Sunday Sermon

It's Possible

As I waited in bed for sleep to come, I thought of all the things I could do to fight my insomnia. I could go watch tv. I could surf the net. I could turn the light on and grab a book. I could put on my headphones and play guitar... and then I realized that my computer, my books, and my guitar were miles away. I was in Jim's bed, not my own. I'm house sitting, but the dark had made those two places the same to me. I considered that for a moment. Until that realization had hit me, I was unconciously certain that I was lying in my loft. Had I opened my eyes and looked up, I would have expected to see the glow-in-the-dark stars on my ceiling. For just a moment I felt quite disconnnected, as I suddenly dropped back into myself. I quickly became aware of the breathing of Jim's dogs, and the many different little sounds that should have told me that I was not at home.

You're probably thinking, "So what, Linus? You forgot where you were. This is probably just another of the fun side effects from all the drugs you did back in the 80s."

Perhaps, but the sensation of suddenly being somewhere else was quite startling. In a very real sense, a part of me was at Flock Hall. To my way of thinking, it was the most important part of me - we could call it my conciousness. The thing that we call "I" was definitely not at Jim's. "I" was home in my own bed, while the sack of meat that others recognize as me was elsewhere.

One of the core messages of Buddhism is that personal identity is illusory. I've always had a hard time with that doctrine. To put it simply, I don't FEEL illusory. Many teachers will tell you that ego is the symptom of belief in this illusory self, and the closer you come to overcoming the illusion, the harder your ego fights to keep itself alive. When you question the doctrine of no self, you must ask, "Who is asking?" In seeking your ultimate ground you will find that there is none, no ultimate self that is "I".

While I was still pondering my divided self, this teaching came back to me. I realized that "I" am not my body nor my mind, and yet I am both, because I am atached to that illusion. I had a brief glimpse of the truth of the doctrine of no self - of course it's gone now, and the sack of meat is telling me to go have a snack, and the ego is pushing me to punctuate properly - but I did have a moment of clarity in which I saw the folly of belief in the self.

So it is possible. The doctrines of the Buddhas are not just for monks and arhats - ordinary people can see clearly, even if for just a moment. The interesting thing about it was that it came so camly. There was nothing special about it, no bright light, no tears of joy. Just a quiet feeling of, "Ah, that's what they meant."

It would make a much more convincing story if it had happened while I was on my cushions, meditating for hours, but this story will have to do.

Go in Peace.

12 comments:

Nerdygirl said...

You once said that you figured by this point in this life enlightenment would come slowly like the lotus petals opening, not the quick fire. You might have been right.

Evydense said...

Does the doctrine of 'no self' deny the body and the mind, or does it create a new togetherness that neither of them satisfies independently? In other words, can 'no self' exist simultaneously with body and mind, or is it a higher-level replacement for the more mundane and daily aspects of our existence? I'm confused.

His Sinfulness said...

It is a tough concept, one of the hardest in Buddhism.

There is a little explanatory article here.

Hope that helps. :)

Raksha said...

I reject your reality and subsitute my own. That's why I'm posting this here.

It's a link to a discussion of Pat Robertson's claim to have leg pressed 2,000 pounds three years ago when he was 73 years old. It has the beginning of the article and a link to the full text, as well as 40-something user comments. The comments are hilarious. One person suggests that he may have been talking about British currency, while another states that this is actually the most reasonable claim Robertson's made in years.

Clayton said...

I find that if I read a book all night without sleeping, I start to think in the third person omnicient. "Is it that sort of feeling?" he asked Linus.

His Sinfulness said...

Sort of, but even that feeling denotes a seperateness that is ultimately illusory... :)

His Sinfulness said...

I wonder what color the sky is in Pat Robertson's world... because clearly, he is not living in this world filled with pesky physics.

Mark Travis said...

In A Course In Miracles, the distinction is made between the ego and the spirit.... which mirrors the distinction between fear and love, respectively. I have found this correlation to be very helpful in understanding the ego's illusions.

Also, Linus, I come to more realizations while not sitting down to meditate. I think that meditation is a practice that allows room for revelation, and not necessarily produces revelation.

Levi said...

I would tell you where I find most of my revelations, but the flock would be disgusted/insulted.

Clayton said...

as long as you don't cast bones and study the entrails of dead puppies...

Big Gay Jim said...

Raksha, RP just flung 2000 lbs of BS from one leg, and retold the story wrong. ;)

But seriously folks...many Earth-honoring traditions (including Curanderismo) believe in the ability to separate mind/consciousness and the body. With focused intention and practice, it can even be done intentionally and with focused direction. Something like an out-of-body experience or astral projection, but less carnival sideshow. ;)

I also wonder if your confusion might not also signal a blurring of the definition of "home." Too much time at my house? BTW...wanna spend a week at Chez Gay while I'm at pride? ;)

His Sinfulness said...

I want to clarify - the idea of "no self" in Buddhism is not considered an altered state, an astral projection, or out of body experience. Actually, Zen masters would argue that the experience of no self is our true state, while 'ordinary life' is an illusion...

This is why Zen has to be experienced. No matter how carefully I choose my words when describing my tiny experience with it, I am unable to convey it correctly. I'll shut up about it now... :)

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