the notion of decision, just to make sure if everything is clear.

1. Place both hands on a table in front of you, palms down.
2. When you have done that, rest for a moment and then raise one hand in the air but not the other.

Don't go to thoughts, examine your direct experience. Do this as many times as you like, and each time inquire:

What is it exactly that is choosing which hand to raise?
Can you find a separate individual or anything that is doing the choosing?
What is it that is controlling the hand?
Can a ‘controller’ of any description be located?
Can anything be found that makes the hand move?
How is the decision made?
Can a decision maker be found?


Vivien
"In the seen, there is only the seen. In the heard, there is only the heard. In the sensed, there is only the sensed. You are located neither in this, nor in that, nor in any place between the two." - Buddha
http://fadingveiling.com/

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Re: Does Awareness say "I"?

Postby JohnWoo » Mon Jun 03, 2019 2:48 pm

Hi Vivien!

Before I go into detail about the questions you asked, I wanted to share something that came up yesterday. I researched Elena and what she is doing now. I haven’t done this before - just read the 2 books and then asked to join here without any knowledge about the background of this site.

I saw, that Elena is offering life coaching at the moment. This is what I was doing for a living my whole life too, but I stopped because it doesn’t matter with which method or approach I was coaching people, the moment there was the slightest intention to „help them live a better life“ (in any way), the sense of a separated self was enhanced. Either the „worldly self“ or the „spiritual self“ were believed in automatically, doesn’t matter the direction of the coaching. I could see this in my clients as well as in myself.
Especially using methods (like Human Design - or the Gene Keys, which I have been using too) all enhance the story of a me, how it is, works and can transform itself. This was and is a huge issue for me in daily life.
It’s like the whole goal of coaching or counseling in any way is to somehow understand and/or make a self better or less suffering. Without the belief in a self, coaching seems not to be possible. That’s why I stopped, but still work in an institute that offers life coaching education and all I see is that these courses are making bigger and better egos. It’s unbearable right now to see this… even more though the more directly I’m looking…
Maybe I need to ask Elena directly sometime, but just wanted to share - maybe you got an input for me on that topic too? Don’t want to go into thinking my way through it and instead look for the one who has these problems…. until now it still seems impossible…
Looking and looking and not finding what brings the realization. So look until no doubt is left. All right?
Yes - even if it means a lifetime of looking? The quality of my looking has already changed since we started our dialogue, but I’d say that I have been looking already for many years - not finding the self for 20+ years and still there seems the possibility that maybe someday there is a self to be found.
Actually while writing this, I realize that I had the impression of having found my self as „pure awareness“ already. That may be the problem.
So to answer your question: Yes, I’m definitely up for that!
Is this totally clear EXPERIENTIALLY that there is no self or me in any shape or form? Or is it partially intellectual?
If you mean by „intellectually“ that sometimes there is remembrance (pictures, thoughts) about earlier looking I did over the years, then yes this happens - but there is rarely an involvement.
For the current seeing though, there is no intellectual processing needed. It’s an experience that there is no self in any shape or form right now. Yes.
Please read carefully the above sentences. Look if they are really true. Let me know what you find.
Yes, these sentences cover nearly all thoughts that appear. They are all about the imaginary I. This „I“ has to be quite famous here, that there is so much talking about it going on. It’s a VIP ghost, that never shows up at the red carpet of life. It wins every Oscar, but never appears in person at the award ceremony. One could really wonder if it actually exists ;)))
What is it exactly that is choosing which hand to raise?
There seems to be a correlation between a thought and the actual rising. It’s impossible to say though which comes first.
Can you find a separate individual or anything that is doing the choosing?
No, no actual individual to be found. Both, thoughts and rising of hand, happen by themselves.
What is it that is controlling the hand?
No one - there is no need for controlling.
Can a ‘controller’ of any description be located?
No.
Can anything be found that makes the hand move?
Not as an entity. Only impulses that are interpreted as coming from the muscles and the brain.
How is the decision made?
Based on impulses, but there is no one having them.
Can a decision maker be found?
As a thought that claims responsibility, but behind this thought, there is no entity. There is only the thought „I’ve done it“.

John


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