Looking for answers

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nathan0060
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Re: Looking for answers

Postby nathan0060 » Fri Jul 31, 2020 9:05 am

Hi Jon,

This is starting out well. :) I really like what you said:
Well, we want to get to what's actually going on, right? To find out for sure, and chuck out what is not true?
Absolutely! This is such a breath of fresh air. No more vague explanations from gurus and texts. But to see for myself. And to know that what I see is in fact true. I'm a big fan of science and love to find out facts. It's not enough for me to believe something. It must be undeniably true and I have to see it for myself. So this method you propose fits exactly with who I am.
If you agree with me then we must be quite strict about how we go along with this investigation. How do we do that?

We do something called 'looking,' not just with the eyes, although we will be investigating 'seeing', but also hearing, touch, taste and smell. Honestly, by taking an interest in how the senses actually work things are likely to become clear. We will 'look' at seeing, hearing and so on but also at how thoughts behave.

This 'looking' is very different from intellectualising. I could ask you to go and look at a tree and you might think 'okay okay, I know what a tree looks like so I can just answer from memory or imagine a tree or even answer from text-book learning about trees'. But that would be a critical mistake in this inquiry because of the enormous difference between actual experience and imagined experience. Do you agree?
Absolutely! Again, this is such a relief. It is exactly what I'm looking for. And the examples of the tree and the ice cream are spot on. I agree 100%. :)
An illustration would be like, imagine a child who had never eaten an ice cream before. Will there be a difference for them if the parent simply explains what the ice cream should taste like or reads them a description of how taste buds work... or instead, gives them a real ice cream to experience? You get the point. It's critical in this no self inquiry to explore and examine things for real from actual experience and not from theoretical understanding.
You are my hero, haha. Yes, yes, yes! I'm massively excited since this is exactly it!
I'd be grateful if you could agree to post once a day and I will always try to match that unless, I'm unable to, in which case I'll let you know?
Agreed. Should I be unable to respond, I will let you know. I like to go fast. It keeps the momentum going. Which actually makes me wonder, does this site have a chat function? I can imagine that in certain cases it would be useful to interact in real-time. But I'll leave that to you. You guide, I follow. :)
Thank you Nathan. Looking forward to working with you.
As you may have noticed, I'm massively excited to be working with you. :) Thank you so much for wanting to do this with me. However it turns out, I will always be grateful for your decision to help me. That alone means the world to me.

Nathan

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JonathanR
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Re: Looking for answers

Postby JonathanR » Fri Jul 31, 2020 9:30 am

Hi Nathan

I'm really pleased that you are happy to work with me.

Now, about the idea of the child and the ice cream, it has to be said that that image could suggest that there will be some sort of extatic experience.

It cannot be known how no self will be experienced. That's the first thing. Please drop any preconceived idea or expectations and you'll be in a good, fair position to start exploring.
. I'm a big fan of science and love to find out facts. It's not enough for me to believe something. It must be undeniably true and I have to see it for myself. So this method you propose fits exactly with who I am.
That's great.

So, let's explore this self / no self thing?

What is your current understanding of what 'you' are?


:-)

Jon

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nathan0060
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Re: Looking for answers

Postby nathan0060 » Fri Jul 31, 2020 10:18 am

Hi Jon,
It cannot be known how no self will be experienced. That's the first thing. Please drop any preconceived idea or expectations and you'll be in a good, fair position to start exploring.
Ok.
So, let's explore this self / no self thing?

What is your current understanding of what 'you' are?
What I am is a complex combination of elements. A body, with a brain that is capable of generating self-awareness. And emotions, feelings, opinions, memories, hopes and dreams, preferences, desires, dislikes, thoughts, self-talk, ideas, creativity, and the list goes on and on. What I am is the combination of all elements, a lot of which I am not even aware of. You can only keep track of so much consciously, so the rest is happening outside my awareness.

That's my idea of what I am.

Nathan

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JonathanR
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Re: Looking for answers

Postby JonathanR » Fri Jul 31, 2020 11:24 am

Hi Nathan

OK. Thank you for that.

We will look into all this by starting with a very simple exercise. It's practical, so it must be done (like eating the ice cream :-). Don't just think it through in your head because something that's key can be missed.

Is it true that the words on this screen are being seen?

Conventionally it is said that 'I see' and it is assumed that it is 'eyes' or 'the body' (that are 'me') , that is doing the seeing.

Right here and now, seeing this screen, what is doing the seeing? Give it a moment. Explore it.

It may help to examine the folliwing:

In the immediate experience, seeing (this screen) what is it actually like? Is it an experience of 'eyes seeing'? Is it an experience of 'me, seeing through eyes'? Or is it just seeing?


:-)

Jon

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nathan0060
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Re: Looking for answers

Postby nathan0060 » Sat Aug 01, 2020 10:08 am

Hi Jon,

I read your reply yesterday and gave it some time so that I could look at it a few times. I find it difficult to answer your question. You say to examine in the immediate experience what it is like to see the screen. To see the words. That implies that I should just see them, without reading and understanding them. Those are cognitive processes in response to the input. Before that, there is just the input. Words on the screen. Variations in color, black and white. Words are black, the rest is white.

I see that. But that's what I think after seeing it. In the exact moment of seeing, I don't think anything. There's just the visual input.

But I also see the thought after it that I saw the words as accurate. Just because I wasn't realizing it doesn't mean it wasn't true. Now I look at the words, while being aware that I am seeing the words. Normally I don't do that since it is not necessary, but this examination got me to do that.

There is something interesting about just seeing though. I can't identify my self for brief moments. I'm not sure about that, it's kind of vague and I'm not really sure of it. Like looking at a screen that is out of focus so much that you can't quite grasp what is on it. There may be something there, but you're not sure.

Mainly what I realize now is that my perception is that even if my self wasn't there for a moment, it doesn't mean that it doesn't exist. It just lies dormant for a moment. Similar to dreamless sleep, but there the whole of you is inactive in the brain, ready to boot up when you're conscious again.

I'm beginning to get confused. And hope I'm making sense. :) I do still see looking at the screen as me doing the looking. It's just that I'm sometimes not aware of that fact.

I hope this is something you can work with.

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JonathanR
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Re: Looking for answers

Postby JonathanR » Sun Aug 02, 2020 8:36 am

Hi Nathan

. I read your reply yesterday and gave it some time so that I could look at it a few times. I find it difficult to answer your question. You say to examine in the immediate experience what it is like to see the screen. To see the words. That implies that I should just see them,
Sorry. I could have left out the mention of 'words' and even 'screen'.. I just used those because I knew that you'd be reading right there, and then. It would be likely that you would immediately become aware of seeing. But actually talking about reading words does (sort of) introduce the idea of some sort of cognition and understanding of concepts/words. But anyway this Seeing exercise works, even if you happen to be gazing at floorboards or at the sky. It's not conceptual. It's not to do with reading words specifically at all. But I think you understood this?

But you did well and have raised a few questions.
. I see that. But that's what I think after seeing it. In the exact moment of seeing, I don't think anything. There's just the visual input
Very good. I hoped you'd find this.
. But I also see the thought after it that I saw the words as accurate. Just because I wasn't realizing it doesn't mean it wasn't true. Now I look at the words, while being aware that I am seeing the words. Normally I don't do that since it is not necessary, but this examination got me to do that.
Great that you noticed the thoughts immediately adterwords. Remember your earlier remark about not thinking? That there's just the visual impression? Then you also notice thoughts appearing too.?

Try a similar exercise but you don't need to involve reading words. You can simply notice whatever is in front of you right now. Or, you could do the same sort of exercise but investigating Hearing, or any of the 'physical' senses. Whichever you choose to do, you might notice that there is just seeing, or just hearing going on in the moment? But then a thought or two may well appear.
. There is something interesting about just seeing though. I can't identify my self for brief moments. I'm not sure about that, it's kind of vague and I'm not really sure of it. Like looking at a screen that is out of focus so much that you can't quite grasp what is on it. There may be something there, but you're not sure.
Very good. Each time time you try this you might find that there will be moments where a 'self' doesn't seem to be 'doing' the seeing or hearing (etc). It's possible to tune into that a bit though thoughts about 'I'm doing this' (or whatever) can tend to cut in soon, too.

If you want to try Hearing, which can be interesting, sit comfortably somewhere, either inside or outside, where you will not be disturbed. Begin to notice any sounds that are happening. Anything that is audible. This could be very quiet sounds such as breathing or a slight hum from something electrical, to birds singing, a dishwasher, to louder sounds such as a door slamming or voices nearby. It's all good.

In the hearing is there the experience of 'a person hearing'? Or does hearing seem to be just happening?

If thoughts come too are these something different from hearing, something extra that is added on to hearing (or seeing)?

BTW, don't worry about getting confused. That can happen with these inquiries for moments but the main thing is to look into what's actually happening because clarity can come from that.

:-)

Jon

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nathan0060
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Re: Looking for answers

Postby nathan0060 » Sun Aug 02, 2020 12:01 pm

Hi Jon,

I'm going to need some time to process this and to do the things you suggest. I expect to report back tomorrow. And if I still need more time then, I will still post to keep the daily momentum going.

Nathan

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JonathanR
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Re: Looking for answers

Postby JonathanR » Sun Aug 02, 2020 7:57 pm

Great Nathan,

Thanks for letting me know.

Jon

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nathan0060
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Re: Looking for answers

Postby nathan0060 » Mon Aug 03, 2020 11:13 am

I'm not getting there. I feel like I'm failing. Every time I focus on seeing or hearing, I am aware that I am hearing. The awareness-element, hearing-element, perception-element, thinking-element and feeling-element of my self are all present. I still see the self as the combination of countless building-blocks, a lot of them probably unconscious. I mean, they say we think about 60000 thoughts a day. I don't perceive that many thoughts. Only few come to awareness. That doesn't mean the rest don't exist.

So I'm kind of stuck here. How can there be no self when I can clearly identify many of its elements?

Nathan

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JonathanR
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Re: Looking for answers

Postby JonathanR » Tue Aug 04, 2020 1:50 am

Hi Nathan

Great to read your reply
. So I'm kind of stuck here. How can there be no self when I can clearly identify many of its elements?
Because you are clearly identifying elements of the illusion of 'self' rather than a real thing that 'exists'. The 'self' you're talking about is a puff of smoke that sometimes looks a bit like something that's 'really there'.

What's really there are all these thoughts of attributes of an entity that's as real as a dream.

What do you say to that? .

:-)

Jon

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nathan0060
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Re: Looking for answers

Postby nathan0060 » Tue Aug 04, 2020 10:41 am

Hi Jon,

I have to back up a bit to come out of this confusion. And then my current perception is as follows:

On this site, the basic idea is stated as follows: "You don't exist".

Ok. Clear. Then I take that idea and don't see it as being true. It's not that I see it as being false, but I don't see it being true either.

This is where my confusion comes in. When I look, I notice a feeling. Several in fact. Feelings come and go. I notice ideas. Memories. My body. My personality (which itself consists of many different elements). I notice the personal filters I place on the world around me. And I recognize that there are countless other parts that I'm not aware of.

But I am aware of many of them. And to me, the combination of all of them, is me. So I'm wondering, how can I not exist if I can clearly see many elements of my self?

The self is changeable. Fluid. It changes over time and with each experience you have. It's fluid, if you will. It's not one fixed thing, but it's built up out of many, many different separate parts. And you can look and observe those parts. A feeling is actually there. One feeling is one of the countless parts that construct my self. Me.

So how can you say that I don't exist, when I can identify parts of the self at any moment in time? If I didn't exist, there wouldn't be feelings. Emotions. Opinions. And all those countless elements. There wouldn't even be the idea to look.

But there is. And that's why I'm confused. Because I can't see how things that I observe don't actually exist.

Nathan

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JonathanR
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Re: Looking for answers

Postby JonathanR » Wed Aug 05, 2020 6:34 pm

Hi Nathan.
. I'm not ltogether well today. Please excuse me. I will write again soon. Feel free to write to me if you like
Jon

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nathan0060
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Re: Looking for answers

Postby nathan0060 » Thu Aug 06, 2020 10:46 am

Hi Jon,

I hope you feel better soon. I will wait until you're back before I post again.

Nathan

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JonathanR
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Re: Looking for answers

Postby JonathanR » Thu Aug 06, 2020 3:07 pm

Hi Nathan
. On this site, the basic idea is stated as follows: "You don't exist".

Ok. Clear. Then I take that idea and don't see it as being true. It's not that I see it as being false, but I don't see it being true either.
That's exactly how it's seen here too. We have to use words, language, to communicate. Saying 'you don't exist' is potentially very useful for some people, who investigate no self. It can be a very precise pointer in the right context, and some people will notice 'my god there isn't a fixed me as I had imagined !'. But we are all unique and other pointers may prove more or less useful and true.
. But I am aware of many of them. And to me, the combination of all of them, is me. So I'm wondering, how can I not exist if I can clearly see many elements of my self?
You notice many elements and typically it is assumed that this adds up to a 'me'. And there is some hidden assumption of a single, separate thing. An entity

But think of a university. It's labelled University yet where is the 'university' actually? There, are faculties, meeting rooms, facilities, books, pathways, resources, students, ongoing projects and research, bricks and mortar or concrete. Lots of parts but where is all this is 'The University' as a thing in its self? Perhaps 'self' is more like this?
. So how can you say that I don't exist, when I can identify parts of the self at any moment in time? If I didn't exist, there wouldn't be feelings. Emotions. Opinions. And all those countless elements. There wouldn't even be the idea to look.
Because the self remains an idea, a concept. There may seem to be an unchanging entity but you have described the situation well There are lots of apparent 'parts' but the 'hub', the 'university', its not a real thing in its own right. There's just an idea that it is. Take a look.

:-)

Jon

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nathan0060
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Re: Looking for answers

Postby nathan0060 » Thu Aug 06, 2020 3:54 pm

Hi Jon,

Aha, I see. I've never seen a self as a single, separate thing. An unchanging entity. Never in my life I think. From the time I was old enough to think about these things, I've seen it as I described. I have no idea what it's like to think that such a separate thing exists. It just makes not sense to me.

Where we do differ in viewpoint though is that I see the accumulation of all those element as the self. As me. That combination is me. Fluid, changing. There is no separate "me" apart from that.

The university example is a good one. There is not a university as a thing in itself. But as I see it, the building blocks put together make it one. And that is also not fix. They can build a new wing. Redo the roof. Break some parts off. Re-arrange the inside. Maybe modernize it. Fix things that break. Maybe a new paint-job with a new color.

Much like the self. It's a great metaphor. You can change yourself or find that you've changed over time. Maybe something happened in your life. Maybe it was spontaneous. But you're fluid.

So how do you see this? If that combination of elements that to me is a self is not in fact a self, then what is it? Or is it just semantics? I call it self, you don't. I'm curious what it is to you then.

Hope you are feeling better btw!

Nathan


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