Sacred geometry

Beyond the Prison of the Self

Date11th February 2006
Retreat/SeriesWorking and Awakening - A Work Retrea...


When we first come to practice, in the beginning years of practice certainly, what we're often coming for is that we want a sense of relaxation, you know? We're feeling some tension, some stress in our lives. We come to practice, to meditation, for a sense of relaxation. Very normal, very understandable. We want less anxiety in our lives. We want to maybe resolve some issues that we're aware of that we feel are difficult. So all of this is very normal, very understandable, and very necessary.

But as we continue to practise, something becomes clear: that this stress that we feel, this anxiety, any problem, any suffering, is wrapped up with the sense of self. That -- slowly, usually -- begins to become clear. So that's wrapped up with the self-sense, and we begin to realize it's necessary to inquire into this self-sense that's at the centre of suffering, to inquire into it and to address it. And that's really fundamental to the path, because our normal state of consciousness is actually very self-centred. So sometimes it's quite extreme, and you see the extremes of sort of egomania, but often it's just sort of quietly running through and running our lives. It's just, we look at the world, we look at our experience, we relate to others through a self-centredness. There's no judgment in that; it's just part of the normal human condition.

There might come a point, though, in practice, or there might come a point in one's unfoldment when one really asks a question that might shake things up a little bit. Someone might ask, "What would it be to live a life where the self is actually not at the centre of the stage, a life without self at the centre of the drama?" And something in the being is beginning to unfold, awaken in some way, and that question might come up, even though we don't know what that would even mean, or can't even imagine: "What would it be to live a life that's not centred around me, that I'm not looking out from a centre of accumulation, from a centre of interest?"

And then we also, if you've been around these circles, you also hear the Buddha's teaching of no-self or selflessness or not-self, and you sort of scratch your head and wonder what all that's about. And it is a very confusing -- or can be a very confusing -- teaching. But there's the message there that actually, this sense of self that we have, that we take to be so real, may not be as true, as real, as we think it is. Another kind of question inside: do I want to live in an illusion? Is it okay for me to go through my life, however long it lasts, from birth to death, and have this nagging suspicion that it was all centred around this self which may not even be real in the way that I thought it was? Would that be okay to live an illusion that way? Which is the common human condition. But would it be okay?

So when the Buddha originally -- the sort of original, first, it was called the first turning of the wheel, his first teachings -- he actually steered quite clear of making a lot of philosophical statements: "It's like this," or "It's like that," or "This is how life is, guys," or "The self is like this or like that." He wasn't really much inclined to do that or inclined to make intellectual statements. He veered away from that. And particularly around the nature of the self. So there's a story that one day he was sitting around, and this sort of wandering ascetic came up to him and started arguing with him and trying to make him admit that "There's no self, right? There's no self." And the Buddha just sat silent and did not respond to him. So the guy asks a second time and a third time, and in the end got frustrated and just left, you know? [laughter] "Buddhas. What are you going to do?"

Then five minutes later, another wandering ascetic comes and said, "There is a self, right? There is a self." And similarly the Buddha didn't say anything. And a second time, the Buddha didn't say anything. Third time, silence. And this guy goes, "Well ..." And Ānanda, the Buddha's cousin and attendant, is standing there and said, "What's up, boss? You're just not talkative today, or ...?" And the Buddha said, "If I had agreed with the first person, it would be a belief in nihilism, in the non-existence of the self. If I had agreed with the second person, it would be reifying the self, making it into something real." And he said, "The truth is actually neither of those." But he avoided making those kind of statements.[1]

The other thing that doesn't exist in the teachings of the Buddha is this goal or emphasis to try and sort of eradicate the self, to dissolve it or explode it or merge it into something. Some religious traditions, that is the movement. In the Buddha's teaching, it's actually not that. There's something different going on. It's a different understanding. So we're not trying to get rid of the self. That's not the purpose here. That's not the goal. What then is the goal? To try and understand something about the self, to understand something about the self that frees our relationship with life, frees our relationship with things, in a way that the sense of self is not felt as a burden, is not felt as a prison.

It's the understanding that frees. So understanding and also understanding how to live in a way that the self is not a burden. How does this happen? How is this moved towards on the path? One of the ways is by cultivating loving-kindness, by cultivating compassion, by cultivating a heart of love that the interest is flowing out, flowing out, and not always just inside. Of course, we need to take care of our self-love, as I think I touched on yesterday. But this cultivating of kindness in the heart begins to unburden the life from the self.

Similarly, actually, the cultivation of other things -- calmness, equanimity, all these lists that, you know, are very dry if you've read them, these Buddhist lists -- all this is actually helping to unburden the life from the self. So there's the cultivation of the beautiful qualities of heart. There's also acting in the world, acting in the world in ways that diminish the constriction, the stranglehold of self. So two things I'd like to [go into]: generosity and service. I'll go into that in a little bit. So there's cultivating the beautiful qualities, there's acting in ways that unburden, that lead to less of a burden of self, and there's the inward-looking practising ways of seeing that are not in terms of self. The Buddha's encouraging us to look a certain way at experience -- I'll go into this later on -- since we tend to look at things as me or mine, you or yours. We tend to look at the world in terms of self. And the Buddha's saying, rather than making statements about reality, can we practise a way of changing that way of looking?

So as teachers, and you know, in the Dharma, we talk a lot about mindfulness. I don't know how many times just on this retreat we've sort of emphasized it. Someone was saying today, "Well, you can't have too much mindfulness." And that's true. You can't have too much mindfulness. But it's not the whole deal. It's not the whole path. Mindfulness has to be balanced with other qualities, so these other beautiful qualities of heart, and these other actions, these other ways of being and relating in the world. In a way, we look in in practice, but we also look out and act outwards, and that's also important. When we're here, can be here in situations like this, "My practice, my mindfulness -- that's what matters." Maybe the sense of connection with the people practising together -- maybe that matters as much. Maybe it's not just about my practice. Maybe viewing it in terms of 'my practice' doesn't bear the best kind of fruit. So when we're here, are we also open to everyone around us? Do we have a sense that we're making this journey together, we're all making this journey together? Very different from just coming in here, "Me, my mindfulness, my concentration," etc.

Similarly, with the ways we -- as I went into today in the question and answer period -- the way we're looking at the work, when we're working, could be we're viewing it as just an exercise in mindfulness, which is fine, you know. How mindful can I be over the sensations as I'm digging, as I'm painting, or whatever? Fine. But maybe a bit bigger -- how mindful can I be of all my patterns that are involved, the fear, the anxiety, the pressure that's felt, boredom? Bigger mindfulness. Or even bigger -- can I relate to it as service? The mindfulness becomes less important at that point; I'm just here doing service.

One of the ways I mentioned was this generosity. So in Pali, the language of the Buddha, the word is dāna. And this is really a practice. What we notice is when we practise generosity, really take it on as a practice, the movement of generosity, of giving, is something that leads to a sense of lightness in the being, and we can really -- all this is to be checked out, to be checked out. When we give, it brings a sense of lightness. Sometimes there's a sense of fear with it. But if we check it out, there's a sense of lightness that goes with it. An openness goes with it, openness of the mind and heart. You can see generosity is a movement of openness, and it goes out.

The Buddha said, "If you knew what I knew about the power of generosity, you wouldn't let a single meal go by without giving something to someone."[2] So obviously this guy knows something. It's a powerful statement. It's interesting, when we explore this quality, this practice of generosity, we can give money, of course. We can give of what we have. And some people, that's a very natural way to give for them. That's where they gravitate to. And some people -- in a way, you can give money or time, and it's interesting just to note where one's balance is, where one moves towards. For me, I notice that when I have money, relatively it's easier to give. But time is often something quite precious, like I'm a bit more hoarding of my time. So just to see, where is one -- to explore this. Where is my balance? Am I free with time, but am I a bit hoarding of money? Just to investigate the whole area of generosity.

And of course we can give kindness. We give kindness. We give attention as an act of kindness. All this in the realm of generosity. If we explore it, it's a curious thing. I mean, I find, and I think anyone who would really explore it deeply would find that there's a paradox here. If I give, I somehow paradoxically feel like I have enough, though I'm giving away. And if I habitually don't give, if I'm concerned with saving, somehow what gets saved, as well as the material stuff, is this little gnawing fear or worry that there won't be enough, that it won't be okay. Our actions have what we call karmic imprints, karmic consequences. There's a paradox: when I give, I actually feel there's enough; when I hold on, I feel like there's not enough.

[16:56] The Buddha made another very radical statement. It might not be that easy to understand at first, but he said:

What we give away is ours. What we keep at home is not ours. What we give away is of value. What we keep at home is of no value. What we give away we don't need to protect. What we keep at home we need to protect. What we give away causes no worry. What we keep at home causes worry. What we give away gives inexhaustible wealth. What we keep at home will be exhausted. What we keep at home leads to negativity. What we give away leads directly to enlightenment.[3]

Completely turning everything on its head. What's he talking about? When we give away -- well, we don't have to worry about that thing any more, but we're investing in the beauty of that quality, of the openness, of the lightness, of the generosity, of the non-self-preoccupation. When we keep, when we hoard, when we don't give, all the problems that come in trying to protect that, and that encrusting of the me-mine.

Obviously, we live lives that -- we have families, we have people who are close to us, we have friends that are close to us, and it would be ridiculous to say that we don't have a responsibility to those that are near and dear to us; of course we do. But the movement of the Dharma, the spiritual movement, is can that be expanded? Are we interested in expanding that giving? I remember years ago when I lived in the States, and I would really love to give -- well, actually give money to certain environmental organizations that would buy these -- you've probably heard of these programs -- they buy areas of rainforest or some endangered land. And it would often be, you know, in the middle of some country on the other side of the world. And I would know, first of all, that it was anonymous; no one would ever know that I gave it. And second of all, that I would never see that piece of land. I would never see those trees. I would never see the beauty there. There was something about doing that, knowing that I would never enjoy it in that sort of direct way, never get any payback from it, something about it that expanded the constricted sense of self. It was almost as if the sense of self expanded to include that rainforest, instead of just me-mine stopping right here.

A little while -- it was, I can't remember, six months ago? -- a group of Dharma people, Dharma friends and I, went up to the Highlands of Scotland, and we had a one-week work retreat there, planting trees, reforesting. The whole of Scotland, apparently, was one huge forest, now completely devastated. We were working on reforesting. And talking to some of the people involved, it's actually a 300-year project. So the saplings that we were planting, we would have no -- we wouldn't even know whether they survived or not. And again, it was completely anonymous. There's this sense of giving to something that I can't immediately relate my sense of self to. And there's something that does indirectly to the very sense of self.

So there's generosity, and there's service, of course. And we're all, just by virtue of being here on work retreat, you're involved in service. And again, sometimes with practice, the attitude is, "My practice, my mindfulness. How's my mind doing?" If we're involved in service work, from the perspective of service, how I feel, how clear my mind is, is actually completely secondary. How I feel is not important. And that not being important does something to the sense of self. It loosens the sense of self. And there's giving through service, and there's the non-preoccupation with how my mindfulness is doing, my quality of mind, etc.

A couple of people have touched in the interviews on, actually, what is Right Livelihood? And what would it be to move, maybe, for a period, into a life of service, or exploring that option? And that is often a movement out of the mainstream. The mainstream culture is about me, my, getting, and everything's set up that way. But to say, "I'll have less for a while, and I'll just explore this" -- it doesn't fit in. And there may be the voices of fear with that. And there may be the voices of fear from family and friends, etc. But what are we investing in?

Sometimes we practise generosity and service, and there's a bit of motivation of fear involved in it; there's a bit of fear what people will think of us: "I hope they think I'm kind." Or we don't want to upset people, or we want them to praise us or approve of us, or we feel unworthy, and just our existence is unworthy, and we have to give to feel a sense of worthiness. So just to notice when that kind of level of fear creeps in. And it's okay; it doesn't mean not to give. But the motivations can purify over time.

Actually, the movement in practice is not from self-centredness to other-centredness. It's not actually doing that. Other-centredness is also a bit off balance. Often if we're completely other-centred, it is driven by some level of fear or something like that. It's rather a movement from self-centredness to, I don't know what you would say, openness or awareness of interconnection, or even interpenetration -- awareness of our interpenetration. So movement from the prison of self to openness. Can we even just -- hearing that, can we actually get a sense, maybe even a dim sense of the freedom, the possibility of freedom there?

So how are we looking at our lives? Another thing I used to quite enjoy doing, we can just take something that we usually relate to as me or as mine -- so, sitting in your house or your apartment, you can just sit on the sofa, no big meditation deal or anything. And just sit there quietly, and just look at your possessions. Just sit and look. If you just stay steady with that, without any pressure, what can happen is they begin to look -- the sense of 'mine' just goes. They begin to look like they're not mine. It's just stuff. You can look at your sofa, your table, your TV, your record collection, your house. You can even do it, just stare at your hand for long enough, and it begins to get a sense of, "Actually, it's not really mine." It just comes through the presence of awareness there. Can even look at your lover like that, look at your child like that. It doesn't mean taking away the care at all. But just to have a sense: "Yes, at one level, things are mine. At another level, they're not mine." It's just this veil we put over our lives, seeing through me and mine.

If you do do that, if you do experiment and just look at something, to feel the freedom there. Why I used to enjoy doing it was I began to feel like, "Ah, what a relief. All this stuff is not mine." [laughs] "I don't have to be so bothered with it. I don't feel so encumbered by it." But that feeling of the freedom and appreciating the freedom and the relief, that's an important part of letting this understanding, allowing the understanding to go deep, because typically, if we're addicted to looking at things in terms of me and mine and self, to even suggest letting go of that would be like, "Errr!" We begin to see, "Oh, actually, this is quite nice." It's lovely to unburden oneself that way. And that doesn't mean absolving myself of responsibility. To feel the freedom of not fully believing in 'I have' or 'mine.'

So with self, with this prison of self, what's often really felt painfully is the kind of self-views with which we imprison ourselves. We crystallize, we solidify certain self-views about ourselves, and sometimes they run right through our life. And for many people, it goes from sometime in their childhood, maybe even before, right through until the day they die. And these self-views that have become like a cage are not broken through, are not challenged. The whole life is imprisoned that way. Can we see differently? Can we look at situations differently? It really begins to challenge those kind of self-views.

I remember years ago working with a therapist, and she was one of these very sort of -- I think she had a black belt in ... [laughs] I don't know what. Very sort of directing, quite aggressive. I was very young at the time, so all this aggression about getting to the bottom of my problems was quite scary, actually. And she would crystallize, and together, we would crystallize self-views about me: "This is me, and this is my problem, and it's because such-and-such happened in the past." All this pain around self-view and the need to break out of how I thought I was, and not seeing that it all arose out of conditions, including how I was in that interaction, that there was so much pressure coming, leading to so much fear, that it actually led to me feeling a certain way, me perceiving a certain way, me acting a certain way. And then that was taken as a view of who I am, completely not considering, completely oblivious of all the conditions present and past that lead to a behaviour or lead to a pattern of thinking.

So we tend to view in terms of self, in terms of personality, and not in terms of, "Let me look a little wider. What are the conditions that are giving rise to this behaviour?" One way of looking is misery, just misery. There's no other word for it. And another way of looking brings space, brings freedom, brings lightness. Similarly, with our mind state, you know -- depressed mind state, for example, not understanding where that's coming from. Sometimes just the fact of physical energy has an effect on -- for instance, if we're tired physically, or if we just got out of bed, mornings or whatever, there's a low physical energy, and the mind follows, mirrors, is not supported enough by the physical energy, and so it sinks. Instead of just seeing the relationship of mind and mind state with, for instance, physical energy, time of day, etc., we make a conclusion: "I am depressed. I am a failure at life," whatever it is. Can we look a bit bigger and see the connections? We say, "I am an angry person. I am a depressed person. I am this. I am that. This is my problem. Me, my, my, my, my." So tight and so wrapped. Can we really look into what the Buddha called dependent arising? The way things are, the way things manifest, arises dependent on many conditions.

Similarly, and a couple of people have touched on this, it's almost like the self gets into this way of believing that everything is dependent on it, everything is dependent on me. Someone was saying they realized they were doing a job around the house that was actually a job that would probably go on for months, if not years, and they were just one little piece of this. It all didn't depend on them. And that sense began to unburden the pressure of the situation. It was felt as a pressure. It's just, "It's okay. It doesn't all depend on self." Or similarly, sitting here, if I relate to the Dharma talk like, "Well, boy, now I have to really entertain these people for an hour or something ..." [laughs] That would be complete misery. We tend to view things in terms of self, an exaggerated place of self, and it's completely lopsided.

So there's looking out, looking out at how we're living, how we're being with other people, and looking out at our life. And there's looking in in terms of self. If we look in, if in meditation, in practice, over time, we look inside, we can ask: where is the self? Where is it? Because when we look, if we're just completely honest, just completely with what's going on, what do we find? There's body and body sensations. There are feelings and emotions and mind states and thoughts. There's nothing that doesn't change. The sense of self is something that doesn't change. It's just, "I'm me. I was me yesterday. I will be me tomorrow." But when we look inside, there's actually nothing we find that doesn't change. There's nothing we can find, that we can point to and say, "That's the self." Even the body -- if I had an accident and had to amputate my leg at the knee, or up here, I would still feel, "That's me," and after a while I would have forgotten about what happened to my leg. So how much am I going to chop off before I ...? Still say "me."

There's nothing we can find, there's nothing we can point to and say, "That's the self." We can't find it. And yet, we spend our whole lives, or most of our lives, running around at the whim of this self, expending huge amounts of energy and resources and doing what it says, and yet, where is it? What is it? To see this for ourselves in practice. Actually it's unfindable.

That's one approach: to see that we can't find it anywhere inside, no matter how long we look, no matter where we look. You won't find it. No one has ever found it. That's one approach. The other approach is to realize that we don't need, we don't need to see anything as self. I don't need to see my body as self. I don't need to see my thoughts as self. I don't need to see my emotions as self. I can sit here in meditation or in my life and regard everything as 'not me, not mine,' and still function, still talk, still interact, still love, still go to the toilet, whatever. To add 'me, mine' is actually an added -- it's an E number. It's an added extra. We can let go of that, and the world goes on. Life goes on. Experience unfolds. We don't need to; it's something extra and, in a way, false.

That includes awareness. So sometimes when one practises in this way, and may have heard spiritual teachings saying, "You're not the body, you're not your thoughts, da-da-da-da," and what's left is a sense of "I'm Awareness, I'm the Witness, I am," you know, with capital letters. Or you may hear teachings saying, "You are Awareness, your true nature is Awareness." And Buddhadharma doesn't stop there. It goes deeper and says you don't even need to identify with awareness. There's nothing anywhere that needs to be identified with. The Buddha says nothing, nothing at all, should be identified with as 'me' or 'mine' -- nothing at all, including even what might be the most subtle aspect of our existence: our awareness. So this completely radical not holding on to anything, nothing left for self to grab on to, to build on.

Can we bring this into our practice, into our life? Can we begin to see things, see our experience, as not-self? So the breath comes in, and it goes out, and it comes in, and it goes out, and it's just nature happening. It's the wind element, the air element, coming in and coming out. If you're just really with it and really just watch it, it's not me breathing; it's just breathing happening. Or the body sensations -- just be with your body sensations. Just keep watching them. Can you see it's 'just happening'? It's 'not me, not mine.' And make that something that becomes a familiar way of looking. We're so used to seeing in terms of 'me' and 'mine.' Can we actually make 'not me, not mine' as familiar? So it's a practice.

Similarly with our thinking -- we're so identified with our thinking and the problems that that causes, you know. We're tyrannized by our thinking because of our identification with it. So judgments, you know -- can we view that as 'not me, not mine'? It's just that there's a radio on in the background, and it's a very poor station. [laughs] It's just saying all this stuff. Can we begin to see it as 'not me, not mine'? It's really a practice, but very possible.

If we begin to see through this self-identification, sometimes we see through it suddenly, sometimes gradually, then this whole structure of self-judgment, which most of humanity is prey to, can actually be gone, and really, really gone, and I mean it, gone. That can happen suddenly, like a huge chunk of this structure of self-judgment just crumbles, or it can happen gradually. But it can go. Absolutely possible for everyone that it goes.

That doesn't mean that it's replaced by "Aren't I fantastic?", by an inflation of self. What happens is we lose the whole seduction of flipping between those two poles -- "I'm worthless," "I'm fantastic" -- the whole seduction of thinking and viewing life in terms of self and self-view, self-measurement, self-anything. We've lost interest in that. It may seem like, one can feel like, "How on earth would that ever happen? You don't know what's going on in here." But it's very possible. It's really, really a possibility.

The Buddha said we need to understand something about self that frees us. One of the things we need to understand is, what is it that builds the self? The self is a construct. It's constructed. It's compounded. What is it that builds the sense of self? Grasping is one of the answers. When we push something away, when we hang on to something, when we're involved with something that that thing is a big deal, then that builds the sense of self. If we're struggling, if pain seems very intense in the body, or the mind seems very intense, or some situation, that thing has become a big deal, and resting on it being a big deal comes the sense of self. So the sense of self goes with grasping at something. To see that. The sense of self comes in proportion to how much we're struggling with something, how much we're grasping with something. To see that relationship.

It comes also with measuring and comparing: "How am I doing? How's my practice going? Am I working well enough? Am I this? Am I that? Am I attractive or not? Am I da-da-da-da-da?" This constant measuring and comparing is maybe the favourite activity of the self. But it builds the self. The self is built on measuring and comparing. What happens when we, sometimes just being in the moment in a very natural way, without putting pressure on the moment, we let go of measuring and comparing? What happens to the sense of self? So to see these relationships, the relationship of grasping, measuring, and comparing with the sense of self. To see it for ourselves. There's a mutual dependence.

[42:46] Self is built on measuring, grasping, comparing. And self builds, feeds measuring, comparing, grasping. They're like that -- they feed and support each other. When we see into self this way -- this is quite deep now, but when we begin to see, "Oh, the sense of self is not something real or solid. It's completely dependent on this activity of measuring, of comparing, of grasping. It's not something real, independent," what begins to happen is we begin to recognize our non-separateness as part of that, our non-separateness with life. The self is not separate, not how it feels to be separate. That realization of non-separateness liberates love. Just naturally, organically, it has to liberate love.

So all this has everything to do with love. And because we're not so self-preoccupied, we're treating others equally: "Their happiness is as important as my happiness," which is not the usual way of going about things. Usually we're concerned with me and maybe a small -- one or two or three people around me. What happens, the sense that actually, your well-being is as important as mine. And more than that, seeing through the self frees love from inhibition. So how often in life are we afraid, or we stop ourselves from expressing love, stop ourselves from making that connection because of some kind of fear? "Well, it's not me," or "That's not the kind of person I am," or "What will they think? Will I be rejected?" When we don't take self so solidly, so we're not so bound up in it, it actually frees up love from inhibition. And to go through life binding our expression of love is really -- well, it's a kind of tragedy.

But even more than that, I think that, I feel that seeing through self in this way actually liberates self-expression. It frees the self-expression because, again, we're not concerned with what people will think, or "Will it be okay? Will it measure up?", again. So the whole sense of creativity, of freedom to be able to say, do, create, artistic, whatever, is often bound by an over-exaggerated sense of self and the concern of what others think, etc. What would it be to have a sense of self that's free to express whatever is there -- free -- is not so preoccupied with its self-image?

So what happens over time in practice -- and it may be that we don't actually have to wait that long; it's just something that we can begin to notice for ourselves in our practice, in our lives -- what happens when we let go, even a little bit, of the agenda of self? Because self does have an agenda. We walk into a room, into a situation, something happens -- even without being conscious of it, the question is, "What's in it for me? Is this going to be bad for me? Is it going to be good? Am I going to get something I want or something I don't want?" That question is running through our lives like a thread that's -- every situation. We get up in the morning and it's, "What do I ...? How will today be for me?" We don't even realize the degree to which it's going on.

What happens? A question. To notice. What happens when that agenda ... [47:28, audio cuts out]

If that way of looking -- pushing away what we don't like, fearing what we don't like, trying to grab hold of, trying to get what we like -- if that's let go of through practice, through spiritual practice, what begins to happen is the world begins to look different. Instead of looking at the world through 'me' and 'my,' actually the radiance and the mystery of things begins to reveal itself, because we're not putting this film over. And it's the radiance and the mystery of all things, not just, "I like this. I'll ignore everything else. I don't like that. That's what's important." All things begin to, in a way, shine, speak to us of something else.

In a way, it's like the peace of all things begins to be revealed -- sometimes just a little bit. Just get a sense of it, a moment of it. Or sometimes extremely deep, if you're really letting go of that agenda of self. And you know, it's difficult sometimes -- our sense of life, our sense of aliveness, our sense of fulfilment and excitement is so bound up with the sense of self, so bound up with a sense of choosing for myself, it's almost like we can't imagine that letting go of that, letting go of the sense of self, letting go of the preoccupation, letting go of all this choice, would actually uncover something very fulfilling, very juicy, very beautiful.

[49:48] So what is it that we need to understand about the self? That it's dependent on conditions. It's not, as I said, that we're trying to get rid of the self, absorb it into something, dissolve it, etc. The sense of self comes and goes. It comes and goes. It might be there lightly. It might be there in a normal way. It might be there heavily. It might not be there at all sometimes. It comes and goes. It goes through its cycles dependent on conditions, dependent on conditions. And it's not that we're trying to stay in one state. The coming and going of self, actually not a problem, not a problem. We can see, there can be an understanding, that the self can be there in this way and that way, not there at all in another way. It's all just the coming and going of the appearance of self, not in any way a problem. We don't take self so seriously. We usually take self so seriously. Beginning to take self much more lightly.

And the more and more we take self lightly, the more and more we have freedom with this coming and going of self, the more and more we see through the so-called reality of self, then the more and more something else becomes apparent, some other truth, in a way, the more that begins to shine through the life, because we're not obscuring it. And that light of truth begins to just shine more and more, and with it, it brings the deepest freedom and the deepest love.

Shall we sit quietly for a couple of minutes?

  1. SN 44:10. ↩︎

  2. Iti 26. ↩︎

  3. Cf. SN 1:41. ↩︎

Sacred geometry
Sacred geometry