Tuesday, January 10, 2012

A young man sees emptiness.

A young man (I was never this together in High School) sees through the illusion. This is the entire dialogue, begun on December 27th, 2011, 6:40 am

Hello, and welcome.
Can you say a little about your background and why you are here?

Hey Elizabeth,
I'd be glad to.
I am in California. My family moved closer to the ocean because of my asthma - it was difficult for me to breathe back in our home town.
Right now, I am in my Senior year at my local high school. I don't have that much interest in school, but I manage to get good enough grades to appease my parents. Teachers like my because I am quiet and don't interrupt. Classmates like me because I remain calm and smile often.
After school, I play on my high school's tennis team. Or if our team is not practicing that day, I'll play some volleyball down at the local gym.
To earn some money, I walk dogs. Dogs like me and I like them - we jive together quite well.
Honestly, I'm just floating through life like a piece of drift wood. Money doesn't interest me like it once did. Nor do cars, computers, status, women, or video games. Don't get me wrong - I'm not depressed. It's just that I've realized that the stuff that's supposed to make you happy is really just an obstacle to happiness. That my 'self' - the aggregate of my thoughts, ideas, beliefs, emotions, desires, wants, aversions, and all that other good stuff that I identify with - is just in the way of reality.
So to get rid of it, I meditated. Remained in the moment. Acted mindfully. And lo and behold, I came to the realization that I am not myself. Rather, I am simply awareness. With this realization accompanied a sense of equanimity and spaciousness overflowing with love. Awareness does not discriminate, judge, or distinguish - everything is the same under its eyes. All is one. One is all.
Unfortunately, my foray into ego-less awareness was short-lived. Doubt came slithering into my mind and dragged me back to my ego, full of low-grade suffering and discontent.
So why I am here? I'm not sure what triggered this episode of mini-Enlightenment. I've tried to replicate it with only partial success. I would greatly appreciate your help, Elizabeth, in finding this trigger.
Much love,
P.S. I may or may not have experienced egoless awareness. (I) think (I) did. =)

Hi J,
Nice to meet you. Thanks for the background. Seems like you are ready for the next step. Lots of us arrive here with some of it dialed in already, have had some interesting experiences, but the seeking continues.
This will be a series of questions that lead us closer to seeing through the illusion of self. I recommend staying to the end of the conversation, you seem serious about it, that is a good start.
You wrote:
"That my 'self' - the aggregate of my thoughts, ideas, beliefs, emotions, desires, wants, aversions, and all that other good stuff that I identify with - is just in the way of reality."

Tell me how you construct a self from the above.
What is the process, as far as you observe it directly?
Not beliefs or knowledge about the construction, but the actual process in action. Reporting honestly and thoroughly will give us a lot of information to start with, always helpful.
Here is a starting point: Look at a computer in front of you. It's a 'your' computer. How did it become something attached to a you?
Looking forward to hearing from you on this.
I learn something every time :-)
Love, Elizabeth

Hmmm... good questions!
Why is it 'my' computer?
Ownership - For the most part, I control this computer. I can download what I want, go to whatever website I want, delete whatever I want, etc. I could even destroy it or sell it.
Memories - I've been using this computer for roughly 5 years now - my mind holds many memories of me working with it.
History - This computer records the websites that I visit, programs I install, etc. It keeps a running list of the things I do to it.
On to the self. How do I construct a self? I don't think 'I' actually did anything. It sort of happened by itself.

The way I see it, my self is the little voice/little man inside my head. The voice/man that tells me what to do, who to call, when to go, how I look, etc. It's an ongoing source of directions. It's the owner.

That makes my body and emotions 'the computer'. I identify with my body because I can control it. I think I identify with my body stronger than my emotions because I have more control over my body than my emotions.

For example, the voice right now is telling me to write this message to you. Since this voice is in control of my body, my body responds and writes the message. I guess I've always believed that 'I' am the Owner, so I identify with the voice/little man.

When the little man/voice feels angry, I identify with the anger because I identify with the little man/voice.
And when I think about other people, I think of them in terms of the little man in their heads. If their funny, nice, mean, energetic, sad, ditsy, powerful, etc. I don't purposefully do this. It happens by itself.
Furthermore, when I think about other people's little men, I automatically compare to my little man. Once again, it happens by itself.

Very strange! It's funny - I've been exposed to these concepts before, but they didn't actually click with my mind until I started actually thinking about them.
I'm excited to hear the next questions!

My previous post is a jumble - let me try that one more time.
This evening, I was taking a long hot shower which is my absolute favorite time to think.
My brain began to have a dialogue with itself that went something like this:
A: "This is my body that is experiencing this lovely shower"
B: "My implies ownership and therefore control. Well then... who (or what) is the owner of your body?"
A: "My brain!"
B: "Really?"
A: "Sure! My brain thinks 'right leg up' and my body responds accordingly!"
B: "So who is the owner of your brain? Did something ever put a dog collar around your brain? Is your brain someone's bitch? Can you control how you think? What you feel? What you desire? Where is the little voice in your head coming from?"
A: "..."
Cue me spending ten desperate minutes searching for the little voice.
I didn't find anything. Fear began to rush into my head. To comfort myself, I began to ask "who exactly is the one being feared." At that moment, I felt very alone. Disconnected. Separate from my body, thoughts, and emotions. It was an uncomfortable experience. And strangely, I felt increasingly aware of my body. It was like my consciousness was 6 inches behind my back, flooding a floodlight of awareness onto my body. And it did not feel good at all.
I felt like I was alone, drifting in space. No stars, planets, or colors. Just myself and blackness.
Then suddenly, a real big grin appeared on my face. Just for 15 seconds or so, I felt the opposite of my earlier experience. Happy. Interconnected. Comfortably aware.
And just as soon as the smile came, it was gone. Back to the fear.
I got out of the shower and began to write this post. After this experience, I think I understand the difference between an intellectual and actual understanding of no-self.
Elizabeth, I'd like some help understanding what happened. Furthermore, I am confused about the relationship between my body and mind. Sometimes, my body just acts without thought. Other times, thought is required for my body to act.
Very strange.

Interesting how even a little honest looking works so well and so quickly. And it's nice you get the difference between a direct experience and an intellectual one. We can use your experience here to move to the next question. Your answers will be found as you answer the questions for yourself.
That's the direction we are going in. A direct experience of truth. Not more thoughts about it. Nothing second hand.
Have you noticed that ownership begins with a thought, represented in language with possessive pronouns such as me, mine, and I?
So in reality, there is a computer. In thought it is MY computer, with a history and a story. Even a future, as you plan for upgrades or replacement.
How very interesting that things which appear to be attached to a self, partake of the characteristics of a self. Almost as if they were part of a self.
Can this be true?
A body appears to be part of a self, also. Responding to the brain. Where thoughts appear. Thoughts which claim that they are controlling the body. So, let's look at them, very closely, as we go through an ordinary day.
1/ where are the thoughts coming from? In reality?
2/ Do they really control your body? Exceptions?
3/are all thoughts about a self, or a self in relation to the world? Or are there different categories?
4/ are thoughts real?
5/ are thoughts always about real things?

This is a lot of serious looking, and please write copious amounts about the process of looking and checking. This leaves a trail of breadcrumbs for both of us, if we need to backtrack for any reason, to identify a sticky bit, or work out a belief.
Your process is also serving as a guide for others, so doubly useful.
I check in here at least twice a day, so should not be too long before you get feedback.
Have a very interesting day, J :-)
Love, Elizabeth

Hey Elizabeth,
This post will be a mix between answers for your questions and some brainstorming.
First, the brainstorming - this will help me get my thoughts out on paper.
Who am I? I don't know. I identify with my emotions, thoughts, and body. These are all interconnected. But is there a sole "I" who stands apart? I have not found one, but I continue the hunt.
What is self? Google tells me it is "a person's essential being that distinguishes them from others, esp. considered as the object of introspection or reflexive action." According to this definition, self is formed in relationship with others. But what is a person's essential being? And how exactly do you compare two or more person's essential being? Hmmm... good questions to explore in the shower.
What exactly do you do with a self? At first this seemed like an easy question. But it was actually quite difficult for me to answer. I think you use your self to live your life... to interact with other people... to grow... to pursue your goals... to make friends... and to find a place in human society.
Why would I want to get rid of my self? Or... why would I want to recognize that there was no real self to begin with? Happiness and peace... a very "selfish" goal ironically. "No self, no problem" as the saying goes. There seems to be a gentle tug towards the realization of no-self, like a moth drawn to a flame.
What's going on in my mind right now? Categorization. Perception. Distortion. My senses take reality in and my mind automatically alters it, putting the stimuli in the category of "MINE!" Or "THEIRS!" Or "YOURS!" Or "GOOD", "BAD", "WANT", and "AVOID". This conceptualization takes "a computer" and turns it into "my computer". This same conceptualization is what takes "a person" and turns it into "me" or "you". For example, today I felt jealous and hurt that my cousin was ignoring me. Already, I have conceptualized "jealousy", "hurt", "my cousin", "ignoring", and "me." There was no thought put into this. There was no command for this to happen. It simply happened by itself. This conceptualization is a habit. I think it can be unlearned.

What's going on in my mind right now? #2 Rehearsing and rehashing. Reliving the past and imagining the future... this is when my sense of self is strongest. Hmmm... it seems like the self could be my mental images of me doing something or another. When I think of my past memories, something inside me starts nodding and saying, "Yup. This is who you are. This is your story!" Hmmm... is my self my story? The story of the past and the story going into the future?

What is self? #2 Maybe... my self is the story that I tell myself about who I am and the life I live. This definition strongly resonates as truth to me. It is the story that I have conceptualized in my head. There's the center of the story who is the protagonist (this is me), the antagonist (in today's case, my cousin who ignored me), the setting (from 1994 to 2011, in Modesto and Santa Cruz), the events (waking up, going to school, learning, talking to friends, getting mad at Dad, getting happy with Dad, eating food, all the other little things going on in life), and the resolution (my death whenever that may come). My mind has conceptualized a story for me, the protagonist, to live within, work within, love within, learn within, and die within. Not only that, the story has created who I am... "I am a student. I am athletic. I am calm. I am quiet. I am a teenager. I am lazy. I am a dog lover. I am a tennis player. I am reserved. I am loving. I am kind. I am boring. I am bland." With those attributes, the story has told me... no, more than that.... controlled who I am and what I should do and who I should be and what are my goals and who should I love and where should I live and when I should talk and how I should react and what should I say and yaddah yaddah yaddah.

Jesus. This seems like a big piece of the puzzle.

Woah! And in this part of the story, Jordan is heroically trying to recognize the nonexistence of self by communicating with another character called Elizabeth (who is a very awesome person for helping Jordan in his time of need). This is an all-encompassing story!
How do I get rid of the story? Hmmm... I guess I just have to start living without the story. Since the story exists in the past and future, that means that I should live in the present. How do I do that? Probably by focusing my attention on whatever is going on right now at this very moment. Of course, I need to stop conceptualizing so there are no more characters and events in the story. No more "my"! But hold up... what exactly is a "story"?
What is a story? Google informs me that it is "an account of imaginary or real people and events told for entertainment." Hmmm... "for entertainment" are the key words here. This is a story that has literally captured my mind and held it captive for the past 17 years. I think it is the greatest story ever told... one that has totally occupied my mind.

Do I want even want to get rid of the story? I look back fondly at my past 17 years of life. Laughing with friends, eating dinner with the family, going to movies, playing tennis, sitting on top of my dad's shoulders at my brother's baseball game in modesto... do I really want to lose that? Sure there's been some times when I've felt like shit, but for the most part, life has been good to me. And what about college? Marriage? Traveling the world? All that stuff in the future that I want to do. Do I want to lose that? Hmmm.... actually, I won't be losing much at all. Because however great this story is... it's just a bunch of concepts. Ideas. Perceptions. The awareness will remain. I don't know if I want to wake up... but is just seems like the right thing to do. Call it a gut feeling. And if I want to go back to the story, I think I'll be able to do so.

Is the story real? "Actually existing as a thing or occurring in fact; not imagined or supposed"... no, the story is not real. It is imagined. It is supposed. It is not reality. It is reality through a lens of perception. Subjectively... it is quasi-real. Objectively... it doesn't exist at all.

So why do I want to get rid of the story? Why should I stop believing in the story? "No self, no problem." = "No story, no problem." I find this to be true. I think that once I stop believing in the story... love will fill the void. Light. Happiness. Once again, gut feeling.

How does Elizabeth fit into the picture? Hmmm.... I have a strong intellectual understanding of no-self that is tantalizingly close to an actual understanding. During parts of my day, I exist without self. For a few minutes, I stop believing in the story. But only for a few minutes. I'd like to exist without self for an entire day. That is my goal. Elizabeth... I have a feeling that you've already made this journey. I would greatly appreciate your advice and questions that will help me recognize no-self.

I wrote this from 9:30PM to 10:30PM. This post evolved and developed the further I got into it. Thanks for reading.
Love, J

You are working this, questioning, following the reasoning. Good. This is a subtractive process, stripping away our unquestioned beliefs.
You are moving towards answering the questions about thoughts that require your direct observations.
The purpose of this process is to see through the illusion of a separate self. This is pretty stark. Not looking for a self, not looking for a no-self. We actually see that in reality, no separate self, no entity, is owning and directing, living life.
This is where people get fearful or creative.
This is why the Elizabeth character will keep focusing us back on the thoughts, although she appreciates the working down to the rational bones. That's part of it for sure. It is useful.
So, notice that you are circling the direct looking at thought.
And just start looking in such a way that you can honestly answer the questions. If you can't answer, just say so and we'll come at it from another angle.
No worries from here.
Thanks, and look forward to your next post.

Back to the questions about thought:
1/ where are the thoughts coming from? In reality?
2/ Do they really control your body? Exceptions?
3/are all thoughts about a self, or a self in relation to the world? Or are there different categories?
4/ are thoughts real?
5/ are thoughts always about real things?

1. Okay... here are two very basic observations about thoughts.
Thoughts come in the form of language. Language is symbolic.
I am aware of my thoughts. I am usually unaware of the reasoning that results in this thought.
I think the most important of these observations is point #2. To illustrate this point, here is an example.e

I was playing volleyball with cousin today. I thought to myself, "Woah. S isn't that good of a volleyball player. She's making us lose." The reasoning behind the thought went something like this:
S is my cousin.
We are playing volleyball.
A good volleyball player can hit the ball hard, set the ball in the proper location, and predict where the opposing team will place the ball.
Savannah does not display these characteristics.
Therefore, she is a bad volleyball player.
Since the score is 2 to 6 right now, we are losing.
S is the reason why my team is losing

I was completely oblivious to this reasoning - it occurred automatically in my unconscious mind. Even more fundamental than the reasoning is the processing of external stimuli in my brain. I was also oblivious to that. So what is the source of thought? The unconscious mind where the reasoning occurs. I'm really only aware of the end product - the thought.

2. Do thoughts control my body? Yes and no. No, in the sense that I don't think to myself, "right leg up, right leg down, left leg up, left leg down" when walking. Thoughts, however, do influence my body. Thinking, "I am happy" makes me feel happy. Thinking, "Go left", makes me go left.
The real control of my body comes from my unconscious mind. It directs me and instructs me how to walk automatically.

3. Some thoughts are about a self, or a self in relation to others. The most frequent and strongest thoughts have to do with my bodily needs - "I'm hungry, I'm tired, I'm thirsty, I'm cold, etc." (Perhaps the unconscious mind uses thoughts as means to get my body to do something ASAP). In fact, most thoughts are about a self, or a self in relation to others. Still, lots of my thoughts simply describe an object, sing a song, do math, or remember directions.

4. Because thoughts influence my body/emotions, they are real. Not the best logic, but calling thoughts fake doesn't make sense to me. The content of thoughts, however, are extremely subjective and often incorrect.

5. Nope. Some mornings in class, I'll catch myself thinking about having superpowers.

In a nutshell, this is how I think thoughts occur:
Stimulus (Sensation, Emotion, Thought) > Mental Processing > Thought
Much love, J

Something is starting to click...
I am not in control of my mind, body, or emotions. My unconscious mind is.
How can I expand on this, Elizabeth?
I'm feeling light and airy right now...
Good stuff, Jordan. Working it down. So, thoughts pop into mind pretty much fully formed, by a process you are not conscious of. Some thoughts refer to self, some to a process. Thoughts themselves are real, the content is ah, questionable at best. It's interesting that the only way to question thoughts is with thinking about, and excavating the likely culprits...but those are thoughts also.
So there are thoughts, and thoughts about thoughts. You say they are generated by the unconscious, which is a semi-controller, you think...but don't know.
I'd add that thoughts are impermanent. They vanish. Or the story, and the thoughts, can change completely over time. Think of a story that did that. Like Santa Claus :-) A character that you believe in till the evidence mounts up. Made up of thoughts, a story.
Let's look a little more deeply. Is anything/anyone actually controlling, or is control an illusion, of thoughts claiming ownership and do-ership after the fact? Let's look very directly at what we are doing right now.
As you type, what is typing? What is the actual experience of typing out a flow of words, mental representations?
Where are the thoughts coming from? Anyone in control of them? The fingers?
Check it out.
Then, today I'd like you to try this: As you move around, pick things up, open doors, walk, see how much of that needs a self to own and direct it. In reality. Does a self do the dishes?
And when the self thoughts come in (you've identified some thoughts as being about self, and some not) check to see at what point they come in. Before the action, during, or after? Keep a very close eye on the wee impermanent things. What are they up to?
This requires some fierce focus and coming back to it again and again. But the results are illuminating.
Let me know what you find!
Love, Elizabeth

I sit down on my chair, coming with an intention to answer your questions. Right now, there is no thought saying, "I am here to answer Elizabeth's questions about what goes on in my thoughts while I type this message to you. But... while I typed the previous sentence, a thought popped up, saying "better include 'about what goes on in my thoughts' for clarity's sake." As I write these words, I speak them aloud. I am not aware of any thoughts going on in my head as I write these sentences. I just hear words. If I stop speaking aloud, I think the words as I write them instead. As soon as I finish typing one word, the next word comes from my mouth (or in my head), and I write that word to. It's like a machine gun: shoot, reload, shoot, reload, shoot, reload. Cue mental image of machine gun firing bullets. Lasted 3-5 seconds.

I pause. The intention was lost. Now it is back. My hands dance around the keyboard, clicking and clacking away. "This is poetic!"... that thought just popped up. Made me laugh. I'm typing again. I have no control over my hands right now. Thought just popped up: "You do have control over your hands." Hmmm... opposite response to my words. Strange.

I keep typing. "Why do you keep typing." Don't know. Mini-conversation between page and thoughts. "Cute", says my mind.

Hmmm... this time, I typed the words on the screen before saying them aloud. "Habit... writing" those two words just popped into my head. "This is a habit you do when you get writer's block"... my mind completes sentence. Just backspaced. Automatically noticed that something was wrong in previous sentence. "Can't remember." Thinking words now.

Noticing breathing. Forgot earlier point. Adjust posture. Breathing again.

Lost train of thought. Hmmm.... "You're just doing that to prove a point" mind says. Pause. Try to ignore sounds from television in living room. Look... no scroll down to Elizabeth's post. Gotta answer questions. Strong intention to answer question. Feel angry for stream of consciousness. "Don't worry Jordan, you're looking directly at reality... this is what you're supposed to do!" my mind reassures me. Eyes saw red lines below consciousness, telling me I spelled it wrong. Right clicked, chose correct spelling. No thought involved. Habitual.

"Time to look at Elizabeth's questions," mind reminds me. Scroll down.

Look for select words: computer, typing, anything involved with this thing I'm doing now. Find one. No thought involved. "Gotta highlight, copy, quote, and paste!"

Is anything/anyone actually controlling, or is control an illusion, of thoughts claiming ownership and do-ership after the fact? Let's look very directly at what we are doing right now.
As you type, what is typing? What is the actual experience of typing out a flow of words, mental representations?
Where are the thoughts coming from? Anyone in control of them? The fingers?
Check it out.

"Ahhhhhhh yeah!!!!!" my mind says. I chuckle. I have no idea what's going on right now.

Reality moving too fast. Typing can't keep up.

Look back to quotes. Didn't think... maybe I did. Can't remember. Looking up. tilting head.

As I read words, say them aloud in head. Rereading. Heavy breathing. "Indicative of some big realization."

I chuckle! "That's funny." Notice that I breathe heavily once I'm on the verge of realizing something. Habit. In the previous observation, thought "Notice..." and my hands and mouth took over. The mind triggered a reaction by thinking one word, and the hands and mouth completed the sentence.

"This is getting ugly" "Quotes!!!!" Shit. Elizabeth, quotes mean thoughts, not spoken word. Not thinking right now. Writing and speaking aloud. Can I write without speaking aloud.

asdlkjadsfkj;ladfskjl;fadsjlk;ghladfskj;lafskj;fsad yes asdklfjj;ladfskk;ljdfsakj;ldafskj;ladfskjl no lk;adfskj;lfadskj;lfadskj;ldlafskj;fdaskjadfskj;lfsad weoaf adfsk;ljadfsjlk;adfsj yes i love godasf d god damnit

I have to speak or think while I'm writing. Speaking is easier. I am not aware of speaking and thinking at the same time. Perhaps my speaking covers up my thinking. Notice previous sentence is nonsensical. Do not think. Edit.

DOne. STOP. Over. Tired. "Will analyze in 5 minutes." "I'm hungry. Thirsty!" "Not sure if including "I'm" in earlier sentence out of habit or to prove a point or because I'm talking to you Elizabeth about self, or for another reason. Weird.

I've got a friend named Elizabeth. Start chucklin. Laughter. No idea what's going on. Hands are still dancing. Okay. Stop. Intention is gone for now.
Wowza. This stream of consciousness was extraordinarily enlightening! Here's what I notice from this 10 minute rambling of mine:

[*] I am oblivious to what's going on. Sure, I've meditated and was aware of lots of things. But it's not till I wrote it all down that I realize how much stuff I'm missing!
[*] Control. It's an illusion. It's... just reactions. My mind selectively chooses pieces of information to support this idea of control. I think to myself, "Because I think 'left arm up' and my left arm goes up, that means I have control!" But my mind ignores the underlying belief that I have control, that my body considers whether or not to follow the order, the assumption that I have an I, the emotional and habitual protection of beliefs (I sometimes feel like an idiot when I someone proves me wrong), the environmental and sociological conditioning of the existence of an independent self, and another belief that I am responsible for my own actions... therefore, I have control over my own actions. Plus, whether my emotions at the moment dictate that I be open-minded and receptive or closed-minded and unreceptive. Sorry. Rambling. Point being that my mind cherry-picks.
[*] My emotions, thoughts, and body are interconnected. Body triggers thought and emotional response. Thoughts trigger bodily and emotional response. Emotions trigger thought and bodily response. This all happens in a very, very chaotic way! A crazy symphony of sensations in my body resulted in that post.
[*] Impermanence - my thoughts, emotions, and body were moving incredibly fast. So fast that it was nearly impossible to document them. In fact, I had to ignore many things because my hands wouldn't move fast enough! My awareness was also very jumpy - it moved from one object to another in a heartbeat, searching for the strongest/most prominent sensation.[/list]

Thank you for introducing me to that insightful exercise, Elizabeth.

Besides the exercise, you also suggested I look at whether or not I needed a self to complete my daily activities. Let's back up a little... I am an not totally clear what a self is. Is it my story? Control? Thoughts about 'I'?

What is your definition of a self, Elizabeth?
Much love and typing,

Food for non-thought, here. =)
This is a response to the question in my previous post.

Santa Claus. Big, fat, and jolly. Generous. Gives presents to kids. Wears red and white. Trademark words are: "Ho ho ho!" Rides in red sleigh powered by magical reindeer. Embodies the spirit of Christmas.

J. Skinny, white, and calm. Intelligent. Loves dogs. Wears tee-shirts, shorts, and sandals. Trademark words are: "blah blahblah blah blahblahblah, man" Rides in Subaru Forester powered by dead dinosaurs. Embodies the spirit of the 1960's.

The similarities are uncanny!
Santa Claus is a character defined by select attributes (clothing, words, emotions, ride) and a story (brings presents to billions of children around the world in one night, writes a list of who's naughty or nice).
J is a character defined by select attributes (clothing, words, emotions, ride) and a story (moved to Santa Cruz because of asthma, good yet lazy student, loves dogs).
An integral part of each of these character's is control - each is believed to have control over oneself.
What I'm seeing more and more is that:

(1) The character is not static. The attributes and story constantly fluctuate moment to moment.
(2) Control is an illusion. It's all reaction.
(3) The character is created by thought and fueled by belief. He's only real in your head.

Why do I believe in J, but not Santa Claus? Why do I believe the thoughts and story about Jordan, but not the thoughts and story of Santa Claus? There's much more in common between these two characters than there are differences.

Is it because of the belief that there just has to be someone experiencing reality? It's all goes back to belief, doesn't it? J... is as real as I want him to be. He is as real as I think him to be.

There was no story, attributes, or character to begin with. I imagined it.

Hey, J :-)
You answered your own questions. It was right there. There is more.
What is behind that busy illusion? Look behind. Tell me what you see.
Much love.

"Emptiness. And it's beautiful."

It is beautiful. I sat here for a while and looked at it with you. Such an amazing...
Happy no birth day, Jordan. It will be easy to remember the date!

It's time to ask you some Gate questions. These have a couple of purposes.
Sometimes a very determined I will make a cunning attempt to own even this, so we look and see if there is any confusion, or I-dentification we can clear up before you go off. Saves years of trouble.
It also serves as a record for you, as life changes.
Some other guides will check this over, see if there is anything I missed. And invite you to aftercare with others, as it's probably difficult to talk of this to many people in our lives.
It's a diverse group (coughs).
So, the questions.
1/What's the I?
2/Is there a you, at all, in any way, shape or form?
3/ You've walked around for a day or so, with the new view. What's the difference between there being a you and there being no you?
4/ What was it that cracked you out?
I was surprised to find there was homework assigned to awakening, but really amused :-)
Much love, Elizabeth

Yay! Thank you very much for your help, Elizabeth.

1. The 'I' is a character with attributes and a story. There is also an element of control, identification, and ownership over one's emotions, body, and thoughts. The 'I' is the stuff of thought... in reality, there is no story, control, identification, or ownership. It's just misguided thought fueled by belief, a result of language based on self, conditioning that supports the idea of self, and a system that places an enormous amount of value on getting more for one's self.
2. Nope. J is Santa Claus - an imaginary character.
3. Less thought. More awareness of body. No identification with body, emotions, or thought. If there is identification, notice how that conflicts with reality. Quietness of mind. Emptiness of mind. Less responsibility. Less guilt. More freedom. Notice how mind automatically thinks in terms of self. More smiles. Egoless awareness. Getting out of my head and sticking to the present moment.
4. Santa Claus. Examining St. Nick's character and story and comparing it with J's character and story. Lotsa similarities were found.
Much love,

Thanks, that covers the work nicely.
We'll see if anyone has a supplementary question, but I don't see much else to do. You clearly see the chief mechanism that builds an I, and as time goes on, you'll discover more subtle aspects of I building, but it's going to be much harder to sneak past this knowing.
In particular, when you start to suffer, you'll know you've just attached to something. I now look forward to suffering as it flushes out another identification to look at. Just look, and it disappears like the Cheshire Cat. Eventually. Leaving you with a smile. Another fading fiction!
It can be a bit of a ride, a back and forth, right after Gate, that is quite normal, no cause for alarm. It settles when it does.
Ilona will invite you, in a bit, to the after-group. Lots of discussion.
This has been fun work with you, J. Look forward to hearing more from you and how it goes. PM me here any time, any reason.
Hug and love, Elizabeth

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