Monday, 22 June 2015

Logic Vs. Looking - How to Look 2015

Where to begin - Part I here

When To Use Logic

Some of the process will involve a little bit of destroying beliefs by utilising logic and recognising patterns of dishonesty. BUT... this is not to be confused with looking since these are two distinct categories of activity. We will focus on how honesty and dishonesty will influence the investigation shortly, but for now lets check out the process. 

If I could lay it out in an overview format it would probably look something like this:

Look at direct experience for the phenomenon that 'I' refers to
Thought or feeling appears proclaiming the self exists. 
Ask how do I know the self exists?
Because of 'X'
Expose the dishonesty related to X
Look at direct experience for the phenomenon that 'I' refers to
Rinse and repeat 100 – 1,000 times until you have discovered the truth.

While I was involved at Truth Strike, I specialised more in helping people recognise their erroneous beliefs to facilitate them to look at direct experience. In this respect I used to help people recognise their dishonesty for the most part. However, I would always refer back to the core of looking which is simply looking for what this 'I' is.

The truth is, you only need to focus on that one thing - which is looking for what the word 'I' refers to in real life. 

If there was only one thing I wanted you to take from reading this piece, it would be the previous sentence  written in bold. 

It really is that simple.

However, there are also times when a more reasoned approach is necessary. Sometimes it is useful to refute certain beliefs as you unearth the dishonesty related to the illusion of self. The absolute key to doing this correctly is making a distinction between concepts and phenomena. 
Much of the work I have done on has been related to the emptiness of many of our concepts. Language is the medium in which we are able to deceive ourselves and by investigating certain facets of meaning, we can discover that what we took for granted as common sense assumptions, are actually without foundation. 

When we are engaged in this aspect of enquiry though, we need to be aware that we are not looking. 

When we are doing this we are thinking and you need to make sure that this is not your only means of enquiry. To put this in to a simple analogy we can think about removing buried concrete in the ground. One must use a spade, and a jack hammer. We use the jack hammer to shatter the concrete in to smaller pieces and then we use the spade to lever up the pieces and dig them out. 
This process involves the use of two tools and whilst the hammer is effective at breaking things apart, unless we dig out and remove the pieces, we are still left with the concrete.

Obviously, the use of both of the tools is effective but one in isolation makes the job as good as impossible. 

So, the correct method is to use logic to guide the enquiry. 

You use the jack hammer to focus on a small section and chisel it out. Then you start trying to unearth it by looking at phenomena that support the assertion. 
We will use a concrete (ha!) example later on that will make this clearer but for now we need only to be aware of the difference between phenomena and concepts. We will introduce how to utilise logic in an investigation in due course. 

You need to be able to distinguish between phenomena and concepts in order to utilise looking and thinking effectively.

Observations regarding Logic

When I started the looking process a few years ago I sat there with a notepad refuting every excuse I came up with. In the end, I broke through the pattern of dishonesty that prevented me from seeing, and this is why I came up with a more logically biased method than some others did. 
It is debatable whether my way of doing things is any better, all the evidence seems to suggest that it is a slower way of doing things in actual fact. What worked for me doesn't necessarily work for others, and thinking too much distracts you from actually looking anyway. 

Mulling over too many concepts is counter productive and is a distraction from the truth. So, my advice to you is make looking your primary focus but also be prepared to smash apart your faulty assumptions using logical thinking

However, you must do this within the context of looking at the ideas that support the notion of self hood. 

The reason I did things in this way is that I am not too keen on esoteric means of doing things. Like any rational westerner, I had to be sure that the logic worked and I went about rationally deconstructing my framework of thinking besides giving myself a headache from trying to look too hard! 

After I had seen no self and committed to helping others, I saw similar themes in the response patterns on forum posts and this led me to start to focus on ways of destroying our taken for granted assumptions and undermining the foundations on which they stand. 
I did not use a forum group to do the investigation, I simply put my framework of thinking to the test and scrutinised it with the light of reality. What I found was that my 'self' was merely assumptions based on more assumptions that I had never bothered to test, which formed the underpinning of my entire world view. 

Naturally, I was shocked at what I discovered, and I found the process somewhat uncomfortable. In this sense, I always preferred to let people discover the truth for themselves and most of my successful 'liberations' (if you really want to call it liberation) were as a result of people being left to their own devices. 

It is no good anyone giving you an account of 'the truth' - you must discover it for yourself.

In my honest opinion you do not need guides to do this successfully. I will admit that reading other peoples investigations who were being mentored by a guide can be very useful. However, you must be careful that you are not reading along nodding, instead of discovering the truth for yourself – be very careful with this and trust nothing that other people say.
It may be the case that you are reading the work of an inexperienced guide and they might be facilitating subtle dishonesty by allowing wishy-washy concessions.  However, in the hands of an experienced guide, the process can be a systematic demolition of the self and the kind of questions they ask can be the ones you can starting asking about reality. 

 Some people benefit from the motivation of guides when they have been unsuccessful for a long time in their search and using a guide also helps expose hidden dishonesty. There are benefits to doing things this way.
 However, the key to getting the insight of Anatta in my view, is to have a burning desire to get to the truth and that is sufficient to crack this on your own. If you work the honesty angle then it is possible to spot your own inconsistencies and come face to face with your dishonesty. 

I was just as, if not more so, dishonest than many people and I had rather poor critical thinking skills when I started out. So, know that it is plausible to crack this on your own with no philosophical or spiritual experience if you have the right attitude. 

You need to laser focus on looking at the truth - that is all that is required.

Do this relentlessly until you have investigated and turned over every stone looking for what this self could possibly be. However, this is not always easy as you are going to lock horns with the brains defence mechanism which will try to dissuade and confuse you at every turn.

Courage >

Tuesday, 16 June 2015

The reality of Experience - How to Look 2015

Where to begin - Part I here

The Reality Of Experience 

The fact of the matter though, is that everything you have already seen and experienced seems real. In the matrix movie, Neo was trapped inside a simulated world at the beginning, much like the brain in the vat scenario.

However, even if we necessarily accept that the ultimate bounds of reality are beyond the sphere of human experience, the real life experience of sitting here reading this is certainly not illusory. It is happening right now, and it is alive and direct in the most intimate sense of real. Clearly, this is undeniable and therefore we cannot in any way reject any occurrent phenomena that appear in our experience. 

It is also matter of fact that an aspect of experience cannot be changed either. It is a truism to say we cannot change the appearance of experience, or any particular phenomenon that occurs within experience. The sky is blue because it appears that way to us  - unless you are colour blind. Even then, it appears in a particular way, and you certainly have no control over how it appears in your experience. 

Obviously then, this means seeing no self does not mean that any quality of your experience can suddenly change. You do not obtain x ray vision, insta-bliss, or anything like that. The qualities of experience are what they are, as such, and that will not change after you have realised no self. 
What does happen upon seeing no self is that you will get an insight in to the world that is like an earthquake to the foundations upon which your world was based. Your world view will shatter and fall apart and even five years on, I find myself grateful and still in awe of what happened.

In this sense then, looking is not about thinking things away, forming new beliefs or models about the world, or denial of any aspect of it. It is actually the search for truth derived from your own direct experience. Nothing more.

This also means that nothing can dissolve away since every quality of experience is real. Basically you can't destroy the self or think it away since it doesn't exist to start with. You can certainly see that what gives rise to the illusion of being a self, must be completely real – i.e. thoughts, suffering, happiness etc. All the qualities of experience are completely real, including the voice that says “Of course I exist”.

We need to be crystal clear on this. 

We are not going to deny any aspect of experience or else we are doing this process all wrong. Living in denial is inherently dishonest and is the antithesis of honest enquiry. 

However, we need to be sure that our concepts relate to a real life phenomenon. Take the “Of course I exist” claim. If we substitute the word 'I' for 'unicorns', we know that there is no such phenomenon. It doesn't matter if we say “Unicorns must exist, it must be true” a hundred times, that doesn't mean that the statement is true. 
The way to prove there are unicorns is to look for evidence in real life. If we experience the phenomenon of a unicorn then we can know whether that statement is actually true or false.

What we discover is that when we question the existence of the self, we quite often justify the statement “Of course I exist” with, perhaps, a number of reasons or just a gut intuition that you do. 
We don't ever come across the phenomenon of a self but we come across the phenomena of  reasons about “why I must exist” and often an uncomfortable feeling when this is directly questioned (you may not necessarily get an uncomfortable feeling but it has been widely reported). 

If you can see that this is actually what is happening in real life, then that means you are starting to look honestly at what is arising in your direct experience.

Logic Vs. Looking >

Wednesday, 10 June 2015

Looking - How to Look 2015

As promised, I am updating the 'How to Look' section of the blog. It has been long overdue an overhaul and finally I am getting round to it. I'm afraid that it is unfinished but I am going to post up the sections on my blog as they are done, and they will be 'stickied' on the how to look tab found at the top of the homepage.
At least then, I hope I can get posting something useful instead of disappearing for 6 months. Once this is completed I will overhaul the thought experiments and then I will be back to posting. This will probably mean that I will have to disappear for 3 months or so of the summer. However, I hope to find time between barbeques and late night drinking sessions to get it finished, and I also hope that it is worthwhile. 

There is an introduction to this piece here but I expect you will likely have already read it.

How to Look

It was customary in the past for me to give guidance on beginning investigation in the wrong form. I was always of the mindset that one needed to drop all their presuppositions and try and start the investigation from scratch. 
The idea being that we accept we are starting from a position of delusion in an investigation, and then we discard all our prior knowledge so that we can start all over again. Then, the task was to build up an accurate picture derived from phenomenological enquiry. 

However, I have come to the view that this was a foolish endeavour.

In hindsight, I was correct that we have to accept that we are starting out from a position where everything is distorted. However, it is not as though we can just abandon our prior knowledge and not let it influence what we are doing right now. We are already deeply embedded within a framework of concepts and a culture that already presupposes we think about things in a certain way.
The notion that people could suspend their beliefs and assumptions temporarily and try and build a new picture independently from the modes in which we think is absurd.

The mind is already conditioned to think in prescribed ways and to try and drop the frame of reference within which we investigate is impossible. Thus, the correct starting position entails that we accept we are starting from a position of delusion and we are going to have to investigate the assumptions that we are all already interwoven, and embedded within.

In summary then, the key is that we are going to have to investigate those assumptions and witness our own dishonesty first hand. Metaphorically speaking, we want to remove the rose tinted spectacles that deceive us.
Our investigation means we are going to have to turn over every stone and look at the logic underpinning of our assertions, and look at our direct experience to discover if our ideas have any traction. 

It is, in part, a case of showing our preconceptions to be uncertain, and then looking at real life to try and see what is really happening.

We need to be challenging our cherished opinions and common sense taken for granted understandings and assumptions. If you are not challenging these ideas then you are merely framing any new ideas within a framework of prior assumptions, which makes one no better than the lowly species of theist.
These people are shining examples of the most wretched kind of dishonesty, which is the inability to even question or challenge their framework of thinking. They simply ignore contradictory facts or try to warp them to fit in with their world view. You will witness, first hand, the way in which you have been subtly doing this all your life.

It must be remarked here that many western folk, who have far greater intellectual faculties than I, also fit this pattern. Dishonesty is not the provenance of the vulgar by any means, as it infects many of the narrative accounts we believe. If you can spot when you are engaging in the kinds of patterns we are going to outline, then that gives you a head start.

It is the endeavour of any fair enquirer to concern themselves with discovering the truth and that entails not listening to any claim, that I or others make, until you have challenged the logic and, most importantly, verified it experientially by looking.

It is certainly not enough just to utilise sound logical reasoning if we are merely using the preconceptions and assumptions we have been burdened with all our lives. The reason you are here is for looking to see what this 'self', you think you are, could possibly be.
Even if this is not your intention, if you follow this process you will undergo a radical deconstruction of what you took for granted as true - this in itself can be quite liberating.

Where to begin

Part of the problem in starting an investigation boiled down to the fact that the concept looking at real life appears to be quite vague. I tried to explain this in the past but found it very difficult. Quite often I would write the word LOOK in forum posts repeatedly, to try and hammer home the fact that one needs to look at real life.
The simple truth is that looking is simply an honest glimpse of real life. This insight of Anatta is simply attained by a laser focus on the question of what does the word 'me' refer to in real life? If you can look honestly for a few seconds that is all it takes for the web of deceit to shatter.

Maxi Jazz (lead singer of Faithless) came out with a good quote in his lyrics:
"You don't need eyes to see, you need vision".
That sums it up quite well really, you need to look with your  vision, as such.
At this point you're probably going to be asking yourself what the hell is this 'vision' and what on earth is he referring to?

Allow me to have a go at trying to explain this to you right now in these posts.

Does that seem a bit clearer now?

No, I thought not! Don't worry though, you are in the same boat as everyone who starts out on this journey. It is very difficult to grasp what we actually mean by looking, however, the best way is just to get stuck in and give it a go.
It seems inordinately strange to look at first, by definition, as we are usually going about the hurly burly of our everyday lives, looking at the world and monitoring our thoughts. 

Surely in this respect we are already looking?

If this was the case then we would have no need to get you to scrutinise your own experience or tell you to Just F**king LOOK. The real problem is that you have never tried to look in your whole life. If you can take an honest look at real life for just a few seconds, that is all you need to do, and you will see through the illusion of self.

We are not talking about some magical looking or esoteric process here either. We are talking about seeing the self for what it is: an illusion. When you are done with the process you will clearly know that 'you' refers to nothing that can be discovered in experience. It is merely a habitual inference that has no correlate in real life.

We start out from a position where we are embedded within cultural practices, social conventions, and ways of doing things. To start from here and then begin mulling over the possibility of your own existence seems tantamount to madness at first. It contradicts your cultural practices and if you were to tell someone else that you don't exist, it is certainly counter intuitive in the strongest sense possible.
Your way of doing things has been learned from experience, and this includes resting your world view on certain preconceptions and assumptions that we were all taught from a young age.

However, your way of doing things has also led you to this moment right here and now. 
You are here because you are sick of making yourself suffer. You are here because the story you have been told doesn't add up. 
You are here because you feel different from all the others, even if you have friends and family around you. 
You are here because others in society lack the vision to see that they are simply following preprogrammed patterns of consumer consumption, and are subject to relentless psychological manipulation by the media and advertisers. You are here because you are a sick of all the vacuous bullsh*t in your daily grind. You are here because your curiosity led you to this place and deep down in your heart, you already know full well it is all a facade.

You are here because you want out.

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