advaita vedanta lead me to solipsism - please help!

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Vivien
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Re: advaita vedanta lead me to solipsism - please help!

Postby Vivien » Mon Oct 05, 2020 9:06 am

Hi Robbie,

I've just seen that you haven't replied to my last post. Before giving you more exercises, please look into those, they might help.

Vivien
The most profound discoveries arise from questioning the obvious.

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

Blog: https://fadingveiling.com/

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robbiemac
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Re: advaita vedanta lead me to solipsism - please help!

Postby robbiemac » Tue Oct 06, 2020 7:13 am

What is it exactly that is thinking the internal monologue?
I cannot find what is thinking the internal monologue. It just happens. Sometimes I am lured into its ‘show’. Occasionally, I laugh at the absurdity of it as it just rolls on.
Here now, where is the one that is thinking the internal monologue?
What is it that reacts and responds to the question? I don’t know. How is the answer being processed? I don’t know. I have always believed that there must be a someone doing this. The internal monologue follows patterns right? Where do these patterns come from? Conditioning, I suppose. Perhaps, I am rambling. But this is just the internal monologue as it happens. Where is the one that is thinking it? It is not really ‘thought’ (verb) as such. More it is just thoughts appearing in patterns.
The ‘voice in the head’ is the one thinking it?
No, the ‘voice in the head’ is just a string of thoughts. So perhaps it should no longer be referred to as ‘voice in the head’ because it is actually just a series of thoughts appearing. This a good realisation for me, thank you!
But is there actually an entity that sometimes thinks and sometimes observes?
I can be more sure of the absence of an entity that thinks. But what is it that observes thoughts? Or is the idea that there is any observing of thought just a thought too? Another layer of thought? I have never contemplated this and I will investigate it. Goodness... now everything seems as though it could be ‘rewritten’. Perhaps there are only thoughts. Even thoughts about thoughts and thoughts about being the observer of thoughts. Just layer upon layer of thoughts. I mean why not?!
Where is the owner in this very moment?


No one owns thoughts. Thoughts just are. For a short while I believed I could observe thoughts. Now I am beginning to wonder if this is just a thought too - the belief that I am able to observe thoughts. Do I choose when I ‘observe’ thoughts? I have believed so but now I am unsure. Where is the owner in this moment? There isn’t one.
Does the voice in the head own thoughts?
No, the voice in the head is thoughts. ‘Voice in the head’ points to an owner of thoughts but there isn’t one. There is just thoughts. So it seems to me anyway.
Do thoughts own thoughts?
No one owns thoughts. And thoughts aren’t the owner of anything/anyone. They have owned me for most of my life! But they just are.
Do bodily sensations own thoughts?
No. Could it be that bodily sensations are linked to thoughts though? A thought can prompt a sensation. But without the notion of an ‘I’ this must fall away I imagine. INTELLECTUAL I hear you say!! Nonetheless, I am interested...
Does the thought of I own thoughts?
No. It is just another thought.
Where is the owner? Is there at all?
There is no owner of the thoughts. They appear. To whom/what? To what is beginning to feel like no one until I contemplate the content of them. They are exclusive to each of us? I need to explore this some more please.

Is there an I thinking the thought “I am thinking”? Or the thought “I think” just appears automatically?

They are all thoughts. The notion of being the thinker is a thought.
So the words just come to YOU?
The words just come. But do they come to ME? This could be a thought too. Perhaps there are just words. For my life I have believed myself to be the speaker of these words and very recently I have come to wonder if I can observe the words as they appear. But now I’m beginning to wonder if the notion of an observer is just a thought too.
What is this YOU that thoughts come to?
Could it be the idea of an observer? Maybe they just come and go. Perhaps they don’t appear, as such. More like, they just are as they are. This is difficult to explain. And I’m not sure about this anyway.
Is there an actual I other than the thought ‘I’?
😂 This is what I am beginning to question. Is the observer of thoughts just a thought too. Probably. It’s a strange contemplation because so many thoughts are self-referential. In fact, nearly all of them.

The idea of no ‘I’ is there but I certainly can’t see it clearly at all. I suppose it becomes clearer as and when it’s supposed to?!!

RM

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Vivien
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Re: advaita vedanta lead me to solipsism - please help!

Postby Vivien » Tue Oct 06, 2020 8:27 am

Hi Robbie,
No, the ‘voice in the head’ is just a string of thoughts. So perhaps it should no longer be referred to as ‘voice in the head’ because it is actually just a series of thoughts appearing. This a good realisation for me, thank you!
Great! :)
No one owns thoughts. Thoughts just are. For a short while I believed I could observe thoughts. Now I am beginning to wonder if this is just a thought too - the belief that I am able to observe thoughts. Do I choose when I ‘observe’ thoughts? I have believed so but now I am unsure. Where is the owner in this moment? There isn’t one.
Thoughts definitely can be observed. Actually this is the key to see through the doer, thinker.
Thoughts can be observed, or saying it differently, the presence of at thought is known or aware-d.

But the question is: is there someone observing thoughts (an observer) or is there only observing happening on its own?
No. Could it be that bodily sensations are linked to thoughts though? A thought can prompt a sensation. But without the notion of an ‘I’ this must fall away I imagine. INTELLECTUAL I hear you say!! Nonetheless, I am interested...
:) Yes, this is intellectualization for sure. Let me answer with questions instead.

Do thoughts know about sensations? Is there any thought that actually knows sensations?
And do sensations know about thoughts? Is there any sensation that knows thoughts?

A thought can prompt a sensation
This is the everyday belief. It’s based on the notion of cause and effect.

There could be a thought, followed by a sensation. So one thing follows the other. This is all that we can actually notice.
But thoughts jump in quickly trying to make sense of this mystery called life, and asserts the idea of cause and effect. One even causes the other.

But in reality, there are no separate events. It’s one movement, without division.

But thought artificially divides the whole into part, thus creating the illusion of separation, and then making claims about cause and effect.

And of course, cause and effect can be useful concepts in everyday life, but nevertheless they are just concepts.
Actually it’s an attempt to create safety for the fictional me, by asserting I know how things are.

But this process is about investigating these assertions and be open to not knowing.

So just look closely, can you OBSERVE an actual link between an thought and a sensation?
Is there an actual link between them? Or it’s just assumed to be there by thoughts?

There is no owner of the thoughts. They appear. To whom/what? To what is beginning to feel like no one until I contemplate the content of them. They are exclusive to each of us? I need to explore this some more please.
Saying that thoughts are exclusive to each of us is coming from thinking.
If you don’t think about it, what is left of this assumption?

You can only ever investigate your experience. But even that is not correct to say, since there is no you having an experience. There is only experience and the knowing of it. But knowing is not separate from experience itself. Knowing is inherent in experience. We will look into this deeply, later. But first, we have to deal with the notion of control.

Saying that others might have different experiences is conceptual. And speculative. This could be an interesting topic in a philosophy class though :)
The words just come. But do they come to ME? This could be a thought too. Perhaps there are just words. For my life I have believed myself to be the speaker of these words and very recently I have come to wonder if I can observe the words as they appear. But now I’m beginning to wonder if the notion of an observer is just a thought too.
The notion of an observer, yes. But not observing itself.
Observing is happening, but it’s not done by someone or something.

Since in order to be an observer, the observer has to be separate from, something other than what is being observed.
The idea of no ‘I’ is there but I certainly can’t see it clearly at all. I suppose it becomes clearer as and when it’s supposed to?!!
You can’t make grass grow faster by pulling on it :)

Here is an exercise for you. You did a similar one, but this time please do it longer.

It has three phases.

1. Set a timer, at least for 10 minutes.
Just sit and notice what is going on. As you look around, label and interpret everything without using the words of I/me/my. For example: there is a light breeze on the skin, thoughts comment on it by talking about an I, the fan is turning, there is a shadow on the wall, etc.

2. Set the timer again, for 5 minutes.
Do the same, but this time use the words of I/me/my freely.

3. Set the timer again for 10 minutes.
Do the same as in #1. Without the words of I/me/my.

While you are doing the exercises, notice the followings:

What is the difference between the two types of interpretation?
What happens in the body? Is there a difference in feeling?
Which option feels truer? Which one feels closer to truth / reality?


Vivien
The most profound discoveries arise from questioning the obvious.

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

Blog: https://fadingveiling.com/

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Re: advaita vedanta lead me to solipsism - please help!

Postby robbiemac » Thu Oct 08, 2020 2:24 pm

Hi Vivien,
But the question is: is there someone observing thoughts (an observer) or is there only observing happening on its own?
EveryTHING (including thoughts of course) is observed by this ‘unobservable’ which is unfindable. I grasp this conceptually more than I feel it at the moment. Although, it is coming. EveryTHING is observed from nowhere. I have always thought of myself as the seer, hearer, taster, toucher and smeller. But now all these processes have an observable quality to them too. They don’t really ‘report’ as such to anyone. And because of this, it is as if they operate with autonomy. They are observed, not by thought because that too is observed.
Do thoughts know about sensations? Is there any thought that actually knows sensations?
And do sensations know about thoughts? Is there any sensation that knows thoughts?
I am beginning to see thoughts as almost inanimate random objects. It makes sense to me that one object cannot know about another object. It just occurs to me that maybe there are only objects, no subjects. AnyTHING that is known cannot also know can it? I realise I am over thinking this... however, I am not sure how to investigate it. Intellectually, it seems right to assume that there is no relationship between the objects of thought and sensation. However, I am aware of some sensations that follow thoughts and some thoughts that follow sensations. They feel interrelated.
There could be a thought, followed by a sensation. So one thing follows the other. This is all that we can actually notice.
I don’t agree. The same sensation can repeatedly follow the same thought. Just as the same thought can follow the same sensation. It feels as though there is more to it than ‘So one thing follows another’.
Thoughts jump in quickly trying to make sense of this mystery called life, and asserts the idea of cause and effect. One even causes the other.

But in reality, there are no separate events. It’s one movement, without division.
This is interesting. At this point, I feel it to be very different. I feel as though everyTHING could actually be unrelated. The only consistent element to these THINGS is the observing of them and this is what ‘I’ am. ‘I’ am the ‘nothing’ observing everyTHING.

I am aware that I am contradicting myself. On the one hand, I feel that thought and sensation is related and on the other, I feel an increasing unrelatedness to all objects (of which thought and sensation are right?)
But thought artificially divides the whole into part, thus creating the illusion of separation, and then making claims about cause and effect.
Currently, I don’t see it this way. For me, there is just unrelated parts and I am the observing element observing them all from nowhere. I can agree that thought may be responsible for the idea of cause and effect because I don’t currently feel the interrelated flow of THINGS. I feel as though I am this observing of everything and therefore separate from it too.
And of course, cause and effect can be useful concepts in everyday life, but nevertheless they are just concepts.
Actually it’s an attempt to create safety for the fictional me, by asserting I know how things are.


Could it be that the only element to ‘I’ is this observing? There is a synergy in the world of random objects? Nothing is really controlled or known. There is only knowing and ‘I’ am this knowing. Object follows object. Sensation follows thought. This is observing cannot know what is coming or when. The only surety is ‘observing’.
But this process is about investigating these assertions and be open to not knowing.
If this means that there is no knowing what society assumes to know, then I agree. Nothing is known, as such. And there is no knower. There is only knowing? This is all we can be sure of.
So just look closely, can you OBSERVE an actual link between an thought and a sensation?
No. There is no link. I would say that the only link in thought and sensation is observing. But would it be fair to say this of all objects. There is just object followed by object. Only linked by observing. But this is totally contrary to how I have felt for many years so if this turns out to be true it will take some major adjustments.
Is there an actual link between them? Or it’s just assumed to be there by thoughts?
What might a link look like? It is true that sensation follows thought at times. But we are talking about two very different objects of ‘experience’. Previously, I might have considered them to be almost joined. Now, I am feeling like they could be almost unrelated objects in observing.
Saying that thoughts are exclusive to each of us is coming from thinking.
If you don’t think about it, what is left of this assumption?
Yes, this is understood. This assumption appears as thought which is an object in observing.

I am working on the exercise and will report back in the next day or so.

RM

🙏

RM

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Re: advaita vedanta lead me to solipsism - please help!

Postby Vivien » Fri Oct 09, 2020 5:08 am

Hi Robbie,

You’ve brought up several different topics, but it would be better if we could stick to the notion of control for a while. Later, we can come back to these. It’s better not to jump around, rather stick to one topic at a time, a dig deep.
I am working on the exercise and will report back in the next day or so.
All right. I don’t give any more exercise until you’ve finished with this one.

Have a nice day,
Vivien
The most profound discoveries arise from questioning the obvious.

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

Blog: https://fadingveiling.com/

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Re: advaita vedanta lead me to solipsism - please help!

Postby robbiemac » Sat Oct 10, 2020 7:41 am

Hi Vivien,

A super interesting exercise!
What is the difference between the two different types of interpretation?
The first is an impersonal noticing of things as they happen/flow. There is no inside and outside. Just everything happening from a shared ‘space’. The second labels everything. It is divisive. There are those things belonging to me and those that happen outside of me. It was funny to see how incomplete this process is. The labeling cannot keep pace with the thoughts and doing!
What happens in the body? Is there a difference in feeling?
Yes. In the first there really doesn’t feel like a body. There are elements of the body’s that are seen and felt. These are noticed. Occasionally there are thoughts to describe what is seen and felt. These too are noticed. So, there is not really a body as such. Feels spacious. Free.

In the second, I feel like I am the body (a superimposed thought I now know). I see how labeling I, me and mine creates the idea of a body but I sort of feel it. It’s constricting.
Which option feels truer? Which option feels closer to truth / reality?
The first is authentic. Effortless noticing of things as they happen. The labeling is a step away from experience. It’s a creative form of interpretation.

I have always believed in the idea that ‘perspective is reality’. But in true experience there is no perspective. Feels more like ‘true reality is without perspective’.

I loved doing this thank you!

My first reply got lost when sent so my replies here are slightly shorter than they were in my first draft. However, I hope this gives you an idea of how it went.

Thank you!

RM

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Re: advaita vedanta lead me to solipsism - please help!

Postby Vivien » Sat Oct 10, 2020 8:07 am

Hi Robbie,
The first is authentic. Effortless noticing of things as they happen. The labeling is a step away from experience. It’s a creative form of interpretation.
Yes, beautiful description :)

Now let’s go back to the notion of control.

Lie down onto a bed. Observer very carefully how the decision arises to get up.
Can a self be found making the body leave the bed?
Where does the "decision", the "command" to get up comes from?
What makes the body get up?
Is there an ‘I’ that commands the body?
When lying there, shout 'GET UP' internally as loudly as you can. Does that affect the outcome?


Repeat this with sitting in a chair. Describe in detail the decision of standing up.
How does the decision happen exactly?
Does a self come in and take over, weighing pros and cons, looking at possible consequences?
Or does standing up just happen, or not, without any doer?
What makes the body to stand up?


Now let’s investigate intention.
Sit in a chair and observe how the intention of standing up happens.
How is it known that there is an intention to stand up?
While sitting there, say internally several times ‘I intend to get up’. What happens?
What is it that made the intention to get up?


Now, zoom onto the intention (of getting up) very closely. Look at the intention itself directly.
Stare at the intention itself. Not the thoughts of “I intend to get up”, but THE intention itself.
Can you locate THE intention itself?
How the intention is actually experienced?


Vivien
The most profound discoveries arise from questioning the obvious.

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

Blog: https://fadingveiling.com/

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Re: advaita vedanta lead me to solipsism - please help!

Postby robbiemac » Sat Oct 10, 2020 8:23 am

Hi,

I believe I’m going to struggle with this like I did the hand one.

Do I just let the body get up and notice how it happens? Or am I trying to engage in the process of getting the body up?

RM

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Re: advaita vedanta lead me to solipsism - please help!

Postby Vivien » Sat Oct 10, 2020 8:27 am

It's OK if you struggle. That's the whole point. It's not enough to see that body gets up when there is no apparent intention to get up. You have to see that there is no control even when there are thoughts about control and intention.

So please give it a try :)
The most profound discoveries arise from questioning the obvious.

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

Blog: https://fadingveiling.com/

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Re: advaita vedanta lead me to solipsism - please help!

Postby robbiemac » Sun Oct 11, 2020 5:55 am

Hi Vivien!

Lie down onto a bed. Observer very carefully how the decision arises to get up.
Can a self be found making the body leave the bed?


Not as such. There are thoughts that come in the form of questions: shall I get up? shall I stay in bed? But they come and go like background noise but they don’t have any bearing on the body and whether or not it will move. It seems the body just moves when it moves.
Where does the "decision", the "command" to get up comes from?
It doesn’t. There can be thoughts relating to whether or not the body should move but there is no decision. It moves when it moves.
What makes the body get up?
Nothing.
Is there an ‘I’ that commands the body?


No. It just moves when it moves. The belief in an ‘I’ that commands the body is the retrospective story linking the thoughts that come before the body moves with the body moving.
When lying there, shout 'GET UP' internally as loudly as you can. Does that affect the outcome?
No!

Repeat this with sitting in a chair. Describe in detail the decision of standing up.
How does the decision happen exactly?
There isn’t really a decision. There are thoughts: I should get up. Then the body gets up. But I wouldn’t say that the thought is responsible for the decision. There is a gap between the thought and the getting up, or not getting up. They don’t really feel linked. The exact moment of getting up (or not) is not determined by the thought.
Does a self come in and take over, weighing pros and cons, looking at possible consequences?
Not a self. There are thoughts that come relating to the possibilities. Just thoughts.
Or does standing up just happen, or not, without any doer?
Just happens. Like I said in a previous post... It can feel like a flow of unrelated objects that just do what they do. Thought - getting up - thought etc etc.
What makes the body to stand up?
Nothing. Just does it.

Now let’s investigate intention.
Sit in a chair and observe how the intention of standing up happens.
The intention to stand up comes as a thought.
How is it known that there is an intention to stand up?
Recognition of the thought: I’ve got to get up. That is as deep as the intention is.
While sitting there, say internally several times ‘I intend to get up’. What happens?
Nothing. No movement. Just what is said.
What is it that made the intention to get up?
Nothing. It just comes as a thought.

Now, zoom onto the intention (of getting up) very closely. Look at the intention itself directly.
Stare at the intention itself. Not the thoughts of “I intend to get up”, but THE intention itself.
Can you locate THE intention itself?


I can’t find any intention substantiating the thought: I intend to get up.
How the intention is actually experienced?
I’m not sure it is. Perhaps, as thought but that only.

I’m going to investigate this in other walks of life. I’ve always assumed an inextricable link between thought and action. But as this exercise shows, I’m less certain. When we speak, I’d like to investigate this much more please.

RM

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Re: advaita vedanta lead me to solipsism - please help!

Postby Vivien » Sun Oct 11, 2020 6:06 am

Hi Robbie,

You did a very nice investigation :)
I’m going to investigate this in other walks of life. I’ve always assumed an inextricable link between thought and action. But as this exercise shows, I’m less certain. When we speak, I’d like to investigate this much more please.
Yes, we will look more into this. Until then, please investigate this with all sorts of activities during the day.

Vivien
The most profound discoveries arise from questioning the obvious.

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

Blog: https://fadingveiling.com/

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Re: advaita vedanta lead me to solipsism - please help!

Postby Vivien » Tue Oct 13, 2020 8:23 am

Hi Robbie,

Please spend as much time as you can in the midst of your daily life observing and noticing how the body moves, how it feels, what it does.

You can notice how the legs are moving as walking happens.

When walking, what do you do in order for the legs to move?
Are you making walking happen, or it just happens automatically and effortlessly?

When you sit down, or stand up, is this something you do, or something that is happening?


Notice all sorts of sensations in the body.

Are you making the sensations happen, or they are there, without anyone or anything making them to be?

When breathing happens, are you making it to happen, or it happens automatically without anyone making it happen?

When preparing food, or eating, washing your hands, typing, brushing your teeth, dressing up, are you making the hands move, or the hands just move by themselves?

Is there a central controller somewhere in the body, from where strings are pulled to lift the arms, and move the body? Or all of it just happening automatically?


Vivien
The most profound discoveries arise from questioning the obvious.

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

Blog: https://fadingveiling.com/

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robbiemac
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Re: advaita vedanta lead me to solipsism - please help!

Postby robbiemac » Wed Oct 14, 2020 4:06 pm

Morning...
When walking, what do you do in order for the legs to move?
Nothing. They just walk.
Are you making walking happen, or it just happens automatically and effortlessly?
Walking happens effortlessly. It seems as though there is a difference between the moments that I recognise the body in the midst of just doing what it does and... what feels like the decision to walk, or walk faster etc. I am trying to there is no controller in either case but whilst it is easy for the first it is difficult for the second.
When you sit down, or stand up, is this something you do, or something that is happening?
As above. Most of the time it just happens (I know you will tell me this is the case all the time!) and then sometimes it feels as though there is a decider that has commanded the body to sit.
Are you making the sensations happen, or they are there, without anyone or anything making them to be?
No sensations just happen and they are recongised when attention seems to go there.
When breathing happens, are you making it to happen, or it happens automatically without anyone making it happen?
No, it just happens. But then, there can be the thought 'breathe deeply' which may or may not be followed by a deeper breath. Again, it is difficult to shake the idea of a controller. Until my attention turns to breathing it just happens. Then when my attention fixes on breathing, I feel that I can influence the process.
When preparing food, or eating, washing your hands, typing, brushing your teeth, dressing up, are you making the hands move, or the hands just move by themselves?
The same theme again.
Is there a central controller somewhere in the body, from where strings are pulled to lift the arms, and move the body? Or all of it just happening automatically?
And again.

This is disappointing I know. But it is clearly a major challenge for me to see past the idea that there is simply nothing pulling the strings at all. I get that the vast majority of the time this is the case. But then there are occasions during which it seems there is a controller directing things. How to see past this? It is very frustrating!

The least 'self' I have felt was carrying out the exercise in which I had to omit I, me, my, mine etc. Just seeing everything as it unfolds seemed to take 'me' out of the picture. Just think it might be worth pointing this out.

Have a fun day!

RM

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Re: advaita vedanta lead me to solipsism - please help!

Postby robbiemac » Thu Oct 15, 2020 3:59 am

In fact, let me spend a bit longer with this before you reply please... 🤔

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Re: advaita vedanta lead me to solipsism - please help!

Postby Vivien » Thu Oct 15, 2020 4:09 am

OK :)
The most profound discoveries arise from questioning the obvious.

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

Blog: https://fadingveiling.com/


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