“I realized that even if I recognized the fact there was no agency inside the body, that there was no “I” who was in control, I still saw the body as the perceiver, seer, hearer, taster…”
“So the body is the agency?”
I don’t want to say that the body is the 'agency' because I can see that decisions are not made by this body, that it’s a conditioned entity that’s acting out of habit or responding to thoughts arising on their own. Right now, I can also see that the body is felt. I can see that the sensation in my chest which I used to believe was ‘me’ is in reality nothing but a sensation.
On the other hand, I do not yet recognize the illusion that perceptions (seeing, tasting, hearing, sensing) are not felt by this body. It’s hard to get the intuition that the body is not the seer or the hearer because hearing and seeing cannot happen without the seeing and hearing apparatus which are part of the body. Or is it enough to realize that seeing does indeed happen through the eyes, or that hearing does happen through the ears but that the body itself is not the one that knows sound or images…that images and sound are known by the same “entity” that knows the body. Because if the body is just a sensation, then it knows nothing.
“What is the experiential evidence that the body is the agency of performing the act of ‘perceiving’, ‘seeing’, ‘hearing’, ‘tasting’, ‘thinking’?”
Just to be clear on definitions, when you say that “the body is the agency of performing the action of…” you mean that the body is the one that experiences sound, smell…
It’s easiest to realize that there is no experience of the body perceiving thoughts. Based on my previous observations, I can also say that seeing, hearing, and tasting happen with the body (e.g. the seeing apparatus is associated with the body) but that the body is not the one that knows perceptions since it’s just a sensation.
There is still the puzzle that thoughts, visual images and other perceptions are only perceived where this body is. They seem to be attached to this body, but this does not undermine the previous observations.
“It’s very important that you are 100% honest with yourself, and you don’t just talk yourself into believing that there is ‘no me’, so it was just a figurative speaking. You are fooling yourself.”
Yes, I will be careful. I should probably spend more time looking for the self outside of the moments when I write to you for this understanding to become more experiential and less intellectual. But then I get carried away by life and quickly forget that I am not this body or that I am not the thinker.
On a side note, I am sometimes confused about the idea that there is ‘no self’ because the ‘self’ and ‘me’ can refer to either the soul/an individual consciousness inside the body - whose existence I wasn’t able prove – but it can also refer to a real entity – the body called Naya. But even if Naya is the body, it is not the body that is getting ‘hypnotized’ by thoughts. The process of being ‘hypnotized’ or ‘lost in thoughts’ is itself being noticed just like the body is being noticed.
Naya “When I search for this self that wants more peace I see first and foremost visual images of the past of this body engaged in spiritual inquiry for many many years (reading books, attending talks, watching youtube videos, etc).
There is also this strong sensation in the head and the chest that could be labeled as a longing.
There are also thoughts arising expressing a sense of frustration about ‘me’ not getting it and about this search taking so long.”
Vivien : “But this is just half looking, or an unfinished looking. The most important part of it is missing. Looking for the self itself.”
“So there is a visual thought coming up showing the body.”
“Is this visual thought the self?”
No. It’s only a visual thought that is perceived. A thought shows up says “I the body, sees that thought.” When looking, it can be seen that there is no experience of a limited entity perceiving that thought.
“Or the self is in this visual thought?”
It seems that there was a body who decided to read these books or watch videos. But it can be seen now that the body doesn’t decide anything and that it just responds to thoughts appearing spontaneously.
“Or the self is thinking this visual thought?”
There is the experience of thinking visual thoughts in response to reading the question “where is the self in search for peace”. However, the one who is thinking cannot be found. These visual thoughts appear spontaneously. There is no explanation for why one specific visual thought appeared (e.g. Naya reading ‘The Power of Now”) and another one.
“Or the self is seeing this visual thought?”
The illusion that “I am seeing this visual thought” is very strong. The current experience, however, doesn’t suggest that there is a finite entity that’s observing these visual thoughts. Bodily sensations, which are often mistaken for an “I”, are perceived just like these visual thoughts are perceived. There is no experience of bodily sensations perceiving these thoughts.
“Where is the ‘I’ regarding to this visual thought?”
“I” always brings ‘me’ back to the body. When looking, it is seen that “I see these thoughts” is another thought and that there is no experience of sensations seeing thoughts.
“And is the sensation in the chest and head which is labelled as ‘longing’ the self itself?”
No. It is a bodily sensation which is mistakenly perceived as ‘me’ out of habit.
“Or the self inside this sensation?”
There is no evidence for this. Only a sensation can be felt at this location.
“Or the ‘I’ is feeling this sensation?”
No. Although this sensation is felt, no limited entity is experienced feeling this it.
This idea that sensations are felt by no one hasn’t sunk in yet…it still feels counter-intuitive.
“Or the ‘I’ is the one who is longing?”
This is only an illusion, although it is very strong. When looking, this ‘longing’ can be recognized as an ‘uncomfortable’ sensation.
“How does this sensation relate to the self?”
This sensation is nothing but a sensation. It is mistaken as the self because when it is felt, a thought arise saying things like “I feel a longing”.
“And what about the thoughts about “I am frustrated”? Is this thought the ‘I’?”
At first, it seems that it’s the body that’s frustrated. When looking, it is seen that the body is a sensation that’s not emitting thoughts. The thought “I am frustrated” is just a thought that’s perceived just like bodily sensations are perceived.
“Or the ‘I’ is inside this thought?”
No. It’s clear that the ‘I’ is not inside the thought. The illusion comes from the fact that:
1) The body is mistaken for the feeler (and not the one that is felt) AND;
2) The body is mistaken for the one that’s doing the thinking.
“Or the ‘I’ is thinking this thought?”
The illusion that the body (ie. the “I”) does the thinking goes on most of the time, that’s for sure. Experience, however, does not suggest such a thing. The body is perceived, just like thoughts are perceived.
“Or the ‘me’ is perceiving this thought?”
Although thoughts are perceived, there is no limited entity that can be found perceiving these thoughts.
How does this thought relate to the self?
The though “I am frustrated” just create the illusion that this so-called “frustration” is experienced by someone or something, for instance by the body. However, although “frustration” does arise, there is not experience of this emotion being felt by the body.
There are also thoughts arising expressing a sense of frustration about ‘me’ not getting it and about this search taking so long.
Can you REALLY SEE that these are just thoughts arising and there is no ‘me’ outside of these thoughts being affected by these thoughts, OR does it FEEL that these are YOUR thoughts and YOUR frustration?
This illusion that Naya, the body, is not the one experiencing the thought can be seen. Both bodily sensations and thoughts about an “I” are perceived. At the same time, the thoughts “I am this body” and “I feel this frustration” still feel true.