“Your reply to a reader’s comment got stuck in my mind:
You said: “(to say that it’s) “not in our hands” is a tricky statement because it assumes a “someone” who lacks agency. Either there is no one therefore no agency. Or there is a someone with agency. Both options are workable. The hybrid is not.”
While I understand what you are pointing at something is still not clear. How/why do we fall for the hybrid without noticing it?
What do you think of paying conscious attention to the I AM/ I know I am? Is being this knowing, the disappearance of self?”
Self is a natural function of the brain just like memory. Both are necessary in order for a person to be functional in society and life.
However, there are many people who are perpetually recalling the past. Memory rather than a function has become an addiction for these people. Thus, they never experience “being present”. Their memory is dysfunctional.
A functional memory is one which arises when there is a need. It is a responsive memory not a reactive one. For example, my memory is not compulsive. I can be present in a relaxed state and not recall any past events for a while. However, at a certain point my memory HAS to kick back in. Otherwise, I will not be able to function. That’s essentially why people who suffer with Alzheimer’s are so hampered in their functioning.
Claiming that I live in some abiding state of no-memory is nothing to write home about. It is just as dysfunctional a state as that of a compulsive memory.
Similarly, the self in most people is an addiction and thus is perpetually “hyper functioning” without pause. Most people are constantly “selfing”. The self has become an addiction rather than a simple function. It is dysfunctional.
A functional self is one that arises when there is a need. It is a responsive self not a reactive one. But, if the self is completely disabled that is an equally dysfunctional state of affairs.
Claiming to live in some “abiding state” of no-self is like claiming Alzheimer’s is some pinnacle of consciousness. It’s mostly nonsense.
From the natural self-centric model of perception, that forms our everyday experience, there IS a sense of self that appears to be separate from the rest. And so there is a natural sense of agency that emerges with it.
What does it mean to be “separate”? It means to be “not joined to”. It means to be “free from”. Thus, to sense a self is to feel that one is free to choose. To choose life, to choose death, to choose whatever we set our attention upon. “Self” is that part of us that is not “beholden to” the laws that govern the rest. The moment I find some part of me that is limited by certain laws, I begin to refer to it as “mine” rather than as “me”.
My body is “mine” because it is not free. My mind is also “mine” because it isn’t free. I take my personality to be “me” until I come to realize that it isn’t entirely unique either and is somewhat predictable, at which point I divorce myself from it as well and call it “mine” but not “me”. The sense of self is the perpetual assertion that I exist INDEPENDENT and free.
“Not this, not that, not this, not that” the self survives by shedding every identity that appears to it as being a burden to its independence. Eventually, all there is left to assert is “I AM”.
Knowing the self as I AM is not the disappearance of the self. Because that “I AM” IS the self in its nakedness. The I AM is the scaffolding around which all our thoughts and identities are built. There is ALWAYS conscious attention to this I AM. This isn’t something unique to spiritual seekers and meditators. Every single person you meet is actively focused on that very sense of I AM, 24/7. The only differences lie in how that I AM has been dressed up. Some perceive it in its naked form and others through layers of identity clothing. It’s still the same thing we are all looking at.
Self is I AM.
As long as I AM, then I CAN. That’s the whole point of the self. Self is the sense of being a free agent. Thus, an agent must have AGENCY.
However, when one claims “it’s not in my hands” one is asserting a confused worldview in which there IS a self, but for some reason it is helpless to act in any meaningful way. An agent without agency.
This is an aberration. It is a contrivance.
The perspective that appears during an awakening or satori experience is that “this” is all just one process. There is no sense of there being a self that is separated from this process. Thus, there is no sense of agency because there is no sense of self. It is a temporary experience because the loss of the self-centric position that is experienced in satori is neither a functional state nor a sustainable state.
The self-centric position is REQUIRED from a purely survival point of view. Thus a self-centric worldview must be reverted back to when one is required to interact with one’s environment or in society in any way. This is perfectly natural. When that happens, one cannot maintain the satori perspective as being their living reality. One cannot claim to be a “no self”. Because one is clearly a self!
This bizarre hybrid position is what most of these so called “awakened” teachers purport. I have talked about this before.
There is no such thing as an “ABIDING” AWAKENING.
The reason this “hybrid” appeals to us is because we want to have our cake and eat it too. We want to occupy the awakened perspective while simultaneously retaining a sense of self. A new hybrid mutant awakened-self! It doesn’t work that way. The two are mutually exclusive.
You can’t swim in the water and still keep dry. Either you immerse yourself in the water, in which case, you get wet. Or you stay in the boat separated from the water and keep dry. Claiming to be swimming and keeping dry at the same time is delusional and phoney.
STARING AT THE SUN
Self is I AM.
That is what it means to be a self. And to be “self-aware” is to know that I AM. Then, how can a constant focus on this I AM lead to its disappearance? How can a heightened self-awareness lead to its absence? This hyper focus and chronic vigilance on the I AM in the belief that this will result in its dissolution is like staring at the sun and hoping to go blind.
The disappearance of the sense of self occurs only when there is no longer awareness of I AM. There is only suchness. Suchness is not something that can be arrived at by focus, sheer will or even intention. It is a perception that arises of itself when there is a complete relaxing of focus AND intention. It’s a perception that appears spontaneously at first in satori, but only becomes truly accessible when one organically matures into it over time.
Yet, it is always a short-lived, momentary perspective. It exists only until a self is required once again.