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Thread: Self/No-Self

  1. #1

    Self/No-Self

    ok, I've been thinking about this a lot since I started my practice, and especially with recent posts of the koan where you are hanging from a tree by your teeth. If you answer it's one thing, if you don't it's another. Or as Jundo said, (and I'm paraphrasing) things are perfect as they are, but some things need to be tended to "no thing and some things to maintain" or "Form is Emptiness, Emptiness is Form". I think these are pointing to the same thing, and you may be saying "duh, of course" right now. lol

    It's like all of my practice so far has come down to this pattern... this duality I'm trying to get out of, but that's the conundrum. My mind thinks dualistically, which is good because that is my interface to reality. Yet if I take this duality to be the sum of what everything really means then that's the point of suffering.

    And so I think like Stephanie said in an earlier post this koans are like roadsigns on practice. The more and longer I practice, it's not necessarily the answer but how Iunderstand the question that will help me.

    Ok, so this relates to the self because it's that duality again: self or no self. There is no self separate from the universe, but there is a self in the sense that I am not you. We are 2 people, but we are connected in this universe.

    When talking or thinking about no-self I get really confused but I think it's somewhere in the middle of no self and a self. Yes you exist, but you are not separate. Is that the right understanding (still right/wrong thinking I guess)?

  2. #2

    Re: Self/No-Self

    I often have the same issues regarding this view of the world. Correct me if I miss your point about self and no-self. We're both in the vast newbie boat :P

    Right about here was where I was going to go on a long confusing rant about things I really have no idea about. Honestly, I don't know. I am trying to work on the know-it-all factor my girlfriend keeps pointing out (Gassho Zen master). But Uchiyama Roshi put it in a way I sort of related to.

    When we are born, we enter the stage, our stage. It's not that we suddenly popped up on some preexisting set and started acting, our stage was created with us. This is because our stage, our world, is created by us and creates us. We support it (because if we're dead, where did our world go?), and it supports us (how could we define ourselves without everything else in the world?). Our view of this stage is certainly different from every other actor's view because no one can stand in the same place with the exact same set of views as anyone else. We can get close, but never the same.

    I hope this helps? Or at least didn't hurt :?
    Taylor

  3. #3

    Re: Self/No-Self

    Quote Originally Posted by Taylor
    When we are born, we enter the stage, our stage. It's not that we suddenly popped up on some preexisting set and started acting, our stage was created with us. This is because our stage, our world, is created by us and creates us. We support it (because if we're dead, where did our world go?), and it supports us (how could we define ourselves without everything else in the world?). Our view of this stage is certainly different from every other actor's view because no one can stand in the same place with the exact same set of views as anyone else. We can get close, but never the same.

    I hope this helps? Or at least didn't hurt :?
    Taylor
    It hurts.. the confusion hurts. lol

    Now that is an entirely different topic which I, too, am vastly confused about. I can understand if by our world being created by us, it means that our view of the world. Because our view of the world is unique to each one of us. But the actual universe was here before I came along and will be here longafter I'm gone I suspect. Perhaps, I misunderstand here too.

  4. #4

    Re: Self/No-Self

    Quote Originally Posted by cyril
    Ok, so this relates to the self because it's that duality again: self or no self. There is no self separate from the universe, but there is a self in the sense that I am not you. We are 2 people, but we are connected in this universe.

    When talking or thinking about no-self I get really confused but I think it's somewhere in the middle of no self and a self. Yes you exist, but you are not separate. Is that the right understanding (still right/wrong thinking I guess)?
    You seem to have your answer right there in your "own" :lol: writing, there is the self and no-self co-existing both at once. So who is imagining (your question in the other thread), you? The universe?

    Maybe this will help:
    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Two_truths_doctrine

    I´m also a newbie so please correct me if I am wrong.

  5. #5

    Re: Self/No-Self

    Well, you've actually got a pretty good handle on it. Suzuki Roshi would tell you that both are right. There is no "self" because there is no "thing" that you can point to, no static unchanging representation of you, that you can say, "here is my self". Have you ever tried to find yourself? Where is it? Harder than finding the car keys, I assure you. But at the same time, you are you. This is the concept that we know of as dependent arising. Picture this. It's a sunny day. But then every day is a sunny day. So how do you really know it's a sunny day? What do you compare it to? What is your baseline measurement when there is no separation? But not every day is a sunny day, and we can tell this because there are cloudy days to compare to. However, they are the same thing. We are the ones who discriminate and say, "when the sun is up, it's day" or "when the sun is out, it's sunny." What would happen if you tried to tell the day it was a sunny day, or a cloudy day? Nothing. It would still be what it is, what ever that is. In this way we realize that everything is one, yet we also know that we cannot exist in this life, in this world of samsara, without the understanding that we must make some differentiation between things. It's just not practical. You said that the universe was here way before you. Maybe, maybe not. How do you know you weren't there all along? That you weren't part of it? If you broke down an atom from your body to it's most minuscule part (I think modern science calls it a quark now) and did the same thing with an atom from, say...... a tree, or a chair, or a monkey, would you be able to tell the difference between the "you" quark and the "tree" quark? Probably not, because we are all made from the same stuff. We are all connected, and we all embody the entirety of existence. Like looking at a lake from an airplane. You just see the round blue spot, but remember it contains fish and frogs, logs and weeds, sticks and sand.

    I might have gone a little overboard here, but the point of this (if I can find it in all this verbal mess I just made ops: ) was that that dualistic thinking is vital. We have to think in many directions, as Jundo said recently, because we know that all things are void, and this void is all things, which gives us the understanding that, fundamentally there is no difference between you and me, me and the zafu, the dog and my car. But we also know, from a practical stand point of a person who must live in THIS world, a chair is separate from my dinner, and a bird is separate from me.

    Also, remember not to fall into the trap of thinking that this "void" of the heart suttra is the void created by a lack of things. Think more along the lines of the "void" that exists right before a decision is made, the instant before the lightning flashes. The void of no action, but endless possibility.

  6. #6
    disastermouse
    Guest

    Re: Self/No-Self

    Self/no-self hurts because the mind wants an answer, a solution. How can the answer be yes, no, and neither?

    Because none of the constructions are ultimately solid. The best answer to the question may be that which cause the least suffering - but how do you nail that down? You don't, of course.

    And yet, in the moment, it's not really a problem.

    Which is advice I really need to take to heart myself.

  7. #7

    Re: Self/No-Self

    Hi,

    Talking about these things can be a bit like talking about the sweetness of vanilla ice cream. No philosophizing, no poem will capture what is best experienced on one's own tongue. So, keep "Just Sitting" and taste the ice cream.

    These conversations are also a lot like trying to nail down ice cream to the wall. 8)

    Quote Originally Posted by cyril
    ... Or as Jundo said, (and I'm paraphrasing) things are perfect as they are, but some things need to be tended to "no thing and some things to maintain"
    I would never say "things are perfect as they are" ("perfection vs. imperfection" is a judgment of the self-centered human brain). I would say that "things are wholly, perfectly, completely just what they are ... with not one thing to add or take away to make this life more this life".

    This entire life-self-world is just perfectly what it are when we drop our human judgments... yet, from another view, it is filled with many imperfections that we can and best get to work fixing!

    LEARN TO SEE STUFF FROM 'SIMULTANEOUSLY TRUE' PERSPECTIVE(S), FOLKS!

    Quote Originally Posted by cyril
    ... or "Form is Emptiness, Emptiness is Form". I think these are pointing to the same thing, and you may be saying "duh, of course" right now. lol

    It's like all of my practice so far has come down to this pattern... this duality I'm trying to get out of, but that's the conundrum. [
    Form is precisely emptiness, emptiness no other than form! (Heart Sutra)

    More than ...
    We are 2 people, but we are connected in this universe.
    ... it is more that we are 2 people, AND we are connected in this universe AND ... from even another way of seeing things ... we are so intimately and wholly and unbrokenly one beyond one that words like "2" "people" "connected" and "universe" are not needed. Something like that.

    All such perspective are simultaneously true, depending on how things are seen.

    Now, we cannot get out of this world of form (this complex world of 'Samsara'), at least, not so long as we are alive in this world. Even the flesh and blood Guatama Buddha lived in a world of growing old, aches and pains, me and you, this and that ... until he kicked the bucket, and it was not a concern any more (sometimes called "entering parinirvana"). Perhaps we can for a time in some extreme states of meditation, where all the world is dropped away ... but that is not a good place to stay and live. Might as well be in a coma.

    So, we cannot escape form, samsara.

    However, we can fully and completely escape form-samsara ... even as we can never fully and completely escape form-samsara (get used to experiencing life from all sides of the two side, no sided coin, folks!)

    In this Zen Practice, we do not get out of form ... even as we fully escape from form. Both at once, not two ... no conflict even amid life's conflicts.

    How? Look, my take on this whole "self/not self" is really very simple and naive.

    We are born as babies into a state where our brain immediately sets to work dividing "me" from "not me". That "me" is filled with countless likes and dislikes, aversions we run from and attractions we run too, attachments, other judgments, "should be's" and "I wish it would be's" about that "not me" ... about how "me" thinks that "not me should be".

    (I gave a very too nutshelly description of the process on today's sit-a-long) ...

    http://www.shambhalasun.com/sunspace/?p=17336

    In Zazen, the process is reversed to constantly varying degrees. The hard border between "me" and "not me" softens or, once in awhile, fully drops away (although, as mentioned for the latter ... nice place to visit, can't live there). Simultaneously, we start dropping the likes and dislikes, aversions and attractions, attachments, other judgments, "should be's" and "wish it would be's" Divisions fade, and there is seen a state beyond birth vs. death, wars vs. peace ... (and it is somehow very Alive and Peaceful, not barren and gray). What remains is kind of a Wholly Lovely Whole, the friction gone ... the war over. The broken egg is back in its unbroken shell (it was never out!).

    Yet, by the way, we still live in a world that quite often sucks eggs ... with a "me" "you" "the other guys" ... cancer, wars and oil leaks.

    So, a large part of this practice is harmonizing, and living amid, both of the "simultaneously true" ways of seeing life. "Enlightenment" does not make even a pimple go away, nor does it cure any of the world's problems ... even as, hand in hand, it makes one see that they were (from the other perspective) never quite there. The leaky oil does not get back in the broken oil well and needs to be cleaned up ... even as the egg gets back in the shell, and we see that there was never any place for the oil to leak to, nothing ever "clean vs. dirty".

    I can't make it any simpler.

    Now, get on your cushions and learn to experience and live this.

    Another famous Koan (with apologies to animal rights group PETA members) ...

    The Book of Serenity - Case 91: A baby gosling was placed inside one of those big glass bottles with a little opening that you see model ships in, and raised inside, until now it is full grown and can no longer fit through the neck of the bottle. How can you get the goose out of the bottle without breaking the bottle? A court official named Lu Geng asks Nanquan (Nan-ch'uan) how to get the goose out of the bottle. Nan-ch'uan calls "Sir!" and Lu Geng immediately responds, "Yes?" Nan-ch'uan said "It's out."
    Gassho, J

  8. #8

    Re: Self/No-Self

    Quote Originally Posted by Taylor
    When we are born, we enter the stage, our stage. It's not that we suddenly popped up on some preexisting set and started acting, our stage was created with us. This is because our stage, our world, is created by us and creates us. We support it (because if we're dead, where did our world go?), and it supports us (how could we define ourselves without everything else in the world?). Our view of this stage is certainly different from every other actor's view because no one can stand in the same place with the exact same set of views as anyone else. We can get close, but never the same.
    I ran with this theater analogy of Uchiyama Roshi one time ... and I think it is a pretty good way to look at some things. I think it a way to describe some pretty orthodox "Zenny" ways at looking at how the universe ticks. See if it helps ...


    First, I must "set the stage":

    Imagine that being born as a conscious human life in the universe is something like waking up to find yourself, for no known reason, an actor on a stage in a theater reciting lines in a play. (For our purposes, and so there is no confusion on my point, let us imagine that it is some kind of 'off-off-off Broadway', experimental "theatre of the absurd" in which there is only the barest scenery on a stage, and the actors are improvising the story moment to moment.) There may or may not be a playright, but the actors seem to be making the story up as they go along. When you were "born", you found yourself in some kind of role in the play ... with a name, family history, appearance , etc. But you have no way to know if you were given that role purely by chance or were assigned the role by some "playright". Nonetheless, here you are as "Taylor" That play, with its actors (of which you are one) in that theater building represents "the universe".

    Okay, have the scene?

    Now, one way to look at this is that the play was likely going on before you appeared on the stage and will continue in some form after your character dies (and you leave the play). This is the way we are used to looking at our relationship to the universe.

    But here is another way:

    Could there be a "play" without its actors? (Especially this type of play which doesn't seem to have a script apart from its actors)? We might say that, in this case, "no" there could not be.

    But moreover, we might say that there is really not only 'one play', but a constant series of plays constantly beginning anew and ending. So, the play that began when you stepped on the stage is not the same play that first began when you left the stage (and the play with you in it ended) ... even though there were some shared characters (other human beings on the planet) in the play before your play and the play that followed your play. (In fact, we might say that a new play is constantly starting and ending at each moment within a moment within your life too) The play with you in it is just not the same play without you in it, just like "Gone With The Wind" would have been a completely different movie (universe) if the character of Rhett Butler had never been written into the story, or Macbeth would have been a very different story if Macduff had died in the first act.

    And do not confuse the theatre building with the theatre play. You might try to argue that the theatre building goes on with or without a particular play, but without plays it is just a barren, empty building. The true theatre (universe) is not just a building, but the play in the building. So we might say that the character of the whole changes, is born and dies, depending on you.It is just not the same "theatre" as it would be before or after you.

    So, it is actually that when you die the whole play ends.(Whether a new play starts at that point ... that is another story [pun intended]). Without you, the show with you cannot go on.
    Gassho, Jundo

  9. #9
    Senior Member pinoybuddhist's Avatar
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    Re: Self/No-Self

    Nice analogy there. I'm looking forward to watching the Sit-a-long video. But first: LUNCH! :mrgreen:

  10. #10

    Re: Self/No-Self

    Thank you Jundo and I'm sorry I keep misquoting you ops:

    Gassho

    Cyril

  11. #11

    Re: Self/No-Self

    Quote Originally Posted by JohnsonCM
    In this way we realize that everything is one, yet we also know that we cannot exist in this life, in this world of samsara, without the understanding that we must make some differentiation between things. It's just not practical. You said that the universe was here way before you. Maybe, maybe not. How do you know you weren't there all along? That you weren't part of it? If you broke down an atom from your body to it's most minuscule part (I think modern science calls it a quark now) and did the same thing with an atom from, say...... a tree, or a chair, or a monkey, would you be able to tell the difference between the "you" quark and the "tree" quark? Probably not, because we are all made from the same stuff. We are all connected, and we all embody the entirety of existence. Like looking at a lake from an airplane. You just see the round blue spot, but remember it contains fish and frogs, logs and weeds, sticks and sand.
    Thich Nhat Hanh has one of the most lovely images of this perspective on "dependent co-origination" and "no self" ... which he likes to call "interbeing" ... another way of expressing what we are discussing ...

    Imagine something as real and tangible as a piece of paper ...

    If you are a poet, you will see clearly that there is a cloud floating in this sheet of paper. Without a cloud, there will be no rain; without rain, the trees cannot grow; and without trees, we cannot make paper. The cloud is essential for the paper to exist. If the cloud is not here, the sheet of paper cannot be here either. So we can say that the cloud and the paper inter-are. “Interbeing” is a word that is not in the dictionary yet, but if we combine the prefix “inter-” with the verb “to be,” we ha vea new verb, inter-be. Without a cloud and the sheet of paper inter-are.

    If we look into this sheet of paper even more deeply, we can see the sunshine in it. If the sunshine is not there, the forest cannot grow. In fact, nothing can grow. Even we cannot grow without sunshine. And so, we know that the sunshine is also in this sheet of paper. The paper and the sunshine inter-are. And if we continue to look, we can see the logger who cut the tree and brought it to the mill to be transformed into paper. And wesee the wheat. We now the logger cannot exist without his daily bread, and therefore the wheat that became his bread is also in this sheet of paper. And the logger’s father and mother are in it too. When we look in this way, we see that without all of these things, this sheet of paper cannot exist.

    Looking even more deeply, we can see we are in it too. This is not difficult to see, because when we look at a sheet of paper, the sheet of paper is part of our perception. Your mind is in here and mine is also. So we can say that everything is in here with this sheet of paper. You cannot point out one thing that is not here-time, space, the earth, the rain, the minerals in the soil, the sunshine, the cloud, the river, the heat. Everything co-exists with this sheet of paper. That is why I think the word inter-be should be in the dictionary. “To be” is to inter-be. You cannot just be by yourself alone. You have to inter-be with every other thing. This sheet of paper is, because everything else is.

    Suppose we try to return one of the elements to its source. Suppose we return the sunshine to the sun. Do you think that this sheet of paper will be possible? No, without sunshine nothing can be. And if we return the logger to his mother, then we have no sheet of paper either. The fact is that this sheet of paper is made up only of “non-paper elements.” And if we return these non-paper elements to their sources, then there can be no paper at all. Without “non-paper elements,” like mind, logger, sunshine and so on, there will be no paper. As thin as this sheet of paper is, it contains everything in the universe in it.

    From: The Heart of Understanding: Commentaries on the Prajnaparamita Heart Sutra
    The only thing I would add to this is that, again, this view of "interbeing" is one "simultaneously true" perspective on self and not-self.

    There is also that view where there is no paper, tree, forest, cloud, rain, soil, sun and sunshine, logger ... are not and never were. All just atoms,quarks in atoms, energy ... not even that ...

    There is also that view by which paper is fully and completely paper, with not one thing to add or take away to make it more papery ... and the same for trees and sun and loggers and all the rest ...

    There is also that view by which loggers are cutting down too many trees in the forest to feed our wasteful use of paper, resulting in the rain washing away the soil and the earth turning to desert.

    All true.

  12. #12

    Re: Self/No-Self

    Wow. That's really awesome. I'm going to have to start reading Thich Nhat Hanh's works. Gassho, Jundo.

  13. #13

    Re: Self/No-Self

    This is brilliant! Thank you so much Jundo, and everyone that responded

  14. #14

    Re: Self/No-Self

    Keep it up Jundo - I'm starting to get a flickering of understanding when I read your posts. Then it's gone as quick as it came, but maybe you're starting to get through.

    Gassho,

    Craig

  15. #15

    Re: Self/No-Self

    I bow to self/No-self.

    I use a lot less paper now than 10 years ago
    I bow to computers and scanners
    /Rich

  16. #16

    Re: Self/No-Self

    Hello Cyril,
    When I first started this practice, the idea of emptiness was the hardest to grasp. I was trying to intellectualize it too much, so I couldn't come close to what it really meant. Emptiness means (to me) to experience life without any judgements, prejudices, or expectations. I've had the emptiness discussion many times, and this is the only way that I can truly express what emptiness means. It is not living life empty of feeling or without any cares to what happens. It's just experiencing every moment as it is. Letting each moment pass over us and letting things be.

    The self/no self topic is interesting too. We are not a constant self because we are always changing. We are not the same person we were 10 years or 10 minutes ago, but we make perceptions and ideas about who we are in order to survive day to day. It's not a question of if we exist because we do, but not the way that we believe we do.... :wink: .

    I hope this helps and I hope that I'm not completely in left field about these concepts. Thanks for your post!

    Gassho,

    Adam

  17. #17
    Senior Member Heisoku's Avatar
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    Re: Self/No-Self

    Hi,
    Perhaps you could clarify for me something about no-self that I may be misunderstanding or not.
    For some time I have thought that no-self to be the same as emptiness.
    When all notions and perceptions of a self are 'not-present' then is what is left or experienced 'emptiness'?

    Now I have had moments of a kind of emptiness, where there has been no-self in terms of no judgemental preoccupations or sense of a ME (physically or mentally) and when the present just exists...no emotional stirrings nor desire for anything else. These situations/ moments were quite ordinary and their clarity was extraordinary, but they were nothing special ..just empty.

    I don't cling to these experiences but they have been a reference of what I perceive as no-self / emptiness, particularly as recently my zazen seems to have extended further into my working day and things I do just happen 'right' and this have benefitted me both as a person and in my career. I don't want to ruin this flow by analysing it, but if you could offer a clarification about this no-self / emptiness thing I would be really interested to hear your insights.

    Many thanks.

    Gassho Nigel

  18. #18

    Re: Self/No-Self

    Sometimes when I am experiencing pain and suffering my thinking becomes crazy and I just cut it off, then it becomes clear what to do. This before thinking or non-thinking is no self, don't know, emptiness. Lex Hixon (current book club) said "There is nothing more than or other than pure attention, limitless awareness" Accepting this awareness, paying attention to the myriad phenomena of which your thinking is one of, is the function of your self which continues to manifest as the body-mind as long as you live. So just sitting, returning to this 'awareness' or 'moment ' again and again is the practice and the most important thing and the whole self/no self thing is not necessary to understand IMHO

    /Rich

  19. #19

    Re: Self/No-Self

    Quote Originally Posted by Nigel99
    Hi,
    Perhaps you could clarify for me something about no-self that I may be misunderstanding or not.
    For some time I have thought that no-self to be the same as emptiness.
    When all notions and perceptions of a self are 'not-present' then is what is left or experienced 'emptiness'?

    Now I have had moments of a kind of emptiness, where there has been no-self in terms of no judgemental preoccupations or sense of a ME (physically or mentally) and when the present just exists...no emotional stirrings nor desire for anything else. These situations/ moments were quite ordinary and their clarity was extraordinary, but they were nothing special ..just empty.

    I don't cling to these experiences but they have been a reference of what I perceive as no-self / emptiness, particularly as recently my zazen seems to have extended further into my working day and things I do just happen 'right' and this have benefitted me both as a person and in my career. I don't want to ruin this flow by analysing it, but if you could offer a clarification about this no-self / emptiness thing I would be really interested to hear your insights.

    Many thanks.

    Gassho Nigel
    I believe it limiting to try to define "no self" as one thing or state, in much the same way that it would be misleading to define "the sea" as one thing ... for that is H2O, a place to sail, grave to sailors, a home to clams, an eco-system, the briny deep, the salty taste right on the tip of your own tongue, as well as just that water we dive into for a swim on a sunny day. Moreover, it is something covering the whole world, flowing here and there, and constantly changing. All are correct ways of describing faces of "the sea".

    So it is with "self/no self" and emptiness ... which manifest in many different shades at various moments.

    The basic premise is that the day to day sense of "self" (as "my separate self vs. the rest of the world") is clutching, attached, judgmental of life, resistant to "how thing are" vs. "how I would wish them to be". Soften that sense of "self" and let go of all its judgments ... and the process reverses. We become "at one" with life. Understanding this Truth of "self/other" and "no self"as the medicine for that "dis-ease" ... in the marrow of the bones, and then some ... is vital to this practice and, though sometimes expressed in varying ways, has been since Buddhism began.

    We cannot live life without some sense of "self" and its judgments ... for otherwise, we would be as frozen as the rocks and trees, could not even choose to get out of bed in the morning. However, we can get to a point of "having judgments and dropping all judgments" at once, of having lightly held but passionate "goals and dreams" while also feeling "there is no place in need of going, nothing in need of attaining" all at once ... like two sides of a no sided coin.

    I believe that is the most basic key to the Four Noble Truths ...

    In a nutshell, Your “self” wishes this world to be X, yet this world is not X. The mental state that may result to the “self” from this disparity is Dukkha.
    .
    Shakyamuni Buddha gave many examples: sickness (when we do not wish to be sick), old age (when we long for youth), death (if we cling to life), loss of a loved one (as we cannot let go), violated expectations, the failure of happy moments to last (though we wish them to last). Even joyous moments — such as happiness and good news, treasure or pleasant times — can be a source of suffering if we cling to them, if we are attached to those things.

    In ancient stories, Dukkha is often compared to a chariot’s or potter’s wheel that will not turn smoothly as it revolves. The opposite, Sukkha, is a wheel that spins smoothly and noiselessly, without resistance as it goes.

    ...

    Our “dissatisfaction,” “disappointment,”‘ “unease” and “frustration” — Dukkha — arises as a state of mind, as our demands and wishes for how things “should be” or “if only would be for life to be content” differ from”the way things are.” Your “self” wishes this world to be X, yet this world is not X. That wide gap of “self” and “not self” is the source of Dukkha.
    .
    Our Practice closes the gap; not the least separation.
    http://www.shambhalasun.com/sunspace/?p=15344
    and
    http://www.shambhalasun.com/sunspace/?p=15509

    We dance with life ... whatever comes, the ups and downs, sickness, growing old, happy times and sad ...

    And sometimes we can just lose ourself in the dance, completely fluid and welcoming of whatever comes ...

    Thus, I can compare emptiness to a dance ... always changing ...

    viewtopic.php?p=36135#p36135

    How do we experience all this?

    Shikantaza ... Just Sitting Zazen, allowing all judgments, demands, "what ifs" and "if only's" to drift from mind.

    Gassho, Jundo

  20. #20
    Senior Member Heisoku's Avatar
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    Re: Self/No-Self

    Thank you Jundo and Rich,

    I get a better sense now and see the limitations of my thinking!
    Back to zazen.

    Gassho Nigel

  21. #21

    Re: Self/No-Self

    Quote Originally Posted by Nigel99
    Thank you Jundo and Rich,

    I get a better sense now and see the limitations of my thinking!
    Back to zazen.

    Gassho Nigel
    Actually your question helped me, so thank you.
    /Rich

  22. #22

    Re: Self/No-Self

    You question helped me ... and not me ... too.

    Help goes all around!

    Gassho, J

  23. #23

    Re: Self/No-Self

    I think of the idea of "self" kind of like a crowbar or a hatchet, both cause a violent separation. This emptiness of the heart suttra isn't some sort of vacuum or void of "stuff-lessness" I see it more like the instant in time right before the lightning flashes. Right before you do a thing. If the thing has yet to be done, there is void. If you are doing the thing, but it is not yet complete, there is void. If you are done the thing, waiting for the next thing to do, there is void. These ideas of "me" and the "self", of action, completing a task, doing something, void, emptiness, they are all perceptions. The mind perceives the difference between "you" and "me", but there is no difference really, so this difference, this "you", this "me" is all void...emptiness. However, there really is a "you" and a "me" in this practical world of samsara which we all must live in. So this void is really form. See? Self is an idea, it has no substance, no weight, displaces no mass, can't be found, seen, heard, smelled, tasted, etc. Sure, your body has weight and substance, but your body is your body, it isn't the "self". You can point to your body, your eyes see, people can hear the sound of air through vocal cords, smell your sweat and cologne, taste the salt in your sweat, etc. but none of that is this funky "self" thing. But there is still a "you" and a "me" that are independent of one another. I like rock music, you like country. I have brown hair, you are blond. Now here's the kicker, you can only define "me" BECAUSE there is a "you" to contrast me. Your mind can only see the difference, BECAUSE THERE IS A DIFFERENCE to be seen. In this way, we are also dependent on one another. However, we are all made of the same stuff, living on the same world in the same universe, eating food grown in the same soil, fed by the same rain, drinking the same water. In this way, we are all "One", too.

    In the end, don't get too attached to "self", "you", "me", "it", "he", "she", "one", "many", etc. Just be, and be well. Be wholly, honestly, and completely what you are, when you are, how you are, being mindful and compassionate, and allowing all of this stuff to just fall away, until you can let your "self" be yourself.

    Now, I'm off to sit and try to accomplish all of that, which I may or may not do (ok let's face it, way more than likely it'll be in the "not do" section), but I'm grateful either way to have been given the opportunity.

  24. #24

    Re: Self/No-Self

    Just as each cell in my body can be said to be a separate biological organism, but each is part of an interdependant whole I call my body, each human being can be looked at as a separate organism, but is also a part of the whole organism that we call planet earth.

    Unfortunately, the human race sometimes looks more like a cancerous disease on planet earth than an integral part of the whole organism, but I think the cause of that has a lot to do with our sense of being separate selves and all the greed, fear and hatred that comes from that very notion.

  25. #25

    Re: Self/No-Self

    Quote Originally Posted by Jronin
    Unfortunately, the human race sometimes looks more like a cancerous disease on planet earth than an integral part of the whole organism, but I think the cause of that has a lot to do with our sense of being separate selves and all the greed, fear and hatred that comes from that very notion.
    This is one of the reasons that we practice. This is the proof positive that these ideas of a seperate "you" from "me" cause hardship and suffering in the world. Take Kashmir, constantly fought over by India and Pakistan. Mostly, it's mountains and not much else. But this idea of "India" and "Pakistan" each want it for them "selves". But, we as Buddhists know that this cannot be no matter what they do. The land is the land, belonging to itself, and to everyone, and to no one. Go to Kashmir and tell the mountains they are Indian or Pakistani. The mountains will not care, they will still be mountains. They will still be mountains long after "India" and "Pakistan" are memories whose borders exist only in history books. This seperation is us feeding our desires and listening to the delusions that our minds create in order to feel justified in continuing to feed them. It is the Second Noble Truth:

    What is the Noble Truth of the Origin of Suffering?

    It is craving which renews being and is accompanied by relish and lust, relishing this and that: in other words, craving for sensual desires, craving for being, craving for non-being. But whereon does this craving arise and flourish? Wherever there is what seems lovable and gratifying, thereon it arises and flourishes.

    There is this Noble Truth of the Origin of Suffering:such was the vision, insight, wisdom, knowing and light that arose in me about things not heard before.

    This Noble Truth must be penetrated to by abandoning the origin of suffering....

    enetrated to by abandoning the origin of suffering: such was the vision, insight, wisdom, knowing and light that arose in me about things not heard before.
    [Samyutta Nikaya LVI, 11]

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