2021-12-18 Oneself (5 of 5) Forgetting Oneself
4:03PM Dec 17, 2021
So, we come down to the end of this week's theme, which is ourselves. And I'd like to tell you of a somewhat famous quote by a Japanese Zen master named Dogan. And it has he want to quote two sentences that have this dual nature of Buddhist practice two processes. So, he says, to study Buddhism is to study the self. To study the self, is to forget the self. Those are the two I want to emphasize, he continues to say, something like to forget the self is to be awakened by all beings, to be confirmed by all beings. And but this idea that one can still learn to study oneself and in the process, forget oneself, one can practice with oneself work and work and observe and be present for oneself. And at the same time, that process is that of forgetting ourselves. And this dual nature might sound paradoxical or contradictory. But as I've been saying, lately, there are a number of things that humans do, that have that dual nature. And one of them is hospitality, that we both act, we energetically and fully engage in the process of being host, while simultaneously putting some of our own desires for ourselves aside, so we can be the good hosts for and care for someone else. That same movement is present with respect, with generosity and perhaps with a healthy love, that when we love someone, that, you know, if we want to express it, and act on it, and in some healthy, appropriate ways, there's also kind of a letting go of self in the process, hopefully, it's not about just my own needs, desires, pleasures, feelings, but it's also about the other person and caring for that person. So going a little bit putting oneself aside, and this dual nature of engaging in practice, in a practice that is, to some degree, studying ourselves. And then in the process for getting ourselves. I think it's a beautiful kind of expression of, of, of have the movement of practice. And there's a number of ways that this can work. And one is that first, I want to say that sometimes because meditation practice, mindfulness practice, has a kind of self reference, you know, like, we're paying attention to our own breathing, or paying attention to our body sensations, or thoughts. And meditation, we often close our eyes with just with our own experience, it's very easy for that, to be confused with self consciousness, and in extreme situations, even narcissism, that an excessive preoccupation with oneself. putting oneself is every little detail of ourselves is so impactful, and meaningful and important, and says always says something about ourselves has something about defining ourselves or judging ourselves or proving ourselves or we need to be someone comparing ourselves to others. So it can so there's little bit dangerous, this mindfulness practice if we bring a lot of self along. But to turn the attention to do the practice of mindfulness, moment by moment, in a meditation, maybe just being with the inner experience, the breathing, the body, the thoughts, the is all settling at everything, focusing on it. To do it, well, to really well means to really give yourself over to it. So there's not much room for distractions. If we kind of sit down laxa days, sickly, a lot of distractions, a lot of our concerns can come pouring in. But if we sit down to practice in a really in a relaxed way, but dedicated way, like this is important. This is in clearly what I'm going to do in the beginning of meditation to kind of actually affirm that this is what I'm doing now. Not don't sit down casually and just let the mind continue to think. But this clarity of really giving oneself over to the meditation practice to the present moment. What that does, is it takes some of the energy of attention away from our self preoccupations, self concerns, self ruminations that we have
and It's amazing how much self preoccupation a human being can have. And I think many meditators will, will be surprised how self centered many of the thinking is distracted thoughts being caught up in thoughts where we're the central character in our thoughts in one way or the other, we have some role, it's a lot of thoughts are in relationship to ourselves. And, but as we kind of give ourselves over to some, like mindfulness or breathing, there's less energy and attention going into that self concern. And if we really give ourselves over well to it to get it, there's a forgetting of self forgetting of everyday concerns, just like what would you do if you're reading a really good book, or if you're involved in some delightful craft art project or music playing or something that you're really absorbed in it, there's a forgetting of yourself, forgetting of your daily concerns, even though there might be a lot of attention to some parts aspects of yourself to do the task? Well, the mental activity of self preoccupation concern is not there. So just simply kind of being able to give ourselves over to the practice, there's a forgetting of self and hopefully in a healthy way. As a practice deepens, we start seeing a deeper forms of attachment, stress, clinging contractions, that are there around self. And one of them can be just simply in the nature of how we're doing the practice, the practice itself brings along the baggage of self, of association with what it means to be the practitioner, the doer. And there's a simplification process that goes on in meditation practice, where everything that's extra that's not needed, you start seeing as extra, as actually not only extra, but often little bit stressful, compared to the deeper and deeper calm, that's being experienced. And so we start kind of relaxing, the grip of self relaxing, the, the preoccupation with self that can be quite deep, even subconscious, sometimes, and, and there's a deeper and deeper forgetting of self. And, and that goes deeper and deeper until, at some point, whatever, whatever happens in meditation, in our experience, there's no orientation, no inclination, to define ourselves by any of it, to appropriate any of it to, to, to either have us be against it or for it, just to kind of see it clearly in the freedom of the mind, in the mind, that the heart that is untroubled by it. But also, it doesn't attribute a self to it doesn't project ideas of me, myself and mine on it. And this kind of forgetting or putting down or relaxing me, myself and mine thinking, me myself and mine preoccupations, me, myself and mine, tightness and contraction and the fear that sometimes comes with that, or the push in that resistance, the ambition that comes with it, all kind of this forgetting of all that. So there's a movement of studying the self, in order to forget the self, we're forgetting the self here is one of the most it's like, it's like taking a delightful vacation. Everyone should have a vacation, and it's nice to have a vacation from self, it doesn't mean that you're not going to pick it up again or you're not going to take care of yourself, or you don't it's not that doesn't mean you have to have a big debate about the philosophical nature what the self is and isn't. It just means that you've radically kind of given yourself a vacation a break, a pause, a sacred pause, where self concern self preoccupation is no longer present. And, and has been discovered simply by settling into the present moment and practicing simple attention and concentration, just this just this just this breath justice in breath, who says out breath, just this sound just this just thought just a thought just a simplicity the more and more simple to be with each moment as it arises as it passes as it occurs, be in the flow of the present moment the flow of the occurrence right now, with no retrospective thinking even two seconds before what was it just happened with that was great. Even that can fall away, and no anticipatory thinking.
It just the flow of this moment, absorbed and hit the light And like you're playing music and just absorbing the music of the moment, or doing a craft or an art or reading a book, or, or maybe playing with a child that's just so delightful just to be there and in the moment with the child know before and after forgetting of self. And this is one of the great pleasures of life. And it's one of the great sources of wisdom and freedom as well. So, we started this week with respecting the self. And this whole movement that we're talking about here, is a form of profound respect of freeing ourselves from suffering, respecting ourselves enough not to suffer, not to contribute to our suffering by us or healthy kind of forgetting, of self preoccupation. So thank you very much.