'I' think 'I' know 'I' am an illusion... some help would be appreciated

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SeeEye
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Re: 'I' think 'I' know 'I' am an illusion... some help would be appreciated

Postby SeeEye » Tue Jun 30, 2020 5:19 pm

Hi,

Some good thoughts there and some good questions also.

My experience has been that the "self" program is old and well grooved-in. It will continue to "act as if" it is the big deal, the controller etc. You can not really forget that you now "know", but self can run over the top of this.

I would suggest you continue the work and practice by keeping a journal of some sort, writing down what touches you and helps you. You can pick this up, refer to it, add to it. I tell the people I work with one-on-one that discernment is the key factor. Learning how to learn and trust yourself to open the right doors and avoid the BS paths is the best thing you can do. If you look into the question "why do so few people cross the gap from student to master" then you will find that they never develop their own discernment, they want to be told and validated. This is true DIY work....nobody else can do it for you. Some, however, are very good at pointing you towards what works.

For example, some teachers say that since everything is already "as it is" then there is no work to be done, they declare themselves enlightened and lead everyone down a path of lazyness and inaccuracy that is a complete dead-end. Total crap. So knowing where to look is important. I can give you a few suggestions. Not all roads lead to Rome, no matter what some people say.

You can go at your own pace, continue with self-inquiry and other methods and strengthen your understanding and help your nervous system groove in the new direction that is built on your seeing.

Your thoughts??

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StephenG
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Re: 'I' think 'I' know 'I' am an illusion... some help would be appreciated

Postby StephenG » Sat Jul 04, 2020 12:24 pm

Hi Cal

Pardon my longer response time. This is because I can see 'no-self' and I am trying hard to look very directly and specifically at my own experience. So each response requires more time to percolate than in the beginning. I hope you are OK with this.
My experience has been that the "self" program is old and well grooved-in. It will continue to "act as if" it is the big deal, the controller etc. You can not really forget that you now "know", but self can run over the top of this.
I am having a similar experience. I am finding it fun to be vigilant and notice the 'self' program when it flares up (which is, of course, almost constantly). I am having regular "eureka!" moments when it dawns on me that a common thought structure that I've been living blindly identified with for years is, in fact, just a type of self-referential story that is NOT reality.
I would suggest you continue the work and practice by keeping a journal of some sort, writing down what touches you and helps you. You can pick this up, refer to it, add to it.
I am finding that the absolute best way to do this work is to examine my own experience first hand, either in thinking or in thinking plus writing. This is far more effective than reading and accepting other people's explanations.
I tell the people I work with one-on-one that discernment is the key factor. Learning how to learn and trust yourself to open the right doors and avoid the BS paths is the best thing you can do. If you look into the question "why do so few people cross the gap from student to master" then you will find that they never develop their own discernment, they want to be told and validated. This is true DIY work....nobody else can do it for you. Some, however, are very good at pointing you towards what works.
I love the word 'discernment' - it's been hanging around in my brain all week. I agree that it is the key. I sometimes struggle to trust myself. I have a tendency to want to be told 'the truth' by an authority I can trust. I am often especially anxious to have my opinions and lifestyle validated by others. I want to 'plough my own furrow' and to a large extent I do, but I find truly being my own mental point of origin anxiety/guilt-provoking. Making DISCERNMENT a core value and a skill I can develop and strengthen will be helpful.
For example, some teachers say that since everything is already "as it is" then there is no work to be done, they declare themselves enlightened and lead everyone down a path of laziness and inaccuracy that is a complete dead-end. Total crap. So knowing where to look is important. I can give you a few suggestions. Not all roads lead to Rome, no matter what some people say.
So, how to know when a teacher is full of shit and leading people in the wrong direction? Is it a case of scrutinizing their ideas with the values of discernment and trust in MY organism, brain etc front and center?

Over the last week of directly looking at my experience, I have been noticing again and again that behaviours that I've always assumed to be controlled and decided upon by 'Stephen' are, in fact, automatic and are emanating from what I'm now calling ORGANISM + PERSONALITY.

It appears to me that there is an organism and there is a personality. And that these two things are REAL... but they are operating on autopilot. These two things (organism plus personality) are also ever-changing and developing, in response to new circumstances and experiences, and presumably biological factors such as genes. 'Stephen'/'self' is an entity that is real (in the sense that thought constructs are real as thoughts but they don't necessarily point to anything in reality), BUT it exists ONLY in thought and is an ILLUSION.

Further, 'Stephen'/'self' does NOT control the organism plus personality. 'Stephen'/'self' is a thought construct that exists only in my brain and is NOT controlling, managing, responsible for, even though it has always seemed like it is. This seeming was an ILLUSION, it was false - what seemed to be true was, in fact, NOT true.

This ILLUSION OF CONTROL/MANAGING/RESPONSIBILITY is a fundamental aspect of 'selfing'. It is a big cause of suffering. I suspect that this illusion ads stress to the organism plus personality and actually has a detrimental effect on how the organism plus personality runs. The illusion of self is like a bug that disrupts the system and prevents it from running optimally. I'm thinking that... by trying really hard to control I am actually making the system work less well.

When I catch myself trying to persuade myself of the advantages of adopting 'no-self' as a philosophy, I pull back and remind myself that this is not about seeing the merits of not being a slave to self, but instead, it is about SEEING that there factually IS NO SELF (for better or worse). It's about seeing TRUTH, not just seeing what I want to see.

I've been asking myself the question...

What would I do right now at this moment if I was IMMUNE to the selfing/stories buzzing away in my brain, if I wasn't 'Stephen'-ing, if I was UNinfluenced by the 'self'/'Stephen' story?

I usually don't know the answer because it's a very new question. But it's a good question.

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SeeEye
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Re: 'I' think 'I' know 'I' am an illusion... some help would be appreciated

Postby SeeEye » Mon Jul 06, 2020 5:38 pm

Hi,
I love the word 'discernment' - it's been hanging around in my brain all week. I agree that it is the key. I sometimes struggle to trust myself. I have a tendency to want to be told 'the truth' by an authority I can trust. I am often especially anxious to have my opinions and lifestyle validated by others. I want to 'plough my own furrow' and to a large extent I do, but I find truly being my own mental point of origin anxiety/guilt-provoking. Making DISCERNMENT a core value and a skill I can develop and strengthen will be helpful.
This is how you were "trained" and the early conclusions you came up with. We need to stay in the tribe for survival, and being "your own person" and individuating must have "meant" that you were being bad. Perhaps mom was too nostalgic, dad was too needy to be agreed with, etc. As you have no self, neither do others. Their programming and illusion causes them pain, and when people optimize for their ego....... Think about the illusion of control and raising a child. My point in this is, you can look into this the same way you did with no self, start to unravel belief systems knowing that [feelings are proof] while seeming true, is incorrect. My teacher taught me that guilt means "I OWE". Whom do you owe for being self-defining, acting in ways that are self-enhancing? This work can produce some powerful shifts, free you up. Instead of just reading about philosophy you can actually live it out.
So, how to know when a teacher is full of shit and leading people in the wrong direction? Is it a case of scrutinizing their ideas with the values of discernment and trust in MY organism, brain etc front and center?
Great question, but tough. 1) The teacher should own the promise of the teaching, the end results. 2) The method should lead to the results. 3) The teaching should not be a belief system, but a methodology. Example: People get hung up on reincarnation. This borders on religious belief and speculation. Taking a class on past lives then supports the belief in this. I have not yet seen any method of discovering/proving/seign this. What is the benefit of the belief system? Who does it serve? If they came out and said it was an entertainment, a fantasy for hire, then fine. Think about it, it there is no-self...WTF is going to come back again? This shows me that the teacher has not seen no-self either. Buddhism became a religion for some, for the teacher it was simply a method. You have people sitting in zazen for 15 years, and someone pops into LU and sees no self in 3 weeks. They go on some zen forum and get shredded because it doesn't fit into some obtuse definition of 2nd stream entry.

Life becomes very simple when we can discard most of our thoughting. Most people want magic, they aren't looking for silence.
What would I do right now at this moment if I was IMMUNE to the selfing/stories buzzing away in my brain, if I wasn't 'Stephen'-ing, if I was UNinfluenced by the 'self'/'Stephen' story?
Language makes this sloppy. What would "who" do? What has been very helpful for me is knowing that the organism may not have deep preferences, the "self" does. If it's about losing something, not achieving, status it will at some point need to be dropped. Our rules and conclusions, most can be dropped. If you follow intuition by letting go of control, you should move in a direction of fun, love, beauty. I know those are fluffy words, but the deeper you make your experience in the direction of acceptance and silence, the more these come about on their own. Freedom is not a guarantee for success and achievement, and success and achievement do not produce the freedom we are sold to believe they will. If you think about it, freedom implies a freedom from the prison of preferences and the need for a guarantee.

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StephenG
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Re: 'I' think 'I' know 'I' am an illusion... some help would be appreciated

Postby StephenG » Thu Jul 09, 2020 9:38 pm

Hi Cal

Thanks for your message. Very helpful.
My point in this is, you can look into this the same way you did with no self, start to unravel belief systems knowing that [feelings are proof] while seeming true, is incorrect. My teacher taught me that guilt means "I OWE". Whom do you owe for being self-defining, acting in ways that are self-enhancing? This work can produce some powerful shifts, free you up. Instead of just reading about philosophy you can actually live it out.
Apologies if this is off-topic, feel free to not get into it... What would you suggest if one knows that a negative emotion (eg. guilt) is irrational (based on irrational beliefs) but yet the physical feeling of the emotion remains? Could the emotion itself be conditioned into the organism, and causing suffering even after the concept that originally triggered it has been debunked? Can an emotion be learned by the organism?
Language makes this sloppy. What would "who" do?
Yes, I agree. This question implies that there is some 'true essence' inside me (aka... a SELF!) that needs to be set free (self freed from self!). And this is absolutely not the case. This question was 'self' sneaking in by a side entrance.
What has been very helpful for me is knowing that the organism may not have deep preferences, the "self" does.

This is VERY PROFOUND. A lot of my preferences do seem to be very.... conceptual. I have no idea how to tell which preferences are the organism's and which are the self's.

If I have a strong preference or desire that seems to come from the self, do I try to deny my self what it wants? Or do I just go with it, live in accordance with those desires, and wait for the desires to perhaps fade as 'no-self' beds in? Given that I can SEE that 'I' have no choice or control (cos 'I' don't exist), surely I will not be able to choose to drop the self's preferences.

What I've been thinking about the last few days...

The brain is thinking 'selfing' thoughts extremely regularly - seemingly a large majority of the time. It seems that trying not to think and identify with 'self' thoughts very much IS also a form of 'selfing'. 'I' am trying not to 'self' so 'I' (the self) can be.... better, happier, whatever. But the trying is itself a thought construct and a self-referential thought construct at that... so a form of selfing.

Given that the organism does its thing, the personality does its thing, thoughts happen, etc - and all with ZERO control or choice from 'me', it seems that trying to stop selfing is pointless and a ridiculous concept. 'Selfing' happens ON ITS OWN - it is not under 'my' control. So the key is to be able to SEE selfing for what it is, in its many forms. To see it from someplace other than 'self'. To watch it happening from a place of acceptance and in seeing it for what it is it loses its grip and its ability to cause suffering is diminished.

I can often clearly see selfing happening. But I can not see this place other than self that I am. I've heard people call it awareness, consciousness etc. But this does not matter or bother me, I do not feel any need to define what 'I' 'really' am, or even to believe that I am anything at all. There is much more interest in what I'm not.

I was in a supermarket queue yesterday and it struck me that every person around me (and 'me' too of course) is an organism operating entirely on autopilot, with literally NO CHOICE as to how they act, what they do, what they think and believe etc.

Last night it struck me forcefully, like an epiphany of sorts, just HOW MUCH of what we agree is reality DOES NOT HAVE ANY EXISTENCE IN REALITY and is entirely conceptual - including so many very mundane and thoroughly societally-accepted things/norms/notions... mere mental constructs that we all thoroughly assume are real.

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StephenG
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Re: 'I' think 'I' know 'I' am an illusion... some help would be appreciated

Postby StephenG » Sat Jul 11, 2020 2:58 pm

Hi Cal. Just a short message.
But I can not see this place other than self that I am. I've heard people call it awareness, consciousness etc. But this does not matter or bother me, I do not feel any need to define what 'I' 'really' am, or even to believe that I am anything at all. There is much more interest in what I'm not.
Yesterday I was having a bit of a shit 'no-self' day - I was overthinking, agonizing, doubting, tiring myself out obsessing over it etc. And then it just hit me clear as day....

Awareness, this thing that I can't put my finger on and that I said in my last message I am fine to not be able to detect etc, is.... the most OBVIOUS THING IN THE WORLD!!

Am I aware? OBVIOUSLY YES! I am aware of thoughts, feelings, sights, touch, taste, sounds, selfing etc - ALL OF IT! OF COURSE I'M AWARE. It's right there in plain sight, the simlest thing imaginable.

I'm struggling to put it into words. I'm struggling to convey how OBVIOUS AND RIGHT IN FRONT OF ME ALL ALONG it is!

Am I aware? HELL YEAH.

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StephenG
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Re: 'I' think 'I' know 'I' am an illusion... some help would be appreciated

Postby StephenG » Sat Jul 11, 2020 2:59 pm

Do I have to work hard and diligently and concentrate and focus to be aware??? NOPE. Can I be unaware? NOPE.

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SeeEye
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Re: 'I' think 'I' know 'I' am an illusion... some help would be appreciated

Postby SeeEye » Tue Jul 14, 2020 7:12 pm

Hi,
Apologies if this is off-topic, feel free to not get into it... What would you suggest if one knows that a negative emotion (eg. guilt) is irrational (based on irrational beliefs) but yet the physical feeling of the emotion remains? Could the emotion itself be conditioned into the organism, and causing suffering even after the concept that originally triggered it has been debunked? Can an emotion be learned by the organism?
Emotion is conditioned based on perceived consequences at the time. Understanding that a "belief" is not necessarily connected to reality, it and the organism "acts as if"...and this is good to remember.

The emotion can be flattened out. The way I understand it, a neural pathway is grooved in, like stimulus-response in classical conditioning. Similar to how we have strong emotional reactions to dreams. The internal representation causes it as much as reality. Organism remembers and sorts by what is BIG, which is why it's easy to remember getting yelled at by dad bu forget all the dogs you've petted. When you behave in contradiction to the suggestion of the belief, you "feel" quite a bit, regardless of what you "know". If you behave in line with your knowing, you will get new data. Over time you build a new pathway and the old one is not needed. Seeing no self is 1 repetition, but a very big one because now we know a new world exists.
I have no idea how to tell which preferences are the organism's and which are the self's.
Self is a belief system. Preferences here are mostly gain and loss of the self, of it's status and "worth". Organism has some preferences. Go find some really ripe fish on the beach....you will not be able to stop that response.
The brain is thinking 'selfing' thoughts extremely regularly - seemingly a large majority of the time. It seems that trying not to think and identify with 'self' thoughts very much IS also a form of 'selfing'. 'I' am trying not to 'self' so 'I' (the self) can be.... better, happier, whatever. But the trying is itself a thought construct and a self-referential thought construct at that... so a form of selfing.
Very nicely done. Stopping and remembering awareness seems to come from beyond any self that controls this. Similar as to how we cannot control what thought comes next.
Last night it struck me forcefully, like an epiphany of sorts, just HOW MUCH of what we agree is reality DOES NOT HAVE ANY EXISTENCE IN REALITY and is entirely conceptual - including so many very mundane and thoroughly societally-accepted things/norms/notions... mere mental constructs that we all thoroughly assume are real.

Great place to do psych and philosophical work from. Beliefs serve a self and other's selves. Gain and loss. Politics, religion, family systems. Life can become very simple. Do what is self-enhancing and also others-enhancing, and we don't need complicated laws and enforcement. By self, I cannot find a word to replace this with. Organism-enhancing I suppose, and other-organism-enhancing.

If it isn't possible to be NOT-GOOD-ENOUGH....what do we do with our time?

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Re: 'I' think 'I' know 'I' am an illusion... some help would be appreciated

Postby StephenG » Sun Jul 19, 2020 12:14 pm

Hi Cal

It's amazing how thoroughly society (all of society seemingly, and perhaps especially people in positions of power and influence such as politicians, news media, online 'influencers' etc) behave as if we are all selves. This leads to thoughts popping up that maybe I am mistaken in my new view that there is NO self. Such as... "Who am I to be right when all of these 'successful', 'powerful', 'rich' etc people are so wrong?!" But I think it is more likely that most people are simply entirely asleep to this reality and living in a dream (often a nightmare) of constant selfing. And that this does not prevent them from seemingly functioning 'successfully' in our currently quite troubled, belligerent, dishonest human societies. Also, people who do see that they are an illusion are not necessarily going to talk about it openly - the only outward sign of their knowledge of no-self may just be 'better', kinder, less defensive/aggressive behavior. (I don't talk to many people about no-self, it seems entirely pointless as I assume most people would not be open to it, or give it any time or interest, at all.)

Since lockdown has lessened I've been out more socially. It's been interesting from a no-self perspective. Lots of grist for the mill. Thinking about how 'I' function socially is interesting. It's actually very fun to work through the list of things the 'self' claims as 'Stephen' but that on close inspection are NOT...

Am I the body? NO, of course not (am I the inanimate thigh bone, or inside of the jugular vein, no).
Am I the thoughts and emotions? NO, they appear in awareness thoroughly unchoosen, uncontrollable.
Am I the personality? NO. On close inspection, the personality just.... personality-s. On very close inspection, the personality is on AUTOPILOT.
While the personality does its thing, there is another 'self' that is watching the personality and judging it from inside the 'mind'. This internal voice runs in parallel with the external personality JUST ONE OR TWO SECONDS BEHIND IT IN TIME - and it comments, judges etc. But this internal 'self' is ALSO not me - it is ALSO running on autopilot, made of thoroughly unchoosen, uncontrollable THOUGHTS that are simply arriving, unbidden, in awareness.
Then there is this next 'self' - this smart, detached, rational 'self' that is clever and enlightened enough to notice even that sneaky watcher self that judges the personality - surely THIS is the 'real self'..... But no, it's not - even that enlightened self is made of.... thought and story and concepts and is existing unbidden, unchoosen, uncontrollable in awareness.
The 'self' can't be found, other than to say perhaps it is this background awareness in which absolutely everything is.... coming into and out of existence.

There is still an occasional worry that the baby can be thrown out with the bathwater here somehow. The more I look at things - the vast majority of things - the more I see everything as a thought construct, and unreal. Almost nothing, apart from this moment, is actually real. So my worry is - if everything is unreal, then am I likely to NOT do necessary things because I can see that all is unreal? Two examples, not from my real life necessarily...
What if someone was in a subpar marriage, not a hell on earth, just subpar. And this person saw that their dissatisfaction with the marriage was entirely made of thought, a story they were telling themselves. It seems like this could lead to them never leaving the marriage and ending up with a subpar future life.
Or a person who had an ambition to do something big such as make a very successful business and live on some tropical paradise, but they saw that this ambition was merely made of thought, and so they never tried to make their ambition into reality and missed out on achieving an ambition that they could have achieved if they had tried.

I feel like the answer to my question is actually contained in your last message...
Life can become very simple. Do what is self-enhancing and also others-enhancing, and we don't need complicated laws and enforcement. By self, I cannot find a word to replace this with. Organism-enhancing I suppose, and other-organism-enhancing.
I suppose the question would be.... WHY do you want to have the successful business and live on the tropical island? Seems like there is surely a lot of selfing in this ambition.
But with the subpar marriage I feel like perhaps inaction in that area could be rationalised away using no-self as an excuse.
If it isn't possible to be NOT-GOOD-ENOUGH....what do we do with our time?
This is the billion dollar question for me now. I am slightly at a loose end the last few weeks and months because it seems to me now that SO MUCH of what I was doing with my time was, at base, about 'self'-enhancement and trying to make my'self' GOOD ENOUGH. Couple that with the COVID lockdown and the fact that I am working less because of it, and I have a lot of free time that I'm not sure what to do with. Don't get me wrong, I'm actually enjoying it! But I have a nagging discomfort with not knowing what I should be doing with my time moving forward.

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SeeEye
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Re: 'I' think 'I' know 'I' am an illusion... some help would be appreciated

Postby SeeEye » Mon Jul 20, 2020 3:52 pm

Hi,

Sharing my thoughts below. I've spent a lot of time in the psych/philosophy space before and after I had my "seeing", because that is what I am passionate about and do for a living.

This is interesting
"Who am I to be right when all of these 'successful', 'powerful', 'rich' etc people are so wrong?!"
This sounds one-down and "others-defining" to me. I would guess how you have looked at yourself could use an updating. Social rules and expectations are also able to be seen through as not real. In fact, good and bad, right and wrong are constructs. Neitzsche's question to "take and belief system and find out who it benefits" is very appropriate. Even at philosophical extremes, I'm not worrying about harming other people because they don't have a self because I have no need or desire to poke at other organisms. If I were forced to defend my wife in my own home, and used a firearm...I would not believe in the "guns are bad" or "I have a violent, angry and hateful disposition" because I own some. Politics is all about getting people to line up with an agenda through shaming. The point is, I am not motivated by the so-called ability for others to label me. I don't believe in labels nor their authority. Most of us grow up worrying about status and fitting in, so we have some work to do if we want to be free of that.

In terms of dropping preferences....you mention a subpar marriage for example. This is about an unpleasant relationship, probably in terms of how you are treated. The unpleasantness, while communicated through thought is also felt w/o thought. If I were to be outside all day in the cold rain, it would be unpleasant and I might get drained and sick, get blisters from wearing wet shoes. The organism itself is organism-enhancing, but calling this "bad" is self-labeling. There is a tradeoff in relationships, so watching the movie my wife is interested instead of my pick is something that makes her happy - part of the normal give and take. If I was not romantically happy, she was shitty to me, that is a much different problem. I don't "owe" her to stay in the marriage beyond reasonable expectations no matter what anyone else thinks, and no matter what my programming around that issue was either. If the marriage example, you are making the point that because of no-self the person would stay and be unhappy out of either duty or opinion of others. If one has no-self, one can be truly self-defining and stop editing themselves based on the wishes of others. Not a license to be an A hole or psychopath, but you might be called some names for being "selfish"...which only means you dared to put your needs first, which was Lucifer's sin as well.

I like a nice glass or 4 of red wine. I like some more than others. This has not changed one iota. Thinking I'm a "connoisseur" or BIG WHEEL because of this is thought and not real. A somellier who can discern different grapes and regions around the world is a fact. My taste in music hasn't changed, but telling people the Ramones are better than Dave Matthews isn't important any more.

Ambition....being outstanding and skilled, adding value to others is both self and others-enhancing. How much money and paradise that brings is yet to be seen. NOT doing this....who does this really serve? Critical mommy who said "Do you think you are better than me now?"

Yes, most people are completely asleep to no-self, as well as the opportunity to make themselves and their lives into a work of art, self in tow or not. So I give them no authority over my life.

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Re: 'I' think 'I' know 'I' am an illusion... some help would be appreciated

Postby StephenG » Fri Jul 24, 2020 4:12 pm

Hi Cal

Thanks for your last message, it was very thought-provoking and helpful. I really appreciate this conversation.
This sounds one-down and "others-defining" to me.
I'm a little confused about these words. Just to clarify...
Does "one-down" mean "putting myself down"? And does "others-defining" mean "believing I can define what other people are like", or does it mean "letting other people define me"?
I would guess how you have looked at yourself could use an updating.
It seems there are two ways to go about this.
I could think about, list, and focus on my positive aspects; the good I've done in the world, the joy I've brought to other people, my talents/strengths/achievements, the people I respect who like and love me, etc. (This approach which I've read about in self-esteem books seems essentially to be 'selfing' and trying to convince my 'self' that my 'self' is good enough.)
Or I could see that how I look at myself is all THOUGHT and not real. It's made of stories and concepts that do not match up with reality. Concentrate on seeing that the 'self' IS NOT REAL TO BEGIN WITH and therefore neither are the negative stories.
Would you recommend doing both or just concentrating on the latter 'no-self' approach?

In the rest of your message you talked a lot about... 'good', 'bad', 'right', 'wrong' being constructs, many commonly held beliefs and much of politics being essentially a means of people grabbing power and making others do what they want them to do, societal pressure, programming, misplaced sense of duty, giving authority to others.

This lead to me examining an aspect of my self-referential thinking that consistently causes me suffering; guilt.

For several years I have felt chronic guilt over my lifestyle in a certain area. That area is sexual relationships. I have decided that I do not want children or sexual exclusivity. I do not want to be sexually exclusive and I do not expect or want anybody to give me their sexual exclusivity. I am very open and honest about this with all relevant people and so I find people for whom this arrangement is perfectly fine and I form win/win, self- and other- (according to everything they've ever told me) enhancing sexual, friend, lover relationships. Everything is entirely open, honest, consensual, and above board. And yet I feel chronically guilty about it and have done for about a decade. To the extent that these significant others tease me lightheartedly about my 'Catholic guilt' or in some cases get exasperated with me for checking are they "sure" they are OK with this one too many times. This painful guilt has been very dominant in my mental world for a long time now. It has been time and energy consuming and it has lead to me not enjoying my relationships or being as enjoyable company as I would otherwise be in several instances.

But I've been digging into this from a no-self perspective, and a realization has occurred...

'Guilt' is not real. 'Guilt' is a label for a collection of thoughts and emotions. This collection of thoughts and emotions is NOT 'guilt' - 'guilt' is a label I use to describe the collection (it is probably the case that this collection I label 'guilt' is very different to other collections of thoughts and emotions that other people also label 'guilt'.) 'Guilt' is a vague label.

By labeling the collection of thoughts and emotions 'guilt' I am making it into a THING, a noun - I am giving it power... "oh no, here comes the GUILT again!". Labeling this collection of thoughts and emotions gives it more power than it deserves or needs to be given. Labeling it almost has the effect of marketing it - giving it a catchy and memorable title that makes it easier to remember, identify with, pay attention to.

It makes it more likely to come again and again. But guilt is itself ONLY A STORY. There is a story that appears in awareness that goes "I always feel guilty and I can't get rid of it". But this story is merely a thought construct - a conceptual layer or lens through which reality is seen but that does not touch or equal reality itself at all. But this story of 'My Guilt' is a story that appears in awareness and tends to be identified with strongly and given a lot of attention.

"I feel guilty" is NOT TRUE. There is no 'I', and 'guilty' is a label. Both 'I' and 'guilty' are concepts that do not correspond to anything that exists in reality. The story "I feel guilty etc" is NOT real (or even true the vast majority of the time), but I live as if it is true.

It is always NOW. THIS right NOW is all that really exists. The story of 'my guilt' exists entirely in thought and has no existence in reality. It points to a vague collection of thoughts and emotions that arise in 'my' brain and body. This 'guilt' arises in my brain only and has no existence outside my brain, and WOULD NOT BE AGREED TO BE WARRANTED BY ANYBODY CONNECTED TO THE (guilt-provoking) SITUATION. NONE of the people involved or that I have ever talked about this situation to believe that any guilt is reasonable or warranted. (I also believe, rationally, that the guilt is not warranted - and this makes its continued existence MORE frustrating!)

The guilt is entirely made of my own thoughts. These thoughts occur HABITUALLY (the guilt thoughts are there anyway and get connected to whatever girl(s) happen to be in my life at the time). I (the organism) must have learned this collection of thoughts and emotions at some time in the past and now they just keep on running, popping up ON AUTOPILOT (handily and memorably labelled 'Guilt'). And because it is a habitually generated story made of unchosen, uncontrollable thoughts (that are NOT what I am), it just keeps reappearing and I keep identifying with it by directing attention to it and therefore fueling the story with attention.

There is no guilt. Right now this moment - no guilt. But there is a story that says "I am a person that suffers from irrational guilt that I can't get rid of". And this story keeps itself alive, it fuels itself, and stirs-up, again and again, this collection of thoughts and emotions labelled 'Guilt'. Therefore the guilt story feeds itself!

This 'guilt' is farted out by the brain and awareness gives huge amounts of attention to it. BUT the reality is that I am not these thoughts - they arrive unbidden, unchosen, uncontrollable, habitually in awareness and the 'self' IDENTIFIES with them.

Identifying with the thoughts and emotions and seeing them as highly meaningful and a part of ME, and trying to fix them, seems to give them more power. This approach could help me and others dis-identify with all sorts of painful, chronic, irrational emotions.

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SeeEye
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Re: 'I' think 'I' know 'I' am an illusion... some help would be appreciated

Postby SeeEye » Tue Jul 28, 2020 3:01 pm

What I meant by others-defining is that you let other people define your worth. We have a trade-off in being accepted by others and being our own person. If I were to insist on farting a lot, this may make my social circle smaller. I think we can participate in social give-and-take for the most part with no side effects.

When others need us to be/act/behave in a certain way based on their beliefs and thoughts, this can cause us to not be in integrity with ourselves and/or cause us to edit ourselves. In the case with your sexual preferences, you have been very clear, honest and up front with people. You check in because you care about them and would rather not have lots of hurt feelings and drama at some point. After this, they are in charge of their own lives and decisions and the outcomes. If you need to check in 11 times, then you are protecting yourself from some future scrutiny because they were hoping that your rules would change in their direction because they secretly crossed their fingers? I don't think you owe anyone that, and in fact, you could create a learning moment for them. It's like holding onto a stock that is going down, thinking it can't go any lower. Pretty soon 90% of your money is gone. It's a horrible investing strategy.

My late teacher said that guilt means "I owe". I love this. What do you owe and to whom? This will shed a lot of light on the areas you might be agreeing to other people's concepts and definintions of what is "good" right" "expected" "respectable". I seek to have all contracts "on the table" so others know I won't be manipulated.

Some things we can measure, some we cannot. Language can organize words in a way that implies values or even existence. I found it very helpful in life to look at presuppositions in language. Some sentences and questions lose all meaning because they are based on too many presupposisions. Example: How many balls can a purple alien elephant with 4 arms juggle? This is obvious. Reincarnation is not as obvious. In terms of past lives, if there is no self, what would come back? All you could have is memories. People believe in this shit though, and can get angry if you oppose this. Politics is great. You can use fascist brown-shirt tactics and label your group anti-fascist and nobody will ever question it. It is the ultimate "man behind the curtain" (Wizzard of Oz) play.

The person who controls the labels controls the people...unless you are hip to the game.

BTW, there are some final questions moderators like to ask people who have seen. Are you up for that?

We can continue this conversation through email if you like, send me a PM.


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