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The I Behind the Eyes

Hi, I have a question and some thoughts I'd like to share and get some input on.

I kind of feel like the "I" (or 'me') is actually very local (I've heard before that people say that it is not local, and sometimes I agree with this) -

that it feels like I am located somewhere between my eyes (around the forehead) and somewhere in the middle of my brain--around this region. And if I would in all honesty with closed (or open) eyes point to where I feel that "I am" then this is where my finger would point...

Does anybody share this idea? Maybe it is because this is where most of the senses converge and where we "process" the information about the world?

Anyhow--so sometimes when I'm trying to look at myself I am quite forcefully drawing attention to this spot that I described as the most "me". This leads often to intense energetic happenings around this area and sometimes it feels like my head will "explode", though not in a necessarily bad way. I also have a certain pressure around the forehead, specially after I've done the "looking" in this way (like a little pulsating ball around the forehead, and which I actually feel most of the time now even if I don't do this intense looking). This pressure is quite pleasurable and my attention naturally likes to go here, and when it does it feel kind of like; "this is me". Am I fooling myself here?

I don't know, sorry for the babble, just wanted to check in if anyone else has this feeling that the 'I' is, in its most condensed form, in this area around the middle of the head, slightly behind the eyes--and if so, that one should try to revert the attention to this place, which is kind of hard because it seems like attention itself manifests from this specific area.

Looking forward to your replies.

All the Best

Chris

Hi Chris,

These are good questions. I have also felt like I was located in the same spot, but I have never found an answer. I don't know where I am or what I am - just that I am me, and I am here. I know I am here now. I can't see myself in a hypothetical whatever, just here and now.

Anyway, all the feelings generated by concentrating on any area are passing feelings, and John would say they are beside the point. The mind likes to find something to focus on. The point is to try to look at you, whether or not you feel like you see you, and to begin to realize just how here and now you always are. Passing states come and go. My mind likes to throw in a doubt or two, which are also passing states. The doubts come and go, but I am still here and now. The proof is in re-discovering that I am me, and I am here, again and again and always.

Namaste,

Jenny

The I behind the eyes

The I behind the eyes

Hi Chris and Jenny,

Somewhere in my journey with looking, I noticed my attention went to my back between my shoulder blades. I faulted this thinking it should be the heart or brow. At times, I have also felt pressure in the top of my head if I tried to look for longer than a few seconds. I found that attention is very powerful and if I place it anywhere on my body I will begin to notice much more energetic activity around that area. Quite often lately, my inward looking readily becomes me (without ownership of mind or body) looking out at the world: at the thoughts not being MY thoughts but just thoughts flowing; at the hands typing this not being MY hands but just familiar hands. I sometime judge this as detachment or disassociation, but as Jenny noted, this is just what is happening and beside the point. Whatever appearances, all I really ever know is that I am here. Lera Jane

Thanks for your reply Jenny, it raises a lot of good points.

So would you say then that there is no locality to you focusing on yourself? That is; when you move the beam of attention to the 'you' - where does it land (psychically), if anywhere? Or does the beam just move around without ever "landing" or focusing on anything? Like when focusing on the breath - that is something I can do with precision, but whats the deal with ones "nature", is this whole game some kind of metaphysical koan where one can't actually focus on oneself because its really absence, and so on...

You say that the mind (by the way, do you equate attention with the mind?) likes to find something to focus on--and--I agree with--, but I would even argue that it is necessary for the focus to always be on "something". So that's why I see a kind of aimless wandering of the focus without ever purely recognizing the "me;ness" as quite fruitless (other than being hit with a sort of uncanny, Kafkaesque, insight that I am reduced to untouchable space).

B.t.w - I saw from the 2009 retreat (I think...) with John that he repeatedly said that it was the conscious recognition that seemed to be the "deal-breaker" (he didn't use that exact word), but now it seems like he's saying that this is not necessary. Any thoughts on this, anyone?

To conclude, it seems from a logical standpoint that it should be when the attention really "hits" the actuality of ones nature and gets an conscious recognition that "this is undoubtedly me" that things really change. But also, if attention and mind is a part of the disease which have built its own identity-structure, how could it ever recognize something as itself other than the effects of this "disease" - like emotions, thoughts and other sensations? Wouldn't it as a consequence recognize its "nature" (the me;ness) as a stranger?

Thanks a lot friends!

Best

Chris

Hi Chris,

Well, I must admit that my attention, when trying to feel what I feel like, tends to focus around the head region, and even more specifically around the eye area, where I seem to be "looking out" at the world. And this is the familiar feeling of me that I remember as a child when I look to childhood memories for what it felt like to be me. But then, I can't say that I can find the "edge" of this feeling of being me (as it feels around the eye area). If I concentrate on this, the area seems to grow to encompass all my perceptions (or is it the body's perceptions?), and then it seems like this feeling of being me is the basis upon which all perception comes and goes. The feeling of being me continues to be centered in the eye area, though. It is very difficult for me to know for sure whether I have always existed (pre-existing this body) or whether I only know I exist through the perceptions of the body - even though the perception of what it feels like to be me does not seem to come or go like all other perceptions. But is this only because the body has not come or gone in this current incarnation?

You ask if I equate "attention" with the "mind?" I can't say for sure. Am I experiencing this mind because I am beyond the mind (the mind occurs within me), or am I the mind experiencing itself? In that case, I am a strange loop. It's sort of like saying "no words or thoughts are true" but that would also include the statement "no words or thoughts are true," and so the statement would not be true at the same time as being true! This whole question of "what am I exactly" seems to be a conumdrum with no answer.

Is the act of focusing itself an operation of the mind? Is there an answer to that? Is "my attention" me, or is it something I experience as an operation of the mind, much like I experience my hand typing on the keyboard?

In the conscious recognition of me, the whole question of what am I recognizing seems to be the fuel for the fire of the spiritual quest. The only thing I have been able to recognize is that I am the same me looking out that I have been this entire incarnation in this body. So I can show no proof for whether it is the familiar feeling of dwelling in this body, or whether it is the body itself that I am familiar with, or whether I am the body itself. I can't know whether I pre-existed and will post-exist this body. Or at least, I haven't known that so far. But I do know when I first heard about the act of looking at me, it was instantly familiar to me what I felt like. Taking the medicine of looking at me has helped me in all the ways I have stated in my posts in this forum.

So I have recognized myself as me, and I have never felt like a stranger to me. Even when I was having feelings of losing my marbles, I always knew it was ME who was feeling this way. I did not question whether it was someone or something else, because I knew it was me having that experience.

So, for me, where this leads is "I know I exist, and I know I am here." And that's all I really know.

Thanks for the great discussion, Chris!

Jenny

Where to look

Hello again, Chris,

A few ideas come to mind in response to your post.

You wrote: do you equate attention with the mind?

I equate mind with thoughts. If this is true, then attention is separate from mind since I can notice things without labeling them or thinking about them. I have noticed that thoughts frequently follow my attention but do not control it.

You asked: when you move the beam of attention to the 'you'--where does it land (psychically), if anywhere?

I agree with someone on the forum who recently mentioned the inward turning of attention without alighting and the looking before the seeing.

You wrote: but I would even argue that it is necessary for the focus to always be on "something".

Yes, by definition, focusing is on something. But I submit that focusing is too strong a word for what we are doing with the looking. The looking is more like a sidewise glimpse, if anything. The 1/10-of-a-second idea speaks to this.

You wrote: it seems from a logical standpoint that it should be when the attention really "hits" the actuality of ones nature and gets a conscious recognition that "this is undoubtedly me" that things really change.

My mind, like probably everyone else’s, has wanted this direct confirmation but I now realize that this desire/expectation is more of a hindrance than a help. I suspect that the looking accomplishes its work through its very ability to by-pass the mind altogether.

By the way, I get more of a feeling of me through comparing me now with me in memories. I am the same today as I was as a three year old, looking through a big hole in a wooden porch and seeing the ground underneath. Me is more a sense than something to be seen.

Maybe this will help. (Or, at least, continue this lively conversation.)

Lera Jane

Thanks to both--all great stuff. I will respond more thoroughly later when some more time opens up, and--of course--after some inward looking.

Peace amigos!

lerajane

Me is more a sense than something to be seen.

Hi Lera Jane,

I like what you said here. That's because words and phrases like "glimpses, sideways glances and getting a glimpse from the corner of my eye" are all references to physical vision, and I think these are confusing. I can't physically see what it feels like to be me, so visual references don't help. Still, even using the word "sense" implies a physical sensory feeling. But all this shows how words are almost entirely unable to express the simplicity of me, and how the difficulty in talking about me has been going on for millennia, and it explains why no one has been able to clearly talk about it. John has come closer than anyone to date, but the fact that we are still having these philosophical discussions shows that reliance on the mind, thoughts and language keeps the philosophical discourse and confusion about me going. I think that's why John keeps emphasizing to take the medicine and do the looking, because only that reveals the truth of me - in the end, talk can't do it.

It has been a lively and interesting discussion, and I suppose, besides the point as well!

Jenny

The I behind the eyes

The I behind the eyes

Jenny said: I can't physically see what it feels like to be me, so visual references don't help. Still, even using the word "sense" implies a physical sensory feeling.

Jenny, I agree. It's more a blurring and softening of our habitual focus of the 5 senses that allows the sense of me to be revealed. (More words, but what are we going to do?)

Thanks for your clear exposition, Jenny.

I agree that when I focus on where the 'me' is most poignant (around the head for me) then it, after a while, slowly moves "further back". It kind of feels like the sense of I is condensed to this specific, physical, area, but when focused upon loosens up and becomes more encompassing and harder to define.

I also have the same, slight, confusion regarding the attention itself (though it probably doesn't matter in the work itself, but it's always interesting to discuss). For me it feels like the attention is a slave to the orchestra of thoughts and to moving, bright, events - and between these it moves looking for pleasure (or maybe power? As Nietzsche says, it all is reduced to the Will to Power.

I wonder then what's the process that controls the attention in a movement so foreign to this pattern, that is either to the breath (mindfulness meditation) or to ones 'Me;ness' (the looking)? Is this the act of the famous, lofty, 'Super-Ego'? But as you conclude - a strange and paradoxical loop it is!

It would be interesting to hear John discuss, maybe in a podcast or here if he feels like it, what this attention is, in his view, more specifically.

The most important question relating to the attention for me would be: is the attention the "I" that I'm seeking (as St. Francis apparently said "What we are looking for is what is looking."), or is the attention a tool separate from both my true nature and my mind (mind defined for me as: thoughts/emotions).

Another question that comes to mind is: how is it clear that this me:ness is eternal and prior to the body? I seem to drift between two directions, either that it is prior to the body and that the body is in this "me;ness" in the Vedantic sense, or that this "me;ness" is produced by the brain; that is, it is the clean slate which mirrors everything and produces a sort of self-conscious loop. Anyways, and again, totally unimportant to the looking itself but interesting as a detour-conversation =).

Thanks for the talk! Hope all is good!

Chris

Hi Lera Jane, thanks for your reply!

I will shamelessly copy your way of replying because I liked it!

You wrote: I equate mind with thoughts. If this is true, then attention is separate from mind since I can notice things without labeling them or thinking about them. I have noticed that thoughts frequently follow my attention but do not control it.

Yes, I am actually leaning towards this conclusion myself. But it feels like where the attention turn when it turns toward the "me-ness" is almost exactly against itself, no? Or do you feel like the attention almost looks at something "outside" itself when looking at the "me-ness"?

You wrote: Yes, by definition, focusing is on something. But I submit that focusing is too strong a word for what we are doing with the looking. The looking is more like a sidewise glimpse, if anything. The 1/10-of-a-second idea speaks to this.

So you're saying that one can't actually "look" or put attention on oneself for a long time? This I never really understood. Like during the guided looking by John (which I really think is great b.t.w), why is it that around 2-3 minutes is spent on looking at the breath while only a moment is spent on looking at ones "I"? I kind of feel like I'm looking at myself for pretty long durations sometimes (even though doubts always exists about if I'm really looking at the right place). Would this mean then that I'm actually not looking at the right place because I'm able to look at it for like 30-40 minutes--or sometimes have a part of attention on it during the course of a day? I mean, how boring can this "I-ness" be if it only allows a 10th of a second glance, when the breath--which itself is pretty damn boring from the viewpoint of a pleasure / power seeking mind--can lend itself to a very long period of attention?

But you're saying that the 'I-ness' is really so subjective that it is kind of it is like seeing ones own physical eye (without a mirror ,-)?

You said: By the way, I get more of a feeling of me through comparing me now with me in memories. I am the same today as I was as a three year old, looking through a big hole in a wooden porch and seeing the ground underneath. Me is more a sense than something to be seen.

Yes, I agree that the 'me-ness' is definitely a sense. But this sense is "seen" or "sensed" by the attention, no? So in a way it must be there all the time as an actuality which the attention can reach by will-power. Like - we are the subject (the "me;ness"), we have this attention as a tool which always goes outwards. But then we can kind of turn it around completely--180 degrees--and maybe so fully that attention almost sees through itself and onto the subject in a weird paradoxical event, and the fear which is created from the belief that we are what this attention normally sees in the "parade of phenomena" disappears and we are left with a "clean", truthful, life? My problem then would probably be that reality of my nature haven't shined its light through enough of my believed and acquired lies (and its following of neuroses) yet...

Another thing came to mind: when I'm looking at myself, it actually don't feel so much like I'm turning attention "around" onto the "me;ness", it feels more like I'm pulling this constantly outward going attention back into itself like a lasso that always throwing itself out--and when its contained and not "thrown out" then I am "me" in the sense that attention is with the subjective in a kind of glowing unity... I don't know, something like this.

It's like attention is this wild crazy horse that's always wanna run around and kick and bite, but when I get it back into the stable and hold it there then "I am me" in a more concrete and non-confused way... sort of.

Thanks for the discussion! Always fun to talk about it which never happens in "real-life" for me.

Be well!

Chris

One of the things I like best about what J.S. has said over the years is to use your native intelligence to assist you in the looking. I've used a lot of different approaches, like imagining traveling up,down and around the landscape of my head and body scouting out what those spaces were like, or looking without alighting, and gutting through those moments when that compulsion to get up and get going strikes and fight to stay focused, and other stuff like that. A few days ago I came across another technique I thought I would pass along in this thread because of the new sensation I experienced. This technique has carried me for a couple of days, which isn't bad for me.

What you do is picture what your eyes look like. What color they are, what you would recognize about them, etc. Then when you have a good sense of your eyes, project them out a good 10 yards or so and imagine them hanging out there looking directly back at you. Looking into your very soul, so to speak. This looking from a distance doesn't have to be content with just your physical appearance. It is another way to grok you. I generally have trouble with the looking when my eyes are open and my mind active, but this seems to work no matter what my attention latches onto. Anytime I want to conjure up what it's like to be me, I put into play my suspended eyes. Trimpi

Chris,

When I began looking, I was very much in search of a formula, of a precise set of instructions that would guide me straight to the destination. I worked at it for quite a while. In the end, the material seemed to reduce itself naturally to simplicity itself. There really isnt much to it, it seems to me.

Now I'm not suggesting that the mechanics in operation are not a marvel. They must surely be. I suspect they are beyond our comprehension and they are certainly beyond mine. In any case, I decided to take the medication which has been demonstrated to work and for me it was a relief to be done with the never ending procession of questions which pretty much sums up my entire "spiritual" experience. John has the patience of a saint as he struggles to keep this simple act a simple act. There's nothing to believe, there's nothing to understand. If we try earnestly we will find a way and we will succeed. The process which surely seems far too lacking in complexity to deliver that which can not be purchased for a billion dollars, is turning out to be just that "the ultimate medicine" that drives out fear and repairs our damaged minds to their natural state.

So even if the questions posed are not resolved, the looking, which is what really counts, continues to work in us. Like you, I wonder about these things. Yet the looking follows its own course in each of us and over time will complete its work. This really does seem to be the case.

I wish I could articulate answers to these questions. Your discussion of them is fascinating. We have so much in common.

Thanks for sharing,

Steve

Thanks a lot, Steve for your reply!

Yes the looking is indeed a marvel. It's a beautiful thing. Unfortunately for me it seems like the questions hasn't silenced but increased =). More specifically the fundamental question if I'm looking at the "right place". Why this seems to be of important for me and why I seem to be in a rush to "get it right" seems to stem from this fear of mine of dying before these dusty, heavy, neurotic, fears dissipates. When I read the article about John on the webpage written for 'Seattle Times' ("The Evolution of a Revolutionary"), the last words spoken by John really rang true to my understanding of this fear:

"My only goal is that, with the last breath of this life, I will feel that life is not wasted," he says. "And to feel that a life is wasted is to take the last breath and say, `I'm still not satisfied. I still didn't get it. Whatever it was, I didn't get it."

For me, at this moment - even though the inward looking is so fascinating, beautifully frightening and absurdly wonderful - if I would suddenly die I would unfortunately probably be saying "I didn't get it!". And I'm not searching for an ultimate, conceptual, description of reality, but just the ending of this angst-like fear and unpleasant "restlessness / nervousness". Or not even and ending of it, but just a conscious, certain, look or sense of the reality of me. And I do feel that I have that with my daily "lookings", but, you know, I'm still not there at that certainty which demands no end to uncertainty itself. But I will surely get it or die trying!

Be well my friend!

By the way: Jenny and Lera Jane, I replied to you a couple of days ago but it hasn't shown up in this thread yet. I probably did some error when posting (and it's no big loss really, it was mostly a bunch of confused babble of a tired mind, and if that's the case I'll just thank you for your earlier replies - they we're really helpful and insightful.

All the best,

Chris

Hello all,

I just approved all the posts here that were in moderation. I've been watching this thread for a while, and you've done a good job at bring to the surface something that needs to be addressed more fully than I have in the past.

I'm going to make a few brief remarks tomorrow at the open house meeting about all this. If you want to come to the meeting and haven't already registered for the Open House series, you can follow this link to full instructions on how to do so and attend tomorrow's meeting in person.

We will also post the recording of the meeting here sometime in the near future, as well as in the podcast.

Thank you all here in all these forums for the wonderful work you are doing at helping one another, and bringing to light such important and useful matters.

John

Thanks a lot, John! That's really cool. I will try my best to take part of the live-session of the Open House tomorrow, but I'm not yet sure if my schedule allows this. Otherwise I'll be listening to the later uploaded podcast.

Thanks again to you and Carla for all your great work!

All the best,

Chris

Hi Chris,

Thanks for your reply! I think what I was trying to get at with all my philosophical questions was that these questions have no answer - at least I have never found one. It's the proverbial dog-chasing-tail conundrum. The simplest reduction to all this pondering is that I am me, and I am here. And that's all I can really know for sure. I am sure that the need to look for answers will fall away on its own accord, once the looking has done its work. And then it will fall away too.

Blessings,

Jenny

Thanks, Trimpi, I will definitely try this method.

I have similar methods I do sometimes, like for example I can lay down with eyes closed and imagine that If I had no body and there was no world, how would I know that I was (ok, this technique has its logical flaws, but what the hell--and my attention kind of focus easily and by-itself onto this beeingness, seeing (or sensing) just this humming, floating, self-conscious, me-ness--semi-stripped of the overlapping hum-drum of the persona.

That's a good one. I'd pretend I was stepping out into the void with no point of reference. Free falling. The spark of recognition will send a minor shock throughout the system, especially in the chest region. I have always taken that to be a good sign--like benefiting from electroshock therapy. Maybe it takes a lot of those little shocks to change our conditioning, which may be at the heart of our fear of life and the identification we have with life (and thus the fear). Trimpi

I've spoken often of late about the great things going on in these forums. They have come alive with people who have done the looking for themselves and are in various stages of the recovery process. People come here looking for encouragement and help with the difficulties that are part of the recovery, and people come here looking to provide that help.

The three main forums now have more than a thousand posts in six hundred threads. There are now more than 400 registered and active members here.

These forums have also become an ever-renewing source of understanding for me of the actual way in which the recovery from the fear of life unfolds.

This thread here made me want to say a little something about understanding.

I'm a big fan of understanding, especially in the context of the recovery from the fear of life. It seems to be pretty much the experience of everyone who has taken the medicine, so to speak, that there is a period--sometimes long, sometimes short, sometimes hard, sometimes not so hard--when considerable confusion arises within the mind. That confusion is a natural part of the process of psychological self-restructuring and the arising of a new context for life, free of neurotic fear.

During this period of recovery, old symptoms may flare up, and the old context of fearfulness can even seem to return from time to time. Over the years, we have come to see that this is a perfectly natural unfolding of things in the ocean of cause and effect, and that old ways eventually just fall away, often unnoticed, as the recovery plays out. Whether we try to help or not, everything turns out right in the end.

But we've also come to see that a little help, a little understanding, some explanation for the unpredictability and weirdness of it all, can actually go a long way toward making the recovery and the transition from the fear to natural sanity as brief and easy as possible. This is the practical understanding that I love, the magic of human intelligence at work on problems it can affect.

This thread has 19 posts. The most pertinent one is probably Kafkaesque's reply to Steve on March 15th:

"Yes the looking is indeed a marvel. It's a beautiful thing. Unfortunately for me it seems like the questions hasn't silenced but increased. More specifically the fundamental question if I'm looking at the "right place". Why this seems to be of important for me and why I seem to be in a rush to "get it right" seems to stem from this fear of mine of dying before these dusty, heavy, neurotic, fears dissipates. When I read the article about John on the webpage written for 'Seattle Times' ("The Evolution of a Revolutionary"), the last words spoken by John really rang true to my understanding of this fear:

"My only goal is that, with the last breath of this life, I will feel that life is not wasted," he says. "And to feel that a life is wasted is to take the last breath and say, "I'm still not satisfied. I still didn't get it. Whatever it was, I didn't get it."

For me, at this moment--even though the inward looking is so fascinating, beautifully frightening and absurdly wonderful--if I would suddenly die I would unfortunately probably be saying "I didn't get it!". And I'm not searching for an ultimate, conceptual, description of reality, but just the ending of this angst-like fear and unpleasant "restlessness/nervousness". Or not even and ending of it, but just a conscious, certain, look or sense of the reality of me. And I do feel that I have that with my daily "lookings", but, you know, I'm still not there at that certainty which demands no end to uncertainty itself. But I will surely get it or die trying!

But the end of neurotic anxiety and restless disaffection with life comes only when that which gives it energy and purpose in the first place is gone. The fear of life (which is insane) is the cause of it all, and when it goes, everything begins to move naturally toward sanity.

The fear of life goes when the beam of your attention touches the reality of your nature, that is to say, when you look at you. If you just try to look at you, the fear of life and the faint feeling of anxiety that is always present in the background will just go. Nothing more is required of you but to try to look at you.

No understanding is needed for you to know how to look at yourself, and the idea that there is a need for understanding to perform this simple act or that understanding can somehow enhance its effects leads only to confusion and the need for more understanding to settle thatconfusion, and so forth, as we see here.

The sense of person that I am asking you to look at is just you. It is absurd to entertain the idea that what you are, or what you feel like, or what qualities you may possess need to be understood or explained to you in order for you to notice what it feels like to be you.

You are here. You are not in the area behind your eyes, or the spot on the right side of your chest, or between your shoulder blades, or any other such place--all those things are located in you. You don't feel like pressure or pleasure or emptiness, or any other such thing. You feel like you. Period.

The looking cures the disease not because new knowledge or understanding of your nature appears, the looking cures the disease like water extinguishes the fire on a match head: it snuffs it out. And the reason it does so is perfectly obvious, no matter that I have no idea how to communicate its obviousness. In time, it will be obvious to you too, but this understanding is perfectly irrelevant and it will add nothing to the beauty of life. And only life is relevant here.

I'm going to close this thread tomorrow or the next day because I think it has outlived its usefulness, but I will keep it viewable here so it can be useful to others who come upon it. Until I do, feel free to comment on this posting.

I'm very grateful to all of you who contributed to this conversation. It has been valuable to me and my understanding of this looking that we are engaged in here together.

I used an abbreviated version of this posting this morning at the Open House meeting. I'll post that podcast here too when it's available.

In love,

John

Thanks a lot for your clear reply, John, I will just take the opportunity to comment on some of what you wrote, if the thread is still open.

But the end of neurotic anxiety and restless disaffection with life comes only when that which gives it energy and purpose in the first place is gone. The fear of life (which is insane) is the cause of it all, and when it goes, everything begins to move naturally toward sanity.

The fear of life goes when the beam of your attention touches the reality of your nature, that is to say, when you look at you. If you just try to look at you, the fear of life and the faint feeling of anxiety that is always present in the background will just go. Nothing more is required of you but to try to look at you.

Yes, I completely agree with this, though for me it's still based on logic than actual experience of a 100% recovery (but I'm going to be kind to myself and say that I've had, maybe, a 40% recovery. But it makes perfect sense to me, and when I read you "Fear of Life" essay it was very much aligned with my ideas about fear (psychological) as the main issue, and that we are really living a life built on a foundation of this angst. I'm also in agreement that inward looking of ones 'me' is the only act that will rid one of this fear--but again, I will always insert that this is personally reason-based until it is the actual, 100%, experienced case with myself (that is, a full recovery) - any other thing would be dishonesty from my side.

So consequently all the discussions that interests me is about the act of looking itself--which of course becomes redundant if it replaces the act, but which, I think, becomes helpful if it's complementary to the looking.

The sense of person that I am asking you to look at is just you. It is absurd to entertain the idea that what you are, or what you feel like, or what qualities you may possess need to be understood or explained to you in order for you to notice what it feels like to be you.

You are here. You are not in the area behind your eyes, or the spot on the right side of your chest, or between your shoulder blades, or any other such place--all those things are located in you. You don't feel like pressure or pleasure or emptiness, or any other such thing. You feel like you. Period

I wouldn't agree that it's completely absurd to entertain ideas about quality (though I understand that it's not needed, but it can be helpful, I think)--which can help attention to rid itself of unnecessary confusion for people still in the process (like me). For example, the attributes you contributed with when you've said that what one is looking for is never absent, always the same and not very interesting. These, to me, is very useful adjectives which adds discernment to the attention on its way to the fundamental first person singular pronoun--'me'. So, personally--any adjectives that doesn't dilute the attention but instead helps its direction is for me very helpful--but as you said, not a necessity.

I'm very grateful to all of you who contributed to this conversation. It has been valuable to me and my understanding of this looking that we are engaged in here together.

I used an abbreviated version of this posting this morning at the Open House meeting. I'll post that podcast here too when it's available.

Me too--it's been a great conversation. And I unfortunately missed the live session of the Open House, I couldn't get home in time. But I will listen to the podcast as soon as it's uploaded--really looking forward to it.

Thanks a lot for all the great work and for bringing this beautiful act forward in the clearest way yet!

With love and gratitude.

Chris

I have a lot of experience with this way of thinking from my own life. I'm sure you can see that this extreme caution to avoid the possibility of error in your thinking is itself an old psychological defense mechanism brought into being in service to the fear of life--superstition really. Can't be too careful. After all, if you are wrong, or even worse dishonest for god's sake, you are worthless and dead.

Prior to taking the act, such discussions always take the place of the act. After taking the act, interest in them begins pretty quickly to fade, although they may continue to show up from time to time until they don't.

Ideas about qualities of you always constitute unnecessary confusion, no matter who says them.

There is no process to the looking, you just do it and it’s over. You cannot sneak up on yourself. The act of looking needs no intellectual assent to any understanding at all. The act of looking needs only to be done, and if it is done, the outcome is certain: recovery leading to sanity and satisfaction.

It may be that the strength of your defenses coupled with my lack of skill have prevented you so far from actually accomplishing the act itself, but so long as you are here, with us, you will surely succeed sooner than later.

But just to be sure, no matter what you have done in the past, do this right now: Try to evoke a moment in your childhood. Bring it to life in your mind right now. Can you remember what it felt like to be you then? Of course you can. Isn't it exactly the same as it feels like to be you now? Look and see.

Once that first look is taken, nothing needs to be done about this reactive remnant of endless intellectual worrying, except perhaps to refrain out of compassion from involving others in it. (Except me, you can try to involve me whenever you like. I doubt that I will have much more to say than I already have, but you never know.)

The strengthening of simple mindfulness can be a powerful ally in the effort to free yourself from the tyranny of thought, and it is easy to learn and use. Mindfulness meditations are very simple exercises that produce skillful use of the mind's power to choose where to put its attention. Remember, it may be that the control of attention is the only act of will actually possible for any of us.

Here's what I think it boils down to, Chris. We want to make a far bigger deal of the looking than it deserves. Although its effects are huge, the act itself is really quite trivial. There's nothing much to it, and it is actually quite easy to accomplish. I used to think it was hard, but that was because it was so hard for me. And it was so hard for me because I made it hard, in much the same way you are making it hard for you now.

I still look intentionally, from time to time, whenever it occurs to me to do so. I find the bare, faint feel of me to be lightly pleasant, like a faint whiff of something light and easy in the air. But I rarely seek it outside of conversations about it.

Please keep in touch.

John

Thanks, John for taking the time to reply.

I have a lot of experience with this way of thinking from my own life. I'm sure you can see that this extreme caution to avoid the possibility of error in your thinking is itself an old psychological defense mechanism brought into being in service to the fear of life--superstition really. Can't be too careful. After all, if you are wrong, or even worse dishonest for god's sake, you are worthless and dead.

Yes this is absolutely true.

Also--my fear is not always fear. It's more like this sense that something is lacking. Life is not living up to its full potential. A glass almost empty waiting to fill itself up. But I seem to recall that you've included this as a symptom--so I'll include this as a part of the fear.

It may be that the strength of your defenses coupled with my lack of skill have prevented you so far from actually accomplishing the act itself, but so long as you are here, with us, you will surely succeed sooner than later.

No, your skill is great. It's definitely my armor of defense which is thick and ever recurring (it feels like when fear dissapates and I think like--wow, this worked!, the next day causality throws it back up again with rejuvenated strength). And even though I'm in my twenties it feels like I'm carrying a defense perfected over a life-time. For me I think the defense really got strong in-between the age 15-18 (approximately). These sensitive years truly seems like the pinnacle years of contraction (except from the catalyst of birth)--specially in the hardcore capitalist societies with the school-systems promoting perfection of these fears as tools for further 'success'.

But just to be sure, no matter what you have done in the past, do this right now: Try to evoke a moment in your childhood. Bring it to life in your mind right now. Can you remember what it felt like to be you then? Of course you can. Isn't it exactly the same as it feels like to be you now? Look and see.

Thanks--yes I think I know what to look at. Even yesterday reading Daniel Avitals thread "My Experience with the Looking" put me in the same "spot". That thread was really nice and I related a lot with his story. So yeah, I think I'm on course, thanks a lot my friend!

The strengthening of simple mindfulness can be a powerful ally in the effort to free yourself from the tyranny of thought, and it is easy to learn and use. Mindfulness meditations are very simple exercises that produce skillful use of the mind's power to choose where to put its attention. Remember, it may be that the control of attention is the only act of will actually possible for any of us.

Yeah, I do this from time to time. It's very nice.

And I agree with attention being, possibly, the only thing one can control, this really seems to be the case.

(Except me, you can try to involve me whenever you like. I doubt that I will have much more to say than I already have, but you never know.)

That would be really fun. But no, I'm not gonna waste your time with that.

But who knows--maybe something in the realm of understanding pops up which would be interesting to discuss, and which might be beneficial to post--then I'll do it. Hopefully the fear of making a fool of myself--which of course will be the case--has dissipated a bit by then.

Although its effects are huge, the act itself is really quite trivial. There’s nothing much to it, and it is actually quite easy to accomplish. I used to think it was hard, but that was because it was so hard for me. And it was so hard for me because I made it hard, in much the same way you are making it hard for you now.

Haha, yeah it's mad. Sometimes it just feels like the mind (the fear?) don't want to settle with something so beautifully simple. It kind of wants the adventure, the mountaintop, the painful solitude, winning over growing darkness and jumping into light, and all of that. It's crazy. Maybe we have all those colorful myths (Jesus, Buddah and so on/ 'The Hero with a Thousand Faces') to thank for that entanglement...

By the way, I just heard the section from the Open House you posted a couple of posts below. Very powerful! Will listen to it again a few times and do the looking. Hopefully the armor will break down within a short while.

Thanks again for everything!

With love,

Chris

 

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