Halfway there?

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awakeningbk
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Halfway there?

Postby awakeningbk » Tue Jun 30, 2020 7:11 pm

LU is focused guiding for seeing there is no real, inherent 'self' - what do you understand by this?
What I understand so far is that "self" doesn't exist - that it's a story. After having read some of the forums here, and partly being through Gateless Gatecrashers and Liberation Unleashed, it's become clear that all these stories "I" had been erecting are just sandcastles. Peace followed. And yet, there are still some gaps in my understanding.

What are you looking for at LU?
I'm looking to address some of the gaps in my understanding. I feel that there is still a ways to go - for example, reading about Lakshmi's awakening in Liberation Unleashed (p. 88): when Ilona asked "(1) Can a thought identify with body? (2) What is it that identifies with the body?", my own answers to those questions were, respectively: (1) Yes, thoughts identify with the body, (2) Thoughts, nothing else. I clearly am not seeing it, because Lakshmi answered differently and had a revelation.

Yet - I am certain that no "self" exists. I have sat with this concept after reading, and truly tried to look for myself. All I can find are a stream of thoughts (one after the other), physical sensations, emotions, and an underlying awareness. That's all. This revelation alone generated a profound sense of peace for the past 3 days, in which my anxiety disorder has seemingly disappeared, and there is a profound closeness to everything. Peace, lightness, gentleness, and an inability to take things personally has arisen. Though this was not was I was necessarily seeking, it's been a welcome side-effect.

Yet - "I" still sense some gaps. To use the term "sensing is happening" as opposed to "I sense" feels strange and inaccurate. I still automatically identify with my experience, with the shadow of my old story, but with simple looking it can dissolve. The notion of the inter-connectedness of all things is not solid - there is still a sense of separation, though it feels flimsy.

I am hoping to address these gaps, or see if I am understanding fully or accurately.

What do you expect from a guided conversation?
I am hoping to have a targeted means of addressing the gaps described above. I am continuing to work my way through the books, read the forum, etc, but it seems I need something a bit more targeted, if I'm lucky enough to be able to proceed.

What is your experience in terms of spiritual practices, seeking and inquiry?
I started meditating with I was 19 after having a conversation with a Vipassana monk, joined meditation groups here and there, but nothing stuck. Dove into Zen for a while in my 20s, though I was an inconsistent student.
About 4 months ago, read Jed McKenna for the first time, and he turned my world upside down. Had a small break in which I spent 3 days in a bizarre state, hard to describe: I stayed in bed the first day just staring at the ceiling, the second I went walking around and was amazed by the effortlessness of the endeavor, also amazed by the sound of speech that came out of me when I spoke. Everything was mind-blowing. For lack of a better term, it felt like the boundary between me and everything else fully dissolved, with both good and bad effects on my experience. On one hand, it was impossible to take anything too seriously, and old things that would have made me upset or hurt me, I was totally immune to. On the other hand, it was deeply disconcerting and rather frightening. I had nothing to relate to, and felt so completely on a different plane from my partner, everyone else, that I felt extremely scared. Where was this leading? Have I lost my mind?
It was too much. I pulled myself out of that state by trying to focus on getting back to all the things "I" identify with, and succeeded after a couple of days.

Reality settled back in, and I set Jed on the back-burner for a little bit (ok.... I hid the damn book under my bed), and I tried to "live" and not focus on the whole thing. I reasoned that I needed some time to have perspective, get back into the groove of life (in retrospect, it's more accurate to say I had to dive back into the world of "me"), and then look at it from a different angle.
The positive parts of the experience still knocked around in my head, and I realized I wanted to try again and see what all that was about. It felt like there was something honest there, everything else felt sort of like a lie afterwards, and maybe if I could have the guts to stick through it, I could learn some things.
I don't expect (nor want!!!!) my experience with LU to be on that level. It was unpleasant and really scary. But I do want to get closer to the truth - simple as that.

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: Halfway there?

Postby Vivien » Thu Jul 02, 2020 11:35 am

Hi,

Welcome to Liberation Unleashed. My name is Vivien and I'd be happy to assist you in your inquiry.

This is going to be 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. We can have a conversation and see where it takes you.
The purpose of which would be for there to be a realisation, more than just intellectually, that there never was and never will be a separate self, as, such. All our efforts will focus on that.

I will tend to ask many questions. That's my job here. These, will be pointers towards no self. It will be for you to examine your experience to find out what's true or not.

I would like to ask you to write only from your experience as you see it, what feels true, with whole honesty.
And also post daily
. If you cannot post, or need more time, please let me know.
Can we agree on these?

Could you please tell me what are you really looking for? How would your life change if you find that?
What are you hoping for to change?
What do you hope that should happen?
Do you have an image in mind how seeing through the self-illusion would be like or feel like?


Vivien
The most profound discoveries arise from questioning the obvious.

Website: https://www.viviennovak.com/

Blog: https://fadingveiling.com/

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awakeningbk
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Re: Halfway there?

Postby awakeningbk » Thu Jul 02, 2020 5:01 pm

Hi Vivien,

Thank you so much for offering your time and energy. I know you have a life outside this, and I really can’t express my gratitude for what you and the folks here are trying to do.

I’ll try to answer as honestly as I can, and really focus on each answer. I will also post daily, or be in contact if I am unable to. We are in agreement.

Could you please tell me what are you really looking for? How would your life change if you find that?
I am looking to understand more deeply the lack of boundary between “self” (one? Body? Individual consciousness?) and other, I think.

I have read other accounts of Ilona and Elena helping individuals to see that there is “one life”, and on the surface this rings true, but in my core I don’t quite believe it.
I suppose I’m not sure how my life would change after I understand the interconnectedness of things. I don’t expect glorious emotions, problems being solved, or even necessarily a Big Bang of revelation. These things are nice, but I understood before undertaking this that they might not be part of the process, that it all might be very simple and mundane. I am ok with whatever.
What I am not hoping for, is to have another awful experience like the one I had detailed above after reading Jed - but in my bones I don’t feel concerned about that.

I think it just sounds true to me, this notion of one moving life, and yet - I can’t believe it, either.
While I know without question that “I” is a story constructed by a series of thoughts, “I” still feel so separate from everything - from birds, sky, desk, other humans… Even reading that these things are just “labels” - my thought process goes “yes, but there is still a boundary between the desk my body is sitting at and the hand resting on it”. The physicality of everything, my “bag of bones" so to speak, feels like a separate operating being in this world.

What are you hoping for to change?
I think I am not hoping to change anything - but rather delve into this a bit more and see if I am understanding fully, or if I am missing anything. It feels important to having a full understanding of no-self, but I could be wrong about that, in which case I hope to be corrected.

What do you hope that should happen?
I am hoping to understand, or if I already do, to know that I am understanding fully, or that I am not missing anything. In my heart though, there is a nagging doubt and sense that something is not clicking fully. But perhaps that is misguided - I am open to whatever.

Do you have an image in mind how seeing through the self-illusion would be like or feel like?[/color]

Vivien
I have worked to make sure that I don’t.
My anxiety disorder disappearing once I had the revelation of no-self was a joyous, welcome thing - but it was a side-effect of realizing something that was glaringly obvious, and thus a natural progression. Surprisingly no big deal.

Nothing might be different, or everything might be different - how can I know? Maybe I already get it, and just need confirmation that I am seeing fully (even though the feeling can’t be shaken that I don’t get it fully). Or maybe I will understand and be disconcerted or let down. Anything is possible, so I am open to these things.
As I said above, I don’t expect my problems to be solved or to be free of the grips of the ego. I am not looking for permanent serenity. I am dubious that that is possible.

I think the most direct expectation I have, is that I want to see what this is all about. If I get it, I get it… If I don’t, my curiosity is driving me.
I want truth.

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Vivien
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Re: Halfway there?

Postby Vivien » Fri Jul 03, 2020 5:04 am

Hi awakeningbk,

What name do you want me to call you?
Thank you so much for offering your time and energy. I know you have a life outside this, and I really can’t express my gratitude for what you and the folks here are trying to do.
You are welcome :)
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. Expectations result in comparison. Comparison between what is happening, and the imagined expectation. Thus what has been seen can be thrown out or ignored, since it doesn’t match the expected outcome.
I have read other accounts of Ilona and Elena helping individuals to see that there is “one life”, and on the surface this rings true, but in my core I don’t quite believe it.
It’s important that don’t rely on anything you’ve read from others, even if it’s a guiding done here in LU. Why? First, it’s different for everyone. Also, saying that there is one life, is just an attempt to try to describe it in words. And no word can describe it, since all words are just conceptual. ‘One life’ is not something to take literally. It’s just an attempt to trying to describe the indescribable. If you take it too seriously, then you could create a conceptual expectation to see everything and everyone as being one life. So you would be after an imagination, and you would compare your own experience with this imagined fantasy with the conclusion, what I’m experiencing is not it.

Please, put all the books and videos aside (including other threads), we are going to be focusing on what you see, rather than what you have learned. Can we agree on this?
What I am not hoping for, is to have another awful experience like the one I had detailed above after reading Jed - but in my bones I don’t feel concerned about that.
On the other hand, it was deeply disconcerting and rather frightening. I had nothing to relate to, and felt so completely on a different plane from my partner, everyone else, that I felt extremely scared. Where was this leading? Have I lost my mind?
Let’s see what happened here. For a while the illusion of separation wasn’t fabricated. However, the belief in the self was still active, and it was interpreted thought this belief. As long as the self is believed to be real, these states could be frightening. Whenever there is a fear, there is a belief in a self who is afraid, who is on a different plane form everybody else, who might have lost its mind, etc.
I think it just sounds true to me, this notion of one moving life, and yet - I can’t believe it, either.
The notion of ‘one moving life’ is just an analogy, it’s not something to take literally. It’s just a pointer.
Even reading that these things are just “labels” - my thought process goes “yes, but there is still a boundary between the desk my body is sitting at and the hand resting on it”
.
This is WILL go on. Non-separation is often very misunderstood. It’s NOT about not seeing a distinction between the body and the table and the hand rest. You could be a really big trouble if these distinctions would suddenly disappear. How could you know where is mouth that needs to be fed? How would you know how to walk around the table and not bump into it? This is an unrealistic and impossible expectation.

But there is no point for me trying to explain what no separation is, since that would just create another assumption. It cannot know in advance how it will be. Why? Because all expectations come on behalf of a separate self, who is always in a search for peace, happiness, lack of fear and suffering. We simply cannot imagine it, since we cannot step outside form the separate self’s perspective. We can only imagine within the dream of me. The illusionary me is simply unable to imagine how it would be if it were discovered to be just a fictional character, and not a reality. It can only imagine what it wants for itself.
I think I am not hoping to change anything - but rather delve into this a bit more and see if I am understanding fully, or if I am missing anything. It feels important to having a full understanding of no-self, but I could be wrong about that, in which case I hope to be corrected.
No, you don’t have to understand it. Understanding is the OPPOSITE of SEEING it experientially. Understanding can happen only intellectually, which has not much value in actually seeing it experientially. Understanding it just could lead to a belief. We can only believe in what we understand. It’s about an experiential recognition of there being no separate self and it’s not about understanding it or believing it.
I am hoping to understand, or if I already do, to know that I am understanding fully, or that I am not missing anything. In my heart though, there is a nagging doubt and sense that something is not clicking fully. But perhaps that is misguided - I am open to whatever.
Wanting to understanding it is indeed misguided. You can understand that the Earth is round and moving around the Sun. But this understanding is just a belief, since you are NOT experiencing it to be round, and moving around the Sun. So understanding is not sufficient.
My anxiety disorder disappearing once I had the revelation of no-self was a joyous, welcome thing - but it was a side-effect of realizing something that was glaringly obvious, and thus a natural progression. Surprisingly no big deal.
Are you saying that you’ve seen experientially that there is no self and there has never been, and this is a currently lived experience?
Nothing might be different, or everything might be different - how can I know? Maybe I already get it, and just need confirmation that I am seeing fully (even though the feeling can’t be shaken that I don’t get it fully).
So what is missing, apart from the imagined dissolution of the distinction between the body and the table?

Is there a FEELING that I am inside the body and the world is out there?
And I am looking out the eyes, like through two windows?

As you go about your everyday life, how does the self/I/me show up?

Vivien
The most profound discoveries arise from questioning the obvious.

Website: https://www.viviennovak.com/

Blog: https://fadingveiling.com/

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awakeningbk
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Re: Halfway there?

Postby awakeningbk » Sat Jul 04, 2020 3:03 am

Hi Vivien,

Awakeningbk is perfectly fine :)

Thank you so much! This makes a lot of sense. I can see now that I had indeed been harboring some form of expectation, but without realizing it. Tricky stuff (or I wasn’t looking properly… I’ll try to rectify that).
Also, saying that there is one life, is just an attempt to try to describe it in words. And no word can describe it, since all words are just conceptual. ‘One life’ is not something to take literally. It’s just an attempt to trying to describe the indescribable. If you take it too seriously, then you could create a conceptual expectation to see everything and everyone as being one life. So you would be after an imagination, and you would compare your own experience with this imagined fantasy with the conclusion, what I’m experiencing is not it.
This is really helpful, thank you. I really, really tend to get caught up in my head, and it makes sense that this is a pitfall I would fall into.
To not conceptualize feels difficult, like this tool I have heavily relied upon my whole life must be laid down. I will give it my best effort, no matter how weird it feels. I also suspect that I will fall into this trap unknowingly a couple times - but I will try my hardest not to.

Please, put all the books and videos aside (including other threads), we are going to be focusing on what you see, rather than what you have learned. Can we agree on this?
Yes, I agree.
It’s surprisingly difficult for me to do, but I trust you, respect your time, and I agree.
Let’s see what happened here. For a while the illusion of separation wasn’t fabricated. However, the belief in the self was still active, and it was interpreted thought this belief. As long as the self is believed to be real, these states could be frightening. Whenever there is a fear, there is a belief in a self who is afraid, who is on a different plane form everybody else, who might have lost its mind, etc.
This is a helpful lens, thank you. I’ve been confused about the experience for a while, and didn’t quite understand what had happened. This feels true, and real.
It’s NOT about not seeing a distinction between the body and the table and the hand rest. You could be a really big trouble if these distinctions would suddenly disappear. How could you know where is mouth that needs to be fed? How would you know how to walk around the table and not bump into it? This is an unrealistic and impossible expectation.
Ha! Yes yes yes that makes sense! Duh. It’s funny and a relief to hear, and my initial idea sounds silly when you put it like that.
all expectations come on behalf of a separate self, who is always in a search for peace, happiness, lack of fear and suffering. We simply cannot imagine it, since we cannot step outside form the separate self’s perspective. We can only imagine within the dream of me. The illusionary me is simply unable to imagine how it would be if it were discovered to be just a fictional character, and not a reality. It can only imagine what it wants for itself.
….you don’t have to understand it. Understanding is the OPPOSITE of SEEING it experientially. Understanding can happen only intellectually, which has not much value in actually seeing it experientially. Understanding it just could lead to a belief. We can only believe in what we understand. It’s about an experiential recognition of there being no separate self and it’s not about understanding it or believing it.
Thank you - I will think about this at length.
Are you saying that you’ve seen experientially that there is no self and there has never been, and this is a currently lived experience?
What I’ve seen experientially is that, at the heart of it, there is nothing there but a stream of thoughts, one after the other, physical sensations, emotions, and a sense of presence underlying - all composing “me”. I have been unable to find anything other than these things - no defined “person” at the heart of it, no nexus. Just thoughts, thoughts about thoughts, emotions arising from those thoughts, etc.

Many “stories” about myself fell away with this realization - the labels and concepts that I was trying to fulfill. They were all shown, irrefutably, to be non-existent.
I think my anxiety disorder has been lessened, and I was filled with a pervasive sense of peace for a couple days, because old stories specifically about my work that have made my life hell for a decade just popped like the bubble they were (that peace has since disappeared, however). I saw they were made up. I have been lucky to be successful in a creative career where very few people find success, but I’ve had to white-knuckle my way to this place, working constantly and living with a monster in my head that told me “I” was never good enough, what I made was never good enough, xyz success was never enough.
When I realized the makeup of “me”, that monster, I realized - never existed at all! Oh - peace!

But is it a currently lived experience? That specific monster story has not come back, which is an enormous relief.

But - other stories, fears, clinging, freak-outs have resulted too. “What about my community?”, “Will I lose the bond with my partner?”, “What does realizing this mean?”

And recently, I’ve been finding the self (or is it ego?) popping up constantly and attaching itself to quite literally anything within reach. Earlier, with simple looking it would dissolve, but recently it’s been more persistent, despite focusing on what is, what is real and right in front of me. I feel like I’ve come back to earth, that my ego is in meltdown and revolting.

Is this too much information? If I am giving too much story, let me know. I am not sure if this is valuable to you at this point, or if its unnecessary fluff.

Is there a FEELING that I am inside the body and the world is out there?
Yes - resoundingly that is my lived experience. The world is out there, my consciousness is inside "me”. There is no story of “me” when I look closely, but consciousness itself feels very much in my body.
And I am looking out the eyes, like through two windows?
Yes, exactly! I feel like I am looking out two windows at the world. This is my experience.
As you go about your everyday life, how does the self/I/me show up?
There’s been an underlying feeling of terror the past 3 days, clinging, “you can’t handle this”, “you stand to lose everything”, “what will become of your community, your relationship to your partner”, “how will you relate to your family anymore”.

The past 3 days have been a little overwhelming emotionally with all the questions above, about my community, family, what will happen if I let this go, etc. I cried yesterday, which felt like it came out of absolutely nowhere at first.

In my crying, there was a strange mixture of emotions. There was a profound relief of being freed from the monster that made my work so scary and every day made me feel inadequate - but there was also an utter terror to release other things. There was a clinging to my husband.

It all sounds so melodramatic. But it’s the truth... And that seems to be where “I” am showing up with full force, desperately clinging.

Layered on top of all this is a constant analysis of my thoughts, the refrain that they are merely “stories” and that my conception of “me” is an illusion. It doesn’t really help all that much right now though.

I took time to be gentle with myself tonight, tried to focus on things I enjoy, drew some pictures of plants, tried to talk to friends. I managed to just give my mind a rest, but these things, this sense of instability, remains.

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Vivien
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Re: Halfway there?

Postby Vivien » Sat Jul 04, 2020 3:46 am

Hi awakeningbk,
I took time to be gentle with myself tonight, tried to focus on things I enjoy, drew some pictures of plants, tried to talk to friends. I managed to just give my mind a rest, but these things, this sense of instability, remains.
Of course. These emotional reactions are not just because there is a belief in a self, but also because there are psychological wounds inside, and every time they are touched, the corresponding emotions/reactions arise.
And these won’t go away just because the self is seen through. These need further work to gradually deal with them.

So let’s start the inquiry.

From now on approach each of my questions, as pointers.
And look with them one-by-one.
Be careful NOT to THINK about the answers, but rather look what is here now, in this very moment, in experience.

The basics of looking is this: you can tell me what is behind your back in two ways
1. You can think about it, remember and tell me from thinking.
2. You can turn around, see it and describe.

So in this investigation I ask you to look at and describe what you experience and not what you think, remember or imagine.
Can you see the difference?

I feel like I’ve come back to earth, that my ego is in meltdown and revolting.
You say, that you have an ego? And this ego having a meltdown and revolting? Are you sure about this? Is this what experience show, here now in this very moment?

What is this ego in this very moment as you observe it?
Is it an entity, alive and kicking?
If not, what is it?

Look for this ego. Where is it?
Does an ego exist in reality?

Is there actually something or someone LITERALLY in meltdown and revolting?

Or there are only THOUGHTS ABOUT an ego, only THOUGHTS ABOUT a meltdown, and only THOUGHTS ABOUT revolting?


Be very careful not to theorize, speculate, philosophize, analyse, make conclusion or imagine.
Rather look here now, in this very moment. Look at experience directly BEFORE any thought interpretation.

Vivien
The most profound discoveries arise from questioning the obvious.

Website: https://www.viviennovak.com/

Blog: https://fadingveiling.com/

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awakeningbk
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Re: Halfway there?

Postby awakeningbk » Sun Jul 05, 2020 1:20 am

You say, that you have an ego? And this ego having a meltdown and revolting? Are you sure about this? Is this what experience show, here now in this very moment?

What is this ego in this very moment as you observe it?
Is it an entity, alive and kicking?
If not, what is it?
Well - admittedly I was using “ego” as shorthand, because my previous reply was excessively long and I didn’t want to waste your time with a breakdown of what I meant by that term. As far as I have seen it over the years, and particularly now revisiting it’s contours as you asked me to (looking, not remembering), yes, I do see an “ego” working away frequently, but it’s not so much an individual component or something that can be anthropomorphized - I don’t feel it’s a “thing” separate from thought, so to speak.

My experience, from watching it, is that it is more an urge - sort of like a muscle, underlying the direction of thought. It’s all thoughts, but I’m referencing thoughts that sort of “bend” in a certain way, with a certain tension. Thoughts tinged with an underlying, very specific, powerful urge - to separate/categorize from what I’ve been able to tell thus far. Revisiting it now, paying attention to it now, there is an undercurrent of fear (or protection?) to that bend, as well.

Look for this ego. Where is it?
Does an ego exist in reality?
The bend of thoughts sure seems to, and referring to that bend or direction as “ego” is what is meant. But as an individual component or computer chip humming away in my mind? Nope.

Is there actually something or someone LITERALLY in meltdown and revolting?
No no - nothing actual literal. But nonetheless, I do feel that the “urge” itself has been far more uncontrollable. But as stated above, it is not different from thought, but just stating the direction of thought - from what I’ve been able to tell thus far.

Or there are only THOUGHTS ABOUT an ego, only THOUGHTS ABOUT a meltdown, and only THOUGHTS ABOUT revolting?
There have been many thoughts of frustration that my thoughts “bend” in a certain way, and there have been thoughts that label that excessive bending “a revolt”. As I mentioned above, ego is objectively and unequivocally “part of” thought, a component of it, or a “behavior” of thought - for lack of a better word

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Vivien
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Re: Halfway there?

Postby Vivien » Sun Jul 05, 2020 4:04 am

Hi awakeningbk,

Our inquiry is about to distinguish between thoughts (imagination) and experience (reality).
And seeing this clearly is essential.

Since we humans are constantly conceptualizing, interpreting, judging and categorizing everything we encounter, and thus a thick thought-based conceptual overlay is covering and thus distorting our experience. And we do this so often, all the time, that at some point we believe that this conceptual overlay is actually a reality. We are looking through pink tinted glasses, without even recognizing it.

So when you talk about ego, it’s the same.
Ego is a concept. A man-made thought fabrication.
It’s not something that is objectively exists in reality.
Can you see this?

Can you literally experience an ego? Can you see it? Can you touch it? Can you smell it? Taste it? Does it have a size? Color? Shape? Texture?

Can an ego ever be experience, or it can only be THOUGHT OF, and IMAGINED?


What you wrote about this ego, is an intellectual interpretation about it.
You defined a concept with more concepts.

Which is OK in everyday life, but in this injury has no value.
Since we what we are trying to do is to look UNDER or BEHIND this intellectual overlay, and SEE what is ACTUALLY THERE.
What is really happening, and NOT what we THINK is happening.

Do you see the difference?

Please look around in the room where you are, and investigate…

What is the difference between EXPERIENCING your surroundings, and THINKING about it?
What is the difference between experience and thinking/imagining?


Now, close your eyes, and just think of the room.
After a while stop thinking of the room, and rather imagine the room.

And what is the difference between thinking and imagining?


Vivien
The most profound discoveries arise from questioning the obvious.

Website: https://www.viviennovak.com/

Blog: https://fadingveiling.com/

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awakeningbk
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Re: Halfway there?

Postby awakeningbk » Sun Jul 05, 2020 5:22 pm

So when you talk about ego, it’s the same.
Ego is a concept. A man-made thought fabrication.
It’s not something that is objectively exists in reality.
Can you see this?
I can see that ego is something that does not exist in reality, is not tangible - yes.

Can you literally experience an ego? Can you see it? Can you touch it? Can you smell it? Taste it? Does it have a size? Color? Shape? Texture?
No - there is nothing tangible there.
Can an ego ever be experience, or it can only be THOUGHT OF, and IMAGINED?
There are emotional side effects of thoughts that go certain directions - “ego” thoughts go one way, “angry” thoughts go another way, “happy” thoughts another way.... I am not sure. It feels to me, from trying to look, that there is an experiential component, sometimes physical in the manifestation of elevated heart rate... From what I can tell, to say that “egoic thoughts” can only cause imagined experiences rings untrue? In the same way that “angry thoughts” only cause imagined experiences rings untrue?

What you wrote about this ego, is an intellectual interpretation about it.
You defined a concept with more concepts.
Perhaps this is where I am tripped up - I was and am genuinely trying very hard not to speak about an intellectualization of the ego, because I know that’s not how you want me to tackle this... I’m trying to sit with it and see something else there, but is it really an intellectualization to say that the ego is just thought that moves in a certain way? Like a desiring thought, or a sad thought? Or is “sadness” “desiring” “content” applied to thought just a concept? Should I merely being looking at the content of the thought and try to divorce it completely from the physical or emotional reaction it causes? But it doesn’t feel conceptual - there is an experiential element that feels very real..

Thoughts are what they are - or are you saying that looking closely at thought and noticing it’s emotional effects is an intellectualization? I am confused, but I want to understand. Maybe I am looking at thoughts as a whole wrong?
Which is OK in everyday life, but in this injury has no value.
Since we what we are trying to do is to look UNDER or BEHIND this intellectual overlay, and SEE what is ACTUALLY THERE.
I mean - in this case it’s all just thoughts. Is that what you mean? Just to put it under that heading and disregard the things listed above?

What is really happening, and NOT what we THINK is happening.
Do you see the difference?
I believe so..... I mean, I’m trying hard to really look closely, to not get tangled, but I feel like I’m missing it.
Please look around in the room where you are, and investigate…
What is the difference between EXPERIENCING your surroundings, and THINKING about it?
What is the difference between experience and thinking/imagining?
I am trying, I promise I am.

The difference between experience and thinking is immediate and obvious. It’s trying to describe a litany of details about the pillow across the room from me, versus quickly glancing at the pillow. With the first, it’s a garbled mess of details in which I try to describe the shadows, way the pattern falls, general shape, colors, etc - a mess of intellectual details.

Looking at the pillow, it’s just a clear cut picture, it just is.

It’s much more immediate.
Now, close your eyes, and just think of the room.
After a while stop thinking of the room, and rather imagine the room.

And what is the difference between thinking and imagining?
Well - from what I could tell in doing the exercise... At first they were both the same (this exercise might also be difficult for me, because I have a perfect photographic memory).

At first, I read your instruction “close your eyes and think of the room” and I felt the space around me, felt the space between objects, and saw the room in my minds eye. Then, when you instructed me to “imagine” the room, I started to construct it in a very detailed manner in my minds eye. Frames, pots, the way the light is hitting the plants, positioning of couch pillows, etc. I should say - I can see the room quite clearly in my minds eye, but there’s a continuous “construction” going on - like my thoughts are building up the little details wherever I am putting focus. In terms of seeing clearly, it’s like a fuzzy photo of just one area versus actually inhabiting the room.

Perhaps the difference was thinking had space for the sensory aspect, imagining was all about constructing an internal image?

I should also say, I struggle a lot with images. I have an issue where I can see, in perfect clarity, images and scenarios happening all the time (often terrible ones, caused by anxiety). I get caught up in images, all day long, and I have been noted as extremely gifted visually (it sounds annoying or egotistical, but it’s very true. I have a visual ability that has brought me some minor fame and international recognition), so I interpret the world heavily that way and it even comprises my work. I don’t know if this is useful information - just that it might make it harder for me to break through using this tool. I am happy to keep trying though.

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Re: Halfway there?

Postby Vivien » Mon Jul 06, 2020 4:42 am

Hi awakeningbk,
Thoughts are what they are - or are you saying that looking closely at thought and noticing it’s emotional effects is an intellectualization? I am confused, but I want to understand. Maybe I am looking at thoughts as a whole wrong?
OK. Let’s look at what is experience.

Experience = color, sound, taste, smell, sensation + thought as an arising phenomenon (but not the content, what the thought is about is not experienced only imagined)
Everything else is thought / imagination.

So with your example there are two things are present:

Thought + emotion (which is a felt sensation)
So there is an experience of noticing the presence of a thought + a felt emotion. This all there is that is happening in experience.

But then you conceptualize and categorize thoughts according what kind of emotion (sensation) is following a particular thought. But this categorization or labelling is utterly conceptual. Meaning, it’s just more thinking.

Imagine, that you are a little child, who doesn’t know language yet, and has no intellectual knowledge about anything.

So what is there for this little child? What is there for a baby?
There are only colors, sounds, shapes, sensations, tastes, smells…

Does the body make conclusion what caused what?
Does the baby categorizes his/her experience and putting labels on them, like ego, or anger, or whatever?
Or for the baby there is only what is. Only the raw experience. Can you see this?


What is there for a baby, that is what we call experience.

As soon as the baby starts learning language, a new virtual reality of emerges… the virtual reality of concepts / thoughts.

Categorizing thoughts according what emotions follows them is totally conceptual, happens only thinking, and NEVER IN REALITY.
Can you see this?

Perhaps the difference was thinking had space for the sensory aspect, imagining was all about constructing an internal image?
In reality, there is no difference between thinking and imagining.
Since both of them are just imaginations.

In the case of thinking, it’s an imagined sound. The imagine sounds of words = verbal / auditory thoughts.
In the case of imagination, it’s imagined pictures. We can say that imagination = visual / pictorial thoughts.
Can you see this?


Both of them are just thoughts. Both of them are just imagined.
And none of them exists in reality.
Can you see this?


Please be very careful not just agree or disagree with me intellectually (by thinking), but actually check in your immediate experience if these comments are true.

Vivien
The most profound discoveries arise from questioning the obvious.

Website: https://www.viviennovak.com/

Blog: https://fadingveiling.com/

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Re: Halfway there?

Postby awakeningbk » Mon Jul 06, 2020 4:09 pm

OK. Let’s look at what is experience.
Experience = color, sound, taste, smell, sensation + thought as an arising phenomenon (but not the content, what the thought is about is not experienced only imagined)
Everything else is thought / imagination.
So with your example there are two things are present:
Thought + emotion (which is a felt sensation)
So there is an experience of noticing the presence of a thought + a felt emotion. This all there is that is happening in experience.
But then you conceptualize and categorize thoughts according what kind of emotion (sensation) is following a particular thought. But this categorization or labelling is utterly conceptual. Meaning, it’s just more thinking.
Thank you again for your patience with me through this process, your above reply makes a lot of sense.

Ok. So I am with you for the most part. I agree that experience is just these components. All I’ve been able to find are our 5 senses + thought + emotion. Unequivocally, this is the truth, and my personal lived experience.

But I have a sticking point. Right now, I am tired. In support of what you’re saying above, from my observations there is my sensation of tiredness, and then there are thoughts about that tiredness (“not enough sleep last night, you need to get to bed earlier, hope you can get enough work done today, this sensation is unpleasant” etc.) I can see that there is a sensation of “tired”, and then a rush to label that sensation in a million different ways, to erect storylines around it, etc. I can see that these storylines and labels are not tangible, actual things in reality, right this moment. They are thoughts.
But - Does this mean these storylines are invalid, or truly non-existent? The reality is that I didn’t get enough sleep last night. I acknowledge this is labeling and creating a narrative outside of the present moment - but are you saying it's “imagined”? That it's “conceptual” that my lack of sleep led to being tired today?
Or maybe, are you saying that it may or may not be “real", but it’s not useful for the sake of this specific inquiry?

Or are you saying that anything outside of right now, this moment where I am sitting in my chair - doesn’t exist? But what about cause and effect? The reality is I didn’t sleep well last night, and while that’s technically a “story”, it did happen, and it is affecting current lived experience with very real sensations of fatigue.

I guess I just need to know if you’re saying that cause and effect is real or not - that a past experience affecting present experience is not “imagined"

Sorry if this is off topic - it feels really relevant, but I’m not sure.
Imagine, that you are a little child, who doesn’t know language yet, and has no intellectual knowledge about anything.
So what is there for this little child? What is there for a baby?
There are only colors, sounds, shapes, sensations, tastes, smells…
Does the body make conclusion what caused what?
The body does not reason that x caused y - thoughts and thinking do.
Does the baby categorizes his/her experience and putting labels on them, like ego, or anger, or whatever?
Or for the baby there is only what is. Only the raw experience. Can you see this?
No, a baby does not categorize experience and label it. The baby just “is”. That makes total sense, and I can see that personally. It’s the difference between my pure feeling of tiredness, the experience of the slowness of movement, slight headache, slowness of thought - and all that narrative surrounding it.
What is there for a baby, that is what we call experience.
I can see that, agree with it, etc
As soon as the baby starts learning language, a new virtual reality of emerges… the virtual reality of concepts / thoughts.
But I guess this goes up to the other point again - does that mean that my knowledge of lack of sleep last night leading to fatigue is virtual reality? Or maybe, are you saying - it could be true, but it’s outside of current experience and therefore irrelevant to right now?
Categorizing thoughts according what emotions follows them is totally conceptual, happens only thinking, and NEVER IN REALITY.
Can you see this?
I can see this. All these thoughts - they are not part of the physical sensations, they are not part of this external world, they don’t actually exist. I totally can see that and agree with it 100%.

But I also want to make sure I understand what you’re not saying, because maybe I am getting tripped up in that. You might chide me for intellectualizing again, but this is a bugaboo that’s really getting in my way it seems…

Categorizations occur between similar emotions. I am tired now, but I label the experience “tired” because I have experienced this sensation in a similar way before. Perhaps it wasn’t the exact same “tiredness”, but the experiences themselves are more similar to each other than other experiences in life, and thus the shorthand of label such as tired/happy/sad/etc. It seems clear that each of these individual experiences of these emotions are different - no two “happy” experiences will be exactly the same - but the experience of them is similar enough to warrant the label and categories for shorthand.

You’re not arguing that these concepts are meaningless, right? It seems to me that you’re arguing that they are just made up - that they might be useful, but at their foundation they are just arbitrary boundaries we made up? Is that accurate? I am not sure that rings true with my lived experience, but I would be happy to have that broken down if this is a crucial part of the inquiry.
In reality, there is no difference between thinking and imagining.
Since both of them are just imaginations.
In the case of thinking, it’s an imagined sound. The imagine sounds of words = verbal / auditory thoughts.
In the case of imagination, it’s imagined pictures. We can say that imagination = visual / pictorial thoughts.
Can you see this?
Both of them are just thoughts. Both of them are just imagined.
And none of them exists in reality.
Can you see this?
Yes - I can totally see this. I can see that these things are totally in my head. The only trip up is the one listed above, where I go back to the question of noting cause and effect, two concrete things in reality, but in time as well.


Thank you for sitting with me through these challenges.

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Re: Halfway there?

Postby Vivien » Tue Jul 07, 2020 5:41 am

Hi awakeningbk,
You’re not arguing that these concepts are meaningless, right? It seems to me that you’re arguing that they are just made up - that they might be useful, but at their foundation they are just arbitrary boundaries we made up? Is that accurate?
Yes, exactly. I’m not saying that concepts are useless or meaningless, they are very useful tools in our everyday life. But concepts are not real existing things. I mean they are not actual reality. They are only symbols, substitutes to reality.

Like the word ‘chair’ is a symbolic representation of the actual thing you can sit on.

But can you sit on the thought of ‘chair’? Or can you sit on of the mental image of a chair?
Really try it, do your best… sit onto the thought ‘chair’. Can you do that? Why not?


Now do everything you can to TASTE the thought ‘sweet’. Not imagining sweetness, but actually tasting the thought itself. Can you do that?

And now FEEL the thought ‘warm’. Not imagining warmness, but actually feeling the thought itself. Is it possible? Why not?
Can the thought ‘fragrant scent’ be smelled?

Can the thought ‘beautiful sunset’ be seen?
Can the thought of ‘loud noise’ be heard?
Can the thought of ‘walking on a beach’ make your feet wet and sandy?

If you say no, then why not?


This might seem very simple and clear, and yet, this simplicity is often overlooked.

Can anything be experienced other than with the 5 senses? Is there any other option?

-

All words are symbols. All symbols are conceptual. They are not reality.
Reality is what actually is, regardless of the absence or the presence of any symbol / word.
Reality is what is still exists after we stopped thinking about it.

If it rains and I stop thinking about the rain, the rain won’t disappear.
If I look at a cloud, but I don’t label it as ‘cloud’, the thing on the sky won’t vanish.

But if I stop thinking about the weather, then what is left? What is left is the experience of wind, and rain and clouds, but no weather. Can you see this?
No, a baby does not categorize experience and label it. The baby just “is”. That makes total sense, and I can see that personally. It’s the difference between my pure feeling of tiredness, the experience of the slowness of movement, slight headache, slowness of thought - and all that narrative surrounding it.
This is the answer to your question.

I intentionally don’t want to answer to your question. Why? Since if I reply you can have another intellectual understanding, another gathered information. Another thing to believe in. We are already full of information, knowledge, understanding, beliefs….

This inquiry is not about having another one… it’s about questioning the ones you already have.
So I don’t want to teach you anything.
Since that would just add more intellectual knowledge, more beliefs. You already have too many :)

Rather let’s investigate the ones you already have… to see them experientially if they can stand up to the scrutiny of experience.

Vivien
The most profound discoveries arise from questioning the obvious.

Website: https://www.viviennovak.com/

Blog: https://fadingveiling.com/

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Re: Halfway there?

Postby Vivien » Tue Jul 07, 2020 5:43 am

Hi awakeningbk,
You’re not arguing that these concepts are meaningless, right? It seems to me that you’re arguing that they are just made up - that they might be useful, but at their foundation they are just arbitrary boundaries we made up? Is that accurate?
Yes, exactly. I’m not saying that concepts are useless or meaningless, they are very useful tools in our everyday life. But concepts are not real existing things. I mean they are not actual reality. They are only symbols, substitutes to reality.

Like the word ‘chair’ is a symbolic representation of the actual thing you can sit on.

But can you sit on the thought of ‘chair’? Or can you sit on of the mental image of a chair?
Really try it, do your best… sit onto the thought ‘chair’. Can you do that? Why not?


Now do everything you can to TASTE the thought ‘sweet’. Not imagining sweetness, but actually tasting the thought itself. Can you do that?

And now FEEL the thought ‘warm’. Not imagining warmness, but actually feeling the thought itself. Is it possible? Why not?
Can the thought ‘fragrant scent’ be smelled?

Can the thought ‘beautiful sunset’ be seen?
Can the thought of ‘loud noise’ be heard?
Can the thought of ‘walking on a beach’ make your feet wet and sandy?

If you say no, then why not?


This might seem very simple and clear, and yet, this simplicity is often overlooked.

Can anything be experienced other than with the 5 senses? Is there any other option?

-

All words are symbols. All symbols are conceptual. They are not reality.
Reality is what actually is, regardless of the absence or the presence of any symbol / word.
Reality is what is still exists after we stopped thinking about it.

If it rains and I stop thinking about the rain, the rain won’t disappear.
If I look at a cloud, but I don’t label it as ‘cloud’, the thing on the sky won’t vanish.

But if I stop thinking about the weather, then what is left? What is left is the experience of wind, and rain and clouds, but no weather. Can you see this?
No, a baby does not categorize experience and label it. The baby just “is”. That makes total sense, and I can see that personally. It’s the difference between my pure feeling of tiredness, the experience of the slowness of movement, slight headache, slowness of thought - and all that narrative surrounding it.
This is the answer to your question.

I intentionally don’t want to answer to your question. Why? Since if I reply you can have another intellectual understanding, another gathered information. Another thing to believe in. We are already full of information, knowledge, understanding, beliefs….

This inquiry is not about having another one… it’s about questioning the ones you already have.
So I don’t want to teach you anything.
Since that would just add more intellectual knowledge, more beliefs. You already have too many :)

Rather let’s investigate the ones you already have… to see them experientially if they can stand up to the scrutiny of experience.

Vivien
The most profound discoveries arise from questioning the obvious.

Website: https://www.viviennovak.com/

Blog: https://fadingveiling.com/

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awakeningbk
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Re: Halfway there?

Postby awakeningbk » Wed Jul 08, 2020 1:59 am

This is a lot to think about! Is it ok if I take another day to think before replying?

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Vivien
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Re: Halfway there?

Postby Vivien » Wed Jul 08, 2020 3:31 am

Yes, that's ok, but don't think! If you just think about it, then you would just understand it intellectually, which won't help.

You really have to put aside thinking, and focus on your immediate experience instead.

Vivien
The most profound discoveries arise from questioning the obvious.

Website: https://www.viviennovak.com/

Blog: https://fadingveiling.com/


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