Seeing through the illusion of I

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CatBells
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Seeing through the illusion of I

Postby CatBells » Sun Jun 22, 2014 8:23 pm

Good Evening Elena, Ilona et al

I have a very dear friend at a Triratana Buddhist Centre who has gone through The Gate in the latter part of 2013.

During our rambles on the Diamond Sutra we discussed his experiences and he encouraged me to explore the LU website as he felt that through my practice (especially Metta Bhavana) I had opened up sufficiently and was becoming very connected that I would be receptive to be guided through The Gate.

After a period of reflection I registered and read through a great number of the posts. I also purchased the Gateless Gatecrashers book which I read putting myself in the places of the people being guided. I didn't request a Guide at this time as I could not commit to a regular time due to travel constraints for a couple of months (now concluded) and I felt that the book would give me a great foundation prior to requesting a Guide to help me through The Gate.

However, the stories contained within the book were very powerful and helped me see through the illusion of "I" at the end of 2014.

You ask people what it was the final push that saw them through and I must say that in my case the two most prominent points were the film/cinema analogy together with what breaths (is it me or the body itself)/is there a breather.
Other pointers that helped enormously were
- experience do not reflect
- where does I reside
- who/ what controls thoughts (nothing !!!!!)
- Santa Claus analogy
- Does life happen without the control of a self
- Thoughts label sensations etc.

What I have experienced since going through The Gate at the end of April 2014 has been a freedom in my life that I have never experienced before and has also helped me conquer a fear for heights on a couple of occasions recently by experiencing who was owning the fear.
However, I don't think I can put what I am experiencing any better than Ilona in her introduction to the Gateless Gatecrashers :
"We are not doing anything, doing is happening. There is no doer, no thinker, no managers that decides what, when, with whom or why. Life just happens, and we have no say in it. There is no us"

Many, many thanks for giving the world access to these wonderful resources which help people through the gate.

I would like to help others through The Gate and would ask that you consider me in due course to become a Guide.

With Metta and huge thanks
Catbells

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CatBells
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Re: Seeing through the illusion of I

Postby CatBells » Sun Jun 22, 2014 8:26 pm

Good Evening Elena, Ilona et al

However, the stories contained within the book were very powerful and helped me see through the illusion of "I" at the end of 2014.
For end of 2014, please read April 2014

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Bill
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Re: Seeing through the illusion of I

Postby Bill » Mon Jun 23, 2014 3:05 am

welcome to LU Catbells,

I'm Bill and I'd be happy to talk with you.
Yes, we would be very interested in you being a guide here. We find its a great thing to do once you've seen through the self illusion, to pass it on to others who may be still seeking.
Many have done the same as you... had a seeing from reading the book, along with posts from here.
It's amazing really, when you think of how many other things people have read over the course of their seeking, none really having the kind of impact it has had.

What I'd like to do is ask you a few questions to be sure there's nothing left unturned.
If you've read through here the posts here, you probably are familiar with the process.
I'll go ahead and start if you OK that.

What is your reaction when I say that the you that you think you are is not real?
That there is no I/you in real life; none.... zero.
That if looked for, it can't be found.
That there's just life... flowing.
Just what is.

What comes up for you?
Feelings, thoughts, reactions, sensations.... list all and any that come for you.

Bill

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Re: Seeing through the illusion of I

Postby CatBells » Mon Jun 23, 2014 5:44 pm

What is your reaction when I say that the you that you think you are is not real?
That there is no I/you in real life; none.... zero.
That if looked for, it can't be found.
That there's just life... flowing.
Just what is.

What comes up for you?
Feelings, thoughts, reactions, sensations.... list all and any that come for you.
Bill
Good afternoon Bill from another Bill :-)

My first reaction was one of thanks for you replying and then further thanks for posing the questions.
What followed was me saying out loud you are so right Bill and then a broad smile, a Yes, Yes, Yes moment and then a deep feeling of contentment and happiness which arose from the confirmation that I have seen through the illusion.

There is no I/Self in any shape or form - it being an illusion that I have cultivated for near on 62 years.

Thoughts, feelings, sensations, mind and body (labelled Catbells) are all real but there is not a self here that is managing or doing these things - it just cannot be found (and I have looked everywhere). I / Me / Mine are just labels that just don't refer to anything real.

Life happens - it just flows (i.e. breathing, driving a car). Life has always happened and now i have realised that it didn't require a self to do so.

With Metta
Catbells

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Re: Seeing through the illusion of I

Postby Bill » Mon Jun 23, 2014 9:13 pm

There is no I/Self in any shape or form - it being an illusion that I have cultivated for near on 62 years.

Thoughts, feelings, sensations, mind and body (labelled Catbells) are all real but there is not a self here that is managing or doing these things - it just cannot be found (and I have looked everywhere). I / Me / Mine are just labels that just don't refer to anything real.

Life happens - it just flows (i.e. breathing, driving a car). Life has always happened and now i have realised that it didn't require a self to do so.
Nice
Glad you're here!

Catbells - what is different for you now if anything?
What pushed you over; if you can think of a certain thing or thought that made you look?

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Re: Seeing through the illusion of I

Postby CatBells » Tue Jun 24, 2014 7:47 pm

Catbells - what is different for you now if anything?
I find that I appear to have more freedom with my realisation that life just flows. I am not so affected by the swings of the 8 wordily winds. My "ego" is dropping away, interconnectedness and equanimity is increasing and the fetter of desire is starting to be loosened. Have been able to let go of my fear of heights on two occasions which for me is a major achievement
What pushed you over; if you can think of a certain thing or thought that made you look?
It was a combination of pointers but I must say that in my case the two most prominent points were the film/cinema analogy together with what breaths (is it me or the body itself)/is there a breather with the latter being the absolute clincher.

With Metta
Bill

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Re: Seeing through the illusion of I

Postby Bill » Wed Jun 25, 2014 8:07 am

I find that I appear to have more freedom with my realisation that life just flows. I am not so affected by the swings of the 8 wordily winds. My "ego" is dropping away, interconnectedness and equanimity is increasing and the fetter of desire is starting to be loosened. Have been able to let go of my fear of heights on two occasions which for me is a major achievement
Very interesting about the fear of heights going away..
I can see this happening for sure.
When the self's tightly bound beliefs let go.... ahhh!


Bill, I'm going to go ahead and ask the questions we do of all that come through.
If anything is not clear, this will help ferret out any remaining doubts or questions.
Please answer these with your own language and and experience.
Leave no doubt as to what you are meaning when answering.
Please give each your full attention, take your time... there's no rush for any of this.
I will put your answers out to some of our other guides to look at for any comments or questions.
If you're not aware, when this dialogue is ended we have several Facebook groups for aftercare and discussion.
I'll also go over what to do to prepare to guide other people as you indicated you'd like to do...

1) Is there a separate entity 'self', 'me' 'I', at all, anywhere, in any way, shape or form? Was there ever?

2) Explain in detail what the illusion of separate self is, when it starts and how it works from your own experience. Describe it fully as you see it now.

3) How does it feel to see this? What is the difference from before you started this dialogue? Please report from the past few days.

4) What was the last bit that pushed you over, made you look?

5) Describe decision, intention, free will, choice and control. What makes things happen? How does it work? What are you responsible for? Give specific and very recent examples from your direct experience.

6) Anything to add?

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Re: Seeing through the illusion of I

Postby CatBells » Wed Jun 25, 2014 4:01 pm

3) How does it feel to see this? What is the difference from before you started this dialogue? Please report from the past few days.

4) What was the last bit that pushed you over, made you look?
Afternoon Bill

Seeking a wee bit of clarification re the questions above.

With regard to question 3, I started this dialogue almost 2 months after seeing through the illusion of a separate self -should I be answering from then or now?

With regard to question 5, is this 2 questions in that what pushed me over and then what made me look in the first place?

With Metta
Catbells

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Re: Seeing through the illusion of I

Postby Bill » Wed Jun 25, 2014 9:09 pm

3) How does it feel to see this? What is the difference from before you started this dialogue? Please report from the past few days.
With regard to question 3, I started this dialogue almost 2 months after seeing through the illusion of a separate self -should I be answering from then or now?
you could do both... from before you started - then when seeing happened and what's going on now.

4) What was the last bit that pushed you over, made you look?
With regard to question 5, is this 2 questions in that what pushed me over and then what made me look in the first place?
I'm assuming you mean (4) as that is what you have quoted.. :)

Yes two questions.
Note. We like to see all your thoughts and feelings on all these questions; especially as you have not done a regular dialogue and this is the only thing we have to go on. Thorough is good!

Take your time.... there's no rush.

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Re: Seeing through the illusion of I

Postby Bill » Sat Jun 28, 2014 6:17 pm

Hello Catbells - How is it going?

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Re: Seeing through the illusion of I

Postby CatBells » Sun Jun 29, 2014 10:47 pm

Hello Catbells - How is it going?
Yeh good thanks. Been a very busy few days with seeing grandchildren, sons and daughters-in-law so reply has been delayed a tad.

However, if you are sitting comfortably here are my replies:
1) Is there a separate entity 'self', 'me' 'I', at all, anywhere, in any way, shape or form? Was there ever?
There is no I or Self in any shape or form with it being an illusion that I have cultivated for near on 62 years. Thoughts, feelings, sensations, mind and body are all real but there is not a separate self here that is managing or doing these things - it just cannot be found. I, me, mine are just labels that just don't refer to anything real (although previously I thought they were). Life happens with it just flowing in and all around me just as it always has done.
2) Explain in detail what the illusion of separate self is, when it starts and how it works from your own experience. Describe it fully as you see it now.
Looking back at my experience I would say that the illusion of the separate self is where I have attached I, me and mine to every thought, action, feeling and sensation in my daily life.
It appears to be an automatic conditioned approach that kicks in immediately a thought, sensation, feelings etc. appear.
3) How does it feel to see this? What is the difference from before you started this dialogue? Please report from the past few days.
It feels good, really goods, to see through this illusion. It was about 7.5 years ago that I first went to the Buddhist Centre with the initial aim of making myself a nicer person. The aims have evolved over the 7.5 years and there has been a steady unfolding which has accelerated during 2014.
Earlier in 2014 I would have said that there was a feeling and a sense of a separate self that i identified with, created stories around it and added into its mix memories and emotions. I was comfortable with this but then I started to question thoughts (more about this in the answer to question 4) and also what was or not real. I was living in my very own Matrix and that there was not a direct connection with reality.
After going through The Gate I felt that there was a greater feeling of freedom and contentment. Life has continued to unfold with my "ego" dropping away, interconnectedness and equanimity increasing and the fetter of desire starting to be loosened. Have also recently been able to let go of my fear of heights on two occasions through looking directly at the fear and the ownership of the fear. There have been a reduction in the number of stories cultivated.
4) What was the last bit that pushed you over, made you look?
What made me look was that I had started to question where thoughts come from, why they arose, where did they go and why independently my wife and I would have the same thoughts without there being any conditions for the thoughts to arise in either of us. Also the control of thoughts were also being questioners.
As it happens I still don't have any answers to those questions but I now recognise that the thoughts are real, they do happen and I have no control over them.
with regard to what pushed me over was a cumulative effect of the pointers with the final push coming from "the breath". It happened as I was a tad late for work and I was out of breath from rushing. As I waited for the lift |( after rushing, 5 flights of stairs didn't appeal !!!!) I experienced that there was breathing going on and that there was a breather - it all totally unfolded at this moment and everything fell into place.
) Describe decision, intention, free will, choice and control. What makes things happen? How does it work? What are you responsible for? Give specific and very recent examples from your direct experience.
Decision:
A mental process which results in a conclusion of a judgement re a course of action based upon a set of circumstances presented to Catbells
Intention:
A course of action that one means to do or achieve. Will more often than not follow a decision i.e. a decision is made to enrol on LU and the intention is to follow through the process with the objective of seeing through the illusion of a separate self.
Free Will:
Free will is the ability to make choices from a number of alternatives whilst not being constrained by any other factors
Choice:
A choice is the selection of one of a number of alternatives by the comparison and judgement on the merits of the alternatives
Control:
Control arise where there is a dominating influence in a process.

All the above would have been seen by me to have been owned by a separate self - this is a total illusion. I still don't understand the process but it happens and presumably is based on past conditioning.
With regard to responsibility (and I throw in accountability for good measure) this again occurs without the intervention of a separate self and is based on past conditioning.
Life just doesn't need a separate self with an example being the breath. There is no separate self making decisions or intentions, choices or controlling the process especially whilst asleep. It just happens (in my case sometimes with the the assistance of asthma inhalers). A further example is the process of driving.
6) Anything to add?
A big thanks to the team.
I think that the answers were right in front of me but that I was thinking too deeply and not experiencing. The pointers are very clever as they really made me look at my experiences.

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Re: Seeing through the illusion of I

Postby Bill » Tue Jul 01, 2014 6:29 am

Hello Bill

Thanks for your response to the questions.
I went through them and had a few things I'd like to ask you about further, things I wasn't clear on.
Please look through them and answer when you can.

Thanks.



#2 needs a bit more explanation.. What is it exactly (the illusion of the self) and when in your life did it 'start'?

#3 Does this seeing thru the self have to do with being a better person? How?
Life has continued to unfold with my "ego" dropping away,
explain more on that please, not certain what you are meaning.

#4
It happened as I was a tad late for work and I was out of breath from rushing. As I waited for the lift |( after rushing, 5 flights of stairs didn't appeal !!!!) I experienced that there was breathing going on and that there was a breather - it all totally unfolded at this moment and everything fell into place.
What do you mean by 'a breather'?

#5 Bill - you've give definitions of these words.. dictionary type definitions... what we're looking for here is how do these things 'work' or not in your life? How are decisions made for you, what does free will mean in your life, control? Is it a different look now compared to before seeing?

Again, no rush on this. Take your time and answer when you're ready.

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Re: Seeing through the illusion of I

Postby CatBells » Tue Jul 01, 2014 2:07 pm

#2 needs a bit more explanation.. What is it exactly (the illusion of the self) and when in your life did it 'start'?
At the beginning of 2014 when I thought / reflected on the self I kept coming back to a situation that was very black and white that it either existed or if it didn’t exist in any way shape or form, what was there that was running the show that was Catbells. This made me very nervous as after almost 62 years I had become very comfortable with an actual self that lived independently of me and my experience.

I had thought that there was a solid and separate self which was at a control tower running and controlling my life and interacting with the world. All of the feelings, sensations, thoughts and the body that is Catbells appeared to come together to form this illusion that there was this solid and separate self which was controlling and running my life. Over the years this was being reinforced by the language I used and led me not to question (until recently) the self as when I talked I would say, “I think...”, “You are...”, and also with thoughts such as I am going to make a cup of tea, mow the lawn etc.

There is no I thinking or doing anything as it all just happens as a flow of life. Thoughts, feelings, sensations, actions arise on their own without a solid and separate self being present.

I cannot identify a point in time which I could say this is when it started as looking back on my experiences as it always seems to have been with me. As such I feel that it must have started from the first breath as there are continual genetic and social developmental processes which condition us from a very early age.

#3 Does this seeing thru the self have to do with being a better person? How?
I can only answer from my own experience on this and yes it has been part of the reason, together with my Buddhist practice, on why I am becoming a better person by being more responsive to others and not just considering “me” all of the time. Also understanding how life just happens has introduced a lot of contentment into my life which is again a very nice state to attain and then take into my interaction with the world around me. Seeing through the illusion has helped me to have a better understanding of why both Catbells and people act as they do, and enabled me to not react in negative, agitated ways as I might have done in the past.
How much is down to my practice and how much is down to seeing through the illusion I wouldn’t like to say but I feel that they must both be present to make significant progress.
On its own it will not make you a better person, as I believe that it is what you do with the knowledge that really matters.
In the past the demarcation lines between me and others were very sharp and definite but now I feel that these are no longer there and feel a great interconnectedness with all sentient beings etc.
Life has continued to unfold with my "ego" dropping away,
explain more on that please, not certain what you are meaning.
My ego was part of me that separated me from the outside world by thinking that there were two definite camps of an I/Me and Them, where there was no interconnectedness between the two and I had a great sense of self importance.
I suppose many, many years ago it was responsible for survival.
This ego manifested itself in me by ambition at all costs, a lack of patience, a hatred of others where they were more successful than me, delusions and fear, blaming others for failures and taking all of the credit for successes. This also led me to feelings of frustration and anger when things happened that didn’t happen in accord with how I thought they should.
Over the years through my practice and now with the addition of seeing through the illusion of a separate self this demarcation is dropping away and with it all the baggage that I have carried with me and there is a great feeling of equanimity and interconnectedness with all sentient beings together with a greater emotional stability. There is not an I to feel fear, to be threatened etc.
What do you mean by 'a breather'?
There is a sensation and feeling of breathing taking place and there is a body (the breather) that carries out this function without recourse to a separate self. It just happens.
#5 Bill - you've give definitions of these words.. dictionary type definitions... what we're looking for here is how do these things 'work' or not in your life? How are decisions made for you, what does free will mean in your life, control? Is it a different look now compared to before seeing?
Prior to seeing through the illusion I believed in this solid separate self which went about its daily business acting as a controller over decision making, resolving to take certain actions (intention), and that it had total free will and choice in all of these processes.

However, I can now see that life just unfolds via experiences with any decisions, choices etc. I have made in the past being based on genetic or social inputs (conditions) that I have encountered during my life shaping me into what Catbells is now.

I can see that I had very little control over these inputs, especially during childhood, which has led me to the conclusion through looking at the experiences here and now that there wasn’t (and still isn’t) any free will, choice or control around when I was making the decisions. They are purely labels for processes that happen given a particular set of conditions. There is not a separate self that requests thoughts to appear in order for actions and decisions to be made these actions and decisions just happen and in the example I have given below it just flows to a conclusion.

An example of one of these processes is when I am thirsty. The first decision takes place over am I sufficiently thirsty to get up to go to the kitchen or ask my wife if she is making a drink, decision made I move to the kitchen, do I want a hot or a cold drink, then what type of hot and cold drink, how cold or how hot, which type of tea, if a cold drink is it water, beer, fruit juice, what glass or cup etc. etc.. The decisions, choices, intentions etc. just accumulate without an I being involved at all – it just happens based on the conditions at that time.


With Metta
Bill

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Re: Seeing through the illusion of I

Postby Bill » Wed Jul 02, 2014 5:16 am

Thanks Bill.
I put these answers up to our other guides to look at and they had a few further aquestions.
Will put these here just as they asked them.
Again, there's no rush, answer whenever you're ready.

Who let go of fear of heights & cultivated the illusion of self?

How can an idea (self) become better?

What would you say is the difference between the ‘self’, a ‘person’, and a ‘sentient being’?

How does what you ‘do with the knowledge’ matter?

Is there a ‘you’ that can apply knowledge and improve Life?

What is it that can be interconnected?

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Re: Seeing through the illusion of I

Postby CatBells » Wed Jul 02, 2014 10:15 am

Good Morning Bill

Many thanks for the questions I will answer as soon as I can

Metta
Catbells


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