Natalie: He 'made' me see that the neural activity that precedes my thoughts/actions is not 'mine' to begin with. I didn't plan or author this activity, so the end result of this activity cannot be claimed as 'my choice'.
Right. It's not "my choice" because choice is not really a choice--it's neural activity-- and it's not "my" neural activity because the "me" which wants to take authorship does not exist. There is no distinction between conditioned thought and unconditioned thought. There is no choice and there is no chooser.
This is as far as the science goes. And it's consistent with spirituality to this point so far, for example with what Adyashanti, Jed Mckenna, Krishnamurti etc say about the absence of a "doer" and absence of free will.
Can the environment in which conditioned and unconditioned thoughts occur be changed?
It seems to me that's exactly what happens in process where we go from suffering to sanity, the process which some people call awakening.
What is this realisation if not that we are more than our 'physical' body that is interpreting stimuli and 'possibly' responding to it unconsciously?
Well, there is an explanation which does not require stretching into the metaphysical. It's observable right here, right now, as a human being.
The basic problem--indeed the only problem there is--is the basic dissatisfaction of life which encumbers the mind from the very beginning of life. The Buddha called this dukkha
, ET called this the fear from which all negative emotions arise, Jed Mckenna called it the fear of non-existence, John Sherman calls it the fear of life, Ramana called it that which makes everything else uncertain, de Mello called it the opposite of love, and so on.
It's the inner atmosphere of dissatisfaction--and it's a small thing but its consequences are everything we see in human beings.
It is this context of dissatisfaction--the original separation and disaffection from life--which motivates us to seek satisfaction; some seek satisfaction in responses of ambition, security, cruelty, and so on; others seek satisfaction in religion, spirituality, metaphysical beliefs and ideas and so on.
It's kind of strange that we resist neurological evidence, but will embrace unobserved ideas about consciousness and desires and power if they allay our fears. Nevertheless, there is nothing wrong with these pursuits. There is nothing wrong with any human pursuit (except the ones which cause harm).
It's just that they are irrelevant to the seeing.
When it is seen that the only problem is the original dissatisfaction of life, the fear of life--it stands out in bold relief. It was never hard to see.
When the basic problem is seen, the solution is of course inevitable. (The looking at the sense of you, as suggested Nisargaddatta and Ramana and Sherman, for example, works very well.)
The basic problem of fear--the original dissatisfaction--isn't really hard to see. It's not that it's tricky or difficult to understand. And it's not like it hasn't been pointed out a million times before by the awakened. But the context of dissatisfaction itself keeps the chase going. Which makes it hard to see the original problem. Which keeps the chase going. Which makes it hard to see the original problem.
Natalie, I celebrate whenever anyone stops the tail chasing. There is no reason to start another round of tail chasing.
Some people get here after decades of seeking. The spiritually-inclined can find this to be a frightening place. As Adyashanti points out, " 'Do not seek the truth; simply cease cherishing illusions.' And if you’re like most spiritually oriented people, your spirituality is your most cherished illusion. Imagine that."
In any case, the looking technique works regardless of the chasing or beliefs.
When the fear of life goes, life is extra-ordinarily satisfying. Not metaphysical, not spiritual. But right here on earth, as a human being, natural and free of resistance.
Thanks for this thread, Natalie.