Seeking help getting to the exit door

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Bluejay
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Re: Seeking help getting to the exit door

Postby Bluejay » Wed May 01, 2024 1:41 pm

Hi Darrell,

The reason I wrote what I wrote is to point you back to simply looking.

You are often going into explanation and intellectualization of what is going on. You can of course use memory to conjure up the sense of self, but from there you need to look at what this supposed sense of self is.

If 'it' is making decisions, how is it doing that? Or if it is 'here', what is actually here?

If attention is moving, and there is a sense of self, then find out what it is doing and look for evidence of that.

So you don't have to look in the moment it happens, but find out what the assumption is, such as feeling like you are making decisions, then explore that.

Hope this helps! :)

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Re: Seeking help getting to the exit door

Postby Darrell » Thu May 02, 2024 11:30 pm

Really? *SIGH* Okay. I didn't realize I was doing that.
You are often going into explanation and intellectualization of what is going on. You can of course use memory to conjure up the sense of self, but from there you need to look at what this supposed sense of self is.

Give me an example, I need to be able to recognize it. While we're at it, what does it look like when I am using the process/method you're asking me to practice?

I do think there might be some misunderstanding, although I may well be mistaken. When I'm recalling something that just happened a second ago, this is a problem? It was only a split second ago, so it can be recalled clearly. If I restrict myself to those instances when I am able to remember to look in the very moment, that's fewer opportunities to try to investigate.
If 'it' is making decisions, how is it doing that? Or if it is 'here', what is actually here?

If attention is moving, and there is a sense of self, then find out what it is doing and look for evidence of that.

So you don't have to look in the moment it happens, but find out what the assumption is, such as feeling like you are making decisions, then explore that.

When I look, it's clear there's not anything making a decision, there's not anyone doing anything, and I always find there's nothing here, I just need to remember to stay with that. Looking for the assumption about what is there, what is doing things, what is here sounds like something different. I think I understand what you're suggesting. But I am looking and I keep finding nothing. The only thing I can think to include is to, as you asked me to, stay with the nothing that I find when I look.

Case in point - I'm watching and seeing when there's a sense of 'someone' here, and find it's once again just attention on the body and mental activity creating a sense of someone here. But find out what it is doing and look for evidence? How does that happen when the illusion is immediately broken when I look and see it's just attention on the body and mind?

So find out what the assumption is. Assumption meaning who is assumed to be here, who/what is assumed to be doing anything, making decisions, doing the thinking, etc. In others words, if it seems someone appears to be here doing things, look for the assumptions around that?

Sorry if I'm doing it again. I'm really just trying to make sure I know what you are suggesting I do and not do. I'm not really clear headed. I'm only just now finally getting over sixteen days of covid, and this variant has been a doozy. It's taken a real toll on the ability to process/think. I just need to know I understand what I'm doing here, and how to get out of this conceptualization and explaining.

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Re: Seeking help getting to the exit door

Postby Bluejay » Fri May 03, 2024 11:38 am

Hi Darrell,
I do think there might be some misunderstanding, although I may well be mistaken. When I'm recalling something that just happened a second ago, this is a problem? It was only a split second ago, so it can be recalled clearly. If I restrict myself to those instances when I am able to remember to look in the very moment, that's fewer opportunities to try to investigate.
The recalling is not a problem.

Whatever helps you bring up the sense of self is fine. But once the sense is there, you want to explore it directly.
Give me an example, I need to be able to recognize it. While we're at it, what does it look like when I am using the process/method you're asking me to practice?
Here's one...

I asked: "When you say that it is construed as someone, how exactly did you discover that?"

You answered: "As I said above, I think it was construed as such, probably unconsciously when I was a young kid. It was assumed as such, and has become habitual over the years. It doesn't actual make it someone, it obviously isn't. I'm pretty sure this isn't new, it has been going on, attention being construed as self that is, for many, many years. To consider it as something that is fairly new just doesn't feel right."

This is an explanation.

Instead, try to watch how the self is construed and describe what is happening.

If you feel like you don't have time or don't remember to do the inquiry, you could set a timer for 8 minutes and record an audio while exploring.

You can then PM me a link to the audio or post it here. That way you don't have to spend extra time writing everything down.
Sorry if I'm doing it again. I'm really just trying to make sure I know what you are suggesting I do and not do. I'm not really clear headed. I'm only just now finally getting over sixteen days of covid, and this variant has been a doozy. It's taken a real toll on the ability to process/think. I just need to know I understand what I'm doing here, and how to get out of this conceptualization and explaining.
Keep things super simple.

If I ask you what the weather is like there, you go outside and look. Then you describe what you see. That's it.

Similarly, if I ask you what is moving attention, you close your eyes, and when attention moves, you stay with the assumed sense of self that is claiming to move attention. Stay with the sense as attention moves.

If you only find sensations, stay with those. When attention moves again, keep looking.
But I am looking and I keep finding nothing. The only thing I can think to include is to, as you asked me to, stay with the nothing that I find when I look.
Yes, this is what's called the holding pattern.

Here is a quote from Kevin's website:
If you look for a “self”, a reason to react, a subject or other “something” you ostensibly have, you will never, ever find it. That, of course, is the whole intent of inquiry, although just because you didn’t find what you were looking for doesn’t mean that the belief is actually gone. It is rather like going back to the same place several times looking for your keys - just because you didn’t find it the first few times doesn’t mean you are clear that they aren’t there!

During any step of inquiry, what I call a “holding pattern” can arise, where you have looked and looked from every angle, and yet the belief which underlies the fetter has not disappeared. It can be confusing, frustrating, and even disheartening, and you might wonder at some point if you will ever “get it”. It may be that since you know you will never find what you are searching for, there can be a tendency to more or less give up, perhaps because it starts to seem pointless to look for something you know you’ll never find. Or, doubts such as “this is a fetter I cannot break” may arise, perhaps because of past conditioning around your ability or worth.

If you find yourself in an extended holding pattern, it may make sense to take a break of a few hours, a few days or even a few weeks. If you are working in one particular way, or with a particular person, a change in how or with whom you are doing the inquiry may be helpful. Also, the fetters approach, and the method of direct pointing, is not for everyone, and it may be that some other approach will be more suitable. The good news is that, even if you don’t fully “break” a given fetter, the fact that you searched but could not find what you thought must surely exist will in all likelihood stay with you: it’s not something you can fully “unsee”. As a result, at some point the belief in a “self”, a “subject” or other illusion may more readily fall away.
I'll stop here to not make this response overly long. Hopefully this answered some questions :)

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Re: Seeking help getting to the exit door

Postby Darrell » Sun May 05, 2024 8:00 pm

Just so you know, lack of time isn't an issue. I'm doing the inquiry many times a day, with various circumstances pop up. Some days I remember to more than others, but I see this as a practice and skill to be cultivated. Just like how developing strong sati takes a long time for most, I don't expect it to happen over and over each day, right off the bat. I'm not even really considering that. I'm just making an effort to get better at it right now, here, today. If you would feel better about my recording and posting some in addition to, let me know.

So if I'm describing a moment of inquiry that happened previously, how do I avoid explaining? When you ask me these questions about how to do inquiry, should I be doing the inquiry you're describing, right then and there after I've read whatever you've asked me to do?

I don't mind writing things down. In fact, I think once I can do this precisely as you're suggesting/asking, it will probably prove helpful.

What you posted from Kevin's site is curious. It is similar to something from a Facebook post Christiane Michelberger posted recently, regarding what she calls the four stages of the first fetter. In some ways they agree, in other ways they don't. That's neither here nor there for me, just interesting to note.

All I'm concerned with or interested in at this point in time is to completely get away from "describing" things to you, and to do this the way that will be most beneficial, and without thinking, describing, etc.

If you could, give me another example of what this would look like. Take one of the suggestions for how to go about doing inquiry, and then write out what that would look like when I responded to inquiry question you've used for the example. I think I know what *not* to do, but don't feel as sure about what *to* do.

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Re: Seeking help getting to the exit door

Postby Bluejay » Mon May 06, 2024 5:14 pm

Let's start with a clean slate.

So, descriptions are not a problem as long as you are describing what you are seeing. For example, if you go outside and tell me the weather, you say: "The sun is out, there is grass, and trees."

No explanation in that, just a description of what is seen.

Let's try some more concrete questions. Maybe these will help.

The next time you're thinking about what to eat, find the exact moment when the decision is made.

Which parties are involved in making the decision?

Just describe the parties.

You can ignore any commenting thoughts.

Cheers :)

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Re: Seeking help getting to the exit door

Postby Darrell » Tue May 07, 2024 8:53 pm

Your timing is highly coincidental, this is something I've been doing recently, looking for the active agent, the one making decisions.

What has been found?

Short answer: Nothing/no one.

More specifically: attention 'here', bodily sense, seeing, thought.

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Re: Seeking help getting to the exit door

Postby Bluejay » Thu May 09, 2024 12:26 pm

Oh, that's interesting :)

Even though nothing can be found that makes the decision, does it still feel like there is somebody deciding?

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Re: Seeking help getting to the exit door

Postby Darrell » Sun May 12, 2024 7:03 pm

I've got to be careful here, as there's a strong intention to not fall into explaining.

In general, not really. That sounds somewhat vague, but then so is the feeling or sense of it.

When paying attention, watching so-called decisions happen in the moment no, it doesn't feel like there is.

When not paying attention, just operating in the usual sort of habitual way, it sometimes seems to feel that way. But not to the degree it once did. That feeling of a very solid and deep sense of someone deciding to do something isn't there, but it's also impossible to recall what that actually felt like. So there's some degree of assumption.

It seems like there's a habit or a lingering belief that someone is deciding to do things. It seems like it's head knowledge that is slowly being more deeply taken in. Sort of like how using first person pronouns is felt to be untrue, but it still happens out of habit (and because it's difficult to communicate without them). It's obviously true there's no one making decisions, but it isn't deeply felt, either.

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Re: Seeking help getting to the exit door

Postby Bluejay » Tue May 14, 2024 7:53 am

No need to worry about using words like I/me. Just speak normally. When the self-illusion falls away, using I/me won't grab you. Also, not using them won't make the self-illusion go away.
It seems like there's a habit or a lingering belief that someone is deciding to do things. It seems like it's head knowledge that is slowly being more deeply taken in. Sort of like how using first person pronouns is felt to be untrue, but it still happens out of habit (and because it's difficult to communicate without them). It's obviously true there's no one making decisions, but it isn't deeply felt, either.
This can become more subtle and vague as you inquire more, but it's important to stay focused on what is left, however vague or small it may be.

When you say that it feels like someone is deciding, can you elaborate?

Try to describe experientially what is there.

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Re: Seeking help getting to the exit door

Postby Darrell » Tue May 14, 2024 11:08 pm

There's not any worry or concern, it's just a peculiar contradiction, or so it seems to be. I see what you mean though, as trying to avoid using those words seems to point to a worry or concern. The feeling comes and goes. It was really persistent the other day after experiencing some sort of shift (yet again).

It seems to pretty subtle and vague already! Watching things happen (aka making decisions) is becoming tricky. Although a few hours ago I caught that elusive/evasive bugger referred to a week or so ago. Got a pretty good look, and it confirmed what's already been said about it. Bodily sense/extremely subtle mental pictures/attention turned inward, and it creates a very believable sense of "me" or "I". The sense of things happening with no one actually making a decision seems less clear than it did a few weeks ago. I need to remember to write this stuff in the journal I started for this last fall. Might help to have a record. Maybe.
When you say that it feels like someone is deciding, can you elaborate?
In the moment, something is done, there's an idea, an assumption of someone doing something. Then upon looking into it, nothing is found other than just some sort of mental activity that implies someone making a decision. It's really hard to talk about. That was a bit of a struggle just to write without going down some sort of rabbit hole of language. Truth is, it's not entirely clear to me yet, although sometimes it sure feels like it is. In that moment it just seems like a thought, a belief, nothing more.

Thing is, there's *never* actually a decision. There's a thought "Need to close that door" then an impulse and a move to close the door. There's never a moment where a decision actually takes place, let alone someone who would even make the decision. There's seeing, hearing, thought, feeling, mental images, mental talk, but not anything that can be pointed to that is someone. I mean, what would a someone be?

When you say it becomes more subtle and vague, what does that tend to look like?

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Re: Seeking help getting to the exit door

Postby Bluejay » Wed May 15, 2024 7:52 pm

In the moment, something is done, there's an idea, an assumption of someone doing something. Then upon looking into it, nothing is found other than just some sort of mental activity that implies someone making a decision. It's really hard to talk about. That was a bit of a struggle just to write without going down some sort of rabbit hole of language. Truth is, it's not entirely clear to me yet, although sometimes it sure feels like it is. In that moment it just seems like a thought, a belief, nothing more.
When you say there's 'some' sort of mental activity. What exactly is there? Is it a sensation, image, sound? If so, what image, what sound, what sensation?

To beat a dead horse here with the weather analogy, if I ask you what the weather is like outside, what you wrote above would be akin to saying: There's some sort of light, color, and temperature. Do you see how this is still on an abstract/thought level?

Try the below exercise to help you hone in on the sense:

1. Hold a hand in front of you; palm turned down.

2. Now turn the palm up. And down...and up and so on.

Watch like a hawk.

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

- How is the movement controlled?

- Does a thought control it?

- Can a ‘controller’ of any description be located?

- How is the decision made to turn the hand over? Track any decision point when a thought or self MADE THE DECISION to turn the hand over and the hand turns over immediately.

- Who or what​ ​chose which hand - the left or right hand for the exercise?

- Can you find a separate individual or anything that is choosing when to turn the palm up or down?


Remember, I'm not looking for what it seems to be, could be, or might be. I'm interested in hearing what you see, feel, and hear.

If you feel a sense of someone doing something, hone in on that and look at what exactly is going on. Don't dismiss it and don't immediately stop there.

Cheerio :)

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Re: Seeking help getting to the exit door

Postby Darrell » Mon May 20, 2024 2:05 am

When you say there's 'some' sort of mental activity. What exactly is there? Is it a sensation, image, sound? If so, what image, what sound, what sensation?

To beat a dead horse here with the weather analogy, if I ask you what the weather is like outside, what you wrote above would be akin to saying: There's some sort of light, color, and temperature. Do you see how this is still on an abstract/thought level?
I phrased it that way because it is variable. Sometimes it is visual field, bodily sensations and mental pictures (aka Shinzen Young's 'See In'). The answer to your question is in a general way, as it covers a range of experience over a period of time. I'm really not sure how to use the weather analogy in that case. Best I can think to do is this.
When you say that it feels like someone is deciding, can you elaborate?
When it feels like a decision is being made, there's a range of sensations, including but not always vision, hearing, bodily sense/sensation, mental talk, mental images, and mental activity that is difficult to describe, it seems like muffled mental talk, but it might be both mental talk and mental image. As action is being taken to do something, these accompanying sensations give the impression of someone doing something.

Is that any better? If it were limited to just one instance, being really specific makes sense. When it comes to describing a range of experiences over a period of days or weeks, I am unsure of how that is best done according to what you've asked me to do. Am I missing or misunderstanding something? I don't mean to be difficult, it's honestly just an attempt to distill or reduce what's happened over a period of time.

Maybe this will help. I just had to stop to go let dogs outside. They were extremely loud, boisterous and manic. There's the desire for them to calm and quiet before letting them out, so: There was barking, physical motion, vision, sound, an internal sense of tension, bodily sense of tension in the chest, desire, seeing, hearing, intention for them to quiet and be still, then an intention to open the door. There was also a sense of being the center of all that, and attention on the body taken as "me" who is trying to get a result. All those sensations are habitually taken as "me" "I" or "myself".

Is that any better?


Try the below exercise to help you hone in on the sense:

1. Hold a hand in front of you; palm turned down.

2. Now turn the palm up. And down...and up and so on.

Watch like a hawk.

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

- How is the movement controlled?

- Does a thought control it?

- Can a ‘controller’ of any description be located?

- How is the decision made to turn the hand over? Track any decision point when a thought or self MADE THE DECISION to turn the hand over and the hand turns over immediately.

- Who or what​ ​chose which hand - the left or right hand for the exercise?

- Can you find a separate individual or anything that is choosing when to turn the palm up or down?

Remember, I'm not looking for what it seems to be, could be, or might be. I'm interested in hearing what you see, feel, and hear.

If you feel a sense of someone doing something, hone in on that and look at what exactly is going on. Don't dismiss it and don't immediately stop there.

I've printed this out and will do the exercise. I've done it before, but not for any extended period of time, so it seems that it warrants some sustained effort and investigation. I'll report back with specifics once some substantial time has been spent with it over the next week or two. If you think longer is better, just let me know what you think and I'll do as you suggest.

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Re: Seeking help getting to the exit door

Postby Bluejay » Mon May 20, 2024 10:01 am

I phrased it that way because it is variable. Sometimes it is visual field, bodily sensations and mental pictures (aka Shinzen Young's 'See In'). The answer to your question is in a general way, as it covers a range of experience over a period of time. I'm really not sure how to use the weather analogy in that case. Best I can think to do is this.
If it is variable, there's no need to abstract and generalize it, because the different variations will come up in each instance, in the moment, and they can be explored one by one.
Is that any better? If it were limited to just one instance, being really specific makes sense. When it comes to describing a range of experiences over a period of days or weeks, I am unsure of how that is best done according to what you've asked me to do. Am I missing or misunderstanding something? I don't mean to be difficult, it's honestly just an attempt to distill or reduce what's happened over a period of time.
You can't distill something without going to thinking, which is why we're focusing on one instance at a time, in the moment, because that is the only place you can look and see.

Sticking with the weather analogy, you can't look at what the weather was like yesterday, that's memory and thought. But you can go outside right now and look.
There was also a sense of being the center of all that, and attention on the body taken as "me" who is trying to get a result. All those sensations are habitually taken as "me" "I" or "myself".
Yes, so the inquiry is about looking at what this center/attention is and what it is referring to and staying there.

I'll wait for you to do the exercise to comment more. While exploring the exercise, try to stay in the moment and not go into thinking. Be very specific about not only sensations, sounds, images, but where they are and what they refer to.

Don't summarize. Maybe write down what you find (in your own experience) right after doing an exercise.

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Re: Seeking help getting to the exit door

Postby Darrell » Tue May 21, 2024 2:49 am

If it is variable, there's no need to abstract and generalize it, because the different variations will come up in each instance, in the moment, and they can be explored one by one.
How do you do that with a week or two weeks worth of experiences/examples? Write them down? I don't know about you, but I know I won't recall a string of these over a week or more. What am I not getting here? It's really frustrating, because apparently your message is just not being understood, even though it isn't complicated. I recall the example you gave. That's fine if it's just once instance that is clearly recalled. Should I just treat those questions from you as a 'do it now in this moment' sort of request when you ask those question? In other words, do them now, while sitting here and reading the questions you ask, and respond right then, with whatever comes up/is seen/experienced?
You can't distill something without going to thinking, which is why we're focusing on one instance at a time, in the moment, because that is the only place you can look and see.

Sticking with the weather analogy, you can't look at what the weather was like yesterday, that's memory and thought. But you can go outside right now and look.
One instance, okay, so as with the above response, do you mean for me to take that question from you, and investigate right then and there and respond with what is experienced in that moment then? Disregard anything from yesterday, last week or before?
Yes, so the inquiry is about looking at what this center/attention is and what it is referring to and staying there.

I'll wait for you to do the exercise to comment more. While exploring the exercise, try to stay in the moment and not go into thinking. Be very specific about not only sensations, sounds, images, but where they are and what they refer to.

Don't summarize. Maybe write down what you find (in your own experience) right after doing an exercise.
Okay, then I was on the right track. You're asking for me to write this down and possibly put your questions to use, right then, as they are read, and respond the same way, right now, in real time as I work with what you've asked in the moment. I'll need to go back to some of your previous questions in addition to the 'hands' exercise/inquiry.

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Re: Seeking help getting to the exit door

Postby Bluejay » Tue May 21, 2024 4:57 pm

Keep things really simple.

When you have time to explore, read my post, go through any exercise/questions, and write your answer here.

No need to pile up a week's worth of inquiry. It's near impossible to explore if you share summaries of what you've found, so let's stick to one at a time :)

Also, no need to go back to previous questions. Focus on the palm exercise and let's go from there.


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