advaita vedanta lead me to solipsism - please help!

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robbiemac
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Re: advaita vedanta lead me to solipsism - please help!

Postby robbiemac » Sun Aug 30, 2020 8:50 pm

Hi Vivien,
Notice how the thought is passing
So I sat for those moments as you asked me. Just waiting to see what comes up. In these moments, any totally random thought might arise. Sometimes it carries pictures. Sometimes it’s loud. Sometimes it feels subtler. Sometimes it falls away of its own accord. Sometimes I seem to ‘wake’ suddenly in the middle of the thought to stop it in its tracks. Or perhaps it stops itself voluntarily and drops me. On other occasions one thought is followed by related thoughts. A chain of related thoughts. Sometimes a totally unrelated thought jumps into a related chain of thoughts. I can see them for what they are when they lapse but I can’t witness them when they’re present it doesn’t seem. So I can see the thoughts for what they are after they have passed, in the gap between thoughts. But this gap feels like a thought in and of itself. It is introduced but the thought ‘oh these are thoughts’ and then becomes ‘try to watch your thoughts passing’. These are thoughts too right? And then more thoughts come again and I cannot see them because the thought ‘watch your thoughts has left’. It is like I am possessed by the next thought-show or swept up in it. Or the whole thing is a thought-show. Where is the gap? I am not sure there is one. But then again, if I am recognising all this the question comes... how and who or what is recognising this. In the meditation... I can reach the space of no thought and it is a total void. As if all lights are off. Very difficult to reach and stay there. I can only describe it as a ‘gap’ when it has passed because to describe it as anything when in it would be thought and thereby kill the ‘gap’.

In the waking day... it seems that thought is more related to circumstances of the day. This is not to say that I have thoughts in every moment of my waking day. Not at all. There are times when I’m just doing what I’m doing, seemingly devoid of thought. This is my waking day ‘gap’ of no thoughts. Playing with the kids for instance. This moment of no thought, might be interrupted but a thought concerning their future. Then a chain of thoughts related to that might be interrupted but the thought ‘notice how thoughts come and go’. There are thoughts that then refer to the noticing of thoughts I’ve just had about my children’s future. So the gap in thoughts is when I’m doing things that hold my attention elsewhere. My attention doesn’t seem as available to a thought-show. In the waking day... the only space in thought is doing something that has my attention firmly elsewhere. The void that can be reached in mediation is beyond reach in the waking state for me.

Whether it be meditation or waking day... whatever I am is subject to whatever thought wants to show me and whenever it wants to show it. This is what I have experienced all day today.

Thanks for keeping with me on this!!

RM

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Vivien
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Re: advaita vedanta lead me to solipsism - please help!

Postby Vivien » Mon Aug 31, 2020 3:58 am

Hi Robbie,

I can see from your replies that you’ve started looking and not just thinking. Well done :)
So I can see the thoughts for what they are after they have passed, in the gap between thoughts. But this gap feels like a thought in and of itself.
Yes, since just right after noticing the gap, thoughts can appear commenting about the gap.
It is introduced but the thought ‘oh these are thoughts’ and then becomes ‘try to watch your thoughts passing’. These are thoughts too right?
Yes. So thoughts even commenting on the lack of thoughts.
I can reach the space of no thought and it is a total void.
We are not trying to get into a state of no thoughts. Rather, we are investigating what happens in everyday life when there are thoughts.

So we are noticing how things are.

So let’s go back to my previous questions. Just watch thoughts and investigate, but not by thinking, but rather NOTICING what is happening.

What do you do exactly in order to think?

How do you make (or birth) thoughts into existence?


Vivien
The most profound discoveries arise from questioning the obvious.

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

Blog: https://fadingveiling.com/

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robbiemac
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Re: advaita vedanta lead me to solipsism - please help!

Postby robbiemac » Mon Aug 31, 2020 5:22 pm

Hi Vivien,

😅
What do you do exactly in order to think?
I am interpreting the thinking you are referring to as the random thinking rather than what I would call considered or relevant thinking. Considered thinking might be the sort of thinking I have to do to answer a mathematical question. I hope I am right with this? Here I refer to random thinking and its thoughts...

So I looked at this in meditation and waking day.

Meditation first - I really don’t do anything. When I start the meditation, the thoughts are busy and loud. They quieten slowly and then they are interrupted by the thought ‘oh I have or had a gap in thought there’. Which often leads to the next series of thinking. I don’t do anything to think because thinking creates the thoughts itself. The nature, size and noise of each thought is totally out of my control. There seems to be a relationship between what I would call ‘presence’ and thoughts. More presence = less thoughts and vice versa. For some reason, I have assumed myself to be the presence and the thoughts to be background noise. So when I ‘release’ presence I leave the ‘space’ open to thought. I have believed that presence is something I can practice and create more of but now I’m not sure about this...

The interchange of presence and thoughts, this exchange of contraction and expansion... it all just happens. It is just what the moment brings. I do not do anything to create thought. I do not do anything to stop thought. I cannot consciously hold either thought or even presence. It all just happens. So... if I don’t know when a thought is coming or ending, I cannot say that I know when this so-called presence ends and begins! The only reason I am inclined to believe that I have some influence over the appearance of presence is because since I have been meditating regularly, I believe I experience less thoughts. Yes, a belief. Hmmmmmm.....

Waking day - It seems to me that there is a relationship between doing and thought. More of the thoughts are related to whatever it is that I am doing. But also, the less I am doing the more thought I am having and the more random it becomes. And as above, I have no idea how all this plays out. I know what I am actively involved in and feel as though I can decide what to do and when to do it but as for thought... I do not know what is coming, when it’s coming, how long it will last etc.
How do you make or birth thoughts into existence?
I think I have covered much of this with my answers above? But I need to emphasise the point... it seems to me as if thought has a ‘life’ of its own. I have believed that I am decreasing the thought-noise through meditation. It has felt that way over the past year or so. However, maybe this is just a thought that comes as a result of doing the meditation. I mean if you practice something because you think it will bring about a particular result, you might be inclined to have the thought “oh this practice I am dedicating myself to has really made a difference”. Doesn’t mean that I haven’t enjoyed meditation or the perceived results of it but it seems very plausible that this is the case...!!

I am looking forward to hearing from you. Thanks for all Vivien!

RM

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Vivien
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Re: advaita vedanta lead me to solipsism - please help!

Postby Vivien » Tue Sep 01, 2020 3:49 am

Hi Robbie,
I am interpreting the thinking you are referring to as the random thinking rather than what I would call considered or relevant thinking. Considered thinking might be the sort of thinking I have to do to answer a mathematical question. I hope I am right with this? Here I refer to random thinking and its thoughts...
You are making things much more complicated than they are.

So you believe that there is random thinking and ‘considered thinking’? And what if this is not the case?

Don’t go to thinking about this, rather check if it’s true in reality.

The everyday belief is: I am the thinker of my thoughts.
So this is what we are investigating, if I am the one who is thinking thoughts.

It doesn’t matter if a conceptually categorize thoughts into random or ‘considered’, both are just thoughts, nothing else, and there is no difference between them. Although you might think that there is a difference between them, but that is not supported by experience.

You are making another artificial difference between how thoughts appear in mediation and everyday life.
But meditation is nothing else then an altered state of consciousness.
But we are not investigating alerted states of consciousness-es, we are investigating the normal, everyday life.

Meditation can be useful, but often, becomes a hindrance. And why? Because we are trying to achieve things while meditating, while our everyday life stays the same. Meditation becomes a goal, to achieve something. As if my achievements in meditation could change my everyday life, and I could become a different human being. But it can’t. I just become a good meditation. I learn a skill, but my life stays just about the same, since I don’t investigate my normal, everyday, non-altered experience.
Waking day - It seems to me that there is a relationship between doing and thought. More of the thoughts are related to whatever it is that I am doing. But also, the less I am doing the more thought I am having and the more random it becomes.
You might think that you have less thoughts when immersed in an activity, but this might not be the case. When we are immersed in an activity, we are totally identified with the activity and the thinking that is accompanying the activity. And then, I am not able to see that I am thinking, since I am one with thinking. I’m so lost in the story, that I don’t even recognize it.

In your previous post you mentioned that you cannot notice a thought in the moment when it’s there, you just can know it after it passed.

So how is a thought known after? It’s known by memory, by another thought saying that the previous thought was this or that.
But this is still equal with being lost in thought.

What we are doing here is to zoom out of the content of thoughts, and see them from ‘outside’ so to speak. To see them to be only thoughts in the moment when they are there.
If I know it only in retrospect that I’m not seeing it. I’m still zoomed in to a thought, totally identified with the content, thus taking it to be true, since I’m not seeing that this is just a thought, a fantasy and not reality.

Now, we literally have to go back to basics.

As I mentioned before, you have to approach it as child who has no knowledge of these things. A child wouldn’t think through those complicated comments, wouldn’t analyse and interpret things the way you wrote in your last post.

Reality is much much simpler.
It’s very simple.
It’s so simple that a child can understand it.
If it’s complicated, then it’s because of overthinking and over analysing.

So go back to the basics.

In this very moment, just stop with reading, and notice the current thought that is here.
When you notice the current thought, notice that it goes away.
And when it’s gone, it’s replaced by another thought.
Watch like a hawk to notice if you do anything (anything at all), for the next thought to appear.

Is that statement “I think” is true? Ever?


Just as a side note: I do face-to-face Skype sessions too, which is a quite different experience than this forum format. So if you find looking alone difficult, the possibility of doing it together is there.

Vivien
The most profound discoveries arise from questioning the obvious.

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

Blog: https://fadingveiling.com/

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robbiemac
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Re: advaita vedanta lead me to solipsism - please help!

Postby robbiemac » Thu Sep 03, 2020 5:35 pm

Hi Vivien,
Watch like a hawk to notice if you do anything (anything at all), for the next thought to appear.
The “I” that I feel myself to be does not think. Thinking happens. Thoughts come and go. Sometimes to describe sensations. Sometimes to create a related story. Sometimes to create an unrelated story.
Is that statement “I think” is true? Ever?
Take a statement like “I must remember to take my mask when I go to the shops” (which appeared today)... it seems like I birthed this thought. But now I wonder... is this a presumption? I don’t knowingly birth this thought. It actually just appears.

I wondered about thinking related to work too. I really have thought that I actively engage in thinking whilst working. However, this sort of thinking just happens for/to “me” too. And just because I am engaged in a single subject for a long time it feels like I am actively thinking my way through something. But really it is a stream of related thoughts appearing one after the other. I don’t know what will appear or when it will appear. So I do not birth a thought here either.

Look forward to hearing from you.

Thanks
RM

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Vivien
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Re: advaita vedanta lead me to solipsism - please help!

Postby Vivien » Fri Sep 04, 2020 4:46 am

Hi Robbie,
The “I” that I feel myself to be does not think.
Is this something you clearly see experientially in the moment when a thought is present?
The emphasis is on ‘in the moment when a thought is there’.

Or this knowing comes in a form of thought about a previous thought, in retrospect?

Take a statement like “I must remember to take my mask when I go to the shops” (which appeared today)... it seems like I birthed this thought. But now I wonder... is this a presumption? I don’t knowingly birth this thought. It actually just appears.
But do you see this in the moment when this thought is present?
Or this information is provided as a content of the next thought, which talking about and referring back to the previous thought, in retrospect?
And just because I am engaged in a single subject for a long time it feels like I am actively thinking my way through something. But really it is a stream of related thoughts appearing one after the other. I don’t know what will appear or when it will appear. So I do not birth a thought here either.
The thing is that this is just a conceptual result. Since you just think about it in retrospect.

If it FEELS or SEEMS in the moment that I’m actively thinking those thoughts, then you are not seeing it in the moment.
If you could see it in the moment when thoughts happen, then it wouldn’t feel or seem that I’m thinking them.

This is essential.

There is a huge difference between thinking about in retrospect with the conclusion that it was not my doing, and SEEING in the moment when there is a thought that it’s not my doing.
Can you see the difference?
I really have thought that I actively engage in thinking whilst working. However, this sort of thinking just happens for/to “me” too.
This is an intellectual trap. You are not seeing it in the moment when it’s happening, if it seems that you are actively engaging with thoughts. Your conclusion is intellectual. And unfortunately, intellectual understanding has no value in this inquiry. It’s a dead-end.

You have to be able to notice the thought in the very moment when they are present, otherwise, all your conclusions are intellectual.

And even if you can see/notice a thought in the moment when it’s there, but in the next moment you can’t see thoughts as they appear, the conclusion that I’m not thinking my thoughts’ is still intellectual.

Since it doesn’t matter much if I SAW it in the past but I don’t see it NOW; if I don’t see it now, in this very moment, then it’s just a belief in right now.

Awakening can only happen NOW. Never in the past, never in the future. Only here now.

So please stay with investigating thoughts. And notice them in the very moment when they are present.
Let me know how it goes.


Vivien
The most profound discoveries arise from questioning the obvious.

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

Blog: https://fadingveiling.com/

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robbiemac
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Re: advaita vedanta lead me to solipsism - please help!

Postby robbiemac » Fri Sep 04, 2020 7:29 pm

Hi hi,
There is a huge difference between thinking about in retrospect with the conclusion that it was not my doing, and SEEING in the moment when there is a thought that it’s not my doing.
Can you see the difference?
Okay... so initially I couldn’t really understand how this is possible because I thought that thought and the witnessing of thought was mutually exclusive. However, I had an hour or so in the car this afternoon and I was able to see the ‘life’ of a thought. It took why felt like real concentration. Or better described as a sort of airy/vacant concentration. Then since arriving with the family of course that sort of ‘seeing’ left me almost immediately. But is this the sort of seeing to which you refer?

I’ll keep trying to find it. But I’m sure that doing so when surrounded by distraction will be very very challenging!

Thanks for all.

RM

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Re: advaita vedanta lead me to solipsism - please help!

Postby Vivien » Sat Sep 05, 2020 1:22 am

Hi Robbie,
Okay... so initially I couldn’t really understand how this is possible because I thought that thought and the witnessing of thought was mutually exclusive.
But how could that be mutually exclusive?

It’s like saying that a sensation and the knowing of a sensation is mutually exclusive.
Or that a sound and the knowing of the sound is mutually exclusive.

What is mutually exclusive is the impression of “I am thinking” (as I am the doer or thinker of thoughts) and “I am aware of thoughts”.

Since when it’s clear that I am aware of thoughts, then it’s also clear that I cannot be the thinker, since I’m aware of them, I’m aware of their passing by. They happen without any doing on my part.

But when I believe that I am the thinker, then I cannot notice how thoughts come and go, since there is an impression that I am thinking them. There is no distance between me and thoughts. Thus it seems that I am making them happen.
Or better described as a sort of airy/vacant concentration. Then since arriving with the family of course that sort of ‘seeing’ left me almost immediately. But is this the sort of seeing to which you refer?
You have to say more about this.

What do you mean by ‘airy/vacant concentration’?
What is airy? What is vacant?

You just notice the presence of a thought, just as you notice the presence of a sensations or a sound or a taste.
You just notice that it’s there in the moment when it’s there.

Vivien
The most profound discoveries arise from questioning the obvious.

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

Blog: https://fadingveiling.com/

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Re: advaita vedanta lead me to solipsism - please help!

Postby robbiemac » Sat Sep 05, 2020 7:25 am

Hi,
But how could that be mutually exclusive?
Because when I first started becoming aware of my thoughts I recognized them retrospectively. This is the way it felt to me. I would say... ah there I was caught up in my thoughts? I never felt thoughts and the witnessing of them at the exact same time.
You have to say more about this.
You asked me to watch like a hawk. So I did this and found I had this sort of spacious concentration and focus that could see thoughts come, be and go. It is the only time that I have been able to see the lifecycle of thoughts but I needed to find this sort of ‘place’ from which to do this. Previously I have only been able to feel thought and the seeing if thought as mutually exclusive.

RM

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Re: advaita vedanta lead me to solipsism - please help!

Postby Vivien » Sat Sep 05, 2020 7:47 am

Hi Robbie,
You asked me to watch like a hawk. So I did this and found I had this sort of spacious concentration and focus that could see thoughts come, be and go. It is the only time that I have been able to see the lifecycle of thoughts but I needed to find this sort of ‘place’ from which to do this. Previously I have only been able to feel thought and the seeing if thought as mutually exclusive.
OK, I understand. Just keep watching thoughts. Get acquainted to noticing them.

This is the difference between being awake and dreaming.
I never felt thoughts and the witnessing of them at the exact same time.
A thought can be felt? Are you sure?

How do you FEEL a thought? By which of the 5 senses?

Is there anything else that could be felt other than a sensation?


Vivien
The most profound discoveries arise from questioning the obvious.

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

Blog: https://fadingveiling.com/

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robbiemac
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Re: advaita vedanta lead me to solipsism - please help!

Postby robbiemac » Sat Sep 05, 2020 2:47 pm

Hi Vivien,
A thought can be felt? Are you sure?
You’re right, a thought cannot be felt. When I’m investigating... I hear and sometimes see thoughts. I can almost see thinking doing it’s thing, if this makes sense? I do this impartially from from the place of looking. In this case, I don’t feel thoughts.

But when I engage in my day-to-day life, I feel the impact of my thoughts. In these cases, I can find myself reacting to thoughts in the same way I might to my senses, they might be pleasing, they might be displeasing etc etc.

Does this make sense?

I’m trying to bring more ‘looking’ into all areas of my day. Is this the right thing to do?

RM

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Vivien
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Re: advaita vedanta lead me to solipsism - please help!

Postby Vivien » Sun Sep 06, 2020 12:43 am

Hi Robbie,
But when I engage in my day-to-day life, I feel the impact of my thoughts. In these cases, I can find myself reacting to thoughts in the same way I might to my senses, they might be pleasing, they might be displeasing etc etc.
Yes, there is a reaction to thoughts.
I’m trying to bring more ‘looking’ into all areas of my day. Is this the right thing to do?
Definitely. This is the way to go.

Now let’s go back to some questions I asked before.

Our everyday belief if that I am the thinker of my thoughts. I am thinking thoughts. Let’s check in reality if this actually the case to see if this can stand up to the scrutiny of experience.

What do you do in order to think?
How do you make or birth a thought into existence?


Please investigate this deeply and many-many times.

Vivien
The most profound discoveries arise from questioning the obvious.

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

Blog: https://fadingveiling.com/

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robbiemac
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Re: advaita vedanta lead me to solipsism - please help!

Postby robbiemac » Mon Sep 07, 2020 7:21 am

Hi Vivien,
What do you do in order to think?
I really don’t ‘do’ anything in order to think. I don’t choose when to think, what to think or when to stop thinking.

Sometimes, thoughts seem to correspond to sensations. If I hear something then thought comments on what I heard. Then in quieter moments, there are totally random thoughts that arise. I don’t birth them.

You remember when I mentioned that whilst I was in the car on Friday I was able to see them rise, ‘be’ with them, and watch them drop away? Well... I feel I’m operating from two places now. The thoughts come and go on behalf of (or for) Robbie and as Robbie I then do what I do. But there is also this slightly deeper place from which I feel I can watch all this going on. A silent and very subtle observing.

My investigating isn’t leading me to be any clearer in my understanding that I have nothing to do with my thoughts. Rather, it just deepens this feeling of being Robbie the thinker on the one hand and this silent watcher of Robbie and his thoughts on the other.

I’ll keep at the investigation today and continue to feed back as I go.

RM

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Vivien
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Re: advaita vedanta lead me to solipsism - please help!

Postby Vivien » Mon Sep 07, 2020 7:35 am

Hi Robbie,

I see contradiction in your reply.
At the beginning you say:
I really don’t ‘do’ anything in order to think. I don’t choose when to think, what to think or when to stop thinking.
But then you contradict it by:
My investigating isn’t leading me to be any clearer in my understanding that I have nothing to do with my thoughts. Rather, it just deepens this feeling of being Robbie the thinker on the one hand and this silent watcher of Robbie and his thoughts on the other.
So at one hand you say that you don’t do anything in order to think, but on the other hand you say that there isn’t a clear understanding that you don’t have anything to do with thoughts, since it’s still you who are thinking them.

So how could this be? Either you don’t do anything to think, or you’re the thinker of thoughts. Either you are the thinker/doer, or you aren’t. Both of them cannot be true at the same time.

So how it actually is?
Do you think thoughts or you don’t?
Are you the thinker, or you are not?

If you can clearly see that you don’t do anything to think, then how do you come to the conclusion that you are the thinker?
it just deepens this feeling of being Robbie the thinker
FEELING of being Robbie, the thinker?
Please describe this FEELING to me as precisely as you can, but without adding anything extra. Just the pure feeling of being Robbie, the thinker.

and this silent watcher of Robbie and his thoughts on the other.
This is the direction to go. So you are either watching Robbie, or you are Robbie. Both of them cannot be true at the same time.

Vivien
The most profound discoveries arise from questioning the obvious.

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

Blog: https://fadingveiling.com/

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Re: advaita vedanta lead me to solipsism - please help!

Postby robbiemac » Mon Sep 07, 2020 8:46 am

Hi,
So at one hand you say that you don’t do anything in order to think, but on the other hand you say that there isn’t a clear understanding that you don’t have anything to do with thoughts, since it’s still you who are thinking them.
Sorry my sloppy use of language is confusing! To clarify... I’m 100% I don’t birth thought. I’m beginning to wonder if Robbie is the name I give to this thinking and doing. As the thinking/doing Robbie I’ve believe I’ve owned my thoughts and actions. But this isn’t the case. Thinking and actions happen and Robbie is the name for these.

This is where I’m pointed at the moment. I’ll continue to report.

RM


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