I had a question for Ken McLeod about Reflections on Silver River and he was kind enough to respond. Here is the full exchange.
I'm immersed in your enormously helpful book. Can I ask you a question? Perhaps it's the most common and basic of all.
Reading the book, I am constantly--often distressingly--aware of how far I have to go. Here's the (a) sticking point for me: when I ask, "Who is doing the giving?", "Who is doing the thinking?" as you suggest, I still persist in seeing… not nothing, as you say, but me, Peter. I keep trying to remind myself, This is not me, this is not mine, this is not who I am. I keep looking and looking and hoping to arrive at a sense of no-self, but there I am, always, obstinately in my own way.
I may have missed something along the way as I read, or passed over it, but I have not found a passage in the book to walk me through this all-important transition. That sounds too easy, "walk me through." I mean really, to guide me. I have the feeling that it's one of those thresholds that, once passed, look simple and obvious.
I suspect your answer will be that old Carnegie Hall advice. Or: keep looking.
I trust you're well, and that my question is not an intrusion.
With warm wishes, Peter
No intrusion at all. But let me ask, "When you say you see Peter, what exactly do you see?"
Oh, nothing. I see. Or rather, I don't see. Got it. So obvious. Thank you! Cheers, Peter
I guess, actually, I see what I think I see.
You were right the first time. When you look at "Peter", you see nothing. But that "nothing" is deeply terrifying, so we lapse into thinking almost immediately. That's when you see what you think you see, because you have lapsed into thinking.
Look, and then rest immediately. Then look again. Don't try to sustain looking once thinking has started. Just drop it all and start again. In the beginning, the looking will last for only a fraction of a second, but you will gradually build capacity and be able to rest there for short periods, i.e., a few seconds or so. Once you can do that, then you can start resting in the looking and looking in the resting.
Okay, something to work on. You don't make things easy! I noticed, by the way, that it made sense immediately at the moment I read your first response. I looked, saw nothing, and actually laughed in relief because it was so obvious. But then it was only a split second before the thinking started and "Peter" showed up again. I do value this additional guidance, thank you. Cheers, Peter
You are welcome. "Peter" is a thought. It's not a thing. You might open to the body sensations that accompany "Peter" and rest there.
I'll work on this… and will continue to work on "Reflections." Thanks again, Ken. Best, "Peter"