Spiritual Enlightenment - Part 2
By Leo Gura - March 9, 2015 | 80 Comments
Understanding the conceptualized self
Hey, this is Leo for Actualized.org, and in this video I want to talk about spiritual enlightenment – part 2, where we are going to go deep on understanding the truth of no self.
In this video, we are continuing on talking about spiritual enlightenment. If you did not watch my first video called Spiritual Enlightenment, you should definitely go and watch that because that introduces you to a lot of the fundamental concepts which I won’t be going into here. Here, we are going deeper and deeper.
Where we left part 1 is that we were basically talking about the truth of no self. We were saying that this notion that we have in society that there is a self to a life, the self that experiences all of life, does not exist. This is, in fact, an illusion.
It is possible to extract yourself out from this illusion and then actually live in the truth. This is a very profound shift. It is the most profound shift that you can have as a human being. This is where the deepest and most powerful psychology work happens.
It’s right here. In that video, we also said that you were going to be doing an empirical investigation to discover this truth for yourself. You are not just going to believe in it. What I now want to do is actually help you to start doing the looking.
Before you can even start doing the looking, you have to start to understand some basic distinctions. So, this video is going to be all about length ground work and some very interesting and fascinating distinctions. It is going to go very deep.
Some of this stuff is going to blow your mind. So, stick around. There are three fundamental questions that we are concerned with in doing this investigation.
The Three Fundamental Questions
Question number one is – who am I? Question number two is – what is the truth? Question number three is – what is reality? Another word for reality is existence.
What is reality? What is existence? These are the three most fundamental and kind of metaphysical questions that you could possibly ask. Scientists and philosophers have been asking these questions for thousands of years.
They have been coming up with all sorts of interesting answers and having all sorts of interesting debates. There is actually something that is very profound, that many of them missed. Their theories and their debates are not the fact.
In fact, it is possible to answer these questions conclusively through an empirical investigation, which many people assume cannot be done. You might think about it like this – “Well Leo, the question of who am I, I know what that is.”
“That’s pretty obvious, right? Isn’t it obvious? I am this thing here. I’m this body and I’m this being. I’m this consciousness.”
Well, let’s take a look at that question. Is it really that obvious? Have you actually sat down and looked, really looked for the answer to that question or do you just believe what others told you? Do you just have your own opinions about who you think you should be?
That turns out to be a very critical distinction. What you have right now are a lot of opinions, you have a lot of beliefs and a lot of stories that other people have told you. But, you have not actually sat down and looked. The reason you haven’t is because you have assumed and all of us have assumed that it’s obvious.
It’s so obvious. Why would we even need to sit down and look? Why would I waste my time on this? Interestingly, it turns out that it’s not obvious at all. This veneer of obviousness is actually hiding something very powerful, deep and profound.
It is the most profound truth that you can find out as a human being. It is hidden under many layers of obviousness. Obviousness turns out to be a smoke screen. So, let’s start to look a little bit deeper and question some of this obviousness.
If we take your current beliefs that you are the body, this thing standing here and talking or sitting on the other end of the screen, that is what we conventionally consider ourselves. If this is me, you have to wonder this. Okay, so let’s really think about this.
My hand, this is me too. My hand, all of this and basically everything inside the envelope of the skin is me. Okay, so that means this. What happens if I take my hand and I cut off my fingers? Am I still me?
You think about it and you’re like – “Well, yes. I can lose my fingers and people have lost their fingers. They are still themselves. Nothing really fundamental about me is going to change if I lose my fingers, okay.” Interesting!
What if I cut off my arms and my legs, would I still be me? You think about it and you’re like – “Well, people have actually had amputations and they still seem to be themselves. So no, I would still be me if I lost all of those.”
The fundamental me that I think that I am isn’t contained within the hands or the legs. Interesting! Then, you ask yourself – “What if I got a heart transplant and somebody else’s heart went into my heart? Would I still be me?”
You think about it and you’re like – “Yes, I would actually still probably be me.” Then, you start wondering this. What would have to really change to change the really fundamental me, not the superficial me but the fundamental me?
What would have to change to change that? Then, you say – “I’m the mind and I’m inside of the head. I am sitting here behind the eyes. My thoughts, my mind and my mental activities are what is really me and more so than the body.”
Interesting! Even right now, just through this simple investigation, we have already basically disidentified you with most of your body. Commonly, you say you’re the body, but are you really the body? We have already disidentified you with a lot of the body and you’re only the mind.
Now that we get into the mind, we can question even further. So, what part of the mind are you? What if we cut a part of your brain out? Are you still going to be yourself? You might wonder and say this.
“Well, I am not quite so sure. It is not so clear to say. If you cut out enough of my brain, I probably won’t be myself anymore. Maybe, I will lose a part of myself.” Interesting!
Then, even inside the brain, we are really talking about the mind because you don’t know the brain. You only know the mind. You only know the kind of softer components, what you know through your consciousness. Now, from within your mind, you’re looking around. What are you, inside of your consciousness?
Are you the thoughts that you are having? Is that what you say is you? When you have thoughts about being hungry, thoughts about going to the bathroom and thoughts about your girlfriend or your boyfriend, are those thoughts literally you?
You would probably say – “No, those things are not me. I am the one thinking those things.” Interesting! We have already said that you’re not even all of your thoughts, according to your model now.
You are only certain types of mental phenomenon. Maybe, you are the one who is behind the thoughts, who is thinking the thoughts and who is seeing the thoughts. Interesting! We can take that even further back.
What, in your conscious experience, is actually experiencing thoughts? Who is thinking thoughts? Do thoughts think other thoughts or is there some sort of entity that creates thoughts? What is the entity that is creating thoughts?
Are you a thought at all or are you something totally different from a thought? Are you some sort of entity? What are you, actually? Some people say – “I am the soul and I am the spirit.”
If you say that, then what is the soul and what is the spirit? Here, you have to be very careful because you have a lot of preconceived notions and beliefs that have been fed to you by society. People have been telling you what a soul and a spirit is. Remember, we are doing an empirical investigation.
That means we are using first hand and direct experience. We are not taking anyone’s word for it. What am I if I look for myself? What am I? Can I actually see myself? Can I experience myself?
Am I my self-image? So, it’s these things that I think about myself. For example, if I think of myself as a great husband, if I think of myself as a great girlfriend, if I think of myself as a great parent, child, great student or business person, is that actually me? What happens if I eliminate that thought?
Does that mean that some part of me is lost or do I still remain? I am saying and asking all of these questions not so that you can come up with new theories and so that you can say – “Oh, let me start theorizing cool possibilities.” No!
What I’m saying is this. I’m saying that you don’t know really who you are, but you believe so firmly that you do. Isn’t that interesting? Isn’t it interesting that you like to come up with a bunch of theories about who you think you might be and you don’t really spend a lot of time actually looking at the evidence of who you are?
Instead of looking at the evidence, you would much rather come up with a bunch of theories. We have already got a very rich history of philosophy, with theories upon theories upon theories. So, let’s not go that direction.
Instead, let’s go the unorthodox direction. Let’s go to the looking direction, where we want to see firsthand what the truth is from the inside. There is a second question. This is the first question about ‘who am I’.
The other question that I posed to you is this. What is reality and existence? This is a very fascinating question. Many people get caught up on this one too because they also have a lot of preconceived notions, theories, beliefs and religious dogma about what reality and existence are.
They have scientific dogma too. But, if you really think about it, you don’t know what existence is. The model that you presently have of existence makes no sense. Here is what I want to show you. I want to show you that your current model makes no sense.
Let’s take the most basic model, the scientific model. We say that there was a Big Bang. Before the Big Bang, there was supposedly no space. There wasn’t even a vacuum because the vacuum is still extended in time and space.
There was no time and no space before the Big Bang. Then, the Big Bang happened. This is creating the kind of Matrix of reality in which we live. This created breadth, depth, width, energy, matter and time. This stuff expanded and the Universe is currently still expanding.
In fact, the expansion is accelerating. We’re not quite sure where it is going to go. Maybe, it’s all going to collapse into a Big Crunch. Maybe, it is going to keep expanding forever. We are not quite clear.
The question though, is this. What is the most fundamental ultimate existence? If we say that our current reality came from the Big Bang, what was before the Big Bang? Was it nothingness, or was it something? If it was something, what was it?
If you say it was nothing, that’s an interesting consideration. Most people don’t like to say that it was nothing. Most people like to say that you can’t have something come out of nothing. That something had to come out of something else. So, where did it come out of?
Well, we might say that it really might be that existence came out of nowhere. How do we know that something has to come out of something else? Can it be the case that something comes out of nothing?
You might say – “Well, that violates the laws of physics. You can’t get energy from nowhere.” See, it is very interesting because we only have one example of existence. People like to make assumptions of how existence has to work.
But, notice that we are operating on only one point of data, which is our own single existence. We don’t know any other existences, at least I don’t. I have only known one existence. That means that it is very problematic to start making assumptions about how existence came about, from being inside of the existence and only knowing one existence.
It is kind of like having a single sample point in a scientific study. If you have a single sample point, you can’t make any conclusions or predictions, or set any trends. How do you know that existence can’t come out of nowhere? How do you know that it has to come out of somewhere?
You say – “Well, I look around me and I see that everything comes out of something else.” But, you’re inside of existence. Our question isn’t about the inside of existence. Our question is about existence itself.
You think of existence as kind of like a bubble. Inside of the bubble, we do have these rules. But, what are the rules outside of the bubble? Are they the same rules or are they different rules?
You might say – “Well, they are the same rules.” How do you know they are the same rules? Have you been outside of the bubble? Have you seen other bubbles or have you always been inside of the bubble and only known what is inside of the bubble?
We can’t say. We don’t know. Someone might say this. “A better theory, instead of existence coming out of nowhere, is that it came out of somewhere.” What if this bubble is inside of another bubble, which inside of another bubble, inside of another bubble?
There is always something outside of it that is couched in. What if our Universe is kind of analogous to a molecule in a human body? The molecule thinks that it is this cool thing. After all, the molecule is actually very big compared to a subatomic particle.
The molecule is huge. It is composed of I don’t even know how many, tons and tons, of subatomic particles. But, relative to the human being, the molecule is so tiny that we cannot even see it. You can’t even see it in a microscope. It’s so tiny.
What if the Universe was like that? What if we are like just a little molecule, which is a component of something much larger and constructed out of many Universes? Could that be the case? If that is the case, where did all of that come from? Let’s say that it is a bubble inside of a bubble inside of a bubble.
Where did the biggest bubble come from? You’re not really answering the question. You’re just delaying it for a little bit. You have not answered the question. If you say that the Universe is in a bigger bubble, then you haven’t accounted for the ultimate truth of existence because of this.
How did the most outer bubble come into being? Where did it come from? Did it always exist? Did it come out of nowhere? Did it come out of another bubble?
You might say that it always existed. Okay, interesting, but we don’t know if that is true. You might also say that it came out of nowhere, which is being back to something coming out of nothing. You could also say that there is an infinite chain of bubbles.
There is this bubble on top of a bubble on top of a bubble. It just goes to infinity. That would be pretty cool, interesting and kind of counterintuitive. You might say – “Well Leo, god created the Universe. God created existence.”
Well, that doesn’t solve anything because where did god come from? You say – “Well, god existed always.” Basically, you are saying that god is the outermost bubble that always existed. It doesn’t really matter if you have a mystical and supernatural explanation like god or if you say that it was physics and all of this kind of stuff.
It’s just bubbles and they don’t include any kind of deities. It really doesn’t matter what the actual mechanics of the explanation are because the fundamental part and problem of all of this is that you don’t actually explain what existence is. By citing god, you explain nothing.
All that you are saying is that there is a bubble that always existed. Where did this bubble come from? God is like a bubble, so where did he come from? Did he always exist? Did he come out of nowhere or is he again contained in something bigger?
This would just push the question back further, unless you said that it was an infinity thing. Which of those is it? Maybe, it is something that we haven’t even thought about here. It’s fascinating. My point here is that you don’t really know what existence is.
I want to give you three distinctions now. They are three distinctions that are very important in our discussion here. They are all basic different flavors of the same thing.
The Three Distinctions
The first distinction is the one that was introduced by Immanuel Kant, who was a philosopher back in the 1700s, in Europe. What he said is this. He was looking at Rene Descartes’ and David Hume’s work. He was basically trying to synthesize two different strands in philosophy.
One was called rationalism and the other one was called empiricism. He basically came up with this distinction that said this. Look, here is how reality is. We have got something called phenomenon, which are the sensations of reality and the stuff that we know directly, as human beings. It’s stuff like colors, tastes and sounds.
This is what empiricism talks about, empirical meaning sensory. Then, we have something called the noumenal world. The noumena are the things that are behind the sensations and behind the phenomenon. I am actually going to use an example here, with an orange.
Take a look at this orange. We might say that the phenomenon of the orange is the roundness of it, the orange color of it, and the smell of it, the zesty taste and everything else that we can perceive about it. What is the noumena? The noumena is the stuff that the orange is actually made of.
We don’t actually think that the orange is made of the color orange. It is not actually made of the zesty smell. It is made out of something, some sort of matter or whatever. It is something that we cannot see.
That is the phenomenon—noumena distinction. What Kant said is that we can know phenomena, but we can never know noumena. How would we access it? We always have the layers of perception that we have to go through.
It’s like a filter. We can never get to the noumena because we have to go through phenomena. It is an interesting distinction. The next distinction is the matter—qualia distinction.
This is kind of like a scientific paradigm, which says this. Things are created out of matter or if you want, you can call it energy. These are like the subatomic particles that make up this orange. Then, there is also the accounting of the orange phenomenally. We call that qualia.
Qualia is the stuff that we perceive about the orange. For example, we think that the orange is made out of cells and those cells are made out of molecules and atoms. But, we don’t see any of that. What we see is the orange color, we have a certain smell to it and a certain feel to it.
The color orange is not made out of atoms. It’s something else. It is a perception. This is the matter—perception distinction. One of the very fascinating questions in the philosophy of science and philosophy of mind is this.
What are qualia made out of? Are qualia made out of matter or not? If not, what the hell are they? Then, we have the third distinction, which is the inner—outer world distinction. You might have heard me talking about this in other videos and in other contexts where I talk about this.
Conventionally, there is the inner world that we have. It is the world of our feelings, sensations, thoughts, moods and emotions. We also have the outer world of hard physical matter, energy and physical laws. It’s kind of like in the inner world, the physical laws don’t work.
The physical laws only work in the outer world. The inner world is all filled with qualia and the outer world is filled with matter. All of these free are like the flavors of the phenomena—noumena distinction that Kant was talking about.
It turns out to be a very important distinction, and it is important to talk about these because the question ultimately becomes this. Who do you think you are? The thing that you think you are, where does it exist? Does it exist in the outer world or does it exist in the inner world?
Also, which world is more real? Is the outer world more dependent on the inner world or is the inner world more dependent on the outer world? You might say – “Well Leo, the outer world perceptions are all dependent on matter.” Is that true, though?
Is that really true? Have you really thought about that? Which world is couched in which world? It is not immediately obvious if you think about it. I want to introduce a further distinction. This is getting into the real meat of doing spiritual enlightenment work.
You have to really understand this distinction well to be able to really understand spiritual enlightenment. This is the concept of conceptualizations. Consider three types of entities.
The Concept of Conceptualizations
One entity is the thing as it actually is – the noumena that Kant was talking about. The second entity is the sensations of that thing and the perceptions of it. If we have this orange, we’ve got the actual real orange, the thing that we cannot even see and that is responsible for all of the sensations.
We’ve got that and we don’t know what it is. It’s kind of like a question mark. Then, of course, we have the sensations of the orange. It’s the phenomenon of the orange. It’s here and that is one level higher.
We have direct access to that and then we have one level higher. What is one level higher? One level higher is concepts. Concepts are the things we think about the orange. Here, we actually have the way we usually interact with the orange, even though the label ‘orange’, it’s an orange and an object, is already a certain attitude that I take towards it.
That is the human mind projecting certain things onto the orange, certain labels, certain attributes, certain opinions that I have about it, certain beliefs and certain relationships in which I am with this orange. The difference between the perceptions and the concepts is that the perceptions are just raw perceptions, without any of my biases or opinions about it. The conceptual orange is a lot of my opinions about it.
For example, I love oranges. I might hate oranges. I might be disgusted by the sight of an orange. When I look at an orange, I might have some thoughts and memories about oranges. I might get hungry.
I might start to salivate. I might want to throw it at somebody. There might be a million different attitudes that I take towards this orange. I might start dreaming about other oranges. Interestingly, even when you take the orange away, you put it behind your back and you don’t see the orange there at all, you can still imagine the orange in your mind.
Right now, you are not seeing the orange. I am not looking at it either. It’s behind my back. But, we can still imagine the orange, imagine it right now. You have a mental picture of the orange.
What is that? That is a concept. You also have a vocal story in your mind that you are hearing, which says something like this. “I’m thinking of an orange, that is an orange and this image is of an orange. An orange is a type of fruit.”
That is where we get into the really tricky aspects of being a human being. We think that we live here or here. Actually, we live from this domain over here, which is the domain of concepts. We overlay all of these concepts on top of sensations and then we tell ourselves that all of this is actually the truth, the ultimate question mark and the noumena.
It is the thing that is the noumena. This gets us into a lot of trouble. We are talking about oranges and that is not really pertinent to our psychology. The question though, is what are you within this framework? When you think about yourself, the person I am pointing at right now, nod your head right now, that thing that you think you are, what is it, on this model?
Is it a concept? Is it a perception or is it the actual noumenal thing, the thing behind it all? If you start looking very deeply, very objectively and self-honestly, what you are going to admit is that it’s a concept. You is a concept. It’s not even a perception.
You think it’s a perception, but it’s actually a concept overlaid on the perception with further concepts behind it, telling it that it is not a concept. Very interesting! What are you really then, if you’re not a concept and you’re not a perception?
What would be the real you, the noumenal you? Interesting! I have never asked that question of myself before, have I? I could come up with a bunch of theories, but how would I really know what I really am?
You might say – “Well Leo, that is not possible. It’s not possible to know. The best we can do, as Kant said, is to just know the phenomenon. Sure, maybe what you are saying is that there is some deeper part of me, the real me behind the perceptions and I can never know that.”
“That is just something we cannot speculate. Let’s not speculate about that stuff. Let’s not be speculative. Let’s just stick to the stuff that we can touch, see, smell, hear and think about.” But, what if it was actually possible to know the real thing?
Would that be freaky? Would that blow your mind if that was actually a fact that you could know yourself? Well, it is. How can this be the case? I will get to that in a little bit.
What I want to do now is I want to tell you about another very important concept, which is what I call the voice. The voice is primarily what makes concepts happen in your mind. What is the voice?
The voice is the internal talk and language that is happening all the time throughout your day. Right now, as you are sitting there and watching this video, you are talking to yourself. You are having opinions, you’re agreeing with me, you’re disagreeing with me, and you have certain beliefs that come up, certain objections, comments, criticisms and opinions.
It’s like a little voice inside of your head, saying stuff like – “Oh, that is a great point. Oh, that’s interesting. Oh, I never thought about this or no Leo, you’re wrong.” The voice talks and talks and talks and talks.
There are two aspects to the voice. One is the words, the way it sounds. Two is images. So, what we are talking about here are thoughts, the voices responsible for your thoughts. The voice is basically your thoughts.
Thoughts come in two flavors, words and images. Images are like you thinking about the orange right now. You have got an image of the orange. That is a thought. Say the word orange in your mind right now.
That is also a thought of the orange. There are two different ways in which you can create a thought and access it. A lot of times, they are both operating at the same time. You might be imagining it and thinking about it at the same time.
This is what allows the concepts to happen. It’s the voice that comes in there and creates them. It’s interesting that you have never really sat down and looked at what the voice actually is. You might have some opinions about what the voice is, why it’s there and who is talking. But, have you actually sat down and looked very deeply and very objectively at what the voice actually is?
Who is creating the voice and who is listening to the voice? This is the pertinent question. The way that it works is that your voice talks all the time. It talks and talks and talks and talks and talks, and it creates a web of concepts which it then calls reality. It also creates a self-image.
The self-image is an image of yourself and ideas of who you think you are and how you behave. Any notions that you have right now about your true nature are all part of your self-image. This self-image is created by voice. The question is this. Can we break out of this self-image?
If the self-image is all concepts, then what is the actual self if you get rid of the concepts and the self-image? What is the real self, not the image of the self? They might say – “Well Leo, we can’t get rid of concepts. In fact, concepts are good and we don’t want to get rid of concepts.”
Well, keep your mind open. What if concepts are actually a smoke screen that prevent you from seeing something very real, which is the noumenal you? Now comes the crux of the matter. When you say that you are the body, when you say that you are the mind and you are your thoughts or the one perceiving your thoughts, what is that actually?
Is that a physical fact, a physical reality or is that a conceptual reality? I am being very serious and I am not being figurative. I am being very literal. The identification that you have with your body means that when I cut you with a knife, you recoil and you experience emotional pain and distress. Why is that?
It is because you believe that I am actually injuring you. I am not just injuring a body. I am injuring your body. I am injuring you. When I tell you a mean and nasty comment, like that you are stupid, ugly and smelly and you’re never going to get a good relationship, you take that personally.
You identify with being a certain way. You have a certain self-image. You want to be handsome, attractive, sexy and certain other qualities. You are threatened. The question is what is being threatened?
Could it actually be the case that the identification you have with your body is conceptually constructed by the voice and as the voice constructs it, you believe it automatically? You never question the voice and so you identify with your body. You’ll now say – “But Leo, I actually am my body.”
“You’re telling me I am not my body, but this sounds like a farfetched theory and philosophy of some kind. I am the body. Look, I’m the body. It’s real and it’s a fact. What, are you stupid?”
Who is saying that? Is the voice saying this? Is the voice telling you that you are your body, that you really think that you’re the body and you’re factually the body? Is that real or is that the voice constructing stories?
You might say – “But Leo, why is the voice false? Why isn’t the voice true? You are telling me that my voice is false. What if my voice is true?” Maybe, but consider that the voice can come up with a lot of different concepts that are not factually true.
For example, think about Santa Clause. Santa Clause is the construct of the voice. Is Santa Clause real? No! Think about a horse with two heads on it. Got that image?
Is that real or is that just a story in your mind? Think about yourself right now, sipping on a piña colada and sitting on a tropical island, enjoying the warm sun. You’ve got that image? What is that? Is that a concept or is that reality?
Are you actually sitting on a beach or is that just a figment of your imagination? Those seem like simple cases of imagination, but now the question is this. What about you, yourself? What about your identification with your body? Could it be that your identification with your body and your self-image is just as fictional as you imagining that you are sitting on a tropical beach right now and sipping a piña colada?
Don’t be so quick to say no. It actually turns out that it is exactly this. When you start to appreciate and understand this, you get this ‘whoa’ moment. If that is the case, then what could be outside of the voice? What could be outside of this self-image?
What could I actually be if, in fact and considering this hypothetically, the voice could be wrong and the voice could just be imagining things? That is the mother of all questions. That is the deepest question that you could ask yourself in your life. That is the deepest question to which you could find an answer in life.
What am I outside of the voice? The answer turns out to be very profound and not at all what you expect. I want to talk a little bit more about the voice and get you a little bit of a better understanding of the voice, because this is so critical to starting to do this work. You might wonder – “Well Leo, how does the voice actually construct itself?”
“If you’re saying that my sense of self is constructed by the voice, how does this actually happen?” It is actually a very simple process. I want to imitate to you right now how the self is constructed in your own mind. I am going to do a literal imitation.
I am going to be talking, but this talking, think about it as the voice inside of your head talking. This is how it talks. It says something like this.
‘I am over here. This is me. I am Leo. I am speaking right now. I’m having thoughts and I’m thinking. Look at this, oh! I’m thinking! I’m thinking! Leo, Leo, me, yes! Me! I! Here I am! I think, therefore I am. Could this not actually be me? But look, it’s me! How could it not be me?
I’m really me! You can’t deny that this is me. I am thinking. Who is thinking this stuff? I am! This is me! I’m Leo! I’m hungry. I want a better job. I want more money. I have these goals. I am afraid of that thing. I am afraid of this thing.
I get angry for this reason and I get angry for that reason. Right now, I am feeling happy. Right now, I am feeling sad. Right now, I am feeling angry. Damn it, why did that guy tell me that? Damn it, why can’t she just do what I want her to do?’
On and on and on it goes like that. Your whole existence, if you start paying attention to it very carefully, is this. It’s a voice in your head, talking and talking, image and image, and certain talk and images have the label ‘I’ in it. This label ‘I’ is just accepted by you as being you.
What if it wasn’t? What if it was an arbitrary label? What if it was a confusion of the mind? If we somehow got rid of all that stuff and all that was left was the real you, what would the real you be? That is the question.
Also, notice this. Not only do you speak to yourself, but you have images of yourself. Right now, as you sit there, you might say this. “Well Leo, are you sure? The voice talks and talks and we do label stuff.”
“This is some human activity that we do. We’re labeling reality, but if I get rid of all of that, I am still the body, right? You’re saying I am not the body? I feel like I’m the body. I can feel the body.”
“I can see the body. Here I am.” Who is telling you that the things that are being felt and being seen are you? After all, you are also seeing other objects. You are seeing people. You’re seeing me. You’re seeing a table. You’re seeing a car. You’re seeing a tree.
You’re seeing the Sun, but you don’t identify with those. The question is why not? You’re seeing them. Why aren’t you identifying with them? You are seeing them, just like you’re seeing the body. You might say – “Well Leo, I don’t feel a car.”
“I don’t feel the tree and the inside of a tree. I only feel inside of myself.” But, what if the things that are being felt inside yourself aren’t actually yourself? They are just being felt in the same way a tree is being seen, the car is being seen and a bird squawking is being heard. Have you ever thought about that?
Have you ever opened your mind to that possibility seriously? What you are going to discover is that you have an image of who you are. You have a literal self-image in your mind, a picture. Right now, you are sitting there and when I tell you about you and point at you, you might get a flash of you sitting there, as though there was a camera behind the body and the head and looking down at you.
It’s like from the third person. In fact, you might have an image right now of the back of your head because you don’t see the back of your head, but you have an image of it. So, think of the back of your head right now. The question is that thing you are thinking about – is that reality or is that a concept?
The back of your head – is that a real entity or is that a story in your mind right now? Look right now, right in the moment. Don’t come up with another theory. Don’t come up with another story because you will just get sucked into more stories. Instead, actually look at what the back of your head is.
What is it, metaphysically speaking? What is it, existentially? You can actually sit, look and ask yourself – “Okay, the back of my head! What is that? Oh, that is an image and it’s a word, back of my head.”
It’s a thought. If you go and run to the mirror to take a look at the back of your head, it now becomes real. Until then, it’s a thought. What if the thing you think you are was the same way? It was just a thought.
The voice likes to say – “I am the body. I am thoughts. I am the voice.” The voice likes to say – “I am the one that is perceiving life. I am over here and everything else is over there. I’m looking at those things.”
I am also in control of my body and in control of my mouth. I am in control of my thoughts. The voice very sneakily says the following too. “All of the above is obvious. It’s obviously this way. It can’t be any other way.”
There Is No You
It’s obvious, right? Not quite so fast! Why don’t we stop, detain the voice and ask it a couple of questions? Why do we trust the voice so blindly? Who is telling you that you can trust the voice? Is it the voice?
Are you listening to the voice, telling you that you should trust the voice? Who is actually listening to the voice? Is the voice listening to itself or is there an entity listening to the voice? What is the voice really, if we break it down and ask ourselves existentially what the voice is constructed out of?
What if the voice is wrong? What if the things the voice says are arbitrary and aren’t actually connected and welded to reality in the way that we think? What if the voice just labels stuff? What if the voice is like a label maker, creating label after label after label, including the label that all labels are true and that all labels are real?
That is the tricky and ultimate label. It creates the ‘I’ label and it also creates the ‘I is real’ label. Then, it creates the ‘I is really really really real’ label. It then says that the ‘I’ is actually true. Then, it says that everything above is true.
It’s like a label machine that keeps spitting out label after label after label. It cleverly nests one label into another label. It kind of interconnects them in a way where the labels start to take on a life of their own. That creates a sense of you, the sense of self. It is a giant smoke screen.
This is a smoke screen that you have never sat down, seriously questioned and looked into to find where the ultimate truth of this leads. If I get rid of all the labels, where does it ultimately go? Isn’t it ingenious how your voice operates? Isn’t it ingenious how it’s constructed, that it believes itself?
It’s kind of like the ultimate spin doctor, believing in so much bullshit. That is what your self is like. That is what your false self is. When you can get rid of all of that, you can ask yourself the following question. What is the real self then?
That is a very deep thing. Notice that if you get rid of the labels, how can you even speak of the real self? You can’t speak of it through the voice because it then just embodies the voice and creates more labels. It would have to be a totally different way of accessing the real self, rather than through labelling, the mechanism that you are used to.
The mechanism of labeling is how the sciences work. The theoretical parts of sciences work this way. This is how religions work. This is how philosophy works. This is how ordinary and everyday thinking works.
It’s pretty much that 99.9% of our lives are labeled. We don’t really have much experience with how to access reality without labels. Because of this, we assume that the only way is through labels and that the best we can do is through labels. But, what if there was another way? You just weren’t really proficient with it yet and it would take you some learning and some experience to develop this new sixth sense, you might say.
Wouldn’t that be interesting? In fact, that is the case. You can develop something called mindfulness, awareness or consciousness. Through an expansion of your consciousness, you can see more and more of the truth. Ultimately, it’s not even a seeing of it.
It turns into a being of it, which is a really interesting possibility. Let’s go back to this model of conceptualization. We see that there are the things themselves, there are the perceptions and then there are the concepts.
You might say – “Well Leo, I might know how to get rid of the concepts. Let’s say I silence my voice. Then, I get to perceptions. I can just perceive the world without thinking about it, talking about it or imagining things about it. Therefore, I have perceptions.”
“But, how do I then get to the actual thing from perceptions? How do I go from perceptions to the thing itself? Is that possible? How can that be possible? It seems ridiculous.” Well, remember when we were talking about the inner and outer world?
Who told you that there is an inner and outer world? Is that a perception? Is that the thing itself or is it another concept? What if the inner and outer world distinction was a concept and we could break that concept? What would we have?
Interestingly, what we would have is a merging of the perceptions and the things themselves. They would merge into one. This disappears. This and this merge into one and become reality itself.
Where are you in this whole paradigm? The you that you think you are, the concepts, can also be dissolved. When you are dissolved and the inner and outer distinction is dissolved, what happens? These two things merge. You merge with them and the thing is one.
Now, this is the brilliance of this and the beauty of it. You don’t perceive the truth anymore. You are it. You are the truth. You are physically it and it is one thing.
It’s not partitioned into ‘I am here’ or ‘she is over there’. It is one. This goes very deep. The problem is that it is going to be pretty difficult for you to dissolve your notions of the inner—outer distinction. It is going to be very difficult for you to dissolve your notions of you, yourself.
This is because you like to think of yourself as a distinct entity from everything else. Well, this is not true. But, even when you say – “Okay Leo, I want to see this. Let me see it! I want to go along with you. How can I actually see it?” The problem is that you have been living for 20, 30, 40 or 50 years of your life in this mass delusion.
Your entire life is a lie, constructed around yourself. If you really want to get this merger of perception and being, you want to be the thing itself and you want to see the truth itself and be the truth itself, you have to undertake a very serious, deep and systematic dissolution of yourself and your life. This is not something that most people are willing to do.
This is because the voice will come up with a thousand good excuses and reasons for why you shouldn’t do this. Because you know nothing but to believe your voice, you are going to believe anything it says. The voice will lie to itself, believe itself and keep itself stuck.
This is the condition of 99.999999% percent of the human race. They are stuck in this delusion. You might wonder – “Well Leo, what about the inner—outer world distinction? How can we get rid of this inner—outer world distinction? Doesn’t there have to be somebody that is perceiving the thing?”
“For example, we’ve got this orange. We have got the orange and I am seeing the orange. Someone has to see the orange, right? What are you telling me? When you say inner and outer merge, you’re telling me that the orange exists and there is no one seeing the orange? Where am I in this whole thing?”
That is a very good question. Where are you in this whole thing? What if there were no you in this whole thing? Would you be willing to accept that? What if, after doing this deep investigation, you discover that you’re not a part of this thing at all?
You’re not part of reality. Could that be a realization you could have? Could you stomach that? Well, you’re going to have to because that ends up being the truth. It is very interesting that we assume a part of what the voice says.
The voice says – “If there is a perception, there has to be a perceiver.” If I’m seeing this orange, look that the assumption is already there. I am seeing this orange. It is not possible for there to be an orange and for the orange to be seen without a see—er.
But, have you really questioned that? In fact, if you sit down and question it, you will discover that the perceiver—perception distinction is not possible. It makes no sense if you really dig deep.
Why does it not make sense? Well, think about it like this. You have the orange, right? You say – “I have to be here to see the orange.” If you are seeing the orange, my question for you is this. Who is seeing you?
Are you seeing yourself or is there another entity that sees you? Your claim is – “Well Leo, you can’t just have an orange that sees itself. That is ridiculous. Someone has to see it.” If someone has to see it, then who is seeing that something?
Does that someone who is seeing the something see itself? If the someone sees itself, then in reality things exist that can see themselves. Basically, what you are claiming is not fundamentally any different from what I am claiming. If I claim that the orange sees itself and you claim that the orange is seen by you, but you then see yourself, you are basically taking it one step back.
In the end, you still are seeing yourself, which is kind of weird. How can anything see itself? I don’t know. We only have this one reality. Can things see themselves in reality or can’t they? What do we have to compare with?
It might sound ridiculous. Nothing can see itself. Then, how are you seeing yourself? You might say – “No Leo, there is someone inside me that is seeing me.” But, who is then seeing that someone?
Trace it all the way back. Trace it, not in your theories, but in actual reality. Trace it back and see who is actually seeing you. You are going to discover that there isn’t anyone seeing you because there is not a you. The only thing there is external reality.
You are like it. You are a part of it. You are being it and it is being you. These two things merge, like we were saying. Perceivers are not possible if you think about that model of perceivers and perceptions.
It’s not possible. You’ve just got a world of perceptions. You might ask – “Where do perceptions come from? How can this be?” This goes back to the question of what reality is and how do you know how reality should be.
People get very confused by this. They make this very big mistake by saying – “But, this is ridiculous and outrageous. Reality can’t be this way.” If you think about it, look around reality. Reality is like magic.
It’s not any different than magic. The fact that things exist is miraculous. We don’t even know why existence exists. We don’t know. What is existence actually? We don’t know.
Have we compared our existence to a hundred other existences to see if it’s a crazy existence or a normal existence? No, there is only one existence that we know of. This being the case, what do our intuitions about existence tell us?
Do they tell us much? Do they really mean much? They don’t mean much. It is the same way that the intuition of an ant doesn’t really say much about physics, reality, nature or anything else. The ant has a very limited brain, which is capable of figuratively understanding in a very limited context because it evolved for that particular purpose.
The human being is a little bit better, but not much better. We forget this fact very often. Our brain can understand stuff, but our intuition is shaped by very basic human everyday needs. Our brain evolved to take care of hunger, sex, shelter, food, drinking and socialization.
That is basically all that our brain evolved to do. Any kind of a scientific understanding that we have is a little bonus that we get. Let’s not be as conceded and myopic as to assume that just because we know how to gather food, wage a war, have some sex and do some clever socialization, that now we can intuitively grasp the nature of existence itself all of a sudden.
It is preposterous to assume this. If existence was one way versus another way, would either way be crazier than the other? Isn’t the current way of existence already crazy enough? Things exist. Why would they exist in the first place?
It is already crazy. If you take a look at nature, if you take a look at astronomy and cosmology, it starts to blow your mind at how intricate, complex and counterintuitive the Universe is. In fact, the history of science, philosophy and mathematics has just been a repeat, again and again and again, of human beings learning something, thinking that it should be this way and that getting overthrown.
It goes along with us discovering – “Oh, wait a minute! Our intuitions were all wrong about this thing.” The most basic example of this is that we intuitively believed we lived on a flat planet. Actually, we discovered that we lived on a round planet.
Intuitively, we believed that the Sun orbited around the Earth and that the Earth is the center of the solar system and all of the stars. We then actually discovered that we’re just this little ball, spinning around a giant sun. This sun is part of a cluster of stars and this cluster of stars is part of this giant galaxy called the Milky Way.
That is part of many other galaxies and many other star systems. There are literally billions of stars in the Milky Way and billions of Milky Way like galaxies throughout the whole Universe. This is just the stuff we can see through our telescopes and some of our radio equipment and satellites.
This is not to even say what could possibly be outside of the Big Bang, if anything, or in some other dimension. If we go into the smaller end of the scale of physics, we take a look at subatomic particles, quarks, leptons and all the interesting stuff that goes on there. We take a look deeper and we start to get into String theory and quantum mechanics.
There, scientists have discovered that our intuition is completely fly—out—the—window. Even logic itself doesn’t apply to certain situations within quantum mechanics. Who are we to say how reality has to be constructed? Is there a reasonable and logical way for reality to be and then some sort of crazy and illogical way?
Actually, when you think about it, it makes no sense because there is only one reality. Everything else is couched within the reality. There is nobody to say how reality should or shouldn’t be. The point of all this is just to say – don’t be so certain of what you believe about reality and what you believe is plausible versus implausible.
Your notions of plausibility are heavily suede by your very limited human intuition. The question then becomes this. What is reality and what is you? What is very exciting to me about these questions is that they can be answered empirically, not just philosophically.
I spent six years of my life doing very hardcore philosophy when I was in college. I got disenchanted with it because it turned into this big circle jerk, everyone doing this big circle jerk in philosophy. It is really quite disgusting.
I then turned my back on philosophy for many years. When I heard this idea that it is actually possible for the inner and outer world to merge, for the perceptions and the truth to be one, for the phenomenon and noumena to become one, when that is really possible as a possibility, it showed me there might be a way to do what I wanted to do with philosophy in reality.
To me, that is the most profound discovery that I made in my personal development journey. It is that this might be possible and it is worth pursuing a little bit further. It is worth asking yourself this. What am I? Who am I really?
This is Leo, I’m signing off. Post me your comments down below. Like this video. Share it with a friend if you would, please. Finally, come and sign up to my newsletter at Actualized.org. It’s a free newsletter.
I release new videos on self-actualization topics usually. Also, we are going to be covering more deep spiritual enlightenment topics. I have got a lot more videos coming on how to start to do this empirical investigation.
Here, in this video, we laid the groundwork. Next, we are going to move into actually doing some exercises, laying some more groundwork and going in deeper and it is all really exiting. You are actually going to be able to sit down and do this stuff for yourself, not just having to sit here and listen to me philosophize about it, which really is not the proper way to do it.
But, we have to start somewhere. This is the foundation that we start with. Why do we want to do all of this? Well, it turns out that all of your psychological problems, every block that you have in your life, I don’t care if it’s in business, relationships, with money, with finding your passion in life, with depression or anger problems or anything that triggers you emotionally, all of this stems from false self.
You believe in this voice that keeps telling you your self is real. This is why you have all of these problems. If you get rid of this voice, not only do you get some sort of insight into the nature of reality, but you get a release from your own mental cage and your own mental prison that you live in.
All the drama, the pain and bullshit of your life will go away, which is another cool thing about this. We’re not just doing philosophy. We are doing very practical personal development as we do this. To me, this is so profound and so exciting.
The possibilities of this are so incredible. You could not imagine in your wildest dreams that something like this is possible. For there to even be a chance that this is possible, it is worth pursuing for me.
That is why I am doing this in my own life and I encourage you to follow along with me on this journey. Discover for yourself and one day you might have this enlightenment and this release from your own mental prison. Alright, go ahead and sign up for all of that.