What Self?


I’ve spent all these years developing and improving this ‘self’ called Susan only to discover that the secret all along was that there isn’t even a me in here to improve. I’ve been trying so hard to get to where I am and always have been! What I have been looking for was always here, RIGHT here, right now.

I read about the ‘no self’ concept in Buddhism and non duality books and websites for many years but I always thought it meant transcending the little me, the ego me, the me that gets angry, touchy, insecure and unhappy and transforming her into becoming a nicer wiser and more loving me. I have been wanting to improve her, help her overcome her fears, become more confident in herself and arrive at a comfortable and predicable situation in life for this person I call Susan. And maybe even this Susan with enough hard work on her could become enlightened.

Instead what I’m discovering is that there is no self even there. So how could it be enlightened. In fact I’ve been trying to find the ‘self’ in recent years, what is it, what intrinsic self existing qualities do I have that aren’t the result of some conditioning or collection of preferences that I have used to fashion an identity.

An identity that I have forged and fabricated through accumulating certain likes and dislikes, tastes, desires, qualities. It’s fabricated around the wish to build some unique identity that is admirable, lovable, special….I like this sort of art, don’t like that sort of art, like to wear this colour not that, like silver jewellery not gold, more of a woods person than a sea person, like prog rock not classical…..lots and lots of ‘like this don’t like that’ as if trying to construct an identity I’m really proud of which is special and unique.

And yet it has been creeping up on me that when I look, really really look I can’t actually locate a tangible ‘me’ here without conditioning and it’s clothing of preferences. It never was there.

So often over the years it has occurred that it is only when the ‘I’ is absent is when I’m most at home. Most happy, loving, free. Without any self consciousness. When all self referential thought stops and I am left with the raw direct experience in the present and calm descends and arises. Oh actually, of course, it is just simply noticed, since it’s always there.

So while I have had this unitive experience of the world and me in it as a big field of energy of which I’m a part, it has been kept for particular times out in nature. Where it has felt safe to disappear the ‘me’. Lately there’s been more lingering and exploring there. And that has been interesting to say the least. I just sit back into no me, and it all still happens. The conversation, the business, life just carries on.

The difference is that I’m less predictable and in control – I sing silly songs to the dog, do whatever movement my body finds itself doing to music or even to silence in the woods, the words I say always seem right, and don’t seem like they are coming from me, or my experience or education. Don’t plan my days ever really and I’m even making jokes and I’m well known for my poor sense of humour.

So this is all very interesting and thrilling and this passenger is enjoying a journey into unknown territory.

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