The way “no self” and “no I” is sometimes talked about, at least in the past, it seem to sound more esoteric and weird than it has to. For someone exclusively identified as a human self, it already sounds weird enough, so there is no need to amplify this by using exotic terminology or holding back information.
When there is “no self” and “no I”, everything still is as it is, in a completely ordinary way. There is this body, sensations, emotion, thoughts, behaviors, and everything else arising in the present.
With “no self”, the difference is that there is no absolute boundary between the human self and the rest of what arises. It is all one field, a seamless fluid whole. As they sometimes say in Buddhism, it is similar to breaking a vase – the space which was inside the vase is still there, and the space which was outside of the vase is still there, and now they are revealed as the same space.
Another way of describing this is to say that before, there was an exclusive identification with the human self. “I am in here looking out at the world. I am an object in a world of innumerable objects”. And now, I am what arises – it is all happening within me, both the human self and everything else.
And how does this come about? It seems to occur when we find ourselves as the Witness – pure formless choiceless awareness, aka the Unborn, the Original Face, that which is unchangeable, the groundless ground. From this new “ground” we see the world of phenomena as a seamless fluid whole, no matter whether it arises as this human self or anything else in this universe. There is a disidentification from our human self, and a re-identification as pure formless awareness.
Of course, this means that there is still an impression of “I” and “other”, it is just that the content of each has shifted.
When we realize this, and that the whole impression of an “I” comes from a belief in a thought, this too erodes and falls away.
Now, what is left is still the same content. Still this human self with body, sensations, emotions, thoughts, behaviors, and anything else arising in the present such as cars, trees, a room, a cat, a computer, etc. But now, there is just what is happening. There is no “I” to be found anywhere, and so no “other” either. The “I” and “other”, and any other differentiation for that matter, is seen as coming from an added layer of abstractions.
And seeing this, we are free to be what is happening in the present with no inherent “I” or “other”. And we are free to play around with differentiations coming from this added layer of abstractions – such as experiencer and experienced, human self and rest of the world, etc.
Nothing & Everything Changes
Nothing really changes, except the belief in the thought “I”. And we also see that everything changes in how Existence is experienced and how we live our lives as a human self.
We are now – often gradually – released from the habitual patterns of emotions, thoughts and behaviors. They still come up, but we are not impelled to act on them. We are free to take it or leave it. And free to act in other ways as well. There is a release which gives a new freedom in how to live our human lives, now more from the inherent clarity, wisdom and compassion that we found Existence to be in its aspect as pure awareness.
There is a release from the need to create drama and suffering for ourselves, and a new ease in everyday life – even if nothing has changed otherwise.
Using the Word “I”
Of course, we are also free to use the word “I” in daily conversation and communication. Other people still see us as “I” so we can play along with the game. There is no problem here, especially as we know it is a game.
It is just the whole of Existence giving the appearance of being separate from itself.