buddha scenery

“When you believe yourself to be a person, you see persons everywhere. In reality there are no persons, only threads of memories and habits. At the moment of realization the person ceases. Identity remains, but identity is not a person, it is inherent in the reality itself.”

~Nisargadatta Maharaj

When asked about whether we have a self or not, the Buddha remained silent. His silence served eloquently as an indication that both views (“I have a self” and “I do not have a self”) were inaccurate ways of viewing our experience. The real issue which he was interested in pointing out in that regard was how clinging to some notion of a separate and enduring self, some fixed identification with name and form, leads inevitably to suffering. Moreover, like all the great sages, he was not suggesting that we take that proposition as a matter of mere belief, but rather taught that we needed to test it in our own lives, to see if it is true.

Certainly, with the benefit of earnest and conscious investigation, the person we take ourselves to be — the one we conventionally consider to be “our self”, or “me” — can be recognized as a fabrication, a mental creation, that almost everyone nevertheless bases their whole life around. Our dominant priority is the care and survival of this person, and such an attitude is seemingly hard-wired into the human animal at a very primal level.

In his book, “Buddha’s Brain”, Dr. Rick Hanson noted:

“Then the brain indexes across moments of subjectivity to create an apparent subject who– over the course of development, from infancy to adulthood– is elaborated and layered through the maturation of the brain, notably regions of the prefrontal cortex (Zelazo, Gao, and Todd 2007). But there is no subject inherent in subjectivity; in advanced meditation practices, one finds a bare awareness without a subject (Amaro 2003). Awareness requires subjectivity, but it does not require a subject. In sum, from a neurological standpoint, the everyday feeling of being a unified self is an utter illusion: the apparently coherent and solid “I” is actually built from many subsystems and sub-subsystems over the course of development, with no fixed center, and the fundamental sense that there is a subject of experience is fabricated from myriad, disparate moments of subjectivity.”


When we characterize someone as “selfish”, all it really means is that they are identifying with and absorbed in their own sense of self, though often to the detriment of their fellow beings. However, just about everyone is selfish to one degree or another, short of true and complete awakening to the emptiness of the “me-story” and the subsequent birth of selfless compassion. In fact, without a properly operating self-sense, we would be very nearly rendered dis-functional in terms of our ability to navigate the objective world. In other words, subjectivity may be necessary, but the reification of a subject is optional (and the cause of mistaken identity, with its attendant confusion and consequent suffering).

In traditional spiritual terms, the direct recognition of the insubstantiality of that imaginary creation qualifies as “Realization” (unless it is merely intellectual, in which case it is just more borrowed information that must be discarded so that true realization can eventually emerge). In any case, with such an awakening to, or recognition of, the unreality of the person, liberation from the earthly vexations can eventually pertain, but not to the fictional character previously believed to represent who and what we are.

That is the paradox of self-realization — there is not now, nor has there ever been, an independently existing self to be realized. There are only conceptual fabrications that are to be seen through and thus rendered obsolete — mental superimpositions and fantasies of conditioned interpretation that have obscured our original innocence. When they end, so too does the whole weary narrative of “me and mine”.


Nevertheless, a sense of individuality will continue to persist, even beyond physical incarnation, but not in the sense of solid entification, but more like a point of transparent wakeful awareness. Ultimately, however, even that sense will be superseded by the recognition of one’s prior or absolute nature as an ineffable expression of Source Itself, indivisible from the totality of the universal manifestation.

Nisargadatta Maharaj puts it this way:

Freedom from self-identification with a set of memories and habits, the state of wonder at the infinite reaches of the being, its inexhaustible creativity and total transcendence, the absolute fearlessness born from the realization of the illusoriness and transiency of every mode of consciousness — flow from a deep and inexhaustible source. To know the source as source and appearance as appearance, and oneself as the source only is self-realization.”


What is recognized is that there has never been any actual separation, but only temporary dream-like illusions arising and dissolving in consciousness. It is not unlike a video game’s virtual reality in which the player becomes totally identified with this or that game character, literally forgetting themselves in their absorption in the game. In reality, of course, the characters are simply expressive figments, thoughts, in the mind of the player. They only possessed the sense of separated, independent individuality that was granted to them so as to make the game viable and interesting.

Again, in such realization, the game itself is seen to be an appearance in consciousness, and that includes all the phenomena associated with the game. It has no substance other than consciousness, but consciousness itself has no inherent solidity either. Indeed, what we might call “the objective world” is only another perception appearing in consciousness, and that is actually how it is experienced – as a flash of images in consciousness, to which values are subsequently attached, dependent on one’s various conditioned filters or “software programs”.


Thus, it is seen that consciousness and its contents are equally empty of any inherent existence, even though everything we can think or know or experience is appearing in that emptiness, as that emptiness itself. All of our seeking and avoiding, all of our hope and fear, all of our “selfing” stories, are only figments or shards of this empty consciousness, and therefore possess no independent existence apart from the evanescent dream-like play of consciousness. However our current energy form happens to appear, in reality it is a transient manifestation of awareness. Essentially, we are being lived.

As the contemporary teacher Adyashanti wrote:

“When you’re not thinking yourself into existence, there really isn’t a self. All you have to do is try it for a moment. Just be still for five seconds. What happens to your name, your gender, and the person you imagine yourself to be? If we’re to find a way beyond suffering, we’re going to have to look at this sense of self that’s really nothing but a collection of memories projected into the present moment and then into the future. We’re going to have to begin to notice that what we think we are is just that: simply a thought. What we imagine ourselves to be, it’s just that. It’s imagination. Neither our thoughts nor our imagination can tell us who we are.”

Just so, when it is realized that there is no substantial concrete reality to the seeker or the sought, then the desperate search for self-confirmation and validation grinds to a halt. Nor is there any longer anything to protect and defend, except empty fantasies of consciousness. It’s reminiscent of the line from the famous Bob Dylan song, “Like a Rolling Stone”, which goes: “When you ain’t got nothing, you got nothing to lose.”

Now, there are some teachers who claim that the self is merely a thought creation, a dream illusion, unreal. However, that’s actually only a fraction of it. Stopping there would be a premature conclusion, an error in recognition and appreciation. The “self-sense” is an expression of something much more than a mechanical assemblage of mental events, and those who tend to conceptually write it off as that are missing its real purpose.

There is a tendency of many aspirants to get lost in concepts about emptiness, without also recognizing that emptiness is form. To cling to the emptiness of the self or ego is even worse than clinging to its form in many respects, because it paralyzes the natural functioning. Seeing through the substantiality of the self is merely a preliminary recognition. It then returns as servant, rather than master, so to speak.

Essentially, it is a unique and ingenious “space suit” that Spirit employs to navigate and thus enjoy the human experience, and so is absolutely necessary for life and relationships. We came here to enjoy the experience of manifest 3-D human being, and so attempting to eliminate the very vehicle by which we would do that is rather ridiculous.

All that is really necessary is to understand that it is not who we are, anymore than we are the automobile we drive to get from one geographical location to another. With that recognition, we are then free to create with it like a paint brush on the canvas of experience, appreciating it for what it is in the context of the play of consciousness itself.

Recognizing the real nature of the play is called “Moksha” in systems such as Kashmir Shaivism, in which Shiva (the practitioner) realizes that it has been he all along, playing the game of duality in all the various multiplicity of forms, forgetting himself in order to experience the joy of remembering himself. Of course, that is all just human poetic metaphor for a process far beyond the human pay grade in terms of comprehension. This is why the sages will typically revert to silence, rather than confusing minds with more conceptions that only vaguely reflect the true situation.

body mandala

For example, we might hear the phrase “entering Nirvana”, but that is again just a human characterization of something far beyond the human perceptive and descriptive capacity. Is it true “Self-Realization”? One might say so, depending on their cultural/religious conditioning, though it is not at all a matter of achieving some sort of ultimate entification. Rather, it is more like letting go of all limitation or contraction of the movement of infinite expansion.

Another way of putting it is that what we always and already ARE simply becomes evident, once we break free of the trance of identification with all that we are not. Buddhists might employ the term “Tathagatagarbha”, or Buddha Nature, to indicate the original “divinity” inherent within all sentient beings (although still dormant and unrecognized by those who are yet deluded by the amnesia accompanying the separate self-sense).


Just so, in true realization, nobody has actually entered into nor exited anywhere — nothing has happened in Reality — which is why some sages use the analogy of the dream to point to this great Mystery. In that regard, both “self” and “Self” can be equally recognized as  fantasies of interpretation on perception. Indeed, no conceptual designations, regardless of how sublime, are really applicable to the fundamental and ineffable Reality, the ground of Awareness, of which all manifestation is a luminous expression — an expression of unconditional Love.

“The state of Self-realization, as we call it, is not attaining something new or reaching some goal which is far away, but simply being that which you always are and which you always have been. The state we call realization is simply being oneself, not knowing anything or becoming anything. If one has realized, one is that alone which ‘is’ and which alone has always been. One cannot describe that state. One can only be that.”  

~Ramana Maharshi

self or Self

For further exploration of this subject, see:  

About Bob OHearn

My name is Bob O'Hearn, and I live with my Beloved Mate, Mazie, and our lazy dog, Amos, in a lovely little mountain town called Paradise, situated on the ridge of the Little Grand Canyon, in the Northern California Sierra Nevadas. I have 7 sites you may enjoy: Photo Gallery: Essays on the Conscious Process: Poetry and Prosetry: Writings from selected Western Mystics, Classic and Modern: Free Transliterations of Spiritual Texts: Love Poems and Duets with Mazie: Autobiographical Fragments, Stories, and Fables: Thank You!
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13 Responses to Self-Realization

  1. marcel says:

    “Certainly, with the benefit of earnest and conscious investigation, the person we take ourselves to be — the one we conventionally consider to be “our self”, or “me” — can be recognized as a fabrication, a mental creation, that almost everyone nevertheless bases their whole life around”

    This has become obviously clear upon investigation hence I spend “my days doing nothing” just observing, enjoying the play of elements while never allowing fabrications about ” me or not-me” for real, free of vexations and fear, just basic days of whatever unfolds.
    But so many speak of “mysterious enlightening thingies” as if there was something I’m missing (I keep an open mind) A teacher told me I just lack one thing, I have no idea what it is, and whatever comes up it is not [thus I have heard]. Perfectly at peace there’s nothing I feel like striving for or away from, but I’ve been told by that same teacher that the sense of lacking nothing or being complete is already a mistake (not sure if it was a language thingy for it is not that I walk about thinking, “I lack nothing”etc) still occassionally the mind tries to wage a war, which I just another narrative of the same play, perhaps I’m missing something but I’m perfectly at ease, I view all as if myself, I love all. This might not be “liberation” [as I have heard] but I’m perfectly fine and this transient body/mind can drop “dead” right now, I am peace, and content always. For a while now I’m not paying attention to those fundamental obsessed naggers who want me to pay money I dont have and go on this and that retreat, searching around after flesh teachers. I truly feel I seek or lack nothing, though they say it’s an error. What is it to me? I have no energy for another fantasy “me-project” I am peace, that’s all I am, at the same time perhaps I seek confirmation (a self-narrative?) anyways, peace and non-selective love, that’s all I really know, all else is just accumulated knowledge once treasured but now discardable. I have no mind for practise, and yet there’s practise, I once thought it a mystery because it cant be grasped by logic, I’d like to give this body/mind in the servance of “others”, but I dont know where or how.
    As there’s no one living a life anyway, but it lives itself, it might unfold when the fruit is matured so the direction becomes clear and know what “job” is destined, or it’s all just the same play, there’s no volition or destiny I can detect wich directs my activity, not even sure “hidden” would do it justice. Everything ever done for myself is useless and these transient satisfactions I can no longer chase, I want to give myself away not in some marketplace with a goodguy badge for selective judges, but lose myself in the service of All, of Love, nameless.

    [end public service announcement] :p

    • Bob OHearn says:

      Thank you for your comments and the thorough up-date on your practice, Brother!

      Not knowing the particular context, I would still be suspicious of some teacher who tells you that you are lacking something, or need to do this or that (such as sign up for their course).

      “He who instructs an ardent seeker to do this or that is not a true master. The seeker is already afflicted by his activities and wants peace and rest. In other words he wants cessation of his activities. If a teacher tells him to do something in addition to, or in place of, his other activities, can that be a help to the seeker? Such a person cannot liberate the aspirant; he can only strengthen his fetters.” ~Sri Ramana


  2. Bob OHearn says:

    “You need not chase the ‘I am’ to kill it. You cannot. All you need is a sincere longing for reality. We call it atma-bhakti, the love of the Supreme: or moksha-sankalpa, the determination to be free from the false. Without love, and will inspired by love, nothing can be done. Merely talking about Reality without doing anything about it is self-defeating. There must be love in the relation between the person who says ‘I am’ and the observer of that ‘I am’. As long as the observer, the inner self, the ‘higher’ self, considers himself apart from the observed, the ‘lower’ self, despises it and condemns it, the situation is hopeless. It is only when the observer (vyakta) accepts the person (vyakti) as a projection or manifestation of himself, and, so to say, takes the self into the Self, the duality of ‘I’ and ‘this’ goes and in the identity of the outer and the inner the Supreme Reality manifests itself.

    This union of the seer and the seen happens when the seer becomes conscious of himself as the seer, he is not merely interested in the seen, which he is anyhow, but also interested in being interested, giving attention to attention, aware of being aware. Affectionate awareness is the crucial factor that brings Reality into focus.”

    ~Sri Nisargadatta

  3. Thanks Bob, once again- crystal clear…

  4. Bob OHearn says:

    Nisargadatta Maharaj: Learn to separate yourself from the image and the mirror, keep on remembering: I am neither the mind nor its ideas: do it patiently and with convictions and you will surely come to the direct vision of yourself as the source of being — knowing — loving, eternal, all-embracing all-pervading. You are the infinite focussed in a body. Now you see the body only. Try earnestly and you will come to see the infinite only.

    Q: The experience of reality, when it comes, does it last?

    M: All experience is necessarily transient. But the ground of all experience is immovable. Nothing that may be called an event will last. But some events purify the mind and some stain it. Moments of deep insight and all-embracing love purify the mind, while desires and fears, envies and anger, blind beliefs and intellectual arrogance pollute and dull the psyche.

    Q: Is self-realisation so important?

    M: Without it you will be consumed by desires and fears, repeating themselves meaninglessly in endless suffering. Most of the people do not know that there can be an end to pain. But once they have heard the good news, obviously going beyond all strife and struggle is the most urgent task that can be. You know that you can be free and now it is up to you. Either you remain forever hungry and thirsty, longing, searching, grabbing, holding, ever losing and sorrowing, or go out whole-heartedly in search of the state of timeless perfection to which nothing can be added, from which nothing — taken away. In it all desires and fears are absent, not because they were given up, but because they have lost their meaning.

  5. Bob OHearn says:

    “If there is a certain notion that you have direct ‘Realization,’ it is only the delusion of a confused mind. This confusion is only the enhancement of the Illusion that is already there. It is the spectacle, the festival of Illusion. Every so-called ‘Realization’ is Illusion.”

    ~ Siddharameshwar Maharaj

  6. Bob OHearn says:

    There is no such thing as a Self-realised person. When there is no “person” the Self is realised. When there is no “person” the question of coming and going cannot arise. The body is an appearance in the Self. When the body disappears the Self remains as it always was and is. Realisation is the understanding “I am not this body which comes and goes, I am that permanent, unchanging reality in which the body and all else appears”.

    ~ Papaji

  7. Bob OHearn says:

    The ocean does not forget that it is a wave,
    but the wave forgets that it is an ocean.
    This is “why” there is manifestation;
    for sake of play this forgetfulness arises.
    The world is only for celebration.
    Manifestation is just a cosmic drama to be enjoyed.
    There is only play and it is not existent,
    and continues because whatever you think so it becomes.
    This manifestation was created by you
    and it will be destroyed by you.

    The first thought is “I.”
    Then arises “my,” which is ego,
    and then comes all manifestation.
    Time, mind, manifestations is projected out of “I”
    which is itself the projection required to manifest the play.
    Undress yourself of these things and find where “I” rises from.
    You are Shiva if you do not project “I,”
    and your Shakti-is the projection by which to play,
    Consciousness is the source of this play,
    of the mind, and That is all.

    The ocean cannot stay alone
    and so the notion of wave is created.
    When waves rise ocean loses nothing
    and when waves fall ocean gains nothing.
    Samsara, the illusion, maya, the play,
    are the waves on the ocean of nirvana.
    Waves are not separate from the ocean,
    rays are not separate from the sun,
    You are not separate from

    ~ Papaji

  8. Bob OHearn says:

    Ramana Maharshi once said (he may have been quoting the Vedas), “The Self alone is real; The world is not real; The Self is the world.” The Course in Miracles begins with a short summation of the Course: “Nothing real can be threatened. Nothing unreal exists. Herein lies the peace of God.” How are we to understand such statements? I can’t speak for Ramana or TCIM, but I’ll share my take. [Warning to those of you who don’t like my long posts: this is one of them].

    Each of us experiences a completely unique world, formed through the lens of our unique organism and its one-of-a-kind conditioning. Realizing this may at first make it seem that “I” am completely isolated and can find only relative truths. But that solipsistic sense of being isolated in our own airtight bubble, unable to see beyond it, doomed forever to nothing but a partial view of what we can never see accurately or wholly—that view is predicated on the assumption that we actually ARE a separate fragment in a divided world of separate parts, that there actually IS some inherent, objective, observer-independent reality “out there,” that subject and object are two separate things. When we identify as that separate fragment, when that encapsulated and isolated self seems to be our reality, our experience is inevitably one of alienation, lack, desire for completion and fear of death—with brief moments of happiness interspersed.

    But in looking more closely, we may discover that we are not really separate from what we THINK of as “out there,” that in reality, the billions of unique beings are more like the jewels in Indra’s Net, each of which is only a reflection of all the others. Or as the great Zen master Dogen put it in Genjokoan: “Although the light is wide and great, the moon is reflected even in a puddle an inch wide. The whole moon and the entire sky are reflected in dewdrops on the grass, or even in one drop of water…Each reflection, however long or short its duration, manifests the vastness of the dewdrop, and realizes the limitlessness of the moonlight in the sky.”

    We may also discover directly that when we say “I”, before our name and our self-image and any of our stories and ideas about who we are, the most fundamental sense to which that word refers is simply unbound aware presence, the undivided beingness prior to name and form, the knowingness of being present, the undoubtable Here / Now, the undeniable suchness of this present happening, the inconceivable and imperceptible vastness that is prior to even the first sense of conscious presence. In this deeper sense of who (or what) we are, we all refer to the same primordial awareness and aliveness when we say “I.” We are all the same I, the same Self, beholding ourSelf from different angles and in different disguises.

    Everything perceivable and conceivable—me and you, your movie of waking life, my movie of waking life, my opinions and your opinions—appears Here / Now as one whole undivided happening, all of it this vast awaring emptiness that can never be grasped as an object. Some might call this boundless and seamless Totality God: I AM THAT I AM. Others might call it the Ultimate Subjectivity beholding and being everything, or the unseen Seeing, or intelligence-energy, or the Heart—showing up as everything. Still others might speak of it as thorough-going impermanence, in which no-thing has any fixed or persisting form. But what we call it is not what matters most, and “it” is not an “it” at all, but more accurately, the it-less-ness of everything! What liberates is discovering this vast freedom directly and opening into it, surrendering our tight, well-defended stronghold of self and dissolving or relaxing into our True Nature. In some sense, this is a kind of undoing that requires a certain vigilance and effortless effort, but in a deeper sense, it is simply a matter of noticing or recognizing what is already fully present and free.

    The world that is an illusion is the world we THINK we are experiencing, usually without even realizing the role that conceptualization and imagination is playing—the world of apparently separate, solid objects that we think is “out there” as an objective and substantial reality. To imagine that world, we must overlook emptiness or wholeness, and we must identify as one of those conceptual objects (“me”), ignoring the awaring presence that is being and beholding “me” and every other apparent form.

    This thought-sense that “I” am a separate and discrete unit of consciousness (a soul perhaps) encapsulated inside a separate and discrete body—a body that was born at a certain moment of time, that persists for a certain duration, and that will eventually at some point cease to exist—is the fundamental illusion. It is based not in our actual experiencing, which we tend to ignore, but rather, in how we THINK about that experiencing. Thought freezes and divides what is actually fluid and seamless. It ignores the space and focuses on the apparent objects. It mentally divides up seamless unicity—THIS that is as truly indivisible as the crest and trough of a wave—into seemingly irreconcilable parts. It takes personally and claims authorship of what is arising spontaneously. This illusion of the dualistic universe and the separate, encapsulated self at the control panel of “my” life is all a kind of mirage—it looks real, but when we turn to examine it more closely, nothing is there. It evaporates into thin air.

    When we inquire deeply and look closely, we realize that whatever appears (including “me” and “this bodymind” and “the world”) has no fixed, persisting, observer-independent, inherent reality. We see directly that everything we perceive and think and conceive is empty of any independent or substantial existence, that everything is an undivided happening with no borders or seams, and that “I” am not separate from “it.” Subject and object are one. The boundary-line is imaginary. Seer-seeing-seen are purely conceptual divisions. “The world” is not “out there” and “I” am not “in here.” These are purely notional distinctions separating imaginary entities that only SEEM to exist and persist as enduring forms. One way of expressing this realization is to say that everything is empty of self, that the Ultimate Truth is groundlessness. Another way of expressing the same realization is to say that all there is, is the Self (the One-without-a-second).

    And in the end, we see that even “the Self” or “emptiness” is empty, meaning that these terms do not refer to “something” that can be objectified or grasped. The Self or emptiness is not some giant “thing” that contains all the other smaller things. Rather, these words point to the no-thing-ness of everything, the openness, the fluidity, the energetic aliveness, the boundlessness, the undivided immediacy, the suchness, the This-Here-Now-ness that includes everything and sticks to nothing. Everything is dissolving second by second, and yet this groundlessness is indestructible and ever-present. Realizing this is freedom.

    Awake to this, we see the same shapes and colors as before—the same apparent world, and we still think the same mundane thoughts about how “I need to feed the cat,” and we still function perfectly well in daily life (better actually)—but without believing in the illusion of being a separate, encapsulated unit of consciousness that must be always on guard against anything that might threaten us or wipe us out. Yes, we still look both ways before dashing across the street, but we don’t live in fear of death, for we realize there is truly no-thing to die. And there is no self to defend.

    We see that the wholeness of being (the Self, emptiness, Totality, the Heart, primordial awareness, unicity, the groundless ground, God) never comes and goes. It has never been absent. It SEEMS to come and go in the beginning because we reference it as a particular experience, and of course, all experiences are transitory. Eventually we realize that awareness (emptiness, wholeness, the Self) is not an object—it is not a particular experience, this but not that. We begin to see that what comes and goes is not awareness or the Self, but rather the thought-sense of encapsulation and separation. Awareness doesn’t disappear; the me-mirage comes back. Awareness is still here, even during the appearance of the mirage, beholding this appearance. And this mirage is nothing other than the Self (which is all there is) appearing as this momentary sense of separation. However real this separation seems, whenever we look more closely, we find that the separation and the “me” are both empty—they have no actual reality. It is always only a mirage. And we recognize that the awareness beholding that mirage has never been damaged, just as the fire in the movie never burns the screen. The wholeness of being is always complete.

    Of course, we need some degree of identity as a bodymind to function—we need to be able to discern the difference between our finger and the carrot we are cutting up, or between our body and the bus we are trying to board. We need to know whose name to respond to, whose mail to open. This functional sense of identity as a particular person arises intermittently as needed. And for most of us, the more dysfunctional sense of identity as “me” (the kind that gives rise to defensiveness, hurt feelings, fear of death, outbursts of self-righteous anger, and so on) also shows up periodically. But neither of these appearances ever destroys or damages the awareness in which it appears.

    When we take these periodic flare-ups of the me-illusion personally, that in itself is more of the same illusion, for it is only from the perspective of the separate me that we give personal meaning to how often this illusion still happens “to me,” or how “I” compare to somebody else in this regard. From the perspective of the undivided Self, none of this has any actual persisting or inherent reality. No one owns any of it. It doesn’t mean anything. It SEEMS very real and important from the perspective of the fragment, but in fact, it’s only a dream-like appearance, gone as soon as it arrives. And the “me” in the dream is part of the dream.

    “Nothing real can be threatened, nothing unreal exists” – this speaks to the deepest truth, but at the same time, it would be unfortunate if this were taken on as nothing more than an idea or a belief and then used to undermine a struggle for social justice or to ignore a genocide. The pathless path of awakening on the spot is not about denying or ignoring this human reality, but rather, seeing and acting in the world from a place that includes the whole Truth, relative and absolute.

    So we return to where we began: “The Self alone is real; The world is not real; The Self is the world.” This so beautifully points to not ignoring or denying the relative world (which is, after all, our own Self), but at the same time, not ignoring the larger context and the deeper truth, and not getting mesmerized and entranced by false dramas—battling with phantoms and ghosts, defending mental images, struggling to control the uncontrollable. When we see the world from that tight, defended, fearful, angry, dualistic place of identification with the separate self, that is our human suffering. When we see the world from spaciousness, as ourSelf, that changes everything.

    This is where Anam Thubten’s question from one of my recent posts (6/21/15) is so helpful: What holds us back from awakening to Ultimate Truth right now in this very moment? Are the apparent obstacles that the mind throws out real or are they mirages? Can we even find this one who is supposedly not awake? Who am I really? Can we find any beginning or any ending or any place where I am not? Is space itself (or awareness) in any way disturbed, damaged, broken or destroyed by anything in the movie of waking life? What is real in this very moment?

    ~Joan Tollifson

  9. Bob OHearn says:

    When the body is born, all kinds of things happen to it and you take part in them, because you take yourself to be the body. You are like the man in the cinema house, laughing and crying with the picture, though knowing fully well that he is all the time in his seat and the picture is but the play of light. It is enough to shift attention from the screen to oneself to break the spell. When the body dies, the kind of life you live now — succession of physical and mental events — comes to an end. It can end even now — without waiting for the death of the body — it is enough to shift attention to the Self and keep it there. All happens as if there is a mysterious power that creates and moves everything. realise that you are not the mover, only the observer, and you will be at peace.


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