looking for clarity

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arus7
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Re: looking for clarity

Postby arus7 » Thu May 21, 2020 4:56 am

Hi Ilona,
Yes, the thoughts about future come with fear and suffering.
Indeed, for me this seems to be the central source of suffering.
Where is future now? Where is that image?
Right now the future is just a set of thoughts. It consists of some images and words, a mental movie inside me, not truly me inside it.
What do you see in the image?
This mental movie appears taken from “my” viewpoint (so I do not appear as an object in it, but as the subject) but there is imagined pain there. It is like a nightmare depicting some misfortune and pain, or continuation of current pain. For example, it might depict members of my family very plausibly being harmed "in front of me", or it might merely depict some endless annoying chore that I am looking at to be done. Then other thoughts arise saying “this movie is a warning even if it isn't happening yet, keep seeking a way to avoid this fate”.
Is that image you?
In a nightmare, is it me that is experiencing it? In reality there is no separate entity “me”, and in the nightmare the same is true. But there is a nightmare projection, and there is a discomfort that accompanies it. The thought of a lime in your mouth tomorrow is not the same as a real lime in your mouth now, but just the thought is enough to make your mouth water right now.
Is thinking about future helping? If so, in which way? What does thinking about future solve? What do you get from that?
When there is no fear, the future acts as a thought-map to help navigate my behavior NOW. It seems like this map is useful, as long as it is not mistaken for reality itself. In these situations, there is sensible planning NOW "for the future". It does not create suffering.

But when the future-thoughts depict pain and discomfort, it triggers a resistance (at least in me), and there is a desperate hunt to escape. This process is often repetitive, it IS suffering, and it's pointless. I get nothing from it. But I have no control of these thoughts/feelings. And the thoughts are seductive. For example, in my life there are some periodically deeply painful experiences, for various reasons. It is the psychological equivalent of electric shocks. Thoughts arise warning me that tomorrow will have more such shocks, in unpredictable variations. Thoughts arise to try to escape. They try and try, but there is no escape. But maybe tomorrow the escape will be discovered, if I just think hard enough! And so it goes on chewing away, never knowing when to stop and surrender to whatever is coming.

Having said all this, I am experimenting more and more with the only way I can see to deal with all the above considerations, namely to focus as best I can on the present moment and just feel the present pain AND the present peace that co-exists with that pain by complete acceptance. If future thoughts arise and there is an obvious move to make, then I make it. If future thoughts arise just to scare me, without any obvious action that can be taken, I try as best I can to say "sorry, you are not real (yet), I don't have space to take you seriously until you come to pass in the present moment, and then I will give you my full attention and acceptance". Of course, this does not always work perfectly, so all I can do is follow the approach of "least resistance", even if I cannot drop all resistance, accepting the resulting suffering.

But if you sense that I'm missing something, please let me know.

Thanks!

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Re: looking for clarity

Postby Ilona » Thu May 21, 2020 7:32 am

Thank you for reply.

This is interesting
This mental movie appears taken from “my” viewpoint (so I do not appear as an object in it, but as the subject)
Is that true, that you appear as a subject? If it’s an appearance, it is an object. You see that appearance. That appearance is not you.

Imagine yourself in a tough situation, just for a minute. Are you in the image?
You see the image. And anything that happened in the image is an object of imagination.
There is witnessing quality, the image is seen. What is looking at the image?

The mind imagines a problem and the mind imagines a solution and the mind imagines the impossible situation without a solution and that is intense. Can you see that you are not the mind, mind is seen too. Thoughts are seen, images are seen and neither thoughts nor images are you.

Is this clear?


Love.
Truth realized will set you free.
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arus7
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Re: looking for clarity

Postby arus7 » Fri May 22, 2020 4:21 am

Hi Ilona, I have answered your questions first, hopefully seeing what you wanted me to see. Then, after a dashed line, I have written what occurred to me today as I tried to home in on the central source of suffering.
Is that true, that you appear as a subject? If it’s an appearance, it is an object. You see that appearance. That appearance is not you.
Sorry, I think I did not convey myself clearly in the last post. I understand what you are saying here.
Imagine yourself in a tough situation, just for a minute. Are you in the image?
You see the image. And anything that happened in the image is an object of imagination.


For an example of a fear, let me use my fear of public humiliation, where there are images of people harshly judging me for something or another (lots to choose from). I visualize the people in the room, seen from some angle. Of course I am not there and neither are the people, the entire visualization is an appearance in my thoughts.
There is witnessing quality, the image is seen. What is looking at the image?
I (if you allow me that word) am looking at these images, but I am not one of these images.
The mind imagines a problem and the mind imagines a solution and the mind imagines the impossible situation without a solution and that is intense.
Yes, the mind imagines "problem", "solution", and "impossible". But the word "intense" you used refers to the ACTUAL tightening felt in the body, a real reaction to the imaginings in the mind.
Can you see that you are not the mind, mind is seen too. Thoughts are seen, images are seen and neither thoughts nor images are you.
Yes, I am not the mind or thoughts. So I should remain aware of their fictitious nature as these thoughts arise, just as I remain aware when watching a scary movie that it is not real. Is that what you are getting at?

---------------------------------------------------------------

Actually, your post this morning triggered the following observation. IF one knows how to face pain in the PRESENT then there is no reason for fear, which is the imagining of FUTURE pain. Because then when/if that future pain arrives in the present one knows how to face it. So fear ( = images of future pain) is secondary, only present pain is primary. Can one face immediate present unavoidable pain (toothache)? The best one can do is to not resist it at all, to experience it fully. After all resistance is pointless. With regard to the future, nothing stops one from making plans "for the future", but one can't insist that these plans work out, insisting is also pointless since the best laid plans will frequently fail. Future (imagined) pain is not a problem if one has the confidence that if ever it becomes real one will face it without resistance in the present moment. So we can forget about fear, and focus only on the present, and investigate how one meets immediate present pain. If one can drop all resistance so that there is peace in the midst of present pain, then one is free. Only one experiment to conduct, dropping all resistance to pain and discomfort as these arise and find the peace. So, DON'T RESIST the present, and DON"T INSIST on a particular future.

Today (perhaps as a test), there was again a very stressful situation, a sense of danger, triggering an uncomfortable feeling in the chest and rapid pulse. I looked closely to see whether thoughts of the future were entering into this nervous reaction to turn it into suffering. It did not produce clear images of the "future", there was just an uncertainty and agitation about what would happen next felt strongly in the body. I will have to experiment further when such situations happen again, to see whether I can let go of all resistance, and to see if I am imagining the future even a minute ahead.

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Re: looking for clarity

Postby Ilona » Fri May 22, 2020 5:52 am

Great work, thank you.
Yes, I am not the mind or thoughts. So I should remain aware of their fictitious nature as these thoughts arise, just as I remain aware when watching a scary movie that it is not real. Is that what you are getting at?
Yes, that’s it. You are not thoughts, you are not imaginary entity, you are that sees all that, knows of thoughts, imagination, sensations and all objects that show up as content of awareness. You can say that it’s like watching a scary movie and knowing it’s a movie, you are here, safe, and the content of the movie is happening in a screen.

Good observations about pain and future pain. “future pain” is fear of sensations that may happen. And if you are able to meet present pain, then that pain is ok. It is safe to feel what you feel. Always is. Well, talking about tooth pain, if it hurts badly, there are painkillers and there is a phone to make an appointment to see a dentist. Just by sitting and feeling it fully the tooth is not going to stop hurting, right? The feeling fully is more applicable to resisted emotional pain. And yes, resisting emotions is more tension, more intensity as resistance adds on.

Good idea to stay vigilant and examine what happens in the presence of feeling of danger. It’s when you are able to meet that situation with awareness turned inwards that a transformation is possible to happen.

Here is a question- is intensity ok?
Are feelings of contractions ok?
Is resisting feelings of contractions ok?

What is not ok?

Love.
Truth realized will set you free.
http://ilonaciunaite.com

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arus7
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Re: looking for clarity

Postby arus7 » Sat May 23, 2020 4:10 am

Hi Ilona,
talking about tooth pain, if it hurts badly, there are painkillers...
Sorry, I meant tooth ache as short-hand for unavoidable present physical pain/discomfort in general, though I agree that if I literally had a tooth ache there are ways to treat that and I would not just try to "surrender" to it. But there are two reasons I bring up physical pain:

(a) pain can arise in ways that cannot be fully eliminated/treated, such as major injuries in a car accident, body aches during a flu, cancer, Covid-19 etc. While you do what you can to reduce the pain, there can still be a lot of pain remaining over a substantial time. When this happens (recalling my last flu) resisting thoughts keep arising saying "I wish this would end, I want to run away from this, etc." But the only options are to either stay and fully let the pain in, or to escape into a TV show. Even when one escapes into a TV show, the pain breaks through again and again. So, as much as possible one must fully face the pain.

(b) A lot of emotional pain is secretly built, layer on layer, on the fear of physical pain. For example, I have (small) fears of losing my job or getting Covid-19. Covid-19 would mean physical pain (even death!), while losing my job would make me and my family far less physically comfortable. So many emotional pains and fears have roots in physical pain. But if I know that EVEN IF one day I am cold and hungry, that I can face it and be at peace, then psychological fears fall away.
...stay vigilant and examine what happens in the presence of feeling of danger. It’s when you are able to meet that situation with awareness turned inwards that a transformation is possible to happen.
This is extremely relevant to my current circumstances. I will do as you say. I finally feel like I can do this.
is intensity ok?
Yes, it is ok
Are feelings of contractions ok?
Yes, they are ok
Is resisting feelings of contractions ok?
Yes, they are ok
What is not ok?
I like the standard of ok-ness, it does not mean getting everything I want or escaping all pain or having wonderful spiritual transformations, it just means being at peace with any situation. To answer your question, I need a few days to "scan" myself and see if there is any aspect of daily life and challenges that is not ok, that is resisted and leads to suffering, where there is some story of why it is not ok.

Can I get back to you in a few days? I want to be sure and feel it in my bones before I say that there is nothing that is not ok.

Thanks!

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Re: looking for clarity

Postby Ilona » Sun May 24, 2020 6:07 am

Take your time and explore.
Yes, it’s not about great experiences or bliss forever, but about being at peace with what is as it is.

Love.
Truth realized will set you free.
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Re: looking for clarity

Postby arus7 » Mon Jun 01, 2020 3:17 pm

Hi Ilona, I could not find anything that is not OK.

Disturbances arise still at three levels, (i) a constant humming of background thoughts and dread which are not clearly articulated, but loosely translate as “something is not right, something needs to be done, don’t relax…”, (ii) thought-stories made of reasonably well-defined words and images of future/past pursuing fear and desire, (iii) intense feelings in the body. It seems that the background (i) gets sparked by some event from time to time and explodes into the stories of (ii) and then the intense feelings of (iii).

Once the explosion takes place in (ii) and (iii) it is an alarm to focus inward on the stories and emotions, and to recognize that I am not them, that they are not intolerable, that they are in fact OK. The humming background dissatisfaction (i) is more difficult to see because it is so continuous, and yet if one believes its whispers, then suffering follows. For this, I have to sit quietly, or walk alone, to give it full attention. Then it too is OK.

If any of (i), (ii), (iii) is believed, “I am that feeling/thought”, then suffering follows and thoughts race further into past/future/struggle. If (i), (ii), (iii) are seen as arisings, but not “me”, then it is OK. Each day provides disturbance, there is so much habit pulling towards belief and fear and the avalanches triggered by desire, and yet I now see that letting go of belief is the only way to peace and (coincidentally) truth.

I see that the “practice” of dropping belief, of being aware of the play of thoughts and emotions, cannot be pursued for some future reward. That is the mistake of seeking, because one has then identified with the thought-story of salvation or future ecstasy, leading back to suffering. Rather, the dropping of beliefs, and awareness of thoughts/emotions, gives rise to peace immediately, and one must be careful not to ask for more in the future, because that is again thought asking. It is like a restaurant buffet, where it’s all-you-can eat now but you can’t take anything to go.

That’s where I am. A lot of the day, I am still distracted and identified with thoughts/feelings, and suffering. But then several times a day I “wake up”, and find that it is all OK, until identification arises again… Repeat. But the OK-ness is always available.

Strangely, I can’t think of any questions. Confusions about my own ideas, about mystical Eastern sayings, even about LU’s “you don’t exist”, seem to be gone.

Thanks

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Re: looking for clarity

Postby Ilona » Tue Jun 02, 2020 6:49 am

Wonderful exploration.
Good to hear that you found out the okayiness with what is and have less confusion and questions.

Yes to letting go of belief that no longer serve or are helpful. Such a journey, right!

As you are opening to what is present, more beliefs can drop, more emotional energy is freed and more space is felt. That’s the clearing stage.

In regards to a separate self, is 5ere any doubt about that or is it clear now?

Love.
Truth realized will set you free.
http://ilonaciunaite.com

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Re: looking for clarity

Postby arus7 » Wed Jun 03, 2020 3:38 am

Yes, quite a journey! My family is in a deep crisis (not to mention the world) and there are major actions and decisions to be made, with a flood of immediate pain and emotions and thoughts. I am spending time staying with just the present awareness of all this. Even when the feeling "it's not OK arises", I am allowing myself to open as fully as I can to that, allowing the "not-OKness" to be felt and to be OK. As much as possible, I am trying to stay with just the seeing and feeling of what is happening, without clinging to any belief to "save me".

In regards to a separate self: Thinking says "what will happen to ME ?!", as if there were a separate self. But when one looks at this sense of vulnerability, one finds intense feelings and thoughts but not a ME. The ME is a sense of vulnerability in a "hostile universe", but it cannot stand at the same time as OKness. I fluctuate between that sense of vulnerability, and then examining closely and as carefully as I can, seeing that everything is OK.

To say it even more simply: I do get scared often enough in the course of a day. Given the challenges I'm facing, there is this reflexive fear. But then I zoom in to see "what is this fear made of?", and find only the intense feelings in the body and the fluttering of thoughts. I then ask, is this really OK? And it is OK. In that state of pure looking there is no separate self. The separate self exists only in thought, and it feels real only when these thoughts are believed, but it is illusory.

Note to self: keep dropping beliefs as soon as they're noticed.

That's where I am. I don't really have any doubt about the non-existent separate self.

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Re: looking for clarity

Postby Ilona » Sun Jun 07, 2020 2:59 pm

Thank you for sharing. Yes, the process continues and all that comes up can be met with awareness and okayiness. Including the vulnerability and not knowing what to do.

It sounds that you see that the self is a belief and not an entity in charge of life happening.
Can you tell me about free will and choice. How is that seen now?

Love.
Truth realized will set you free.
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Re: looking for clarity

Postby arus7 » Tue Jun 09, 2020 3:27 am

Hi Ilona, by the time I was a teenager I found the notion of "free will" and the related notion of "choice" to be without meaning in any fundamental sense. It seemed like my actions were tied to everything else going on, and therefore not "free". My view has not changed since then. I see now that "free will" is closely tied to viewing oneself as an independent entity, which does not match direct experience.

But on a daily basis "choice" arises in the sense that I come to a fork in the road and have to "choose" which way to go. But this choice happens by some weighing up of considerations or on impulse. This deliberation can feel quite uncomfortable, full of imagining of future consequences of my choices, etc. But there is no chooser. After some hesitating process, perhaps uncomfortable, I either go left or right. A lot of suffering can come from all the imagined futures, and the feeling that "I have to get this RIGHT". These are just more thoughts and feelings.

Free will and choice require a separate entity, which does not exist.

Thanks

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Re: looking for clarity

Postby arus7 » Tue Jun 09, 2020 4:10 am

PS. It occurs to me to ask why I would suffer from guilt, say, when there is no free will or choice. This is just the resistance to the fact that I did something which "went wrong", wishing it had been some other way, or fear that others might find out what I did. It is not because I had any "choice" in what I did. Once one see that there is fear and resistance at the root of guilt, one can again check that there is OKness in the present moment. Only the story one tells about oneself is flawed.

Thanks

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Re: looking for clarity

Postby Ilona » Tue Jun 09, 2020 2:53 pm

Great observations.
And a Very good question, why feeling of guilt?
Here is the way to investigate it.
When the feeling of guilt comes, look closer at it, at least for a minute or two and examine. Just allowing it to be present and watching it as an neutral energetic happening.
When was the first time that you felt guilt?
What was the situation? Who was the person that you have learned guilt from?
Was that feeling there before you learned it?
If you can see that this feeling is not yours, but given, learned from somebody, do you still need to carry it? Is it helping?
If so, what problem is it fixing?
If it’s no longer needed, can you safely let it go, and give it a full permission to go back to where it came from?

Play with this. As the root is always in childhood, that’s where it is a good place to look for it.

Answer this question why feel guilt and let me know how it goes.

Love.
Truth realized will set you free.
http://ilonaciunaite.com

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Re: looking for clarity

Postby arus7 » Fri Jun 12, 2020 4:08 am

Hi Ilona, your questions on guilt are difficult and I took a few days to consider the matter.

I do not come from a background or family that put much emphasis on guilt, but as a child I did suffer from family conflict, imperfect health and prejudice. These seem to have left their mark, a strong sense that I was not made to be happy. Childhood was where I got my heavy sense of "me". I think this later fed into adult guilt.

Strong guilt emerged only as an adult, through the failure of two relationships, perhaps sabotaged by my self-centeredness, fear and confusion. The guilt is over the suffering of others involved, and their time lost. Why is there this guilt when there is no separate "me" that "chose" to fail? The guilt is only there in the narrative of thought. In the immediate present there is the sight of the suffering of others, the memories of my role in it, and the strong emotions that creates. This is not guilt until thought takes over and tells the story of "me, the guilty one, who could have chosen differently".

My adult guilt feels like having driven a car rashly and hit someone who is now in a wheelchair, and seeing them in that state in the present and hearing them blame you. There is the heavy emotion of seeing them in that state, and the story that "I did this, and I could have been more careful". Only when being very still and attentive does the story fall away, but later it comes back and has to be examined again. This story, does not serve any useful purpose. The only purpose seems to be as a place to hide the sense of a separate self, and this it does quite well! Part of the guilt is just wanting to look good, not wanting to be associated with bad behavior. It is just another desire, and resistance to what has already happened through this body/brain.

As I sit here typing, I feel the guilt has my "permission" to leave, it is meaningless. But as yet, the guilt has not permanently fallen away. Nevertheless, it is OK, in the sense that when it arises I can be open to it, and see it as old thoughts and emotions.

Thanks

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Re: looking for clarity

Postby arus7 » Fri Jun 12, 2020 4:23 am

On feeling into guilt further, I see there is a strong element of fear for myself, perhaps irrationally the sense that I will have to pay for what I've done, that I cannot outrun the consequences. So it is not just regret for the past, but fear for the future, waiting for an uncertain "punishment". I'm not sure that I've quite put my finger on it, but hopefully closer to the truth.

If so, then guilt is just part of the more general fear for the future. I am dealing with this by examining my present whenever possible, to see that there is nothing in the present that is not OK. The "unbearable future" is then less believable.

Thanks


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