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Self or No-self, that is the Question.
2022, August, Issue 6
When I became Dharmakaya, instantly, as the first moment of my Near Death Experience, self completely disappeared, becoming fully integrated into that bright condition of total awareness. This is not to say that I became something else. This condition of Dharmakaya is beyond ordinary understanding, even though we are always part of that. It is to say that I became everything and beyond, with full awareness.
It is true that this idea of self is just an illusion. It is also true that this idea of no-self is also an illusion. When we discover for ourselves this condition of Dharmakaya, it becomes obvious that subject and object are both part of an illusory existence. We cannot see ourselves from outside ourselves, simply because self is not real. The opposite of this, or any variation we might create, is also not real.
So, how is it that this self exists in our mind? Well, our actions make it so. Our attachments create something to grasp and cling to. Not understanding what we really are means that we defend this illusion of self, which means developing aversions. It doesn’t take much and pretty soon we are trapped in a cycle.
In order to understand our true condition, we must experience our shared luminous condition directly. What does this mean? It means we utterly and completely give up this idea of self, along with the ego that sustains it, by simply opening ourselves completely to all possibilities.
When we are conditioned by relative reality, we think that we must find the answer to some big question about our existence. It might make us angry when we find something, some profound mystical teaching that tells us something, making some assertion or another, because it was so difficult to discover. We might get angry at everyone who has helped us along the way because we might think that they were hiding some profound secret that turned out to be ridiculously simple and obvious.
What has become abundantly obvious to me, since my return into a physical body, is that absolutely no assertion about reality can be made. We are this bright condition; however, that is also not true, simply because to say anything is to objectify what we really are. Our real condition is beyond any constraints of mind. We can only know this when we discover it for ourselves. No one can tell us the answer, it is ours to discover.
In writing my books, as well as anything else that I may write or any talks I may give, I am plagued by this notion that I am talking about something that cannot be explained. It’s incredibly simple; however, it has eluded most human beings entirely. It seems like pure futility; yet, each day I sit at my computer to write. I maintain a strong diligence that keeps me going, where I make it a point to explain such experiences of the ultimate in any number of ways.
When we think that self exists, we have problems, big problems. We might think we are a wave in an everything-ocean, or some other notion. We don’t know what to do when this wave disappears. What is that? Self is something we create and defend. It’s something fleeting, impermanent. When in this shroud of ignorance, we think we need more concepts, thoughts and ideas. This just leads to more of the same misunderstanding.
Maybe we have meditated for a while, and have discovered that we cannot locate this object we call a self. We might realize that this subjectivity is incorrect. We might mistakenly fall into the trap of nihilism, thinking that everything is nothing. While on the surface this conclusion has some merit, it is really taking an extreme position. Appearances are not nothing. It is only our conclusion, that appearances are something, everything or nothing, that causes a problem. Appearances exist in our mind, just as self exists in our mind. This intellectual discovery will not help us to understand what is ultimate. In order to do that, we need to experience what is neither subject nor object. This means going beyond all belief, understanding the nature of phenomena, and realizing the Nature of Mind, as well as seeing that mind cannot be located.
I understand this struggle to understand. This Spiritual Path that everyone is on is not one-size-fits-all. We all have different ways of learning and growing, with unique needs. Don’t take my word for anything. Find out for yourself that both self and no-self are fictions that we may tell ourselves. Realization requires that we get real about everything. This means breaking the chains that bind us, going beyond any sort of constraint. It means knowing directly.
Persevere on your Spiritual Path until you awaken. You will awaken if you do not give up. Bodhicitta is the key.
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