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Thread: We are nothing but a witness, but there is no witness?

  1. #1
    Stephanie
    Guest

    We are nothing but a witness, but there is no witness?

    The more I notice how little (if anything) I have control over, the more I seem to be nothing but a witness to what plays out in the field of experience.

    So much of what happens to me, so much of what I think or feel, is out of my control. I act, I make choices, but rarely with full knowledge even of what choice it is I am making, much less the implications and consequences of that choice.

    It seems we are a society of commentators, commenting on the strange things experience throws at us.

    I don't choose my thoughts or feelings, I don't choose much of what happens to me. So much of what constitutes my experience is a reaction to something that has risen in the field of experience. Something strikes me as odd, or tragic, or funny. Then the witness/commentator sometimes feels moved to express that observation, like a musician might feel moved to respond and "riff off of" something someone else just played. Or sometimes it is silent, and the thought effervesces away as if it never existed.

    So then, this "witness," this commenter/observer, is what feels like "me." I can't find "me" pulling the strings behind my experience, but I can find "me" watching it all, reacting to it all. My body is not "me," what happens to me was not chosen or willed by "me," my feelings and thoughts are not "me"... so much of this just seems the rumblings of the organism as it interacts with the rest of nature... but then there is that pesky "me." The "I think, therefore I am" that Descartes encountered. Except more like "I think about my thoughts, therefore I am."

    But then, the practice of Zen, coming back again and again to the realization that this annoying pundit that thinks of itself as "me" is always wrong. Whatever I think about what is happening is just a fabrication. Just a story. I don't know where "me" comes from, or what it is, but it is like a hologram, a dumb one at that, some hokey dime-store thing with 'MADE IN CHINA' stamped somewhere on it.

    So the witness, as ever-present, annoying, and misinformed as any Fox News pundit, is an illusion, an annoyingly convincing one, that you feel like a dumbass for falling for every single time.

    And that's what Buddhism seems to teach... that "me" is an illusion... with Zen adding that it is experience free of "me" that is THE REAL DEAL...

    But... how can we say that "direct experience" is real? It may be less fabricated than the witness, but it's fabricated nonetheless. The direct experience of taste, or smell, or touch, involves so many different processes of contact and interpretation and brain processing. So CONCEPTION is illusory, but so too is SENSATION.

    This all sounds heady, but I make this point because it is something I feel in the pit of my stomach every day, that there must be something that is real, somewhere, but where is it? For as long as I can remember, sense data has felt false to me, or rather 'walled off,' as if I was blocked from the objects I was sensing by a foot-thick not-quite-clear glass wall. My 'secret practice' early on was that I could sit zazen enough that this glass wall would shatter, and suddenly everything would feel real! I would REALLY taste and REALLY feel and REALLY see. And in addition to that hope, I have sought out intense flavors, intense physical sensations, intense sounds, intense visuals, intense psychological experiences. Because it takes something intense to break through the wall and really feel like something. Oh, THAT was something. Now back to THIS, which feels like nothing.

    I've had some "clear" moments, but I can never hold on to them. That was what I did for so long, chase after the feeling of realness. Until one day the thought arose, "Why shouldn't I feel a few steps removed from my experience?" Doesn't research show that any perception of sense data that arises is based in the brain, a few steps removed from the initial contact (chemicals entering the nasal passage, the hand brushing over a surface)? Maybe that feeling that sense data isn't quite as direct or clear as it seems to be IS the real deal.

    So if the witness/commentator is a dime-store hologram that is always wrong about everything, and what we perceive directly through the senses is a construction of the brain, what the hell is real? Is the feeling that something is real just another trick?

    Put another way: I'm tired of living in a sandcastle, thinking it's really a castle, but when the waves come wash it away, they wash away not only a sandcastle, but the whole beach, and then there is just the sound of the ocean, but even that is just a crappy bit of guesswork done by my brain. Why kick over the sand castle if there's nothing any more real than the sand castle?

    Why take the red pill?

  2. #2

    Re: We are nothing but a witness, but there is no witness?

    For as long as I can remember, sense data has felt false to me, or rather 'walled off,' as if I was blocked from the objects I was sensing by a foot-thick not-quite-clear glass wall. My 'secret practice' early on was that I could sit zazen enough that this glass wall would shatter, and suddenly everything would feel real! I would REALLY taste and REALLY feel and REALLY see. And in addition to that hope, I have sought out intense flavors, intense physical sensations, intense sounds, intense visuals, intense psychological experiences. Because it takes something intense to break through the wall and really feel like something. Oh, THAT was something. Now back to THIS, which feels like nothing.
    For many years I described the world as separate from me through a foot of perspex. Your experience sounds very similar to that of mine. For me, at least, it was a depressing distancing from reality..any peace was dull and lifeless.
    The fact that you, me and others have described this experience of being separated by thick,unclear glass suggests it is a definite sensory correlate to some common issue. For me and others who have expressed it it usually comes with many other symptoms of depression. The other commonality may well be that sufferers are very cerebral thinking types.

    For me as well I never felt IN a landscape. I would be standing in the wilds looking over at another part and want to be there experiencing it as if that was more real than here. Even touching the ground didn't bring me INTO the experience.

    The good news is that both have gone now. I can't tell you exactly what changed or when precisely. The general trend seems to be that I ponder less, analyse less, am less self pre-occupied. Those things changed before I took up Buddhist practice. Feeling a part of the landscape completely did seem to come from practice- specifically being mindfully aware whilst walking outside.

    IF you are depressed then perhaps sitting etc isn't the best thing for NOW? If you have a little self in your head where you seem to be watching things from then it is a mental construction that can be seen through. That came to me from listening and feeling, but not intense things necessarily, anything..quiet sounds etc. but just being there fully without self checking about what was heard or commenting internally (unless of course that naturally happens BUT then back to the outside straightaway).

    If accepting this and really sitting with it- as some others might suggest- works in a relatively short time then fair enough (you may have to notice some things your attention has been avoiding I am guessing as your previous practice wasn't changing this) but this seems to me to be a time when medical help etc. is called for.

  3. #3

    Re: We are nothing but a witness, but there is no witness?

    The more I notice how little (if anything) I have control over, the more I seem to be nothing but a witness to what plays out in the field of experience.
    This may be true. There is some evidence from psychology that our conscious minds could be but story makers. Unconscious brain processing may be making all the decisions and we just 'invent' reasons for our behaviour. And? nothing changes- still need to eat and pee and laugh.

    But then, the practice of Zen, coming back again and again to the realization that this annoying pundit that thinks of itself as "me" is always wrong. Whatever I think about what is happening is just a fabrication. Just a story. I don't know where "me" comes from, or what it is, but it is like a hologram, a dumb one at that, some hokey dime-store thing with 'MADE IN CHINA' stamped somewhere on it.

    So the witness, as ever-present, annoying, and misinformed as any Fox News pundit, is an illusion, an annoyingly convincing one, that you feel like a dumbass for falling for every single time.
    This 'annoying pundit' is just doing its job. Its not wrong. Its job may be just to make up those stories..to give meaning to our individual lives. Its not an illusion..it is what is it is. The fact you say its annoying etc indicates you are coming from that very place you call annoying. Mindful awareness is just THIS. There's no judgement in it. Awareness can't judge-just feels, hears, sees things as they are. The 'ego' is clever it makes you think you are commenting about it but really it is the 'ego' commenting about itself. It doesn't fear criticism (as you are doing)- just not-being.

    And that's what Buddhism seems to teach... that "me" is an illusion... with Zen adding that it is experience free of "me" that is THE REAL DEAL...
    NO! self and not-self were skilful means to help you end suffering. Thats why the Buddha didn't answer that question on whether we had a self or not when someone just wanted another view to take on board. You have taken this on board as a view. If you want a philosophical system then Buddhism can be made into that, and has been. If you want a way to live life without aversion and grasping then take the teachings as skilful means to do just that. Sure, when you come from awareness there seems to be no self. Sure, we have experiences that appear to show us there is nothing separate about us from the whole. These are valid and useful. Then we have experiences where we have an I that chooses to go to watch a film. No less valid. We can look at science and see that we are a collection of particles (although these are thing/nothings) and those particles are constantly being exchanged with the environment. There is no boundary between an 'us' and 'the universe'. If that helps then great. If not leave it. Even the view that this conscious 'I' is not the decision maker is also a thought that separates the world out into conscious, unconscious and external. Awareness doesn't make those distinctions. Awareness isn't even a thing that does anything. Its just the process of feeling whats there, hearing whats there and seeing whats there etc.

    But... how can we say that "direct experience" is real? It may be less fabricated than the witness, but it's fabricated nonetheless. The direct experience of taste, or smell, or touch, involves so many different processes of contact and interpretation and brain processing. So CONCEPTION is illusory, but so too is SENSATION.
    Some of the old Zen masters used to hit students. It seems rather barbaric to me. However, it does stop this mind, with its grasping and rejecting and judging and pontificating, rather well. Next time you stub your toe really hard..you'll find this all goes away for a moment. Perhaps a skilful means for you is to realise that if the thinking self is illusory then so is everything you have written as it comes from the same place and is the same thing?

    So if the witness/commentator is a dime-store hologram that is always wrong about everything, and what we perceive directly through the senses is a construction of the brain, what the hell is real? Is the feeling that something is real just another trick?

    Put another way: I'm tired of living in a sandcastle, thinking it's really a castle, but when the waves come wash it away, they wash away not only a sandcastle, but the whole beach, and then there is just the sound of the ocean, but even that is just a crappy bit of guesswork done by my brain. Why kick over the sand castle if there's nothing any more real than the sand castle?
    So if we ignore the fact that your 'commentator' is wrong about being wrong and just get down to THIS. We have all sorts of models of the world but one thing is clear. We have the experience of being alive and aware. Take that as real. You have thoughts, feelings, perceptions. They are real- as what they are- just these things.

    I'm being quite blunt but its because I have been there, or somewhere similar. Its a horrible place to live- thats true too.

    Do you need to get in contact with your body more- and the physical in general? Go dig a garden until your body aches all over. Take up judo/jujutsu (do this regularly and you may well, over time, start to feel more grounded- as you won't be using your head to try to ground you but actually just doing it) . Get some physical contact with another human being. Go and volunteer somewhere where you haven't time to self-reflect- do this regularly and for the long haul.

    When you sit, just be aware. Relax into experience. You'll know it- when the thoughts are just thoughts floating past. if you are averse to any of them then awareness feels that aversion, same with grasping. It doesn't think that, it sees it. As soon as another thought arises- its just happening along with everything else in experience. Awareness notes, too, the glass barrier..and the thoughts that might judge that barrier if they arise. That barrier too is part of your experience as well. You know all this..Jundo's sit alongs say it wonderfully well. However, what I said in the previous post is still applicable. Sitting might not be the best thing for now.

    I really feel for you, Stephanie, with all of this. I wish I could do something more than just write dead words. If you could jump on a cheap flight to Scotland you'd be welcome to stay here for a couple of weeks. We can provide food, hugs and maybe some exploration of these things in different ways. I know its unlikely to happen, but you'd be welcome.

    Rich

  4. #4
    Stephanie
    Guest

    Re: We are nothing but a witness, but there is no witness?

    Rich,

    I appreciate your warm and urgent words; you make some helpful points.

    To be clear: I am not currently depressed! Not in any meaningful sense of the term. My mood is good, my attitude about life is upbeat/optimistic, I'm energetic, my sleep and appetite are fine. I feel loved and loving, appreciative, grateful.

    The only slightly 'depressive' thing with my mind lately has been a turn of the morbid in the last week or so. I've been fascinated by some pretty horrible news / human interest stories, including Charla Nash, who had her face ripped off by a chimp, and William Melchert-Dinkel, a middle aged man who trolled online suicide forums convincing people to kill themselves. I have no idea why I've been fascinated by such things lately, but I've always been drawn to the "dark" / morbid.

    That in itself may very well be a reflection of my 'depressive' tendency / personality style. By which I mean that even when I'm not depressed, my view or aesthetic favors a tragic or 'dark' perspective. Which is why I find it interesting that you link the 'perspex' phenomenon to depression. I wonder if anyone else here has had this experience? If so, was it linked to depression?

    Although there may be a third variable at work here. I think it's very likely the 'perspex phenomenon' is, as you suggest, linked to a tendency to be a 'cerebral thinking type.' And, of course, depression has been historically linked to introspective thinkers, even back in the Middle Ages when scholars were associated with black bile, the humor that gave rise to melancholia.

    All this to say, in simple Zen terms: I think too much!

    Chet and I had a wonderful discussion last night in which it became clear that at least one significant contributing factor in the 'perspex phenomenon' is a hidden layer of conception / construction in which I am comparing the actual experience of this moment to an idea of what that experience could, or 'should,' be like. In other words, "It can't be this, so where is it?" I think that the problem is in my senses or sensory capabilities, when the 'problem' is actually that the 'voice of thought' is so loud it drowns out the sense information. A very simple error.

    And this discussion made me think of Dogen's Gabyo, in which he challenges the conventional Zen wisdom expressed in the saying, "A painted rice cake does not satisfy hunger." As I understand it, this is a teaching on how we divide the world conceptually into "real" and "non-real." We say, "painted rice cakes are not real and therefore I shouldn't waste my time with them; I'm going to focus only on the real rice cakes." But painted rice cakes are no more or less "real" than "real" rice cakes; perceptions that feel like they have been filtered through perspex are no more or less real than ones that feel more "clear" or "direct." All these distinctions between real and unreal, clear and unclear, are made in the mind; they are not a feature of things-in-themselves. Things-in-themselves are simply things-in-themselves. Characteristics are what we add after the fact. Anything that arises in the field of awareness is equally in the field of awareness, whether that be a map or the road itself, a menu or the food itself.

    From Dogen himself (by way of Cross and Nishijima): "If one says that pictures are unreal, then all the myriad dharmas are unreal. If all the myriad dharmas are unreal, then even the Buddha-Dharma is unreal. If the Buddha-Dharma is real, pictures of rice cakes must just be real."

    Note to self: stop making "real" and "unreal"! What is actually the experience of this moment? What is this? Not "what could it be," or "how could it be better," but "what actually is here"? Not the name for it, but the experience itself. Whether that be thought or words or conception or sensation, clear or unclear pictures, masterpieces or finger-paintings...

    Stephanie

  5. #5

    Re: We are nothing but a witness, but there is no witness?

    I am so glad you are OK..you had me worried there for a bit!
    I have spent half a day trying to remember when mine went to see if any useful clues could be recalled but I'm afraid not, so sorry on that score.
    I am sure what you and Chet discussed is right in that accepting the perspex as part of experience, no different to everything else. I was going to suggest gestalt dialogue with it for acceptance and clue to what its doing for you and possible resolution (from a relative world slant) but I felt like I'd said too much already in the previous posts so I am glad you took them as they were meant.
    What did you think of the jujutsu idea (Brazilian Ju Jutsu would be my recommendation) as it'll keep you rolling around a mat focussed exclusively on the other person in a very non-cerebral state, plus it really is a lot of fun and laughs? I guess this might have been part of my change from that distancing glass. I had to do that because anything else gave me too much time to still analyse but overtime this dropped right away. As I said before can't say 100% this was a factor but offering it just in case.
    Hearing that you feel loved and loving is wonderful The offer of staying here is not dependent on mental state though, so it still stands! That goes for anyone on here that is passing through (provided you arrange it with us first so we don't have an overfull house) this country. We get odd hitchers, emailers and waifs/strays staying here each year, sometimes we have no idea who they are at all. Its fun for us as well to share with other cultures and/or different folks.
    Warm wishes
    Rich

  6. #6

    Re: We are nothing but a witness, but there is no witness?

    A very REAL thread here!

    Quote Originally Posted by Stephanie
    But... how can we say that "direct experience" is real? ... The direct experience of taste, or smell, or touch, involves so many different processes of contact and interpretation and brain processing. So CONCEPTION is illusory, but so too is SENSATION.

    This all sounds heady, but I make this point because it is something I feel in the pit of my stomach every day, that there must be something that is real, somewhere, but where is it?
    Whenever I read this kind of thing, it reminds me of someone in desperate search to find the "real" nose on her face. It is just "here" and "her" all along, as obvious as the nose on one's face! Or, a better example, some people try to peel away layer upon layer of the onion to find the "true essence" and "REAL onion" at the core ... only to find, when all the layers are peeled away, no onion left at the center ... all while missing the pungent, tear inducing onion-ness that was present all along.

    Stop and smell the onion! It's bite is right here filling your very real nose this very instant!

    Buddhism 101 - This experience of self is an illusion of the mind.

    But Dogen 101 - the little self, and its day to day ordinary experiences are as real as real can be. They are really your day to day, ordinary experiences! The painted Gabyo rice cake will not satisfy hunger yet, said Dogen, it is the realest of real painted rice cakes ... and thus will fill you!

    Quote Originally Posted by Stephanie
    So much of what happens to me, so much of what I think or feel, is out of my control. I act, I make choices, but rarely with full knowledge even of what choice it is I am making, much less the implications and consequences of that choice. ...

    I don't choose my thoughts or feelings, I don't choose much of what happens to me. So much of what constitutes my experience is a reaction to something that has risen in the field of experience.
    Yes, Buddhism 101 ... we are kind of robots, moving along with the illusion of a self, and free will may be a dream.

    But also Buddhism 101 ... we are in so much control of this moment, how we act, choose, think, feel and react. We are free to choose and act on the razor's edge of past and future! We have free will even amid circumstances.

    Quote Originally Posted by Stephanie
    But then, the practice of Zen, coming back again and again to the realization that this annoying pundit that thinks of itself as "me" is always wrong. ... And that's what Buddhism seems to teach... that "me" is an illusion... with Zen adding that it is experience free of "me" that is THE REAL DEAL...
    How does the practice of Zen lead to a realization that the pundit, or small self, is "always wrong"? Sure, we need to watch the greed, anger and ignorance ... but then this "pundit", this "me" can be realized, enlightened!

    Part of that involves learning to move the "me" through life free (or free-er) of greed, anger and ignorance. Part of that involves coming to see life that never had a "wrong direction" from the start.

    You can never be totally free of "me" so long as you are in this world. You can see through "me", maybe completely drop "me" now and then, but you are still "me" most of the time your heart is still beating :shock: And that "me" is the REAL DEAL too (although a better REAL DEAL without the greed, anger and ignorance).

    Quote Originally Posted by Stephanie
    I would REALLY taste and REALLY feel and REALLY see. And in addition to that hope, I have sought out intense flavors, intense physical sensations, intense sounds, intense visuals, intense psychological experiences.
    This reminds me of the adrenaline junkie who needs to ride roller coaster after roller coaster to truly "feel fully alive". The foolish fellow, unfortunately, does not know the simple art of "feeling fully alive" just by breathing, walking and scratching his nose.

    Quote Originally Posted by Stephanie
    Maybe that feeling that sense data isn't quite as direct or clear as it seems to be IS the real deal.
    Do you always want to have your stereo turned to top volume, go to see "Avatar 3-D" in a theatre you can never leave, be on a constant adrenaline roller coaster ride, on an LSD trip you never come down from??? Please come to know the reality, ever present, of the subtle, simple and ordinary in this amazing life.

    Quote Originally Posted by Stephanie
    ... and what we perceive directly through the senses is a construction of the brain, what the hell is real? ... Put another way: I'm tired of living in a sandcastle, thinking it's really a castle, but when the waves come wash it away,
    Though the experience of this life is just a bit of theatre with paper scenery ... it is real drama! Enjoy the show (sometimes comedy, sometimes tragedy, sometimes exciting, sometimes a total bore!)! It is a REAL show called "life"!

    It is a REAL sand castle ... and live your life there ... and when it is washed away, the ocean remains. When the ocean dries up, something still remains.

    Quote Originally Posted by Grizzly
    The other commonality may well be that sufferers are very cerebral thinking types....
    Quote Originally Posted by Stephanie
    All this to say, in simple Zen terms: I think too much!
    Yes, if you get tangled in thoughts of "where is my nose, where is the real onion, where is the real sand castle" ... you make the problem for yourself. STOP THINKING THIS and just stop and smell the onion!

    Quote Originally Posted by Grizzly
    I would be standing in the wilds looking over at another part and want to be there experiencing it as if that was more real than here. ... The good news is that both have gone now.... The general trend seems to be that I ponder less, analyse less, am less self pre-occupied. Those things changed before I took up Buddhist practice.
    I remember as a teenager sitting on a beach, trying to "really and totally" experience a sunrise. My effort was a wall.

    Now, I drop the effort ... drop all attempt to "really and totally experience" ... I stop "self checking" and "commenting/critiquing internally" ... thus to find the sunrise "real and totally experienced" all along.

    It is not a matter of "trying to be Mindful". It is just to be with the sunrise, which was so all along.

    Quote Originally Posted by Stephanie
    I am comparing the actual experience of this moment to an idea of what that experience could, or 'should,' be like.
    Yes, you have some "should be" feeling for what the sunrise, life, etc. "should be" to be "fully experienced" and "real" ... and thus cannot experience the reality of "right here, right now, this".

    Stop and smells the onion! Feast on the painted rice cake! Scratching nose! Being sunrise! Enjoy the theatre show and life in a sand castle! 8)

    Gassho, J

  7. #7

    Re: We are nothing but a witness, but there is no witness?

    I remember as a teenager sitting on a beach, trying to "really and totally" experience a sunrise. My effort was a wall.

    Now, I drop the effort ... drop all attempt to "really and totally experience" ... I stop "self checking" and "commenting/critiquing internally" ... thus to find the sunrise "real and totally experienced" all along.

    It is not a matter of "trying to be Mindful". It is just to be with the sunrise, which was so all along.

  8. #8

    Re: We are nothing but a witness, but there is no witness?

    Quote Originally Posted by Grizzly
    Hearing that you feel loved and loving is wonderful The offer of staying here is not dependent on mental state though, so it still stands! That goes for anyone on here that is passing through (provided you arrange it with us first so we don't have an overfull house) this country. We get odd hitchers, emailers and waifs/strays staying here each year, sometimes we have no idea who they are at all. Its fun for us as well to share with other cultures and/or different folks.
    Warm wishes
    Rich
    This is such a generous and loving offer. If I am ever able to travel to Scotland, i will pay my respects. Also thanks for all the experience and wisdom you shared.

    Stephanie, I've noticed my grasping of thinking is tighter if I eat more protein than I need. yin/yang thing

    /Rich

  9. #9

    Re: We are nothing but a witness, but there is no witness?

    Quote Originally Posted by Jundo

    Quote Originally Posted by Grizzly
    The other commonality may well be that sufferers are very cerebral thinking types....
    Quote Originally Posted by Stephanie
    All this to say, in simple Zen terms: I think too much!
    Yes, if you get tangled in thoughts of "where is my nose, where is the real onion, where is the real sand castle" ... you make the problem for yourself. STOP THINKING THIS and just stop and smell the onion!

    Quote Originally Posted by Grizzly
    I would be standing in the wilds looking over at another part and want to be there experiencing it as if that was more real than here. ... The good news is that both have gone now.... The general trend seems to be that I ponder less, analyse less, am less self pre-occupied. Those things changed before I took up Buddhist practice.
    I remember as a teenager sitting on a beach, trying to "really and totally" experience a sunrise. My effort was a wall.

    Now, I drop the effort ... drop all attempt to "really and totally experience" ... I stop "self checking" and "commenting/critiquing internally" ... thus to find the sunrise "real and totally experienced" all along.

    It is not a matter of "trying to be Mindful". It is just to be with the sunrise, which was so all along.
    For this reason, there is the sitting of Shikantaza whereby ... as counter-intuitive as it may sound ... by radically giving up all longing and search to experience the "Real" or to achieve "Liberation" ... one finds that one was up to one's neck in such all along, that one was one beyond one all along ...

    Radically stop the search, to-the-marrow drop all idea of "real vs. not real" and "here vs. there" and "walls and barriers" and "'is' vs. 'should be'" ... and just sit ...

    You see ... it is the little "self" that needs, feels "lack", needs to "get" somewhere other than where it is, cannot be still. "Just Sit" Zazen without seeking to find ... and the "self" is put out of a job, body-mind dropped away.

    It is very much escaping by giving up all thought of escape. I often compare it to those toy Chinese finger-cuffs in that way ...



    You pull and you pull, thinking you must escape or obtain something ... and the cuffs just tighten. However, completely give up, relax, stop trying ... and you slip right out. Well, the way to relax and be still is not to try to "relax and be still" ... but to do nothing, relax and be still. Let it be, let it go ...

    Anyway, that is what makes "Shikanataza" Just Sitting a very special way of Zazen ... because there is nothing special, and that "nothing special" is the miracle of Buddha's Reality all along. 8)

    Gassho, J

  10. #10

    Re: We are nothing but a witness, but there is no witness?

    Wow.....great thread! Would you say that this pertains to the problem of mystifying or glorifying the past and wanting to recreate or go back to a time or place you imagine is or was better? If I could only go back to a place, then the happiness I remember would be there again?


    Gassho,
    Dave

  11. #11

    Re: We are nothing but a witness, but there is no witness?

    Quote Originally Posted by dumm
    Wow.....great thread! Would you say that this pertains to the problem of mystifying or glorifying the past and wanting to recreate or go back to a time or place you imagine is or was better? If I could only go back to a place, then the happiness I remember would be there again?


    Gassho,
    Dave
    This very moment, right now, seemingly happy or sad, is just this moment. Nothing to add or take away.

    A moment of the past or future, seemingly happy or sad, was or will be just that moment. Wholly that moment. Nothing to add or take away.

    A memory of the past or dream of the future in this moment is just this moment. Nothing to add or take away.

    Let happy moments be happy, let sad moments be sad. Nothing to add or take away. (That's a very real 'Happy' that allows things to sometimes be happy and sometimes sad!)

    If one simply sits with the attitude that Zazen in this very moment is "perfectly whole, just complete unto itself, without borders and duration, not long or short, nothing to add or take away, containing all moments and no moments in "this one moment" ... then SO IT IS! SO IT IS because it is treated and tastes as so. What is more, all moments ... past present future happy sad and neutral ... are tasted as complete and all one Great Moment, one Great Function. One's learning how to treat it as so in Shikantaza, makes it so ... a self-fulfilling proposition of the self fulfilled If one can learn to sit here tasting Zazen, and all of life, as "there is not one thing to add or take away" ... then, ipso facto, there is not one thing to add or take away. Each moment is known as perfectly whole when each moment is judged as perfectly whole (by dropping all judging). Time is not a concern when the mind stops thinking about time. Each instant of time is Complete when the mind merely drops its ideas of "complete vs. incomplete".

    Strange, huh? But stop thinking about these questions in one's philosophical armchair ... and dive in on the cushion, Just Sit.

    Gassho, J

  12. #12
    disastermouse
    Guest

    Re: We are nothing but a witness, but there is no witness?

    Th little voice in the head says, 'I want to experience reality and enlightenment! It can't be this!'

    But what else would it be? What else is there? And also, just what IS this?

    Chet

  13. #13
    Stephanie
    Guest

    Re: We are nothing but a witness, but there is no witness?

    Wonderful and helpful responses, thanks all.

    It's so easy to get fooled by my own ideas, my own thinking.

    Over and over again: do I really know this? Is this just another idea?

    If "yes," then: what is this moment when I am not thinking of what this moment is?

  14. #14

    Re: We are nothing but a witness, but there is no witness?

    If I am ever able to travel to Scotland, i will pay my respects.
    You'll be more than welcome,Rich. Hopefully it'll help folks who might be on a tight budget to be able to do more if they can have free accomodation and some free meals. It started off just prior to our RTW trip. We started to host travellers and when we travelled we had lots of places to stay for free too, so everybody wins. I remember turning up to a student house in Santa Cruz for a couple of nights thinking it might not work given the lifestyle and age differences. On arrival we were presented with some home brew they made just for our visit, which was grand! One of them even gave their bed up for us for a night. The whole trip- with the home stays and all the folks we met in many different ways showed the very best of humanity. I would like to think this is our way of being part of that.

    Rich

  15. #15

    Re: We are nothing but a witness, but there is no witness?

    And the same offer to anyone heading Japan way. You are always welcome to use Treeleaf as a base for your travels and to pull up a Zafu.

    Just give a few days notice. Don't expect much, because it is just our house (though an old Japanese style house with some cool woodwork by the carpenters who built it) with the Zendo in an old converted barn. Two cars in the garage. Garden is nice, but filled with weeds ... you will be expected to contribute to their pulling.

    Gassho, J

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