floats

“When we question ego-mind directly, it is exposed for what it is: the absence of everything we believe it to be.  We can actually see through this seemingly sold ego-mind, or self.  But what are we left with then?  We are left with an open, intelligent awareness, unfettered by a self to cherish and protect.  This is the primordial wisdom of all beings.  Relaxing into this discovery is true meditation — and true meditation brings ultimate realization and freedom from suffering.” — Dzigar Kongtrul, It’s Up to You

This is an instance of a Buddhist teacher telling us meditation can help us.

Later in the same book (in the “Not Hooking the World” chapter), he writes, “To free ourselves from the root of attachment, we must free ourselves of attachment to a self.  And our greatest fear — greater than the fear of any deadly epidemic — is the fear of losing our sense of self.  But no matter how devastating it feels to let go of attachment — including attachment to a self — this is what the Dharma is all about.”

But in the first chapter he says, “I remember my first experience of selflessness. I felt a strong sense of freedom and a deep appreciation of how fundamentally perfect things could be if I didn’t let my self-importance get in the way and complicate everything. I felt relieved to bring to light all my useless efforts to maintain a self.”

Sometimes they emphasize the advantages of contacting selflessness, and sometimes they emphasize the frightful quality.  How can the same person claim his first experience of selflessness made him feel free, relieved, even “fundamentally perfect,” while elsewhere saying selflessness is what we most fear?  The most frightening thing, but the first experience is sublime? It’s because both are true at different times.  It could be a little like jumping out of an airplane (something I haven’t done.)

When I’m bothered that my writing can’t feel authentic for longer than a few minutes, something that’s bothered me countless times, it’s obviously because I expect writing to be able to express an enduring self.  I’m stuck with this idea that an essayist is a self.  And what is a self but an enduring self.  A non-enduring self isn’t a self at all.

Of course there is some holding together of experience.  It is organized and held together somewhat by habits, story, etc.  Ego is that bundle and we don’t entirely do away with it, and maybe if we were selfless we would still have a social self, like an animoji we take around.   Or floats at a parade.  Floats are very interesting selves, actually.  They often have people on them, some of whom are costumed non-celebrities and some of whom are ostensibly non-costumed celebrities and “dignitaries.”  Floats float along.  A float is nothing if not persistent.  And yet all floats die, I presume.  I don’t know how or when, or if there are any traditions around it, but floats get dismantled, thrown away, maybe incinerated in some cases or just buried beneath refuse.