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Loss of Sense of Self Mikko 2/23/16 12:11 PM
RE: Loss of Sense of Self Kim Katami 2/23/16 12:34 PM
RE: Loss of Sense of Self Mikko 2/23/16 1:24 PM
RE: Loss of Sense of Self Kim Katami 2/23/16 1:57 PM
RE: Loss of Sense of Self Mikko 2/24/16 1:24 PM
RE: Loss of Sense of Self Robert 2/24/16 2:57 PM
RE: Loss of Sense of Self Mikko 2/25/16 11:36 AM
RE: Loss of Sense of Self Robert 2/26/16 1:58 PM
RE: Loss of Sense of Self Don Merchant 2/29/16 4:54 AM
RE: Loss of Sense of Self Robert 2/29/16 5:32 AM
RE: Loss of Sense of Self Robert 2/26/16 2:24 PM
RE: Loss of Sense of Self Mikko 2/27/16 9:28 AM
RE: Loss of Sense of Self Robert 2/27/16 12:41 PM
RE: Loss of Sense of Self Mikko 2/27/16 2:28 PM
RE: Loss of Sense of Self Robert 2/27/16 3:20 PM
RE: Loss of Sense of Self Mikko 3/30/17 12:39 PM
RE: Loss of Sense of Self Robert 2/27/16 3:49 PM
RE: Loss of Sense of Self Mikko 2/28/16 3:54 AM
RE: Loss of Sense of Self Robert 2/28/16 11:30 AM
RE: Loss of Sense of Self Mark 2/28/16 7:11 AM
RE: Loss of Sense of Self Robert 2/28/16 11:31 AM
RE: Loss of Sense of Self Mark 2/28/16 1:01 PM
RE: Loss of Sense of Self Robert 2/28/16 2:21 PM
RE: Loss of Sense of Self Mark 2/28/16 2:42 PM
RE: Loss of Sense of Self Robert 2/28/16 4:00 PM
RE: Loss of Sense of Self Mark 2/29/16 1:36 AM
RE: Loss of Sense of Self Psi 2/28/16 7:24 PM
RE: Loss of Sense of Self Mark 2/29/16 1:54 AM
RE: Loss of Sense of Self Robert 2/29/16 5:28 AM
RE: Loss of Sense of Self Mark 2/29/16 7:35 AM
RE: Loss of Sense of Self Robert 2/29/16 10:34 AM
RE: Loss of Sense of Self Mark 2/29/16 3:25 PM
RE: Loss of Sense of Self Robert 3/3/16 3:09 AM
RE: Loss of Sense of Self Mark 3/1/16 6:00 AM
RE: Loss of Sense of Self Psi 2/29/16 2:00 PM
RE: Loss of Sense of Self Mark 2/29/16 2:51 PM
RE: Loss of Sense of Self Psi 2/29/16 3:30 PM
RE: Loss of Sense of Self Mark 3/1/16 1:49 AM
RE: Loss of Sense of Self Robert 3/1/16 2:12 AM
RE: Loss of Sense of Self Mark 3/1/16 6:15 AM
RE: Loss of Sense of Self Robert 3/1/16 11:36 AM
RE: Loss of Sense of Self Mark 3/1/16 3:32 PM
RE: Loss of Sense of Self Psi 3/14/16 7:12 PM
RE: Loss of Sense of Self Kim Katami 3/1/16 10:05 AM
RE: Loss of Sense of Self Robert 3/1/16 11:09 AM
RE: Loss of Sense of Self Kim Katami 3/1/16 11:24 AM
RE: Loss of Sense of Self neko 2/24/16 3:04 PM
RE: Loss of Sense of Self Mikko 2/25/16 11:41 AM
RE: Loss of Sense of Self -- Timus -- 2/27/16 10:21 AM
RE: Loss of Sense of Self Mikko 2/27/16 12:37 PM
RE: Loss of Sense of Self Mikko 3/30/17 1:03 PM
RE: Loss of Sense of Self tamaha 6/7/17 12:28 AM
RE: Loss of Sense of Self Mikko 6/7/17 12:53 PM
Loss of Sense of Self
Answer
2/23/16 12:11 PM
Hello,

I'm new here so here's a little background information on me. I've been practicing for 2 years, mainly vipassana. For the first year I meditated maybe 10 minutes a day and sometimes did body scans and a little longer guided meditations. I started meditating to get relief from an unhealthy level of stress. Meditation helped, but I still continued to feel an increasing amount of stress that eventually turned into anxiety and a couple of panic attacks.

For the last year, due to anxiety, mindfulness have become a big part of my everyday life as the significance of my formal practice has continued to increase as well. I'm now mostly anxiety-free, and in fact, anxiety together with my practice has been a great source of personal growth. I currently practice 40-60 minutes a day. I do vipassana, some samatha and occasionally body scans.

Here's my question. For the last couple of weeks, without a better way to put it, I have been feeling strange about reality and especially about the idea of myself. There has been no sensory experiences related to this, I've just had trouble getting in touch with or really feeling who I am and what my motives are. Also, my thoughts have often felt distant and weak. My formal practice has been going well with a little less distractions than usual.

I've wondered if, instead of a result of my practice, this could be depersonalisation that is common with people suffering from anxiety. However, I haven't felt any sensory symptoms of depersonalisation and my experiences haven't really involved anxiety. Because of this, I'm inclined to think that I'm going through some change in perspective.

Can you help me figure out what is happening?

RE: Loss of Sense of Self
Answer
2/23/16 12:34 PM as a reply to Mikko.
Mikko:
Hello,

For the last couple of weeks, without a better way to put it, I have been feeling strange about reality and especially about the idea of myself. There has been no sensory experiences related to this, I've just had trouble getting in touch with or really feeling who I am and what my motives are. Also, my thoughts have often felt distant and weak. My formal practice has been going well with a little less distractions than usual.

I've wondered if, instead of a result of my practice, this could be depersonalisation that is common with people suffering from anxiety. However, I haven't felt any sensory symptoms of depersonalisation and my experiences haven't really involved anxiety. Because of this, I'm inclined to think that I'm going through some change in perspective.

Can you help me figure out what is happening?
Terve Mikko,

Can you describe more clearly what is "strange about reality"? If you consider yourself as a "me", a solid entity, how does it feel? Does it feel like there is such an entity? Or not?

One thing that comes with dropping off of the sense of me, is that thoughts and emotions don't feel the same anymore. They are weak or at least weaker than prior to awakening.

Cheers,

Baba

RE: Loss of Sense of Self
Answer
2/23/16 1:24 PM as a reply to Kim Katami.
Kim Katami:


Terve Mikko,

Can you describe more clearly what is "strange about reality"? If you consider yourself as a "me", a solid entity, how does it feel? Does it feel like there is such an entity? Or not?

One thing that comes with dropping off of the sense of me, is that thoughts and emotions don't feel the same anymore. They are weak or at least weaker than prior to awakening.

Cheers,

Baba


Terve emoticon

I'll try to be more specific. What feels strange about reality to me is the idea of having a body, existing in that body and experiencing the outside world through that body. All that feels strange to me now or maybe I'm just realizing it for the first time.

When I previously thought of myself, I felt a sense of familiarity and a lot of things came to my mind - goals, desires, attitudes etc. Now, I could write a list of those things but I'm having a hard time associating with them. Lately, when I've done some activities typical for me, I've felt closer to the sense of self I previously had, but I'm not really identifying with it or any other self for that matter.

RE: Loss of Sense of Self
Answer
2/23/16 1:57 PM as a reply to Mikko.
Mikko:

Terve emoticon

I'll try to be more specific. What feels strange about reality to me is the idea of having a body, existing in that body and experiencing the outside world through that body. All that feels strange to me now or maybe I'm just realizing it for the first time.

When I previously
thought of myself, I felt a sense of familiarity and a lot of things came to my mind - goals, desires, attitudes etc. Now, I could write a list of those things but I'm having a hard time associating with them. Lately, when I've done some activities typical for me, I've felt closer to the sense of self I previously had, but I'm not really identifying with it or any other self for that matter.

Oukkidoukki. I'm getting a picture of what you mean. What happens with awakening, with the I becoming disillusioned, is that one feels ordinary, present, even amazed. Things in life feel intimate but it feels different than before because the I doesn't chop everything off in the mind. Based on this, it could well be that awakening has taken place in your mind but I am not 100% sure without careful inspection. If you wish, you can contact me (kimkatami(at)hotmail.com) and we can talk about it.

As a general guideline: If it feels OK and clearer and calmer than before, it must be a good thing.

RE: Loss of Sense of Self
Answer
2/24/16 1:24 PM as a reply to Kim Katami.
Kim Katami:

Oukkidoukki. I'm getting a picture of what you mean. What happens with awakening, with the I becoming disillusioned, is that one feels ordinary, present, even amazed. Things in life feel intimate but it feels different than before because the I doesn't chop everything off in the mind. Based on this, it could well be that awakening has taken place in your mind but I am not 100% sure without careful inspection. If you wish, you can contact me (kimkatami(at)hotmail.com) and we can talk about it.

As a general guideline: If it feels OK and clearer and calmer than before, it must be a good thing.


I do feel alright and clearer and calmer than before. So whatever this is, I'll take it.

Today, I tried to see if I would at any point slip back to my "old self". It didn't happen. I was also unable to get hold of a feeling of a "solid me".

Thank you Kim for your insight! I'll email you, so we can continue this using our beloved mother tongue emoticon Still, keeping to the principles of this forum, I'd be happy to hear other interpretations of my experience as well.

RE: Loss of Sense of Self
Answer
2/24/16 2:57 PM as a reply to Mikko.
Mikko:


Today, I tried to see if I would at any point slip back to my "old self". It didn't happen. I was also unable to get hold of a feeling of a "solid me".


This still seems like a state that is being observed. The "I tried to see if I would at any point slip back" is another form of ego. It's the stick that is used in enquiry and in the end gets burned away also. But it's good to know that it's still movement of thought. There is awareness of all this though, and that's the "Self" or "Brahman" that the scriptures refer to. It's been there all along, unaffected, even when the apparent contraction has been active. So that contraction and the release or a "shift" have to do with the mind. Thought comparing a new state to an old one. And the awareness/beingness is beyond this swing and the one (thought made observer) that makes a distinction between these two.

But this is normal. Happens along the apparent way for most people gotten caught in this death process. Btw. there might be a contraction later on, and then it releases, and then it's back again.. If this keeps on going then there are some hooks or identities which aren't recognised that are causing the contraction. The identity is in a story line but there's also a certain sensation beneath it that is taken to be "me". So it is to get clear about what the story or the belief is ("I am not safe", "others are judging me, I need to hide or not show my inner state", "I should be good", "I shouldn't spread bad vibes to others" or something along those lines) and then just to be open to feeling the sense of vulnerability, shame, anger etc. without trying to cover the uncomfortability with other thoughts. Just to meet and feel the raw sensation will straigthen it out. The attitude is the willingness to be open for anything that arises. This might not be relevant or acute right now but will probably be later on. Meeting the emotions like this will eventually start to reveal the fullness of that emptiness as deeply felt beauty, love and overall wellness.

RE: Loss of Sense of Self
Answer
2/24/16 3:04 PM as a reply to Mikko.
Mikko:

Here's my question. For the last couple of weeks, without a better way to put it, I have been feeling strange about reality and especially about the idea of myself. There has been no sensory experiences related to this, I've just had trouble getting in touch with or really feeling who I am and what my motives are. Also, my thoughts have often felt distant and weak. My formal practice has been going well with a little less distractions than usual.

Hello Mikko,

I think what you are going through is very worthy of being examined in greater detail. I suggest that you get a closer look at what you mean by "myself", what exactly has shifted, what has remained unchanged. The word "self" is actually an umbrella term (wikipedia: a phrase that covers a broad interval or set of functions or items that all fall under a single common category). We use it to mean quite different things:
- Agency, the idea / thought / experience / preconception that there is someone doing stuff, as opposed to stuff happens on its own.
- The dualistic split in perceived phenomena: here/there, inside/outside, body/external things.
- The point of view from which reality is seen.
- The emotional referent of stuff (that something is beautiful/attractive or ugly/repulsive is evaluated with respect to point X).
- That awareness emanates from somewhere inside the body (e.g. behind the eyes, in the head, in the heart), as opposed to wow, that building is imbued with the light of awareness and it is looking right back at "me".
- Related: The physical location of awareness itself, its spatial extension.

Try to investigate these questions on your own. (And, if you want, report back here).

Keep up the good practice emoticon

RE: Loss of Sense of Self
Answer
2/25/16 11:36 AM as a reply to Robert.
Robert:
This still seems like a state that is being observed. The "I tried to see if I would at any point slip back" is another form of ego. It's the stick that is used in enquiry and in the end gets burned away also. But it's good to know that it's still movement of thought. There is awareness of all this though, and that's the "Self" or "Brahman" that the scriptures refer to. It's been there all along, unaffected, even when the apparent contraction has been active. So that contraction and the release or a "shift" have to do with the mind. Thought comparing a new state to an old one. And the awareness/beingness is beyond this swing and the one (thought made observer) that makes a distinction between these two.

But this is normal. Happens along the apparent way for most people gotten caught in this death process. Btw. there might be a contraction later on, and then it releases, and then it's back again.. If this keeps on going then there are some hooks or identities which aren't recognised that are causing the contraction. The identity is in a story line but there's also a certain sensation beneath it that is taken to be "me". So it is to get clear about what the story or the belief is ("I am not safe", "others are judging me, I need to hide or not show my inner state", "I should be good", "I shouldn't spread bad vibes to others" or something along those lines) and then just to be open to feeling the sense of vulnerability, shame, anger etc. without trying to cover the uncomfortability with other thoughts. Just to meet and feel the raw sensation will straigthen it out. The attitude is the willingness to be open for anything that arises. This might not be relevant or acute right now but will probably be later on. Meeting the emotions like this will eventually start to reveal the fullness of that emptiness as deeply felt beauty, love and overall wellness.

Thank you Robert! I'll be revisiting your reply. Can you tell me what is meant by contraction? The ego grabbing onto something?

RE: Loss of Sense of Self
Answer
2/25/16 11:41 AM as a reply to neko.
neko:
Hello Mikko,

I think what you are going through is very worthy of being examined in greater detail. I suggest that you get a closer look at what you mean by "myself", what exactly has shifted, what has remained unchanged. The word "self" is actually an umbrella term (wikipedia: a phrase that covers a broad interval or set of functions or items that all fall under a single common category). We use it to mean quite different things:
- Agency, the idea / thought / experience / preconception that there is someone doing stuff, as opposed to stuff happens on its own.
- The dualistic split in perceived phenomena: here/there, inside/outside, body/external things.
- The point of view from which reality is seen.
- The emotional referent of stuff (that something is beautiful/attractive or ugly/repulsive is evaluated with respect to point X).
- That awareness emanates from somewhere inside the body (e.g. behind the eyes, in the head, in the heart), as opposed to wow, that building is imbued with the light of awareness and it is looking right back at "me".
- Related: The physical location of awareness itself, its spatial extension.

Try to investigate these questions on your own. (And, if you want, report back here).

Keep up the good practice emoticon

Thank you! I have a feeling that that's plenty to investigate emoticon

RE: Loss of Sense of Self
Answer
2/26/16 1:58 PM as a reply to Mikko.
Mikko:

Thank you Robert! I'll be revisiting your reply. Can you tell me what is meant by contraction? The ego grabbing onto something?


It refers to the "independent" self-mode (an observer, a me separate from everything else), which has to do with thoughts that are tied to a specific sense of "myself" that might go unnoticed. But there is witnessing of this sense and the thoughts that have to do with it. It can be even a more expanded sense of a self, or even a sense of a no-self (but it can still be a form of ego, a "nondual" ego that thinks there is no self), but it's still a "step down" from the awareness which isn't involved with any activity that seemingly happens but in "whose" presence all activity seemingly takes place. Anything that is being witnessed, that appears and disappears is insentient and not the witnessing sentience, so to speak. And I'm not describing an observer here, the observer movement/appearance is happening in awareness, the observer being insentient phenomena too, and there is awareness of it. Otherwise it too couldn't appear, if awareness wasn't there already.

This is just a way of pointing something out. Ultimately it is also just thought that creates the experience of division between a witnessing presence and the witnessed. But it can't be understood in any way. At some point it will just be evident by itself as is. Totally empty of anything at all, nothing internal and nothing external, nothing in front and nothing behind, nothing in the middle and nothing at a distance, and no middle nor any actual distance, no space and time either... Oh yeah, also no void. Even a total void is a kind of a "sheath", insentient and requires awareness in order to appear. That total void is within awareness too. This is already the case but the mind activity and identification makes it seem like everything's real and actually happening.

What is described is the worst fear of the mind. But the sense of total horror is revealed to be total love when the hooks of identification are seen through and the underlying emotions met as they present themselves. For the mind it is falling into an abyss but that abyss is revealed to be unconditional love, just not for anyone.

edit

And prior to that falling in love there will be samadhi states that are clear and empty but they are kind of "dry" so to speak. And even if these samadhis keep happening there is still a hidden reluctance to meet life. There are pockets of fear that the mind can try to escape from into these states for a while. Eventually there is a maturing and the desert is not used as a place to hide anymore. So to speak. There starts to become the willingness to meet everything that has been feared and escaped from.

RE: Loss of Sense of Self
Answer
2/26/16 2:24 PM as a reply to Mikko.
I feel obligated to share this video too... To balance out the "absolutely nothing" pointer among a few others. And so that the mind doesn't get fixated on a particular view that easily, like an idea of total nothingess, or the idea that the "ego" needs to be gotten rid of. There's some brief enneagram reference in there but that's not what the video is about. It's more about not pushing anything away and not denying anything. Not even the personal dynamic.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=5v4ASp0RKnw

RE: Loss of Sense of Self
Answer
2/27/16 9:28 AM as a reply to Robert.
Robert:
I feel obligated to share this video too... To balance out the "absolutely nothing" pointer among a few others. And so that the mind doesn't get fixated on a particular view that easily, like an idea of total nothingess, or the idea that the "ego" needs to be gotten rid of. There's some brief enneagram reference in there but that's not what the video is about. It's more about not pushing anything away and not denying anything. Not even the personal dynamic.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=5v4ASp0RKnw

I understand. Like you said "The attitude is the willingness to be open for anything that arises." Fortunately, this has been the attitude I've been trying to cultivate from the beginning. Dealing with anxiety has also taught me how counterproductive or even hazardous suppressing thoughts and emotions can be.

I've tried to take a closer look at what has and has not changed between my previous and current state. Things that have remained unchanged include my cognitive abilities, sense of humor and sensuality. I also still have thoughts and emotions I associate with, but in general, they feel weaker and more distant and it's easier to let go of them. The biggest change is undoubtedly the apparent disappearance of a personal self that is usually described by talking about personality traits, ambitions and personal history. If I direct my attention inwards, I find the observer and a will to keep moving forward that, I guess, are what's left of "myself". Like Robert predicted, there are identities or parts of an identity that still remain and generate some thoughts and emotions, but they seem to consist of thoughts and emotions themselves.

I'm not sure if I succeeded in describing my experience better than in my previous posts and I'm afraid conceptualizing it further probably won’t make a difference either. However, I'd still very much appreciate any attempt to place my experience on the path of meditation or the psychological spectrum. I’m currently under the impression that my experience is the result of stream entry.

RE: Loss of Sense of Self
Answer
2/27/16 10:21 AM as a reply to Mikko.
Mikko:
… I'll try to be more specific. What feels strange about reality to me is the idea of having a body, existing in that body and experiencing the outside world through that body. All that feels strange to me now or maybe I'm just realizing it for the first time.

When I previously thought of myself, I felt a sense of familiarity and a lot of things came to my mind - goals, desires, attitudes etc. Now, I could write a list of those things but I'm having a hard time associating with them. Lately, when I've done some activities typical for me, I've felt closer to the sense of self I previously had, but I'm not really identifying with it or any other self for that matter.  …

Just a thought, since you are doing vipassana: Knowledge of Mind and Body?

Mikko:
… I’m currently under the impression that my experience is the result of stream entry.

Before starting to solidify this impression, you better check for signs of passing through the hallmarks of the stages of insight. Like the A&P, which is usually hard to miss. Or being in review and having tons of fruitions. It’s still tricky, not everybody’s the same, but those are rather well-tested indicators.

RE: Loss of Sense of Self
Answer
2/27/16 12:41 PM as a reply to Mikko.
Mikko:

If I direct my attention inwards, I find the observer and a will to keep moving forward that, I guess, are what's left of "myself".


Yeah but who finds the observer or directs the attention? Couldn't that be an assumption also and not anyone actual? There's a fear to look into it though. Fear is driving this constant reference to an "I". And that fear is of the abyss that was mentioned. Fear of ceasing to be altogether. Fear of chaos, of losing control (there has never been any control, only an illusion of it), fear of infinity etc.

The one that makes any deal out of a stream entry is the apparent ego trying to get something or somewhere. Closer to a goal, trying to be safe. It's the contracted state, seeming like an actual me. The "sincere guy". But that "guy" is just light on a screen, so to speak. And the screen is empty of any of that. Aware but empty of anyone aware.

Nirvana (the apparent blowing out of the flame of the separate doer, looker, thinker, chooser) isn't in the storyline, not sometime in the future. It is to stop all imagining of nirvana and stream entries, the ego, the mind, the dream... To stop all that and remaining conscious, to forget about all the pointers, hopes and fears, letting everything drop away just for one instant. It's all just thought activity and all thought is unreal. Thoughts seem to be speaking and referring to someone but actually the hearer is just another thought appearing.

RE: Loss of Sense of Self
Answer
2/27/16 12:37 PM as a reply to -- Timus --.
-- Timus --:
Before starting to solidify this impression, you better check for signs of passing through the hallmarks of the stages of insight. Like the A&P, which is usually hard to miss. Or being in review and having tons of fruitions. It’s still tricky, not everybody’s the same, but those are rather well-tested indicators.

Obviously I haven't had enough knowledge of the vipassana jhanas to confidently place myself on the map. Until recently, I had only concerned myself with meditation technique. The only goals I've ever had regarding meditation have been stress relief in the beginning and later getting some insight into reality. My current experience is something I more or less stumbled into and am now trying to understand. That being said, I could see myself having gone through many of the hallmarks of the different stages of insight during the past year. But in any case, for me it has been just coping with anxiety and fear using mindfulness, and keeping to my practice in often difficult conditions.

RE: Loss of Sense of Self
Answer
2/27/16 2:28 PM as a reply to Robert.
Robert:
Mikko:

If I direct my attention inwards, I find the observer and a will to keep moving forward that, I guess, are what's left of "myself".


Yeah but who finds the observer or directs the attention?

As far as I can tell, the same observer. I have no idea how intention relates to the observer though. I feel that any attempt I make to describe what is "there" with my current understanding is doomed. The only thing I'm sure of is that the personal self that I used to identify with is now gone.

RE: Loss of Sense of Self
Answer
2/27/16 3:20 PM as a reply to Mikko.
So there's no self to be found anywhere, in experience? Is that what is meant by the above? And the looking for the self, when it happens, is happening just by itself without a looker?

If so then that's pretty much it. No need to figure anything out, no more seeking etc. No feeling of underlying lack or that something's still missing. There's a sense of being comfortable in your own skin. Or at home in your own self (paradox I know). But if it's just a dead space then that's not it, it's still a state... It's a bit difficult to talk about these things.. In a way there's an end and in another way nothing ends.

RE: Loss of Sense of Self
Answer
3/30/17 12:39 PM as a reply to Robert.
Robert:
So there's no self to be found anywhere, in experience? Is that what is meant by the above? And the looking for the self, when it happens, is happening just by itself without a looker?

There's awareness and agency. Does that constitute as a self?

RE: Loss of Sense of Self
Answer
2/27/16 3:49 PM as a reply to Mikko.
The agency is an extra assumption. There is no one making choices. Does an animation character make choices for example? Or does the brain decide to fire in a particular way? Where's the chooser and the decider apart from an afterthought?

RE: Loss of Sense of Self
Answer
2/28/16 3:54 AM as a reply to Robert.
Robert:
The agency is an extra assumption. There is no one making choices. Does an animation character make choices for example? Or does the brain decide to fire in a particular way? Where's the chooser and the decider apart from an afterthought?

That's a very interesting point. Maybe not something I'm ready to grasp just yet.

I'm going to take some time to investigate this on my own. In the meantime, I appreciate any effort to place my experience on the vipassana map or any other map.

RE: Loss of Sense of Self
Answer
2/28/16 7:11 AM as a reply to Robert.
Robert:
The agency is an extra assumption. There is no one making choices. Does an animation character make choices for example? Or does the brain decide to fire in a particular way? Where's the chooser and the decider apart from an afterthought?

Hi Robert,

Is there an assumption that the self must be a permanent independent entity to exist ? If self is seen as a process then it is dependetly arising and will cease when the necessary conditions are no longer present. In this regard the self is as real as any other process. For example racism exists for as long as the conditions leading to it arising exist. Racism does not need to be a substance or permanent or independent to exist in the present. 

The analogy with a cartoon character is a dubious one because it implies absolute causality e.g. the cartoon character at the end of the strip is already fixed when you start to read the beginning of the strip. I think there is plenty of evidence that randomness has a large part to play i.e. there is no predestined behavior, the future is unpredicatable. 

Choices are as real as any other concept. What goes on in experience is unique and the process of observing that experience changes it. There does not need to be an independent, permanent entity for anything to exist, including the self, including choices.

I would agree that there is no independent or permanent entity making choices, but choices are being made. Those choices are relative, dependent, sometimes unpredictable and have impacts. 

If choices don't exist then you could apply the same argument to everything. The end result would be a claim that nothing exists while experience points out that is incorrect. Investigating experience seems to point out that nothing permanent and/or independent exists.

Perhaps interesting to think of choices in terms of what it being identified with at the time of the choice. How much of the conditions and dependcies are we observing/aware of. The broader that awareness the less dominant the ego in the choices. Someone making choices who is unaware of their self process is probably making poor choices because they are ignoring significant conditions.

A change in experience where identification with a permanent and/or independent self are seen through does not stop the self process. The individual may claim to have no self and be accurately reporting their experience, that experience may also be misleading.

From my point of view the epxerience of a permanent self is misleading and the experience of no self is misleading.

One of us is probably confused and if I'm lucky it is me and you'll point out my confusion, cheers!

RE: Loss of Sense of Self
Answer
2/28/16 11:31 AM as a reply to Mark.
Mark:


From my point of view the epxerience of a permanent self is misleading and the experience of no self is misleading.



If there is an apparent focusing on "me being the doer" then there can be the opposing concept showing or inviting to look and see that there is no such thing as a me and that the looking is phenomenal too. The me is phenomena referring to no actual one, it's "thoughts of a me" which revolve around a contracted sense that is labeled as "I". And if there seems to be a stagnated fixation on the concept of no-self then that can be pointed out with some other kind of a pointer. Maybe not with another rigid concept but in a more direct manner, not that there would be anyone planning to snap anyone else out of the trance. It's just a show. Anyway, the pointers are happening as is the apparent doing and choosing. They're happening with or without the superimposed concept of a doer and a chooser. Nothing wrong or right with any of it. Although the separate self-mode tends to be painful a lot of the time for most.

But the "no-self" that is being pointed out doesn't look like the mind's idea of no-self or nothingness. It's life as it is with all its fullness and emptiness.

All this talk is nothing btw. It has no actual value and is nothing to grasp. I don't know why it happens actually...

edit:

Oh, and the separate self is a total illusion. There is phenomena which makes it look like there is a separate self. Could say that the phenomena appears and can be observed as it appears, as thoughts. But the self can never be found nor seen because it's not even phenomenal. It's not there. There's the Hindu concept of Self though (with a capital S) but that refers to the aware being that has nothing to do with phenomena even. And that awareness/beingness doesn't claim to be "me". It just is (knowing nothing of the concepts of "is" and "is not").

RE: Loss of Sense of Self
Answer
2/28/16 11:30 AM as a reply to Mikko.
Mikko:
Robert:
The agency is an extra assumption. There is no one making choices. Does an animation character make choices for example? Or does the brain decide to fire in a particular way? Where's the chooser and the decider apart from an afterthought?

That's a very interesting point. Maybe not something I'm ready to grasp just yet.

I'm going to take some time to investigate this on my own. In the meantime, I appreciate any effort to place my experience on the vipassana map or any other map.


Well if there is not the readiness to stop and let it be revealed then there's not the readiness. It's fine as it is. Although it will start to feel that it's not fine sooner and later. And that's when there is beginning to be the readiness to stop and see.

RE: Loss of Sense of Self
Answer
2/28/16 1:01 PM as a reply to Robert.
Robert:

But the self can never be found nor seen because it's not even phenomenal. It's not there. 
For me this is a confusion between the concept of "no permanent separate self" and "no self". Buddhism points to the first and I think that is sometimes confused for the second.

The self is a process not an object, this is the point I think you are misunderstanding.

Something like racism is very much there but you will not be able to point to an entity that is racism - if you look for it you will not find it. This is not evidence that racism does not exist. It is just confusion between what process is and what a physical entity is. Perhaps a more concrete example would be waves - you will find water particles but not waves. That you can't find a "wave entity" does not mean waves do not exist.

Perhaps the distinction between process and entity was not clear in the earlier post.

It seems to me the buddhist teachings about non-self are in reference to "a permanent separate self" which can be interpreted in many ways for example god, consciousness, awareness, a soul etc. Basically the claim is that those ideas are bollocks emoticon

RE: Loss of Sense of Self
Answer
2/28/16 2:21 PM as a reply to Mark.
Mark:
Robert:

But the self can never be found nor seen because it's not even phenomenal. It's not there. 
For me this is a confusion between the concept of "no permanent separate self" and "no self". Buddhism points to the first and I think that is sometimes confused for the second.

The self is a process not an object, this is the point I think you are misunderstanding.

Something like racism is very much there but you will not be able to point to an entity that is racism - if you look for it you will not find it. This is not evidence that racism does not exist. It is just confusion between what process is and what a physical entity is. Perhaps a more concrete example would be waves - you will find water particles but not waves. That you can't find a "wave entity" does not mean waves do not exist.

Perhaps the distinction between process and entity was not clear in the earlier post.

It seems to me the buddhist teachings about non-self are in reference to "a permanent separate self" which can be interpreted in many ways for example god, consciousness, awareness, a soul etc. Basically the claim is that those ideas are bollocks emoticon


It's all concepts. To say that the self is a process is dependent on thought activity. And to say that there is no self whatsoever is also a concept, thought. Both meant for particular apparent mind states in the appearance of movement.

Racism is also thought dependent btw. Where else is it except in thoughts? An apparent person believes they are a racist because there is a focusing on the thoughts appearing and from those thoughts is formed the idea of someone being racist and knowing better than others, or being scared of differences, whatever. And same goes to the victims. It's all due to thought. The apparent collective mind. No thought is personal. The actions, the violence towards self and other etc. is all due to thought activity and somehow due to the state of believing them (and not that there is actually anyone believing the thoughts, it's a state that nobody is keeping up).. Revolves around the idea of "me the righteous one", or the idea of one being a victim of "other's" thoughts or "their own thoughts" etc.

There seems to be a process in time that creates the illusion of there being an actual self in the world. But there isn't a self. There isn't a process that is a self. The process is phenomena, not a self. It might apparently have the label of "me" but that is just a label, a word appearing.

RE: Loss of Sense of Self
Answer
2/28/16 2:42 PM as a reply to Robert.
Robert:

It's all concepts. To say that the self is a process is dependent on thought activity. And to say that there is no self whatsoever is also a concept, thought. Both meant for particular apparent mind states in the appearance of movement.

Racism is also thought dependent btw. Where else is it except in thoughts? An apparent person believes they are a racist because there is a focusing on the thoughts appearing and from those thoughts is formed the idea of someone being racist and knowing better than others, or being scared of differences, whatever. And same goes to the victims. It's all due to thought. The apparent collective mind. No thought is personal. The actions, the violence towards self and other etc. is all due to thought activity and somehow due to the state of believing them (and not that there is actually anyone believing the thoughts, it's a state that nobody is keeping up).. Revolves around the idea of "me the righteous one", or the idea of one being a victim of "other's" thoughts or "their own thoughts" etc.

I assume you accept that things existed before human thought so thought arises dependent on other things. Our experience consists only of qualia, I would not use the word thought. When you see the color blue that is not in itself a thought although it may lead to a thought.

Racism can include thoughts but it is not only that. I'd guess most racists don't think they are racist. A reaction of fear toward someone may not be associate with thought, many behaviors and actions are completely unconcsious. Racism exists wheher we give it a label with language or not. It is quite possible to be racist without having any concept of what racism is.

The victims of racism, for example someone being assaulted, are not simply having thoughts they are being acted upon physically.

The type of reasoning your applying to racism is a good example of why the misunderstanding of no-self is dangerous. It hides the interdependence of our thoughts and the constructs of society that we co-create. It is not only thoughts that construct the process of self but also the physical interactions with our environment.

I get the impression you believe if something is a concept or a thought then it is somehow discounted. The idea that thoughts are somehow different from any other causal interaction seems a strange one to me. Thought can lead to action and action can lead to thought, they are not independent.

Even if everybody stopped having racist thoughts right now, racism would continue through the unequal distribution of resources and opportunities due to structural racism.

RE: Loss of Sense of Self
Answer
2/28/16 4:00 PM as a reply to Mark.
Well... I know nothing of that right now. Right now I know nothing of what I've apparently written either. Not in direct experience.

All that I can say, and even this is too much said, is that all the apparent knowledge is just nothing appearing now. Any convincing state of affairs is just a thought and already gone.

I have nothing more to say. And even this I don't experience as anyone saying it. It's also an appearance that is gone already, not touching the suchness that shines by itself.

RE: Loss of Sense of Self
Answer
2/28/16 7:24 PM as a reply to Robert.
Mark

For me this is a confusion between the concept of "no permanent separate self" and "no self". Buddhism points to the first and I think that is sometimes confused for the second.

The self is a process not an object, this is the point I think you are misunderstanding.

Robert
There seems to be a process in time that creates the illusion of there being an actual self in the world. But there isn't a self. There isn't a process that is a self. The process is phenomena, not a self. It might apparently have the label of "me" but that is just a label, a word appearing.

Hi everyone, 
Perhaps one could examine the self concept described as a process, but is it not an impersonal process? Is there a director behind anything? Is there anyone behind the thinking processes?  Is there a process that narrates and tells stories about what  happens in life?  Upon examination is it true that the narrator or storyteller function, i.e. thoughts,  occurs after the fact, post hoc?  

It could be the same with the wave as pointed out earlier, the wave is a process, but perhaps there is no one creating the wave either.

Is the Wave Formation an impersonal process?  Is the Human Formation an impersonal process?

As a kind of irony, the human formation is around 50-65% water.  So maybe it is just that water evolved a way to get up and walk around on dry land.  emoticon

And what happens when there is no self labelling the self, where does the self go then?

Detective Work.

Psi

RE: Loss of Sense of Self
Answer
2/29/16 1:36 AM as a reply to Robert.
Robert:
Well... I know nothing of that right now. Right now I know nothing of what I've apparently written either. Not in direct experience.


It might be worth looking into what "direct" experience is compared to "indirect" experience. Are you sure that direct experience is that or is it just another flavour of indirect experience that is being rarified.


It's also an appearance that is gone already, not touching the suchness that shines by itself.

Going back to the concept of no-self, the "suchness that shines by itself" is, for me, exactly the type of conclusion Buddhism points away from, this is likely another version of atman (which gets poorly translated as self) and is in contradiction with the concept of anatman (which gets poorly translated as no-self).

For me words like absolute, direct, "by itself" are pointing at the process that Buddhism can help us see through. The concept of a self like a homunculus somewhere behind the scenes is seen through quickly but it is sometimes reincarnated with concepts like "the suchness that shines by itself". It is not obvious but they are pretty much the same thing. 

The unknowability of any absolute and the impossibility of direct experience seem to be useful concepts.

RE: Loss of Sense of Self
Answer
2/29/16 1:54 AM as a reply to Psi.
Psi:

Perhaps one could examine the self concept described as a process, but is it not an impersonal process?

Before you ask the question "is it not an impersonal process?" you've fabricated the concept of a "personal process". If "process" implied "personal process" then you may have a point but it does not. Process implies there is only process.

I'm pretty sure we've been around this loop before. That there is no "thing" you can point to which is the "self" is an insight but a minor one. I doubt many on this forum believe they could find something that "is" the self. As I see it the concept of self as process includes the concept of identification - the process gives rise to that experience.

Seeing experience also as process is perhaps useful - it might point to the the artificial distinction of the mundane and supramundane.

RE: Loss of Sense of Self
Answer
2/29/16 4:54 AM as a reply to Robert.
Thank you Mikko for this thread. If nothing else it has been a boon.

Thank you Robert for your replies to Mikko. Everything you explained was so cogent, so crystal clear that it was the best alignment to the experiences in yesterday's session, and everything afterwards until now. From what has happened, new things have been seen, new ways of thinking are going on, its still sort of jumbled but all is falling into place. It seems that way anyhow. Like stages in your explanations. Its still so new and such unknown territory. Don't know yet just how far reaching this is going to be, or not. This could be, as you said, just another trick of the ego. Things do not seem the same, that's for sure.

Again, many thanks and Metta!

RE: Loss of Sense of Self
Answer
2/29/16 5:28 AM as a reply to Mark.
Mark:
Psi:

Perhaps one could examine the self concept described as a process, but is it not an impersonal process?

Before you ask the question "is it not an impersonal process?" you've fabricated the concept of a "personal process". If "process" implied "personal process" then you may have a point but it does not. Process implies there is only process.


Well why don't you lead by an example and use language that has no inherent duality within it? You seem to be fixated on words. I've done that a lot too in the past btw. so it's pretty easy to recognize.

RE: Loss of Sense of Self
Answer
2/29/16 5:32 AM as a reply to Don Merchant.
Don Merchant:
Thank you Mikko for this thread. If nothing else it has been a boon.

Thank you Robert for your replies to Mikko. Everything you explained was so cogent, so crystal clear that it was the best alignment to the experiences in yesterday's session, and everything afterwards until now. From what has happened, new things have been seen, new ways of thinking are going on, its still sort of jumbled but all is falling into place. It seems that way anyhow. Like stages in your explanations. Its still so new and such unknown territory. Don't know yet just how far reaching this is going to be, or not. This could be, as you said, just another trick of the ego. Things do not seem the same, that's for sure.

Again, many thanks and Metta!

Well don't worry about the ego. It's all going as it should. Only the ego worries about the ego. If worrying happens, that's just part of the bigger picture. The mind can relax with this stuff, or not. It's not right or wrong either way.

RE: Loss of Sense of Self
Answer
2/29/16 7:35 AM as a reply to Robert.
Robert:

Well why don't you lead by an example and use language that has no inherent duality within it? You seem to be fixated on words. I've done that a lot too in the past btw. so it's pretty easy to recognize.
Communication with words does require paying close attention to their meaning. It seems to me you are both confused by what the word process means  - there is no duality in a process. It arises when conditions allow it and ceases when conditions don't. There is no "person" behind the process nor a "suchness that shines by itself" behind the process. Nothing independent nor permanent. Duality implies a belief in something independent, it is something you read into the words not something that is in the words.

Every so often I see if words are able to help, does not seem to be the case. Which is my lack of ability not yours. I guess there is someone with the right words who may be able to get the point across. I hope they'll continue the thread.

RE: Loss of Sense of Self
Answer
2/29/16 10:34 AM as a reply to Mark.
Mark:
Robert:

Well why don't you lead by an example and use language that has no inherent duality within it? You seem to be fixated on words. I've done that a lot too in the past btw. so it's pretty easy to recognize.
Communication with words does require paying close attention to their meaning. It seems to me you are both confused by what the word process means  - there is no duality in a process. It arises when conditions allow it and ceases when conditions don't. There is no "person" behind the process nor a "suchness that shines by itself" behind the process. Nothing independent nor permanent. Duality implies a belief in something independent, it is something you read into the words not something that is in the words.

Every so often I see if words are able to help, does not seem to be the case. Which is my lack of ability not yours. I guess there is someone with the right words who may be able to get the point across. I hope they'll continue the thread.


More important than the precise words and correct language is the place where it's coming from. This is not correct or precise language by any means. Either the apparent speaking is coming form a viewpoint or from silence. Suchness is all there is but it's not in the concepts of it, although concepts are also it. Like I've said already concepts can only point towards the "general direction" of something which is not even a thing, an object or a process and has nothing to do with opinions and viewpoints. Prior to all that but not prior in time. Language can directly point out false ideas however.

I don't know what you mean by the term "process". Would you describe it in detail, please? So that people will understand what actually is meant by that idea. Also could you clarify how it has anything to do with an impermanent self like you previously mentioned.

RE: Loss of Sense of Self
Answer
2/29/16 2:00 PM as a reply to Mark.
Mark:
Psi:

Perhaps one could examine the self concept described as a process, but is it not an impersonal process?

Before you ask the question "is it not an impersonal process?" you've fabricated the concept of a "personal process". If "process" implied "personal process" then you may have a point but it does not. Process implies there is only process.

I'm pretty sure we've been around this loop before. That there is no "thing" you can point to which is the "self" is an insight but a minor one. I doubt many on this forum believe they could find something that "is" the self. As I see it the concept of self as process includes the concept of identification - the process gives rise to that experience.

Seeing experience also as process is perhaps useful - it might point to the the artificial distinction of the mundane and supramundane.
Okay, yes, I think I see what you are saying. The self concept does imply a personal process.  And I was pointing to the self process actually being made up of and being impersonal processes.  Thus, since the process is not a self, neither can the self be a process. The self is an idea, but not based upon facts.

So, back to the title of the thread, Loss of sense of self.  That is kind of it, when the sense of self is not happening, there is indeed no self.  But, there never really was, just the sense that there is one, either sensing that it is a process, a body, or even a soul thingy.

I guess what I am pointing to is that there is indeed a self making process, that makes it seem like there is a self.  But, once that drops away, self is not.  

Psi

RE: Loss of Sense of Self
Answer
2/29/16 2:51 PM as a reply to Psi.
Psi:

I guess what I am pointing to is that there is indeed a self making process, that makes it seem like there is a self.  But, once that drops away, self is not.  

Psi
That makes more sense to me. I see the "experience of a permanent or independent self" as an emergent property of the process. The process can change and that "experience of self" may drop away but huge parts of the process continue to operate. For example social norms are still often followed. For me it explains in part why someone who no longer has the typical "experience of self" may still have ego-centric behavior. It is not that the "self process" ceased when the experience of a "permanent or independent self" ceased.

We need a self to function in social contexts. We don't need the "experience of a permanent or independent self" to function in social contexts. I imagine someone who believes the self has dropped away completely is unlikely to be aware of their ego-centric patterns.

RE: Loss of Sense of Self
Answer
2/29/16 3:25 PM as a reply to Robert.
Robert:

More important than the precise words and correct language is the place where it's coming from. This is not correct or precise language by any means. Either the apparent speaking is coming form a viewpoint or from silence. Suchness is all there is but it's not in the concepts of it, although concepts are also it. Like I've said already concepts can only point towards the "general direction" of something which is not even a thing, an object or a process and has nothing to do with opinions and viewpoints. Prior to all that but not prior in time. Language can directly point out false ideas however.

I don't know what you mean by the term "process". Would you describe it in detail, please? So that people will understand what actually is meant by that idea. Also could you clarify how it has anything to do with an impermanent self like you previously mentioned.

I was just about to sign off but you pulled me back in emoticon

Concepts like "suchness is all there is" seem to me to be the types of statements early Buddhism shied away from. I think you'd get more distance from the unknowability of it all. That is not to say you don't have an experience of knowing an absolute - you probably still remember when you were absolutely sure you were an independent self.

I agree with you that language is limited - very limited in the big scheme of things. Likewise experience is limited - I think probably very limited in the big scheme of things. Claims of any absolute knowledge/experience sound like BS from here and I think language can point that out reasonably well. 

For me Dependent Origination is describing a process, that is also the connection of process with the concept of an impermanent self.  Right action demands individual action.

I quite like the idea of the self process being constructed with an inter-dependent social processs. So what might have initially been an identification with an "impermanent self" and later identified with "suchness" can also identify with the social processes that create the next generation of sufferers.

There could be an analogy between process and causality but this can lead to a mechanistic view (a bit like the comic strip analogy you made earlier). If we add a bit of randomness to the mix then the analogy is perhaps not bad but still hard to get away from that mechanistic view.

Perhaps the uncomfortable conclusion is that the mundane world is where it's at. How uncomfortable that is probably depends on how attached one is to the quest for an absolute.

RE: Loss of Sense of Self
Answer
2/29/16 3:30 PM as a reply to Mark.
Mark:
Psi:

I guess what I am pointing to is that there is indeed a self making process, that makes it seem like there is a self.  But, once that drops away, self is not.  

Psi
That makes more sense to me. I see the "experience of a permanent or independent self" as an emergent property of the process. The process can change and that "experience of self" may drop away but huge parts of the process continue to operate. For example social norms are still often followed. For me it explains in part why someone who no longer has the typical "experience of self" may still have ego-centric behavior. It is not that the "self process" ceased when the experience of a "permanent or independent self" ceased.

We need a self to function in social contexts. We don't need the "experience of a permanent or independent self" to function in social contexts. I imagine someone who believes the self has dropped away completely is unlikely to be aware of their ego-centric patterns.
Yes, indeed, the patterns are still there, behavior patterns, social patterns, all that.  Those patterns can indeed be worked through, and, if one is trying to purify, or become more wholesome and beneficial with society or the environnment, one would indeed continue to work on these patterns. Kind of a cleaning up process.  It all really sounds so strange when looked at from a conventional viewpoint

I would go even further to say, that while the self making, or I-making process is not functioning then this puts a stop , or at least slows down unwholesome pattern making within the system, dependent upon the level of I-making that is functioning.  i.e. When there is no I-making process occuring there are no new patterns being developed derived from anger and greed, attatchment and aversion.  There being no fertile ground for anger and greed to plant it, to start patterns.

And again, the previously existing pattern would still exist, until uprooted and extirpated, so to speak.  Thsi could be where some practioners fall short.  For example , the practioner experiences Anatta, but then stops the purification process, and assumes that "what needed to be done was done"  And true, Anatta being such a nice state of being one could become deluded into complacency.

Guess that is where Shadow Work would be beneficial...   emoticon

Psi

RE: Loss of Sense of Self
Answer
3/3/16 3:09 AM as a reply to Mark.
I edited the second paragraph/description to be more precise. The primal sense of abandonment and the ensuing visceral sense of lack was added, which is the root of psychological suffering.

Mark:
Robert:

More important than the precise words and correct language is the place where it's coming from. This is not correct or precise language by any means. Either the apparent speaking is coming form a viewpoint or from silence. Suchness is all there is but it's not in the concepts of it, although concepts are also it. Like I've said already concepts can only point towards the "general direction" of something which is not even a thing, an object or a process and has nothing to do with opinions and viewpoints. Prior to all that but not prior in time. Language can directly point out false ideas however.

I don't know what you mean by the term "process". Would you describe it in detail, please? So that people will understand what actually is meant by that idea. Also could you clarify how it has anything to do with an impermanent self like you previously mentioned.

I was just about to sign off but you pulled me back in emoticon


Nothing phenomenal can do that. Unless there is a habit of reacting to specific stimulus.

Mark:

Concepts like "suchness is all there is" seem to me to be the types of statements early Buddhism shied away from. I think you'd get more distance from the unknowability of it all. That is not to say you don't have an experience of knowing an absolute - you probably still remember when you were absolutely sure you were an independent self.


There are seeming memories but they are not anyone's. That's the case for you too right now. Memories aren't verifiable, can't prove that they have actually happened, because they always occur presently.

(the following is edited to be more precise)
But having said that, in the seeming world of appearances, "for me", some old patterns which still have apparent identification in them still keep coming up in certain situations. But the brain can be conditioned (not by anyone) to stop instead of following the thought patterns. Going with the thoughts keeps up or enhances the sense of being a separate focal point, so stopping needs to start happening if there is the longing to be free from the reactive patterns. It becomes a habit and stopping seems more and more natural the more it happens. And there isn't the idea that the sense of separation needs to be gotten rid of or that it shouldn't appear, except that inside that sense, when it's being bought, there is trying to get away from it all. But there can be the willingness to let it be without going into thoughts about it, which is what the term "stopping" refers to. Under the separate thoughts there is a felt contraction, there is a sense of being afraid to look at it in order to be exposed, the "exposed" feeling is usually shame or guilt. There's also anger driven by unacknowledged sorrow. That all has a root in a primal sense of having been abandoned (gets formed in early childhood usually). That sense of abandonment and the resulting feeling of lack is the separate identity that is in constant move in the world looking for completeness, union, disappearance etc. in different ways and fearing the getting hurt again when its needs are not met (but all this happens in the head as beliefs that are not recognized as such, and the hurt and lack keeps recurring until the dynamics are seen). If there is willingness to be vulnerable and be ashamed, or angry, or emotionally hurt, lacking etc. without trying to cover it with thought activity in any way then it is recognized and felt that it's all actually unimaginably well and those things were there just waiting to be seen and to be revealed as a misinterpretation of reality.

Mark:

I agree with you that language is limited - very limited in the big scheme of things. Likewise experience is limited - I think probably very limited in the big scheme of things. Claims of any absolute knowledge/experience sound like BS from here and I think language can point that out reasonably well. 


If I (or anyone else) would claim absolute knowledge that claim would be coming out of a mind state of delusion and apparent separation.

Mark:

For me Dependent Origination is describing a process, that is also the connection of process with the concept of an impermanent self.  Right action demands individual action.


Yes, a concept of an impermanent self. That concept never becomes an actual self though. Apparent individual action is the totality appearing to act. No separate actor.

Mark:

I quite like the idea of the self process being constructed with an inter-dependent social processs. So what might have initially been an identification with an "impermanent self" and later identified with "suchness" can also identify with the social processes that create the next generation of sufferers.


Personal ideas don't have to do with the actuality underneath them.

Mark:

There could be an analogy between process and causality but this can lead to a mechanistic view (a bit like the comic strip analogy you made earlier). If we add a bit of randomness to the mix then the analogy is perhaps not bad but still hard to get away from that mechanistic view.


It was a pointer for a specific purpose in the moment. Just a concept. The wider version of it is there is the screen made of light-awareness and there's the movie with apparent characters. The apparent characters and the movie are nothing separate from the screen but it's a "one" whole. And yeah, "one" has it's opposite "many", but it's a metaphor to point out something essential that the mind seems to be actively overlooking.

Mark:

Perhaps the uncomfortable conclusion is that the mundane world is where it's at. How uncomfortable that is probably depends on how attached one is to the quest for an absolute.


Being attached to the quest for the absolute is a form of avoidance, most people avoid it less subtly though. "It" referring to stopping. But yeah, mundane world is where it's at but when stopping occurs it is seen that there is nothing mundane about it.

RE: Loss of Sense of Self
Answer
3/1/16 1:49 AM as a reply to Psi.
Psi:

Yes, indeed, the patterns are still there, behavior patterns, social patterns, all that.  Those patterns can indeed be worked through



They can change but patterns/process will be there as long as the individual is.



I would go even further to say, that while the self making, or I-making process is not functioning then this puts a stop , or at least slows down unwholesome pattern making within the system

There might be an assumption that the process/patterns are independent and therefore within the control of the individual. I see the process as inter-dependent with the social processes. There may be an assumption that the process of "cleaning up" the patterns is an individual activity. The individual can become aware of the larger process at work. The interdependence demands actions not only in terms of the "self" but also in terms of the "society" or perhaps even the notion of the "self" and "society" start to blur.

I have the impression that many practises steer away from that realisation. There is more of a focus on the transcendence of the individual. Which might simply be the "permanent or independent self" dressed up in a new language. I'm not sure but this is what I suspected in Robert's description.

RE: Loss of Sense of Self
Answer
3/1/16 2:12 AM as a reply to Mark.
Mark:

I have the impression that many practises steer away from that realisation. There is more of a focus on the transcendence of the individual. Which might simply be the "permanent or independent self" dressed up in a new language. I'm not sure but this is what I suspected in Robert's description.

I agree that sometimes that is the case. The felt contraction not being recognized and that contraction is driving specific behaviors. Like right now I got irritated by your remark. Almost went to reactivity but luckily remembered to stop. The irritation is there to a degree but it's not driving this response. But I agree with that observation.

RE: Loss of Sense of Self
Answer
3/1/16 6:00 AM as a reply to Robert.
Robert:

I was just about to sign off but you pulled me back in emoticon
Nothing phenomenal can do that. Unless there is a habit of reacting to specific stimulus.


Of course it can, experience is a co-construction - you change my experience and I change yours. It is an example of interdependence.

A mechanistic view (which I think you indicate you have) would reach for an explanation somewhat like the behaviourists. As if we are a machine made of habits. That is a misunderstanding that I think comes about from transposing a model of physical cause and effect onto experience. Matter and energy is always conserved that is not the case for thoughts/experience.


There are seeming memories but they are not anyone's. That's the case for you too right now. Memories aren't verifiable, can't prove that they have actually happened, because they always occur presently.


By the time you experience something in the present it is no longer in the present. There is some basic neuroscience that makes this abundantly clear. The concept of present is just another concept. You can rarify it but the fact that brains are not operating instantaneously means we are never in the present. Although we can have experiences that fool us into believing we are.


But having said that, in the seeming world of appearances, "for me", some old patterns which still have apparent identification in them still keep coming up in certain situations. But the brain is being conditioned (not by anyone) to stop instead of following the thought patterns.


Seems like you are making huge strides but I'm not sure you would function for more than a few minutes without some of the patterns. It might be that you are more aware of the patterns that you don't like and the ones you do like. But unless you turn into a vegetable they will not stop.

That does not mean that thoughts have to keep coming or that you will keep ruminating. The patterns can change and the experience associated will change. But the process will stop when you are dead not before then, until then experience in one form or another is there. Well that is my guess! 

You seem quite concerned about thoughts. For some people rumination is a really big issue. They can believe in a goal to quieten the mind and there is a lot of relief there. But I think that is only part of the story. Maybe not your case, if it is I'm glad we got to here, if it is not then I just wasted more of your time, sorry!



Going with the thoughts keeps up or enhances the sense of being a separate focal point, so stopping needs to start happening if there is the longing to be free from the reactive patterns. It becomes a habit and stopping seems more and more natural the more it happens. And there isn't the idea that the sense of separation needs to be gotten rid of or that it shouldn't appear. There is willingness to let it be without going into thoughts about it, which is what the term "stopping" refers to. Under the separate thoughts there is a felt contraction, there is a sense of being afraid to look at it in order to be exposed, the "exposed" feeling is usually shame or guilt and just vulnerability. If there is willingness to be vulnerable and be ashamed without trying to cover it with thought activity in any way then it is recognized and felt that it's all actually unimginably well and the shame was there just waiting to be seen and to be revealed as a misinterpretation of reality.


That is a tough place to be. Quietening the mind certainly is a good thing. But seeking relief only from individual suffering is in itself a misunderstanding of the nature of experience. The process that creates those experiences is not independent. If you see this then responsibility changes from seeking a quite mind to also acting - I hope.


If I (or anyone else) would claim absolute knowledge that claim would be coming out of a mind state of delusion and apparent separation.


Fair enough, if you read back over what you wrote in this thread I think you could see claims about what it "all is". You may be confusing "absolute knowledge" (like knowing everything) and "knowledge of the absolute". I was referring to the second.



Mark:

For me Dependent Origination is describing a process, that is also the connection of process with the concept of an impermanent self.  Right action demands individual action.


Yes, a concept of an impermanent self. That concept never becomes an actual self though. Apparent individual action is the totality appearing to act. No separate actor.


I'm not sure what you mean by "actual self" what would an "actual self" be ? For example if the self is a process, we could say the same for rain. Neither are independent.  Are you claiming that the self is not an actual self and the rain is actual rain ? Or maybe you mean the self is not an actual self and the rain is not actual rain ? If the rain can't be actual rain then what is actual rain ? If actual rain doesn't exist then it seems a useless term and a distraction.


Personal ideas don't have to do with the actuality underneath them.


True until the "actuality underneath" is pulled into question. "personal ideas" and the "actuality underneath" are quite similar, otherwise you are back at a duality.


It was a pointer for a specific purpose in the moment. Just a concept. The wider version of it is there is the screen made of light-awareness and there's the movie with apparent characters. The apparent characters and the movie are nothing separate from the screen but it's a "one" whole.


I agree that is one way of experiencing things. It has it's own pitfalls I think.
But yeah, mundane world is where it's at but when stopping occurs it is seen that there is nothing mundane about it.


I'm less sure of that. There is a temptation to want to hold some insight that makes the mundane something else. The concept of supramundane seems dualistic. It just is - which is how many people who've never thought about it see it. A long path to get back to square one emoticon But the process of experiencing has changed so actions will not be the same.

RE: Loss of Sense of Self
Answer
3/1/16 6:15 AM as a reply to Robert.
Robert:
Mark:

I have the impression that many practises steer away from that realisation. There is more of a focus on the transcendence of the individual. Which might simply be the "permanent or independent self" dressed up in a new language. I'm not sure but this is what I suspected in Robert's description.

I agree that sometimes that is the case. The felt contraction not being recognized and that contraction is driving specific behaviors. Like right now I got irritated by your remark. Almost went to reactivity but luckily remembered to stop. The irritation is there to a degree but it's not driving this response. But I agree with that observation.
I saw this after replying to you directly. I wonder what I would have written if the order were inversed. I'm also trying to deal with a bit of irritation. I don't think you are irritating but that is what gets reflected back. If I had to guess it is probably frustration at having spent time searching for things that others were pointing at to realize they were often pointing to a dead end and probably missed an earlier intersection.

I think it is fine to point but I should be clear that I'm not standing on solid ground while pointing. The concept of unknowability has become attractive but I can see many reasons why that does not get much traction in the spiritual marketplace.

 

RE: Loss of Sense of Self
Answer
3/1/16 10:05 AM as a reply to Mikko.
Mikko
Robert
Mikko
If I direct my attention inwards, I find the observer and a will to keep moving forward that, I guess, are what's left of "myself".
Yeah but who finds the observer or directs the attention?

As far as I can tell, the same observer. I have no idea how intention relates to the observer though. I feel that any attempt I make to describe what is "there" with my current understanding is doomed. The only thing I'm sure of is that the personal self that I used to identify with is now gone.

Mikko
Robert So there's no self to be found anywhere, in experience? Is that what is meant by
the above? And the looking for the self, when it happens, is happening
just by itself without a looker?

Obviously there's awareness and agency. Does that constitute as a self?

I got Mikko's worried email and decided to chime in. I didn't have time to read all the replies in this thread so what I say here might have already been said.

The whole question of "Who does things? Who acts?" when there is no I to be found, whether before or after stream entry, is misleading. It's the same thing with the self-inquiry question: Who am I? This question insists that there would be someone as it asks, "Who?". And when it's not found anywhere, it can cause some trouble, even serious trouble.

Awareness itself has three characteristics. It's 1. calm/peaceful 2. alive and 3. cognizant/it recognizes itself. When the dictator, I, is gone, cognizant awareness remains. There is "nobody" back there, neither in the front or anywhere else. It's just alive and aware by itself, connected with the body and the mind. This self-cogfnizance of awareness does not have a "self", there is no entity there, only clarity and sky-like space, whether in action or in non-action.

Awareness is attentive (attention) by itself, through the body and it's senses. Awareness can also be squeezed into a one point, when it becomes intentive (intention), concentrated, focused. In either there is no self, no solid entity there. So it's misleading to ask "Who acts? Who does things?".

Yup.

Baba


RE: Loss of Sense of Self
Answer
3/1/16 11:09 AM as a reply to Kim Katami.
Kim Katami:
Mikko
Robert
Mikko
If I direct my attention inwards, I find the observer and a will to keep moving forward that, I guess, are what's left of "myself".
Yeah but who finds the observer or directs the attention?

As far as I can tell, the same observer. I have no idea how intention relates to the observer though. I feel that any attempt I make to describe what is "there" with my current understanding is doomed. The only thing I'm sure of is that the personal self that I used to identify with is now gone.

Mikko
Robert So there's no self to be found anywhere, in experience? Is that what is meant by
the above? And the looking for the self, when it happens, is happening
just by itself without a looker?

Obviously there's awareness and agency. Does that constitute as a self?

I got Mikko's worried email and decided to chime in. I didn't have time to read all the replies in this thread so what I say here might have already been said.

The whole question of "Who does things? Who acts?" when there is no I to be found, whether before or after stream entry, is misleading. It's the same thing with the self-inquiry question: Who am I? This question insists that there would be someone as it asks, "Who?". And when it's not found anywhere, it can cause some trouble, even serious trouble.

Awareness itself has three characteristics. It's 1. calm/peaceful 2. alive and 3. cognizant/it recognizes itself. When the dictator, I, is gone, cognizant awareness remains. There is "nobody" back there, neither in the front or anywhere else. It's just alive and aware by itself, connected with the body and the mind. This self-cogfnizance of awareness does not have a "self", there is no entity there, only clarity and sky-like space, whether in action or in non-action.

Awareness is attentive (attention) by itself, through the body and it's senses. Awareness can also be squeezed into a one point, when it becomes intentive (intention), concentrated, focused. In either there is no self, no solid entity there. So it's misleading to ask "Who acts? Who does things?".

Yup.

Baba


The "who acts?" or something else like "who is thinking these thoughts?" can be an apparent reminder for the attention to loosen the focus on the mindstream and to open the focus beyond the constant thinking. After this apparently takes place there is a sort of a natural recognition that the mind is just going on by itself without anyone in it. If this happens, there's also the release of the contracted sense. After that there is no question about a self or a no-self. They're both meaningless concepts in the end.

RE: Loss of Sense of Self
Answer
3/1/16 11:24 AM as a reply to Robert.
Spot on.

RE: Loss of Sense of Self
Answer
3/1/16 11:36 AM as a reply to Mark.
Mark:
I saw this after replying to you directly. I wonder what I would have written if the order were inversed. I'm also trying to deal with a bit of irritation. I don't think you are irritating but that is what gets reflected back. If I had to guess it is probably frustration at having spent time searching for things that others were pointing at to realize they were often pointing to a dead end and probably missed an earlier intersection.

I think it is fine to point but I should be clear that I'm not standing on solid ground while pointing. The concept of unknowability has become attractive but I can see many reasons why that does not get much traction in the spiritual marketplace.

 

The reflection thingy seems to be the case with perceived phenomena.

And yes, total unknowingness is what it's about in the end. It's about nothing. There's nothing to get really. The mind seeks apparently because it tries to look for salvation in the future and there's a fear of losing control (there has never been any control) and the fear of annihilation. That's why it keeps spinning, referring to past and the future and keeping up the state of identity that way (seemingly, it's an insentient apparent phenomena). It's being driven by fear and desire, desire being the masked version of fear. But fear is always of the future and if there is stopping in the face of it, not being afraid of fear, then the energy behind it can be felt as it is. And that felt energy has nothing to do with fear. It's neither negative nor positive, there have just been stories on top that have somehow been believed.

RE: Loss of Sense of Self
Answer
3/1/16 3:32 PM as a reply to Robert.
Robert:

And yes, total unknowingness is what it's about in the end. It's about nothing. There's nothing to get really. The mind seeks apparently because it tries to look for salvation in the future and there's a fear of losing control (there has never been any control) and the fear of annihilation. That's why it keeps spinning, referring to past and the future and keeping up the state of identity that way (seemingly, it's an insentient apparent phenomena). It's being driven by fear and desire, desire being the masked version of fear. But fear is always of the future and if there is stopping in the face of it, not being afraid of fear, then the energy behind it can be felt as it is. And that felt energy has nothing to do with fear. It's neither negative nor positive, there have just been stories on top that have somehow been believed.
Anything that provides meaning will be co-constructed by the individual and society, it can't be grounded in an absolute. If there is a belief that the absolute is attainable then that meaning could seem insignificant. If that interdependence with society is not seen then overcoming the fear of death is perhaps what matters most.

The capacity to identify with things seems fundamental. It makes sense given survival requires acting in self interest.

That capacity can cause a lot of suffering depending on the experience it presents. At one extreme there would be an ego-centric mind and at the other a mind resting in deep silence in a stable environment. Those extremes are ignorant or ignoring the social co-construction of that very experience. There are alternative like identifying with a community or feeling connected to everything, that middle ground seems more worthy of exploration.

RE: Loss of Sense of Self
Answer
3/14/16 7:12 PM as a reply to Mark.
Mark:
Psi:

Perhaps one could examine the self concept described as a process, but is it not an impersonal process?

Before you ask the question "is it not an impersonal process?" you've fabricated the concept of a "personal process". If "process" implied "personal process" then you may have a point but it does not. Process implies there is only process.

I'm pretty sure we've been around this loop before. That there is no "thing" you can point to which is the "self" is an insight but a minor one. I doubt many on this forum believe they could find something that "is" the self. As I see it the concept of self as process includes the concept of identification - the process gives rise to that experience.

Seeing experience also as process is perhaps useful - it might point to the the artificial distinction of the mundane and supramundane.
Well, taking that one rhetorical question out of the context of the previous post, one may assume I am talking about the self as just a process.  The loop you are referring to as there is no thing that can be called a self, and that being a minor insight, etc.

But, I am pointing to something deeper than that.  Understanding intellectually and thinking that there is no self as a thing, but thinking of the self as a process is not what I am pointing to.  I would not really call that an Insight, but I would rather call that an intellectual understanding.

What I am pointing to is the experience of the self not arising, or the process of the self not arising, hence No self.  Though there is always Mind and Body, and the Elements , obviously.

Intellectually understanding how the self process arises, how it maintains itself, what causes it to rearise, could lead one to Investigate how to be free of the view of self and no self.  That is, if one inclines their mind in that direction, and wishes to undertake that journey.

Which is something that I am currently Investigating and expanding upon.

So, to sum up, no, I am not pointing to the circularity of the self as a process and therefore not actually a self, but then thinking as a process, it is, but is not, but is, .....  But, I am trying to point to the experience of not having any views, discriminations, or desires and such arise.

Not trying to start up anything here really, just trying to further clarify the previous post.

It may be that I am just unable to explain any of this at this point in life, at this time.  My bad.

:- l

Psi

RE: Loss of Sense of Self
Answer
3/30/17 1:03 PM as a reply to Mikko.
I thought I'd revisit this thread in case anyone was left wondering what happened to me.

After starting this thread, I got really into meditation theory, started to work with a teacher and quickly increased the amount of time and effort I put into my practice. Still, it took a few months to accept that what had happened to me was in fact stream entry. Accepting it was difficult because it was a complete surprise, I didn't understand it, there was still a lot of anxiety and fear, and I thought I was probably losing my mind. It wasn't until Equanimity of the second path that things started to make sense. I feel very fortunate that I was able to continue to practice. I have my teacher and mild OCD tendencies to thank for this.

Learning about the stages of insight and their side effects also allowed me to map some of my experiences before stream entry. At some point, I realized that I had my first glimpse of selflessness already in my teens and probably crossed the A&P for the first time some fifteen years ago. Looking back at my life, it's pretty obvious that I've been cycling through the Dark Night since then.

In my first post to this thread, I said that I had been meditating for two years. Well, I later realized that I actually had a daily meditation practice when I was seventeen. It was something my martial arts instructor taught me. Between that and learning about insight practices a few years ago, I also practiced creative visualization with elements of vipassana and metta for a couple of years. So, it may have sounded more straightforward of a path to stream entry than what it really was.

I hope this helps anyone who finds themselves in a similar situation I was in the beginning of last year.

RE: Loss of Sense of Self
Answer
6/7/17 12:28 AM as a reply to Mikko.
It is very nice of you to come back and tell us about it. Thank you.

So, you didn't have any memory that you had these experiences of selflessness, A&P, etc until you had this significant experience of Stream Entry? They didn't have a significant impact on you and hence you tended to forget them?

RE: Loss of Sense of Self
Answer
6/7/17 12:53 PM as a reply to tamaha.
Goutam:
It is very nice of you to come back and tell us about it. Thank you.

So, you didn't have any memory that you had these experiences of selflessness, A&P, etc until you had this significant experience of Stream Entry? They didn't have a significant impact on you and hence you tended to forget them?
You're welcome emoticon

No, I haven't remembered anything that I didn't remember before stream entry. I just always thought that, for example, the experience of selflessness in my teens was a lapse in my mental health. This goes for a lot of other stuff as well. Learning about the stages of insight and having those experiences again made it clear what had happened.