Nothing to see here

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HalfNoses
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Nothing to see here

Postby HalfNoses » Mon Dec 23, 2019 7:02 am

LU is focused guiding for seeing there is no real, inherent 'self' - what do you understand by this?
Most people walk around with a self-model, a collection of thoughts and labels that point to parts of experience. But rather than seeing this model as just a model, it's seen as a real thing that rides around inside the head, makes decisions, feels and sees and hears things, and is the "I" that everyone refers to. "I" is a process, not a noun.

What are you looking for at LU?
The above is not very clear to me. I understand it on a conceptual level, I see some aspects of it on an experiential level, but I am still very much fooled by the self illusion. I am very curious about this and I want to be able to cut through the illusion on a regular basis. I have been practicing on my own for a couple of years now, but I think I would benefit from a guide.

What do you expect from a guided conversation?
Oh boy, really not sure. Just a friendly partner to help me take apart all of these false beliefs that must be kicking around that I don't notice. I'm hoping for simple exercises that I can do daily that will hopefully lead to me cutting through the illusion. At this point, I'm not really sure what would help, which direction I should go... so direction would be helpful!

What is your experience in terms of spiritual practices, seeking and inquiry?
Meditation for a few years, more explicit seeking for the last two. I use the Waking Up app now for guided meditations. I had a drug experience where the illusion was shattered, but subsequently rebuilt just as convincingly as it had been before. I have read some accounts of others' journeys, I have listened to a number of podcasts and watched a number of youtube videos on the topic. I have played around with the experiments over at the Headless Way.

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

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tsconner
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Re: Nothing to see here

Postby tsconner » Tue Dec 24, 2019 2:44 am

Thank you for your intro :)

If you'd like, we can have a focused investigation into this thing we call 'I'--an apparent thing that supposedly rides around in our heads and makes decisions. Let's see if some more clarity can arise for you :)

Throughout this investigation I'd like you to look only in your direct experience--what is true for you at this moment. And then work to be as honest as possible about what is there for you--what is true for you.

Tell me, when I say that the "I" doesn't exist, what comes up for you? What is most true right now for you?

-Travis

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HalfNoses
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Re: Nothing to see here

Postby HalfNoses » Wed Dec 25, 2019 5:44 am

Hi Travis, thanks for your speedy response! Very excited to get started.

Okay let's make a list...
  • When I look for the "I", I fail to find it in sight, sound, sensation, smell, taste... none of those seem like an "I".
  • When I am paying proper attention, I do not find an "I" doing things or making choices, the doing and choosing just sortof happens. Most of the time, I am not paying proper attention and I guess I am somehow fooled into feeling like an I. (I've been using the word I a lot here and it feels silly given the topic!)
  • What seems most true right now for me is that the "I" is the "seer" or "hearer" etc. Somehow there is still a sense that there is separation between the experience itself, and the receiver of experience and "I" am that receiver.
  • I get lost in thought a lot, and that feels very "I"-ish sometimes, especially feeling like the receiver of thoughts, but also there is some sense of "being lost" in them - like it's another world or a movie or dream that I'm in.
Noses

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tsconner
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Re: Nothing to see here

Postby tsconner » Wed Dec 25, 2019 10:05 am

Good work!

What I want you to do is look at the experience of being a doer and a seer—being in control.

Do you create thoughts, intentions, or actions?
Do they spontaneously arise? Have a look. Write what is most true for you, whatever that is.

Here is an exercise for you if you’d like to take it on...

Put a timer on for 10 minutes and intend to see whether you are taking action or action is happening. See whether you are thinking thoughts or thoughts are happening. Watch all that comes up, and report back to me.

What still feels sticky?

Also watch the experience of being the “person that thoughts come to.” Is that also an experience? And I mean that very literally—is the experience of being the person that thoughts come to just another experience? And if so, what is left of self?

Write what feels most true in your experience.

-Travis

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HalfNoses
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Re: Nothing to see here

Postby HalfNoses » Thu Dec 26, 2019 6:05 am

Hi Travis,
Do you create thoughts, intentions, or actions? Do they spontaneously arise?
It is pretty obvious when I pay attention that thoughts intentions and actions are just arising out of nothing. It's not surprising per se, but it is unknown what's coming before it comes up.
see whether you are taking action or action is happening. See whether you are thinking thoughts or thoughts are happening
Same thing here. Both just appear out of the void. Maybe a thought will take credit for something saying "I did that", but it is just a thought, and this is pretty clear.
Also watch the experience of being the "person that thoughts come to." Is that also an experience? And I mean that very literally-is the experience of being the person that thoughts come to just another experience? And if so, what is left of self?
This one is more challenging. Logically I can answer yes it must be an experience or else how would it be known? But we are not looking for logical answers...

For some things, for instance rubbing my fingertips together, there is a feeling that "this sensation is below me". I can sorta see that clearly enough to get that there is no above or below to sensation, just a blob of changing sensations.

With sight, there is a similar feeling that I am behind my eyes... I'm not sure if that's all of what makes up the experience of feeling like a seer, but it feels like part of it. My attention sometimes goes to the sensation of my eyes at this point, but it is not clear enough that I feel I have dispelled any illusion like with the finger rubbing. Noticing the thought that I'm behind them, noticing the eyes are just one part of the blob of sensation doesn't seem to be the key.

With thoughts, sometimes there is a thought that says "I'm the one hearing thoughts" and this is not convincing in itself. I can't really identify what part of experience is what it feels like to be the one thoughts are coming to. It's not clear to me what I'm looking for our how to identify it, other than that thought I mentioned - but I don't think that's it.

Noses

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HalfNoses
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Re: Nothing to see here

Postby HalfNoses » Thu Dec 26, 2019 4:24 pm

I can sorta see that clearly enough to get that there is no above or below to sensation, just a blob of changing sensations
By this I mean it is clear that fingertip sensations are not above or below anything, they always happen "in their own place" so to speak. Above and below are concepts that come from some sort of thought/feeling. It is when I notice this thought/feeling that the feeling disappears and I can notice just the sensation as it appears.

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tsconner
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Re: Nothing to see here

Postby tsconner » Fri Dec 27, 2019 3:25 am

Good stuff, Noses :)

Try this...
Close one eye and notice where you feel located. Now close the other eye. Are you in one spot? Two spots? Does your location feel like it changes depending on which eye is open?

I wouldn't say we are necessarily looking for the 'I' or trying to find something we are not already aware of. No need to go searching for the 'I' if you already feel like you are the 'I."
It is when I notice this thought/feeling that the feeling disappears and I can notice just the sensation as it appears.
Good!
it is clear that fingertip sensations are not above or below anything
Are you located in space? Where do you find yourself?
Lastly, sit for a few minutes and see how 'I' comes into existence. How does this happen for you?

Best,
Travis

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HalfNoses
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Re: Nothing to see here

Postby HalfNoses » Fri Dec 27, 2019 5:47 am

Hey Travis,
Does your location feel like it changes depending on which eye is open?
Yeah, at the beginning it felt a bit like I was jumping back and forth as I swapped which eye was open... Very cool. After playing with it a while I noticed something else. For a split second, it's like just the scenery changes, and then there's the feeling of the newly opened eye focusing and re centering on what was being looked at before. I notice the feeling of location come in when this refocusing happens.
I wouldn't say we are necessarily looking for the 'I' or trying to find something we are not already aware of. No need to go searching for the 'I' if you already feel like you are the 'I."
This is interesting, let me check that I understand this. Do you mean if there is already the experience of "I" then it's something right on the surface, and you're suggesting I'm trying to look too deeply?
Are you located in space? Where do you find yourself?
The feeling of location comes up in at least two ways that I notice.
The first way is in relation to things I see. "Relative to those things, I am over here". When I look carefully, I find no actual indication of distance to other objects, I only find color/visual field. In other words there is no distance between the visual field and its contents.

The second is when looking at sensations in the body... The location is relative to some part of my head. Sometimes it is a mental image of how my body or parts of it are oriented, which is separate from the sensation. Other times... I think it is sensation in my eyes subtly pointing towards the body part, which suggests direction. I notice when shifting my attention from feet to hands for instance that I feel movement in the eyes. I do not notice any actual orientation or direction to sensations in different parts of the body.

As for where do I find myself in experience, experience does not have the quality of being a space (the visual field does, but I can't SEE anything I'd call my self). Within experience there are no definite locations, even if I could find something to call myself, it wouldn't have a where attached to it. Sensation does not have a where unless a mental image of the body gives it a where, for example. Sounds also do not, they are "everywhere" or maybe "nowhere" is more accurate.
How does this happen for you?
Sometimes when sitting the mind starts to wander. If I bring it out of thought, I either realise a moment later I was feeling like a self for putting effort into bringing attention away from the thought OR sometimes I notice attention feels like thought does: uncontrolled and unpredictable.

With unexpected sounds, it feels like they happen "outside of me", and my attention swivels to the sound (although I was conscious of the sound before the attention moved), and again there is a subtle eye movement (I think this is a key signature of attention moving actually...)

A lot of it comes down to feelings of trying and then noticing the trying and relaxing... Effort of any sort feels self-y.

I also still feel like a recipient of thought... I do not find anything that is receiving however. And I dunno why but I can't get a hold of the feeling of being the receiver. It's like it's gone as soon as I think I may have noticed it (or it reasserted itself without me noticing, thoughts are slippery). This is unlike the feeling that my fingers are "below" me which I can kinda look at and dissect a bit as either thoughts or eye movements. I will keep trying over the next few days (unless you tell me not to I guess :P)

Noses

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tsconner
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Re: Nothing to see here

Postby tsconner » Sun Dec 29, 2019 5:38 am

Apologies, Noses.

It was a long day at work today, so I am going to get some sleep and will respond to your reply after :)

Best,
Travis

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HalfNoses
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Re: Nothing to see here

Postby HalfNoses » Sun Dec 29, 2019 3:02 pm

No problem, sleep well!

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tsconner
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Re: Nothing to see here

Postby tsconner » Sun Dec 29, 2019 7:29 pm

I wouldn't say we are necessarily looking for the 'I' or trying to find something we are not already aware of. No need to go searching for the 'I' if you already feel like you are the 'I."

This is interesting, let me check that I understand this. Do you mean if there is already the experience of "I" then it's something right on the surface, and you're suggesting I'm trying to look too deeply?
To clarify, I am saying that it may be most helpful to first look into what you most
strongly identify with as 'I.' Is that a feeling? A thought? A sense of location in the head
somewhere? What is the greatest evidence for the existence of 'I'? Looks like you
covered a lot of that in your post, so let's continue :)
and my attention swivels to the sound
Putting 'my' before thoughts, attention, actions, house, food, etc. may contribute to
this sticky illusion :) And you notice we do it ALL the time!
Effort of any sort feels self-y
This seems to be a central sticking point. Take away this label of 'effort.' And let's look
at life and bodies as things happening. Fingers type on keyboards, bodies drink water,
and athletes play sports. There is indeed a lot of activity always going on. Can you see
how a lot of the things that seem to happen automatically can also be said to have been
done with effort? What about when the mind is on autopilot stressing over something,
and then you realize you were sucked into a mind movie? There was a lot of effort
there, no? What about when you are around a lot of people, does the mind start up and
say a whole lot of things, even without your approval or "effort?" Play around with this
and see what you come up with.
I also still feel like a recipient of thought
Watch this activity closely, and see if you can "get behind" the moment when a thought,
feeling, or conviction arose saying that you are the recipient of thoughts. Do you feel
like the recipient of sensations? What if you think about thoughts being sensations in
the head? What is that experience like?
I will keep trying over the next few days (unless you tell me not to I guess :P)
If you feel like a technique is helping you see through more illusion then always feel
free to continue :)


And as always, 1) write when ready, 2) write what is most true for you, and 3) write
what seems most sticky about the existence of 'I' (in other words, what is the greatest
evidence for the existence of 'I' in your experience right now?)

Best,
Travis

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tsconner
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Re: Nothing to see here

Postby tsconner » Fri Jan 03, 2020 5:59 pm

Hi Noses,

Just reaching out since I haven’t heard from you in several days. Are you still interested in continuing?

Best,
Travis

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HalfNoses
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Re: Nothing to see here

Postby HalfNoses » Sat Jan 04, 2020 3:26 am

Hi Travis, sorry I haven't responded recently. A combination of 2 things: I wanted to keep trying one of the exercises because I felt like I wasn't getting it. I also have been pretty busy the last few days. I will respond sooner from now on.
Putting 'my' before thoughts, attention, actions, house, food, etc. may contribute to this sticky illusion :) And you notice we do it ALL the time!
Very true, I will refrain when I remember!
And let's look at life and bodies as things happening. Fingers type on keyboards, bodies drink water, and athletes play sports. There is indeed a lot of activity always going on. Can you see how a lot of the things that seem to happen automatically can also be said to have been done with effort?
I can yes. A number of times over the past few days I have stopped to notice this - things are just happening.
A sound happens and the head swivels to look in that direction. Responses to questions are voiced automatically. Itches are scratched without thinking. Thoughts appear whenever. Other people too -- all just flowing activity.
I looked more at effort by clenching my fist and trying to keep it clenched for a long while. The fist stays clenched for a time. When it starts to loosen a thought comes up along the lines of "no that's supposed to stay tightened" and the fist tightens. Maybe effort is just a story told to help the mind remember a task...
I also notice that "effort" at least sometimes feels like a slighly furrowed brow. When I was puzzling through something, and I remembered to notice effort, I noticed that what tipped me off that I was putting effort in was that my brow was "furrowed in concentration". This just happens too, but I suppose it's involuntary to some degree.
Watch this activity closely, and see if you can "get behind" the moment when a thought, feeling, or conviction arose saying that you are the recipient of thoughts.
This is the exercise I have been struggling with. I do not know how to get behind that moment. I can notice a thought that says "no, see, it really does feel like I'm receiving thoughts" but this is not the feeling. I haven't been able to notice the arising of the feeling for some reason though I have tried many times... Any tips?
Do you feel like the recipient of sensations? What if you think about thoughts being sensations in the head? What is that experience like?
I guess the recipient feeling pervades much of experience. Sight, sound, sensation etc. all feel like they are my experiences, they are happening to me. I do not find the "me" in anything but thoughts saying things like "these experiences are happening to me". But the thought is "in retrospect" after the experience and is not convincing, it is whatever that feeling is, that thought then goes on to announce is proof that the experience belongs to me.

So the stickiest part is still feeling like a receiver...

Noses

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tsconner
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Re: Nothing to see here

Postby tsconner » Tue Jan 07, 2020 2:12 am

I will respond sooner from now on.
Don't worry about it; take the time you need. Was just checking in :)
A sound happens and the head swivels to look in that direction. Responses to questions are voiced automatically. Itches are scratched without thinking.

Good! And then you see how the 'I' thought comes in..."I looked to see what was going on in that direction." "I responded to that question." "I scratched my arm." There is an apparent I. And you see how it takes credit for it all; even the things done that seem to automatically happen.
I also notice that "effort" at least sometimes feels like a slighly furrowed brow. When I was puzzling through something, and I remembered to notice effort, I noticed that what tipped me off that I was putting effort in was that my brow was "furrowed in concentration". This just happens too, but I suppose it's involuntary to some degree.
Excellent. Again, we can notice after the fact that an activity is occurring, and see how there was no conscious intent behind it; no "doer" making the conscious decision to furrow the brow.
"Watch this activity closely, and see if you can "get behind" the moment when a thought, feeling, or conviction arose saying that you are the recipient of thoughts."

This is the exercise I have been struggling with. I do not know how to get behind that moment. I can notice a thought that says "no, see, it really does feel like I'm receiving thoughts" but this is not the feeling. I haven't been able to notice the arising of the feeling for some reason though I have tried many times... Any tips?
This is more or less just an exercise to focus the mind; to be as "in the moment" as possible while we are watching our thoughts; to see if you notice anything you didn't notice before. Don't worry, you can't do the activity wrong :)
So the stickiest part is still feeling like a receiver...
Let's say you are the receiver...how big are you? Are you found somewhere in space? This is YOU we are talking about, after all. A very important matter, no? :) Where are you? If you were located somewhere, in the brain for instance, and we found a little ball of matter inside the brain. Would that be you? If we took any physical thing out of your body and said it was you, would you say it was you? If you could locate something that was 'you' then that would just be one more thing that 'you' have identified as NOT you, no? Since you are the one observing it?

With this work, it's best to stay open to all possibilities, because what we're going for here is whatever is true. Maybe you do exist and can find yourself (what you're made of, how big you are, etc.), and our job is to do a deep, focused, and ruthlessly honest investigation into whatever is actually the case.

Look into your experience, in real time, and ask yourself the above questions and see what comes up for you. Be as honest as you can be, an write when you're ready :)

Best,
Travis

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HalfNoses
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Re: Nothing to see here

Postby HalfNoses » Thu Jan 09, 2020 4:25 am

Don't worry about it; take the time you need. Was just checking in :)
Okay, I will try to respond more anyway xD but in the future if I have not responded for a few days, know that I am still interested in continuing!
Let's say you are the receiver...how big are you? Are you found somewhere in space? This is YOU we are talking about, after all. A very important matter, no? :) Where are you? If you were located somewhere, in the brain for instance, and we found a little ball of matter inside the brain. Would that be you? If we took any physical thing out of your body and said it was you, would you say it was you? If you could locate something that was 'you' then that would just be one more thing that 'you' have identified as NOT you, no? Since you are the one observing it?
I guess most of what comes up here is thoughts about your questions.
I can say, nothing that came up was something that could be called an "I".
How big am I? - The only experience that seems to have any dimension to it at all is the visual field - but it also has no boundaries, so how to put a size to it... How big does the me that feels that it is a me feel like it is? Unknown, it hasn't been around to ask.
Am I found somewhere in space? - The first seeming answer to jump out is "behind my eyes" - But a) I cannot find my eyes in space, and b) when searching "the area", sensation labelled eyes is found, but no "I" - during the search, the "I" is felt to be the one doing the searching. Looking at this brings attention to sensations of the back of the head, and to the visual field... no "I" was found... at this type of loop I have previously been told to "look for who is doing the looking" but the instruction is still somewhat inscrutable. "I" keep ending up looking at the contents of experience I've noticed before.
Am I a ball of matter in my brain/body? - If there was experience of that ball, especially if it was outside the ball (as opposed to I guess still seeing and hearing etc from inside the ball), how could it be me? No I would not say it was me.

If "I" can point to a thing, then that thing is in my experience, and so at best it could only be a part of me. But more realistically, it is just an appearance within experience. Are the words that I see on this laptop screen PART of the laptop? They are represented in the laptop's memory as some binary (this is not the same as the words though), and they are appearances on the screen, but without these appearances, there is still the laptop, as laptoppy as ever.
With this work, it's best to stay open to all possibilities, because what we're going for here is whatever is true. Maybe you do exist and can find yourself (what you're made of, how big you are, etc.), and our job is to do a deep, focused, and ruthlessly honest investigation into whatever is actually the case.
I will keep an open mind as best I can! But I know from a rational perspective (ie a thought says "I know this"...), the self which most people believe they have is an incoherent concept both from a first and third person perspective. But maybe there is no rationality to it, and I'm open to that, too.

Noses


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