Saturday, March 12, 9977

“No Self”

What is meant by the Eastern concept of “no self”? Does it mean that we do not exist? No. Of course we exist, for if we didn’t, then how could we perceive, enjoy and suffer? The “self” in this context refers to the sense of self, so “no self” means “no sense of self”.

Selfing is a mental process that creates a mental “me”. We picture ourselves as action figures that need to obtain accessories such as clothing, reputation, money, educational degrees, and so forth. We think about how things affect us. All this mental activity prevents us from fully experiencing the present moment. Instead of experiencing what is happening, we experience thoughts. Some of these thoughts create painful feelings such as desire, worry, regret, arrogance, fear, and resentment, but even those that dont still interfere with pure experience because any thought takes at least part of our attention, thus blocking awareness of what is happening. 

When we get engrossed in something a sport, a hobby, a sunset, a song, a hug it becomes our entire reality. There is no thought of “I am experiencing this” or “I want to achieve thus-and-such”. There is no notion of self or time. Just pure experience. We are aware, but not self-aware. This is what is meant by “no self”. It is the blissful state of thoughtless awareness.

Thoughtless awareness cannot be experienced by trying to experience it. It is not something to achieve. Rather, it is the natural state we are in when we dont think. Thinking requires effort; therefore it is only because we make efforts that we fail to live in thoughtless awareness. It takes no effort to be thoughtlessly aware. So we dont need to do anything in particular -- we can simply do nothing!