Message Boards Message Boards

Toggle
Non-self
Answer
11/29/19 3:49 PM
Maybe a decade ago, I was quite depressed and looked to Buddhism to help me find an end to my suffering. I bought the book "In the Buddha's Words" and used some of the instructions in the book to meditate. One night, I was meditating, then I stopped, went to the book and read a passage (I don't recall what passage). Maybe within a second or two, I felt a subtle sensation in my head, then my sense of self dissappeared. "I" could still see, but the sense of "I" was gone. This maybe lasted for 3 seconds and then my sense of self came back. This had a profound effect on me and I have been trying to get back to that place since.

I've never seen lights or had very significant bodily sensations. I notice visual snow if I pay attention to my sight. That's about it.

Pleasr, can you give me some information or recommendations? Thank you. -M

RE: Non-self
Answer
11/29/19 4:56 PM as a reply to matt lange.
Hi and welcome!

Meditation and the Buddha's teachings have hit a note with you. You might say that the serum is in! Or, the seed has found a place to germinate.

Have you read Daniel Ingram's book? You can read it for free here.



RE: Non-self
Answer
11/29/19 9:07 PM as a reply to matt lange.
This usually happens after a practitioner has clocked in hours of practice to realize their true nature. but the reality is that intuition requires no distance to be traveled and insights can just happen if everything is aligned properly. 

You must have made some sort of connection at that moment that knocked you out of your concretized perceptions. 
Non-self is just an idea. what do "you" think "you" are? The answers are already ingrained within you, you're just not aware of it consciously.

RE: Non-self
Answer
11/30/19 6:36 AM as a reply to matt lange.
That sounds like you had a glimpse of No Self. (Existential realization) 

Consider it an invitation from Gotama. 

Returning to this state and remaining for awhile would, as Mr. Tibbs has already indicated,
require putting in the hours required - at least 3-7 days of your time (2-4 hours a day),
at minimum - a koan to study and someone who has already attained kensho to
monitor your progress.

You could also accomplish this by monitoring the breath (samatha) or shikantaza ("just sitting"),
but as you've already had a glimpse of No Self, koan study would probably produce the fastest
result. Or perhaps you'd rather proceed more slowly? 

There are no shortage of Dharma Overground members who could grade the degree of your
attainment. This is absolutely necessary due to the fact that you are much more likely to 
mistake an A&P event for enlightenment than anything else. There are just too many ways
to get lost.

RE: Non-self
Answer
12/16/19 6:22 PM as a reply to David Kyle Spencer.
I don't know if that was enlightenment, so to speak. Though I (using this term in the conventional sense) did have a profound insight into non-self, I didn't have a profound insight into impermanence or suffering. 

I want so very much to develop a practice where I can realize those insights. But, my job is super demanding- like Daniel I'm also a physician- but my field can have heavy demands on one's time. However, I have heard stories of someone from my field interviewing at competitive programs and talking about a recent meditation retreats that she had gone on. 

Also, I think that I would like a relationship and a family. In fact, I would say that my three goals are nibbana, relationship/family, and success in my career.

Right now, as far as nibbana/enlightenment are concerned, I want a clear vision so I know what it is I am looking for (beyond no-self). One could get into a discussion about everything already being here- but, why then try to develop a meditation practice if it's all already here? I can say then that the profound seeing and recognizing of dukkha and impermanence is not yet here. Once they have occurred, my hope is that I will be more at ease and settle into a path. When the no-self experience/insight occurred, at that time in my life I was only trying to end my suffering- I didn't know or understand anything about non-self or impermanence. 

All of this is so jumbled in my response, and I would hesitate to post this; but, it has taken a lot for me to open myself up to a community by registering and submitting my first post. My worry is that if I don't post this now, I'll simply decide to keep my thoughts and feelings to myself, as I have done for over a decade. I guess this is my engaging with the Sangha. Anyone who reads this and cares to respond, I sincerely appreciate your feedback. 

RE: Non-self
Answer
12/16/19 7:24 PM as a reply to matt lange.
Well done on the courage to post Matt. It seems common to get fantastic glimpses or insights that don't necessarily persist, or are incomplete, but lead people on to the path. As you are a scientist (i.e. physician) let me try a brief explanation oriented to your background.

1. The self is really just a set of six sense consciousnesses (including the mind sense/memory/cognition). These sense consciounesses are overlaid with an out of control feedback mechanism.

2. Part of the operation of the feedback mechanism is the reification of some patterns of sense data into 'internal concepts' (similar to recognition memory in psychology), and generating craving for those concepts. That is we become passionate about grapsing or avoiding things that are ultimately just concepts in our own head.

3. The concepts are not externally real, and are constantly changing, while the sense data comes and goes on a momentary level as the nerves and neurons fire. So our craving after unreal ever-changing things is bound to create unhappiness and angst. This seems to be hardwired into the default human condition. We seek satisfactoriness from permanent things including ourselves, but never achieve it because none of these things exist in the way we think they do.

4. The truth is that we are sensory process, rather than an enduring physical thing. It's not that there is no-self, so much as our body, feelings, perceptions, voiltions and consciousness are all not-self.  We do exist, just not in the way we every thought - we are verbs, not nouns. 

5. So if we can deconstruct the negative part of the feedback mechanism, we can get rid of all the suffering. Then we can permanently dwell in delightful state of the process of appreciation of the world. But the road is kind of tough, because you have to stop suprressing emotions, dismantle defence mechanims, and deal with all your stuff. And there may be moments of depersonalistion, derealisation, and the need to rethink the nature of love. But don't worry, it all comes back better than ever before, particularly once you realise your loved ones are as much a part of you as you are.

6. The path involves developing concentration, calm and insight. There are many different ways to do this.  As a physician you will already have excellent single pointed concentration. Calm will likely involve acknowledging and accepting emotions, and relinquishing or contradicting any grudges or fears that you have (including regrets), and living an ethical life so you don't generate new subtle regrets. Insight involves fine tuning your concentration and pointing it at yourself - first the bodily sensations, then emotions, then mind, and finally the mechanisms that construct your self and your reality. 

7. Simple really! And at the end of it you will know for yourself that you are a process, not a thing, and that grasping after things (including existence as a thing) leads to suffering, as all 'things' are just impermanent constructions of the mind. Yes there is probably a real world too, but we live in the world of our perceptions. As a test of this idea, consider how sense data varies widely between species - which has the 'real' perceptions?
 
8. But then, how to start? There are so many good approaches, and the danger is taking bits from each and confusing them. So until you decide what track to take, you could try practicing metta - compassion and loving kindness to those around you and beyond. This should work in well with your career. By building a base of metta you will strengthen your concentration, develop calm by contradicting any negative tendencies in your emotions, and may even get you into a flow state of absorption in the bliss of loving kindness (these blissful flow states really help progress, and are an excellent foundation for insight practice). So metta could be a very goood prepartory practice. But remember, you have to forgive others, and you have to forgive yourself.

9. Then you need to decide which type of technique to follow - zen, mctb, anapansati, tibetan non-dual approaches, really hard core metta and so on. And then put in some time. This will involve a bit of study, but you can definitely practice on the job.

I hope some part of this is helpful.  If so, feel free to ask more questions.

Malcolm

RE: Non-self
Answer
12/16/19 9:16 PM as a reply to Not two, not one.
That was beautiful, thank you for posting! With tribute emoticon i must incorporate this into my journal! Much love

RE: Non-self
Answer
12/17/19 6:50 AM as a reply to matt lange.
All of this is so jumbled in my response, and I would hesitate to post this; but, it has taken a lot for me to open myself up to a community by registering and submitting my first post. My worry is that if I don't post this now, I'll simply decide to keep my thoughts and feelings to myself, as I have done for over a decade. I guess this is my engaging with the Sangha. Anyone who reads this and cares to respond, I sincerely appreciate your feedback. 

Hello, Matt.

Like you, I have a demanding career. I was likewise enamored of developing a deep meditation practice and yet fearful of not having the appropriate amount of time for it. I, too, felt disconnected from my family (wife and four children). That was over twenty years ago.

I started to practice when I could and decided to do so with as much dedication as I could bring to it given my circumstances. I started practicing for 30 minutes twice a day, morning and night. I would do that daily - no matter what.  I quickly discovered that if you really want to find a time and place to meditate, you will. I also discovered that 30 minutes twice a day is enough to make a huge difference. Huge!

You can do it, too.

About fifteen years ago I was talked into posting about my practice online by my then-teacher Kenneth Folk. It made me nervous at first but I got used to it. That, too, was a long time ago. I've been posting about my practice online ever since.

You can do this, too.

I wish you all the best, and hang in there!

RE: Non-self
Answer
12/18/19 1:57 PM as a reply to matt lange.
Congrats on your first posts!

It sounds like you have a solid idea of where you've been (seeing not-self) and where you're going (seeing the other characteristics and grokking the whole Buddhist meditation thing). One thing that's nice about the three characteristics is that they all point to each other. Seeing one makes it easier to see the others. However, due to our lifelong accumulated habits of "selfing," not-self is often the hardest one to see at first. The Buddha began his teaching by pointing out the characteristic of dissatisfaction, ie suffering, instead, since this one is certainly easy to see in everyday life. He does this via the four noble truths.

Funnily enough, some traditions describe the Buddha as a spiritual doctor in his presentation of the four noble truths. He studies the symptom, diagnoses the cause, apprehends how to adress it, and prescribes a regimen for how to do that. The regimen is then the eightfold path, or the three trainings. It sounds simplistic and I'm certain you already know it, but it can be profoundly powerful to begin any formal meditation simply by recollecting the goal of this entire thing, encapsulated elegantly by those four truths, out loud or mentally. To refresh these are:
1. Dissatisfaction happens.
2. Dissatisfaction comes from clinging to impermanent things.
3. Ending clinging ends dissatisfaction.
4. To end clinging, undertake the three trainings: refrain from encouraging clinging (sila), calm and focus this now-ethical mind (samadhi), use this concentration to directly see the characteristics of phenomena (prajna).

Again, I'm sure you already know this. But when you are busy, every minute of practice counts. Taking the time to begin your session by recollecting the framing behind why you practice at all helps direct this practice so it can be as effective as possible.

This is why so many vipassana practices are essentially to dispassionately watch some phenomenon construct itself, change, and then fall apart. Simply that progression can reveal all three characteristics. This is so important that the Buddha's last words were about this. This turns the four noble truths into obvious statements of fact rather than articles of faith.