The self is programmed not to be forgotten. You sit there trying to forget the self – and just the trying recreates, from moment to moment, the self. All kinds of barriers come up. Every time you get to that edge of “falling away of body and mind,” something pulls you back. That is the program. “I’m here, I’m here, I’m here – you’re there.”
Teachings of the Insentient by John Daido Loori
This is a tough balance. Intimacy means letting go of “I’m here” and falling into the completeness. Yet, as any narcissist will tell you, it’s just too frightening to let go of the “I’m” and to trust that dissolving the separateness will not be as deeply wounding as what caused the narcissism in the first place. Daido Loori points out that the self-centeredness is a product of our evolution as creatures without the powers that kept other animals safe. In the face of predators, we are not fast, agile, or with special skills like the ability to fly away from danger. All we possess is our brain power and ability to reflect on ourselves. And that very intellectual prowess has resulted in both beneficial and disastrous decisions in our history. In creating the “I’m here – you’re there,” we place a barrier to being intimate with all that has, in fact, created us.
I don’t know that there is a cure for my narcissism. There will always be sticky points in the negotiation between saving the world and saving myself through a momentary comfort. This is a selfishness that is neither useful nor beneficial. But here’s a start. I can arrange my selfishness so that it takes a subservient position to compassion and wisdom.
But not everybody is going to realize (that intimacy with the earth will not permit us to live our lives in the old way), at least not for many lifetimes. And those of us who are lucky enough to find our way into this incredible Dharma have a responsibility to use its wisdom and sense of intimacy in a way that nourishes the earth itself and all its inhabitants.
Thank you for practicing,
This “intimacy with the earth” as Loori calls it, is very timely for me. There was a call to it, for me and now that I am here amongst the trees and with the ocean I realize I did not realize the depth of that call. The way that this feels like home is beyond any explaining or logic.
Perhaps a “cure” (for our afflictions) isn’t as necessary as awareness and responsibility. I don’t know if we can ever wipe clean the hard drive so that the programs no longer exist – I certainly have not done this. But we can become aware of the programs and the “commands” that cause them to run, and we can responsibly intervene at run-time.
Yesterday my wife told me of a man she met who has been sober for 36 years but continues to attend AA meetings several times each week. He understands the destructive nature of his alcohol addiction program and he is determined not to let that program get launched.
As she told me about him, I could feel the deep gravity of his life and his great commitment to end the suffering. He’s a genuine bodhisattva, the real mccoy.
Is it possible that the “remedy” is not to *try* to “forget” the “self” – as you have said; not to try to “dissolve” the separate sense of “me” – but to realize that it’s all really the Self calling the Self back to Self (as a Zen friend constantly reminds me). In other words, there really is no “separate me” that we need to dissolve. Even this “me” that we *identify* with is the face of the Self. It’s only the mind that creates this “barrier” to what IS. There is only Being (or Buddha Nature, or True Nature, or Self), being *this* that *we* identify as being a separate “self.” But the model of Nature itself is that there is no separation – there is only intimacy with our True Nature Itself – Beingness – the Self embracing Itself…
Thank you for all your comments! Carole, our little farm gives me that feeling – of Presence Beyond Words.
Barry, we need a series on addictions! I am so aware of how firmly this “Wanting Creature” has taken residence in my life. Your post today (April 21) on No River to Cross is very timely!
Christine, wow yes! I know what you’re saying! At the same time, I tend to get lost in the twists and turns of the words. Being a Bear of Little Brain I surprise myself by how much time I spend up in my head. 😆 So lately my practice is to come down from that particular mountain and sit fiercely in the body, in this skin of bag and bones – and all the other icky stuff! Experiencing that separation (mind-created or not) and noticing how it drives the Wanting Creature (Hafiz’ poem which I’ll post on Friday).