Delving into the false sense of self

We must be thankful to Eckhart Tolle.

With simple and contemporary words, Tolle has taken mysticism and burdensome reverence right out of spirituality, and presented the essence of natural being in a very simple way.

Tolle tells us about the ego (the false sense of “I”) and the pain-body (the conditioning which unconsciously drives us). He reminds us there is such a thing as awakening.

From the way spiritual traditions deal with awakening, one can easily get the idea that awakening is only possible for long-suffering monks and nuns who dedicate their lives to spirituality. The most important message which Tolle has given us is that this is not true at all. In fact, if are honest about it, spiritual traditions are a failure.

Awakening is accessible to each of us. Awakening is simply seeing through our delusion, and when it is seen through, what is left is the natural joy of being.

16/10/10: Big Buddha Hill
Creative Commons License photo credit: anothersaab

Of course Tolle is not the only one–there are many others, and I mention some of these others on External Resources page. Tolle is especially simple and direct.

Tolle talks about the practices of presence and acceptance. I talk about the practices of awareness and release.

These are very helpful practices.

But these days, I wonder if there is a more direct way.

I want to explore this with direct experience and see if there is a more direct way to liberation.

The core delusion we suffer from is the false sense of self.

What I am doing these days is trying to recognize the truth behind the delusional idea of self.

An intellectual understanding of this is not the same as the recognition of truth, but it can help.

To start with, here is just life. Here is awareness. “I” am a delusion, created by thoughts and emotions. Thoughts and emotions create the idea of “I” within themselves, which in turn, create the circular belief that “I” owns thoughts and emotions.

“Thought creates the thinker.”

You did not exist before you were born. When you were born, life was not given to “you.” Life just is. Life does not belong to you.

There is living. There is no “you” who owns the life. There is thinking. There is no “you” which thinks. There is feeling, understanding, sensing…there is no “you” which owns these.

This is what I am looking at these days:

1. Be radically willing and radically ready and radically honest with yourself

2. Do not anticipate or expect

3. Set aside everything that you think you know

4. Do not concentrate hard, just look

5. Look. You actually have to look. It’s easy to distract yourself and go do something else, or to read more, try to understand more.

6. Look, and try to find the you that you think you are, with the intent of recognizing there is no “you.”

7. There may be feelings of frustration, impatience, and the thought that somehow you are not doing this right. As far as I can tell, this is natural part to the inquiry.

We must be thankful to Eckhart Tolle.
With simple and contemporary words, Tolle has taken the mysticism and burdensome reverence right out of spirituality, and presented the essence of natural being in a very simple way.
Tolle tells us about the ego (the false sense of “I”) and the pain-body (the conditioning which unconsciously drives us). He reminds us there is such a thing as awakening.
From the way spiritual traditions deal with awakening, one can easily get the idea that awakening is only possible for long-suffering monks and nuns who dedicate their lives to spirituality. The most important message which Tolle has given us is that this is not true at all. In fact, if are honest about it, spiritual traditions are a failure.
Awakening is accessible to each of us. Awakening is simply seeing through our delusion, and when it is seen through, what is left is natural joy.
Tolle talks about the practices of presence and acceptance. I talk about the practices of awareness and release.
These are very helpful practices.
But these days, I wonder if there is a more direct way.
I started wondering about this a while ago and wrote about here: The Red Pill of Awakening?
Now I want to explore this with direct experience.
The core delusion we suffer from is the false sense of self. You, of course, exist. But what you think you are, is an idea.

What I am doing these days is trying to recognize the truth behind the delusional idea of self.

An intellectual understanding is not the same as the recognition of truth, but it can help.

To start with, there is no idea of self. There is just life. There is awareness. The delusional sense of self is created by thoughts and emotions. Thoughts and emotions create the idea of “I” which in turn, create the circular belief that “I” owns thoughts and emotions. “Thought creates the thinker.” Thus, the delusion of “I”, the delusion of cause and effect, and the delusion of time support one another.

You did not exist before you were born. When you were born, life was not given to “you.” Life just is. Life does not belong to you. Life just is. Thoughts and emotions are not yours. You thought up a “you” and then you think thoughts and emotions belong to you.

This is what I am looking at these days:
  1. Be radically willing and radically ready and radically honest with yourself
  2. Do not anticipate or expect
  3. Set aside everything that you think you know
  4. Do not concentrate hard, just look
  5. Actually do this inquiry. It’s easy to distract yourself and go do something else, or to read more, try to understand more.
  6. Inquire, and try to find the you that you think you are, with the intent of recognizing there is no “you.”
  7. There may be feelings of frustration, impatience, and the thought that somehow you are not doing this right. As far as I can tell, this is natural part to the inquiry.
  8. It’s easy to get distracted with sort of practices. You smile at the mind’s ability to pull you away. And keep going.

30 thoughts on “Delving into the false sense of self

  1. Evan

    Hi kaushik,

    I think self-forgetfulness occurs naturally – when we are attentive to something or fascinate and absorbed.

    I don’t see a problem with thoughts or the thinker – I think it is helpful to have awareness of the thoughts and the thinker (and feelings and the feeler).

    I do think there is a me that thinks – the one typing this now. There is the you that wrote this and the me that is responding. Egotism is a problem but there is a self too.

    1. Kaushik Post author

      The self is a delusion.

      Most of us are very deeply identified with the idea of the self, and that’s why this seems like such a strange concept. How could it be otherwise?

      Consider carefully. Examine your life, through the view of the possibility that you don’t exist. Consider that everything you have done, been, said, thought and felt, has been for an idea. You did not exist before you were born. You were not given life. Life just is. The idea of you is just an assumption. It is exactly what causes separation, and the confusion which most of us suffer from.

      Consider this:

      Why are you unhappy?
      Because 99.9 per cent
      Of everything you think,
      And of everything you do,
      Is for yourself —
      And there isn’t one.
      — Ask The Awakened

  2. Jeff Lapointe

    Hi Kaushik,

    I have come to the conclusion that I don’t think it’s not a good idea to intellectualize awareness. Having been around the intellectual block so many times that it drove me somewhat mad and melancholy (how do I look??? how do I see without trying? How am I a delusion?). Intellectual material help to focus an end point in our minds which completely defeats the purpose. If we are striving to see this or Be like that then we are missing where we are right now. So how do we look?

    One strong conclusion is that my observations of myself and experiences were exactly right for me. The difficulty I had was trying to compare them to someone else or some other material to feel like I was on the right track. I struggled to believe my own observations. I have learned to trust my observations realizing I am unique and my manifestation of awareness is unique – sometimes it will be similar to other people and other times completely foreign – we are all artists painting our own picture.

    Personally, I use life as my greatest teacher – reviewing my interactions of the day to tell me whether I got angry, or afraid, upset or uncomfortable in a situation. Then I take a quiet moment to reflect on that. “Man did I feel uncomfortable around that gay person”,”boy was I ever envious of that successful business person”,”I really feel attracted to that woman (what would my wife say?)”. The reflection in some mysterious way brings me insight or helps me to become more comfortable with the idea. People are feedback for my growth, I can return to a person who upset me and then see – after some observation and “sitting in the feeling” – that the new encounter is not so strong. Wow – that is growth! By observing and Being in the emotion (just letting it run its course), I return to the situation with greater ability to be less reactive.

    Over time, being less reactive turns into an ability to respond. When we encounter a “situation” we have expanded our awareness in which we can observe … have time to think about what we want to do…and act appropriately all while still feeling some resistive emotions in the moment of the situation. It feels like the world actually slows down at this moment – that you are watching a movie and can think and act before the other person notices. Eventually, we may observe that we are free of resistance toward this person and situation – that we no longer have an emotional reaction.

    My son taught me a valuable lesson about ‘how to see” differently. Everyone knows that kids can often obsess over things to the point of tears and as parents its our job to try and distract or find another facet or value of attention that moves the child to another action. I have to literally call upon my creative forces to will a response that may change my stubborn son’s mind – a song, a small game, a surprise…. But life is like this – when a situation happens to us we need to look for another way around it, we need to be conscious that there is another possible way to do something which eventually tells us..quietly..that someone else’s reason for doing something is just as good as ours. If I can see that my son can be obsessed but is still a wonderful person making different choices than I can see other people in this manner as well. I can let them Be which is different from me – and still everything is ok.

    Lastly, I think intellectual material is a good place to help give us language and context to what we are going through. If we are looking for the answer in the material it will confuse us, if we are looking to bridge a communication gap then it can be very helpful.

    Serious awareness requires you to trust in your own process. That you as a unique Being will manifest a perfectly suited method to bring about awareness that will on one hand have many similarities to all the wisdom out there but on the other hand will add another chapter to the infinite possibilities of life. So whatever you do – just do something and keep doing and life will bring you experiences that put you on the “right” track.

    1. Kaushik Post author

      Hi Jeff,

      I agree–intellect can be a trap. Perhaps the two biggest obstacles are intellect and spirituality. By spirituality, I mean the deep attachment to religious or spiritual concepts, which leave no room for awakening.

      My resistance was intellectual. I had depended and been very proud of my intellect, and if I didn’t understand something rationally, then it was irrational. But the words rational and irrational are dualistic and do not apply to awareness.

      So yes, the intellect can be an obstacle, but interestingly, at least in my case, realization always starts with a intellectual understanding. One time when I read Tolle, for some reason I was open enough when I had not been before, and a rational understanding dawned. That I am highly identified with my thoughts made sense. The actual recognition came much later. It worked the same with releasing. And recently, I have had the complete intellectual understanding that I am living in a delusion of “me.” I have talked about this before, but now I have a rational understanding of the delusion of self, and that it arises from thought itself, and it arises because of the mind’s tendency to assign cause-and-effect (if there is a thought there must be thinker).

      There is that intellectual understanding, but the recognition has not happened. I know from experience now that if I look persistently, in a relaxed way, not concentrating, not with a lot of effort, that the realization will happen. I know that I will distract myself and will not want to do the actual inquiry and the feeling of “I” even though false will persist–because this is how the ego tries to survive.

      The way you describe your experience is very helpful. Your experience confirms that awakening can be a gradual broadening of perspective. Many people have the idea that it is one big-bang event, and perhaps for some people it is, but I think for most of us it is a gradual broadening. You also point out correctly that awakening is very individual, and the best guru is life itself. Life is continually nudging us. And you’re right, it does seem that when we are ready, the next thing we need almost mystically appears.

      Jeff, thanks for a very open and helpful comment.

      light and peace,
      k

  3. Megan "JoyGirl!" Bord

    When I saw the title of this post, I knew I had to read it. It actually dovetails nicely with what Simon Hay wrote on Evolving Beings this week. Between the two of you, I’ve found great solace and many gems.

    Thank you for continuing to inspire my own awakening.

  4. Gnobuddy

    Taking ANY belief very seriously is an obstacle to achieving inner peace. Being firmly convinced that “there is no self” is just as blind and restrictive and rigid as being firmly convinced that “there is a self”.

    When you realize that both these viewpoints are nothing more than silly human thoughts,unimportant little patterns of electrical impulses between your ears, you can smile at them and enjoy both viewpoints without taking either one seriously. Let your beliefs and thoughts entertain you, like the silly antics of a kitten with a ball of wool!

    -Gnobuddy

    1. Kaushik Post author

      A belief is not the same as recognition.

      A mental understanding that you don’t exist is helpful. That’s not that hard. The sense of self is created from thoughts, as you say, from “unimportant little patterns of electrical impulses between the ears.”

      To recognize that is freedom.

      Thanks, gnobuddy, for the insight.

  5. Dark Warrior

    My direct approach is: Face the pain directly. Be with it. Remain with it. Sustained Awareness. Persistant Presence. Suffer Consciously. For me, there is no release. No escape. My victim identity and resentment of the injustices of life are released effortlessly by practicing this very direct and painful approach.

    I had chronic physical pain, a manifestation of deep emotional pain/trauma/hurt. Then I payed Attention to my Mental Stress of thoughts/neurotic habits/rituals/perfectionism/complaining/whatever. Then I just face the mental/emotional/physical BodyMind pain directly. Through this I have seen that all of my suffering came from my ego and a very dense and heavy pain body. I know unbearable, intolerable, and seemingly inescapable BodyMind pain. I have been through Hell on the way to Heaven.

    My ego was so dysfunctional it was actually not compatable with life. Add in heightened sensativity and you have a near disaster of a life. My body became a prison so I found spirituality and had to transcend my suffering on any level I could manage. Done every treatment out there, taken all the meds, exercise, diet, study, whatever whatever whatever. The Answers are Within. Avoiding Pain is Avoiding Healing.

    This website has helped me through the darkest times of my life. I made it through by refusing to lie down and die from my wounds. I gave up many times. Allow your pain and let it erode your ego. Presencing deep pain, allowing it to be, not turning away, and holding that concentration is not fun until you feel the deep freedom and liberation! The RELEASE!!! and you are never the same after that. More will come up, more darkness and shadow. Spiritual egoic pride. I could not have done this without marijuana to ease the discomfort and allow me to meditate while really fucked up things floated into my mind and emotions and contracted and hurt my body. Kundalini may happen. I plan to use the weed sporadically but I have had major leaps of Awareness, Peace, Loving Kindness, and Freedom. Too much freedom. I want to cheat, sometimes fight. Addicted to feeling Power rather than intense weakness and fear. Now I am nearly fearless. I don’t know what Enlightenment is because The Tao is NOT the Tao. LOL. Basically though, I have almost no reason to be happy because life has not been gentle.

    There is a lesson in the pain but we don’t want to hear it we want the pain to stop. Almost nobody wants a cure, they want symptom relief. A cure is painful. Do whatever you have to to face your pain directly and Stay Wide Awake. Eminem’s new album Recovery just got me off opiates and benzos and anti-anxiety/anti-depressent/pain-relievers. Weed has pros and cons. My pain is so bad sometimes to meditate and face the internal pain of seperation from God I need a crutch until it calms down and I can be with the pain. Ego Death, or just cleansing/purification/purging/catharsis is going to hurt like Hell because it fucking is Hell. Until we die this death we will suffer and cause harm. We will be Asleep. Thank you so much for helping me Wake Up enough to not dwell in self-pity and regret and misery about my physical form and how unfair life is. I have found by entering my pain and letting it do it’s thing… but don’t let it take you over! Let the pain merge with yourself. Your “I AM” feeling inside. Let the pain flow into that and boom, HEALED. Transcended. Done. Love and do as you will and don’t try to figure any of this out because it is a Paradox and you will only waste time you could be spending looking at a tree or whatever, LOL. I have a light and a dark side and when they finally contact my essence of pure beingness I will be beyond duality, existence and non-existance, and beyond karma! The biggest bitch of them all! Karma broke me wide open to recieve spirituality and question my identity. I guess that is what enlightenment is in a way: Just simply seeing your identity.

    It sucks there is so much shit in the way but life is as life is. I have big problems in my life from what my Ego has done to me, and I resent God from time to time. I think this is an evolutionary thing and we should try and look on it as an adventure not an arduous and dangerous journey but that kind of positive energy can be obscured. Only you can be you. Just keep being the you you are and face the pain and try not to lose control because I have cried and screamed spontaneously while doing this and then had bliss afterwards or a dark mood. I don’t know any more this is as far as I have come. Good luck to you all. Thank you Kaushik. I am a wild one and have had intense life experiences and have been very dysfunctional and I have lifelong baggage and luggage so I am not free in the world of form by any means. But internally and externally, life is now on my side for a change and it all is because I couldn’t stop trying to elavate my level of consciousness so people would stop hating me and I would stop feeling so sorry for my life situation and external conditions. Clarity is all we seek. See into the Delusion. Feel into the Pain. Good luck again!!!!!!

    1. Kaushik Post author

      Darkwarrior,

      I love these sort of comments–very open and honest and personal. What you say stands completely on its own; I can’t add anything to it. Thank you for sharing so openly and helpfully.

      love and peace,
      k

  6. Philip

    What about the body as the self? Is it not true that at any one moment only I occupy this piece of space, no one else is in this bit of expanse at this point, only me is that not a separate self?. OK you can say, and I am only saying it from a point of understanding because I have never experienced it,that consciousness is shared, but no one shares my body.
    What is the point of acknowledging ‘oneness’. Once you leave the realm of differentiated existence there is no point to being different because there are no ‘different’ there is only one. Oneness could be described as boring, if its all one now whats the use in manifesting, when you realise this whats the point in carrying on? I don’t mean to sound thick but I really don’t get it.

    1. Kaushik Post author

      Hi Philip,

      There is a body of course but it’s not your body. It’s a body. No one occupies it. This is the delusion of cause-and-effect. Because there is a body, we believe someone must occupy it or own it. Because there is thinking, we believe someone is doing the thinking. No one is; there is just thinking.

      It’s not like you existed, and someone gave you a body and a brain and a mind.

      Forget about oneness and “differentiated existence.” Your mind is try to picture what oneness and awakening would feel like and it comes with “boring.” Forget about all that.

      You do not exist. Go into this. Say that it were true, what would that mean? Go into it.

      light and peace,
      k

  7. Dark Warrior

    I have to be honest with you. I am fluctuating between heaven and hell so I have a subdued side and kundalini fueled side. I don’t want to lay my problems at your feet but my life has been so blessed by intense joy and terrible pain that i know that both must be transcended and i can’t just simple choose to feel good. I have a lot of inner pain that seems first mental, then emotional, finally chronic. I had the best friends when my pain was chronic.

    Lets not get into why I am on a serious spiritual path or what my whole life story is because it would be too long and too revealing like my previous post. I struggle with kundalini sydrome and mystical psychosis and ascents and descents and its crazy, lol. Pain and pleasure vascilation. Mind and body expansion and contraction. Hard harsh lessons I just kept trying new things because I wanted Death not physical death even though my physical body was so painful and ackward to inhabit.

    The real reason I posted was to thank you because I at first disagreed with your Release approach. I was more inclined toward my own confused and disorenting, not to mention exhausting trials and tribulations. Pure spiritual challenge! I always felt like I’m being tested but now I feel more like just an Expression including but not seperate from all form. Wicked.

    Here is what changed and stabalized my life situation and mental/emotional/physical condition which was borderline Suffering. Eckhart Tolle said when your pain is deep all talk of surrender will feel meaningless or a feeble attempt to de-sensative suffering without the use of alcohol, tobacco, painkillers (opiates), (benzos or benzodiazapam), anti-depressant/anti-anxiety (I used cymbalta and am weaning off of it along with valium and medicinal marijuana), sleep medication. prescriptions, medicinal marijuana, work, money, school, street drugs, exercise, changes in diet, and all healing and holistic, restorative methods, techniques, and modality in the world will only be symptom relief. A cure is painful, so people want symptom relief.

    My situation was entirely unbearable, I used all of the above at different times with the exception of street drugs to get me through the rough downswings. Sometimes it was mental, sometimes emotional, sometimes physical discomfort to anguish. Don’t know how I made it through. I really can’t say. At all, even if I try because the answer never quite fits.

    I just went through chronic physical pain, a difficult but guided stop with chronic emotional pain, and then a brief stop with remaining mental pain. Now I can feel entire energy field with the light and the dark spots all at once thanks to you. Release. I couldn’t get any release at all except through the list of distractions from egoic suffering. I remebered Tolle saying that those with deep pain should pay attention to it and hold it there even as you want to turn away. This can lead to crying and shouting, outbursts, laughter, some sort of obvious release of extremely powerful energy or attractor field. A lower level of human consciousness, then freedom afterward.

    The difficult part here is to face the inner agonies and dark nights without symptom relief while remaining functional and productive. This is why I spilled my guts because I am healed but I still feel like I have only touched the tip of the iceberg of my karma and brainwashing (conditioning, programming, what have you). Medicinal marijuana helps A LOT! but the symptoms of short term memory and loss of vocabulary and command in the english language makes me feel like a stoned idiot with sudden illuminating realizations. Another duality for goodness sake.

    If any of this makes sense, how do I face such deep and totally false but convincing “real” pain pain pain pain pain everywhere (although it has lessened so much I am mostly truely happy and grateful but can be angry and resentful). I am open because desperation and frustration and intense suffering and real pain and really rotten feelings and thoughts have plauged my life and I can put up with this no longer. I want to take the leap but I need to be functional not Prescencing misery because I have 2 kids need to work and then eventually go to school or do something productive and helpful. Love and serve as well =).

    No release technique seems to work accept a combination of acceptance and the release techniques you speak of. So I don’t know how you can help me because you know both of these but I can’t talk to anyone else in this because it just flows out all in the open when I type and I have no shame about being human and getting hurt or sick anymore. The best and the worst happens in this world and it is all us, it is all god. The play of god. So nothing actually happens out there, it is all just consciousness becoming conscious of itself, the good and the bad. Shadow and Light and all the Greys so there is no judgement or attachement or reaction or resistance just Nirvana.

    Sometimes the falls from grace, either from transcending a limiting egoic trait, pain-body energy, esctatic bliss or simple profound peace, back down to OMFG I do not want to continue on I am so damn tired. Probably if I wait it out it would take care of itself. Problem is, I actually need to be functional NOW and produce in this moment or I risk losing a family of 4 (I am 23, wise beyond my years eh? Hey, I have been through weakness and being a total victim and social outcast to being in glimpses of Heaven or Paradise Lost. I thought would be permanent. 2 years of ascents and descents and my life almost collapsed, me as well. Not a happy story or a totally sane one but one with a freakish pattern of a heaven hell mixture that really kept me going… i guess.

    Ugh, I speak too much. Easier than talking to my counselor who is awsome by the way even knows kundalini.

    Basically… do you know of anything that will help me to not suck at life right now while I meditate and go deeply into inner pain from the mind and it’s emotions and a body that is contracting like someone just insulted or threatened me unjustly and life feels unfair and pisses me off but I don’t like to hit people. I am “sort of stable” but I want to continue weaning off cymbalt and medicinal m and occassional valium on a day of low consciousness level.

    Nobody has the answer, I don’t expect it, the last step is giving up existance so you are everything and nothing. Weird. I’ts a strange world. I just have pressure and responsability and a lot of baggage and luggage and for enlightenment you have to travel light. I can’t go back and I can’t fit in that is why it never worked it always ended up the flip side of the coin. Form contains no True Happiness because of it’s opposite. Very funny God. Lol. I guess that is why the “guy upstairs” as some people believe most people believe, is that avoiding form, or as I prefer to call it Pain is avoiding HEALING.

    How are we supposed to focus on such an immense collective of the human unconsciousness, pain and sufferings we all inherit (origional sin I guess?), as we go deeper the pain causes more and more dysfunction as the ego is cleansed, purified, purged, catharsis. Or the Ego dies. How do I soothe this Epic Change while still functioning and being useful in ordinary society. I have a social life now. But I need to work and erase debt and do a million other things like aldara cream and hemmeroid medication for the stress my body has been under. Despite my efforts, I would not be granted healing without a cure at the very heart of the problem, the source: The collective human unconscious Ego and it’s pain body.

    Best luck I have had is don’t look at the giant mass of pain in your entire being or only in one location as a bad thing and the only way to do that is to realize that it doesn’t really actually exist it is a fiction and an accident. Consciousness forgot itself. This is where pot helps but I would like to be able to talk without it obscuring my inntellectual and physical capacities and my ability to shut up which is why this darn letter is so long and possible boring or funny.

    I am down to the core, all of the surface pain has been released just by hitting rock bottom and then hearing again and again from different sources just face it just be yourself and face it and sit there and look at it really look at it. Maybe that is awareness and enlightenment and clarity. But crap keeps coming up from the sub-conscious and unconscious and my Discerning Awareness is better so I can tell the difference but it is painful to look at all the ugliness inside of me. I never hurt a fly in my life compared to those around me. Only faught in self defense and never liked putting people down but try too hard to wake them up when I myself am still learning humility and continue with residual ignorance.

    Crud, all I wanted to ask you for was how to I release this possible past life pain or bodhisatva pain or whatever crucifixtion I am going through (I know we all suffer about equally if you include the big picture), while I live my life. That means following through with the stuff I have to do while I go through the down cycle of low energy and negative states. It is killing me and I am at a dead end and don’t see the hidden door. Medicinal marijuana is a crutch and short term memory and getting things backwards like mixing them up or something is not functional while working. Haven’t been employed since kundalini left and started playing hide and seek. Argh… HOW does someone like me release? Maybe I was a bad person in my last life or maybe I am taking one for the team and edging humanity a little closer to a higher plane of existance who knows. All I know is some days are bad and some days are good and I am actually sane. Totally sane. But surrounded by crazies and there is a parable for that but F it. It seems like I can’t bear to actually sit in my own skin because of inexplicable indescribable pain and I can’t release allow or accept it so I just let it be and my life crumbles and OMG how am I not supposed to be mad at God? If you read all that you deserve a medal. You Rock Kasushik I admire your loving-kindness, clarity, insight, and calmness. I am wild when I have high energy, addictited because it feels better than weakness and infirmity. I love vitality and power and intelligence. I couldn’t talk like this in person to someone but close and just 2 weeks ago I can now hold eye contact with strangers. Yippee! If you are at a loss for words just recommend a psychologist or psychiatrist. In the west kundalini is bi-polar manic depressive, psychosis, break with “reality”, mood disorder, or even disease. The east has a much different take…

    I’m a roll solo soul but I am reaching out to you because I just applaud you. Not to flatter but I am surrounded by negativity and I am not always the light in the middle of it. Your website is perfect and drew me in immediately. Keep Being my friend.

    1. Kaushik Post author

      Hi Dark Warrior,

      If I am getting what you have said, you are in a difficult life circumstances and you are coping with bipolar illness and you have chronic physical pain. And, yes, even while we deal with these problems, life does not wait. Life moves on inexorably.

      I don’t dismiss conventional medical treatment. I tell people to do as I had done when I was struggling with depression and anxiety: use everything which is available to you. Follow medical advice from experience and qualified people. There is nothing wrong with symptom relief.

      Medicinal marijuana is fine too. It brings you pain relief and it’s under the supervision of medical people, by all means use it. I smoke weed when it’savailable to me. I enjoy the shift in consciousness. Your command of language is perfectly fine–don’t worry about that.

      Release methods do work. I’ve found that many people have hard or subtle resistance to releasing. This is of course the ego fighting back. It’s almost as if there are two people in here, one wanting to release and heal, and other wanting to hold on to pain and confusion. But of course there aren’t really two people in here. There are just thoughts. some people get angry. Some need to understand more, intellectually.

      Actually try the release method I have here. You have to actually do it. Not think about, or talk about it, or tell yourself you will do it in the future.

      And if you don’t resonate with my release method, try others, like Byron Katie, the Sedona Method, EFT or mc2.

      I also suggest that you let go of all these concepts around awakening. What Eckhart Tolle talks about in the Power of Now is about as much as we need to know. More is confusing. It’s confusing because awakening is after all not conceptual. It is not something to figure out. Tolle’s has astonishing clarity, and in part, this is because he has relieved awakening from the mysticism and burdensome spirituality.

      I am glad this website is helping you. And I am thankful for your open and honest comments.

      Light and peace,
      k

  8. Dark Warrior

    I meant keep Being, *pause* my friend. Heh heh. Not KEEP BEING MY FRIEND. Context and assumptions are a real challenge in my life, as well as projection. The mind is… dysfunctioinal but Presence isn’t. Life is complicated but YOU are not. You can tell I am eccentric, it’s because I really want people to wake up. I am tired of this world somedays, so I smoke medicinal dope and play a video game at night and then meditate and don’t remember falling asleep. Is it hard for you to look at people who are entirely asleep even though we are only half awake or we may not even be talking about spirituality.

    Silence and Stillness are key and let the wheels stop spinning or start spinning or start and stop and then only existance as god will exist. Unless I missed something. Don’t worry, even if I get it right if there is such a thing, only Realization will bring Release. Did I just answer my own question.

    Kasushik if you listened to all of that then that is enough for me. I tried not to tell you all this but I keep spilling the beans so the universe will pay attention to me. I need to accept that I am insignificant and priceless at the same time and that is really really hard to do with a mind I wish I was a squirrel or a maple tree or something. Why are we human???

  9. Yvonne

    Hi Kaushik
    I have found both this article and your last one to be both very interesting and very timely for me, given that recently I began to get a sense of what Tolle and so many others write about when they say the self doesn’t exist. Before I had this sense, I felt similar to what I think Evan seems to be feeling, and asked the question Brenda does in your previous post. What was in it for me? How could discovering I didn’t exist possibly benefit me? I had always imagined that this would lead to feeling as if I disappeared. That, I guess, is what happens when we try to understand it intellectually because our minds get so attached to their perspective. I recently read a lovely quote, which I think is by Lester Levenson: “Be open to a much more positive outcome than the mind can imagine.” That’s certainly been my experience, and I hope that maybe it can reassure anyone who feels how I felt.

    What I’ve found, is that I still feel very much that I do exist, in the sense that my body is still here typoing (oops – yes that – and typing!) and the mind is still churning out thoughts. But I no longer feel this this is me, especially the thoughts. The realisation that came to me to change my perspective was that all that I had thought was me – beliefs, emotional reactions etc, were just patterns of behaviour, patterns of thoughts passed on from generation to generation. Beyond that there is nothing. When I defend myself against someone else’s criticism I am defending patterns of behaviour that I have spent years trying to escape. I had been believing I was my personality, and that’s what for me has changed. And sometimes I still defend that, still buy into the belief that it is me. When that happens, and I react, and more and more I realise that if I am not these patterns of behaviour neither are they, and as that is all I am reacting to. Sometimes after seeing that my reaction continues for a while, and often it just stops. For example I was annoyed at one of my children a few days ago, and it the middle of arguing with her, I got a sense of how this was all just playing out the same old story and I didn’t need to do it. I hugged her, right in the middle of it all. I’m not sure if any of this means that I am remotely awakened, or if it’s even really what Tolle etc talks about, and for me anyway it doesn’t really matter. What does matter is that gradually I let go of more and more resistance to life, and life just keeps feeling better.

    Thank you for all that you do here, and thank you for your kind comment on my blog. It encouraged me to post again after over a year.

    1. Kaushik Post author

      Hi Yvonne,

      It’s hard to answer the question, “what’s in it for me?” because awakening is recognizing that the “me” is a figment of imagination. You explanation is a good one–thanks.

      I think you are getting momentary glimpses of “no-me” or “no-mind.” I think you have a rational understanding that you do not exist. I suggest you go after this now. Sit down and see that you do not exist. You say you still very much feel that you exist. Remember that the you who feels you exist does not exist. The you which persists with the sense of self is the very sense of self, and it does not exist.

      If you’re ready to look, write to me at karmarider@gmail.com (or through the about page).

      light and peace,
      k

    2. Evan

      That wasn’t my question. My belief is that the no-self tradition doesn’t take adequate account of agency.

      Who is kaushik addressing when he says that “I” do not exist. And who is doing the speaking if not kaushik.

      I do think the ethical implications of the no-self tradition can be pretty frightening. Why worry if someone is killed? If they don’t exist anyway? Or is they suffer? I think the no-self tradition can undermine any reason for compassion. Some new age thought seems to take this line.

      For me awakening to be worthwhile needs to be about connection. I don’t see how the no-self approach can distinguish between connection and dissociation.

      1. Kaushik Post author

        We have a fear of awakening. Specifically, the mind is afraid of awakening. It’s even built into our language. We call it our base nature. The implication is that true nature is irresponsible. That, without a self and all its accumulated beliefs and commandments and morality, we will be free to be evil.

        Charles Eisenstein, in his voluminous “Ascent to Humanity” deals with this. At our true nature, we are not irresponsible. Much of our ethical and moral deviation comes from the service to the self, and free from the self, why wouldn’t we be good? It is the very idea of self, and the force of collective “self”s which has put humanity on a course of unsustainable cruelty and absurdity of behavior.

        I think Joan Tollifson puts it eloquently:

        This is all thought. Whenever there is confusion and seeking, it’s a clue that thought is busy chasing its own tail. Actuality is simple. The present moment is simple. Here, there is no confusion, no problem, no free will, no absence of free will. You are simply doing whatever you are doing. And actually, there is no “you” doing any of it. That “you” is an after-thought, a mental image, a grammatical convention, a reification of some energetic flow that is truly no-thing at all. In actuality, life is simply living itself through the appearance of “you” and “me.” Truly seeing this eliminates all guilt and blame.

        Given the “wrong” combination of genetics, neurochemistry, conditioning, provocation, and opportunity, what we consider horrible things can happen. “I” could be the perpetrator of such things, or “you” could. And while we would certainly want a serial killer or a child molester locked up for the protection of everyone; at the same time, if we look deeply, we can see that they are blameless. No one would commit atrocities if they really had a choice, if they were really free. Looking closely, it can be seen that if “I” were in “their” shoes (that is to say, if “I” had the same combination of genetics, neurochemistry, conditioning, provocation, and opportunity), then “I” would do exactly the same thing “they” did, because there is no “I” and no “them” apart from the “shoes” (the ten million conditions — nature and nurture).

        Does that mean that we should be totally passive or inert or maybe wildly licentious because, “It’s all just happening,” and “We have no choice”? No. It means that the “me” who could apparently choose to be this way or that way is a phantom, a mental image with no substance. Does that mean we are powerless, that nothing can be done?

        In the end, no amount of debate or convincing is satisfying to the mind. This is beyond the imagination of the mind.

  10. Philip

    Thank you Kashik. I appreciate your insight.
    Its hard to “see’ sometimes for the ‘seeker’ like myself.

    Cheers
    Philip

    1. Kaushik Post author

      Philip, it isn’t hard. This is a myth perpetrated by collective egos who have an investment in spiritual practice.

      The core practice is to see that you don’t exist. My experience with this is not complete, but I want to be authentic so I write about this.

      You can simply sit and think about this. Did you exist before you were born? There was just consciousness existing as an infant. There was consciousness and learning and playing and hearing and seeing. And then the idea of “you” was created by “your” mind. This you is the core delusion.

      I have been talking about awareness and release here. And release in particular is a valuable practice. It’s relatively easy to integrate and it has great depth because it allows us to see the nature of emotions, and allows us to realize that to hold or to let go is a simple choice.

      But now I am also realizing that all practices are of limited value. Because they are after all about the “me.” And the “me” does not exist!

  11. Philip

    Kaushik,

    When I get to a point where I go deeply into facing the reality that ‘I’ does not exist a wall of fear arrises, its is like a high energy force field that expands in my skull. Quite frightening!
    Adyashanti says that ‘ Waking up is not for the weak of heart’ Was this your experience?

    Philip

    1. Kaushik Post author

      Philip, I’m doing this in real-time–that is, I am actively doing this inquiry now, and my experience is not complete, but I want to be authentic, so I write about it. Also, I am now rationally convinced that we can tackle this core delusion directly. We don’t have to advance ourselves through practices to be ready for it. Everyone is ready because there is nothing special required.

      I didn’t have fear–I did have some agitation and anger. Remember that the you which is feeling this fear does not exist! There is only fear. Also, this is not about trying to reach a calm state. This is an inquiry and if fear comes up, it means something is happening. So allow the feeling, and release them.

      This is from the next article and perhaps it will help:

      You look at it as if it were true and hit it from various angles. You don’t exist is literally true. So you can’t break it or crumble it or corrupt it. You sit for ten minutes at time and think. Pretty soon you find yourself thinking about it all the time.

      It’s not a meditation. You don’t try to calm yourself or reach for a spiritual or peaceful state. You actively think and look at “I don’t exist.”

      Everyone’s experience at this will be different. If it brings up agitation and anger, or peace and quiet, remember that the you which feels this anger or quiet does not exist. If you feel that you don’t quite know what you’re doing, that you’re missing some secret, remember that the you which feels this insecurity does not exist. If you feel you understand this rationally, remember that the you which claims understanding does not exist. There is only understanding.

  12. Dark Warrior

    Kaushik, you hit the nail on the head with your response. I have been searching for symptom relief for a long time, especially after kundalini experiences subsided and I was stuck for a while with ill health despite all my efforts at a healthy life. It was disheartening. Everything you said was a recent revelation for me. Several realizations have stabalized my energies and I feel more sane, healthy, and more flow. Feelings of Power and deprivation of that powerful presence have to be transcended through surrender and patience. Sometimes I try too hard… heh heh.

    I still do need some non-dependancy, habit forming, addictive symptom relief while I practice releasing. I think I was biased because I had so much stored up, so heavy, dense, clouded and burdensome and oh god how painful to live like that. Medical Marijuana and Cymbalta seem to help the most. The mood stabalizers and bi-polar medications instantly make me sick. My body literally rejects them. You can see how even though I have obvious dysfunction and am aware of it, I gravitate toward kundalini syndrome more than anything else. I couldn’t take Yoga because it aggravated my disk and sciatica. Maybe now I could. Because chronic pain has dispersed to reveal the emotional pain, trauma, hurt and then the mental mind that started all the trouble and then tried to fix things and ended up making it worse. =) lol.

    I hear the christian saints of kudalini energy and mystical transcendental experiences experienced great sufferings because they did not have eastern yoga. I don’t know. I am lost on how to deal with all this effectively. Right now I am using cymbala, medicinal M, and occasionally a valium. I really need to learn and practice a dependable release technique. I tried a lot. I have been to osteopaths, chiropractors, naturopaths, all western approaches mind and body doctors, physical therapy, read dozens of books on enlightenment, practiced a lot, relapsed a lot, faced my demons and monsters but more keep coming, lol.

    I am much better than the last two letters, moving into my mood and feelings and bodily sensations and energy field imbalances and just letting it all go. Letting it be. Because I can’t fix it and no one else can. I walk the path alone. “Straight and narrow is the path. Waste no time!”

    I got personal and typed a lot because I am obviously befuddled. It’s frustrating and discouraging to have ups and downs, hills and valleys, kundalini and no kundalini, good feelings and pure pain that you have to let take pieces and chunks from your ego. Pain purifies but only if you allow this rarely traveled path. I have no choice, for my life is very painful and very gifted in perfect harmonious balance. Blessed and cursed. I am grounded and learning discernment and filtering because people who are asleep don’t want to hear this jibber jabber and people seeking insight or presence the accompanying aura want to hear from the source and not your personal struggles and hardships. Not from what remains left un-released from your ego.

    I do have a lot to let go of and I find that part the most difficult. Being aware and raising energies and surviving depressions and anxiety I have been forced to learn to save my own life from self-destruction. I guess I still find it hard to accept pain and suffering. To pay perfect attention to it or to release it. The little stuff is easy but there is more underneath and it can be even darker and fiercer than the surface demons. Nobody has told me why I have to go through this either, so there is that to be confused about. “The lord giveth and the lord taketh away. The taketh seems a little dispapropriate from the giveth. There seems to be a lot more takething going on, but there it is.” LOL South Park quote.

    Think I could have been a sinner in a past life and this is my karma to learn from? I’m not lost but time is of the essence. I am impatient. Life is demanding more and more of me for past accumulation. My pack is heavy. The world requires me to take any more of a sabbatical. Still healing from laser surgery HPV removal and neck and upper back stress and sciatica coming back. All is managable but annoying. You are probably right, and I just need to let go of ALL of these ideas I just posted and release my concepts, conditioning, programming, brainwashing. Unlearn, unknow. Just be me.

    Here is a very short poem I wrote spontaneously after meditating without effort and letting all my mental/emotional/physical stuff rest in alert attention as I watched my own inner resistance. I don’t write poetry at all, and this will be my last post for a while:

    The Best Me I can Be.

    It F***ing sucks to be me. But it’s me I must to be. If I have to be me, then me I shall be.

    Meaning… me turns to acceptance, surrender, and forgiveness of yourself. Self realization, self actualization, and a small amount of freedom or rarely entire inner freedom is earned. This can’t be a goal, or you miss the attention of the moment and you are in future. You are not facing your pain. Facing pain will destroy the ego and your present sense of self. How scary. A cleansed and purged me will be a ME, the death of me or ME results in I which can also dissolve the sense of I AM and pure awareness shines forth to reveal your true self. Are we all suffering with this path or am I alone. All I know is that Eminem’s Recovery and my counselor GET this stuff but can’t quite articulate what might possibley relieve some of my burden so I can function and produce and make money while I try to aspire to Jesus and Buddah hahahahaha. I wouldn’t take this so seriously if I wasn’t immersed in an overwhelming amount of human suffering in my friends and family. It’s awful, and then myself… sometimes I feel like I have it worse even though I can see my freedom and light and peace on the horizon growing closer and closer even though it occasionally obscures…

    Well, no matter what you do or how you live your life “whatever gets you through the night, its alright. Wether it’s wrong or if it’s right.” Just do your best and f*** the rest. Love ya all! Thanks Kaushik had to speak to you sooner or later because your website is incredible. You are a bright light in this world, as we all are. The genius is too see through someones selfishness and darkness and see the saint with an essence equally miraculous as your own.

    1. Kaushik Post author

      Darkwarrior,

      Clearly, follow medical advice from qualified people.

      See if you can release all these spiritual concepts of karma and kundalini and christian saints. If these concepts help give structure to what you feel, well, I suppose that’s fine, but don’t get too caught up in it. You are not suffering because you were a sinner in the past. Your ability to awaken and heal has nothing to do with bad karma. There is no such thing. Karma in sanskrit means action. When our actions come from conditioning–that is karma. Just actions which arise from conditioning. When we can see through conditioning, there is no more bad karma. You don’t have go around and do good karma to balance it out, and you don’t have to suffer because of bad karma. There is no such thing as bad karma. There is just conditioning and there is holding on and there is letting go, and there delusion of self and there is the recognition of this delusion.

      Keep releasing.

      And look at the concept of “I.” You do not exist. When you were born there was a body and a mind and brain. There was no you. The idea of you formed from other people, from names and labels, from taking ownership of what naturally happens. It is the “you” which suffers.

      light and peace,
      k

  13. Evan

    Hi kaushik, my fundamental problem is why the sense of self and thinking are a problem.

    Our perception as infants isn’t terribly refined. I don’t see why it is better than an educated adults. I think learning is valuable – while talk of being unconditioned seems to see learning as a problem (I don’t see a way for this way of thinking to distinguish between useful learning and delusion).

    Our instincts can be misleading our perceptions can be mistaken. This is true of thought as well but I don’t see thinking as being especially misleading. It is silly to think that it is the be-all and end-all (as our schooling systems seem to suggest) but I don’t see thought as being more deluded than any other part of us.

    Is there a way for the no-self tradition to accommodate learning? (Presuming that you think our ability to learn is valuable. If not there is another discussion to be had.)

    1. Kaushik Post author

      Hi Evan,
      Thinking is not bad at all. It’s the identification with thought which creates the problem. The identification with thought creates a false mind-made self. And this phantom self “casts a shadow of fear and suffering” as Tolle says.

      It is the fear of awakening which makes the mind sway to the opposite duality. With the self, I am intelligent and have free choice and can learn and analyze and think. So without the self, I will be the opposite.

      Again, no intellectual debate will satisfy the mind on this. This is a matter of actual experience.

      light and peace,
      k

      Intellect does not go away with awakening. The immersed identification with thinking, which makes people believe that consciousness is just intellect, goes away.

  14. G

    I mostly like his teaching but suspect that adherents will experience an ego that is on a dimmer-switch and will appear more prominently whenever activity is required; real, permanent, universal samadhi is not in a particular practice or meditation but is a root-transformation of the ego. The mind will always be required in life so it has to be changed at its root: reorientated to existential reality instead of an arbitrary self-concept. Quieting it for periods of time is of limited value and may hinder this ultimate religious undertaking, which tends to be, as apparently in the case of Tolle himself, intensely stressful.

    1. Kaushik Post author

      I see what you’re saying and I did attach my identity to awareness. So quieting the mind does not lead to recognition. There are plenty of very skilled, long-practiced meditators.

      In any case, from any true point of view, the me does not exist.

  15. Bill Cass

    After reading many posts I feel better because I am not the only screwed up person on this path. Thanks everyone who is suffering with this insane journey. I feel better knowing. I thought I was losing it, but apperantly not compared to what I have been reading. I’m going to be ok. (and so are you)

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