Sunday, 2 June 2013
Me Is Not a Story, The Story Is About Me
Hope you are well and had a good break in Lithuania. I'm keen to begin being guided by email by you and wonder if I need to do anything to get it started?
Yes, I'm back and we can start.
Tell me what are you looking for, what do you expect to find and what do you think that must happen?
Just explore all the expectations around this process. Make a list of what you think that should or should not happen. What do you want to happen?
Some reflections around the expectations are that I would like to see 'me' as a story and not as the real centre of the universe thing I had thought it was. I imagine that things would carry on arising and passing away as before, but without the identification leading to freedom.
I already look to find the me and find no one, instead I find vast open space, like a mirror...however then I go back, (& forget to look) to believing in me which is tight & judgemental. What I want, is to join the dots of the play of 'isness' as a continued experience. I hope then that I can see the judgements etc as a story and nothing to take seriously. I imagine this will open me up to compassion for others as I will see their selfishness and judgements as a deluded attempt to be secure.
I imagine 'my will' to be replaced with a love or presence or life force will.. Part of me (I know there's no me or parts but..) thinks liberation will be more meaningful and part of me fears it will lose all meaning.
These are a few initial thoughts,
I look forward to yours..
Thanks for writing. i can see that your expectations are not too far off and we don't need to stop here, lets take a look now where you are.
Let this thought in and play with it.
There is no separate self, no i, no me at all in reality, none as in zero. there is no manager, controller, doer, thinker, witness, no centre to which experience is happening. all there is is life flowing freely and that includes the story too. me is not a story, the story is ABOUT me.
tell me, what reactions, resistances, fears you noticed, was there anything that was saying "yes, but... " does anything feel threatened?
how did your body reacted to this thought?
write what you notice as you notice.
This is an immediate response...so as I read what your write I feel a lot of excitement at the directness and certainty of there being zero! Like I want to jump.. Then I read the bit 'me is not a story, the story is about me' and feel confused.. This brings me into my head to work it out...ah ha, I have turned me into a story so I still am, another attempt to me...So, if I am not even a story.......then I feel excited again and want to jump...then I reflect the story is about something that isn't...but there is a story, and now I've gone round in a circle wanting to be the story.
So I feel mostly excitement like I'm on the brink of a cliff and want to jump (in a good way) but that I cant quite let go!
Ok, so where is this me? Can it be seen with eyes? Touched? Heard? Smelled or tasted?
Or it only appears in thinking?
How do you know it exists?
No senses has a me behind it.. Just hearing, just tasting, just touching, smelling. Thinking has a strong I am story behind all of this but as you say the story is About a me...I get it, and yet frustratingly I act like I exist...
I will keep reflecting.
Thank you, please keep the challenges coming.
Ok, you say you act as if you exist. How would you act if there was no you and never was? Would anything need to be different? Would reactions and responses cease to happen? Would life stop?
Lets look at the story. If you look around the room slowly and focus on some objects, notice his labelling starts and story gets narrated. Where focus goes story follows. Are you in control of this process? Can you stop thoughts from appearing? When you see with eyes, can you see the story?
Write what you notice :)
Morning! I kept waking up last night looking for the me and noticing things like feeling warm with no me feeling that....
If there was no me... Life would go on but I wouldn't know about it! (Is my initial response) to your first questions. I want to know about it all! And yet there was still feeling warm for example so there wasn't the nothing I think I fear!
Re: the who is smelling: When I got on the bus last night being in the flow of it all just happening a woman got on and sat behind me and smelt of fish. I noticed how the belief in I came in strongly with aversion and I tried to see the story arising but my body still felt tight and aversive. I guess that was arising too, I just me'd that too.. Or the story was about fishy smells and a me not liking it....?
Yes true. Where focus goes, thoughts follow. Endless! I can see images in my head of the story but not on solid form. I don't have control of the thoughts and associations when I look except by looking in a new direction and new thought then arise.
Surely though I can choose to be kind and generous say, and influence positive thoughts arising. (Or vice versa negative thinking leads to more negative thinking) But not guarantee....Who is choosing?
Over to you!
"Surely though I can choose to be kind and generous say, and influence positive thoughts arising."
Is this true?
Where do thoughts come from?
Is I a thought or a thinker?
Can you choose just happy thoughts and close the flow to "negative ones"? Can you stop thoughts from appearing for half an hour?
Can a thought think?
Can a thought do anything?
Can thinking be switched on and off at will?
Investigate this and answer each question in full.
OK, I have just meditated.. Answers below.
Surely though I can choose to be kind and generous say, and influence positive thoughts arising.
Is this true? Thoughts and felling are different but influence each other don't they??
Where do thoughts come from? Space/nowhere
Is I a thought or a thinker? A thought! This one got me, I had a flash of, oh shit! I is just a thought, I saw it and felt excitement/fear..
Can you choose just happy thoughts and close the flow to "negative ones"? No
Can you stop thoughts from appearing for half an hour? Cant stop negative thoughts coming in. But can choose to focus on positive images/thoughts which leads to good feelings.
Can a thought think? No
Can a thought do anything? on its own level no, but can lead to a feeling or action
Can thinking be switched on and off at will? the focus can be changed but not stopped
Now I will go to work...the key things i will continue to turn over that feel important are: I is a thought /& I is a story ABOUT me, (not I am a story)..that sound good?
Yes, there certainly is a connection between thoughts and feelings. But is it up to you? Do you influence thoughts? Or is that just another thought?
Do you choose what reaction thoughts trigger? Or reacting happens same way as an itch and a scratch?
"But i can choose to focus on positive images/thoughts which leads to good feelings."
"Can a thought do anything? on its own level no, but can lead to a feeling or action"
-Or perhaps it's more a description, labelling of what is happening anyway. Take a look.
"Can thinking be switched on and off at will? the focus can be changed but not stopped"
-Are you the focuser? Are you in control of focusing? How do you do that?
"Now I will go to work...the key things i will continue to turn over that feel important are: I is a thought /& I is a story ABOUT me, (not I am a story)..that sound good?"
No, I is not a story. Story is story, I is just one word in it. And story is about the character, when narrated in first perspective, we use word I instead of name. Look, there is no story if its only one word. I. :)
Looking forward to hear from you.
Yes I see reaction follows thought. And I see that to think I influence thoughts is just another thought!
A thought happens then a feeling can happen (i'm not sure if always a feeling follows a thought) A thought doesn't DO anything. 'A thought labels' is just another thought!
The change in focus is another thought. I think it's me doing that which again is another thought.
And yes I isn't a story it's when it's filled out with detail it's a story. I guess I could invent someone else and call them i. That would be as mad as calling this thought I. Like a tree. It's green and leafy....and it's me. And It is as true as Bob is me.
So the rub is without a me what's the point? What's the point of joy without an enjoyer.
So that's my evening reflections.
Does there have to be a point? Causeless joy happens. Just like birds singing, what is the point in that? What is the point of wind? Rain?
Here is an exercise for you, do it and write to me what you noticed.
Hello again....Thank you....this is good.
To add I am before experience feels tight and contracting. To just experience is freeing and expansive....looking at a pigeon with a hurt foot, feeling sad for the pigeon....this is much more relaxing and allowing and true than I am looking at the pigeon, I am feeling sad.. The' I am' pulls me back, distances me from the actual experience...
And feeling sad without the I am, does not annihilate the me in the way I feared it would, in fact its truer to say I am everything. sadness, bird, tree thoughts, openness...its all just happening within something endless and open...
Ok, look now, is there a gap between experiencer, experiencing and experienced?
Check in normal everyday situations and activities.
Is there a you to which life is happening?
Do you exist as a separate entity?
Describe what you see.
In the now I can see that there is no gap between experienced, experiencer and experience. I can see no separate I. And no me to which life is happening.
I can sustain this sometimes and sometimes not. Last night I lay in bed doing the exercise and saw the non separateness. Then a spider appeared above my head on the ceiling and I tried to keep the seeing but had to get out if bed and keep myself safe. I couldn't then get into the true perspective in the moment. The same earlier today. I had a breakfast in a cafe and a family were loud. I was judging them in thoughts and feeling reactive. I was noticing only reacting (not I am) and only judging thoughts... But my body felt tight and separate and again I couldn't re enter the true perspective.
Once one see's through belief in an I. Does reacting stop or is it always in a bigger perspective? Do you always remember there's no separate I? Like the father Christmas metaphor. I never forgot he wasn't real once I knew. But it does seem like I go in and out if remembering and forgetting I does not exist.
"In the now I can see that there is no gap between experienced, experiencer and experience. I can see no separate I. And no me to which life is happening."
"I can sustain this sometimes and sometimes not."
What is this I there? One with power to sustain or not.
"Once one see's through belief in an I, does reacting stop or is it always in a bigger perspective?"
Well there is no self already and reactions happen. Why would that change?
Reactions happen because of triggers- unresolved emotions, deep rooted beliefs. That has got nothing to do with seeing or not. Until there are wounds there will be pain when touching them. Question is- are these reactions yours to control? Are they happening to you?
Is there a reactor?
"Do you always remember there's no separate I?"
I don't need to remember. It's obvious.
But in the beginning mind looks in every situation for confirmation. It's just clarifying itself.
"Like the father Christmas metaphor. I never forgot he wasn't real once I knew."
Yes. It is clear that Santa was a fantasy. Same with separate self.
"But it does seem like I go in and out if remembering and forgetting I does not exist. "
Should this not be happening?
It's biting. I see the reactions. The wish for continuity. This is all dancing in the play of it all. Who then is this I that wants something wow and profound to happen? I'm worried it won't change anything! Yes who is the Me that's worrying.
I just got your book delivered this morning.
There is no who. It's just a useful word in communicating. But, in reality there are no subjects. Just movement that is happening by itself.
You are looking for something that does not exist. Me, I are labels. Not doers. Can you find what is happening not on automatic?
No not in a graspable way.. If noticing no me happens then it seems another story is triggered sometimes trying to justify or confirm its existence.
Where's the will coming from if its not from 'me'? If thoughts cause actions to happen then it almost sounds fatalistic.
Good questions. Is there a free will? Does the path need to be determined? Can't it be spontaneously arising codependent with everything else. When conditions are right, movement happens. Are you choosing what's happening? Think of some past big event, could it have happened differently? Could you have made not that choice?
And no there is no no-me to see, no self = zero. Take a look, is there a centre that experience happens to? Is there perceiver separate from perceived, to which perceiving is happening?
Since doing this looking I have been in the zone as it were a lot. I particularly experience it when counseling clients, like the role is clear. to get out of the way, drop into presence and it all happens better. Its not even like 'i' drop away, it just is. Hard to describe really. But its more effective than when the story of me is trying to do good work.
I was explaining this no self stuff to friends the other day and one didn't get it that there was no controller inside doing it all and I found myself explaining it from my experience and encouraging her to look and not find, as I did the same. I think I am kind of coming to see the experience absent of self can continue with the stories of self going on at the same time. When I am counseling mostly there is no story of "I" going on so thoughts validate this as more authentic... Don't know if any of this makes sense.
RE: a big event. I wanted to move but was not earning enough to make it safe to do so. I chose (OR CHOICE HAPPENED) to take a leap of faith and do it anyway (its worked out more that OK). I could though have taken the safe (seemingly) option and stayed in town i was and been miserable. I guess going back I can see a domino effect of taking leaps of Faith occur (I wont bore you with the details) and a domino effect of landing there anyway. And a Domino effect of getting some work in new town... It seems impossible to work out if I made a choice or if choice made itself? Am I on the right lines?.. I could chose to eat cheese and get unwell or I could choose to cut it out of my diet and be healthy. OK, there is no I choosing, thoughts feeling and body things happen and changes happen so this leads to (if certain causes and conditions are in place) x happening, which implies no choices really get made doesn't it?? ..Which doesn't feel right? If I didn't make a choice to be friendly sometimes I would be grumpy instead, are you saying that friendly would happen without choice...confusing!
Maybe I don't need to know the answers to let go of what isn't there anyway.
Sorry if its a bit rambly!
"Since doing this looking I have been in the zone as it were a lot. I particularly experience it when counseling clients, like the role is clear. to get out of the way, drop into presence and it all happens better. Its not even like 'i' drop away, it just is. Hard to describe really. But its more effective than when the story of me is trying to do good work."
Nice! yes to being in present and just flowing and great, life is presenting situations for you to look and share.
"Maybe I don't need to know the answers to let go of what isn't there anyway."
what is it you know 100% to be true?
Yes it does seem like there is a choice to take this next step. Also there is always a host of possibilities. It sounds like your saying there's some existing next step already. I can get 'I choose is less true to choosing'. But not there's a fatalistic next step. I guess my 'I' is attached particularly to will and I feel threatened by that not being mine. It's hard to imagine anything other than fate or nihilism! Yikes. It's humbling having been practicing for 15 years!
Also, I can look for me and not find it. As they say lose your head and gain the world. This is a real and profound experience. But I forget and think there is a me. You say with LU, once no self is seen there's is no going back.
How on earth are these people in your book getting it so quickly?
What shall I do next???
I'm not saying that there is an existing next step, but there is knowing what to do next. It's arising within situation. Interdependently with everything else. Nothing to do with nihilism.
Are you independent from environment, choosing by yourself? Or is it life moving where it's choosing to go, independently of your desires?
Are you the doer? Is there a doer? Is this doer I? Right now, are you choosing to read this or reading is happening? Are you choosing to breath, or breathing is happening? What is happening by your will alone?
Write what comes up.
There are no dates in the book, for some it was quick, for others not so. Longest I worked was over half a year. It's unique for everybody, no set time. It takes as long as it takes to get ready for that one look, that is the crossing of the line of no return.
It's not the case of remembering, that there is no me, but knowing where to look in order to see that in every situation.
I am really turning the question of am I independent if my environment over. I know the answer is no. And I see evidence and yet such a strong feeling if I am! I write this on route to Birmingham having had the breaks just almost not engage and smoke pouring out of the back wheel. Could have been Nasty. So a good example of not being in control. And yet....I have breakdown cover and a plan and a sense of being in control! Sorry I'm being a hard nut to crack!
And I had the most intense dream last night of a treble disaster. A break in in progress, a v bad accident with injured people outside and homeless mother and children suffering below me. The feeling was horror and inaction due to the amount of emergency s at one time.
So this is what's come up with no doer doing it but a strong story of one. X
Oh yes, it is a strong story and may be a hard nut to crack. You can bang your head against the wall or you can give up trying and just look.
The belief that we are in control of our lives is deeply rooted. And yet, it's just a belief, it's not solid and does not need to be hard to crack.
Lets try this-
You have never been in control. Life lives itself and moves where it moves, not because you make it move. Thought that you are in charge is also part of what is happening. But don't need to trust what you've been told, you can take a fresh look, forget all you know for a minute, and see, in real life, is there a controller? Is there a manager? Something that makes life happen?
What sensations in the body arise? Whatever comes up, welcome it. Thank it for coming. What is behind them? Is there anything that feels threatened and needs to be protected? If so, what?
Look deeply and answer when ready..
I haven't replied till now as I wanted to make sure I really looked and came back with an authentic reply.
I have looked and looked...Stories emerge that question things....I look again, anticipation feelings, disappointment feelings, all based on stories of wanting a wow experience. I see that as another story...I keep looking, no me but still the story of me but I see this as another story. I have 2 images, one of being like a fly in a web and the more I struggle the more I am stuck...and of holding a flashlight, shining a light looking for me and not finding one and then thought 'ah I'm close then' and see this as a thought so turn the flashlight to what's holding it, nothing there but a thought still calling from somewhere so I shine a light there too, anxiety. Another image; like being blindfolded and people keep making noises so I turn to the noise but the another noise and I turn to that and so on and so on... There is no person blindfolded, no flashlight holder and no fly! But still a looking to make sure!
"I have looked and looked...Stories emerge that question things....I look again, anticipation feelings, disappointment feelings, all based on stories of wanting a wow experience."
That's very common expectation that there should be some wow experience. But it's just a drop of belief, nothing wow, the belief may drop very gently and almost unnoticeable or can come with a big aha, who knows what it's like for you. It's important to examine this expectation and leave it. See how it is. It already is.
"I see that as another story...I keep looking, no me but still the story of me but I see this as another story."
Story is not going anywhere. It's only seen for what it is - -a story. Not reality. Not how things really are, just a description of a point of view.
What is here, happening underneath the story? What is here when you look with eyes?
Is there an experiencer outside experience to which experience is happening or all this is one and inseparable happening?
This is a recording of the last meeting, may be of help.
I have listened to the discussion, thank you. You are very patient and kind with participant who spoke most.
I get this LU, a subtle shift has happened but not massive, and yet it has meant I am not needing to search, that is what I was getting at with the fly in a web metaphor. I see the search has kept me trapped.
Life happens, and sometimes violations happen in response to other things and sometimes actions happen too. And stories may go alongside or this or not. But there is no controller or manager, its all just happening mysteriously. The interesting thing is life is more engaging not less. 'I' feared I would become passive if this were true but creativity is life....yes its all one inseparable happening and vastness is behind the story. Lots of things are, but ME is not one of them.
I was pretty close to this I now see, but had appropriated the now moment of no self, of capacity for everything, and given it a story which ended in 'now I have to remember this and join up the dots. If a volition to walk along the seafront enjoying being capacity for everything arises, then that's nice, buts its not ME that's in in charge or responsible for making it happen, phew what a relief to drop all that responsibility!.. I now see 'I' am not in charge of this. This opens up trust in the natural arising of things.
Thank you for message and sorry for delay with answer, I've been busy with all kinds of stuff.
Great to hear that search has ended! Woo hoo!
Would you say that you are ready for the final questions? Once you answer them there maybe some other questions popping up or I can invite you to LU community in Facebook.
I'm not sure it feels like an end but a beginning of opening up to the mystery...I know you guys say you can only go through the door once and actually in the language you guys use, I went through it when I noticed there was no 'me' from a visual looking over a year ago and everything radically changed then, and it has been working itself out in a way since then, thankfully I was drawn to you which has done 3 important things: 1.shone a light on the story that attached to that experience, 2: to the unhelpful and unrealistic nature of looking for wowness to make it authentic, and 3. normalizing that thoughts about Bob continue.
So I am grateful for this unstitching and clarifying, I love the simplicity of the way you guys teach.
So fire away your final questions!
Sweet! Here they are :)
Please answer in full, when ready.
1) Is there a separate entity 'self', 'me' 'I', at all, anywhere, in any way, shape or form? Was there ever?
No. There are plenty of stories about me, but no existing entity of I to be found. never was, always just a long old story.
2) Explain in detail what the illusion of separate self is, when it starts and how it works from your own experience. Describe it fully as you see it now.
separate self is images of a Bob imposed upon experience and then thinking this is real. so as i sit here typing I can see an image of how I might look if another person were looking on, this is unconscious mostly and unquestioned. so though = I am sitting here typing, informed but the image that I see in my mind. Same with thoughts = "I am typing". Thoughts are real, feelings real, images real, typing real, but the conclusion of this = ME, not real, just an inherited belief . A big collusion. Once established the false delusion of I needs to be safe and protected, and on the story goes with all the judgements and comparisons that go with it.
3) How does it feel to see this? What is the difference from before you started this dialogue? Please report from the past few days.
The differences I mentioned yesterday. I see stories as stories not as me. I don't need to see the fact that the same old stories continue as evidence to doubt the seeing. For example last night I had trouble sleeping and had lots of thoughts going on. I saw this as thoughts going on, like a thunder storm that eventually passed. Before It would have undermined the seeing because of ideas of how it should be if it were authentic (just openness and peace and love). It has validated the moment I first 'saw' (over a year ago) clearly the truth of no self and it has helped see the unhelpful add on of the habitual seeking story ' I must maintain it now'. I have clearly seen how my 15 years of searching has kept me trapped like a fly in a web! I have to let this settle and see what comes of the Buddhist practices I have been doing. Any developing practices is now see as futile and trapping and even addictions. I came in expecting/wanting even a lightening bolt and what I got was ordinary, this is it! phew! relief!
4) What was the last bit that pushed you over, made you look?
Maybe I was wedged in the door when I began writing to you. I saw clearly there was only vast openness in the place of where I 'should be' but I hadn't learned to see the me stories for what they were and so appropriated the experience to some extent and made it fit into my progression plan. The first seeing did have a wowness to it, but as it wore of so did my faith in its authenticity. So I have also seen through the gauge of wow as another story. Maybe I wanted to go through the door with me! Impossible!
5) Do you decide, intend, choose, control events in Life? Do you make anything happen? Give examples from your experience.
Life flows. It is more true to say I am everything. Its not all out there (or in here). sense experiences, feelings, thoughts...its all in the same vastness happening. so in a way the question is irrelevant. From a more relative level, its mysterious. without an I the way things works is turned on it head so I don't know how things happen. I need to let his all settle and allow the mystery to reveal whatever it reveals. Creativity is! what to say...all the minutest details of the complete interconnectedness, who can say how things happen with so much chance of them not too. Digestion happens as does breathing, sleeping. The implications are yet to be seen. My dreams seem to be doing the freaking out bit in terms of assimilating all this, lots of out of control dreams.
6) Anything to add?
Thanks you for committing to seeing this through with me. I appreciate that this is freely given and recognize that you and Elena are having an incredible effect.
Thank you for answers. I see that illusion of I has been busted. :) yes, and stories continue, that is quite fun, when they are no longer taken seriously.
Are there any doubts? Anything else you would like to address and look with me? This is just a start of exploration, and there is so much to explore. Now when I is seen to be empty, you can look the same way at everything else. The looking does not end, it deepens. :)
Yes I can feel the beginning nature of it and after a week of crazy dreams (of loss of control and then grief!) things settled today and I can notice the thought labels not sticking like they were.. Life feels different, more open to possibilities/connections/presence....something like that. So no doubts that are worth taking seriously just thoughts trying to stick.. If things come up I appreciate being able to contact you, thank you so much.
Be good to be able to connect with others of facebook, I guess you'll invite me.
Much love & gratitude!
It is delightful to read your answer. Big smile here.
Yes, I would love to invite you to groups, there are so many people sharing, it's such an alive and growing community.
Could I post our conversation on my blog, it may be helpful for someone else. And then I can get other guides to look through and see if they have any questions. Could I use your name or initial, whichever feels comfortable for you.
thank you Bob!