No Self?

 

The term “no self” seems to often bring confusion rather than clarification.

Does it mean that this body goes away? (Obviously not.) Does it mean that the personality goes away? (Again, obviously not.) Then what does it mean?

To me, it just means that the boundary between what arises within the small self (sensations, emotions, thoughts) and what arises outside of the small self (this room, sounds of the cars, the stars) soften and then fall away. The terrain of phenomena – arising internal and external to the small self – is a seamless whole. It is one seamless tapestry.

There is no “self”, in the sense of a body/personality existing as a fixed or independent entity. But there is definitely a self in the sense of this body and personality existing as a part of the larger seamless whole.

It is often talked about in very esoteric sounding ways, although in my experience – it is quite unremarkable. There is just a softening and dissolving of the sense of any absolute boundaries. The boundary line changes from appearing solid and massive, to becoming more narrow, dotted, more transparent.

The world of phenomena is revealed as a fluid seamless whole, within which I can still easily make distinctions.

I know full well that I have a special relationship with this small self: it is a vehicle in the world of phenomena, and it can develop skills and store information and memories – all of which I can access. Yet, it is also just one segment of the larger terrain of phenomena, one pattern in the infinitely larger tapestry.

And although it is a quite unremarkable transition, the consequences are quite noticeable and remarkable. There is a new sense of ease in daily life. There is less need for adding drama to the situations. And when habitual patterns of the small self are triggered, I don’t need to contract down to and exclusively identify with them. I can allow contractions and whatever else comes us to unfold within this much larger space.

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