Tuesday, October 9, 2012

Self . . . An 'Imaginary Center' as the 'Cause of Suffering'

"As LONG AS (one's subjective 'self') is centered in a phenomenal object, and thinks and speaks therefrom, (one's) subject is identified with that object and is bound."

"As long as such condition (applies), the identified subject can never be free—for freedom is liberation from that identification."

"Abandonment of a phenomenal centre constitutes the only 'practice', and such abandonment is not an act volitionally performed by the identified subject, but a non-­action (wu wei) leaving the noumenal centre in control of phenomenal activity, and free from fictitious interference by an imaginary 'self'."

"Are you still thinking, looking, living, as from an imaginary phenomenal center? As long as you do that you can never recognize your freedom."

Preface to "Open Secret" by Wei Wu Wei

 self / n., adj. & verb (pl. selves) 1 a person's or thing's own individuality or essence (showed his true self). 2 a person or thing as the object of introspection or reflexive action (the consciousness of self). . . .

ego / n. (pl. -os) 1 Metaphysics a conscious thinking subject. 2 Psychology the part of the mind that reacts to reality and has a sense of individuality. . . .

[Source: Concise Oxford English Dictionary.]

"(An) event," Wei Wu Wei points out, "only occurs in the mind of the perceiver of it, singular or plural as the case may be, and no event could be anything but a memory when we know it. No event is anything but a psychic experience. Events, or memories of events, are objectivizations in consciousness."

Our lives, our histories - personal and collective - the "who" we identify as, are manifestations of consciousness. Indeed, as many physicists point out, at the most basic level, the entire universe must be manifested (or "real-ized") through an act of conscious observation, through an observing consciousness. Some, like the late David Bohm, might agree with Gary Zhukav's conclusion that "modern physics has become the study of the structure of consciousness."

Buddhist teacher, Tulke Urgyen Rinpoche, would say that 'reality' ("as it is") - including the basic nature of a realized Buddha and that of ordinary sentient beings - is a fundamental and complete emptiness unified irrevocably with an infinite ability to 'cognize.' I suspect he would agree that the 'events' of our lives, and our 'memories' of those events, "are objectivizations in consciousness," albeit objectivizations that are misperceived because we are unskillful in realizing the unity of our empty and infinitely cognizant nature.

One must ask, given the 'misperceptions' of our own individual and collective group consciousness, just how functional we are as many billions of individualized 'selves.' How well does an overwhelmingly narcissistic, post-modern dualistic perspective work for us?

It is important, I feel, to realize just how much unnecessary mayhem, harm and suffering this misperception of separate individuality perpetuates if we are ever going to make the necessary efforts to be free of 'self.'

* * * * * * * * * * * * *

"(I)t becomes obvious," writes spiritual teacher, Eckhart Tolle, "that the human ego in its collective aspect as 'us' against 'them' is even more insane than the 'me,' the individual ego, although the mechanism is the same. By far the greater part of the violence that humans have inflicted on each other is not the work of criminals or the mentally deranged, but of normal respectable citizens in the service of the collective ego. One can go as far as to say that on this planet 'normal' equals insane. What is it that lies at the root of this insanity? Complete identification with thought and emotion, that is to say, ego."

Eckhart Tolle, best-selling author of
"The Power of Now" and "A New Earth."
"Greed, selfishness, exploitation, cruelty, and violence are still all-pervasive on this planet," Tolle observes. "When you don't recognize them as individual and collective manifestations of an underlyin dysfunction or mental illness, you fall into the error of personalixing them. You construct a conceptual identity for an individual or group and you say: 'This is who he is. This is who they are.'"

"All this," he notes, "is enormously satisfying to the ego. It strengthens the sense of separation between yourself and the other, whose 'otherness' has become manifested to such an extent that you can no longer feel your common humanity, not the rootedness in the one Life that you share with each human being, your common divinity."

And, he points out: "Fighting (such) unconsciousness will (only) draw you into unconsciousness yourself. Unconscious, dysfunctional egoic behavior can never be defeated by attacking it. Even if you defeat your opponent, the unconsciousness will simply have moved into you, or the opponent reappears in a new disguise. Whatever you fight, you strengthen, and what you resist, persists." (Emphasis added.)

Eckhart Tolle, "A New Earth: Awakening to Your Life's Purpose," pp. 73-75

As Wei Wu Wei asks: ""Are you still thinking, looking, living, as from an imaginary phenomenal center?" "As long as you do that," he points out, "you can never recognize your freedom."