Sunday, June 14, 2009


"No self", a frequently utilized term in spiritual inquiries, means that your consciousness, your awareness, your being is not fixed or static or even defined. It doesn't mean you are not aware or you don't exist. That would be absurd. It means that when you look at your own awareness deeply, usually in meditation or contemplation, you will see that it is flowing and impermanent, with countless thoughts, feelings and sensations arising and falling virtually every moment of your life, with nothing fixed or permanent, and if you look closely, NOTHING in between. The accumulation of those countless thoughts and feelings create a foundation, a familiarity, a base, a flow, a sensation of continuity that is what most people call the self or "I". And it feels natural and normal and familiar and unquestionable. Anything to the contrary seems counter intuitive, contrived, and even ridiculous. That is, until you have the initiative and drive to look more closely. I believe the very process of not looking deeply creates the illusion of the fixed self. When you finally do look deeply, it is all very different from the fragmented, repetitive thoughts and mental processes you use on auto pilot to get through the day.

Where the wonder lies is the quiet or empty space in between your thoughts and other mind objects whether feelings, emotions, background sensations or whatever. That space is very hard to describe, it is best experienced which can be done easily, although initially briefly. It is frequently called "emptiness". This term itself is very difficult and easily misunderstood and is a complex foundation for many spiritual inquiries. Emptiness is a paradox in that it means although your consciousness may be empty of thoughts or other mind objects when you find that quiet space, it is simultaneously full of potentially everything in the universe. It is the foundation of what you really are, like the reflective ability of a mirror, not the actual reflecting images and certainly not the polished surface. And that reflective ability is not a thing or even a process, it is a quality, it just is. And that is what you and your awareness are, not a thing, not a process, just the reflective or conscious ability of the universe. In the same way you would never say a mirror is the actual images reflected by it or the accumulation of those images, stop saying your self is the thoughts and mind objects arising and falling in your awareness or even their accumulation. You are not that. That is not self. "No self" means that you recognize that your real self is the ineffable, undefinable quality of being, the reflective or conscious quality of the universe, void or "empty" of any detail or substance, initially experienced as the brief quiet or empty spaces between thoughts. And it is infinitely more than that, you will discover, if you stay on the path to inquiry.


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  3. What about the experiencer of your experiences; "That Which Experiences"; the thing that bares the experience of no-self?

    There's nothing I'm more certain of than that I am an enduring experiencer of experiences, and that an experiencer is a logically necessary part of any coherent definition of "experience". If one has *experienced* not self, then there must be an enduring experiencer.

    If by "self", you mean "that which experiences", then I can't understand how you can believe in no-self. But, if by "self", you just mean the life story that I identify with "me", then I can see how that could be considered illusory.