Since my teens, my most common practice has been to find what seems the most as an I or me. I scan my field of experience, find something where there is a bit of identification, and see what it is.
Early on, I mostly noticed it as something within the content of my experience. Something that comes and goes. Something that’s not what I more fundamentally am. Something happening within and as what I am.
This practice came naturally and almost inevitably (?) out of the initial awakening shift when I was sixteen, and some years before I had knowledge of more traditional practices or what teachers or traditions said about this.
Later on, as I learned more structured forms of inquiry, I also started examining how these identifications appear in my sense fields. I notice the mental images that are part of my experience of it. I notice the sensations the mind associates with these images. And I see that these are mental images and sensations. I see they come and go within the content of experience. I see they happen within and as what I am.
These identities with some identification attached to them are all essentially the same. They are created by the mind associating certain mental images and words with certain sensations. They happen within the content of experience. They come and go as any other content of experience. At most, they have a limited practical function in helping me orient and function in the world. They are not what I more fundamentally am. They happen within and as what I am.
And they take a wide range of forms. They may appear as an I or me. As a human. A man. A therapist. A victim. A victimizer. Someone who is smart or stupid. Someone who did something right or wrong. A doer. An observer. Something observed. Big Mind. Consciousness. Awareness. Awakeness. Oneness. Love. Capacity. And so on. It takes the form of anything the mind takes itself to be, whether explicitly and consciously or more as an underlying assumption.
This is a very simple exploration. It can be done here and now. And it goes to the essence of what this is about.
In my late teens and early twenties, I got into Daoism, Buddhism, and Christian mysticism. And I did set aside this simple practice to the benefit of the ones that were presented to me as more important, even if these practices seemed more peripheral and less to the point. And after a while, I returned to the simplicity of this one.
FINDING WHAT SEEMS THE MOST AS I OR ME
My most common practice for decades has been to find and examine what seems the most as an I or me. I scan my system, find something that seems a bit more like I or me, and see what it is. I look at the mental images I have of it and ask myself if that’s what I am. I notice the sensations and ask if that’s what I am.
Through this process, I get to see that all the different appearances of an I or me are made up of mental images and sensations, and I cannot find what I am looking for outside of this.
What I explore in this way is what a thought may call I or me. A human being. A man. Someone who is a victim. Someone who is smart / stupid. A separate being. A being. An object. A doer. An observer. Observed. Big Mind. Consciousness. Awareness. Awakeness. Capacity. And so on.
In each case, I find one or more mental images that the mind associates with certain sensations in the body, and I cannot find it outside of this.
Since my teens, and before I had learned any form of inquiry, my most common practice has been to find what seems the most as an I or me. I scan my field of experience, find something where there is a bit of identification, and see what it is.
This is an endlessly fascinating exploration.
I have to admit that when I started getting into Daoism, Buddhism, and so on, and I was presented with other practices, I did for a while abandon this simple practice to the benefit of the ones I was told were more important. Even if these other practices did seem more peripheral and less to the point. And after a while, I returned to the simplicity of this one.