An Insight… A Cliché… A Knowing…

comments 35
Christ / Course Ideas

I’ve been thinking lately about things I have no business thinking about, like how to reconcile the capital-‘S’ Self from A Course of Love with what I’ve glimpsed of the Buddhist teaching of anatta, or no-self.  Let me say right at the outset that this is not purely an intellectual exercise.  One of the great miracles of starting this blog has been the dialogue with people whose words, and possibly (though it remains hard to say conclusively) their points of view, may differ subtly from my own.  The question of whether or not we really differ in points of view needs no answer, for friendship does not require such clarity, relying instead and far more beautifully upon the careful offering of gifts to one another– gifts that are pulled out from that sacred mystery that both links and stands between.  The gap, perceived or real, is also sufficient to compel reflection, which leads to the discovery of one another, and to insight.  For these, I am grateful to each one of you who have engaged me here.

Much has been said and continues to be said about non-duality, the existence and/or non-existence of an eternal self, the existence of a soul, of a little-‘s’ self, an ego, a capital-‘S’ Self, and so on and so forth.  I really like this article that comes up when you do a web search on the Buddhist doctrine of no self, because it suggests the question did not lend itself to a meaningful answer the Buddha could offer, and that he may have chosen not to muddy the waters with needless arcana that don’t need to be understood in order to provide us with a path out of suffering.  I like this answer because it is helpful to me.  Every time I try and understand the mechanics of phenomena over my pay grade, I end up suffering.

Having said that, I am going to delve into two inter-related nuances of this topic I have found it important to wrestle with, and from which a smoothing of experience has begun to emerge.  There is a way in which I’m holding in my heart a finding–one that I will suggest is becoming a new home.  As background, my understanding of the Buddha’s teachings is that their primary aim is to assist us in perceiving correctly, such that we might end, or at least be relieved from, our suffering.  (I do not mean to disrespect through over-simplification, so feel free to shed light on this thought in the commentary below.)  I find that this is true of the many forms in which non-dual teachings are offered, and also feel this was in some respects the principal aim of A Course in Miracles, which has been described by some as a non-dual teaching dressed up in particularly Christian or theistic guise.

The first half-crazy notion I would like to offer is that while there is a time and a place for teachings on the escape from suffering, such a time will pass.  We should, in fact, be thankful this is inevitably so.  Both individually and collectively, suffering will cease.  It is not a question of if, but when.  And if we view the cessation of suffering as an accomplishment– though not an accomplishment of a fictitious or transitory self– we can see that life on the far side of it is likely to be radically different in emphasis and practice than life on the near side.

A key tenet of A Course of Love is acceptance that we are the accomplished, which means we are not beings in need of anything beyond what we’ve been given in order to fully embody and express the deepest truths of who we are.  What’s been missing has been the recognition that this is so, and thus the expression.  We’ve been missing.  We haven’t shown up.  But who exactly has been missing?  And who is it that has been subject to the seeker’s condition of suffering?

I ask you to bear with me a moment while I wander.

While I do not know if the same is true of other paths such as Buddhism, the teachings of Jesus I have found most helpful– such as A Course in Miracles, Dialogue on Awakening, the Way of Mastery, and most recently A Course of Love– have contained a certain progression.  There is movement within them– a direction if you will.  Their emphasis shifts as the healing progresses.  I experience this direction as the calling to return to our authentic and natural place within the singular cosmic act of Creation.  This return is the end of suffering, for suffering is itself the result of separating from this cosmic, holy and endless movement.  This separation is made most manifest in the trumping up of a misplaced identity– what we often call the ego– which would like to appropriate the full rights and privileges of Creation itself for its very own.  It’s a great idea, until one discovers it simply doesn’t work.

Clearly this unanswerable question of identity is bound up deeply in both the onset of suffering, and its ending.  The most recent teachings from Jesus with which I am familiar are contained in A Course of Love, and they feel like a bridge from one side of this divide to the other.  Their stated purpose is to speak directly to the heart, bypassing the mind and all of its tangled trespassing upon the ineffable, so that we might recover and then move on to the expression of our true identity.  According to A Course of Love, it is this healing of misplaced identification that not only ends suffering, but releases our true power as integral nodes of Creation.  We become, in other words, actively present.  We show up.

If the ego is gone, as it surely is at this point, who or what remains?  Who exactly is now showing up?

I am not going to be so bold as to offer an answer I do not have, but the particular approach taken in A Course of Love has been very helpful to me in achieving a comfortable insight that I can live from.  I’ve found it is not an idea that I’m always referring to my mind to clarify for me every time I wish to feel its presence, but rather an easy, flowing comprehension.  This idea is that we share an identity in Love.  At our very root, we are the same.  We can see this in one another if we look for it.  We can see the Love that peeks out through every pair of eyes, every creature, every stone, every blade of grass…  Thus, our ultimate identity, the one that never changes, is Love, and it is one we share.

We feel this identity at the point of our going forth, at the point of our mutual differentiation, which is our heart.  And yet this sameness does not require that we turn in our guns of distinctness and individuality.  We arise uniquely as differentiated expressions within Creation, and the heart is our tether to what is the same in all of us: everything.  Whether as differentiated beings we have permanent souls or not, I don’t know.  The recognition that we share an identity in Love, and that Love desires to express itself indefinitely and unabashedly through an ensemble of distinct beings who may or may not at all times manifest physically has made this point moot for me.  It simply doesn’t matter.  It is not the case that I lack a “self”, however, by which I mean an identity.  I’m not nothing at all.  Who I am is as close to me as me.  It is my heart.  Whenever I need a reference point for who I am, it is there.  It is not something I can define very well, or into whose cosmic mechanics I can offer any particular insights.  It is enough to know that the experience within me which is closer to me than me, which is most natural and free, is safe, endless, and true.

I don’t know if I have a self, or a Self, or neither.  But I have an identity.  It is vast and seemingly without boundary.  And it is not an impostor.  I know this because whenever I truly see another through my heart, they feel like me.  This identity is reinforced by universal recognition.  Somehow, the greatest gift we offer to one another is the manifest experience of the identity we share.  Increasingly, I feel this identity returned to me everywhere that I look, and so oddly enough, even a well-placed wall of stone can engender the sublime experience of who I am.

35 Comments

  1. Simply love this Michael. I am at times astounded that things I have been pondering can show up in a brilliantly written piece such as this, and that souls such as you could be pondering them at precisely the same time. I have had a very trying week which left me with lots of down time. My heart was simply not in my blog and my mind was left to it’s own devices. It was quite frightening at times 😉

    I’m not sure that my wandering mind came up with any conclusions that could compare to the words you’ve written below:

    “It is not something I can define very well, or into whose cosmic mechanics I can offer any particular insights. It is enough to know that the experience within me which is closer to me than me, which is most natural and free, is safe, endless, and true.”

    And for these words in particular, I thank you! I simply, thank you ❤

    Liked by 3 people

    • Hi Lorrie,

      Thank you for your lovely response, and for taking the time to read this particularly long-winded piece. The amazing thing about discovering other people are wondering about the same things you are, is that for me it reinforces the idea expressed in A Course of Love that we never learn alone… There are times like this when it’s obvious we do not, and other times it seems a more isolated event, but always our realizations have repercussions in places we may never consciously realize.

      I’m sorry to hear you had a trying week and hope you have a better one in the days ahead. But I think the trying weeks, too, are good in their own way, and often reveal us to ourselves in ways that are needed at the time. I’m happy to have given something that was helpful to you.

      Much Love
      Michael

      Liked by 1 person

      • Thank you dear heart, you ALWAYS offer up a plate of loving assistance, even when you are not “trying” to 😉 All is good and I agree, the trying weeks can, perhaps, yield the most fruit. Thank you for your ever present living grace ♡

        Liked by 1 person

        • Thank you for your own ever present grace, Lorrie…

          (and for hosting a turtle refuge from time to time) 🙂

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          • Haha! Today I saw a baby turtle resting on his momma’s back! I got a shot but it is not as clear as I would like. But once again, the wonderful turtle brought me wisdom. Sometimes you just need to rest, and let someone else carry you! Blessings ❤

            Liked by 1 person

  2. zen master whacks me with a stick.
    how can you know your non-self
    without first knowing your self?
    as neither of the pair
    present in dualistic thinking
    an ever changing me-thingy
    feels guidance of the heart
    offered by Jesus/Buddha
    through you-thingy 🙂

    Liked by 3 people

    • Awesome, David!

      I love this response, and the thingy-thing you did here, which lightens up all of it. I feel the wisdom in what you have expressed here, the humor in attempting to answer what cannot be answered… 🙂

      Peace
      Michael

      Liked by 1 person

  3. I’ve had moments of that feeling of oneness and connection. It is not understood with mind, but felt. Thank you Michael for reminding us and pointing the way back home to love.

    Liked by 2 people

    • Thank you for responding, Brad. I’m glad you followed along and recognized in these words times of your own heart. For me, it was truly a helpful realization to come home to the simplicity of it all, and to not only think about, but experience the notion that unity involves seeing everywhere one looks, an echo of whatever-it-is they are…

      Peace
      Michael

      Liked by 1 person

    • Hi Alison,

      Thank you for following the thread. It is beautiful, this reality that we are, in both its visible and invisible continuum, is it not!?

      Love to you-
      Michael

      Liked by 1 person

  4. footloosedon says

    Simple and brilliant exposition of the greater truth of our unique sameness.
    From my heart to your heart Michael, many thanks.
    Don

    Liked by 2 people

  5. Dear Michael
    I’m not sure about the first part, because I’m stuck with the truth that Thervadan Buddhism is a pragmatic form of teaching, step by step, that leads to a conclusion you may have arrived at here, as if stepping from a fantastically wonderful flying contraption attached to an air balloon just landed on a mountain top. I think it’s amazing.
    I agree with what you’re saying in the following, and forgive me please, I’ve removed the odd word here and there to try to get the essence of what I mean using your your words

    “It is not the case that I lack a “self”… I’m not nothing at all. Who I am is as close to me as me. It is my heart. Whenever I need a reference point for who I am, it is there.”

    The most meaningful phrase for me is this: ‘which is as close to me as me’. And the following (with apologies for the same kind of editing in order to highlight the areas of mutual understanding):

    “It is enough to know that the experience within me which is closer to me than me, which is most natural and free, is safe, endless, and true…. vast and seemingly without boundary…. whenever I truly see another through my heart, they feel like me. This is reinforced by universal recognition. Somehow, the greatest gift we offer to one another is the manifest experience of [what] we share.”

    You’ll notice that I’ve systematically removed reference to ‘identity’ – this one is too much like the self with a small ‘s’ you referred to indirectly at the beginning.
    I’m so glad you’ve written this, I think there are many of us really quite near to an agreement here. Let’s see how it develops and I hope there’s some further dialogue. You’ve certainly got me thinking about how to address the first part of the post that I’m presently unable to write about. At some point I shall try to post something about this.
    Thank you again
    T

    Liked by 2 people

    • Hi Tiramit,

      Thank you very much for such a thoughtful reply to this post. You’ve picked up the phrases I would have pointed to as best expressing the feeling of this, in an effort to get beyond particular words. I have no issue with striking particular words because I think they quite often are used to connote specific meanings within various philosophies– like technical terms– that don’t necessarily translate well when taken on their own. Identity is certainly one such term. What remains still carries the core feeling, and as no words really are the reality for which they stand, it feels good to have the common ground.

      I do think it is interesting to consider the question of whether an identity in the sense of “the experience within me which is closer to me than me” is the same as a self. In A Course of Love, as the correction of an error in identification is the fundamental premise, it is difficult to strip the word entirely when discussing that particular work. But I think in a more general sense, it is a moot point when one has the experience that is attempting to be described, as it is in the heart of experience that we meet most truly…

      I look forward to further engagement on these points and others, and look forward to your post!

      Blessings
      Michael

      Liked by 1 person

      • Hi Michael, thanks for your reply. I can’t comment on ACIM or the other one ACOL, all I’ve got is a start on “The Disappearance of the Universe” and as we’ve spoken about before, the most striking thing for me is the idea of the “Miracles of Forgiveness.” Otherwise, I have to say, very briefly, that the ‘Jesus’ word conjures up the Church’s historical manipulation of the Jesus Teachings etc., and I can’t go into that for the respect I have for Christian friends. I do enjoy your Jesus as a kind of buddy, along with his pal Hafiz. I’m quite happy reading about it in these terms, and grateful to you for that.

        This thing about ‘identity’ reminds me of one of the Mullah Nazrudin stories: The Mullah goes into a bank with a cheque made out to him he would like to cash. The bank teller asks, “Do you have proof of identity?” The Mullah pauses and thinks about this for a moment. Pulls out a small mirror he carries in his bag, looks into it and says, “Yes that’s me right enough.”

        As you say, ‘No words really are the reality for which they stand.’ Language cannot reach far enough, we accept the limitations of the word ‘identity’ and yes, the core feeling that identity is ‘self’. To an extent, it could be the Self in “the experience within me which is closer to me than me”, as we’re discussing here. My problem with it is that consciousness in the higher state of that which is closer to me than me, has to be way beyond the concept of identity – as we find in the last para of your Thanissaro Bhikkhu quote:

        “… shedding suffering by letting go of its cause, leading to the highest, undying happiness. At that point, questions of self, no-self, and not-self fall aside. Once there’s the experience of such total freedom, where would there be any concern about what’s experiencing it, or whether or not it’s a self?”

        That’s all well and good for those who experience such total freedom, but on an ordinary level, the problem about self is the holding on to it, seeing self in all kinds of things and this creates a holding-on habit. Otherwise, in a wholesome way we go on happily with our everyday sense of self. The actual core of identity, at the higher levels of experience is best expressed by Thanissaro Bhikkhu earlier in your quote:

        “No matter how you define the line between “self” and “other,” the notion of self involves an element of self-identification and clinging, and thus suffering and stress.”

        So that’s all I can say at this point, otherwise it would get too long. I have an open mind to all other’s views on the subject and if there’s to be a dialogue, I’m happy with that…
        T

        Liked by 1 person

        • Hi Tiramit,

          I appreciate your reluctance when it comes to the world ‘Jesus’ and what it conjures for you. It simply does not conjure the same for me, but perhaps just as Hariod has pointed out that the value– if there be any– of an article such as this is only in what it holds or fosters within each of us, such inner responses being relevant only in the context of our personal trajectories towards the same landing strip, so it is that Jesus quite simply may be a string of letters meaning different things to different persons. Clearly this is so. So, I think you know this about me, but to be sure I am clear, while I do hope to share feelings and insights that have been valuable to me, I do not aim to push anything whatsoever onto anyone.

          I think the remainder of the discussion here hinges around the notion that in higher states of consciousness, no sensation of identity remains. If identity is taken to mean a particular agent, to use Hariod’s term, that is culled or coalesced from the rest, as if somehow partitioned or extracted from the entire field of experience itself creating an ‘I’ who is here and something or someone ‘else’ that is vast and beyond, I agree. There is a fear around discussing this point, as one approaches it, that is akin to the fear of death, or non-existence. Surely the ‘self’ is gone. This engenders discomfort. But does experience itself remain? What I am suggesting I am experiencing is that when the whatever-it-is we’re talking about here arises, something remains that is as close to me as me. The lights don’t go out. To date, by some mystery that cannot be explained, there is a living to tell about it.

          So, one simply way of saying what I’m feeling is that we could arrive at something like this by subtraction– by annihilating all agents or fiefdoms or enfranchised territories of being– or selves— until whatever-this-is remains. Or, we could perhaps arrive there by addition– by expanding the heart of experience to include everything so that no untouched pockets of being are held apart. This, too, is profoundly difficult for a territorial self to consider. I think I’m simply saying the latter was a breath of fresh air to me. Either way the ‘me’ is gone. But the latter doesn’t seem to require that I call into question the deepest sensations of my heart as being untrustworthy or a trick. The former has that connotation sometimes. The latter doesn’t take as a starting point that there is something about my deepest awareness that I am not capable of understanding and must be educated upon by an outside expert. There is a simplicity in this approach for me, because there is a building on what is already within me. There is a building on the holiness of the heart, which is simple, present, and true. I can call of the hunt for some grand experience or state of mind I may or may not have felt or recognized or be pure enough to access, and settle into the peace that abides within me, and arises whenever called upon.

          There will always be those to question me on this point: how do I get to decide that the deepest sensations of presence in my own heart are valid, and that I have not been duped? You see, I am using the word ‘I’? I think that is ultimately for them to ask if they so desire, but it matters not. We are dealing with the sanctity of our own hearts. We know when we suffer and when we do not. We know when we feel unity and when we do not. We do not need anyone else to tell us this… No one outside of us can validate this, and if we await this uncertainty and doubt will simply remain. If we observe carefully, I think we can all agree that clinging and self-identification lead to stress and suffering. But the point of aliveness I feel within me that has no name or boundary, does not feel like a self. And I think I have to be audacious enough to accept its reality, if I am to call of the search, and avoid further suffering.

          This is all I am saying. Acceptance of what is closer to me than me, implies accepting that I am capable of knowing or accessing this unity, this field of being free of suffering… If I do not accept it is knowable, simply, completely, I will be back into an identification with something who doesn’t know and stands apart…

          I loved the story of Mullah Nazrudin. I do not need the word identity either. I don’t need any word for it really. I’m just asking that we not require that the cessation of suffering occurs some place that I am not!

          Peace!
          Michael

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          • Dear Michael
            “…the value of an article such as this is only in what it holds or fosters within each of us…” I understand this completely and therefore try to step carefully. We are flying towards the same landing strip and may meet for a while in the transit lounge. Then off on the next part of our itineraries, perhaps changed as a result of the dialogue.
            I’m pretty convinced there was someone like Jesus, there in that location who had what we refer to now as non duality experiences – known and recognized at that time by way of old received knowledge between cultures of the Middle East and North India – the Old Silk Road trading routes was their internet. In North India it was associated with the Vedas, Upanishads, thousands of years in the past even in Jesus’ time. At the time of Jesus, the Buddha’s teachings were already 500 years old – and I think the Buddha was another who had non duality experiences. Very much later, 7th Century AD there was Shankara who had the same non dual experiences. Many of these latter borrowed bits of each other’s philosophies. In recent times there have been Nisargadatta Maharaj, Sri Ramana Maharshi and many others I haven’t mentioned here. Anyway it would be impossible for there not to be some shared influences between, say, Advaita Vedanta and the Jesus Teachings and everything else mentioned above.
            There are a couple of paragraphs in your reply here I’m not clear about. And I can tell you which parts if you would like to explore further. My feeling is that in this kind of discussion, the best thing is to try to simplify. Clear enough to me, though, that this whatever-it-is thing we’re talking about here, is some aspect of non duality – what else is there? And the ‘something that remains that is as close to me as me’ transforms. It’s so much beyond our normal state of consciousness that all identity flows into one… an indescribable state. Except of course in lines of verse, myth and metaphor, which is what I like about your writing.
            The actual technical stuff about how I see it, I put together in a post: https://dhammafootsteps.wordpress.com/2015/06/01/awareness-of-awareness/, inspired as I was by your post.
            Hope all this kinda fits with what you’re saying old pal
            Best wishes
            T

            Liked by 1 person

            • Thank you, Tiramit. I agree best to simplify. There is wisdom in that. Now we’ve taken out the compass and had our reading, and agreed north is north, perhaps best to go back to the metaphors and walk for a bit again… 🙂 Thank you so much for the generosity you’ve extended in walking along this road with me for a bit.

              I am looking forward to reading your post–
              Michael

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  6. I had the weirdest sensation as I was reading –
    that we are all fractally playing out the demiurge role –

    each, one by one. The ego impulse seems the very same, with the way you describe: “This separation is made most manifest in the trumping up of a misplaced identity– what we often call the ego– which would like to appropriate the full rights and privileges of Creation itself for its very own.” For it seems to me, this is the same mistake, though ours in micro-fashion, of the demiruge when he looks over his own “creation.”
    How horrible of me to throw in yet another “belief” system and complex set of jargon! 🙂 Don’t feel the need to address in a linear way – it was just a sudden flash –
    Love to read your thoughts, as they flow, so beautifully!

    Liked by 2 people

    • Hi Marga,

      I have to confess I’m not familiar with the notion of a demiurge at all. But based on a quick perusal of Wikipedia, I think I see your point about us being fractal representations of it. I think this even makes sense in a way. Having sprung from wholeness, I think it is perhaps true, and ironic, that even the act of separation must have taken place within some original form of wholeness, perhaps yielding as you say countless “separated” fractals… Everyone separate, but expressing the same separateness… I have seen the suggestion before that one result of the choice to experience separation was that awareness itself “shattered” into all these fragments, and that seems like it matches up to what you were feeling. Maybe a simpler way to say this… there was only one separation, and all the fragments can trace their false origins to this one “instant” of mutiny…

      This is why I think it is said in ACIM and other places, that one truly healed mind heals all… And so, whatever it is, a self or a Self or a Jesus/Buddha-thingy, when we return home to it, we are accepting the healing that has already been extended to all of us…

      Peace!
      Michael

      Liked by 2 people

  7. These are important points to ponder, and I like both of your insights, that there is a time and place for a teaching for escape from suffering, and that we are Love at our root and that this root is one.
    Thanks for sharing!
    Peace,
    Karin

    Liked by 2 people

    • Thank you, Karin!

      I have a feeling pondering such things is every bit as good as crossword puzzles or sudoku in keeping the mind supple and alert…

      Peace to you, too,
      Michael

      Liked by 1 person

  8. I really enjoyed this post as well as the dialogue generated. I do not really know or what the true me is… Astrologically this is an excellent time to ponder these questions of identity. I identify with thoughts and feelings, but realize they are not me, they are just processed by me like food 🙂 Maybe we are our reactions, but then again, are they conditioned responses? The heart is the center of it all, atleast within what Karin calls the meat suit, lol! My guess is that self is constantly in flux , like all energy systems, as matter is an illusion. According to Matt Kahn and others, it is an illusion, but still quite important and worthy of attention and respect. What is left when ego takes a taxi out of dodge driven by Hafiz and his zany sidekick Rumi?

    love and peace, Linda

    Liked by 1 person

    • Hi Linda,

      Thanks for reading and reflecting on this piece, which was probably never going to come off with any sort of clear conclusions, and wasn’t intended to ultimately. Don’t sell yourself short, however. I would argue you do know who the true you is, and that it is always accessible to you, except when particular difficulties of feeling and thought arise to confound the issue. But it is there… I’m not trying to correct a feeling of uncertainty about it, for that is not my place. But having been profoundly uncertain, and then slowly crawling back to certainty, the realization remains for me: the truth of who I am was always with me.

      I think increasingly that we cannot wait for anyone or anything else outside of us to give us permission to know… There is a power in claiming the certainty of who we are. True: the ego can be quite a wriggly fish and perhaps mislead us for a time, but it is not true that we remain forever defenseless. Once we have cracked the shell and experienced love and communion, we can tell the difference. What is false needn’t be outwitted, but simply left to dissolve. The sanctity of our heart is not outmatched, and is indeed the place “beyond ourselves” from which help arrives. Difficulties may continue to arise as our grasping for what we once knew as “me” struggle to remain at the forefront of our attention. And it is indeed important to have access to support and wisdom, to be gentle with ourselves, to allow the process to run its course, to accept without judgment the train of experiences that arise. But wherever we are, when we take a deep breath– when we surrender, even if just for an instant– we know what is needed to be known…

      As to your question, I think probably nothing but the stench of burnt rubber!

      Much Love
      Michael

      Liked by 1 person

  9. A quite marvellously eloquent and learned article Michael, though one that I feel should be read in the spirit in which I presume it was written, which is to say it might perhaps best be understood purely as your personal perspective – deeply informed, sagacious and perceptive, yet still in all likelihood unique to yourself alone in terms of its relevance. I hope I can say that to you my dear friend? And I do say this, because I feel quite strongly that all attempts at syncretism – the melding of what are actually distinct doctrines – tend ultimately to prove lacking in final clarity.

    Not that you are advocating as much, but the notion of a syncretism is appealing to the modern consumer mind which wants to make choices for itself, it wants pick and mix selectively so as to arrive at something it feels meets its needs and that it can work with. The problem, of course, is that this same mind does not know what its needs are, but instead imagines them; it does not see its own biases and proclivities in their full extent; it does not know what work needs doing and instead shirks the unappealing. For example, Classical Advaita has been subjected to this syncretism with sometimes disastrous results in the West these past two decades: see Neo-Advaita discussion at http://www.enlightened-spirituality.org/neo-advaita.html

    I am somewhat with Tiramit on this aspect you refer to as ‘identity’ Michael, as for me it tends to suggest a similar concept to an enduringly instantiated self-conception – the very concept that Buddhism, in all its forms, does reject, and that rather ironically, none of us are able to identify in strict terms. You say “I have an identity”, and which for you subsists in love. The Buddhist take on that may well grant the latter component, whilst voicing it in terms of ‘compassionate wisdom’ perhaps rather than ‘love’ (same thing?), yet there is no possessor of that love, there is no agent for it nor any owning subject. For what it’s worth then, the somewhat reluctant Buddhistic/Advaitan take on that same expression might be “there is an identity”, thus removing the agent or experiencing subject as an enduringly instantiated self-conception – the ‘I’ that possesses and experiences any identity as love.

    To say “I’m not nothing at all” again risks introducing the idea of the same agent or experiencer of experience, thinker of thoughts, and so forth. It also invites the question of existence and non-existence, which went into the Buddha’s category of imponderables and which, as I understand it, continues to baffle physicists a bit even to this day – is that correct? One must be wary of falling into a sort of Nihilism here of course, and which some, very mistakenly, take Buddhist teachings as. The wrong conclusion drawn is that if there is indeed no self or soul, then I do not exist as anything, and which is totally absurd – there are more things in this heaven and earth than some imagined universal consciousness Horatio! There is a body and there is a mind, yet neither endure as immutable entities even for a moment. That points us in the direction of Plutarch’s ‘Ship of Theseus’ Paradox, and perhaps back to the question of what you allude to in using the term ‘Creation’.

    Thank you for letting me blather on here Michael; and for adding so many useless words to the matter of what for each of us must remain a unique trajectory, albeit one with a shared landing point.

    Hariod ❤

    Liked by 1 person

    • Hello Hariod,

      To your first point, absolutely… This was never intended to be a statement of some doctrine or conclusion– or new presentation of ancient wisdom teachings– but simply a sharing of personal experience that are quite truly most relevant within the context of my own heart. I hoped to set the tone in this regard from my opening admission I was attempting a foray into territories I am not qualified to traverse. None of this is to be taken overly seriously… Having said that, I do feel heart things have a way of being sharable when particular resonances arise. Not as instructions, but more like the experience of witnessing a beautiful sunset.

      Second, I agree with the critical review of syncretism you felt called to write about– at least in part– in your response. Little progress whatsoever can be made by picking and choosing platitudes, and stitching together a library of aphorisms one can drop in any circumstance to thereby avoid its contents altogether and ride along the surface of the waves. An open heart is touched by life, and there are great difficulties in attaining a beachhead on the continent of peace. It is a difficult walk. Thankfully, my troubles have been severe enough to keep hounding me in such a way that they could not be ignored, regardless of what I tried to splice together for an appealing philosophy.

      Lastly, I think words are perhaps becoming an obstacle here that need not necessarily be so. When you reject what I have termed an identity because you suggest I am positing an enduringly substantiated self-conception, I think you have misunderstood what I was trying to describe. Let me say it like this: I am positing that beyond all self-conceptions, yet at the point to which I ultimately return after each failed attempt at such a conception concludes, there is some awareness that exists. Though it is not me, it is not apart from me. It exists and it will always exist, and the heart of who and what I am is held there. It is enduring because it is timeless. When I hang up the cloak of selfhood, it is into this that I dissolve and rest. Into something real. I only meant it as an identity in the sense that something nearer to me than me, which is not a transitory self, and which contains and gives rise to all selves and fleeting expressions, lives. Holds me as it holds you.

      At least part of what I’m trying to say is that whatever this experience of unity is, and whatever condition or unconditioned something we can’t describe that exists or doesn’t exist beyond false constructs– when these ineffables obtain, they do not obtain without us. They are not out there somewhere. We shouldn’t and needn’t be of the mindset that we are not capable of coming to know the richest of all possible experiences.

      But enough on all that… It was fun and helpful to me to try and share this feeling… If it is unreal, then I am unreal. If it is real, then I am real. If it exists, then I exist. If it does not exist, then I do not exist. If it is gone tomorrow, then I will be gone tomorrow. If it is here tomorrow, then I will be here tomorrow. If it is timeless, then I am timeless. If it is transitory, then I am transitory. If it is you, then I am you. If it is me, then you are me. If it cannot be understood, then I cannot be understood. If it can be understood, then I am understandable.

      Much Love,
      Michael

      Liked by 1 person

  10. Hi Michael, I am very reluctant to say anything here with the learned likes of Tiramit and Hariod. My comment is like jumping in the pool in the deep end and not being able to swim. But you are a dear friend and I am just coming off a retreat with Mooji who studied under Papaji (but I think Hariod’s reference says Papaji did not leave any lineage). I have not studied Buddhism and think I will not have time nor mind in this lifetime to do so. Born Protestant, baptized Catholic, too, and studied meditation under Paramanhansa Yogananda, I turned to Mooji, whom I found through Hariod, because he elucidated a path to follow that went to where I wanted to go. That’s all to say I know little and have not even mastered Mooji’s technique. But what you say here:

    “I don’t know if I have a self, or a Self, or neither. But I have an identity. It is vast and seemingly without boundary. And it is not an impostor. I know this because whenever I truly see another through my heart, they feel like me. This identity is reinforced by universal recognition. Somehow, the greatest gift we offer to one another is the manifest experience of the identity we share. Increasingly, I feel this identity returned to me everywhere that I look, and so oddly enough, even a well-placed wall of stone can engender the sublime experience of who I am.”

    sounds like the “Self” Mooji refers to, Consciousness in the costume of a body but one with all. The likes and dislikes of ego, of the person left behind for a higher realm of operating. The feeling of oneness with all opens the heart to love and compassion.

    I think basically all roads can lead to the same place. My Christian background helps me with Mooji just as Mooji expands Christianity to me to something I can relate to. I used to feel such love with Communion in Catholicism and found that again in Yogananda. But for now, Mooji is my man. I want a guru still in bodily form.

    So for whatever that’s worth, love, Ellen

    Liked by 1 person

    • Hi Ellen,

      It is worth quite a lot to me, your sharing here. I am glad the capstone paragraph made sense to you in some way, and that you could relate it to your own feelings and recent discoveries. There is some danger in writing an article like this in getting bogged down in the technical details, and I had hoped not to do so. I think the sense of communion that is developed from realizing we all share common experiences is far more powerful than the sense of communion that arises from reaching agreement as experts on a subject. I do not wish to be an expert per se, and think the people who have joined me here feel much the same, in the sense that what is most important is to offer simply what we have gained as insight, and to share this with others in case it is helpful.

      So, this is an expert-free zone. And if there be a time in which you feel not on level footing, it will pass I assure you, as you realize everyone here is extending a hand in recognition of your true nature. I agree with you all roads lead to the same place, and it is this sameness around which I hope to rally, though it is enjoyable to swap a few anecdotes from the road once in a while! A fine line, that!

      I’m glad Mooji has stepped forward into your heart.

      Many blessings
      Michael

      Liked by 1 person

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