Our fundamental identity

 

What does it mean when we say there is “no separate self”?

Obviously, there is a human self here. A human being walking around talking, thinking, feeling and so on. That doesn’t change. (At least not until we die.)

Our surface identity may be with or as this human self with its labels and roles in the world. That identity is accurate and helpful. But it’s not our final or fundamental identity.

Our more fundamental identity is as what this human self, and any experience, happens within or as. Some call it awakeness or consciousness since that’s what it can be experienced as.

Since this is what all our experience happens within and as – including this human self, others, and the world as we experience it – there is a sense of oneness here. It all happens within and as what we are. And that’s how it is for others as well, whether they notice or not.

And since there is oneness, we can call it love. What we are, and what everything is, is love. It’s not necessarily a felt love, in a conventional sense, although that could happen. It’s more the love of the left hand removing a splinter from the right. It’s the love that’s reflected in views and actions because it’s all one.

Also, since there is oneness, we can call it bliss. Although I hesitate a bit to use that word. Again, it’s not bliss in a conventional sense, although that can happen too. It’s a quiet bliss inherent in existence. It’s the quiet bliss that comes from all as one, all as consciousness, all as love. It’s a quiet bliss underlying any of our usual varied human experiences and states.

And although we can say that all is consciousness, or love, or even this quiet bliss, that’s not quite accurate either. All of this happens within and as what we are. Some call this void, or even the Godhead (Christian mystics). But words don’t quite reach it.

So, in a sense, it’s not very mystical or magical. It’s quite simple, direct, and here and now. And yet, it can be difficult to notice. The mind is trained to focus on its own content – thoughts and sensory experiences – so it easily misses what it all happens within and as.

That’s one of the tricks life uses to be able to temporarily experience itself as an apparently separate being, and not just one but many of them…! That’s part of the play of existence. That’s the infinite experiencing itself as finite. That’s existence exploring, expressing, and experiencing itself in a myriad of different ways. That’s lila as some call it.

There has to be a ripeness to notice it, whether it’s subtle or a spiritual opening or awakening. And when there is interest, that usually reflect a ripeness.

Note: When I say “obviously there is a human self here”, that’s meant to show that our human self continues much as before when what I write about here is noticed. Our lives don’t neccesarily change that much. It’s more the context we are consciously aware of that changes. We could also say that what we call this human self also happens within and as what we are, and doesn’t exist as anything separate or inherently substantial. (Although in a conventional sense, we could say it is both separate and substantial, and that’s true as well.)

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  • fundamental identity
    • awakening not that mysterious
      • immediate experience
        • we are that which any of our experiences happen within and as
        • ultimately, the whole world as we experience it
        • awakeness, consciousness etc.
      • our fundamental identity is the same as for everything else
        • it’s life, the universe, reality
        • appearing as this human being, and either an experience of being a separate self or of being this more fundamental reality (center of gravity)
      • ….

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(Although attention tends to go to content of experience – to thoughts or sensory input, so it may not be so easy.)

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Initial draft….

Awakening isn’t really that mysterious.

In our immediate experience, everything already happens within and as awakeness or consciousness. It’s inevitable and we just have to notice and get used to it.

Also, everything happens within and as what we are. We already and inevitably are that which all our experience – of ourselves, others, and the whole world – happens within and as. Again, it’s a matter of noticing, getting used to, and explore living more intentionally from.

And our fundamental identity is the same as for anyone or anything else. It’s what we may call life, existence, that which allows all to happen and is all. Or we could say it’s awakeness. Or that which all happens within and as. Our surface identity is as this human being with its labels and roles, and our more fundamental identity is shared with all. It just depends on where our center of gravity is – at the surface or the more fundamental.

Of course, it’s not always so simple to notice, get used to, or live from. We may not know what to look for, and it is easily overlooked since attention tends to go to content of experience and this is not about content of experience. We may have glimpses and then feel we “lost” it. Learning to live from it takes time and experie

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….
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Awakening isn’t really that mysterious.

In our immediate experience, everything already happens within and as awakeness or consciousness. It’s inevitable and we just have to notice and get used to it.

Also, everything happens within and as what we are. We already and inevitably are that which all our experience – of ourselves, others, and the whole world – happens within and as. Again, it’s a matter of noticing, getting used to, and explore living more intentionally from.

And our fundamental identity is the same as for anyone or anything else. It’s what we may call life, existence, that which allows all to happen and is all. Or we could say it’s awakeness. Or that which all happens within and as. Our surface identity is as this human being with its labels and roles, and our more fundamental identity is shared with all. It just depends on where our center of gravity is – at the surface or the more fundamental.

Of course, it’s not always so simple to notice, get used to, or live from. We may not know what to look for, and it is easily overlooked since attention tends to go to content of experience and this is not about content of experience. We may have glimpses and then feel we “lost” it. Learning to live from it takes time and experience.

But it is possible… through prayer, meditation, inquiry, intention, guidance, spending time with someone who notices and lives from this, and mostly through grace.

Note: I know that when I say “just” above – “we just have to…” – that’s not really fair and it glosses over a lot. It may be relatiely simple but it’s not always easy. If we are not ripe, it may not happen at all, although we then most likely also won’t be interested in it. Interest tends to reflect a certain ripeness.

Also, there are ways to have glimpses that seem to work for most people, for instance the Big Mind process. Or some that work for many but not all such as the Headless experiments. And there are ways to awaken in a relatively predictable and stable way, for instance through the Vortex Healing path. And here too, it all comes down to ripeness. If we are not ripe, we likely won’t be interested, or we’ll seek out other approaches that fit where we are at. If we are more ripe, we may well stuble upone these or other approaches that work for us.

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