the non-personal self


Chiang Mai: Death is a failed internet connection. Three o’clock in the morning, unable to sleep so I get up, stumble through in the darkness and start up the computer. The brightness of the screen is blinding. But no internet, and no matter how much I think there should be a connection, it’s just not there. Consciousness operates in terms of subject and object; to be conscious I have to be a separate entity, a subjective being situated here. And the object, the internet – my friend, is part of this assumed ‘self-ness’ I’ve been accustomed to see in everything, still held by the conditioning of my childhood. But my friend is not there, and it is a death in that sense.

Stubborn and resentful, I go back to bed, and for quite a long time, mind continues rummaging through the disarray of its files and references; I see, with mindfulness, there’s a sense of it being a bit put-out; can’t sleep, the dream-state is set in the context of my being awake. It’s been like this, for as long as I can remember – there’s a created ‘self’ everywhere, it has it’s own momentum blindly searching for situations that offer pleasurable gratification (or gratification in displeasure), and not much more than that. I can see what this is about, but lose sight of what’s beyond ‘self’ in the attempt to grasp an understanding of it.

Same old thing. There’s something about this that’s so clear and obvious yet, again and again, when I look for it, it’s not there – the direction to take is unknown; the means by which I get there, as yet, uninvented; I study it as an object, and it’s the created self again. Up till quite recently I’ve been thinking in terms of anatta (no-self), an undefined nothingness, and now starting to think there’s also a desire to ‘not-exist’ involved here – the way I’m doing it. So if the ‘I’ construct isn’t what this is about, what is it, then? I can change the pronoun from ‘me’ to ‘it’ and that gives me distance, somehow there’s an ‘it’ there that recognizes ‘itself’ everywhere….

Head leans back and enter into a huge yawn, yaaaaawn… so deep and large, …aaaawn… and reaching optimum yawn capacity, coming to an end, and there’s a distinct ‘click’ noise in the ear. The hinge of the lower jaw – is it supposed to do that? This holds my attention for a moment, wetness around the eyes, nasal passages blocked up and fuzziness. There’s the beginning of a thought related to something I was puzzling over and a little picture of it is somehow revealed, a solution to the problem… I have to get up and find a reference in my notebook, mark it with a bookmark, come back, collapse on the pillow and drop off into deep sleep completely.

Some hours later I wake up for the second time. Senses switched on, eyes open, sounds enter, taste in the mouth, feet on floor, arms push upper body into sitting position. And there’s the notebook with the bookmark lying where I left it: ‘What had been realised in that moment was that self isn’t personal, it’s non-personal. And not only that, the realisation wasn’t personal. The realisation was simply something else appearing in what had been assumed to be my consciousness, and was realised to be the Self: absolute, timeless, radiant being.’ [Roger Linden, ‘The Elusive Obvious’, Conscious TV, July 17th 2008]


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