Self as Other

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Paul Anthony, modified 4 Years ago at 12/27/17 8:04 PM
Created 4 Years ago at 12/27/17 8:04 PM

Self as Other

Posts: 71 Join Date: 6/22/10 Recent Posts
Hi all, 

I'm not really sure where this topic should go but it seems broadly related to the Stages of Insight. I'm quite interested in vivid experiences of the self as being a third person. This is sometimes called "third person talk" or "illeism" in western psychology. Also, it's often conflated with problematic experiences such as depersonalization and dissociation, but I'm not really talking about that. Also, I would suggest that this is distinguishable from the knowledge of non-self, though others may see it as related. It's really just a spacious, vivid, flexible distancing from the conceptual Self - an ability to view the Self with curiosity and wonder. I find that it crops up during formal practice and outside. 

Has anybody found this coming up in association with a particular stage of insight or even jhana?  Is it what is sometimes referred to as "the witness"?  All perspectives are welcome. 
Thanks, Paul
Adam M, modified 4 Years ago at 12/29/17 9:58 AM
Created 4 Years ago at 12/29/17 9:58 AM

RE: Self as Other

Posts: 51 Join Date: 8/7/17 Recent Posts
I'm not sure about the exact definition of illeism but it does sound simliar to what I think of as the witness state. Certainly deeper concentration makes it easier to get into that state during meditation. It can then be used as a foundation for developing vipassana and moving through the insight stages. I found the witness state would come about in waves during daily life as I moved through equanimity and became stronger and more permanent as things progressed. I am quite interested though in how it develops for people as they move through the higher paths and how it relates to future insight stages.
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Paul Anthony, modified 4 Years ago at 12/30/17 7:31 PM
Created 4 Years ago at 12/30/17 7:31 PM

RE: Self as Other

Posts: 71 Join Date: 6/22/10 Recent Posts
That's great, thanks Adam. I'm intrigued by the witness state b/c while I hear about it a lot but it's usually not clearly defined and (If I remember) is not mentioned in MTCTB.  One older Western psych reference is The Observing Self: Mysticism and Psychotherapy by AJ Deikman.  
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Dream Walker, modified 4 Years ago at 12/30/17 10:02 PM
Created 4 Years ago at 12/30/17 10:02 PM

RE: Self as Other

Posts: 1454 Join Date: 1/18/12 Recent Posts
Paul Anthony:
That's great, thanks Adam. I'm intrigued by the witness state b/c while I hear about it a lot but it's usually not clearly defined and (If I remember) is not mentioned in MTCTB.  One older Western psych reference is The Observing Self: Mysticism and Psychotherapy by AJ Deikman.  
 http://thehamiltonproject.blogspot.com/2011/02/yogi-toolbox-bystander.html?m=1

Dunno if this is what your looking for...
~D
Adam M, modified 4 Years ago at 12/31/17 6:51 AM
Created 4 Years ago at 12/31/17 6:51 AM

RE: Self as Other

Posts: 51 Join Date: 8/7/17 Recent Posts
That's a helpful llink dreamwalker. It's a shame the link to Kenneth Folks' stuff doesn't work now. Does anyone have a link to a more detailed description of Kenneth Folks second gear practice about questioning the witness and methods to get into the witness state? I'd love to know more about Kenneth's 3 gear viapasanna method.

Paul - that link gives a description of what I see as the witness state i.e. the experience of a disembedded self just observing phenomena without being affected by them. Like most states, the description doesn't do it much justice. I remember when I first firmly got into the state, I found it really fascinating.
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Paul Anthony, modified 4 Years ago at 1/3/18 5:06 PM
Created 4 Years ago at 1/3/18 5:06 PM

RE: Self as Other

Posts: 71 Join Date: 6/22/10 Recent Posts
Adam, that does just about cover it, all except the use of "it" to describe the observed entity. My experience is usually one of subjectivity, but displaced and observed as opposed to a subjectless process. I've tried noting processes as described here and I would say there is a subtle difference in emotional tone. Fascinating stuff! 
Adam M, modified 4 Years ago at 1/4/18 5:23 PM
Created 4 Years ago at 1/4/18 5:23 PM

RE: Self as Other

Posts: 51 Join Date: 8/7/17 Recent Posts
Yeah. I've started practicing it again recently. Have to admit that it is confusing me a lot. I'm not sure that it really is directly related to insight stages. More a conditioned state based on concentration and practice that can be used for insight. I think I might be confusing different states. Oh well, I'm sure it'll become clear to me once I've made more progress on insight. Glad you posted this actually. I'd been neglecting the witness thing for a while and glad to resurect the practice.