Everything I have written on this blog to date constitutes the first part of a philosophy of self. This philosophy deals with and informs everything in what we generally think of as psychology; including personality, personality disorder, personality development, mental health, DSM, and other descriptions of the mind.
To date, I have mostly been concerned with the self, the ego, the false self, our basic understanding of who we are and how we operate. This is the self that Buddhism says is not real. I agree with that; it is not real especially in the sense that it is not deeply real or ultimately real (a Buddhist term). It is transient, arising and changing with external conditions.
This is the self meditators seek to calm and see through; mindfulness seeks to observe; the self that impedes full perception and understanding of ultimate reality not because it is bad but because it is preoccupied with its own image. This self “image” very much includes language, ideas, thought, planning, memory, semiotics, and so on. Everything we do both mentally and physically.
My fundamental approach to this self has been both practical and theoretical. The practical approach uses FIML. FIML frees practitioners from the need for a therapist or any and all a priori descriptions of the self. Use FIML to come to your own conclusions. The theoretical validity of FIML is revealed by doing it. FIML theory is discussed directly in several posts and indirectly in many others.
After doing FIML for over ten years, I now see myself as fundamentally an aggregation of cognitive and perceptual functions that operate very well without a self-narrative. I still have a self narrative but am not strongly attached to the story no matter how it is told, though I will make an effort to correct glaring mistakes made by others if noticed. No one should expect to be understood by more than a handful of people if that.
From now on I intend to work more on what occurs when the self is well understood and completely calmed. What does the pool of awareness that remains see? What can it understand? Is it able to speak to the ocean of consciousness? And receive answers?
This should be possible. It is a core assumption of Buddhism. It also seems true to me. My first sans-self deep attempt to speak to the ocean of conscious began casually late one night as I lay in bed. I saw no reason to pray or be reverent. I just wanted to make contact. I said, “Can I just talk to you like this?”; meaning in an ordinary (silent) voice as I would speak to a friend. Answer was huge: “Yes, of course.” And kind of amused.
Then I wondered using more silent words meant as a questions, “Are you a dumbass like me? No smarter than us?” The answer was also huge, “No.” The experience that followed was of the hugeness. Not exactly awe, but hugeness, vastness.
From that experience, I gathered the ocean is full of fun, humor, good will, and ready to deal with me or anyone as soon as we are ready to deal with it. Part of the reason I was awake was indigestion and the whole reason I could go no further was the same. Why are we so frail, I wondered. Cut off so easily from the only thing we really want due to indigestion? But then it was indigestion which got me started.
I was raised as a Christian and still respect the tradition. I tried to get into as an adult, but it doesn’t work for me. I adore Mary and many of the stories and ideas, but as it has come down to us today, I am sorry to say it makes people weak. Always praying and asking God to do everything.
Reverence has an important place but deep respect is better. In a state of no-self, respect for the ocean of consciousness, for ultimate reality, is better than reverence.