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Investigating The Self
13m

Investigating The Self

Turn inward to investigate the self.

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[Thomas McConkie, Mindfulness Teacher] The Gospel and Dharma both have their unique ways, their languages, their skillful means of investigating the self. The tendency in Buddhism is to point to a no self, the , the authentic human being with no fixed position. In Christianity, we have language like nailing the self, the false self to the cross and letting it be crucified and allowing a true self to be resurrected and participate in the risen life of Christ. Whatever language we use, there's a direct experience that these maps and traditions are pointing to. So I'd like to just take you through a little tour of how we might investigate the self in a more direct way, and based on what you discover, you can make your own conclusions and draw your own map. Start by allowing your awareness to become really open and spacious. It's as if it's filling the entire room that you're sitting in. Or if you're outside, it's as if it's filling all of the sky, all of space. Just tune into a sense of spaciousness, spacious, openness. As you get a sense of this quality of openness, you can join awareness to the openness so that the space seems to become aware, all of space being open awareness now. From every angle, every perspective, every direction, space is open and aware. And in this open awareness, I want you to sweep through the physical body rapidly, noticing anywhere in the body where a sense of self tends to arise. We take for granted that there's a self that's solid, that's a thing. But when we really investigate the matter, we look at the sensations we associate with being a self, we're often surprised by what we find. If you feel a sense of self in the head, then bring awareness to the head and sweep through it rapidly as open awareness. And if you think you find a sense of self here in the head, I want you to go deeper into sensation, deeper and deeper. If you feel like a self in the brain, then zoom into the tissue of the brain. If you feel a self in the tissue, zoom into the cellular structure of the tissue. If you feel a sense of self in the cells, zoom into the open space within the cells, keep zooming in deeper and deeper until you find nothing but openness. Do this again and again rapidly many times through the body. If there's something in the chest that feels like a self, zoom in, sweep through it, shine a light into it. If you feel like you find something solid, zoom in closer and closer and closer, don't think about it. Just bring your fullest open awareness to any sensation that feels like a self. What a relief as we start to realize we never run into anything absolutely solid. Everything insubstantial, always changing, rising, and passing. Let awareness relax, letting sensory events come and go. Sound, sight, sensation. Just letting it effortlessly come and go like waves on the surface of an ocean, awareness takes the shape in a given moment of seeing, of hearing, of feeling. What felt like a self looking out at a solid world starts to yield to a more wavelike movement, sensation, just a modulation of awareness, awareness taking the shape of sensation, sound awareness taking the shape of hearing, sight awareness taking the shape of seeing. Relaxing. You can appreciate just a simple feeling of beingness. Of course you don't cease to exist, but you'll start to experience a range of solidity to transparency. No self is no self as thing, but an endless process of doing like a wave on the surface of an ocean. The wave never decouples, never disconnects from the entirety of the ocean itself. In the same way, you, the no self as thing, are an endless process, endlessly joined with all processes, all activity, all waves. Just allow yourself to flow, allow yourself to change and to be changed, to be shaped, to be molded by the activity of impermanence, by the activity of love. Stay with this basic rhythm. If at any point you feel a self starting to solidify, starting to fixate, you can bring full awareness to whatever space the sense of self takes up and rapidly sweep through it in awareness, revealing again and again and again the spaciousness, the open quality of all experience. There's no trick here. You're not trying to make something happen. You're just seeing for yourself what's actually happening when you don't assume you know what's happening. You're actually investigating the matter of the self. To see with great openness and precision the empty nature of the self is a Buddhist approach to allow the self to be softened, blessed and redeemed by the forces of love is a more Christian approach. See which approach is right for you in this moment, bringing great clarity and openness again and again and again to a sense of self or turning your heart again and again and again towards the awesome forces of love and feeling distinctly how you are not other than this Christic love, this divine love.

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