Perceptual center = center of sense of self

 

This is something I keep noticing and also explore more intentionally at times.

Our perceptual center often becomes the center of a sense of self.

It’s not so surprising. We need to attach our sense of self to something, and that’s typically our body. It also seems that our mind likes to narrow it down further, so our head is a natural candidate. That’s where we see, hear, taste, and smell from. It’s a perceptual center, so why not make it into a center for identification as well? Why not center our experience of me and I there?

I was very much aware of this during the initial opening or awakening phase, and also noticed that there was still an identification in the roof of the mouth and in the back. I asked Buddhist teachers for advice for how to work on it and explore it further, but they either thought it wasn’t the right time for me to know or they  didn’t know (I somehow suspect the latter).

When I explore this, I see that my mind associates sensations in the head area – and specifically back in the roof of the mouth – with certain imaginations (images and words), and these creates the experience of a self centered in the head area. There is a me centered there – a human self, a man, a friend etc. And an I centered there – an observer, experiencer, thinker, chooser, doer.

By exploring these bundles of sensations and imaginations, I get to see how these selves are created in my own experience. They tend to lose their charge. They seem less solid, real, and substantial.

When it comes to body identification, it can be helpful and interesting to explore the following:

Identification with the body as a whole. How does my mind create its experience of “me, the one who is this body”? (UI on me, the one who is the body.)

How does my mind create its experience of the body as a whole? (UI on body.)

How does my mind create its experience of a threat of being this body? And not being this body? (AI on being the body, not being the body.)

How does my mind create its experience of a command to be identified with this body? Or not be identified with it? (CI on identifying / not identifying with the body.)

How does my mind create its experience of being any particular deficient/inflated self? (UI on deficient / inflated self.)

Even identification as “spiritual” things such as awareness, Spirit, oneness, Buddha Mind, Big Mind, Brahman etc. actually involve body identification. Any identification requires sensations associated with images and words, so it is a form of body identification. For instance, when I explore “awareness” or “I am awareness” I find an image of awareness connected with subtle sensations in my head, and also other imaginations and sensations making up my experience of awareness or being awareness. Any identification involves body identification, also when it’s a “spiritual” type identification.

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Union, dissolution and no self

 

When we take ourselves to be a separate self, an I with an Other, then any talk of selflessness sounds mysterious, or even deluded, and maybe as a reference to some sort of annihilation or dissolution. (The best we can hope for is a union with the absolute, an I here in union with God as Other.)

But even a mild taste of selflessness, for instance through the Big Mind process or the headless experiments, shows this to not be the case. The only thing that is different is that the sense of a separate self, placed on this human self, is gone. What is left is what is always there… this wide open field of what is happening right now, as awake emptiness and form, yet with absolutely no center and no separate self anywhere.

As Meister Eckhart said (paraphrased): when I am gone, God is.

Apart from tasting it on our own, maybe the simplest way to look at it is that God is all there is. God is awake emptiness and form, an I with no Other anywhere.

This awake emptiness temporarily takes itself to be a small segment of form, most typically this individual at the human level, and sometimes even at the soul level. There is a belief in ideas, including the idea of a separate self and various identities defining who and what this separate self is. The seamless and centerless field is now split into an I here, located in the region of the perceptual center of this human self, and Other out there, as the rest of the world.

When it awakens to itself as this field of awake emptiness and form, absent of I and Other, then it sees that the whole sense of a separate self only came from taking an idea as true. It temporarily took a relative truth, the existence of a somewhat separate individual at human and soul levels, and tried to make it into an absolute truth, and in the process gave birth to a great deal of drama and excitement. The whole human drama, as we know it from our own lives, societies and cultures, all came from this temporary misidentification.

Nothing is annihilated or dissolved, apart from the taking of a relative truth as an absolute. This individual is certainly still around, at human and soul levels, with all its sensations, thoughts, relationships, actions in the world, and everything else. The content of all of this does not need to change. The only thing that changes is the sense of a separate self placed on this perceptual center, which, when released, reveals the wide open field of all of it.

The bottom drops out of it all, revealing only a field of awake emptiness and form, without a center, absent of an I with an Other.

Perceptual center as anchor for a sense of a separate self

 

I keep noticing how this perceptual center – this physical body and especially this head with its eyes, ears, nose and mouth – is made into a center for a sense of a separate I.

There is a sense of a separate I, as a belief in an idea of a separate self, almost as a weird cardboard cutout in the mind. Then there is a looking for a good place to put this sense of a separate I, a good anchor for it. And then the – very understandable – decision to place it on this body, especially this head, and in particular on sensations in the head area, and even more specifically on sensations of tension, contraction and density in the head area.

It is really quite funny… although it sometimes has quite tragic consequences.

And this process of making a perceptual center into a center for a separate-self sense is of course why the headless experiments can be so effective. They bring our attention directly to the physical center of a sense of I, and reveal that there is nothing there. No thing, allowing all the things of the world, including those sensations previously used as an anchor for a sense of a separate I.

Brilliantly awake emptiness, a spaceless, timeless, crystal clear void, allowing all the forms of the world (as perceived by this body) to arise within and to it, and as nothing other than awake emptiness itself.

Cardboard Cutout

 

I tend to use “downtime” such as lying in my bed before sleeping and after waking up, to explore the sense of “I”. I find whatever appears as a possible “I” – sensations, feelings, thoughts, sense of perceptual center, sense of awareness center and so on – and see how each one of these all are just a segment of what is. They all arise within space & awareness.

And in this, I also see how the sense of “I” is really (as they say) just an overlay of abstractions. It comes from a belief in a thought, it comes from a belief in the idea of “I” superimposed on something transitory happening in space.

A couple of nights ago, the image came up of (mentally) carrying around a cardboard cutout representing the idea of “I”, and then putting it on now one thing arising in space and then another thing arising in space, in a futile race trying to keep up with all the changes. That is really how silly it all seems.

I see how much energy it takes to place this cardboard cutout on one phenomena after another, and trying to believe in it to create a sense of solidity and “I”. doAnd how fragile and unnecessary it really is.

We make a doer out of the doing. A seer out of the seeing. And through this, make ourselves appear as something transitory happening in space – with all the anxiety and struggles that brings with it. While what is really here, in our immediate experience even, is just the ground which everything happens within and as.

There is that which can be taken as an “I” – for instance our human self and awareness – but no “I” inherent in it. There is seeing, but no seer. Doing and no doer. Thinking and no thinker.

It is very simple, when the veil of the belief in “I” is seen through as just a veil.