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After the Ecstacy the Laundry > Week 2 (March 6-12): Part 2 (63-108)

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message 1: by Kristi (new)

Kristi (kristicoleman) Discussion thread for Week 2.

message 2: by Amanda (new)

Amanda Good to have you on board Gwynwas!

message 3: by Amanda (last edited Mar 16, 2011 04:01AM) (new)

Amanda I've gotten to the point where Kornfield talks at length about no-self. This is a difficult concept for many people to accept, but it was Kornfield talking about no-self that most radically changed my life when I came to buddhism. It is perhaps normal, but undeniably unhealthy for a young adult to assign themselves a lot of negative labels. Through buddhism I realised I was not a fixed person with a fixed personality and way of feeling, but a fluid entity capable to dramatic change of thought and emotion. Its a simple thing, but the impact was profound and I started to think differently and letting go of all my negative thoughts eventually my feelings changed too.

message 4: by Dan (new)

Dan Rosener | 1 comments The concept of 'No-Self' is difficult. Personally, I've found it more helpful to redefine what the self is, as opposed to trying to get rid of it. Most people I've encountered that are trying to understand the 'no-self' seem to be trying to get remove it completely, or at least separate it out to where they can ignore it. I don't think you can do it. It seems to be more about changing focus in general, not trying to cut a chunk out and remove it. Negative labels are indeed unhealthy, it seems like an attempt to ignore and remove about half of the world and pretend that you can work around certain problems in a false, roundabout way.
For me it is more about understanding your interaction/'ownership' - you own your body, your immediate possessions are at hand, you own up to your interactions and relationships with other people... so on and so forth - you have an influence on other things, other things influence you, but we do not live in our own vacuum. In a sense, you are a focal point of countless interactions. Like on page 80 "Was it the flag that moved or the wind?" Are you moving in the world or is the world moving you? Of course the answer is 'Neither. It is the mind that moves" - you can't get rid of yourself, you can't get rid of the world. You can't get rid of the part and you can't get rid of the whole. It's about perspective and what is at hand and relevant.
And then on page 75, 'Lama Yeshe laughed. "I can be anything, you see, because I am empty. I am nothing." - reminds me of a quote I read about the zen mind and how it should be 'like a mirror' - that it reflects and allows everything to pass, no attachment involved other than the brief connection made - if you cling to the idea of a permanent self then you try to bring all of that into a new moment then you're already skewing it and things become off-kilter, or out of true, or whatever.
I'm gonna cut my rant short, sorry if it wasn't clear... let me know if you want me to clarify or explain in more detail... the self/no-self concept is quite confusing... I don't want to sound like I really know all about it or whatever, these are just my own views...
take care

message 5: by Amanda (last edited Mar 17, 2011 02:36AM) (new)

Amanda I think you're right Dan that the attempt to 'cut away' the self, which is how a lot of people seem to interpret no-self is as futile and harmful as grasping at a collection of labels and descriptions. When I approached no-self, it was an excercise in 'letting go'. I had a habit of critising myself with words such as 'shy', 'unattractive', 'no confidence', 'unlikeable', 'loner' and than naturally 'too judgemental' followed. When I realised these words were not part of the self or the world, but constructs of my mind, I was able to effortlessly let them go one by one and open up. It was not myself or the world that moved, but my mind. As a consequence I seemed to grow more friendly and confident to those around me because I was able to exist in the moment rather than worrying about who I was, embrarrassing memories from the past or what might happen next.

Now that I am 'empty', there doesn't feel like there are any limitations to what I can achieve. I am not a fixed person, but a work in progress.

message 6: by Emily (new)

Emily Great insights, y'all. Instead of the word no-self, the term I identify with is the witness self. It's not that I no longer have a self, an ego, a thinking mind, a personality, etc. it's that I have them but I can detach from them, sort of stepping back to witness them rather than identifying with them. That's been the real gift of meditation for me, the ability to detach from my thoughts and feelings. Often, thoughts still run through my mind and feelings still come up when I'm meditating, but I have learned to just witness them and let them pass on through. Sometimes, this is easier than others, of course. :)

message 7: by Emily (new)

Emily I have written this phrase from p. 96 on my dry erase board, "It's just something else to let go of, isn't it?" I love that! It's a reminder to me to stop taking anything so seriously, not to get attached to what feels good or what feels bad. Everything that comes to be passes away, so there's no need to get stuck on any of it.

message 8: by Amanda (last edited Mar 22, 2011 04:19AM) (new)

Amanda Emily wrote: "I have written this phrase from p. 96 on my dry erase board, "It's just something else to let go of, isn't it?" I love that! It's a reminder to me to stop taking anything so seriously..."

HAH! Yes, I remember when this first struck me years ago and I couldn't help but laugh. When I first became interested in Buddhism, I was so enthusiastic about it all, then I realised how counter-productive that enthusiasm was. You can hear the striving and the enthusiasm in Kornfield's sources, of people really struggling with their meditation and it confuses me. Isn't it just more grasping?

I also understand what you mean by the detachment of the self Emily. It has saved my partner and I from a fair few arguments. I've found the ability to occasionally step outside of the anger and ask 'why are you so angry?' priceless. Often I am able to realise that getting angry will not solve the situation. It doesn't always work, however. I still have work to do!

message 9: by Kim (new)

Kim | 14 comments I've been having trouble with this section about no-self. On the one hand, I do see how we are all part of one big thing, but on the other letting go of myself seems like a negation. I do understand that we are who we are because of conditioning and that perception can be changed. It's a matter of stepping out of the situation and checking intention. I've felt the soap bubble burst. What I can't let go of is the valuable spirit of each and every being, including myself. Struggling with this one....

message 10: by Amanda (last edited Mar 31, 2011 04:49AM) (new)

Amanda Kim wrote: "I've been having trouble with this section about no-self. On the one hand, I do see how we are all part of one big thing, but on the other letting go of myself seems like a negation. I do underst..."

Kim, as you read on Kornfield talks of the surprise of many who found that despite a deep changing in them, their personality fundamentally felt the same. Everybody is unique and valuable, and they are also part of the same thing. The english language doesn't have words to adequately describe the concept...but no self isn't a denial of your individuality per se (at least, not as I understand it), but the realisation that the idea of a permanent self is not true. We are what we think, not who we think we are.

message 11: by Kim (new)

Kim | 14 comments "We are what we think, not who we think we are." Thanks for that, Amanda. I am going to ponder that today.

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