Disappearing self?

….yet attuned to the hidden logic available from non-rational sources including temporary states in which the personal self disappears.

Even a brief sentence like this is fertile ground for questions and inquiry. 

… the personal self disappears.

First, I see that for myself when “the personal self disappears”, this human self is still around – the me, identities, doer, observer – but identification is released out of it. Everything, all content of experience including the doer and observer, happens within a seamless field, and all is equally what I am. Nothing changes, or rather, nothing needs to change except this release of identification.

So if we take our personal self to be this human self and a sense of doer and observer, then these stay around. And only identification is released. 

…. temporary states…

From a conventional view, this release of identification can be temporary or abiding. Seen from within time, the release happens at a certain point in time, or sometimes gradually over a certain span of time, it lasts for a certain amount of time – minutes, hours, days, weeks, months, years – and sometimes is covered up again, and sometimes not. If it goes away in a conventional sense, we call it temporary. If it doesn’t, we call it abiding. 

Also, when identification is released out of the me + I (these gestalts made up of sensations and images), what notices itself is that which all content of experience happens within and as, including the mental field overlays of me, doer, observer, space and time. What recognizes itself is that which time happens within and as, so temporary or abiding are recognized as stories only, with only a limited truth in a conventional sense. 

And even the abiding recognition of what we are of itself is not a state in some ways, may be a state or not in another way, and is a state in yet another way. It is not a state, since it is that which states happens within and as. It may be a state, since we don’t know if it will last. And it is a state, the “state” of what we are recognizing itself. 



  • personal self
    • human self + doer/observer still around (me + I), but identification with it released
    • from conventional view, can be abiding or nonabiding
    • but also, all – me, I, time, space – recognized as happening within and as what we are 
    • and, abiding realization, not a state in some ways, yet a state in other ways


As always, this is a question and a pointer for inquiry. Looking at what people report, and the maps of the different traditions around this, what are the different ways a personal self can be experienced and recognized?

And although that question is interesting and can be helpful, it is even more helpful to ask that question of myself. How do I experience the personal self? What is it? If something disappears, what disappears? 

There are times when a sense of personal sense disappears. This human self is around as before, but identification with it is released. I find myself as that which all content of experience – including a human self, identities, doer, observer – happens within and as. The Ground all happens within and as notices itself, and the center of gravity shifts from content to this Ground. And if identification with a me and/or I returns, then this shift appears to be a temporary state. It is a glimpse. A preview. A carrot.  

Judging from what others report – including quite a few I am fortunate enough to know personally, and also from what I notice from own experience, it is also possible for that release of identification to stay. There is enough insight into the dynamics of samsara, and enough recognition of what I am and how these dynamics operate, for identification to not get caught up in content of experience anymore. The center of gravity has shifted into what I am and everyone and everything is. 


And it is a state as well, since – from within a conventional view – it happens at a certain point in time, and we never know if it really is abiding or not. The difference between an abiding and a nonabiding awakening is a story about it. Also, it is the “state” of what we are recognizing itself. 


Initial outline…

  • personal self
    • can shift out of identification with it, temporarily 
    • or recognize clearly as content of awareness, so not identified with it anymore

Whenever we talk, we leave a great deal out. And sometimes, in talking about these things, it can be appropriate to only mention that which is closest to the worldview of the receiver. 

I am not aware of the full range of how the personal self can be experienced or recognized,

2 thoughts to “Disappearing self?”

  1. All energy beings are aware of everything at a subconscious level but typically work on conscious levels. Human beings gradually access unconscious thoughts far more readily than the supraconscious. It is said that a person only ever becoes aware of what he requires on a need-to-know basis. That is, if you are not psychologically ready, deeper realms of mind will remain closed to conscious awareness.

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