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The feelings of being?
Answer
3/17/18 6:39 PM
Are these three phenomena related:

1) If asked where they feel their consciousness is located, many people would say in their head behind their eyes.

2) I have read that when practicing self-enquiry, meditating on the question "What am I?", the practitioner is supposed to be mindful of the "feeling of being".

3) When someone is "present in the moment" it can produce a feeling of self awareness from being aware that you are aware of what you are doing as you are doing it, ie. from midfulness during daily activities and during meditation. As you focus your attention during meditation you are aware that you are focusing your attention. It produces a feeling that consciousness is collected into intself rather than dissipated into random disconnected thoughts.

My question is: Are these three phenomena the same thing, is the feeling of where your consciousness is located the same thing as the "feeling of being" cultivated during self-enquiry, and the same as the feeling of self-awareness you get from mindfulness?



Thanks in advance.

UPDATE: for the sake of discussion I will add two more possible feelings of being: 4) the higher Jhanas and 5) the feeling when seer and seen become one.

RE: The feelings of being?
Answer
3/17/18 3:22 AM as a reply to Jim Smith.
This is such an interesting question. For me, they all feel slightly different. 

1. The self “behind the eyes” is associated with my psychological ego self. This is the classic sense of a separate self. 

2. The “self” or “being” feeling that arises when I contemplate “who am I” is more spacious and holistic. It feels like it encompasses heart and gut - more than just “behind the eyes”. This might be what is referred to as the non-dual self. 

3. When practising mindfulness there is a sense of an “observer self”. This is different from the self in 1. because there is a sense of distance between the psychological self and the object perceived; hence, fewer egoic “I” feelings and less suffering. However it is also different from 2. because there is still a sense of duality; there’s an observer and also something being observed.

To me, these are all different ways of perceiving phenomena. 

I'm curious to hear what others experience. 

RE: The feelings of being?
Answer
4/5/18 8:56 PM as a reply to Anna L.
Anna L:
This is such an interesting question. For me, they all feel slightly different. 

1. The self “behind the eyes” is associated with my psychological ego self. This is the classic sense of a separate self. 

2. The “self” or “being” feeling that arises when I contemplate “who am I” is more spacious and holistic. It feels like it encompasses heart and gut - more than just “behind the eyes”. This might be what is referred to as the non-dual self. 

3. When practising mindfulness there is a sense of an “observer self”. This is different from the self in 1. because there is a sense of distance between the psychological self and the object perceived; hence, fewer egoic “I” feelings and less suffering. However it is also different from 2. because there is still a sense of duality; there’s an observer and also something being observed.

To me, these are all different ways of perceiving phenomena. 

I'm curious to hear what others experience. 

aloha anna,


   I agree with the way you see it, for the most part. I find the "sense of being" the most interesting, a very enlarged sense of self which includes everything real. The oceanic self left after dropping body and mind.  Rumi comes to mind.

   I comment because as it happens I spent most of an hour last night thinking about the difference between the word "I" and the word "me," and another half hour contrasting "you" with them. "I" appears to be subject, while "me" is an object. In the sense of the observer self, that would be "I," the observed self is "me." Me is the pathetic one: why me? who, me? nobody loves me and so forth. Me gets done to, while I am the actor. Me precedes I - little children first see themselves as objects before they identify as subjects. And then there is "you," who is not-me and thus brings me about; that is, we arise together: without "you" there would be no "me." So it's "your" fault for making me whatever, not "mine" - this sort of thinking arises as a typical error built in to language. We're generally pre-occupied with "me," especially if we are hurt or ill. "You," are proverbially "part of the problem, part of the solution, or part of the landscape." As "you" become real to "me," and I become real to myself, we are both "I," though you are still not "me."

   It comes down to language, in the sense of making distinctions. We believe in words, make things out of them. A man who sells locks will tell you he isn't selling locks, he is selling "security," if not "peace of mind." And people buy.

   Krishnamurti said, "The day you teach the child the name of the bird, the child will never see that bird again." It is a common practice in buddhism to try to correct the automatic thinking which says "I am hungry" or "I am depressed," as these thoughts tend to tie the awareness to conditions. Anytime we say "I" it is wise to be cautious, and perhaps avoid "me" altogether. 

   Language itself fascinates me. Clearly we would have no sense at all if we had no language. Our ability to think and know things and relationships depends on language. Without this light of knowledge we would not know each other, or the dhamma, buddha or sangha. All intelligence and understanding depends on reason and words. Paradoxically, it is precisely reason and words that alienate us from life, from the kingdom of god. Nirvana is wordless. Now, to be wordless means there must be words to begin with. So the wordless appreciation that is nirvana  depends on words. I'd love some help with this one because I'm at a loss and haven't found any literature or scripture that faces this. That is, our dependence for all of our intelligence and insight on words, while the result ultimately transcends words. Our dependence on each other for knowledge and ideas, but on ourselves for insight. We are creatures of the collective, products of society; yet we are independent agents.

   Eric vogelin said, "The relation between personal fulfillment and the partnership in the fulfillment of man is a mystery." The mystery here is the same as between the person we are who is created by the language of the collective and that person as an individual human animal. When I write I am resolving my own ideas, but I hope the discussion helps others as well. I think that unless a discussion serves both functions, it is somewhat false, either patronizing or self-serving. The middle way serves best. All of the universe seeks equilibrium. Touch the net anywhere and it resonates everywhere. 

   It seems like no matter how often you experience the nondual state, the urge to see "you" again (Beloved) arises again and again. This is the real Joke, wanting to "share" non-duality. We are all butts. All bodhisattvas/buddhas.

   Even so, there is something here in the "excluded middle" about "intuition." I have been practicing using intuition to find things. (I'm always dropping tiny parts, and trying to figure how many minutes I have into the part vs how long it will take to find it.) Now I twirl and point, or just do a short sit and see if it comes to me; it works far more often than chance. (Bergson wrote cogently about intuition, and the elan vital.) I suspect that if we drop language-based thinking we can find intuition more than makes up for the whole business. Insight itself is intuitive, beyond reasoning. Intuition is another subject which fascinates me but I have only begun to seriously think about it and perhaps use it. Ideas on this subject are solicited also.

   mahalos, my friends,

terry


anthony demello, from "awareness: the perils and opportunities of reality":
 
"If you don’t look at things through your concepts, you’ll never be bored. Every single thing is unique. Every sparrow is unlike every other sparrow despite the similarities. It’s a great help to have similarities, so we can abstract, so that we can have a concept. It’s a great help, from the point of view of communication, education, science. But it’s also very misleading and a great hindrance to seeing this concrete individual. If all you experience is your concept, you’re not experiencing reality, because reality is concrete. The concept is a help, to lead you to reality, but when you get there, you’ve got to intuit or experience it directly."



   

RE: The feelings of being?
Answer
3/17/18 2:09 PM as a reply to Jim Smith.
What interesting questions. For me, they are not quite the same thing.

When I am mindful of the sense of consciousness behind the eyes, I perceive it as arising from the proximity of four major sense organs (sight, hearing, taste, smell) and the associated nerve endings. This week I have been practicing trying to move that 'consciousness' around. For example, moving it to the buttocks when sitting down, or to a hand or foot, or to my skin. And then from my skin to my clothes, and then on to something else nearby in the environment. This was useful when I went to the dentist two days ago, as I could try to focus my consciousness somewhere other than inside my head!  So to (ab)use Culadasa's terms, I think this behind-the-eyes consciousness is a product of ongoing low-level attention to sensations, and those sensations can be moved to peripheral awareness by placing the sense of consciousness elsewhere. However, some progress in the dharma is probably necessary to do this.

For mindfulness of the feeling of being, I think that is more about interrogating the sense of self. That could start with the consciousness behind the eyes, but then the question would be, what is perceiving that consciousness? The idea is to question where the internal perception of self comes from, and to try to peel back the layers to see where it leads. So the behind-the-eyes consciousness is a possible starting point, but not the only one, and it is not the end point.

Being present in the moment can, I think, involve both these phenomena. But it has another component too. That component is being aware of the mental reactions (or fabrications) that arise, so that you don't reflexively react to them. These fabrications exist in an internal mental space which seems to me to be a bit different from the sensations behind the eyes.  By having mindfulness of mental phenomena, you start to break the chain of suffering that arises from reflexive reactions to these phenomena.

Thanks for the prompt to think about this! 

RE: The feelings of being?
Answer
3/17/18 6:33 PM as a reply to Jim Smith.
One of the instructors at the Zen center I used to go to told us that the feeling of consciousness behind the eyes occurs because most people get their main sensry input from sight. He went on to say (if I remember correctly) that when he was in college as part of the orientation program the freshmen were blindfolded and had to grope around to get information about their surroudings. Accoording to what I remember this person saying, they eventaully came to feel like their consciousness was in their fingertips. If I remember correctly, he spoke of this while teaching a style of meditation where you focus your attention on a point slightly below the navel - eventually you should feel like your consciousness resides there.

When I first read about self-enquiry the practice didn't make a whole lot of sense to me. It was only years later that I read you were supposed to meditate on the feeling of being. At that point it seemed to make more logical sense but I didn't really have a strong sense of a feeling of being so I still didn't feel like I could do the practice. Later I realized the feeling of the location of consciousness or the sense of self awareness produced by mindfulness might be considered feelings of being.

Long before I ever heard about the Jhana's I would occasionally go into a state that might be called a "light" or "soft" fifth jhana spontaneously while doing relaxation exercises or while lying in bed going to sleep. I would get a feeling that I would describe as "existing somewhere out in space" - my boundries felt expanded to infinity. When I read about the fifth jhana "infinite space" I thought that must be similar. Sometimes I experience the feeling during meditation. To me it seemed related to the feeling of the location of consciousness behind the eyes, but was a stronger sensation and the feeling of consciousness was now unbounded. It could be considered a type of feeling of being. It seems reasonable they are in some way related, they both involve some spatial sense.

RE: The feelings of being?
Answer
3/17/18 6:40 PM as a reply to Jim Smith.
I updated my original post with the following:
UPDATE: for the sake of discussion I will add two more possible feelings of being: 4) the higher Jhanas and 5) the feeling when seer and seen become one.

RE: The feelings of being?
Answer
4/5/18 6:42 PM as a reply to Jim Smith.
In my experience, the phenomena you are talking about are related, not in experience but in concept. My misunderstanding of self was that I believed it was permanant and separate. Each of the things you described we're once something I identified as myself.

1) A thought, represented as a visual image of what I was seeing in that moment.

2) When I asked the question "What am I", there were a series of thoughts that followed that constructed a story of who I was. Also, there were more thoughts I identified as myself. 

3) When I would "focus on the present moment", I would experience only one sensation for an extended period of time, and this would be followed by thoughts such as "I am focused. My attention is here."

From what I have seen within myself, those phenomena are all vastly different experiences. Our ignorance, brings rise to the thoughts/belief that these very different experiences are all one thing, a seperate permanant self.