Deliberating decisions and No-self

J C, modified 8 Years ago at 1/22/14 10:50 PM
Created 8 Years ago at 1/22/14 10:50 PM

Deliberating decisions and No-self

Posts: 644 Join Date: 4/24/13 Recent Posts
I'm curious about how no-self interacts with making decisions. There's really no free will, no center agent or controller who can choose one path or another. The whole universe is interdependent, a bunch of particles following the deterministic laws of physics (or karma, or cause and effect, however you want to think about it).

So what actually goes on is a process of "weighing." A scale doesn't choose which side is heavier. The mind is like a computer algorithm running through different possibilities and outputting one, but there is the illusion that "we" "choose" it.

So what about the feeling of not being sure what to do, hesitating, trying to decide, feeling worried about making the wrong choice... does this go away for enlightened people? How does that affect life? Does this process of deliberation still exist once you're enlightened, and what's it like?
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Sadalsuud Beta Aquarii, modified 8 Years ago at 1/23/14 5:36 PM
Created 8 Years ago at 1/23/14 5:35 PM

RE: Deliberating decisions and No-self

Posts: 118 Join Date: 7/21/13 Recent Posts
Hi J C

from my own experience of doing what I think is MCTB 4th path, indecision and processes of deliberation still occur, but they feel very different to previous.

For example, I am deciding whether to get another chocolate bar or not. My body stands up from the desk, and a thought arises, "no, save the money, you just had lunch". The body sits back down and looks at the computer screen. The screen and task are seen, and a sensation of aversion arises. The body starts to stand up again, but then stops, in a weird stoop. Another thought arises, "this is ridiculous!". The body sits back in the chair and very brief mental images of chocolate bars arise.

Basically all the same thoughts, sensations, patterns occur, but as you don't believe that any of them are 'you', they pass through the mind in a much less jarring way. Previously being in indecision, eg conflicting thoughts, felt like arguing with someone, ie myself - really jarring, and frustration would increase. Now, the exact same deliberation feels like listening to a couple next to you in a cafe arguing. Because you're not in the argument, it's much less jarring and much less frustration arises.

By much less, I think I mean about 100 times less.

I could not imagine this at all before it happened, it initially felt very weird. perhaps others can give their take on it.

J C:

So what about the feeling of not being sure what to do, hesitating, trying to decide, feeling worried about making the wrong choice... does this go away for enlightened people? How does that affect life? Does this process of deliberation still exist once you're enlightened, and what's it like?
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Bill F, modified 8 Years ago at 1/23/14 7:21 PM
Created 8 Years ago at 1/23/14 7:21 PM

RE: Deliberating decisions and No-self

Posts: 556 Join Date: 11/17/13 Recent Posts
I like what Sadalsuud has written here, and I hope not to merely repeat what he has already stated. My current opinion would be that the self is a construct in the same way that everything else -including this sentence- that comes to us through language is as well. I could talk about the couch I am sitting on, but the direct experience is just a pattern of sensations, there is no inherent "couch" that exists as a solid and separate thing. Even the idea of a "self" is a relational idea and suggests that there is a self which can be separated from the rest of reality. When the idea of this falls away or is seen through, what does that suggest about the things that self was in relation to. In direct, sensate experience, the concept of self or any "thing" does not exist. So, if we want to say that the self is not a solid thing, then the other ideas must go too. Ideas like decisions, or things that we are making decisions about.
I remember having this exact conversation when I was working with Vince Horn several years ago and his idea that more and more reality is just waking up to itself. This was three years ago, so I may be misquoting him, or misinterpreting what was said. More and more I think this becomes my experience, or my experience becomes more direct, and there just seems to be this movement of reality experiencing reality in an intimate way. I am beginning to feel more this is all about the assurance and trust of that experience, and that what happens gradually along the way is that we move and further and further away from disassociating from the immediacy of experience.
J C, modified 8 Years ago at 1/23/14 7:57 PM
Created 8 Years ago at 1/23/14 7:57 PM

RE: Deliberating decisions and No-self

Posts: 644 Join Date: 4/24/13 Recent Posts
Sadalsuud Beta Aquarii:
Hi J C

from my own experience of doing what I think is MCTB 4th path, indecision and processes of deliberation still occur, but they feel very different to previous.

For example, I am deciding whether to get another chocolate bar or not. My body stands up from the desk, and a thought arises, "no, save the money, you just had lunch". The body sits back down and looks at the computer screen. The screen and task are seen, and a sensation of aversion arises. The body starts to stand up again, but then stops, in a weird stoop. Another thought arises, "this is ridiculous!". The body sits back in the chair and very brief mental images of chocolate bars arise.

Basically all the same thoughts, sensations, patterns occur, but as you don't believe that any of them are 'you', they pass through the mind in a much less jarring way. Previously being in indecision, eg conflicting thoughts, felt like arguing with someone, ie myself - really jarring, and frustration would increase. Now, the exact same deliberation feels like listening to a couple next to you in a cafe arguing. Because you're not in the argument, it's much less jarring and much less frustration arises.


Wow, thanks! That was really helpful, particularly the analogy of listening to a couple arguing. I have a few questions:

1. Was there a clear difference in this respect before and after becoming an arahat, or was there sort of a gradual fading away? How about at any of the other paths? I notice meditation makes things less "sticky" for me even without attaining anything.

2. Since you said "what I think is MCTB 4th path" what makes you think you might or might not have attained it? How long did it take you to attain?

3. This is hard to express in language, but: when the thought "this is ridiculous" occurs, or something like that, is there any desire to change the way you're doing things or the actions you take? Do "you" want to stop deliberating? If there's no controller, can you change what you're doing, or does the change occur and there is just awareness of all the accompanying thoughts and actions?

I know that one thought cannot control another thought or action, they just appear... I'm just wondering how observation and change work. Is it still possible to change habits or the way you do things, and how does that work? Is it just that mind observes itself doing things and then it makes a change, with no "you," no center controller to actually decide or make the change?

My mind is getting very confused... the best analogy I can come up with now is a certain state of drunkenness where it just feels like things are flowing and happening on their own.
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Sadalsuud Beta Aquarii, modified 8 Years ago at 1/24/14 12:24 PM
Created 8 Years ago at 1/24/14 12:24 PM

RE: Deliberating decisions and No-self

Posts: 118 Join Date: 7/21/13 Recent Posts
hi JC glad you found it helpful

1. (a side note, I would not use the term arahat as MCTB does). but I get what you're saying.
some things faded in and out, gradually - like the sense of solidity of "the watcher".
But the "not-mine-ness of all thoughts" came very suddenly and abruptly. Previously I had only experienced it for seconds, once before. It was unimaginable and shocking when it occurred.

2. I believe I am there. I just used soft language as people can be sensitive of people making claims of where they are.
you can check my past posts for the whole story.

3. William answered this well. All the stuff you are asking about is sort of based on the paradigm of duality, "you" doing something or other, or "you" not being able to anything. These do not apply. the best thing I can say is it appears to appear that not-you can make decisions at some levels. And it also appears to appear that reality is totally doing its thing and there is nothing not-you can do. As such, you're right, language breaks down.
I wish there was some good stuff I could write about it for you, but I don't think there is, I think I reached my skill limit of what can be described!!! Confusion is a good place to investigate from....! Sorry I can't help more.

It sounds like you are intelligent, sincere, and you have a necessary soft creative edge to your inquiry, and I'm sure you will crack it soon.

J C:
Sadalsuud Beta Aquarii:
Hi J C

from my own experience of doing what I think is MCTB 4th path, indecision and processes of deliberation still occur, but they feel very different to previous.

For example, I am deciding whether to get another chocolate bar or not. My body stands up from the desk, and a thought arises, "no, save the money, you just had lunch". The body sits back down and looks at the computer screen. The screen and task are seen, and a sensation of aversion arises. The body starts to stand up again, but then stops, in a weird stoop. Another thought arises, "this is ridiculous!". The body sits back in the chair and very brief mental images of chocolate bars arise.

Basically all the same thoughts, sensations, patterns occur, but as you don't believe that any of them are 'you', they pass through the mind in a much less jarring way. Previously being in indecision, eg conflicting thoughts, felt like arguing with someone, ie myself - really jarring, and frustration would increase. Now, the exact same deliberation feels like listening to a couple next to you in a cafe arguing. Because you're not in the argument, it's much less jarring and much less frustration arises.


Wow, thanks! That was really helpful, particularly the analogy of listening to a couple arguing. I have a few questions:

1. Was there a clear difference in this respect before and after becoming an arahat, or was there sort of a gradual fading away? How about at any of the other paths? I notice meditation makes things less "sticky" for me even without attaining anything.

2. Since you said "what I think is MCTB 4th path" what makes you think you might or might not have attained it? How long did it take you to attain?

3. This is hard to express in language, but: when the thought "this is ridiculous" occurs, or something like that, is there any desire to change the way you're doing things or the actions you take? Do "you" want to stop deliberating? If there's no controller, can you change what you're doing, or does the change occur and there is just awareness of all the accompanying thoughts and actions?

I know that one thought cannot control another thought or action, they just appear... I'm just wondering how observation and change work. Is it still possible to change habits or the way you do things, and how does that work? Is it just that mind observes itself doing things and then it makes a change, with no "you," no center controller to actually decide or make the change?

My mind is getting very confused... the best analogy I can come up with now is a certain state of drunkenness where it just feels like things are flowing and happening on their own.