The Way




A master was asked a question by a curious monk, "What is The Way?"
"It is right before your eyes," said the master.
"Why do I not see it for myself?"
"Because you are thinking of yourself."
"What about you, do you see it?"
"So long as you see double, saying 'I don't', and 'you do', your eyes are clouded," said the master.
"When there is no 'I' nor 'You', can one see it?"
"When there is neither 'I' nor 'You', who is the one that wants to see it?"




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The Way

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The Self as a Temporal Illusion


Any system of active operation is defined by its input and output. It is then further defined by it's basic statements which are based upon logical systems. The internal logic which tells the system what to do is applied through valid reasoning - which is what logic is.

And yet there is an experience which human conciousness can access that can be said goes beyond the logical system and logical frames of reference to which the human mind is used to dealing with.

Our own input and output is a system in which the basic frame of reference starts in the same manner as Gödel's number theory -- 0. Between the input and output, starting at number 0, there is (can be) infinite fractalization into parts.
However, when faced with logical systems and if you regress to the uttermost basic logical statement, you will always find that the system of logic upon which all the rest stand cannot be proven: That the first statement is an abstraction of meaning. This can further be proven by using mathematics, and has been presented by Gödel himself in his Incompleteness Theorem in 1931.

To give the most basic example imaginable. The human mind is used to everything having a beginning and an end. This is a logical statement of self-evident fact. However, when this is applied to the universe itself, it cannot be logically stated or proven that it had a beginning, since a beginning can be said to be the point of big bang, or the point before its whateverness first formed into what became a big bang. This is to a point pure semantics. And yet it is the most clear example of a logical system than cannot be proven since its frames of reference are always abstract and defined by human standards. What is a beginning? At what point is something a beginning? It is of course a defined point set by a mind.

To give another example from a Zen Koan, which asks: That girl crossing the street, is she the older or the younger sister?

Most would eventually realize that the best course of action to such an illogical and pointless question would be to go and ask her. However, that would be missing the point entirely. It is for one to realize that all divisions are pointless and illogical in their basis and only exist in the human psyche. The girl crossing the street is just that. She is. She is in reality neither sister not younger nor older.


Much like the input data in mathematical theorems and computer systems, where the input is provided by a human, our own input data is provided by the five senses.
These access a selection of specific bands of perception which can be accessed by consciousness. The observer in theory has no part in selecting these bands, they are pre-set for the mind. Yet each of these senses is paralysed, or in other words extremely narrow in its input recognition. Each sense operates in its own selection, or bands - a set of frequencies for which our bodies and minds serve as vibrational conduits. We receive vibrational/frequency data and relay a corresponding frequency response.

This is basic. Underlining this basic premise of our functioning is the I centre. The sense of Self as there being an entity to which all of this is happening. However, when asked what the self is and using the right questions, every individual will inevitably come to a point where the Self will not be something which he or she can define in any logical statement. The Self will inevitably become an abstract idea of itself.

When you examine what the Self consists of, you will notice that every frame of your reference must be drawn from past events.
Each time when we are forced into thinking of what we are, we end up thinking not of what we are now, but what has happened to us in the past, in order to get an idea of ourselves. In the same sense as the number theory by Gödel, we consciously strip away our experiences until we hope to reach a number 0 where these experiences and inputs began.
That is because our own fundamental nature is empty, and is a series of abstractions.
Our minds and bodies remain an area of condensed experience, where our sense of I is always identified with past events, rather than with what actually is.
Even our normal, non-autistic memory, functions as an abstract idea, meaning that whenever you have an experience, you always infinitely regress in its remembering.
What that means is this: When we are part of an event, the event creates a complex system of memory (something Snatislav Grof elegantly called a COEX system). When we later recall this event, we will see parts of it. When we recall it the second time at a later point, our minds no longer recall the actual first formation of that memory, but effectively remember our most recent remembering of that event. This is the main reason for memory distortion and a good example of how in the end, all that really remains is the abstract, emotional idea of that event, instead of concrete impressions.

When we attempt to do this and further search for the starting point, we become much like Ouroboros, the ancient depiction of a serpent biting its own tail. We are inevitably brought back to a point where we realize the Self cannot be defined by a singular point in space/time because logically, every event leading to our conception can be said to have contained the potentiality of our particular Self. That is to say that all events preceding our birth were the prerequisites for the creation of a Self which now ponders where it began.

Of course this statement has no true basis in normal human logic, which means that we feel and know that this information is irrelevant to the understanding of our own Self - now. And yet this is not true, and remains the trick of the I centre which must convince the subject that it is no more than a thing with 2 legs and 5 senses. It can operate like this just fine.

And yet, as mentioned before, there is a specific state which human conciousness can access which the subject can provoke through meditation, or can happen spontaneously. These can define the Self outside of logical necessity.

The way this happens is rather curious.

During the day and most of our lives, we have been operating on this complex relation of input/output. This has for us remained very useful, yet is ultimately useless when the Self tries to grasp itself to reach further into its own illusion to try and find a "Real Self" or "True Self". To a logical system used to dealing with information in a input manner, the True Self must exists, because if it does not, the Self as an output system must also, by logical progression, not exist, since the very basis as to why it exists is because it had a beginning, a number 0. A number corresponding to a "True Self" where it all started.

The aforementioned curious thing, is that when searching for a beginning in a logical input/output sense, we are presented not with what we are, but with the forming of an Ego through remembrance. We are met with the first time we as an Ego came into being, and not a logical point where we as a Self came into being. A Self meaning a thing with no mind, no memories, just flesh bone and thought.

We rarely associate the Self at the point of conception. Instead we associate the Self as the point where we began to know of there being a thing called Me.

When even memories of past events are recollected and we by some means find the point where the formation of Ego as a social convention was first introduced to our psyche, we begin a shift into different inquiries of what the Self is. We must inevitably begin to realize that from our very beginning, we were never isolated beings or a bag of skin inside another being. We had always been the totality of everything that was happening. And in fact the result of a totality. Until the formation of Ego centre within us, every other being, and every object in this totality was just the same, a result of the complete totality. We differentiated between nothing that we saw or sensed.

This sense of being the totality cannot be explained in the method of output, because there is no primal input involved in realizing it, and so must go beyond all logical systems to which our minds are used to.

The input of realizing this comes not from a cosmic source or some higher being, but from the inner programming and formation of mind itself. That is to say, because the mind is the totality, it already has all the necessary means to know about the totality without any input involved.

But how can this understanding or a way of seeing be explained or relayed to a mind used to the method of input/output? In short, it cannot, as this rests in the region of experience. Yet it can be said what it is not, and by this we can come close to explaining it.

In all previous methods of logical understanding, the subject's attempts of understanding the Self went through channels that were logical. I did this, therefore I am that. I thought this, therefore I am this. I was born like this (DNA), therefore I am that.

This method of seeing what the self is, however, is without input/output and so is completely different.
It must allow the Mind to battle with its own duality to a point where all doubt as to any abstract idea becomes pointless. This means that all input and all output must come to a stop. To the number theory point of 0. Where before it was thought by the mind that this point can be reached through looking back to the very first input, this is not true. The 0 point can only be reached by ceasing all input altogether! 
For if you go backwards logically to find this 0 point, you will be trapped into a frame of thinking that started not at the point of 0, but at the point of 1, since that is the first logical input. By logical thinking, you will inevitably reach only the point of 1, yet will be unable to see there is still 0, as you will still be attempting to understand through logical means, which is already the point of first logical input 1, while 0 is the point of no input and no logic.

In this a frame of reference and a way of looking and seeing is cultivated to which the mind is not used to. When this no-mind is reached but once, it becomes the first point and instance where the mind is confronted with its own illusion which it projects upon itself, called the Self. In this state, it is very easy to see how Self is a temporal illusion of a system of centralized consciousness. A point of convergence, if you will, of the totality. A point where the whole is condensed into a single experience of itself. A point where there exists not solely a mechanism to perceive reality, but also a point where the reality manifests from. A conduit that is the manifested and the manifesting tool of the whole reality, and not an isolated point within it. You can choose to play the game of the Self, but also know you are not merely that, but an expression of the entire movement of the universal reality.


Image by Jie He



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[Review] The Liar's Key by Mark Lawrence


There are books that you devour. And there are books that devour you. The Liar’s Key is more than the latter, as it is a book which also lies. It keeps telling you that it is a book which you are reading. While in fact it is a Tome (the distinction is perhaps only in my head, and has nothing to do with the thickness of said book). It keeps telling you, “Bruv, the next page is just as good as this one.” But that is a lie. The next page is better. Always better.

But that’s not even the most heinous lie which this book tells you. The most atrocious one falls less into the category of a Lie and more into the category of Deceit. For it deceives you that it is bastardly thick. Many pages. Many words. All that. Just look at it. Pick it up. Feeeeel it. While in fact this book is too damn short! Screw you, Mark Lawrence.

And yet, somehow, there is no other book which has quite the same
effect. Many do have it, naturally, but not in this manner and this kind of “flavour”.

Tastes a bit like Jorgian murder. Mmmmm.


10/10

Zen Mind



"To see the mind as it truly is, consider it like you would a tree. It grows and expands. Its roots go deep, hidden and out of reach, and to cast them out or truly examine them, you risk wounding the rest and must go beyond logic. The question is, are you willing to take the risk?" 
The Dreamer considers this for a while. His answer, however, comes with conviction. "I was made ready by this very world." 
His guide nods in understanding, smiles. 
The undergrowth bristles as their footfall passes. In silence, they walk between the trees and up the hill. Despite the slope, their breaths come easily, slowly. The rise is steep and obstacles many, but they press on, higher, slower with each step, until they settle on a steady and calm pace. Golden rays greet and stroke their faces. Light flickers between the autumn leaves. The winds are gentle as they lick the soil and awaken the greenery with movement, excite the smells of forest life. 
Atop the hill, a glade, caressed by the distant spirals of the sun. The divine engine fills the Dreamer with awe, furnace hot upon his face, infinitely moulding the Earth's flesh into an image, into life. He feels its pulse. His bare feet tingle. 
The two men stand there for a while, basking in the glory of a thing so mighty, so unattainable - like the true workings of the mind. 
The Dreamer gazes up the lone tree swimming in gold and watches as the sun and the tree suddenly become one. No end of one, no start of the other, but both admixed, like an alloy, embracing the light. His guide averts his eyes, looks at him, and the Dreamer knows what words shall follow, for he would ask the very same of the tree before him... 
"Do you ever sleep? Is the time between days sleep for you? Or as the season and its stillness takes you, is that sleep for you? Tell me, do you dream then? What do you dream about?" 
"Freedom."
To this the guide plucks a small, white flower and hands it to the Dreamer. "What do you see?" the guide asks him. 
The Dreamer looks, perplexed, for he knows his teacher wants him to see more than the obvious. But instead of seeing what is truly there, the Dreamer's mind breaks through and depicts solely its sensual perceptions. 
"A flower, brightly coloured and scented," says the Dreamer. His guide looks at him. Wind rustles their robes in tune with the lush green beneath their feet. The tree above plays in the breeze, shading them. "Is that all you see?" 
The Dreamer looks again. Nods. "My eyes see what they see. Yet my mind tells me I should see more."
"It is not Mind that sees more, it is You. The flower is but an expression. Just like you. An expression of this world. Yet unlike you, it lets things be, it doesn't try and analyse why things are such, why the winds blows and the grass sways. All it ever wants to be and wishes to have, it already is and has." "But I have a mind," the Dreamer replies. "This flower has no mind. No mind to wonder, to ponder, to think and to feel." 
"It is the way of Zen. No mind. But a certain kind of emptiness that is as vast as anything that can be or is. A Mind that is ready. That is empty because it is ready. Even when such a task -- not to ponder -- seems impossible. Then, when there is no mind to dissect every nuance of the world, all that remains is the wonder, the experience, you are free to feel and to think, truly think. How your thoughts flow now is conditioned by your perceptions, by your feelings, by your life-patterns and choices. All of these things coalesce into what you think is the real you, what the real you feels it must maintain. To lose that means an annihilation of the You. You sustain that identity, instead of simply Being." 
"How can I be then? Happy? How can I be free?" 
"No man can remain in a constant state of happiness. It is impossible. The sooner you understand this, the sooner you will attain what you seek. A man can only stay calm, blissful. That, in itself, is the source of happiness. Serenity of thought brings happiness, a cantered mind brings happiness, and when these things are one motion, when you cease to search for your happiness and instead simply allow yourself to experience it, you will find yourself free. For you see, friend, true freedom is not without, it is within. You must first let go of your mind, accept and see all the patterns that control you, subdue and inflame you." His eyes water as the Dreamer sets his gaze upon the calm, understanding expression of his guide, bows low and says, "Teach me, master." 
"You must pass through the ultimate gate," the master says. "Enter a bastion guarded by your doubts, your fears, your perceptions, memories, false imprints, lies, illusion, guilt, shame and conditioned things. The gate has always been there and until you enter it and see that it's walls are transparent, it shall always remain there." 
Silence. Thoughts bend the Dreamer's mind. A wind waves the treeline for a moment, spinning sounds that drift, sing with simplicity. "What fire must I kindle?" the Dreamer asks. "What source must I tap into to become calm, serene, blissful, happy even?" 
The master smiles, walks the clearing's edge overlooking distant hills and forests... the Dreamer follows. 
"Analogies and riddles, questions and answers," his guide laughs. "You speak of kindled fires, yet, would you ask the same fire how it came to life? No. Its source is already manifest. It is present always, all it needs is patience and something that knows how to light a spark. A fire sparks and tree grows. Look! How tall that one is. How short that one is." 
Contradictions, the Dreamer thinks, always contradictions. The evening's calm swallows the skyline, colours turn vivid and the Dreamer's gaze lingers upon the transcendental beauty of the day. 
"Even as such a fire is lit," his guide continues, "The wood burns and the flame moves, yet it is really the mind that moves - interprets, gives the flame life. The spark you seek, the flame, it is your mind, but is not your Mind. The kindle sleeps within it. A bird nestles then leaves." 
"But what must I do?" The Dreamer pleads now. Straight answers continue to elude him and his mind reels for instruction, he feels its search - its quest to find words that would inflame his cognitive processes. But the master only smiles and, sensing his student's impatience, says, "Follow." They walk downhill, past trees both ancient and young, until at length, they reach an open grotto, lush and hidden, surrounded by trees overgrown with moss. A waterfall streams into the clearest azure. They halt a while, fill their lungs with moist air. "Where is the point where the falling water becomes the pond?"




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Dreamscapes and The Interpretation of Dreams

Dreams are an extension of you. They are the buried you, the secret you. They are the you under all of your years and all of your memories and all your secret desires. Dreams allow you to peer into your inner self with a strange, twisted gaze. For once you look inside to see through and into the illusion. Images flow without restraint and forced interpretation and labelling of the conscious mind. Dreams are the inner eye, drawing its gaze upon itself.


Recently I've been reading The Interpretation of Dreams again, by Sigmund Freud, (the illustrated version is particularly interesting) and there are some quite miraculous cases and anecdotes in it, as well as examples of interpretations that would never have arisen had the psychiatrist not gone into in-depth talks with his subject beforehand. That is to say, to know one's dreams, you must first know the person who dreamt them. Which begs the question as to why we can rarely successfully interpret our own dreams. Do we know so little about ourselves?


Sigmund would confirm this to be the case and often refers to this "unknowing" as something quite normal.


The subconscious is a net of experience. And if the concept of COEX System is indeed accurate, meaning that memories and emotional and physical experiences are stored in the psyche not as isolated bits and pieces, but in the form of complex constellations, then each dream holds its own impressions and emotional depth, likely a multitude of them. In this fashion, your dreams draw from these layers of webbing pulsing beneath new and fresher layers of experience, but still just as active.


It is interesting to note that there are so few points that make up the dream and its contents when it comes to its material and sources, and once you realize what they are, it may make it easier to interpret some of them.


There are three points which are most important, and follow as such:


1. The dream distinctly prefers impressions of the few days preceding the dream.


2. The dream makes its selection according to principles other than those of our waking memory, meaning that it recalls not what is essential and important, but what is subordinate and disregarded.


3. The dream has at its disposal the earliest impressions of our childhood, and brings to light details from this period of life which again seem trivial to us, and which in waking life were considered long ago forgotten.



All of this is preceded by the notion that All Dreams Are, in their basis, The Realization of a Wish. Yet that wish may be hidden behind layers of conflicting information and are subject to something called "Dream Distortion".


The last part (3) is especially difficult to judge when it occurs, because the respective elements of the dream are not recognized according to their origin after waking. That is to say, that it is hard for the dreamer to know he still remembers something which the conscious mind does not actively recall. This conclusion thus can only be reached objectively, yet can sometimes be recognized when the dream held a certain kind of "power" or nostalgia or a deeply buried desire, which can only be fully explored when subject to interpretation by another subject.


I have began keeping a dream diary and take notes of the dreams while I still remember them, since most but the severely powerful and "educational" dreams tend to fade within 4-15 minutes after waking. The experience so far has proven interesting.






Inspirational? Maybe.

Oceanic Experience





The term Oceanic was coined by Romain Rolland and popularized by Sigmund Freud, who pointed out that this emotion may be a fragment of infantile consciousness, a feeling which occurs when the infant begins to differentiate himself from his human and non-human environment and a survival Ego begins to form. I tend to disagree with this notion. The disagreement stems from talking to those who have had this emotion and from personal experience, where Oceanic doesn't come from differentiation, but from a sense that you and the thing  'outside' you (environment) is one and the same thing. Differentiating causes the feeling to stop, as you resume your default experience of consciousness; which is a feeling of centrality, of the I and Other. Or in a very strict sense, the sensation stops when you start thinking.

There is no Other in Oceanic, but rather a deep sense that all things are the same one thing.

And yet there are numerous ways of coining what some psychiatrists call an Oceanic Experience. You might hear terms like the Oceanic Feeling or a Peak experience, Satori, Samadhi, but all these are in fact the same thing, an intense feeling of presence right here and now.

The most curious thing about these experiences is surely the fact that they often, if not always, come out of nowhere and quite unexpectedly and can be akin to Satori. But that's only true for those who are not aware of what triggers them, or what sets these emotions into motion. Some may argue this is not  a specific emotion, but inner State.


I want to tell you how you can try and find these triggers and stay Oceanic for as long as you can hold that concentration and Presence. Later you will not need to concentrate at all.


The key point I must first make is this: Everyone can have this experience. There's an idea backed by quite a few scientific papers in neurophysiology, that claims we are hard-wired for religion and faith-based belief. While that may be true, I would rather say we are hard-wired to experience this sensation, and is in fact what most are searching for in religion. It is unfortunate that organized religions monopolized it and made most believe they need something to experience it, and instead of showing others how to do it directly (in which Zen remains one of the few proponents of direct pointing still present today), wrapped it up in ritual and community, which are very superficial aspects of it and may aid you in becoming Oceanic, yet once can do it by one's own. Which makes sense doesn't it? As you are the I to whom it happens, so the notion that you need something else is a bit ridiculous. Don't worry if you are confused about what I'm talking about, because you most definitely have experienced Oceanic already, everyone has, although it is often the case that you don't realize this fact.


It is also important to note that the trigger will not be different for everyone, and that Peak experiences are triggering a state of Presence. Simply put, we all have the same triggers because we are all an expression of I manifesting in countless form and through many perspectives of relative viewpoint.


The beautiful thing about these experiences, is that once you know the trigger, you can stay in that feeling for as long as you wish under certain conditions.


Freud was right about the 'infantile consciousness' part however, as it is indeed a fragment of that consciousness. It is why it has a subtly deep sense, a sort of 'primordial' feel to it, meaning that you get a sense that this sensation comes from the very core of you. That's because it does. Yet Freud's explanations  never reach quite deep enough. And having been oceanic for 1-2 days on occasions and for up to an hour in meditation, I have come to realize the claim "everyone wants to return to the womb and uses sex to try and do that" never adequately explains the why of this need. It dismisses a deeper need that is produced by the centrality of I, and that sex is the most superficial step of achieving what is really sought after: a Merging. A merging of subject and object. Of subject and other subject, which for the I is the object as it seems to be outside the I. It is a need to return to the womb where the baby was completely submerged and weightless, fully in tune with its surroundings and in that sense, One with it. A merging of the male and female aspect in sex can cause that trigger, but also because it puts you intensely into the Now.


Images are important for you to enter this state if you are a beginner and don't yet know how to still the mind, especially if you belong to the 60% of people who prefer visual stimuli out of all other.
If you recall the sights, smells and sounds from the first time your were Oceanic (obviously not while you were in the womb), it will be easier to reach the state again, but such things are only of help. When it comes to smell, it is more likely that the precise fragrance will not be imprinted upon your mind, but the certain subtleties of it.

You must remember that you can reach this state even without these triggers. They are here simply to help you at first. And since in western society doing something purely to do it (like meditation) can be very useless for most, this trying to become Oceanic may be used as a goal for you to work towards while meditating. Mediation is at first a training in concentration, because until you learn concentration, you will always try and control your mind instead of simply not paying attention to it, or gently redirecting it from the Thought to the Self. This method is a good way to learn, as you will find that your mind, once it reaches this state, may automatically try to cling to it, and in that clinging, lose the feeling. Try it and you will see the realizations you get from this.


Through my talks with those who had consciously had the experience and reading about detailed cases of it, I have come to a few conclusions of the aspects required in terms of outside happenings to reach Oceanic. Allow me to list them out and explain a bit more why they work.


1. The quality of light. (early morning gold usually works best as it slants low in the sky and has an increased scattered effect, meaning you feel more immersed and a part of it)


2. Random background sounds that are of a natural source, like a stream or the rustle of leaves or the song of birds. (you already know what these sounds are, so a mind that is used to compulsive thinking will not attempt to label the sounds but just let them be. This will again help in the sense of being immersed in the sounds, until you eventually no longer hear a bird chirping, but in a somewhat funny sense, become the bird.)


3. A sight of something which seems finite over a backdrop of something that appears infinite. For instance, the sight of pine trees against a blue sky. [I used pine because they posses a denser quality] (this aids greatly in the sense of merging of the object and the subject. Clouds and the sky are a good way to do this as well, as you might begin to realize a truth that may seem banal if someone tells it to you. It is that the clouds and the sky are not separate things, and that the cloud is not in the sky, but and aspect of it, and in that sense is the sky. In much the same way, this trigger helps with the realization that Self and Other are not separate, but that the illusion of separateness is created by the sense of centrality that is the individual consciousness.)


4. Smells of trees in bloom or wood in general. (in much the same way as sounds, these smells already have a label in your mind as to what they are and, as such, will not cause the compulsive thinker to try and identify them, but instead simply let them be and so help still all thinking)


5. A peaceful mind absent of concerns, even if only for the time being. (this is a plus, as meditating on specific things will be easier)



Posture will be important, but not absolutely necessary. Resume any of the comfortable meditating positions, although it is advisable to take on any of the zazen postures for best results, even if it can be very unconformable for you at first. But a bit of discomfort is good as it assures you will not fall asleep easily or get sleepy.


What these things will help you with is to realize the Now and that It is all there is. You might say, I already know there is nothing else but the present. Yes, of course you do, at least you believe you do as your mind does, but do you feel it? The distinction is more important than you might think. 


And that is what Oceanic really is, a Presence in the moment, where the future and past dissolve, or rather, the illusion that these two states of time exist, disappears. 

Focusing on these triggers will help you stay in the Now, they are grounding you in the Now. Leave your mind alone in these moments and you will find the ocean and in the ocean, everything that is You.

The exercise might seem a contradiction to what mediation is, which is a way to calm the mind, but in reality, compulsive thinking and thinking while fully present in the now are not the same things, as you might have found out or already know.

And, as I said, once you can cultivate this State any time you wish, you will no longer need any triggers, but will simply breathe in, breathe out, and be it.



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The Spirit of Zen


Have everything thoroughly poured out that has accumulated in your mind––learning, hearing, false understanding, clever or witty sayings, the so-called truth of Zen, Buddha’s teachings, self-conceit, arrogance, etc. Concentrate yourself on the koan, of which you have not yet had a penetrating comprehension. That is to say, cross your legs firmly, erect you spinal column straight, and paying no attention to the periods of the day, keep your concentration until you grow unaware of your whereabouts, east, west, south, north, as if you were a living corpse.



The mind moves in response to the outside world and when it is touched, it knows. The time will come when all thoughts cease to stir and there will be no working of consciousness. It is then that all of a sudden you smash your brain to pieces and for the first time realize that the truth is in your own possession from the very beginning. Would this not be of great satisfaction to you in your daily life? 


- D.T. Suzuki


Image by Jie He




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There is a kind of tradition in many of the world's religions, especially in the East, for one to undergo a process of letting go of all material possessions. For a Westerner this might seem odd, as one can hardly imagine what can be gained in living like a hermit. But there is a very strong philosophical and psychological purpose behind this practice.

This is not something one does on a whim, and is preferable for to to undergo an examination of the emotional states while the process of letting go occurs. This can be very interesting. Yet what is the true purpose of it?

A consensus exists for most in the belief that material things do not bring happiness. Yet still most feel and know that, should they have a bunch of money, they could do the things they've always wanted to do. They could get the things they want. With this dualistic mentality, a "battle" can be created in the mind. On one end, one feels that material things are not the true source of happiness, yet he or she is compelled to gather things and objects. They in fact do seem to bring a sort of contentment. But where exactly does it come from? Is one content to have the object itself? Not exactly.

The letting go of possessions serves a deeper meaning. With each thing you let go, you may come closer to realizing just what it is that makes you happy and content about possessing a thing in the first place.

This can go on for a while. You may end up giving away and being left with nothing, and still the lesson will not become clear to you.

Most who attempt this, the ultimate desire may be to reach a state of knowing. A state of enlightened bliss where you wish to have no thing and are content with having no thing. In this doing of letting go and giving away, you may realize that no thing will make you as happy as simply being here, now. Yet it may be that even after letting go of all the material things and being left with nothing, one is still faced with the very basic problem because of which he began this practice. The desire for something is still there.
Being left with nothing, one may realize the initial desire was not to give things way, but for something to happen in the mind. A shift, a realization. So the fundamental issue of desire remains: wanting something specific.

The superficial mind is ruled by whims, wishes emotional fulfilment, which can manifest in the need to possess a thing or person. This can become an intense desire too; I want that, I want her, I want him. Usually we want these things now.
But what happens when one gets the object of desire?
The person is content, for the most part anyway. 
The trick which was done by the ego, however, was to make you believe happiness is in the thing which you possess. And yet contentment does not come from possessing the thing, but from being free of the desire to have it. You no longer have the desire for the object or subject because you now hold it.

The mind operates on a reward-based system. You want something, you get it, you are rewarded by feelings of contentment and a release of endorphins. And yet because the object and the subject are so intertwined, and you have just gotten the object, you do not realize the subject's contentment comes from emptiness, from absence of desire, and not fulfilment of desire in the form of the thing or person. Instead it comes from a deeper state of brief freedom.

The most basic analogy is the consuming of drugs. Most would have you think that it is the reward system of the ego and the release of dopamine which is in itself the reward that makes the user crave and seek out these substances. But it goes deeper than that. In that moment, while it may indeed feel excitingly excellent as the drug is consumed, you are free of the desire which binds you to a certain substance or the use or abuse of it. You are in the moment, free of desire now.

You might, however, say that the object is happiness, for it can bring you joy not just when you get it, but later as well. But if one examines how long this "happiness" actually lasts, he or she is quickly confronted with the truth that contentment lasts for as long as there is the absence of desire. It lasted for as long as there was not any other desire to take its place.

This is not a happiness one feels in a dopamine rush, but a happiness one feels from contentment that stems from inner peace and stillness.

But this is still not the lesson letting go seeks to teach. What is truly behind it, is something even deeper and very simple. It is in fact so simple, that most miss it due to its very simplicity. It does not mean that one needs to renounce the things of this world as if they are bad and controlling. Not to renounce his or her own desires for things and people, but to realize that, just like the subject, the object too and the desire for it, are impermanent. That they exist in a kind of play which you are acting upon for a brief and very limited time.

Especially today, it would be rather silly for a material being to completely renounce the things of material, as one is also material. This kind of renouncement thus becomes almost a renouncement of the Self. And yet knowing this, the process of letting go, and the examination of the Self while letting go, can be very fruitful.

Impermanence may teach you the ultimate truth of your own death. It is a grim lesson, perhaps, and most of us know it, but do not feel it. It can propel you to be here, now, and to enjoy even your own suffering and understand it as a nuance of existence. Being here, being you, is, after all, the only thing you will ever truly possess. Everything else, and the thought that you possess anything else, will be an illusion.



Image by Jie He



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Ego Loss and Higher Self



An ego collapse or loss is the exact point where the psyche no longer knows how to deal with the situation at hand. The subsequent reaction produced is often a complete loss of self-identity. For most it is something that happens daily, although we tend to only notice collapses which are extremely prominent in our psyche. For the most extreme ego deaths, a more readily used terminology exists in normal psychology: mental breakdown.

Because of the term mental breakdown and the associated stigma, an ego collapse has become a thing to be feared and for most avoided at all costs, as it suggest a delirious self where the person in question no longer exists in any intractable sense. When we hear the word mental breakdown we imagine someone spasming on the floor or "losing their shit". To a degree this is true. And yet a collapse can underline something much more profound.

The definition of collapse is: To fall down or inward suddenly; cave in.

In the instance of a collapse or loss, the ego usually does one of two things; It produces an attack which becomes an extremely powerful overreaction, or withdraws and produces a non-reaction.

In both cases it adjusts and adapts. It does this by skewing what is and adjusting itself not to what is going on, but moulds a situation to fit its own pre-preconceptions and beliefs. In other words, in most cases it does not accept what is, but looks for ways to justify its own already existent point of view and further deny what is. In the case of a collapse, the Ego is never actually gone.

Let’s first examine why such a thing occurs.
The initial breakdown or collapse manifests due to the inability of the ego to accept what is. That which is becomes too out of bounds of the every-day perception upon which the ego has so far functioned. The conditioning patterns upon which the ego operates cannot produce a reaction. Non-acceptance of what is, in other words, not accepting things as they are, triggers a dissonance where the ego needs to effectively shrink into a more basic self, and reset. It will adapt, attack, defend, hide, or a combo of up to two or more of these reactions (and more) in a very short span of time.

For a person to realize what is actually happening and what it underlines, a collapse needs to happen again, and preferably again. However many times it takes.

At some point it brings a subtle feeling in anyone who has undergone a series of collapses.

It portrays the illusory nature of the ego.

Or more precisely, it brings the awareness of the Self identifying wholly and completely with it.

The Ego is and will remain a social-conditioning pattern. A telescope with a narrow view of assessment that feeds the rest of the organism whatever it needs to survive in any given situation.

When you try to go beyond the ego as a way to test yourself by doing something opposite of what you thought the ego might do, you find yourself wondering if the reaction produced was in fact ego-driven in some subconscious way. This portrays the strength of the illusion; but also presents a stronger problem which the ego will resolve in a very cunning way.

For those more spiritually inclined, the Ego will, instead of recognizing itself as illusory and exposing its weakness to the one it controls (You), create what most call a Higher Self. The ego will develop the Higher Self through incredibly subtle means of self-deception and self-confirmation. It will actively seek out minds with the same attitudes and knowledge of the Higher Self to confirm itself in the individual psyche. The Ego will seek minds to shape itself and lean itself upon in order to give the concept of the Higher Self (which it created) validity through acknowledgement. It will guide a person through levels of confirmation to make him or her believe in the illusion of the Higher Self, while still being the ego in disguise.

By those who have this illusion, questions may be asked of others who have “realized the Higher Self”. The most basic and most readily asked being: “How can I differentiate between what is my Ego reaction, and what is the reaction of the Higher Self.”

The answer by those under the same illusion usually goes something like this: The Ego reaction comes after the initial gut reaction. The initial reaction of the Higher Self is the right and immediate reaction. You instinctively know what is right in your “core”, “heart” or “gut” (intuition).

In this scenario, an ego reaction is the reaction which is not immediate - a response which goes through a filter in the mind for a particular social condition. However, even the most basic gut reaction will always arise from the mind, and so always be conditioned by the ego. (If you think that when you are by yourself your reactions are not socially driven it will be a mistake.*) (*A human being is never separate from his social environment, no matter the level of isolation. If the Ego perceives that the Self intends to isolate itself from its environment it can do something the mind does on a regular basis. The ego will project itself as far into the future as it must to justify what it is doing now. In other words, it will do things now for future acknowledgement and confirmation and will have no problem with this. It has all your life to wait. A human being can be as separate from his environment as can any other living being. Which is to say it cannot be, as the human is like any living or what we call unliving thing, it arises with the environment and not separate from it. Any separation between the two will be illusory.)

To give two basic examples why, with the Higher Self, a double illusion has been created instead of just the ego, and why the Higher Self and the Ego are the very same thing, we can use two basic examples.

  1. the clouds and their separation from the sky is illusory. The clouds are an aspect of the sky and not a thing in the sky. They manifest a pattern of the sky, not a pattern in the sky.
 “Be careful what you pretend to be because you are what you pretend to be.”

In a sense this elegantly portrays the function of the ego. Pretending to be something less than the whole process.

Examine yourself and how your ego shifts in different social environments depending on what group you find yourself in. You become a pattern in that process. You re-imagine yourself in each situation. You started doing this when you were a kid. You had a Self for your family, for your friends, for your pet, for your other group of friends, etc. In school you were placed into a program where you were expected to create a Self that will be one – able to function “out there”. But here it became serious. In school it’s no longer a game. In school this has become a thing that needs to be learned. And it’s serious because if you cannot be in that program you will not fit into a system that requires the inception of specific programs to work.

But what if you step back and watch your thinking and doing?

At first you may notice that when the Ego is on stage (being watched), it will not produce a reaction as long as you can maintain focus and watch. Meaning that as long as you watch the next thought that will come, it will not.

But when thoughts come and you still remain focused and watch, you will find that in these situations, your reactions to your own thinking and responses will inevitably shift to a different spectrum.

There comes an acceptance of things as they are and as they come and go, while keeping nothing. The life of such an individual can be more akin to playing. Almost in the same manner as playing any instrument. The Ego is that which strums the strings or hits the drum, but the strumming is not the guitar, only an expression of it. The guitar itself keeps no notes, they come, then they go. It only plays with them.

That is the function of the Self, to look at itself, while the Ego’s function is to sense things outside and produce instant reactions. The part you need to understand is that it can do this the most efficiently by making you think the world inside you is separate from outside. And yet the Ego cannot exist without the Self just as a cloud cannot exist without a medium to have it in. Just as the Self cannot exist without Other and Other cannot be without Self.

The next of the two ways of seeing why the initial separation into a Higher Self is illusory, is this:

  1. You could do it ad infinitum and never reach “The Real You” or “Highest Self”, because you will always be under the illusion that you have reached it. As the Self, you can watch the Ego, then as the Higher Self  you can watch the Self watching the Ego, then watch the Higher Self watching the Self who watches the Ego, then watch the watcher who watches the Higher Self who watches the Self who watches the Ego and so on... You can do this until however long you like and only create more illusion and separateness. Or you can recognize that the basic problem was illusory.
The Self is, it needs no further label of Higher or Lower, and the Self has a social structure, which we call the Ego – but which is not separate from the Self, only its illusion that reflects whatever is out there. You can express a certain nature, but it is an expression of the same Self as the Self that is the Ego.

The only way to break this cycle is to realize that the I and the Ego are the same thing. You may watch what you are doing and not like it, then say, “Aha! That is the Ego, not the real me,”  but instead of seeing the Ego as a thing to be fought and defeated, see it as a necessity. By watching the Ego, what you are really doing is watching the construct in your mind that has been made by the imprints of your existence in the physical dimension. It is not a presence, it is an illusion. You may not like this construct, and that is fine, but that does not mean the one watching is different than the one being watched.

So by looking at the Ego in this sense, by creating the illusion of duality, you can see that the ego itself is an illusion as well, a program which you can transcend by understanding its function and observing it. You can start producing reactions that take into account your inseparability from anything else. Whether those reactions are good or bad is beside the point. They cease to be either, but simply are. You can know a mask exists and yet still play the game.

You might say that, because you can watch the ego and have feelings produced by the ego, that the ego is real, and that would be a completely fair assumption. However, when assailed by an emotion that you would consider bad, realize that bad is a label, while an emotion simply is and has no inherent meaning besides what it produces in you. So watch it as it is and what it does to you. By doing this, do not think of it as watching the Ego, but of “stepping back and allowing the I to look at Itself.”

There is a Zen Koan that asks: “When many are reduced to one, what is one reduced to?”

Just like this problem of the Ego, your immediate reaction will be to examine the Koan as a problem to be solved. You may think, "If Many can be reduced, then One must also be reduced – because the question implies it." 
Or if you think in a manner of “all is one”, you might say, "If Many is reduced to One, then one cannot be further reduced, as all is one."

And yet the problem is illusory. As one is reduced from many, so can one be reduced to many. If many were already one, then one is always many. In this manner the question is a trick, much like the idea of separation from your ego is a trick.

No matter the effort, you will never become separate from the ego. Instead you can see it as a play that you can either go along with, or do differently. In trying to separate from it, you are attempting to do the same thing as if a finger were trying to touch its own tip. 
The attempt can only create more illusion. 
Recognize that touching the tip itself with the tip is impossible, not because of some mechanical problem of the human body, but because it is already done, as the very separateness of the tip from the finger is an illusion of the mind. 
There is no finger and the tip, there is just the finger, so in this sense the finger is always already touching its own tip. 
It already is its own tip as the idea that there is a tip was an illusion to begin with.


Image by Jie He



Similar posts:

The Self as a Temporal Illusion

Oceanic Experience

Happiness and Desire

Ego Loss and Higher Self

Is God Real

Psychosphere

The Illusion of Duality

Self-Realization