Self No Self

 

Are you willing to be sponged out, erased, canceled, made nothing? Are you willing to be made nothing? Dipped into oblivion? If not, you will never really change.

D. H. Lawrence

 

If you would swim on the bosom of the ocean of truth, you must reduce yourself to a zero.

Gandhi

 

A self transcending selfhood as opposed to the annihilation of selfhood or self beyond the differentiating world.

 

A man who identifies himself with his consciousness often perceives his passions as an alien force.

John B. Cobb - The Structures of Human Existence

 

Slowly, gently, as you pursue this disidentification "therapy" you may find that your entire individual self (persona, ego, centaur), which you have fought so hard to defend and protect, begins to go transparent and drop away. Not that it literally falls off and you find yourself floating, disembodied, through space. Rather, you begin to feel that what happens to your personal self - your wishes, hopes, desires, hurts - is not a matter of life-or-death seriousness, because there is within you a deeper and more basic self which is not touched by these peripheral fluctuations, these surface waves of grand commotion but feeble substance.

Ken Wilber - No Boundary

 

Every one of us is shadowed by an illusory person: a false self. . . . My false and private self is the one who wants to exist outside the reach of God's will and God's love - outside reality and outside of life. And such a self cannot help but be an illusion.

We become contemplatives when God discovers Himself in us.

Our true self is, then, the self that receives freely and gladly the missions that are God's supreme gift to His sons. Any other "self" is only an illusion.

Thomas Merton - New Seeds of Contemplation

 

This "self" which we take to be "me" and which feels so present and real to us is actually an internalized image, a composite representation, constructed by a selective and imaginative "remembering" of past encounters with significant objects in our world. In fact, the self is viewed in both psychologies as a representation which is actually being constructed anew from moment to moment.

Put very simply, you have to be a somebody before you can be a nobody.

The Buddhist teaching that I neither have nor am an enduring self is often misinterpreted to mean that I do not need to struggle with the tasks of identity formation or with finding out who I am, what my capabilities are, what my needs are, what my responsibilities are, how I am related to other selves, and what I should or could do with my life. The anatta (no-self) doctrine is taken to justify their premature abandonment of essential psychosocial tasks.

What Buddhist psychology and practice appear to do instead is presuppose a more or less normal course of development and an intact or "normal" ego.

Jack Engler - Transformations of Conscious

 

There is nothing dharmic about stepping on the personality. We need to get rid of the neurosis but not the personality. Personality is wonderful. A lot of what doesn't appeal to me about certain Buddhist teachers is the lack of personality. They're juiceless, joyless, there's not a spark of vibrancy there; whereas when you've truly stepped beyond joy and sorrow, you're full of joy. 

In my experience, the people who have been denying their emotions and just sitting on the cushion becomes very - what can I say - it almost feels ghostlike. The human quality becomes very thin, the flame becomes dampened, that the wonderful vibrant life can come to fruition through dharma practice isn't there. You feel that there are storerooms of unfinished business lying in the cellar beneath their dharma insight. It's not genuine, at least in my experience. And I think that from the Buddhist perspective that I grew up in, the Zen perspective, it's simply not skillful means. If you recognize that on the deepest possible level samsara and nirvana are not any different, and that your work is with all of yourself, and that you don't want to assign the ghosts of your personality to the hungry ghost realm where they're going to be suffering for eons and eons, then you have to go down into yourself and work with that personality level. This is how the Sixth Patriarch interpreted the first Bodhisattav vow of saving all sentient beings suffering in your own mind.

I like to think of somebody's personality becoming transparent. Then it's there in full presence and full enjoyment of the things of this world, with all its likes and dislikes, just not attached to them. For instance, it's fine to like chocolate. When you order, it's not being a great bodhisattva to say, "Oh, well, vanilla's fine, chocolate's fine, I'll have raisins if you want, put some hot fudge on it if you want, its all the same." No. "I'll have a vanilla cone." In that great poem by the Third Patriarch, "The Mind of Absolute Trust," he says, "The great way is not difficult as long as you don't cling to your preferences." He's not saying, "Get rid of your preferences," but "don't be attached to them."

Stephen Mitchell interview "No Enlightenment"

Inquiring Mind: Fall 1990 (Vipassana Journal)

 

Why are you unhappy?

Because 99.9% of everything you think,

And everything you do,

Is for your self,

And there isn't one.

 

Wei Wu Wei (Quoted in Grace and Grit - Wilber)

 

Ideas distort as much as they illuminate. (Eastern view.)

Zen Muga - The ego is lost - not lost in the type of Yoga concentration in which consciousness, drained of all content whatsoever, remains "pure" or blank without an ego; but rather lost because of the identification of subject and object.

John B. Cobb - Beyond Dialogue

 

The false self is a monumental illusion, a load of habitual thinking patterns and emotional routines that are stored in the brain and nervous system. Like programs in a computer, they tend to reactivate every time a particular life situation pushes the appropriate button. The false self even insinuates that its subtle purposes are religiously motivated. Genuine religious attitudes come from God, not from the false self. By means of contemplative prayer the Spirit heals the roots of self-centeredness and becomes the source of our conscious activity. To act spontaneously under the Spirit's influence rather than under the influence of the false self, the emotional programming of the past has to be erased and replaced. The practice of virtue is the traditional term for erasing the old programs and writing new programs based on the values of the Gospel.

Thomas Keating - Open Mind Open Heart

 

... many people make the mistake of thinking that since ego is the root of suffering, the goal of spirituality must be to conquer and destroy ego. They struggle to eliminate ego's heavy hand but, as we discovered earlier, that struggle is merely another expression of ego. We go around and around, trying to improve ourselves through struggle, until we realize that the ambition to improve ourselves is itself the problem. Insights come only when there are gaps in our struggle, only when we stop trying to rid ourselves of thought, when we cease siding with pious, good thoughts against bad, impure thoughts, only when we allow ourselves simply to see the nature of thought.

We begin to realize that there is a sane, awake quality within us. In fact this quality manifests itself only in the absence of struggle. So we discover the Third Noble Truth, the truth of the goal: that is, non-striving. We need only drop the effort to secure and solidify ourselves and the awakened state is present. But we soon realize that just "letting go " is only possible for short periods. We need some discipline to bring us to "letting be". We must walk a spiritual path. Ego must wear itself out like an old shoe, journeying from suffering to liberation.

 

Chogyam Trungpa - Cutting Through Spiritual Materialism