" Who is the " I " that wants to know?
That is the magical question! When I look for an I, there isn't one. Only blank. Looking is happening. So is the imaginary I just a story that has been created by thoughts and memories? And every morning when the body wakes up it is just "remembered"? Sometimes I feel this way. When I first wake up, for a few seconds I know nothing, I don't know who I am or where I am. And then a "download" of memory seems to take place, and my story appears. If this "download" didn't take place, I wouldn't know who I was. There would just be eyes opening, and experiencing happening. No story of Martina, no I. There is nothing but experiencing until thoughts and memory kick in...
What are memories?
Thoughts and images coming up of a supposed past. But really memories always happen now as thoughts of the past. This is seen. There is never direct evidence of a past, except through history books and things which appear now but are about the "supposed" past. The strange thing about memories is that others seem to have the same ones... I guess that's what keeps the story believable. But the actual past can never really be found. Same for the future. The future exists in thoughts about it. Those thoughts always happen now. So I get that there's really no past and future, it's somehow all happening now. But it's a strange concept...
What is a direct experience?
It is something that was actually experienced by the senses with this body. Not a concept heard about and believed. That would be intellectual understanding.
You don't exist, you are just a story you tell yourself which brings up labels you have attached to certain objects, emotions and feelings. You don't exist in the past, you never existed and can't and do not exist in the future. A stream of fives senses constantly inputting information, is that you? Are the senses " I " ?
No, looking, tasting, touching, hearing all happen but they are not I. Thought says "I look", "I hear", etc. I is just a word added on by thought. The real I seems to be the knowing of all of this. (But you might say there's no I, so how can there be a "real" I?) But something is "knowing" seeing, feeling, hearing, etc. Knowing knows all experience from the point of view of this body, and I assume from all other bodies as well (although this is a guess). None of this could happen without the knowing.
Going back to waking up in the morning, the eyes open, and first there is an awareness... maybe even before the eyes open. The knowing or awareness then experiences. Seeing, touching, thoughts, memories, etc. happen.
"I'm not even sure what to ask." Who would be asking?
Questions or statements come up and are referred to by an "I". Nobody is there behind it, a statement is made or a question is typed. It all just happens. No me. But there is confusion, and then a thought, "I am confused". There is really only confusion occurring. Then there is a belief that there is an I that it is all happening to. This is all understood, but something still feels stuck. I guess that "stuckness" is just a feeling, no I.
"there is one essence that comprises everything" , good. Your doing well, go deeper. Dig in
Yes, that is a memory happening now of an experience. It was seen that all is of one essence. Life is. No actual death, just appearances coming and going. And that is just a memory coming into awareness right now. It is not actually happening right now.
Do past experiences matter if you don't exist? What feeling is there when you hear that? :
Yes, let's look... If there is no I then it is just an image (memory) arising... interesting. But it seemed to mean so much at the time. There was a feeling of joy and aliveness. (and that just came and went after a while as well). There is a recognition now that the experience was claimed as personal, and this adds to the personal story. This happened to ME... When really it just happened.
What feeling is there when you hear you don't exist? Blank. Then a touch of fear. Then, wanting to really, really get this so that it is so undeniable, and not wavering back and forth. The understanding now seems to take effort, it does not feel light, does not feel easy.
Thank you again for your time Metta.