Guiding Thread for 'Rab'

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Xain
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Guiding Thread for 'Rab'

Postby Xain » Tue Dec 02, 2014 4:06 pm

Rab: Hi, thanks for agreeing to do this here. oops. hit return and it sends the message.
Xain: Good to see you, Rab. I know many of your current friends and have met a lot of them in person
Xain: Just treat this like a chat - Here is the usual blurb I give out at the start:
1. Please post at least once a day, if you cannot post, or need more time, let me know.
2. Be 100% honest in your answers and inquiry.
3. Answer from direct personal experience only (we can go into this in more depth later if needed).
4. Read the disclaimer on the Liberation Unleashed main site -> http://liberationunleashed.com/disclaimer-2/
Disclaimer | Liberation Unleashed
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The method of inquiry used on this site may actually work, unlike many spiritual practices. It will likely change how you regard your self, your relationships, and your world. Neither you nor we can predict how this will turn out for you. If you are already mentally or emotionally fragile, it may ex…
Rab: Hi Xain, I've read the disclaimer and am happy with trying to answer from direct experience, being honest and posting once a day.
Xain: What have you studied about 'no self' (the emptiness of the self)? Does the consideration make any sense to you? In particular how the mind / thoughts plays into this?
Rab: sorry I've got a Skype call with someone I'll get back to you soon.
Xain: No problem at all - It may be that our message communication on here is quite sporadic. That's fine
Rab: I've studied so much buddhist stuff over the years though much of it I have forgotten. In the last 7 years I have been busy with work and family. (two kids aged 5 and nearly 7) This morning in meditation a formula about conditionality came to me and I repeated it for a while 'This being, that becomes, from the arising of this, that arises. this not becoming, that does not become, from the ceasing of this, that ceases. For me that is related to there being no 'self' - only conditions arising and passing away. This makes sense to me. That there is no fixed and separate self, but there is still the self as experienced - a continuity which is perhaps only habit or only an idea. For example I experience myself as being impatient but also being fairly kind and ethical....The idea of there being only conditions greatly appeals to me and I imagine if I could see that there would be a greater experience of freedom and spontaneity.
Xain: That makes sense, yes.
Greater freedom and spontaneity MAY occur as a by-product of this, certainly, but I would ask you to put it aside as an expectation for now.
Xain: Our conversation is for only one specific goal - That is the full, complete realisation of the emptiness of the self. The realisation that 'I', the separate self, the person that I believe I am us simply an idea - A thought - A belief - Nothing more than that. That's all it has ever been. That's all it will ever be.
Xain: (I think I've already mentioned that). Ready to go?
Rab: Yes ready to go
Xain: Cool. Try to answer as simply as possible.
Try not to answer what you think I want to hear but rather answer what you believe. What are 'you'? What does the word 'I' point to? Are you 'the body'? Do you control the body? Do you choose and have free-will? What about thoughts - Are they yours? Do you think or control the thoughts in any way?
Rab: Try not to answer what you think I want to hear but rather answer what you believe. What are 'you'?
A father, an English teacher, a Buddhist, a Glaswegian. At times I’m happy, I’m sad, I’m angry, I’m loving, I’m clear, I’m confused. What I am is not fixed, it is always changing, it is not separate from conditions and circumstances.
What does the word 'I' point to? Nothing fixed or unchanging, a mass of conditions in flux. Yet there is some continuity – I have certain tendencies i.e. to be impatient and quick to anger. I have a certain education and conditioning, working class family background, leftish politically, vegetarian, Buddhist conditioning etc. The visceral connection I feel to my daughters is pretty constant. ‘I’ feel connected and a fairly stable affection for friends and family.
Are you 'the body'? No, but my body is an aspect of this continuity. It is a certain shape and size. I have problems with my shoulder. I have a dust allergy. These are just conditions but this is what I say to myself and others.
Do you control the body? Not entirely, but I have some influence on it – what I eat, how much I exercise, how much I rest etc. I don’t choose to have pain in my shoulder or to have a dust allergy. I don’t choose to be hot or cold. I don’t choose to be hungry or to need the toilet. Conditions, so many conditions affect my body.
Do you choose and have free-will? First response – yes. I chose to go to LU, I chose to get married and have kids, I choose to be a Buddhist and a vegetarian. I choose to engage with this dialogue. My belief is that things arise and pass away in dependence on conditions but that I create some conditions. But if I is nothing fixed and permanent how can it create conditions. There are only conditions, no ‘I’. A suspicion that ‘I’ don’t choose, that there are only conditions. This thought makes me quite excited – that I could get it, that I could understand – but then I realise how stupid that is. That ‘I’ could get anything.
What about thoughts - Are they yours? First response – of course! But then conditions, conditions make the world and my thoughts. There is no I, there are only conditions. This feels like not just an intellectual thought but also not like a complete realisation, more like an inkling. I feel excited by it.
Do you think or control the thoughts in any way? My habit would be to say ‘yes, of course’. I decide. But my inkling tells me this is stupid, thoughts just arise and pass away, there is no me to control them.
Rab: Thanks for your questions Xain - I found it useful to investigate them. Been up half the night replying and in a few hours I lead a course in ceilidh dancing. Must try to get an hours sleep.
Xain: Thanks for your answer, Rab - Excellent. There is a lot to work with here, and much for us to examine together.
I have a tendency to start very simply in my guiding to allow you to get the focus and direction of where we are going - Then begin to question some of the bigger issues later on.
You say 'I am a Glaswegian'. Two questions - What makes you a Glaswegian? How much is memory being used in order to answer that question? Also, when you say 'I am a Glaawegian' what exactly is the 'I' referring to? Is it the body? The mind perhaps?
Rab: What makes you a glaswegian? I was born and brought up in glasgow. I speak with a glasgow accent.(when i dont modify it to teach english to germans). When i visit the city i feel at home, somehow in my element. I have a positive emotional response to just being there, a bit of love for the city.
How much memory? A lot. But the warm feeling i have for the city is present now by calling these memories to mind.
What is the i referring to? Body? Mind? Conditionings such as accent and a positive emotional response to the city. Conditions - a way of speaking (glaswegian accent). Responses which arise when i think of the city or am there. I,I,I, a conventional way of referring to a bundle of conditions arising and passing away, which i solidify and see as an entity. I find it hard to see body and mind as separate. Thoughts and feelings and memories have physical effects and what happens to my body affects my mind and emotions. Conditions,the i is a bundle of conditions some of which i see as having some continuity and connection over time.
Xain: Ok, let's look a little deeper now.
'I was born and brought up in Glasgow' - This refers to the body, yes? The body was born and the body grew up. Is this right?
'I speak with a Glasgow accent' - Again, this refers to the body? Yes? The Body speaks?
'When I visit the City' - Again, this refers to the body? The Body visits the City?
Without referring to memory at all (so considering this moment right now), what makes you Glaswegian?
Rab: The body was born and brought up in Glasgow' - This refers to the body, yes? The body was born and the body grew up. Is this right?
Its right that the body was born and grew up but the mind did too. The mind developed and was conditioned over the first 18 years of my life which I spent in Glasgow.
'I speak with a Glasgow accent' - Again, this refers to the body? Yes? The Body speaks?
Yes, the body speaks, but again, it speaks the mind’s thoughts - I can’t really separate body and mind, they are so interlinked.
'When I visit the City' - Again, this refers to the body? The Body visits the City?
Yes, but then my mind visits the city too.
Without referring to memory at all (so considering this moment right now), what makes you Glaswegian?
Without referring to memory, in this very moment nothing makes me Glaswegian. Without memory the knowledge and tendencies I developed in Glasgow would no longer be present.
Though of course I do have memory, and so , that knowledge and these tendencies are present. For example, I associate a tendency to openness and friendliness to strangers with Glasgow conditioning. This is in stark contrast to the area where I live in Germany (East Westfalica) where the people are very reserved and distant with strangers to the point of rudeness. I would say that this makes my flow of conditions a bit different to their flow of conditions.
Xain: When you say 'Mind', what are you referring to? What is your own definition of 'Mind'. You refer to it as something that 'grows up' and can 'visit cities'.
Rab: When you say 'Mind', what are you referring to? What is your own definition of ‘Mind'.
Thoughts, feelings, emotions
You refer to it as something that 'grows up' and can 'visit cities’.
When I talk about the mind growing up, I mean developing thoughts and ideas and emotional habits. From what i remember i had, like most children a very limited perspective - I was swallowed up by the present moment - if I was unhappy it felt like it would last forever. As a young boy I was often fairly happy, as a teenager i was often angry or depressed, at 18/19 when I started to meditate I often felt a stillness and happiness and concentration. So by growing up I mean developing different thoughts and ideas and emotional tendencies and knowledge.
When I talk about my mind visiting cities I just mean my mind is associated with my body and where my body goes my mind goes too. My mind is affected by the conditions around it.
This morning I went to the ice rink with my kids. The ice skates hurt my feet, I stumbled around the ice rink (I’m a rubbish ice skater) there was loud pop music blaring out and this combination disturbed my mind - I felt unhappy. When it is sunny and i am in a quiet natural place like the forest or cycling by the river my mind ie. my thoughts and emotions are in a very different - calmer, happier state.
Xain: Yes - But we are not being very clear about exactly what 'mind' is? Is it an object? You say 'My Mind' - What is this thing called 'mind' and who owns it?
How are 'thoughts' and 'mind' linked?
Rab: Yes - But we are not being very clear about exactly what 'mind' is? Is it an object?
No, it is not an object.
You say 'My Mind' - What is this thing called 'mind' and who owns it?
Difficult question. Thinking, feeling, emoting, perceiving, being aware are all functions of the mind. But I cant define the mind. I don't know what it is. My belief is that no one owns it, that there is certainly no I to own it. By my mind, I mean the stream of perception, thought, feeling, emotion, being aware etc which ‘I’ experience. This being different to the perception, thought, feeling, emotion etc which you experience.
How are 'thoughts' and 'mind' linked?
thoughts are a function of the mind, they arise from the ocean of consciousness. This is something I say sometimes - ‘I wonder what will arise from the ocean of consciousness today.’ So, I guess I have the idea that mind or consciousness is something vast or unlimited. A view I no doubt have from Buddhism.
Xain: How about this . . 'Mind' is a label given to the apparent stream of thoughts. So . . . if there are no thoughts at any moment, is there a mind at that time?
'Thoughts are a function of the mind' - In general speaking I suppose so. But let's be clear - Is there a 'thing' called the mind that performs functions?
Or is this just some-sort of idea?
Rab: How about this . . 'Mind' is a label given to the apparent stream of thoughts. So . . . if there are no thoughts at any moment, is there a mind at that time?
Mind is a label given to a stream of conscious activity (mind/consciousness is more than just thought).
Yes!
'Thoughts are a function of the mind' - In general speaking I suppose so. But let's be clear - Is there a 'thing' called the mind that performs functions?
There is no ‘thing’ called mind. Thoughts, emotions, perceptions, awareness arises but there is no thing. Consciousness is an activity, there is only consciousnessing. Consciousnessing is constantly in flux, arising and passing away in dependence on conditions.
Xain: Ok. So again, without referring to memory or thought, what makes the body 'Glaswegian'?
Is 'thoughts are a function of the mind' anything more than an interesting idea?
You say 'the mind goes with the body' - Again, since 'mind' isn't an object, is this just anything more than an interesting idea also?
When you say 'I have memory', what is that exactly? What is this 'I' that has memories?
Rab: Ok. So again, without referring to memory or thought, what makes the body ‘Glaswegian'?
Nothing in fact.
Is 'thoughts are a function of the mind' anything more than an interesting idea?
No, I agree it is just an idea.
You say 'the mind goes with the body' - Again, since 'mind' isn't an object, is this just anything more than an interesting idea also?
It is just an idea
When you say 'I have memory', what is that exactly? What is this 'I' that has memories?
Memories are simply mental events, there is no ‘I’ behind them. The ‘I’ is simply a construct, an idea to explain phenomena arising and passing.
Xain: Good. It's worth mentioning at this stage, that this process is nothing to do with dismissing anything or saying anything is 'wrong' or 'bad' - It is simply to notice what is happening.
Notice that in order to say 'I am Glasgwegian' you have to go to thoughts / memory. Can you see that this is the ONLY thing that makes you / the body 'Glaswegian' - Simply a thought about it. An idea about 'yourself'. Does this make sense? Would you agree with this so far?
Let's look further and deeper. What makes this body, 'you'? You said 'problems with my shoulder' - That's interesting - What makes the shoulder 'yours'?
Rab: Good. It's worth mentioning at this stage, that this process is nothing to do with dismissing anything or saying anything is 'wrong' or 'bad' - It is simply to notice what is happening.
Notice that in order to say 'I am Glasgwegian' you have to go to thoughts / memory. Can you see that this is the ONLY thing that makes you / the body 'Glaswegian' - Simply a thought about it. An idea about ‘yourself'.
Yes
Does this make sense? Would you agree with this so far?
Yes
Let's look further and deeper. What makes this body, ‘you'?
The body is not me
You said 'problems with my shoulder' - That's interesting - What makes the shoulder ‘yours'?
That’s a good question. Do ‘I’ feel pain in ‘my’ shoulder or is pain simply felt when I try to move my left arm behind my head. The ‘I’ does feel like it’s extra - just an idea. But it is a lifelong habit to think in terms of I me and mine. A line from Buddhism comes to mind ‘Empty phenomena roll on’.
What makes the shoulder mine is I suspect just my habit of identifying it as such. In truth it is simply a coming together of conditions. It is not ‘my’ shoulder.
Xain: Well let's look at this further. First of all perhaps it is 'your shoulder' just (as you say) out of habit. But maybe there is more to it than that.
Perhaps it could be 'your shoulder' as you appear to feel pain in it (and not pain in other peoples shoulders') - Also you can shrug your shoulder and it would appear that you have control over that body part (and not other peoples bodies).
First of all, we have identified 'my shoulder' as a habitual thought appearing. Let's look at the other areas.
Let's look at the arms for this exercise rather than the shoulders, although you can do a similar thing with it if you want.
Choose one of your arms. It doesn't matter which one. Now when you feel you wish to, raise that arm in the air.
Do this simple exercise as many times as you want, but each time you do it I want you to examine the actual experience of it rather than thinking about an answer. Try to FIND what is doing it rather than an idea about it. What is controlling that arm? What is raising it into the air? Normally it is said 'I raise the arm'. So what is 'I'? The controller? Is it something that can be found?
Also, since the arm is being chosen, what can you find that is doing the choosing? Examine the experience itself to try to find what is doing it? Normally is it said 'I chose the arm'. So what is 'I'? The chooser? Is it something that can be found?
Rab: Well let's look at this further. First of all perhaps it is 'your shoulder' just (as you say) out of habit. But maybe there is more to it than that.
Perhaps it could be 'your shoulder' as you appear to feel pain in it (and not pain in other peoples shoulders') - Also you can shrug your shoulder and it would appear that you have control over that body part (and not other peoples bodies).
That’s true
First of all, we have identified 'my shoulder' as a habitual thought appearing. Let's look at the other areas.
Let's look at the arms for this exercise rather than the shoulders, although you can do a similar thing with it if you want.
Choose one of your arms. It doesn't matter which one. Now when you feel you wish to, raise that arm in the air.
Do this simple exercise as many times as you want, but each time you do it I want you to examine the actual experience of it rather than thinking about an answer. Try to FIND what is doing it rather than an idea about it. What is controlling that arm? What is raising it into the air?
Normally it is said 'I raise the arm'. So what is 'I'? The controller? Is it something that can be found?
I can’t find any controller.
Also, since the arm is being chosen, what can you find that is doing the choosing? Examine the experience itself to try to find what is doing it? Normally is it said 'I chose the arm'. So what is 'I'? The chooser? Is it something that can be found?
Thought is there, an idea is there suggested by your question that I should raise my arm. I notice that my tendency is to raise my right arm more. The left arm is the one where the shoulder hurts. But I can't find a chooser.
Xain: Good.
As for controller, we never assume 'I make the heart beat' or 'I control the food passing through the body', yet when it comes to limbs and other body parts we assume there is an 'I' in control. Breathing is an interesting one, as it appears to operate perfectly automatically all day, but we appear to have control over it when concentrating on it (such as in meditiation). But here, again, is there an 'I' that can be found that controls the lungs? That opens the mouth for the breath?
Hopefully it can be seen that for controlling the body, and choosing the arm selection, the only controller that can be found might be just an idea - a thought (the usual one being 'I' as in, 'I choose the arm' or 'I control the arm') but there isn't a real separate 'I' actually doing the controlling and choosing.
What about pain in the shoulder?
Let's start to look at the senses. Maybe look at 'seeing' for the moment.
Right now, these words are being seen. In the experience of seeing these words, can a 'seer' be found?
Xain:
It is common to say 'I see' - But what is that 'I' that sees? In 'seeing', can an 'I' be found that is doing the seeing? Or is there just 'seeing'?
Rab: As for controller, we never assume 'I make the heart beat' or 'I control the food passing through the body', yet when it comes to limbs and other body parts we assume there is an 'I' in control. Breathing is an interesting one, as it appears to operate perfectly automatically all day, but we appear to have control over it when concentrating on it (such as in meditation). But here, again, is there an 'I' that can be found that controls the lungs? That opens the mouth for the breath?
There is only the breathing, no ‘I’ behind it.
Hopefully it can be seen that for controlling the body, and choosing the arm selection, the only controller that can be found might be just an idea - a thought (the usual one being 'I' as in, 'I choose the arm' or 'I control the arm') but there isn't a real separate 'I' actually doing the controlling and choosing.
Yes.
What about pain in the shoulder?
The pain is sometimes there, but there is no ‘I’ behind the pain.
Let's start to look at the senses. Maybe look at 'seeing' for the moment.
Right now, these words are being seen. In the experience of seeing these words, can a 'seer' be found?
It is common to say 'I see' - But what is that 'I' that sees? In 'seeing', can an 'I' be found that is doing the seeing? Or is there just ‘seeing'?
There is just seeing, there is no ‘I’ doing the seeing.
Xain: Good.
Check the other senses - Really examine them. In 'hearing' - In that actual experience itself can a hearer be found. In other words, if it is said 'I hear', then what is this 'I' that is doing it? Is 'I' something that can be found - Or is it a general term. An idea. A thought.
Smell. Taste the same - You can check these in the same way,
Touch can be consider slightly different as it appears to be quite 'close to home' in relation to the body.
In conventional terms, reach out and touch the desk or a cabinet. Maybe close your eyes to make it easier.
Is the body actively doing the sense of 'touch'? In the sensation 'touch / feel' are there two clear parts - The item that is being felt, and the item (body?) that is doing the feeling? Or in the sensation, is there just 'feeling' - Just the pure sensation alone. So when it is said 'I feel' - What is 'I'? What is doing it?
Since you have a background in Buddhism, we can look at this logically as . . . can 'feeling' ever be accomplished without both the feeler and the item being felt. In other words, an obvious dependency. (Even though of course this is a logical conclusion on the level of thought and the mind)
Rab: Check the other senses - Really examine them. In 'hearing' - In that actual experience itself can a hearer be found. In other words, if it is said 'I hear', then what is this 'I' that is doing it? Is 'I' something that can be found - Or is it a general term. An idea. A thought.
No I to be found, there is just sound. Though sounds often lead to thoughts i.e. the sound of the heating system - ‘do the radiators need bled’. Sound of dishes downstairs ‘ my wife is emptying the dishwasher.’ etc etc.
Smell. Taste the same - You can check these in the same way,
There is no ‘I’ behind smell and taste. But again they lead to ideas of pleasant or unpleasant feelings - desire or aversion. But in direct experience there is only the smell or the taste.
Touch can be consider slightly different as it appears to be quite 'close to home' in relation to the body.
In conventional terms, reach out and touch the desk or a cabinet. Maybe close your eyes to make it easier.
Is the body actively doing the sense of 'touch'? In the sensation 'touch / feel' are there two clear parts - The item that is being felt, and the item (body?) that is doing the feeling? Or in the sensation, is there just 'feeling' - Just the pure sensation alone. So when it is said 'I feel' - What is 'I'? What is doing it?
In direct experience there is only the sensation of touch. Ideas arise such as the vast web of connections and conditions which go to create the experience - that my parents and their parents are necessary conditions for the creation of this body and then the people who made the carpet my hand touches and the transporters and the road builders and etc etc etc….But this is all at the level of thought and feeling rather than sensation.
Since you have a background in Buddhism, we can look at this logically as . . . can 'feeling' ever be accomplished without both the feeler and the item being felt. In other words, an obvious dependency. (Even though of course this is a logical conclusion on the level of thought and the mind)
When conditions come together ie my hand and the carpet or a cup , the sensation arises. With only the carpet that sensation is not there. Consciousness is necessary for sensation. There is sensation in my hand even without touching an object. A feeling of temperature - an inner warmth from having had a shower, a slightly cooler feeling from contact with the ambient air.
Xain: You've brought in a few phrases, so I need to clarify and make sure we are on the same page before continuing.
What is 'Direct Experience'? What does the term mean or relate to?
What is consciousness? What owns it? Consciousness is necessary for sensation? Why? In the sensation of 'feeling', is consciousness there as part of it?
Rab: You've brought in a few phrases, so I need to clarify and make sure we are on the same page before continuing. What is 'Direct Experience'? What does the term mean or relate to?
By direct experience I mean ‘my’ experience in this moment without thinking about it or referencing it to past experience. So for example when I smell something that may remind me of something else from the past and may have whole stories connected to it and I will then evaluate it as pleasant or unpleasant. Or this morning I saw a picture of ‘The Clangers’ (an old children tv programme) on Facebook and it brought back memories for me. These memories and ideas are not direct experience - they are things added on to the smell or sight etc.
What is consciousness? What owns it? Consciousness is necessary for sensation? Why?
Mental events - thought, feeling, emotion etc are what I’m referring to as consciousness - mental as opposed to material. A chair or a carpet do not have consciousness. At the point where the chair touches the carpet there is no sensation. But when my hand touches the carpet sensation arises. The difference is that ‘I’ am conscious. There is a stream of mental events - thoughts, feelings, emotions, sensation but there is no ‘owner’ behind them.
In the sensation of 'feeling', is consciousness there as part of it?
Feeling is an aspect of what I’m referring to as consciousness. Consciousness is a word I use to describe mental events but it is not a thing. So in feeling, there is no consciousness except as an idea. Its just a word summarising mental events.
Xain: 'My experience' What is the 'me' who is having the experience? Is this the body? The body is having the experience?
'I' am conscious, but the chair is not. What is this 'I' that is conscious? Is this the body? This might make for deeper looking but you have drawn a deep distinction here between 'you' and 'the chair'. What is this 'you' that has the quality of consciousness and 'the chair' does not? Could this but nothing more than a thought? An idea? Is there a real separate 'you' here right now that is conscious? If there is, what is that exactly?
We've looked into the senses already. Which of these things we are looking at here relate to an 'I', a separate self and which are just thoughts and ideas ABOUT a separate self?
Rab: 'My experience' What is the 'me' who is having the experience? Is this the body? The body is having the experience?
Good question. There is no ‘me’ only experiences arising and passing away. Without a ‘me’ behind the experience.
'I' am conscious, but the chair is not. What is this 'I' that is conscious? Is this the body?
There is no ‘I’ just consciousness in the form of mental events - thought, emotion, perception….
This might make for deeper looking but you have drawn a deep distinction here between 'you' and 'the chair'. What is this 'you' that has the quality of consciousness and 'the chair' does not? Could this but nothing more than a thought? An idea? Is there a real separate 'you' here right now that is conscious? If there is, what is that exactly?
I don’t regard ‘myself’ as completely separate. I’m always being influenced by what is external and I am also having an effect on what is ‘external’. What I habitually hold to as ‘mine’ is a continuity of experience. Partly that is physical - my painful shoulder - my level of fitness but it is also mental - my knowledge in some areas - such as English grammar or the German language, or Buddhism or whatever and my tendency to focus on certain experiences i.e. to enjoy nature and looking at the moon. But of course there is no fixed or separate being behind that continuity - there are only conditions - no me, no mine. And yet….the idea of a self is there.
We've looked into the senses already. Which of these things we are looking at here relate to an 'I', a separate self and which are just thoughts and ideas ABOUT a separate self?
The idea of a separate self is just that, an idea. When ‘I’ look ‘I’ see only conditions and more conditions. Yet this ‘I’ idea is a persistant one.
Xain: There are many things to examine here but before I do, we'll just examine thoughts / ideas.
'I think', 'My ideas', 'I had a thought' So what is this 'I' that thinks?
Again, we try to examine the experience of thinking. Think any thought.
Now what created that thought? Does that thought have an owner?
Can thoughts be controlled? If there was control, surely we could choose to just have pleasant thoughts all the time?
Rab: There are many things to examine here but before I do, we'll just examine thoughts / ideas.
'I think', 'My ideas', 'I had a thought' So what is this 'I' that thinks?
Thoughts come and go, there is no ‘I’ behind the thoughts. The ‘I’ is an idea.
Again, we try to examine the experience of thinking. Think any thought.
Now what created that thought? Does that thought have an owner?
‘I’ll have a cup of tea’ - a feeling of thirst gave rise to the thought. ‘I wonder if they need water’ - seeing ‘my’ plants gave rise to the thought. ‘I’m tired’ - a feeling of physical tiredness, especially in my eyes gives rise to the thought.
‘I’, ‘me’, with this body and this mind. - I can talk, think and write in terms of conditions arising and passing away, but I still hold to a belief in a self - that this body and mind all hangs together somehow on the hook of self.
Can thoughts be controlled? If there was control, surely we could choose to just have pleasant thoughts all the time?
Thoughts can’t be controlled completely but they can be directed to some extent. ie in meditation I choose to direct warm thoughts/feelings towards more and more life. Yet other thoughts arise unbidden and come and go based on external conditions. Like seeing the plants and thinking they may need water. I’m prepared to accept ‘self’ as being a phantasy or just an idea but it is hard to really see this and experience it.
Xain: In meditiation, what is the 'I' that chooses to direct thoughts and feelings? Try not to think about it - Try an experiment in the immediate moment. Direct a thought or a feeling. What is doing that?
I'm prepared to accept 'self' as being a fantasy . . . well that's not exactly where we are going. My guidance is for the realisation that any reference to 'I' or 'me' (being a separate self) is just a thought - An idea.
So in the phrase 'I am prepared to accept', what exactly is this 'I' that is prepared? Is it the body? The mind perhaps? What can be found in this immediate moment that is 'prepared to accept'. What does this 'I' that is prepared to accept look like? What form does it take?
Rab: In meditation, what is the 'I' that chooses to direct thoughts and feelings? Try not to think about it - Try an experiment in the immediate moment. Direct a thought or a feeling. What is doing that?
Thoughts arise, but strange as it sounds, I can’t find an I that is doing anything.
I'm prepared to accept 'self' as being a fantasy . . . well that's not exactly where we are going. My guidance is for the realisation that any reference to 'I' or 'me' (being a separate self) is just a thought - An idea.
So in the phrase 'I am prepared to accept', what exactly is this 'I' that is prepared? Is it the body? The mind perhaps?
Lying in bed last night I found myself chuckling away at the ridiculousness of the idea of an I which was prepared to accept.
What can be found in this immediate moment that is 'prepared to accept'. What does this 'I' that is prepared to accept look like? What form does it take?
I is a label I attach to my psycho-physical organism, to my body/consciousness together. At some level I’m aware that these are just a conglomeration of conditions arising and passing away - nothing fixed or separate from the rest of the universe. Constantly changing, yet labelled ‘me’. The form this conglomeration takes is the form of my body.
Xain: What 'I' is attaching this label?
What makes it 'your body' other than a thought / an idea that it is 'your body'?
Just as a quick note - All the questions I ask don't really require any deep thought or analysis. Merely look immediately in the present moment and tell me what is found. Of course, if you feel you need more time - That is fine too.
Rab: Hi Xain, I was just looking at your messages and wondering about that - whether I should just immediately write a reply or sit down in meditation and quietly think about them for a while rather than just write something sitting in front of my computer here.
I can't find an I attaching the label
Xain: Either is fine - I will not push you for doing anything. All I will say is that time spent answering the questions can be spent in analysis and thought . . . and we are trying to find what 'I' is beyond the idea . . .
Could the 'I' in 'I attach a label' just be an idea? An added 'something' to the attaching of a label?
I mean, labels get attached, sure - But is there really an 'I' responsible?
Is there an 'I' reading this text right now?
Or is 'text being read'?
Rab: I believe there is no I responsible which is why I am engaging in this process. There is no I responsible, it is just an idea.
text is being read
Xain: Don't think - LOOK What is the 'I' reading the text?
What 'I' is typing replies?
What 'I' is choosing what words to write?
Could it be completely automatic. Could it all 'just be happening' without an 'I' reponsible?
Could it be that the only 'I' that ever appears . . . that ever 'is' . . . is just in thought - An idea!
Rab: It could be
Xain: What 'I' chose to begin this conversation with me?
What 'I' ever chose anything?
Could it be? What can be found?
Is there even an 'I' looking into these things that I am asking?
Rab: i have a sense of a present, a past and a future - a continuity of experience - that is as close as i can get to an I
Xain: What 'I' right here and now had a past?
What 'I' right here and now has a sense of the present?
Drop the thinking - LOOK!
Is there one? Or is it all just a lot of thoughts and ideas?
What 'I' is getting close to an 'I'?
The mind won't grasp this if the mind itself is creating the problem
Rab: Getting stuck here -
Xain: What 'I' has ever been stuck?
You want to go to thoughts and try to work it out - You can't.
Could it be that 'I' is a thought - Consider it . . . could every single case of 'I' and 'me' be in thoughts?
And that is the very reason you appear to be stuck!
Rab: Yes every I and me could be thoughts
Xain: Just consider it You've looked into a lot of things now What is found?
Rab: Nothing fixed
Xain: What anything found that was even 'not fixed'?
Rab: A process - I experience my I to be kinder and more aware than it was years ago - or the conditions that are arising now tend more to kindness and awareness than those that arose years ago
Xain: I understand. That's a fair explanation.
But in the present moment, what can be found? What here right now is 'kinder'? What here right now has 'awareness'?
Without referencing past and future (which are only memory and anticipation thoughts anyway), what can be found?
Rab: Nothing there are just the mental, emotional and physical experiences
Xain: We can say (for the moment) that there is experience - Yes. What 'I' is experiencing?
Rab: I can't find an I that is experiencing
Xain: Can any 'I' be found? Examining the immediate present moment is a way to see past the thoughts, and thoughts always have a time component. They reference past and future
Thought / the mind always references an 'I' in the past (I did, I saw, I experience) and the same for the future (I will do, I will see, I will experience)
So put thoughts aside - Examine this immediate present moment and put the thoughts aside.
Can an 'I' be found here right now? Or is it the case that to find any 'I', thoughts have to appear?
Rab: I is based on thought and on an awareness of a past and a future
Xain: A real past and a real future? Or just thoughts?
If there isn't an 'I' here right now, was there ever an 'I' in the past?
Will there be an 'I' in the future . . . if there isn't a separate 'I' here now?
Rab: I don't see my past as just thoughts - this afternoon I went cycling - that happened it was real.
Xain: Again, could all this be based on thoughts alone?
What 'I' went cycling?
There is nothing wrong with thoughts about the past - I am not dismissing or rejecting anything. But what is happening here?
Can you find a past? Or just the thought of one?
Can you find an 'I'? Or just the thought of one?
Rab: Just the thought
Xain:Ridiculously simple - That is all it is - Just thoughts and ideas - That's all it has ever been - All along! All of it!
Rest on this - Contemplate it. Let it sink in.
Rab: I'll do that - thanks for your questions and for sticking with 'me' on this
Xain: Maybe sleep on it. Feel free to ask me a question if you have one.
Rab: I don't have any questions at the moment - I'll sleep on it. Thanks.
Xain:Chat more tomorrow
Xain: How are things, Rab?
Rab: Hi Xain, Things are fine - busy day with work yesterday - translating into the night. Not quite sure where we go from here.
Rab: Cant seem to let go of the idea of 'me' having a past, present and future. If I look at this I can see on one level just conditions coming and going. But the conditions do have a continuity - for example today - tiredness due to a lot of concentrated work yesterday - that feels like real experience to me - not just ideas.
Xain: Are you tired now? How in this present moment does tiredness manifest itself?
Rab: Yes, another night of translation just finished. A slightly numb feeling in my head. My eyes are heavy. I'm yawning. Too tired to keep putting my etc in inverted commas. Heavy limbs.
Xain: What 'I' is feeling a numb feeling? What 'I' is feeling tired?
Or is there just a number feeling somewhere? And a tired feeling?
Where is the individual separate 'I' in this tired feeling?
Don't go to thoughts - There is always an 'I' appearing in the thoughts. Go to the feeling here and now. What 'I' is feeling it?
You will never be able to 'work this out' on the level of the mind. What I am pointing to and attempting to get you to realise is the operation of the mind itself.
Rab: I can't find an individual separate I. There are just feelings coming and going. I know it is just an idea, but the idea is there of me and mine and I don't know how to lose this idea or stop it.
Xain: What exactly is this 'I' that wants to lose or stop the idea from appearing.
Does the idea or thought ever appear to a separate 'you' anyway?
Could it be that the 'I' that wants to stop this idea / thought, is, itself, just an idea / thought?
Rab: Yes, it seems quite ridiculous really.
Xain: Yes - But notice - It's just a thought appearing. The 'I' only appears in thought.
When it is said 'I am tired' - Is there an 'I' here that is tired? Or is it more accurate to say that a tired feeling appears to be experienced? Is there 'an experiencer' separate from 'the experience'? Can one be found?
Rab: The experience of tiredness doesn't appear in isolation though. 'I' can look to the future and I know that if I don't get some sleep then tomorrow I will be tired too. I can look to the past and I know that my work gets sloppy and I have a tendency to be grumpy when I am tired. All that information comes from the individual experiences happening in a context. That context is what I label 'I'.
Xain: Context? Is this just another thought? Or something real which can be found?
Is there an 'I' here right now? Or just the thought of one? What is the 'I' in the future? What is the 'I' in the past?
If 'I' don't get sleep . . . what is this 'I' that gets the choice?
Rab: I is the label I put on this sense of continuity - If I exercise my experience is that I am fitter and stronger. If I get enough sleep then my experience is that I am more relaxed.
Xain: If sleep is had, a refreshed feeling may be experienced tomorrow. If sleep is not had, a bad feeling may be experienced tomorrow.
Rab: Yes
Xain: You choose whether you exercise or you sleep?
What 'I' has ever chosen anything?
Can that one be found? What does it look like?
Rab: A choice is made
Xain: What is making that choice?
Simple test - Make a choice right now - Choose an arm for example. What made that choice?
Rab: Right arm - my tendency is to always choose my right arm as it is stronger. so I can say I choose it - or that all the conditions that led to this moment also led to the choice - it is those conditions, that conditioning which I tend to refer to as me.
Xain: So the conditions chose he arm?
Is that what was found? Or an idea about what happened?
You will not be able to think and analyse your way through this
Rab: My kids have just arrived home - I'm going to have to go now and help get them fed and ready for bed otherwise my wife will get annoyed at having to do it herself. is that a choice or what - I really don't know - I'll try to look at that decision.
Xain: Perhaps we should stop now
Rab: Ok. its not just thinking - I'm trying to feel and experience what is going on but thought and feeling and impulse etc etc are hard to separate sometimes. But yes - lets continue this later. Thanks again for your questions. All the best
Xain: I wish you well, Rab - Get back to me when you wish to continue
Rab: Hi Xain, 'me' again. Continuing to look. Trying to see through the habit of self.
Xain: Some of these things we are looking into may cause fear, confusion or anger. Please let me know if anything like this flares up.
Nothing is being lost or removed. Nothing is being changed. The only thing we are doing here is looking at the way things actually are, and not what is believed to be.
What has been discovered so far? Also, what (so far) is unclear or has caused a problem?
Rab: Some of these things we are looking into may cause fear, confusion or anger. Please let me know if anything like this flares up.
Will do. I feel a certain frustration during this process, that I am being a bit dim in not seeing something which is in front of my nose. Often I feel a tingly excitement that the possibility is there to see through the idea of ‘I’, which I imagine as leading to a more fluid experience of life.
Nothing is being lost or removed. Nothing is being changed. The only thing we are doing here is looking at the way things actually are, and not what is believed to be.
Yes
What has been discovered so far?
Conditions come and go without there being a self behind them, I can feel that to be true
Also, what (so far) is unclear or has caused a problem?
Choice. I have the idea that I have some control over the direction this stream of conditions, which I call ‘me’, is taking. But I also sense that if I could just let go of this ‘I’dea then the conditions would happily flow on without ‘me’.
I look at my kids and see the differences in their personalities and posit that they have ‘selves’. But again I have a sense that they are bundles of conditions rolling on in their own ways and could quite happily roll on in their own ways without the need for self.
My feeling is that something just has to click for me to see conditions as conditions without a self.
Xain: Choice is a tricky one as it is greatly assumed that there is choice.
If there is choice (and free-will), then that free-will applies to someone of something (e.g. I have free-will).
We are examining each and every case of 'I'. So if it is said 'I have free-will', what is the 'I' that has free-will.
I put it to you that either it is just a thought / an idea OR there is a real separate self / person here right now that has 'free-will'
Thoughts and ideas say 'I have free-will' but examine choice and decisions in the immediate moment and work out what 'I' is.
Which is it?
Rab: 'I' is just an idea, there are only conditions and more conditions.
This soreness in my throat this evening is just soreness, not 'my' soreness. Tonights choice is whisky or herb tea before bed. I could go either way. Is there choice without a chooser? I definitely feel I can make a choice here but without feeling there is a fixed and separate self which is making the choice. If that makes sense.?
Xain: 'I definately feel that I can make a choice'. What is this 'I' exactly that you feel makes choices? What exactly is that one?
Make a choice right now. Any choice - Just choose to do something. When that choice was being made, what made it?
Rab: I've been looking at the choices 'I' have made today. Actually there is no I making the choices. 'My' choices arise out of existing conditions - Hunger arises, I eat, - sore throat, I take a painkiller. Hard to avoid saying I here - but 'I' hope you know what 'I' mean.
Xain: No change of language is needed. I will understand what you mean. You are not looking very deeply into this and are not doing the exercises I am asking you to do.
I am not asking about speculation, I am asking what can be found in experience. When a choice is made, what can be found making that choice?
RIght now - Make a choice - Anything at all. Now tell me what you can find making the choice. Do you find an 'I' making a choice?
Rab: When i make a choice right now, its based on you asking me to make a choice. There is a thought process, "Xain wants me to make a choice. Ok pick up the inhaler. Left hand or right hand. Left hand for a change," what i did yesterday was look in my experience at the choices i was making throughout the day as i was making them and trying to see what was making the choices. Iwasnt speculating, i was looking at my experience in the moment.
Xain: "When i make a choice right now, its based on you asking me to make a choice" And what exactly did that. What is this 'I' that made the choice? Try the experiment again and tell me what is found. Tell me exactly what this 'I' is that is making the choice.
Xain: You must examine the actual experience of making a choice - Not think about it before or afterwards. There are two possiblities. Either we can find what is making the choice or we cannot. Is this fair?
Either . . . when a choice is made, there is something we can find making the choice (for example 'I') or what is making the choice cannot be found and 'I' is just an idea of what made the choice.
Feel free to find your own options if needed, but ensure that you are referring to the actual experience of the choice being made to find what did it. Not an assumption.
Which?
Xain: In fact, no assumptions at all from now on - Tell me what you find!
Rab: I can't find an I making choices
Xain: For the moment - That is all that is needed. We don't need to expand any further at this stage - Just keep things simple.
Just notice that in the action of the choice, there isn't an 'I' making the choice. So to say 'I made the choice' doesn't mean anything. The 'I' is simply an idea - A thought about some sort of separate 'thing' responsible. Does that seem clear so far?
Rab: Yes
Xain: Ok. So again, (I think we covered this) - In moving the arm, what 'I' is making the arm move. Examine the experience of the arm moving - Can what is making it move be found? Consider - Is 'I make my arm move' anything more than an idea?
Rab: No, its just an idea
Xain: Good - How about breathing? It appears to be automatic most of the time, but controllable at other times. Examine the experience - Is there an 'I' making that happen? It APPEARS to be under control. Could this be just an appearance? If not, what controls it?
Rab: breathing just happens
Xain: Yes - It just happens
As soon as the mind / thought get engaged, a thought comes in 'I am controlling it'. Can you see that it is the mind and thought making that statement?
It is automatically assumed and believed
Rab: Yes
Xain: Good You see we are seeing the difference now between what is actually happening, and what the mind / thought is stating is happening.
Why is it 'your arm'?
'Feeling' might play a part in the assumption that it is 'yours'. Let me know what you consider about it?
Rab: It is just a way of talking - its just an arm as feelings are just feelings
Xain: Can you see that the arm itself doesn't 'feel' - The arm doesn't 'DO' the feeling - There is just feeling.
Indeed, if you examine the experience of 'feeling' is there anything actually 'doing it' - Or is there just 'feeling'?
'My arm' just a way of talking - Yes. Can you see that thought states that too. Thought might say 'This is my arm'
Rab: I need to go in a minute Xain - got to teach an English course soon. Get back to you later. There is just feeling. I can see the arm doesn't do the feeling
Xain: Excellent - I will chat with you more tomorrow
Rab: Thanks again : )
Xain: Let us go back to thoughts
Think a thought - Or imagine something.
Now what created that thought? Is the thought 'yours'? If it is, what makes it so?
Is there a controller of thoughts?
In the sentence 'I think' - What is 'I'? Is it something that can be located / found in the experience of thinking.
If we say a thought appears, or an imaginary object is visualised, what is it's creator? Not AN IDEA of what created it, but something that can actually be found!
Rab: nothing can be found which creates thoughts no I
Xain: So opening the dialogue up a little bit, could you stop thoughts? Are you creating the thoughts? Have YOU (meaning some-sort of separate self, person, Rab) ever thought a thought? Consider it - Is 'I thought' actually true? Or is it itself, just a thought . . .
Rab: its just a thought, there is no I creating thoughts
Xain: Consider choice - Have YOU ever chosen anything? Could you (meaning a seperate self, person, Rab) actually ever chose anything?
In other words, has life been completely automatic - Everything 'just happened'
Rab: I, in the sense of a separate self have never chosen anything. Life just happens. 'this being, that becomes' conditions follow conditions.
Xain: Did you chose to begin a conversation with me? Did you ever chose what to reply?
Did it all 'just happen'.
Is 'I' anything other than a thought? An idea appearing? Automatically believed . . . and not believed by a 'you'?
Rab: No I did not choose. I is just a thought
Xain: Good. Hopefully you can see what has been happening. A thought appears - It is assumed to be right and is never questioned. 'I do this' 'I do that' 'I choose' 'I control this body'.
How do we see if these thoughts actually relate to a seperate self, a person, a Rab . . .. by comparing the thoughts with what can actually be found - And this separate self cannot be found.
Xain: It only ever appears in a thought.
Do you have any questions? How do you feel?
You see, we can still hold a conversation - 'I' can talk to 'you'. But at the same time, realise it's all just a play of thoughts - It's fine
And it's been that way all along!
Rab: Yes, its always been like this and its fine.
I feel fine - Not as 'liberated' as I thought I might feel at the start of this conversation. But its a good feeling.
Xain: Liberating - Yes. Whatever happened here, 'you' couldn't have made a mistake - Or done it any differently. Neither could I. What has transpired (apparently) is just how it was going to go all along
Xain: But also notice, we are not rejecting anything - Or saying that things should or should not happen. Life apparently continues. You care for your family. You do your job. Live life. But see that all of this is just happening. There isn't a separate you who is doing it - Nor a separate you that could choose to have it different or change it. Thoughts are just saying it all.
It is completely as it should be
(When I say, you do your job, live life etc, I mean that is what appears to be happening through thought - And that is perfectly fine)
Rab: Yes

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Xain
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Re: Guiding Thread for 'Rab'

Postby Xain » Tue Dec 02, 2014 4:08 pm

Xain: Do you have any questions? What would you like to do right now?
As part of the LU process, there are a further six questions I can ask which may solidify things for you - I can ask them when you are happy
Rab: Yes please ask the questions
Xain: Ok - Here goes
1) Is there a separate entity 'self', 'me' 'I', at all, anywhere, in any way, shape or form? Was there ever?
Rab: No there isn't and there never has been
Xain: 2) How does it feel to see this? What is the difference between 'now' and from before we started chatting? Perhaps give a report from the past few days.
Rab:It feels quite normal, perhaps a bit less 'caught up' in things than before. As I said - less dramatic than I expected.
Xain:
3) Was there a last bit that made you realise? Maybe an 'aha!' moment? Perhaps something I mentioned, or something that you looked into yourself?
Rab: Not really an aha moment but looking at choice and how 'I' have no choice is what helped me realise.
Xain: 4) Explain in detail what the illusion of the separate self is, when it starts and how it works from your own experience. Describe it fully as you now understand it.
Rab: The illusion of a separate self is that there is an I which acts and decides things and is somehow separate from what is happening - thinking, feeling, doing etc. I don't know when it starts but I imagine at a very young age 'I' started to think in terms of me and mine. Seems quite a strange idea now.
Xain: 5) Describe decision, intention, free will, choice and control. What makes things happen? How does it work? What are you responsible for? Please give examples from experience if possible
Rab: Okay if I come back to this in an hour or so once the kids are in bed?
Xain: Sure
Rab:Thanks, talk to you soon
Rab: Back again. Things just happen, conditions roll on. There is no 'me' to be responsible for anything. choices are made without an I behind them. what makes things happen. intention is just another condition - no I in it.
Xain: Final question 6) Do you have anything else you would like to say or add?
Rab: I'd like to thank you for your questions and for taking the time to engage in this process with me


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