Paying attention to what’s behind the curtain

 

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When I explore how a sense of I and Other is formed, I find three general zones:

First, a sense of subject, of an I as subject, experiencer, doer, and so on. This one is usually located in or around the head area, but can also be extended to other areas of this human self.

Then, a sense of self as object, as experienced. This is usually the rest of my human self and whatever thoughts filter as belonging to this human self, such as thoughts.

And finally, the rest of the world as object, which is made up of whatever is not a self as subject or object.

I also notice how the sense of subject and object are located in different areas of space so they can be differentiated from each other, which also means that when I bring attention to where the sense of subject seems to be located, it shifts to another location in space. Only the sensations it was placed on remains, but now as an object, as content of awareness, just like anything else, and free from a sense of subject.

For this sense of subject to appear real and substantial, it seems that it needs to be kept away from attention and awareness. Like the man behind in the curtain in the Wizard of Oz, it is kept hidden from view, and that is how its manifestations gets their appearance of reality and mystery.

But it is certainly possible to bring this sense of subject into attention and the field of awareness.

I can bring attention to the sensations the sense of subject is placed upon, and recognize them as just sensations. I can notice the thoughts placed on top of these sensations to create a sense of subject. I can notice how it shifts around when I bring attention to where it just was.

And I can also shift into Big Mind or headlessness, and immediately and directly see that what I previously took as subject – these sensations and this idea of a subject – itself is part of the content of awareness, just like anything else, and that a sense of identification with it can be released.

(There is a release of a identification with the with the sensations and thoughts making up the gestalt of a subject – even as they are still there, which is an interesting experience. The “I” goes out of the subject, the doer goes out of the doing, and so on.)

In each of these cases, I am looking directly at the man behind the curtain, and the reality of its manifestations falls apart. What initially seemed so real and substantial is now revealed as just appearances.

Initial draft, with more details:

When I explore the sense of subject and object, I find that the field of perception is divided into three imaginary zones.

There is the region of subject, which is usually located near (above/behind) the head area. There is the region of self as object, which is whatever is associated with this human self. And then the region of the wider world.

Each of these regions are created and lassoed in by imaginary boundaries.

The self as object is most of what happens within the boundaries of the body image, and also whatever else is filtered as belonging to this human self. The self as subject is located on or in relation to some sensations in the head area, and can certainly also include parts of the previous realm. And whatever is left out, and doesn’t fit into the identities of this human self, becomes the wider world.

In its basic way, the field of perception is filtered through visual images of these boundaries, which is then refined a little further.

The trick to make this all work, to make it appear real and inherent in the world “as it is”, is to keep the subject realm outside of attention. Whenever my attention is to the wider world, the sense of subject tends to be located in the middle of the head, on some sensations there. And whenever my attention goes to myself as object, it shifts in location to be outside of the head area, usually slightly above, and in front or back.

In short, wherever my attention goes in space, the sense of subject is placed in another location so (a) there is distance between where attention is located (object) and the sense of subject, and (b) the sense of subject does not receive direct attention.

In seems that the habitual patterns around a sense of subject automatically shifts it away from wherever attention goes, so it can still remain as a gestalt, appearing as real and substantial.

But it is also possible to allow this sense of subject into attention and the field of awareness.

I can bring attention to the sensations the sense of subject is placed upon, and recognize them as just sensations. I can notice the thoughts placed on top of these sensations to create a sense of subject. I can notice how it shifts around when I bring attention to where it just was.

And I can also shift into Big Mind or headlessness, and immediately and directly see that what I previously took as subject – these sensations and this idea of a subject – itself is part of the content of awareness, just like anything else, and that a sense of identification with it can be released.

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