One of the dynamics in the nondual and Advaita world is to use the idea of no self as an escape. As a way to not have to feel what’s here.
This can happen in a few different ways:
The idea and wish for no self can be an escape.
The idea of how it will be to realize no self can be an escape.
The idea that no self is realized can be an escape.
The idea that no self is already here can be an escape.
Resting as awareness, as opposed to its content, can be an escape.
We may think that if there is no self, and we realize it, then there is no painful self. We are free from this painful self, and free from having to feel what’s here. Free from having to feel the pain.
I am not saying that there is or isn’t no self. Either is true in it’s own way.
I am just saying that clinging to any idea – including ideas about no self – is a way for the mind to try to find safety, and avoid feeling what’s here – the discomfort, the unease, perhaps pain.
There is nothing wrong here. It comes from deep caring. It’s innocent. We all do it, at least sometimes and to some extent. And it’s good to be aware of.
Here are some way to explore or soften this:
What would I have to feel if….? (If there isn’t no self. If there is no escape.)
Rest with it. Rest with the fear of feeling what’s here.
Inquire into the beliefs. What do I fear would happen if there isn’t “no self”? If I can’t realize it?
Inquire into the velcro. Look at the images, words, sensations. Ask simple questions to see more clearly what’s there. See if you can find “no self”, or realization, or a threat if there isn’t either, or a command to not suffer, or not feel discomfort, or escape.
Find kindness for it. Hold it in kind presence.
Note: I just overheard a conversation on a similar topic where two people identified with stories about awakening, and defended that position. As soon as that’s happening – and I do that sometimes too, at least in my own mind – it’s a sign that the mind is trying to find safety in an idea, a conclusion about how things are. Again, nothing wrong here. It comes from deep caring. And it’s good to notice, and perhaps rest with it, find kindness to it, and explore what’s there through inquiry.
There is a lot more to say about this, and I have in other posts.
For instance, it’s interesting how we can have an idea of awareness as somehow separate from its content, so we can imagine – and feel and experience – that we are resting as awareness, split off from or distant from its content, and use that as a way to avoid feeling what’s here. We don’t recognize that we attach to an idea. We also may not recognize that awareness is its content. Whatever is here – feelings and all – is awareness.
– the idea of no self
– can be used as an escape
– if no self, then don’t have to feel painful feelings, work on painful material
– so becomes a dream, wishful thinking, a way to avoid what’s here, not feel what’s here
– the idea/wish for no self can be an escape
– the idea of how it will be can be an escape
– the idea it’s already here can be an escape
– resting in awareness, as opposed to content of experience, can be an escape
One of the dynamics in the nondual or Advaita world, is to cling to the idea of no-self or awakening as a way to not have to feel what’s here, a way to avoid feeling pain.