Nostalgia for Samsara

The dream this morning reminded me again of nostalgia for samsara.

It seems that this nostalgia is healthy in a way, it may help with exploring the fullness of the realization of no “I”.

Sense of I

First, there is a belief in “I”. There is a very real sense of I as my human self and/or awareness, and there is a sense of intimacy and fullness in it. There is also, of course, the I-Other dynamic and all that brings with it, such as sense of drama, anxiety, blind likes and dislikes, anger, depression, alienation, separation, and much more.

Early glimpses or realization of selflessness

Then, there is a glimpse or realization of no “I”. In the beginning, or from the glimpse, it may appear cold. It does have a completely impersonal aspect to it, and since this what is most unusual to us at first, it may overshadow the other end of the polarity. We see the impersonal and detached aspect of it, and there may be a sense of loss of the intimacy and personal we were familiar with previously. And this may very well bring up some hesitation and fear (I know it does for me).

So we may go back to our familiar sense of I for a while, and then maybe back to realizing or glimpsing selflessness, and so on. We wash up on the shore of selflessness, and then the tide and waves brings us back into familiar waters again. Or – as I experience it, I am in the boat near the other shore, and sometimes step onto the beach and sometimes step back into the boat.


Gradually, through this process of familiarization and acclimatization, we may come to see that the detachment and impersonal is just one aspect of selflessness. It is the transcend part of the transcend and include. But there is also very much the include.

There is still this human self there, still the rest of the universe, in all its fullness. And it is no less intimate than before. In fact, it is even more intimate in a certain way. There is no sense of I, so no resistance to any other. Everything is fully experienced, with no holding onto or pushing it away. Everything now is intimate. The universe is intimate. And everything is in a sense deeply personal as well.

The content of experiences did not change much – there is still this human self with all its qualities and characteristics, and there is still this universe. But the context changed, from a sense of “I” somewhere in all of this, to a realization of no “I” inherent in any of it. That is really the only shift. So the intimacy is still there, the personal is still there – although where it used to include only our human self, now nothing is left out.

Liberation and fullness

There is a liberation from the belief in I and exclusive identification with segments of what is. And there is the fullness and intimacy of life, as it arises when there is no resistance.

Our human self is now free to mature, grow, realign and deepen within this new context.

Nostaliga for samsara

So nostaliga for samsara may be a helpful impulse in this process, a guide for exporing the terrain of selflessness in more of its depth and richness. It allows us to include the sense of fullness, intimacy and the personal that was there before, although now in a new context – of selflessness.

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