Who am I?

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Iznick
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Who am I?

Postby Iznick » Wed Jul 29, 2020 9:55 pm

LU is focused guiding for seeing there is no real, inherent 'self' - what do you understand by this?
That the experience of being a self is just another thing in awareness - possibly a thought - and that it neither controls nor perceives all the other elements of experience. Awareness is what does the perceiving, and there is nothing that is in control.
What are you looking for at LU? A deeper and more sustained realisation that the self is an illusion - I can glimpse it, I think, to some degree, but I would like to go further. Glimpsing it feels somewhat freeing, and so I assume that seeing it more deeply would be more freeing.

What do you expect from a guided conversation?
I have no particular expectations. To be asked questions, I guess, and perhaps given instructions for investigating different aspects of my experience. I am open to any kind of conversation, if it has the desired effect.

What is your experience in terms of spiritual practices, seeking and inquiry?
I have been practising Buddhist meditation since 2006, but have only had a daily practice since 2014, which was when meditation started to have a big effect on me. At that time I was practising with Triratna, but since 2017 I have mainly practised in the Insight Meditation community (i.e. Gaia House etc). I have done quite a few retreats, the longest being a 2-week solitary in 2018. At the moment I sit for 45 mins-1 hour daily.

In 2018 I was introduced to practises for directly glimpsing the absence of self - Douglas Harding's "headlessness" practises, and things derived from Dzogchen. I found these quite effective, and can see things from the perspective of awareness when I want to, to varying degrees. And now and again when I do this, the sense of self seems to drop away for a moment (rather than just not being identified with so strongly). I wouldn't say that this has made a huge difference to me, though, so presumably what I am glimpsing is a fairly mild version of the insight that I am looking for. Or perhaps I'm not glimpsing it at all.

On a scale from 1 to 10, how willing are you to question any currently held beliefs about 'self?
10

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Vivien
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Re: Who am I?

Postby Vivien » Sat Aug 15, 2020 4:06 am

Hi,

Welcome to Liberation Unleashed. My name is Vivien and I can assist you with your inquiry.

This is going to be your inquiry. I will not be giving you new ideas and beliefs; only assisting you in examining and questioning the ones that you already have. We can have a conversation and see where it takes you.

The purpose of which would be for there to be a realisation, more than just intellectually, that there never was and never will be a separate self, as, such. All our efforts will focus on that.

I will tend to ask many questions. That's my job here. These, will be pointers towards no self. It will be for you to examine your experience to find out what's true or not.

I would like to ask you to write only from your experience as you see it, what feels true, with whole honesty.
And also post daily.
If you cannot post, or need more time, please let me know.
Can we agree on these?

Could you please tell me what are you really looking for? How would your life change if you find that?
What are you hoping for to change?
What do you hope that should happen?
Do you have an image in mind how seeing through the self-illusion would be like or feel like?


Vivien
The most profound discoveries arise from questioning the obvious.

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

Blog: https://fadingveiling.com/

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Iznick
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Re: Who am I?

Postby Iznick » Sat Aug 22, 2020 9:14 am

Hi there

So sorry for the delay - your message went into my Spam folder. I hope I am not too late to continue the conversation.

In answer to your questions:
Can we agree on these?
Yes, we certainly can

Could you please tell me what are you really looking for? How would your life change if you find that?
What are you hoping for to change?
What do you hope that should happen?
Do you have an image in mind how seeing through the self-illusion would be like or feel like?
I suppose I am looking for a reduction in suffering. My expectations of what form that would take are based both on my own experience and on what I've read and heard. I have had moments when the sense of self seems to drop away and there's just...experience. Everything is still happening - thoughts, feelings, sights, sounds etc - but there's not much of a "me" at the centre of it. It feels kind of nice and kind of interesting, but not AMAZING, and it only lasts a few moments. So I'm imagining that I could experience something like that, but that felt much more freeing and lasted longer.

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Vivien
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Re: Who am I?

Postby Vivien » Sat Aug 22, 2020 11:12 am

Hi Iznick,

What name would you like me to call you?

Thank you for getting through these questions about expectations. It’s important, because every expectation is in a way of seeing what is here, right now.

Every expectation is a ‘hindrance’ in realizing what IS. Expectations result in comparison. Comparison between what is happening, and the imagined expectation. Thus what has been seen can be thrown out or ignored, since it doesn’t match the expected outcome.
I suppose I am looking for a reduction in suffering.
This is what we all want. But seeing through the self-illusion is not a guarantee for it. When there is suffering, it’s not just because there is a belief in a self. Suffering happens when certain stimuli poke or touch our ‘wounds inside’. Those wounds are not a person/self. The self is just an added on narrative.

And the personality stays almost completely intact when the self is seen through. All the conditionings from childhood, all the traumas, all the gathered emotional pains won’t dissolve in an instant just because the self is seen through. These most likely will stay, however, they are much more accessible and easier to work with after seeing through the illusion. This is just the first step, just the beginning, and not the end. The falling away of conditioning can last at the end of the organism.
It feels kind of nice and kind of interesting, but not AMAZING, and it only lasts a few moments.
Yes, it’s not amazing, and please don’t expect it to be amazing. Seeing thought the self illusion is not about changing our emotions and getting into a very different state than what is normally happening. There might be some pleasant by products at the beginning, but sometimes these are quite subtle.

Many people expect to get into a state of pleasant emotions, like happiness, peace, bliss, etc. But happiness or peace is a state, and no states are permanent, they are all subject to change. Seeing through the separate individual is not about not having any ‘bad’ or uncomfortable feelings any more. Rather it’s about seeing that emotions don’t belong to anything. They are free floating without being tied to or anchored to anything.

Many seekers believe that seeing through the separate individual is a completely different state that they are currently having, with some special qualities (happiness, bliss, constant peace or whatever). However, this is not the case. Seeing through the illusion that there is a separate entity (self) is not a state. When it is SEEN it, the knowledge becomes factual. Many seekers have the impression that seeing there is no self is a state to ‘abide in’. It's not.
So I'm imagining that I could experience something like that, but that felt much more freeing and lasted longer.
It would be very good if you could put aside this expectation. If you have an idea in mind how it should feel like or be like then you are going to chase that idea, and meanwhile you can miss what is here now, in front of you. But since you are comparing what is with that idea, the conclusion can be that this (what is here now) is not it.
Glimpsing it feels somewhat freeing, and so I assume that seeing it more deeply would be more freeing.
These glimpses are being interpreted through the lens of a separate self. What it can bring to me. What I can gain from it. Like being more free.

But what if there is no you at all, who could become more free? What if this desire for freedom is just a story about non-existent separate self?
I wouldn't say that this has made a huge difference to me, though, so presumably what I am glimpsing is a fairly mild version of the insight that I am looking for. Or perhaps I'm not glimpsing it at all.
Or maybe you are trying to measure the seeing by its by-products (what it brings to me). Seeing through self is not about making a huge difference to ME. What me? Who would have a huge difference?

Seeing through the self-illusion isn’t measured by what emotions, or lack of emotions results from it.
Seeing through the self means seeing that there is no separate self.

When this is seen there can be some emotional response to it, but it’s not an earth shattering change, when the whole experience of life becomes different.

Seeing through the self-illusion is just the beginning, just the first step, far from being an end. Only the core belief in a separate self is seen through, but there are many other beliefs, conditionings, patterns of feeling and behaving that needs to be worked through.
My expectations of what form that would take are based both on my own experience and on what I've read and heard.
There are lots of information out there, and many of them are quite removed from reality.

The thing is that it cannot be know in advance how it will be. Why? Because all expectations come on behalf of a separate self, who is always in a search for peace, happiness, lack of fear and suffering. We simply cannot imagine it, since we cannot step outside from the separate self’s perspective. We can only imagine it within the dream of me. The illusionary me is simply unable to imagine how it would be if it were discovered to be just a fictional character and not a reality. It can only imagine what it wants for itself.


Please ponder on my comments to see your expectations from a different perspective. Because what I can say for sure, it won’t be how you imagine it to be. Since it cannot be known in advance. It’s never how one imagines it to be.

So it would be the best, if you could drop all your expectations, and just to be a clean slate.

Please, put all the books and videos aside, we are going to be focusing on what you see, rather than what you have learned. Can we agree on this?

Before starting, please read my above comments carefully a few more times and tell me what comes up by reading the comments about the expectations.
Is there any resistance to any of it?

Do you feel ready to start the investigation?


Vivien
The most profound discoveries arise from questioning the obvious.

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

Blog: https://fadingveiling.com/

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Iznick
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Re: Who am I?

Postby Iznick » Sat Aug 22, 2020 11:38 am

Hi Iznick,

What name would you like me to call you?

My name is Michael

Please ponder on my comments to see your expectations from a different perspective. Because what I can say for sure, it won’t be how you imagine it to be. Since it cannot be known in advance. It’s never how one imagines it to be.

So it would be the best, if you could drop all your expectations, and just to be a clean slate.

Please, put all the books and videos aside, we are going to be focusing on what you see, rather than what you have learned. Can we agree on this?

Sure. I stopped reading and listening to stuff a while ago, because I didn't think is going to get any more out of it

Before starting, please read my above comments carefully a few more times and tell me what comes up by reading the comments about the expectations.
Is there any resistance to any of it?

Do you feel ready to start the investigation?


I'm pleased to read that it need not be dramatic, because that makes it seem more attainable, and like I might be indeed be glimpsing it already. What you say about expectations makes sense, though I'm not sure I know how to put them aside. But I can do my best.

So yes, I'm ready to begin

Vivien

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Vivien
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Re: Who am I?

Postby Vivien » Sat Aug 22, 2020 11:49 am

Hi Michael,

That was a quick reply. We are going to start the inquiry, so from now on please spend a whole day with the questions.

You can check how your post will look like before posting by pressing the ‘preview’ button next to the submit button. Please quote each questions separately, so it will be easier to read for both of us.

Now, let’s start it. We are going to start to investigate thoughts. Seeing thoughts clearly is essential part of the inquiry.

It is very important that you never think or ponder on the questions. Rather you actually have to look what you can see in your immediate experience before any thought interpretation.

Please always be thorough with looking. Look repeatedly several times before replying.

What do you do exactly in order to think?
How do you make (or birth) thoughts into existence?


Please be careful not to think about these questions, but actually sit and NOTICE how you think, how you do it exactly. So don’t go to theories, speculations, philosophy, or any learned information. Just notice what is happening here now in the immediacy of your own experience.

Please spend a whole day investigating these questions. Look again and again and again. Even if the answer seems to be clear, look more.

This investigation is about persistent repetition. Looking at the same thing again and again in experience, what brings about the realization.

Vivien
The most profound discoveries arise from questioning the obvious.

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

Blog: https://fadingveiling.com/

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Iznick
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Re: Who am I?

Postby Iznick » Sun Aug 23, 2020 9:01 am

What do you do exactly in order to think?
How do you make (or birth) thoughts into existence?[/color]


Hi

I can notice different kinds of thoughts.

Images and memories I can see arise and dissolve. I don't do anything to make them appear.

Verbal thoughts I can't see arise - I only notice them once I am already thinking them. So I do not notice myself doing anything to make them arise, but it does feel like it's ME thinking them, whereas with images and memories, it doesn't really feel like it's me.

Then there are verbal thoughts that I consciously decide to think. I can form the conscious intention to think "My name is Michael", and then think it. So it feels like I am doing something to bring these thoughts into being - maybe just forming the intention to think them. But as for where the intention comes from...I guess that just arises without me doing anything.

With verbal thoughts I also notice sensations of subtle movement or tensing in my throat, around my larynx, as though I were actually speaking.

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Vivien
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Re: Who am I?

Postby Vivien » Sun Aug 23, 2020 12:03 pm

Hi Michael,

You did a nice investigation.

Yes, we can say that there are two type of thoughts, verbal / auditory and visual / pictorial.
With verbal thoughts I also notice sensations of subtle movement or tensing in my throat, around my larynx, as though I were actually speaking.
Yes, excellent observation. When there are verbal thoughts the vocal cords often move as if we were speaking internally. So that’s why there is a tensing in the throat.
Then there are verbal thoughts that I consciously decide to think. I can form the conscious intention to think "My name is Michael", and then think it. So it feels like I am doing something to bring these thoughts into being - maybe just forming the intention to think them. But as for where the intention comes from...I guess that just arises without me doing anything.
Let’s dig a bit deeper here.

So you can see that the mental images appear on their own. And you are guessing that thoughts about intention might arise similarly.

But let’s see what happens when we look at this in experience.

Please try to ‘intentionally’ think of a 2-digit number. After, investigate:

Why did you choose that number?
Why not the previous number, or the next one? Do you know?
If not, why don’t you know?


If you are the thinker of thoughts, then you must know exactly how you create them.

So how did you create the thought of the number you choose?

Repeat the experiment at least 10 times (or more) before replying.

--

If you are not sure how to quote, here is the link to a short video how to do it:
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Vivien
The most profound discoveries arise from questioning the obvious.

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

Blog: https://fadingveiling.com/

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Iznick
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Re: Who am I?

Postby Iznick » Mon Aug 24, 2020 7:48 am

Please try to ‘intentionally’ think of a 2-digit number. After, investigate:
Why did you choose that number?
Why not the previous number, or the next one? Do you know?
If not, why don’t you know?
So how did you create the thought of the number you choose?
Hi

Thanks for this - it worked well. When I first tried to do it, I thought of the number 10, but it was quite clear to me that I hadn't chosen the number - it just appeared. Which I guess is because I don't choose my thoughts - they are the products of an impersonal process that happens outside of awareness. So I can see that there was no self behind my choice of the number 10.

And that continued to be true each time I thought of a new number.

Although of course I could form an intention such as, "I'll think of every 10th number from 10 to 100", and then think of 10, 20, 30, and so on. So that felt more like "I" was behind the choice of numbers. But presumably the intention to think of those numbers rather than other ones...just arose.

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Vivien
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Re: Who am I?

Postby Vivien » Mon Aug 24, 2020 8:04 am

Hi Michael,
Although of course I could form an intention such as, "I'll think of every 10th number from 10 to 100", and then think of 10, 20, 30, and so on. So that felt more like "I" was behind the choice of numbers. But presumably the intention to think of those numbers rather than other ones...just arose.
OK. You say that PRESUMABLY the intention to think those number also just arose.
Let’s go a step further. Not just presume, but actually have a look. Let’s test it out.

Make an intention about something (like intending to stand up, walk, do the dishes, put something aside, etc.), but before you do that, check out if you can know in advance what the intention will be, BEFORE the thought of it arise.

Do this as often as possible during the day.

Let me know what happens.

Vivien
The most profound discoveries arise from questioning the obvious.

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

Blog: https://fadingveiling.com/

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Iznick
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Re: Who am I?

Postby Iznick » Tue Aug 25, 2020 9:04 am

Make an intention about something (like intending to stand up, walk, do the dishes, put something aside, etc.), but before you do that, check out if you can know in advance what the intention will be, BEFORE the thought of it arise.
Good morning

So if I form an intention to form an intention (i.e. I think, "What shall I do next?"), then I do not know in advance what it will be - my mind just suggests something (e.g. "I'll make a cut of tea"). As for where that original intention to form an intention comes from...who knows, because I don't notice it until it's already formed. It just appears in awareness.

And sometimes I can notice intentions forming in my mind spontaneously, or in response to something I see around me, or a thought. I don't choose them, or make them form.

And a lot of my movements seem not to have any conscious intention behind them at all - my body just does stuff without me having consciously commanded it to.

But a strange situation arises when I think to myself, "Why don't I make myself a cup of tea?", and then don't do it immediately. I can sit and wait for myself to do it, and not know when I'll finally get up and do it. I can sit and observe my mind and body, and notice the urge to get up, but not act on it. And then, at some point...I get up and make myself a cup of tea. And I'm not sure why I do it at that moment and not some other moment. I could say it happens randomly, or without conscious intent, or I could say that it's me exercising my will. But either way, it's weird.

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Vivien
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Re: Who am I?

Postby Vivien » Tue Aug 25, 2020 10:56 am

Hi Michael,

You did a nice investigation :)
But a strange situation arises when I think to myself, "Why don't I make myself a cup of tea?", and then don't do it immediately.
Are you sure that you are the thinker of this this thought? That you are making this happen?

How do you decide to think “why don’t I make myself a cup of tea?”?
Before this thought appears can you know in advance that this is what you are going to think?


Try an experiment.

Try to create a thought. Any thought, from scratch. What do you find?

Do you notice how thoughts seem to appear, hang around for a while and somehow pass, and then the next thought come?

What is making thoughts to appear?

Now try preventing a thought from appearing. Is it possible?


Vivien
The most profound discoveries arise from questioning the obvious.

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

Blog: https://fadingveiling.com/

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Iznick
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Re: Who am I?

Postby Iznick » Wed Aug 26, 2020 8:41 am

Hi there
Are you sure that you are the thinker of this this thought? That you are making this happen?

How do you decide to think “why don’t I make myself a cup of tea?”?
Before this thought appears can you know in advance that this is what you are going to think?
No, I am not the thinker of the thought, and I can't know in advance that I am going to think it. It just appears (although often I don't notice it until I am already thinking it, so it's hard to confirm how it originated).
Try to create a thought. Any thought, from scratch. What do you find?
When I try to create a thought, one will appear, but I don't choose the content. It can be quite surprising what my mind comes up with.
Do you notice how thoughts seem to appear, hang around for a while and somehow pass, and then the next thought come?
Yes, particularly with visual thoughts and memories. Verbal ones I often don't notice appearing - I don't notice them until they are already there. But yes, sometimes I notice them appearing and then passing away.
What is making thoughts to appear?
I don't know. It's just what the mind does. Sometimes I can see how a thought is triggered by a previous thought, or by something I've heard or seen. But often there is no obvious trigger.
Now try preventing a thought from appearing. Is it possible?
If I try, there might seem to be no thoughts for a few seconds, but then an image appears in my mind, or I catch myself thinking something like, "There are no thoughts!" So, no, I can't stop thoughts appearing.

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Vivien
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Re: Who am I?

Postby Vivien » Wed Aug 26, 2020 10:49 am

Hi Michael,
When I try to create a thought, one will appear, but I don't choose the content. It can be quite surprising what my mind comes up with.
So the mind is thinking thoughts? How do you know this?

Yes, this is what we usually believe, but we are investigating our beliefs and assumptions, to see if they can stand up to the scrutiny of experience.

Where is the exact location of this ‘mind’ which is supposed to be the placeholder and origin of thoughts?
Can you find it in experience?
V: What is making thoughts to appear?
M: I don't know. It's just what the mind does.
So you are saying that the mind is thinking. But in order for this to be true, first, we have to be able find a mind, and then, we have to be able to observe as the mind thinks or produces thoughts.

Is there a kind of entity called ‘mind’ that does something, like thinking thoughts?
Can you point to the ‘mind’ here now? Can you find one?


Yesterday you wrote this:
And sometimes I can notice intentions forming in my mind spontaneously, or in response to something I see around me, or a thought. I don't choose them, or make them form.
So how do you know that intentions forming in a mind? Is this something that can be directly known by actually observing a mind forming intentions, or rather it’s a logical conclusion based on the learned concept of a ‘mind’?
but then an image appears in my mind
Just notice when an mental image appears.
The image is there. Undeniably.

But where is the mind which the image is supposedly appear in?

Vivien
The most profound discoveries arise from questioning the obvious.

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

Blog: https://fadingveiling.com/

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Iznick
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Re: Who am I?

Postby Iznick » Thu Aug 27, 2020 8:01 am

So the mind is thinking thoughts? How do you know this?
I don't - thoughts just appear in awareness
Where is the exact location of this ‘mind’ which is supposed to be the placeholder and origin of thoughts?
Can you find it in experience?
My thoughts seem to appear inside my head, so if there were a mind it would be there, I guess, but I cannot actually find it
Is there a kind of entity called ‘mind’ that does something, like thinking thoughts?
Can you point to the ‘mind’ here now? Can you find one?
No, I cannot find the mind. There are just thoughts appearing, seemingly inside my head
So how do you know that intentions forming in a mind? Is this something that can be directly known by actually observing a mind forming intentions, or rather it’s a logical conclusion based on the learned concept of a ‘mind’?
I don't. The mind cannot be directly perceived but rather is, as you suggest, just an idea arrived at through logic and/or what I've been told
But where is the mind which the image is supposedly appear in?
It if exists, it seems to be in my head, but I have no direct evidence that it does in fact exist


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