Saturday, July 28, 2012

Is There a "Me"?

Q: I recently read this question: “Is there really a 'me,' at all, anywhere, in any way, shape, or form? Was there ever?” Will an awake person always answer “no” to this question?

A: This question is often used by teachers when students are on the edge – just ready to drop into the vastness but a bit afraid. It's cleverly worded because it makes the student aware that s/he doesn't have to do anything or go anywhere since there was never an obstacle to the realization in the first place!

But without this context, to ask this question and expect the answer to be a statement of fact is very problematic. Language by its nature is dualistic. It is language that invents the ideas “me” and “not me.” Maybe someone has a great moment of liberation and discovers they don't really exist. Then they bring that realization back into the usual dualistic consciousness from which thought arises and declare it the absolute truth. But the problem is that in that relative world what they have discovered can't be captured. And if one declares that there is no “me,” one may find oneself on guard to make sure no “me” thoughts ever appear again. Good luck!

The way out is to see that the “me” isn't a problem. The problem is not recognizing that the “me” exists in a larger context in which all of life, time, space, and all appearances, including “me” and “no-me” arise – and that we are this context – this context is what is meant by essential nature

Addendum: I'm trying to post a response to Pat's comment, but Blogger won't let me, for some reason. So I'll do it here. 

I checked out the Buddha at the Gas Pump site and also a few moments of Francis Bennett. Both gems -- thanks for sharing them.

You mentioned something about straddling the fence between "me" and "no-me."  I want to say that, for myself anyway, I don't experience it as straddling. It's more like there's a "me" in my everyday life, but because of having realized no-me, the "me" is now experienced differently. I know it is really transparent -- a creation of thought -- and that it's not essentially who I am. It is almost as though I could put my hand through it and, touching things seemingly outside "me," actually sense that I'm touching myself. The sense of this is very subtle, almost a sixth sense sort of thing. None of this is intellectual, such as when we straddle political positions or something like that.

That probably doesn't make anything clearer! 

And Kim, I tried to thank you for your comment when you left it as well, but also couldn't figure out how at that time. So I'll do it now. Yes, context is everything. I'm glad if what I said clarified that.

NOTE: The previous post, on detachment, may now be found on the FAQ page.