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Seeing Through the Self, Part 2

Robert Dimuro

Posted on August 2, 2020 12:57

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Is the illusion of self not simply another noticeable part of experience?

Let’s return to the senses to see if we can hone down on what the sense of self is like. As I wrote in Part 1, it’s clear that we feel identified with our visual field (in that it locates us in space) and with the feeling of our bodies in that same space. Indeed, our other senses can serve to locate us in space (albeit with less clarity and precision), but we don’t typically feel identified with sound, taste, or smell as we do with sight and touch. Even with our eyes closed, we instantly form the concept that we’re inside our heads and we can still feel ourselves in some spatial position. 

What eludes most people is that this concept is separable from the raw sensations that we experience. Moreover, it’s possible to notice this concept as a thought and feel that it’s in equanimity with all other sensations and thoughts, all of which spontaneously arise. This realization is a hammer blow to the concept of self, as the sense of self is synonymous with the illusion that we’re an entity that transcends experience such that we can create or direct experience. Is this illusion not simply another noticeable part of experience?

As I just mentioned, the concept of self can be recognized as a thought (or an amalgamation of thoughts), as all the concepts we harbor are simply thoughts appearing in the cosmic background of our minds. It’s important to meditate on thoughts because, just as our senses serve to locate us physically, our thoughts serve to conceptualize us mentally. As such, senses and thoughts work together seamlessly to form “I.”

Let’s break this down. Most people identify with their thoughts as if they’re expressions of an actual self. Since we feel identified with our thoughts, it feels as if we created them, or, more precisely, that we preconceived their occurrence in our minds. But how can this be possible? We’re only aware of a thought the moment it appears. Therefore, the idea that we create our thoughts is only a concept or thought that forms after previous thoughts appear.

If we don’t meditate on our thoughts, we fail to notice that our sense of self is merely upheld by the facade of thought on top of thought on top of thought, etc. because, most of the time, we don’t even realize that we’re thinking. Meditation helps us to arrive at the realization that there is simply emptiness in the wake of thought.

I opened Part 1 with the assertion that there’s nothing about the concept of selflessness that needs to be taken on faith. However, through meditation, it’s possible to realize that what actually needs to be taken on faith is the existence of an actual self in addition to the mere sense of self, which can be noticed and dropped experientially. In Part 3, we will explore why this all matters with respect to our well-being and the well-being of society. 

Robert Dimuro

Posted on August 2, 2020 12:57

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Source: Inc.com

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