Wednesday, October 27, 2010

Mind is vast, self is a dick

As I was sitting in meditation, I observed the sense of self getting increasingly subtle.  It reached a point where identity disappeared.  This is a mind where there is an observer, but there is no identity.  Since there is still an observer, this is not full-blown “no self”.  I call it “subtle self”.

The greatest quality of this mind is freedom.  Identity is nothing more than a mental construct.  Once you experience this, a vast, beautiful open space becomes accessible.  Freedom from self, even at this limited level and even for just a short time, is the greatest freedom I have experienced so far.  Mind is vast, self is a dick.

It gets funnier.  The moment I emerged from the meditation, the first thing, literally the very first thing, that arose in my mind is my “to do” list.  The “to do” list may be the thin line between nirvana and samsara.

UPDATE (10/29/10):  I realized I'm closer to the truth than I thought.  One of the classical descriptions of Nirvana is "Nowhere to go, nothing to do, that's it".  So, it's true, Nirvana is not having a "to do" list.  Another one of my jokes turning out to be true.  Life is funny.


  1. Does this ability to detach from identity carry over into your "waking" life? Can you call upon it when you need it?

  2. At least some of it does. Once you experience freedom from identity, half your life's problems involving identity issues can be easily laughed away. The other half still stings, but stings less.

    But that's not the right question. The right question is how generalizable is full-blown non-self-ness. James Austin is an expert both on the neuroscience and Zen of the subject (he achieved kensho spontaneously standing at a train station). I'll ask him when he visits us at Google in 2 weeks.

  3. How long have you had to practice meditation before you see a state like this?

  4. BTW, thank you so much for mentioning Shinzen Young on this blog. I noticed it a few weeks ago, and I'm trying to follow his suggestions.