Tag Archives: self

To Forget the Self

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The Storyteller

What is the Self? Countless people have asked themselves this question and there have been numberless answers. But as these answers have all been observations expressed in words. What does that mean? All answers on the question “What is the Self?”, when formulated in words can only be from the relative point of view, from a dualistic point of view. It can only describe an object from the point of view of the subject. It is not by an intellectual, empirical and dual approach that the Self can be revealed. But the Self is that through which all is known. It is similar to the eye that can see the manyfold appearances but it cannot see itself. It can see itself as a reflection in a mirror but it can never see itself directly.

This example can be found in the story about the tenth man. Although this story might seem very simple with nothing really interesting to tell us, it is really quiet profound when put into the good context with some understanding.

There were ten men travelling to a very distant village. On their way they encountered a river they were obliged to cross. As the river had a strong current, they decided to join their hands to cross it. But on their way they lost their footing and they had to swim on the other side. Later, on the opposite bank they reassembled and decided to check if everybody had crossed the water. Each started to count the number of men who have arrived and they could only find nine. They concluded that one of them must have drowned and they were bemoaning their loss. Meanwhile a monk passed by and asked them what had happened. They explained their story to the monk, who quickly recognized their mistake. He asked them to line up and count aloud their number as he passed by and hit each of them with a stick on the shoulder. 1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, 7, 8, 9… At the end, as he hits the last man and this one calls aloud ‘ten’, they thus realized that they were ten. What had happened is that each man had counted the others and forgot to count himself.

This story illustrates well how the Self is always there but it happens to be overlooked. We cannot see it as the eye cannot see itself. Every attempt to see it will fail as the mind will try to grasp the Self as an object. It is only by turning inward and resting on the thought “I am” that the thoughts, the mind, will be dissolved and eventually our essential Nature, the Self, pure Awareness could be revealed.

Love,

Shanti

To fill the bucket

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Grasping at sense objects (a match-factory)

When the mind is directed to the illusionary outside world of objects, it is prone to grasp at these objects as it has numberless concepts to distinguish between them. The amount of them is endless. The mind is conditioned by society, personal experience and education to grasp, reject or to be indifferent towards them. The more it is under the influence of desire, the more it grasps. It wants to fulfil this emptiness left behind by the veil that covers our happiness, our true self, with the fleeting happiness created by the objects of desire. As the very nature of the sense objects is impermanent, suffering is inherent. This happiness is never lasting and we will never get the bucket full, no matter how much we grasp at desirable objects. As soon as the object is acquired, the happiness that is obtained by it is already fading away, even though the object might still exist. The magic of the moment when it became “mine” quickly fades and it then turns into a weapon faced towards us. It can now cause innumerable sufferings. It might get stolen, lost, leave us or increase our pride, hence become fruitful soil for hatred, anger, jealousy or suffering of loss. And finally, this whole process leaves permanently new impressions on the veil of our true self, covering it ever more and distancing us ever more from the true happiness we are longing for so hardly… our true self.

The only way to clear that veil, this dust on the mirror, on our true nature, is to let go and to observe… in silence. It is only by discriminative knowledge that we can meet the army of defilements of the mind. Then, through understanding the real nature of those illusionary outside objects, the grasping will naturally take an end. The veil made out of all those impressions covering our true shining self will slowly dissolve and true happiness will naturally be revealed. It might go very quickly for some of us, but I can also take many years. But the very motivation of reading about all this, even if it might be difficult to understand at the beginning, is already the first step into a wonderful story realizable in this lifetime, if you are really decided to do so.

Love,

Shanti

Seeking Realization

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The Seeker

Realization is not an action somebody accomplishes. The idea of realizing the self implies a path from an unrealized self to a realized self. Realization of the self as a goal cannot be permanent. Something permanent has no beginning and no end. Hence the goal is already there, the self is always realized. The intention to realize the Self is itself a hindrance. Our nature is always free but we are making huge efforts to become free. Who is making these efforts and trying to realize the self? It is the I-thought that has wrongly identified itself with the mind that veils our happiness and makes realization of the self a goal. This implies two selves. A non realized self and a goal, a realized self. And here starts the whole process of searching. Going to a guru, performing rituals, reciting mantras, doing prostrations, meditating, reading books and taking all kinds of hardships upon us to walk firmly on the path towards realization hoping to reach our goal in this life. The irony in all this striving for realization is that we have never been separated from our true self. We falsely believe it to be found somewhere, to experience it, to realize it, because we search with our mind and the mind can only exist in duality. So, our task is to find the real nature of the mind. We will discover that there is no such thing as a mind. It is in understanding that we are not the body, neither the mind that we will unveil our true self and the I-thought will be transcended eventually. We already know this freedom. If we wouldn’t know it, why would we spend our lives searching for it? But we must take care not to use wrong tools. It lies in the palm of our hands. It is beauty and love in its purest essence. We are that, lets embrace it in silence and cut those chains that hold us prisoners.

Love,

Shanti

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Shunryu Suzuki

The big mind in which we must have confidence is not something which you can experience objectively. It is something which is always with you, always on your side. Your eyes are on your side, for you cannot see your eyes, and your eyes cannot see themselves. Eyes only see things outside, objective things. If you reflect on yourself, that self is not your true self any more. You cannot project yourself as some objective thing to think about. The mind which is always on your side is not just your mind, it is universal mind, always the same, not different from another’s mind.

— Shunryu Suzuki – Zen Mind, Beginner’s Mind (p. 128)

(image source: http://www.delphinequeme.com)

To reflect on yourself

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Rupert Spira

The Known, the Knower and Knowing

From the Known to the Knower

Thought considers Me to be a separate self, born into a world, moving around in space and time and destined one day to disappear. As such thought considers Me an object, a mixture of thoughts, feelings, sensations and perceptions, sharing their limits and destiny.

In this way thought overlooks My essential nature and considers Me a body/mind – a man or woman, tall, short, hungry, sad, happy, intelligent, twenty five years old, etc. – that knows or experiences objects, others and the world. However, one simple look at experience shows that I know the body/mind just as I know the world. I am the Knower of experience; the body/mind is known.

Qualities of the Knower

I know thoughts, feelings, sensations and perceptions but am not Myself made out of thought, feeling, sensation or perception and am therefore said to be empty, silent, transparent. I am present and aware and therefore known as Awareness.

As such, thought likens Me to open, empty space in which all appearances arise. Like physical space I am not affected by what does or doesn’t take place within Me and, therefore, peace is My nature. Peace is not a quality of Myself; it is Myself, ever-present under all circumstances.

Like empty space I have no agenda with appearances. It makes no difference to Me whether the mind is silent or not, whether the body is young, old, healthy or not, nor what is happening in the world. I allow all appearances unconditionally and impartially.

Thought likes and dislikes but I neither like nor dislike these likes and dislikes. Thought resists and seeks but I neither resist nor seek the end of resistance or seeking. Being empty, I do even not know resistance and am, therefore, causeless happiness itself.

Like empty space, I do not share the qualities nor the destiny of the objects that appear within Me; I do not move and change when they move and change; I do not appear nor disappear when they appear or disappear; I am not born and do not die. The body and mind are always on a journey but I never undertake the journey with them. They journey through Me but I never journey in them. I am the unchanging and ever-present Knower of all that is known.

From the Knower to Knowing

However, by thinking of Me as the Knower or the witnessing space in which all appearances arise, thought is imagining Me separate from appearances. In fact, I am more like a screen, one with and intimately pervading the image that appears on it. In fact, the image doesn’t appear on nor is it pervaded by the screen. There is no independent image present to be ‘one with’ or ‘pervaded by’ the screen. Only the screen is truly present. The screen is the appearing image. ‘Image’ is another name for screen.

Likewise, although the body, mind and world seem to exist in their own right, they owe their apparent reality to Me alone. ‘Body,’ ‘mind’ and ‘world’ are just the names and forms that thought gives to Me when I have been overlooked.

The character in a movie is only real from the viewpoint of one of the characters. The image is only real, as such, from the illusory viewpoint of the image. From the true and only viewpoint of the screen, only the screen is truly present and real. There is no real character there; there is only the screen.

Likewise, I am all that is truly present and known in all experience. All that is known of the body, mind and world is the knowing of them and I am that Knowing. It is only thought that abstracts a ‘knower’ and a ‘known,’ from the seamless intimacy of Knowing or Experiencing. However, the body, mind and world are never known or experienced as such. So we cannot say there is the knowing ‘of them,’ but rather that there is only Knowing. I am not the knowing that pervades all experience; I am the Knowing that is all experience.

Just as, relatively speaking, we do not see objects, we see only modulations of the sun’s light, so in reality we do not know objects as such, we know only modulations of Knowing. Only Knowing is truly known and it is Knowing that knows Knowing. I am and know Myself alone. This absence of distance, otherness or separation is love. True knowledge and love are identical.

The Imaginary Separate Self

It is thought that superimposes a subject and an object upon the seamless intimacy of experience thereby seemingly veiling the peace, happiness and love that lie ever-present and always available at its heart. With this apparent veiling, I seem to be lost or forgotten and, as a result, an imaginary self, made of Myself plus the belief that I share the qualities and destiny of appearances, comes into apparent existence. This imaginary inside self is always on a mission to regain the experience of peace, happiness and love that seems to have been lost when My nature is apparently veiled.

To this end the imaginary inside self undertakes a great adventure in the imaginary outside world, in time and space, without realizing that these are its own creations. Like the character in a movie who travels the world looking for the screen, the imaginary self travels the world seeking peace in circumstances, happiness in objects and love in relationships, without realizing that it is already made of the stuff for which it is in search. I am already the love with which I am longed for.

Frustrated by the inevitable failure of its search, the imaginary inside self devises all kinds of strategies such as stilling the mind, disciplining the body and shunning the world, in the hopes that I will be revealed as a result.

In time, the activity of seeking and resisting that is the separate self may, through exhaustion, frustration or intelligence, come to an end and, as a result, the peace of My true nature shines for a timeless moment as it truly is. This dissolution of the activity of seeking and resisting is the unveiling of My presence.

In fact, even that is not true. I am eternally as I am, independent of what thoughts and feelings do or say, never truly veiled by the activity of seeking and resisting. In fact, I never cease to be aware of Myself and, therefore, never really become aware of a separate self, let alone an object, other or world, as such. Therefore, the separate self is only a separate self from the imaginary viewpoint of a separate self.

From My viewpoint, which is the only real viewpoint (and which is not really a point of view) there is never any real veiling or forgetting of Myself. The entire adventure of the separate self takes place in a bubble of thought and feeling whilst all the while I am at rest in and as Myself.

Like the wave that reaches the shore and, ceasing to be wave, is revealed as ocean, so the seeking/resisting thought comes to an end and, losing its name and form, stands revealed as Myself alone. It doesn’t become Myself; it is always only that, just as wave is always only ocean. Only its temporary name and form seemed to make it something other than ocean. The fuel of all desire is already the happiness for which it seeks.

Love and Freedom

Like the moth that longs for the flame but cannot experience it, so all the separate self’s activities are designed to find Me alone, but I am the one thing it cannot know or have. The only way the separate self can know Me is to die, just as the moth can only know the flame by dying in it. That death is the experience of love, the dissolution of self and other.

However, for the flame, there is only the flame; for water there is only water; for Myself, there is only Myself. Veiling, forgetting, searching and finding are for the self that thought images Me to be, never for Myself, the true and only self that is. Whatever the limited qualities of the body and mind that thought superimposes on Me, I stand eternally free, untouched but intimately touching all seeming things, lending them My reality, thereby giving them seeming existence.

It is upon Me that thought superimposes the witness and the witnessed, and then further invests My witnessing presence with the qualities and destiny of a body/mind, thereby downgrading Me to a separate self. But all the while, I stand naked and alone never actually being, knowing or loving anything other than My eternally free self.

For thought there are three possibilities for the self – to be the known, the Knower or pure Knowing; to be a person, a witness or pure Awareness; to be something, nothing or everything. However, I never truly am or know anything other than Myself.

— Rupert Spira – Dutch Nonduality magazine “Inzicht” (year 2012, issue # 1)

(image soure and text source: non-duality.rupertspira.com)

Three Possibilities of My Self

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Thich Nhat Hanh

Let us be at peace with our bodies and our minds.
Let us return to ourselves and become wholly ourselves.

Let us be aware of the source of being,
common to us all and to all living things.

Evoking the presence of the Great Compassion,
let us fill our hearts with our own compassion—
towards ourselves and towards all living beings.

Let us pray that we ourselves cease to be
the cause of suffering to each other.

With humility, with awareness of the existence of life,
and of the suffering that are going on around us,
let us practice the establishment of peace in our hearts and on earth.

— Thich Nhat Hanh – in Singing The Living Tradition – #505

(image source: viewonbuddhism.org)

Let us practice the establishment of peace in our hearts and on earth