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Confusion about what to look at

Hello everyone!

I'm a bit confused about what to look at. In some places John says to try to get a feeling of what it feels like to be me. Sometimes he says to look for what is permanent. Or look for the seer.

And then I read this in the book "Look at yourself": "The feeling of 'I am' is an experience; it is a definite, energetic, sensational experience. It is not reality, it comes and goes. It comes with the 'I' and it goes with the ?I?, and you are not aware of it at all times." (what does that 'I' refer to?)

Compared to the instructions on justonelook.org starting page: "What we mean by looking at yourself is to try to get a slight taste of what it actually feels like to be just you -- what you would call me."

So does that "slight taste of what it actually feels like to be just you" refer to "the feeling of 'I am'" (sensation) or the permanency.

It doesn't help the confusion that I've read also some other material concerning self-inquiry and not one place has been clear on this point. One source even said that if you don't start with the "I am -feeling" (meaning the sensation) you may run into problems later on.

Or does it matter so much what I look at? Is the point rather that I look at whatever seems like me and try to see if it truly is me?

So what am I supposed to look at? "I am"- sensation? That which sees the sensation? Or whatever seems like me (whether it's a sensation or not)?

Dear Kismie

It's no wonder you are confused, it has taken us many years to distill the confusion from our own understanding of this simple act.

I would advise you to start fresh by following the instructions now on the homepage of our website. This is much, much easier than anything we have said about it in the past.

It is quite likely that others in the community will also have something to say about your posting, and we will always read whatever you have to say here.


John and Carla

Dear Kismie,

I've been listening to John and participating in conversations here for about five years now. It is good to see and hear John struggle with trying to say something clear and direct about this act, and to have watched him shed old ways--in short, to watch him learn and grow. To give yourself a fresh start is a great idea, I think.

Looking back, I don't think it mattered what I was looking at. In fact, it might have been helpful to know what I was not looking for, but even that can be confusing. What mattered most is that I kept at it. I kept talking and trying to get a glimpse. Doing this destroyed the quiet desperation that haunted me, which I can see now was an unconscious feeling I had about my own existence. John describes this better than I can. When that feeling left I can't say, but I'm sure now that it is gone. It turned out to be nothing but a wisp really, but now I'm treading on confusing ideas. These ideas make more sense to me now and are more enjoyable to talk about after the fact.

Today, the fact that I exist is permeated by everything this body comes in contact with. Realizing this with my rational mind has caused me to become overwhelmed at times, with a sense of deep satisfaction like I could have never known. I have gone through many phases with this; for a time I was left speechless. I felt like there was absolutely nothing I could say about it; that everything that was ever said about the wonder of human life was useless. I felt for a time like I had that disease that Benjamin Button had, and that I was at the end of my life. But now I'm inspired to at least try to say something again. I'm starting over. And I'm starting to see that this existence is the same for everyone, but for many, it is clouded by the fear of life.

Keep at it. It can't hurt you. It definitely made all the difference in the way I experience life now, hardships and challenges abound.

Re: Confusion about what to look at

Thanks for your replies. I thought to resurrect this thread to get a little bit more clarification on the matter. So in the end I got clarity by looking at whatever crossed my mind, and I think I succeeded even before I got that clarity, because I started noticing that things started to change so soon after getting more clarity. But the question still remains in a somewhat different form.

I came to the conclusion that there is both the sensation of me, and me feeling it. They both seem permanent, especially me, I don't see how it could change, because it isn't even a perception, but that which perceives. Simply me. They seem to be linked together, so when I get in touch with the other, the other comes also to the front.

But I'm a bit confused that for example in the direct look method -instructions they are spoken of as the same thing, when there seems to be a distinction (between the feel of me and the me-ness):

Now, in the same way that you moved the focus of your attention to your breath, move the focus of attention inward, looking for the faint sensation of what it feels like to be you. What you would call 'me'.

What you are looking for here is the simple me-ness of you. Not the thoughts that pass through you, or the emotions that play within you, or the sensations that rise and fall within you. You are that which is always here. Everything else - thought, emotion, sensation - comes and goes in you. "

Am I seeing things right? Are they two different things? If they are, why are they spoken of (at least it seems like) as the same thing? Is there a reason for this?

And the other question is which is the preferable one to tell others when talking about looking? Do I try to get them to feel the "feel of me" or to "see" the me-ness? Or are both needed? Or are they alternatives? Or is the me-ness the goal and the "sensation of me" just a way to get to that (since I'd say the me-ness is me and the "feel of me" just a sensation of sorts)?

My own experience with telling this to a few of my friends is that the "feel of me" is easier to find. And after that it seems like it's easier to "see" the me-ness. If I try to get them to see the me-ness from the get go it just doesn't seem to work.

Re: Confusion about what to look at

I feel that the word looking is just a name. so if you treat it like that, then you could say it points to an act.

now what is this act then? it is not the selection of a thought or an artefact in your mind that feels ok to you versus those that dont feel ok. such things are fine and are necesary to live life, but do not constitute the looking.

the looking is a very specific action where you move your attention to the feeling of me and you know that you moved it. of course it is hard to know if one really moved one's attention to me vs something thats not me. the mind throws up such objections normally when this is attempted. then you could tell yourself that as long as your intention was to move the attention towards 'me' and you actually consciously moved your attention and felt it, you are doing great.

the difficulty in communication is from the fact that the act of looking is simply only about this movement and nothing else. all else is in the realm of thoughts and living life.


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