OLD NOTEBOOKS: There’s a sense of sky, thoughts like clouds drifting through the vast space in the head… but I really don’t want to call it anything; giving things names gives them an identity and what happens next is, I become the ‘happy’ feeling. Feeling “happy” creates a ‘self’ where there wasn’t one before – “I” want to be happy, and don’t want to be ‘sad’, or unhappy. So maybe everything was okay before that ‘happy’ word arrived.
Something deeply understood by every human being in the world is the thought: ‘I am the only one that’s ‘me’, somehow ignoring the overwhelming fact that 7 billion people feel the same way. These days I’m returning to my old notebooks written when I was first discovering Buddhism, it’s this sudden PHN physical condition that’s throwing things all over the place and I need to remember how it all began. It really feels like the best thing to do is return the focus to that sense of sky, nothingness, no-thingness, and anatta, ‘no-self’, nobody at home…
How does it work? For me now, ‘no-self’ describes it well; it’s all just an operating system, same as Windows 10, Mac OS X El Capitain, and a determined and purposeful search to find out exactly where and how this ‘no-self’ exists will yield nothing, because “non self” doesn’t substantially exist – there isn’t any ‘thingness’ about non-self. No substance to it. In fact, ‘no-self’ is just another way of saying nothing substantially exists anywhere. There’s a wonderful fragility, a transparency about the world.
So the Buddha discovered this by way of his own research, 2500 years before Quantum physicists started to come up with empirical evidence that nothing substantially exists. Same thing in so many words. I started to investigate this further, because the question is, if there is no “self”, who or what “sees” there is no “self”? It’s an interesting direction the Dhamma takes that seems to hold my attention. I asked a monk about it in Thailand: ‘If everything without exception is “non self” including the “I” that’s investigating this, then who or what is there to see it’s non self… where does it all lead to? Without hesitation the monk just looked at me calmly and said “enlightenment.” That kinda stopped the conversation for a while …
The process of conceptualising is just a process – no person there doing it. just a process of how one thing is naturally linked to the next thing it’s most likely to link with, and that in turn linked to the next and it goes around like a wheel turning; the extreme point is suffering and unknowing (ignorance: the act of ignoring) and continues on from there following links that the Buddha showed us how to see. It can happen in a millisecond or in a slightly longer extended time… and that’s when we see it. There is a way out, of course, and that happens around steps 6,7 & 8 in the 12 step cycle. I’m not going to talk about that specifically here, check out the link below. So the main thing is all of these cycles, all these other behaviours that go on in life, have no ‘self’ in the background somehow pulling the strings. I find that remembering this helps me in dealing with pain; the pain is not happening to ‘me’ – there is no ‘me’ it’s happening to… just a series of processes. I allow it to pass, in the same way as ‘it’ is raining, wait for it to end… all things do.
“When Hanshan got up from his seat and walked around, he did not see things in motion. When he opened the window blind, suddenly a wind blew the trees in the yard, and the leaves flew all over the sky. However, he did not see any signs of motion. He understood what the text spoke of as, “Streams and rivers run into the ocean and yet there is no flowing.” [Han-shan Te-Ching (1546 – 1623)]