Seeking a guide, a Triratna OM?

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amrita
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Re: Seeking a guide, a Triratna OM?

Postby amrita » Mon Jul 02, 2018 8:19 am

This all sounds very positive Elen. The key is to keep looking at direct experience and not become caught up or identified with secondary mental processes.

Lets look at thinking next

Sit quietly, relax, and watch one thought after the other come up. Look at each question for about 5 minutes. You don't need to do the exercise in one piece.

Do you bring thoughts? If so from where and how?
Do you send them away?
Do you know what you're going to think before you think it? Sit quietly for a moment and try to predict your next thought. Does it work?
Do you plan what you are going to think before you think it?
Can you know your next thought before it arises and stop it from arising if you don't like it?
Is there is a thought that you can control?
What can a thought do – what power does it have?
Did any of these thoughts come on purpose?
You experience thoughts, but do you experience the content? Is the content real?

Lots of love to you

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Elen
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Re: Seeking a guide, a Triratna OM?

Postby Elen » Wed Jul 04, 2018 8:47 pm

Hi Amrita

Just wanted to let you know that I'll send my reply about thoughts early next week. I have visitors at the moment and so it's proving tricky to find the time and space I need to focus on the exercises.

Love

Elen

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amrita
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Re: Seeking a guide, a Triratna OM?

Postby amrita » Wed Jul 04, 2018 10:05 pm

Ok. Thanks for letting me know. Enjoy your time with your guests, and yes please take your time with the exercises and post back when you are ready.

amrita

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Elen
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Re: Seeking a guide, a Triratna OM?

Postby Elen » Tue Jul 10, 2018 4:22 pm

Hi Amrita

This afternoon I sat for a while looking at my thoughts and reflecting on your questions and here are my responses:

Do you bring thoughts? If so from where and how?
No, they just arise, seemingly out of nowhere!

Do you send them away?
No, they just pass away.

Do you know what you're going to think before you think it? Sit quietly for a moment and try to predict your next thought. Does it work?
I'm not able to actually predict my next thought. However under certain conditions e.g. experiencing a headache, I'm able to predict a strong likelihood of certain thoughts frequently arising e.g. "this hurts!" but not exactly when that thought will arise.

Do you plan what you are going to think before you think it?
Sometimes I plan to think about a specific topic e.g. this exercise but within that I am unable to plan what actual thoughts will arise.

Can you know your next thought before it arises and stop it from arising if you don't like it?
Under certain conditions I may be able to predict the likelihood of certain thoughts arising but not with absolute certainty and not exactly when. And no, I'm not able to stop my next thought from arising if I don't like it - unfortunately!

Is there is a thought that you can control?
No, they all seem to come unbidden! Althought I might try to suppress certain thoughts e.g. if they're difficult or unpleasant, I'm not actually able to do so. I'm not able to control them.

What can a thought do – what power does it have?
If you believe or 'buy into' a thought, treat it as a fact, then it can cause you to suffer e.g. comparing yourself to others unfavourably and concluding "I'm not good enough". However if you don't become attached to/identified with a thought, then it has no power, it just arises and passes away - like a cloud in the sky :-)

Did any of these thoughts come on purpose?
No.

You experience thoughts, but do you experience the content? Is the content real?
You experience the effects of the content of thoughts insofar as they affect your physical and emotional state e.g. anxious thoughts generally cause physical tension, restricted breathing, fear, etc. But much of the content of thoughts derives from a subjective, self-created story of 'me' which is not real in an ultimate sense.

Love

Elen

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amrita
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Re: Seeking a guide, a Triratna OM?

Postby amrita » Tue Jul 10, 2018 9:34 pm

Hi Elen, welcome back and some great answers in your responses :)

Let’s look more at thought and thought content.

Can you see that thoughts about something are not the actual thing they are describing? For example, thoughts about an apple are not the actual apple itself? I know this sounds very obvious but bear with me.

Try this exercise. Put an apple (or any other piece of fruit) in front of you and pay attention to what is going in your actual experience.

What do you see? Can you describe what is happening in your actual experience?

Can you notice colour and shape and the labelling thought “apple”? Maybe there are lots of other thoughts about apples.

However, in your direct experience is there really an ‘apple’ here, or only colour, shape and a thought ABOUT ‘apple’?

Can ‘apple’ be found in actual experience?

While these thoughts are known, what they talk ABOUT can't be found in actual experience.

For example,

Taste labelled ‘apple’ is known
Colour labelled ‘apple’ is known
Sensation labelled ‘apple’ is known (when apple is touched)
Smell labelled ‘apple’ is known
Thought about/of an ‘apple’ is known
However, is an apple actually known?

If you pick the apple up and close your eyes can you feel the sensations in your hand separately from the apple itself? Are there not just sensations? Is it possible to really experience the apple outside of thoughts about the apple?

This is what is meant by ‘looking in actual experience‘. What else do we have but the actual experience of the 5 senses in here and now? And in our actual experience of the senses in the here and now can anything resembling a self be found?

Love

amrita

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Elen
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Re: Seeking a guide, a Triratna OM?

Postby Elen » Fri Jul 13, 2018 5:18 pm

Hi Amrita

Firstly I just wanted to say thanks for your encouragement! Really appreciate you taking the time to support me through the process :-)

So... I've now had a look at a tangerine and here are my responses to your questions:

What do you see? Can you describe what is happening in your actual experience?
I see a small round orange thing in the space in front of me. My thinking mind immediately jumps in to categorise and comment on it!

Can you notice colour and shape and the labelling thought “apple”? Maybe there are lots of other thoughts about apples.
Yes various thoughts arise. For example, naming it 'tangerine', labelling it orange/round/small, noticing the light and shade on it, and memories of the pleasant experience of tasting one (refleshing, juicy, sweet).

However, in your direct experience is there really an ‘apple’ here, or only colour, shape and a thought ABOUT ‘apple’?
No, there isn't really a 'tangerine' here, just thoughts about 'tangerine'.

Can ‘apple’ be found in actual experience?
No, 'tangerine' is a concept created by the thinking mind.

However, is an apple actually known?
No.

If you pick the apple up and close your eyes can you feel the sensations in your hand separately from the apple itself? Are there not just sensations? Is it possible to really experience the apple outside of thoughts about the apple?
When I pick the tangerine up, I can just feel sensations e.g. pressure, coolness. With no concepts or labels super-imposed on the experience, there is only direct sensory experience. I can't really experience 'tangerine' outside of thoughts about it.

What else do we have but the actual experience of the 5 senses in here and now?
There are only direct sensations and the spaciousness within which the sensations arise.

And in our actual experience of the senses in the here and now can anything resembling a self be found?
No. If my awareness is IN the sensation (ie. not thinking) then there is just sensation and no "me" or "my body experiencing this". No "I" or "self" within the sensations.

Love

Elen

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amrita
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Re: Seeking a guide, a Triratna OM?

Postby amrita » Sat Jul 14, 2018 10:06 am

Hey Elen,

Thanks for this but it is a genuine pleasure to guide you. I really hope you are getting something useful from this inquiry.
Firstly I just wanted to say thanks for your encouragement! Really appreciate you taking the time to support me through the process :-)
From what you write you can find no self in direct experience but see that it is something thought overlays or superimposes upon experience. Is that right by which I mean have I understood you correctly?

Lets have a look at choice and intention next...


let’s start by looking at the idea of thought causing an action.

1. Hold a hand in front of you; palm turned down.
2. Now turn the palm up. And down...and up and so on.
Watch like a hawk.

Don't go to thoughts, examine the actual experience. Do this as many times as you like, and each time inquire…
How is the movement controlled?
Does a thought control it?
Can a ‘controller’ of any description be located?
How is the decision made to turn the hand over? Track any decision point when a thought MADE THE DECISION to turn the hand over and the hand turns over immediately.
Can you find a separate individual or anything that is choosing when to turn the palm up or down?

Love to you

Amrita

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Elen
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Re: Seeking a guide, a Triratna OM?

Postby Elen » Wed Jul 18, 2018 12:58 pm

Hi Amrita

Sorry it's been a few days since my last post - let’s just say that life got in the way!

Yes I’m definitely getting something from the inquiry. Not only finding it interesting to inquire into my direct experience but also feeling my tendency to create self loosening a little - particularly with regards to identifying with thoughts, which when I’m able to catch it is so freeing!

In your last post you asked me: “From what you write you can find no self in direct experience but see that it is something thought overlays or superimposes upon experience. Is that right by which I mean have I understood you correctly?”
I can confirm that you've understood me correctly. My understanding is that self arises when I take something to be me, mine, myself, etc and that this creation of self involves superimposing thought upon direct experience.

Moving on to the exercise looking at the idea of thought causing an action, here are my responses (can’t say it was easy!):

How is the movement controlled? Does a thought control it? Can a ‘controller’ of any description be located?
Closely observing my hand turning over, I would say that the movement is carried out, but not controlled, by the body i.e. nerve impulses, muscular contraction, etc. The movement is preceded by a decision-making thought however in the present moment, as the hand turns, there is just the movement of a hand turning and no thought controlling the movement nor any “controller” to be found.

How is the decision made to turn the hand over? Track any decision point when a thought MADE THE DECISION to turn the hand over and the hand turns over immediately.
A decision-making thought arises and passes away and then there is a new moment in which the hand turns. I couldn’t find any decision point when a thought made the decision to turn the hand over and the hand turned over immediately.

Can you find a separate individual or anything that is choosing when to turn the palm up or down?
No. There is a force/drive directed specifically towards something i.e. turning my hand but there is no separate individual / person / self doing it.

With love

Elen

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amrita
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Re: Seeking a guide, a Triratna OM?

Postby amrita » Wed Jul 18, 2018 11:40 pm

Hey Elen,

I'm glad you are getting something from this inquiry,
Yes I’m definitely getting something from the inquiry. Not only finding it interesting to inquire into my direct experience but also feeling my tendency to create self loosening a little - particularly with regards to identifying with thoughts, which when I’m able to catch it is so freeing!
and I would like to encourage you to keep looking into your direct experience because it is very liberating when you finally see there is no self anywhere to be found. :)

Now, I’d like to ask you to explore any SENSE of self very-very thoroughly. Not by thinking about it, but by FEELING it. This sense may arise when you are in conflct with someone or when you are tense or stressed by something.

Keep the focus of attention on the sense of self and inquire:-

Does the sense of self have a location?
Does the sense of self have a shape or a size?
Does the sense of self say or communicate anything?
If the answer is yes, how does the sense do this exactly?
Does the sense of self have any characteristics or attributes?
What is the sense of self ‘made of’? An image? Sound? Taste? Smell? Sensation? Thought?

Lots of love to you

Amrita

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Elen
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Re: Seeking a guide, a Triratna OM?

Postby Elen » Sun Jul 22, 2018 5:26 pm

Hi Amrita

I tried feeling into (and not thinking about) my sense of self at a time when I was feeling tired and irritable due to an Ear Nose Throat infection.

Does the sense of self have a location?
My sense of self appeared to be located in my unpleasant bodily sensations (e.g. dullness/tension/achiness in ears, throat, forehead & jaw), as well as my facial expression (frown), posture (round-shouldered), and breathing (tight).

Does the sense of self have a shape or a size?
At that time it appeared, in part, in the shape of a big, dark, damp cloud in my head!

Does the sense of self say or communicate anything?
If the answer is yes, how does the sense do this exactly?
My sense of self communicated itself initially through my bodily sensations (as described above) which my thinking-mind then labelled “irritability” and “tiredness” and created a story about how much I disliked feeling like this, etc.

Does the sense of self have any characteristics or attributes?
Taking the above instance as an example, my sense of self appeared to have the characteristics of grumpiness and sleepiness.

What is the sense of self ‘made of’? An image? Sound? Taste? Smell? Sensation? Thought?
All/any of the above!

My understanding is that I feel a sense of self through bodily contraction, selecting certain holding-patterns to call "myself" – whereas in reality I exist as a collection of changing processes.

Lots of love

Elen

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amrita
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Re: Seeking a guide, a Triratna OM?

Postby amrita » Mon Jul 23, 2018 11:31 pm

That's some top class looking Elen :),

I'd like to encourage you to welcome all unpleasant sensations into experience without attempting to push them away or resist them. Breathe, relax and gently examine any sense of "bodily contraction" associated with this sense of self. Try not to get caught up in thoughts about the sensations.

Breathe, relax and allow whatever sensations to be. Can you find any sense of self within these sensations? Please take your time to look deeply and compassionately into whatever sensations arise and post back when you are ready.

Love

Amrita

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Elen
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Re: Seeking a guide, a Triratna OM?

Postby Elen » Wed Jul 25, 2018 11:46 am

Hi Amrita

I’m aware that I can over-identify with unpleasant sensations, particularly those caused by illness, so no surprises there! When I’m able to sit quietly and observe the unpleasant sensations, however, I see that they’re changing all the time - in intensity, quality, location, etc. This morning, for example, I sat down to meditate and to begin with felt as if I had a big clamp around my head! Once I’d relaxed and tuned into my breathing for a while, I noticed that the clamp had softened, then was permeated with pleasant tingling sensations, then shifted location slightly, then softened some more. In deepening my attention, I saw that the unpleasant sensations were not as fixed as they sometimes seem. I was not able to find any sense of self within them.

Love

Elen

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amrita
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Re: Seeking a guide, a Triratna OM?

Postby amrita » Thu Jul 26, 2018 7:58 pm

Hi Elen,

That's great you notice you identify with unpleasant sensations and yet can find no sense of self within them. It's also great you can find no permanent, solid substance to unpleasant sensations. Is it possible to let them go by which I mean just simply allow them to be without labelling them unpleasant?

If the sense of self cannot be found in sensations can it be found in thoughts? If not, where exactly is this sense of self? Could it be that it is something that is imagined and not actually there at all?

And if there is no self what is there that is awake or aware of this experience right now?

Lots of love to you

Amrita

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Elen
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Re: Seeking a guide, a Triratna OM?

Postby Elen » Sun Jul 29, 2018 8:25 pm

Hi Amrita

Yes it is possible to stop labelling the sensations as unpleasant and allow them to be. In my experience this usually creates more space around the unpleasant sensations and reduces any additional tension which has arisen due to having resisted them – in other words, I feel better!

The sense of self can’t be found in thoughts or sensations themselves but arises whenever we grasp at or identify with them.

The sense of self can’t be found anywhere because there isn’t anything we can confidently say is a core essence that will never change.

What is awake or aware of this experience right now is awareness - the presence of that which is aware - which can be likened to an open, empty space in which, or to which, thoughts, sensations and perceptions appear.

Lots of love

Elen

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amrita
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Re: Seeking a guide, a Triratna OM?

Postby amrita » Mon Jul 30, 2018 11:49 pm

That's great Elen,

When you say,
The sense of self can’t be found in thoughts or sensations themselves but arises whenever we grasp at or identify with them.
what is that is grasping? Is there a self that grasps and clings or wants something to be different?

Best

Amrita


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