Wednesday, July 13, 2011

Punter Disappears Wednesday, July 13, 2011 11:25 AM

On Fri, Jul 8, 2011 at 5:39 PM, Punter <> wrote:

 Hi, Thassa.  I have read through the no-self web site a few
 times, pondered, and read again.  I am still not getting it.  Most makes
 intellectual sense, but I am not feeling it so I am not getting it.  Here
 are some comments so you can see where I am at and maybe help me to see

[No questions edited]

  Awareness exists. Observation exists. Consciousness
 exists. However, they are not "yours". They just are.

 I still think they are mine.  I am aware of different
 things than you.  I have observed different things than you.  I have
 memories of these things so I believe that they happened to me and not to

 Here is where I am at.  What am I not seeing correctly?
  Any help would be appreciated!


On Fri, Jul 8, 2011 at 7:21 PM, Thassa Amzwar <> wrote:

 Hey, Punter.

 I can definitely try to help.

 What I do is strictly work with No Self, or... seeing that
 there is no you anywhere in objective reality.

 How I do this is to ask a series of questions which you
 should answer with 100% honesty.  (don't worry, they're not personal
 questions).  It's critical that they be answered truthfully so that we can
 dig into what your triggers may be.

 I won't offer answers myself, but will indicate to you
 whether you are on the right track.

 If you're ready to begin and agree, here is the first

 1.  What influences thoughts?
 Remember, in reality... don't worry about giving a
 "spiritual answer" at all.  Just respond with real world stuff you know for


On Fri, Jul 8, 2011 at 9:50 PM, Punter <> wrote:

 Sounds like a good plan to me.  Thank you for your time.

 *1.  What influences thoughts?*
I would say that mood as well as beliefs influence thoughts.
  If I am in a bad mood, I may have more negative thoughts about something.
  If I am in a good mood, I may have more positive thoughts about something.
  If I have had a bad experience with something, I may believe that the
 something is bad or threatening, and think negative thoughts about that
 thing.  If I have had a good experience with something, I may believe that
 the thing is good, and have more negative thoughts about that thing.  I
 realize that good and bad are relative in all of this.

On Fri, Jul 8, 2011 at 9:30 PM, Thassa Amzwar <> wrote:

 Sure thing, Punter (love the name)  You're really good at
 thinking this through and that will help tremendously.  Also the complete
 sureness of your answers are crucial and it looks like you're doing that
 quite well!

 So.. question 2:

 What influences beliefs?

On Sat, Jul 9, 2011 at 1:37 AM, Punter <> wrote:

 Thanks.  I want to understand.

 *What influences beliefs?*
 Beliefs are influenced by multiple things I think.  The first
 would be experience.  If I have experienced something, I will tend to
 believe what I have experienced as the way things are even though my
 experience may have been unique to me.  If a purple and green person
 attacked me for no reason, I may believe that all purple and green people
 are violent even though that one that attacked me may have been the only
 violent green and purple person there ever was.

 Culture influences beliefs.  I tend to believe certain things
 because I have always been told that is the way things are.  If I lived in
 another part of the world I may believe the complete opposite of the way I
 believe now since I would be told differently.  In either case I would
 believe I was right since I would know no better.

 I was going to say other things like religion, political view,
 family, friends, neighborhood.  Maybe it can just be summed up as things
 others tell me.

 So, in short, beliefs are influenced by things I experience
 myself and things others tell me.  Also, I think beliefs influence beliefs.

On Sat, Jul 9, 2011 at 10:38 AM, Thassa Amzwar <> wrote:

 Beautiful.  More really good analysis, looking, and honesty.  It
 helps to take a look at these things through these questions as no one
 really ever asks about this process in the everyday! :)

 Ok.  question 3:

 What influences self concepts?

  On Sat, Jul 9, 2011 at 6:20 PM, Punter <> wrote:

 Honest introspection is sometimes hard. :-)

 *What influences self concepts?*

 Self concepts are influenced by how we think others perceive us.
  If someone tells us that we are a bad person over and over, we may start to
 believe that we truly are a bad person even if we are actually a very good
 person.  If we are constantly told we are exceptional, we may start to
 believe that we are truly great and start to think of others as inferior.
  The complete opposite of how we think we are could actually be true.

 Our self concepts can also be influenced by our experiences.  If
 we constantly fail at something, we may start to think that we are losers
 and worthless.  If we have done something wonderful, we may think that we
 are a wonderful person.

On Sat, Jul 9, 2011 at 5:30 PM, Thassa Amzwar <> wrote:

 Again!  You really are very good at this.

 So, then, Punter. :)

 Where does all of this (thoughts, memories, beliefs, self
 concepts) exist in physical reality?
 Science 101 terms for this one.  We're operating with fact as we
 know it.


On Sun, Jul 10, 2011 at 1:15 PM, Punter <> wrote:

 Well, I do not think that mainstream science thinks these are
 physical things.  They do not exist in physical reality.  You cannot touch a
 thought, a memory, a belief.  Science would state that these are conditions
 of physical mind, a product of complex neural activity.  If the brain ceases
 to exist, so do thought, memories, beliefs, self concepts.

 This is a hard one though since I feel that I am more than just a
 brain hallucinating an identity consisting of thought, memories, belief,
 self concepts, but these are not physical things.

  On Sun, Jul 10, 2011 at 3:33 PM, Thassa Amzwar <> wrote:

 Are you more than a brain hallucinating an identity?  Where are
 you?  :)

On Sun, Jul 10, 2011 at 2:34 PM, Thassa Amzwar <> wrote:

 You really are very good at this.  Really.

 Look for the you in objective reality.  Outside of thought, does the
 you, the self exist?  Or does life happen without a controller, perfect, all
 on its own.


  On Mon, Jul 11, 2011 at 10:30 AM, Punter <> wrote:

  *Look for the you in objective reality.  Outside of thought, does
 the you, the self exist?  Or does life happen without a controller, perfect,
 all on its own*.

 I pondered this for quite a while.  Obviously, "I" am not in control
 of many of my life processes.  I do not think about pumping my blood or
 beating my heart.  I do not regulate my body temperature or fight
 infections.  There are tons of those kinds of things.  Those happen
 automatically without me controlling anything, I would presume that would be
 true even if I was brain dead, no thought possible.

 If I decide to walk to the other side of the room, I just go there.  I
 do not think about putting one foot in front of the other, shifting my
 weight, etc.  I just go.  So then, perhaps there does not need to be a
 controller for life in general since I am not controlling all of this low
 level activity, but...

 I still feel that there was an "I" that made the decision to walk to
 the other side of the room in the first place.  There is a continuity of
 thoughts and memories that make it seem that there is an I that has made
 decisions throughout the entirety of my life resulting in who, what, where I
 am now.  "I" decided to go to college.  "I" decided what discipline to
 study.  "I" decided whether or not to study hard for a particular class or
 to goof off as may be the case.  "I" decided to get more exercise, etc.
  This can be contrasted against some friends who did not go to college, did
 not study hard, did not goof off, did not decide to exercise more, etc.

 It sure seems like there was a seperate "I" for me and a separate "I"
 for the friend, which is why we did different things.  Doesn't it take an
 "I" to evaluate all of the personal experiences, ponder them, and make
 decisions based on those?  If there is no "I", who is pondering these
 questions of whether there is an "I" or not?  Kind of a "I think therefore I
 am" thing I guess is where I get lost.  I feel that the thinker is me.

 Again, thanks for your time.  I am really trying to get this.

  On Mon, Jul 11, 2011 at 9:46 AM, Thassa Amzwar <>  wrote:

 You're doing well.  It's now obvious that for the gross movements and
 bodily functions, no You is in there directing things.

 So how about the subtle?  Is there a You directing thought, decisions,

 Think a thought NOW.
 Ok, what happened just then?  Is there a you that came up with one or
 was there empty space for a few seconds?  And, can thought be predicted?
 Steered?  When a decision is made, what is the mechanism?  Does it just come
 based on habit/conditioning?  Why decide to go to college?  Was this
 conditioning in the brain?  Was it simply thought arising on its own?  Can
 thought be commanded to stop?  How do memories appear?  Can we choose or
 predict which will occur and when?  How about how long they will last?

 In the morning, which happens?  Which is most true:

 I wake up
 "I", wake up!


 Look at the typing of the response that will happen.  Is there a you
 predicting when the response will come, in what form, or which words will be
 typed?  Even while typing, is there foreknowledge of the next sentence, of
 which keys the fingers will hit?

 Look closely for life's director.

 Can seeing be shut off?  Close the eyes, and the back of the eyelids
 are still seen.  Why is that?
 Can hearing be shut off?  Why not?
 Can the senses be stopped?

 This is going well, Punter.  Very good!



  On Mon, Jul 11, 2011 at 12:55 PM, Punter <punter@emailaddress.comwrote:

  *And, can thought be predicted?  *

 I suppose I cannot predict when I will have a particular thought or when
 I will have any thought at all.

 *Take a closer look here.  We want 100% certainty, so find what's true
 in direct experience.  100% true.*

 Yes.  I agree.  Thoughts arise without any help from "me".  If I pay
 attention to my thoughts to see where they came from, it seems like thoughts
 may arise much like memories do as different things trigger them.  I am not
 consciously triggering them though.

On Mon, Jul 11, 2011 at 5:29 PM, Punter <punter@emailaddress.comwrote:

 Thanks for your patience.  My responses are below yours.

 *Steered? *

 Hmm.  I like to ponder deep things.  I also troubleshoot software
 problems for my job.  I think that I may steer thought towards an answer or
 a solution.  Of course I do not know what the answer is so I guess I am not
 really steering my thoughts as that would assume a known destination.

 *Perfect!  Is there a known destination?  And even if there was, what
 determines that destination?  More thought?  Whose thought?  How was the
 solution or answer originally known by "you"?  Was it not taught to the
 brain?  Isn't finding a solution a brain function of looking at patterns or
 for patterns?  (I used to troubleshoot software too! :))*

 There is no known thought destination unless it was given to me by someone
 else.  Ok.  I see your point on patterns.  My brain learns a fact, a
 pattern.  I can see solving a problem as a brain function of looking for
 patterns in a chunk of data.  It does not require a "me" anymore than a
 computer needs a "me" to find a pattern in a chunk of data.  That is what is
 happening in our senses correct?  We are extracting patterns from data.
  Sound, sight, touch, smell, taste.

 *When a decision is made, what is the mechanism?  Does it just come
 based on habit/conditioning?*

 All known possibilities are evaluated against some criteria.  The
 possibility that is perceived to fit the solution best based off of
 experience (subjective) is the one that is selected.  I think that I make
 the decision, but your question on habit/conditioning at least gives me
 pause.  Can I make a decision contrary to my experience/beliefs about those
 experiences?  If not, am I really making any decision at all?

 *Yes, ah.  This is what I outlined above.*

 *Why decide to go to college?  Was this conditioning in the brain?  Was
 it simply thought arising on its own?*

 I think that it was just my decision to go.  However, my parents went to
 college.  My uncle whom I looked up to went to college. My friends were
 going to college.  "If you want to make something of yourself, you have to
 go to college".  "You won't be able to get a job if you do not go to
 college."  Sounds like the decision was at least conditioned somewhat in
 this example.  With all of this conditioning towards going to college, could
 I have decided not to go to college?  It did seem that I made the decision
 and not that it was simply thought arising on its own.

 *Again, look carefully at the root of decisions.  The very root.  Are
 they not spontaneous after much conflicting thought arises?  What "pulls the
 trigger"?  Neurons firing, or an "I"?*
 * *
 *Take. for example, picking up a pen.  Pick up an object in front of you
 now.  *

 *Where did the decision come in?  Did the eyes see the sentence above
 and the brain obey?  Was there a self narrating or commanding to complete
 the action?  It's the same with going to college, except there is more time
 and lots of other thoughts come up in the meantime.  Thoughts of one
 thing... thoughts of the opposite. *

 The suggestion came from you.  I read the sentence, noticed a cup on my
 desk, and picked it up.  I don't remember actually deciding to pick up the
 cup.  I just did it.  I also did not think of the actual mechanical things
 that had to happen in order to pick the cup up.  Move my hand close, center
 the cup between my thumb and fingers, squeeze tightly enough to overcome the
 downward gravitational force of the liquid, but not so much that the cup
 gets crushed, etc.  I suppose those things were done in my brain, but I did
 not consciously do them.

 At first I could not believe that the college decision was the same thing.
  The more I think about it, the more I see that it could be the same thing.
  There was a decision made based off of all of the data.  I did not
 necessarily have to make the decision though.  Still sounds weird to me and
 something inside of me is squirming about freewill.

 *Can thought be commanded to stop?  *

 This is very hard.  I started practicing meditation and this is one of
 the goals.  Quit thinking.  What you get if you have not practiced is "Am I
 doing it?  Am I not thinking now?" which is of course a thought.  :-)

 *Correct.  Practicing meditation to stop thought only works while
 meditating.  When going about the daily world, thoughts must reappear to
 function.  But either way, there is no self there.  So how do we account for
 time we are not meditating?  Thoughts must be able to appear in reality, in
 experience, even though the fact of there being No Self is true.  Because
 it's already fact, already the case.  It's just a matter of seeing this.

 I see that thoughts just arise without me specifically thinking them.
  Without thoughts, there does not seem like anything to drive action
 regardless of where the thoughts come from.  There must be thoughts, but the
 thoughts are not thought up by me.

 *How do memories appear?*

 I think memories appear based on some sort of trigger.  If I see a
 flower, I may remember a time when I picked one of those same flowers or a
 time I watched a bee gather pollen from a similar flower.

 *Does the image cause neurons to fire in the brain, or does it cause You
 to remember?  Look at how it is completely and utterly involuntary.*

 Neurons fire in the brain.  There is remembering, but it does not take a
 me to remember.  (Wow.  That is starting to sound right.)

  *In the morning, which happens?  Which is most true:*

 I wake up
 "I", wake up!

 I just wake up.  I do not say "I, wake up".  There is not a separate I
 to wake up once I am conscious.  (Hmm.  That sentence looks close to where I
 think we are trying to get to, but I still feel "I" am conscious).

 *Yes.  There is and will continue to be a sense of self.  That may not
 ever go away.  It doesn't matter, though, because it's illusory.  It's
 imagination.  It's just thoughts appearing.  It really is just a "sense of
 self".  See whether this is true in direct experience.*

 This is hard because I seem so real, but I do not disagree with you as it
 makes logical sense from these exercises.


 *Look at the typing of the response that will happen.  Is there a you
 predicting when the response will come, in what form, or which words will be
 typed?  Even while typing, is there foreknowledge of the next sentence, of
 which keys the fingers will hit?*

 I think I ask and the words come.  I am not sure that there is a
 foreknowledge of the exact next sentence or of exactly what keys will be
 hit.  I do still feel that "I" am formulating the response though.

 *Again, just a "sense of formulating".  See how the language gets
 imprecise when talking about "I" or "self"?  Why is that? *

 Because it is not a physical thing, but is a concept?  It is hard to be
 precise about something conceptual, something that does not actually exist.

 *Look closely for life's director.*
*Can seeing be shut off?  Close the eyes, and the back of the eyelids
 are still seen.  Why is that?*
 *Can hearing be shut off?  Why not?*
 *Can the senses be stopped?*

 The senses cannot be stopped.  The senses are what allows us to process
 all of the external data in order to have a human experience.  It is what
 allows us to be conscious.  Without the senses, we could still be alive (a
 tree, or flower), but we would not be conscious.  It is that consciousness
 that I think is me.

 Thanks, Thassa.  There were a lot of things to think about here.
  Working through these answers elicited a few strange urges to laugh as I
 read and thought.  Are you making my ego nervous? :-)  Hopefully that means

 *Yes, indeed!  Progress is most definitely happening, but there is no
 you progressing.  Life, not a You, started this "search" and life is what
 will find that it's Life, Living.  Very mysterious, this fact may seem to
 be, but it's undeniably true.*

 I think I am starting to have small moments of clarity, but then it gets
 lost in thought again and I become confused.  No doers, yet everything gets
 done.  This is fascinating.

  On Mon, Jul 11, 2011 at 1:23 PM, Thassa Amzwar <thassa@emailaddress.comwrote:

 We're really working our way to the more subtle.  I'm not sure whether
 you can tell, but we're cutting through the layers very thoroughly.

 Ok... I will comment on certain points so that you can examine them
 further.  The responses will be in italics.  We want to clear up any doubt,
 or at least see doubt for what it really is.  Because the thing about No
 Self is that it is absolutely and utterly true.  When it is seen, it is seen
 with certainty and there is no unseeing it.  (I may have said that already
 but bear with me)  :)

On Mon, Jul 11, 2011 at 4:33 PM, Thassa Amzwar <thassa@emailaddress.comwrote:


 Yes.  Now look at confusion.

 What is it?  How does it arise?  What is its form?  Was there a You making
 confusion appear?


Punter <> wrote:

*What is it?  How does it arise?  What is its form?  Was there a You making

confusion appear?*

It is a feeling of not knowing what is actually true given multiple
possibilities.  It arises through conflicting data or at least conflicting
thoughts about the data.  I am not sure that an "I" makes confusion appear
(I do not make thoughts appear), but if I didn't think there was an "I"
there would be no confusion at least on this topic.  :-)

On Mon, Jul 11, 2011 at 5:29 PM, Thassa <> wrote:

You are at the last bit.  :)

Is confusion type of thought different or more powerful than other types of thought?  Observe it.


On Mon, Jul 11, 2011 at 8:13 PM, Punter <> wrote:

Yay!  Let's see.  When I look at confusion type of thought as opposed to other thought, it certainly seems to be more hands on, but maybe because there are lots of thoughts dancing around at once.  The thoughts keep going round and round or at least starting over again and again.  I hear the questions in my head, "What? I do not understand..."  "How can that be...?"  "Maybe they that doesn't work...".  

I cannot be certain if these are thoughts that are arising all on their own or if "I" am involved somehow.  Observing my confusion while writing the last sentence, it seems that this type of thought also causes pauses of no thought after my internal questions.  It doesn't just flow to the next thought and the next smoothly.  Am I pausing to answer my thought question that I didn't ask?  Who is asking and who is listening?  That is confusing in itself.

On Mon, Jul 11, 2011 at 7:26 PM, Thassa Amzwar <> wrote:

Is confusion defined by the frequency of thoughts?  Are neurons firing faster?  Is it an adrenaline response to getting close?


On Mon, Jul 11, 2011 at 8:40 PM, Punter <> wrote:

Is confusion defined by the frequency of thoughts?  

No.  I don't think so.

Are neurons firing faster? 

No.  I think they probably always fire as fast as they can.

Is it an adrenaline response to getting close?

That would be more logical.  If that is so, and confusion also comes with slower thought, then I do not see anything different in confused thought as opposed to other thought.  I thought about "should I go for a drive" and got the same internal questions as the decision was being made, so that seems the same too.

On Mon, Jul 11, 2011 at 7:46 PM, Thassa Amzwar <> wrote:

So what, and where, is Punter?

Where do you exist?


On Tue, Jul 12, 2011 at 10:32 AM, Punter <> wrote:

I can see that what I thought of as Punter, the pilot/decider/controller of my body, does not exist.  I only perceive that I am in control and that I am some sort of seperate being from my body.  I am the experiencer of thoughts, but I do not create the thoughts.  It is a weird feeling.  If I am not running the show called Punter, then nobody is running their own show either, yet the show goes on.

Driving to work this morning, I observed all of the people rushing around, driving here and there, getting breakfast, walking around.  If no one is actively thinking or making decisions (even though they think they are), who is runing the show?  You said "Look closely for life's director".  If I am not directing the show, who or what is?  What is it that I am looking at when I look out of these eyes and observe reality?  Now that I am seeing what I am not, I do not know what I am anymore. :0

Thanks for all of your time.  This is very exciting!

On Tue, Jul 12, 2011 at 9:45 AM, Thassa Amzwar <> wrote:

Life itself is the controller, Punter.  Life lives itself without a You or Me or Self.  It has never existed except in thoughts that appear.  Who knows why a "self" or "i" thought came about, but it has been taught to all humans ever since.  As a baby, was there a self?  When does the self come about in your direct experience?

Do you have pets?  Observe how they live perfectly fine without a self.  Take a look at what we call the natural world, the world we take as separate from us.  Is there a self needed anywhere for it to exist, to continue?

Is it possible this is the same with humans?


On Tue, Jul 12, 2011 at 1:13 PM, Punter <> wrote:

It has been a while. As a baby there was no self, just observation.  The self is taught as we grow up.  "you are this..." "You are that..."  After being told these things over and over you start to believe that those things are what we are.  "I am this..." and "I am this..."

Do you have pets?  Observe how they live perfectly fine without a self.  Take a look at what we call the natural world, the world we take as separate from us.  Is there a self needed anywhere for it to exist, to continue?

On my desk I have some Sea Monkeys (brine shrimp).  I watch them swim.  They have many leg like appendages that cascade together almost like water wings flapping as they loop around and around.  If I am not consciously controlling my two simple legs as I walk, I assume that they are not consciously controlling all of that.  Yet there they are.  It is almost unbelievable.  They dance, but they are not controlling the dance.

Is it possible this is the same with humans?

Yes it is.  It was not a possibility for me last week.  I will have to let all of this soak in for a while.  It definitely changes my perpective on things.  Thank you Thassa so much for taking the time to share all of this with me and to help me to see.

I asked Punter to answer three questions and give permission to include this exchange in the blog.  Here are the answers to those questions:

On Wed, Jul 13, 2011 at 11:25 AM, Punter <> wrote:

1.  What is the "I"?

The "I" is a mental contruct.  It doesn't really refer to anything tangible. It supposes that there is a separate entity apart from the body.  "I am this" and "I am that" are false beliefs or thoughts that have been accumulated over the lifetime of the individual.  These again are not tangible things.  They are not real.  There is no separate "I".

2.  Is there a You?

There is no "me".  The idea that "I" am the captain or chauffer entirely in charge of this body, driving it around, making all of the decisions, and separate from everything and everyone else is an illusion.  Thoughts arise in the body.  Actions are taken by the body.  But there is no "me" doing those things.

3.  How has direct day to day experienced changed from "before"?

This is still new to me so I think I am still in the process of change.  The biggest thing so far is just a complete fascination with what is going on around me.  If there is no "me" running the show from my point of view, there are no other "me's" in other people running the show from their point of view.  Yet, look at it.  It is all still running in all of its complexity.  Thoughts arise.  Actions are taken.  But there are no "me's" thinking or acting.  It is a beautiful choreography even if I do not understand the purpose yet.


You have probably heard this one before Thassa, but this Alan Watts clip seems very appropriate (specifically starting at time 5:45 "Who are you...?").  I did not understand what he was talking about before.  I see it now.

I am finding similar understanding now with more of the Eckhart Tolle and Jiddu Krishnamurti talks.  Thanks for helping to expand my understanding, although I suppose there was no "you" to help me!  Life was curious about life so the thought arose through me to seek guidance.  At the same time life worked through you to provide an opportunity via the internet for there to be interaction between us upon which life though me acted.  I cannot imagine the millions of decisions prior to this, your whole lifetime of decisions, my whole lifetime of decisions, and the improbability of us ending up exactly right here right now in order to have such an interaction.  Yet inevitably the eventual thought to click the link next to your name on the no-self website arose.  I see now that there was no way that "I" could have not clicked that link.  How magical and unbelievable is that?

photo credit:  empty space by ellicee