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 My experience and leaving, Mark (Daiji) Strathern

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PostSubject: My experience and leaving, Mark (Daiji) Strathern   Mon Nov 29, 2010 9:12 pm

First topic message reminder :

I left Shasta in 1976, I had been, like Josh Baran and some others on the forum, one of the first group of those ordained in the States. I am English and had followed Jiyu back from England when she had come over very shortly after she come to the States. At this point in time she had been a Soto Zen monk for only seven years. What Jiyu taught at that time was a very orthodox Soto with some minor adaptations to western needs. She was a powerful and authoritarian figure but had a few personal foibles, a minor paranoia about English and Japanese authorities persecution amongst them. But nothing that got too much in the way of our training which followed the lines of her own training in Sojiji.
I stayed with her in Oakland and then Shasta for about eighteen months at which time I could no longer get any further extensions on my visitors visa. I returned to England with Jiyu urging me to find somewhere to set up a centre there. I found Throssel Hole farm, a hippy commune, for sale and bought it with money I had inherited. Then Jiyu came over for three months and I went back with her to States where after some time I received transmission and was declared a dharma heir being given her original Sojiji bowls in recognition of this. After about 18 months was sent back to Throssel as prior with full rights to bestow ordination and transmission. During my stay Jiyu health was not always good and her in retrospect I can see that her behaviour was becoming more erratic and autocratic.
After running Throssel for a few years very much in line with the outline of practice in 'Selling Water by the River' which Jiyu had written in conjunction with one of her teachers Suigan Yogo Roshi and a South African disciple Myozen Miyagawa, I was asked to come back to Shasta for a period. When I arrived at Shasta I found it superficially the same, however at the centre there was a clique around Jiyu that had started to practice with her a kind of massage called Jin Shin (I believe also referred to at Shasta as mudras and flows) that she had started and said that had been instrumental in her having a third kensho, though I don't exactly recall her second. The result of Jin Shin was that Jiyu and a number of others had visions and experienced former lives. I did not see the relevance of this to Soto Zen, or any Zen for that matter, I had sat with Sochu Suzuki Roshi's group for a number of years before joining Jiyu. But, whatever, who was I to know so I threw myself back into things and took the advice I had given to others on a number of occasions - that is to set a time limit at some point in the future and to suspend disbelief and judgement till then and see how I felt at that later time. However as time went on the experiences became more and more outlandish. I believe it was Eko who had been Jesus, others including Jiyu had been, Bhodidharma, St John of the Cross, Teresa of Avila, and any number of inmates and guards from German WWII concentration camps. My touchstone at the time was'Does this lead to the truth?' and this sure wasn't leading me on the path to the truth, it was blocking it. There came a point when I felt that it would be quite hypocritical if I stayed so I arranged a meeting with Jiyu where I explained my misgivings and that I thought that the visions and previous life experiences that were so prevalent were makyo (delusions) and antagonistic to true training. I left within a few days after a number of monks, I think at Jiyu's behest, came to try and dissuade me.
When I returned to England I was in some quandary as to what to do. In my absence a senior Shasta monk had been installed, but I felt that I owed a duty of care to those at Throssel who I had taught and ordained to explain my actions. I went to Throssel, still deeply confused and troubled, and explained. I said that it was of course up to them to make their own minds up. Now looking back on this period I feel that I could have handled this better, especially as I had a duty of care, indeed did care deeply, for those at Throssel. I also told Chisan/Hofuku Hughes and his wife, Kyosei, and Bill Picard who had received transmission from Jiyu and ran a meditation group in Cornwall. Some believed and split with Shasta and some did not. Unfortunately Hofuku went one way and Kyosei another and I feel badly about the part I may have played in the break up of their marriage.
A few months later I received a letter from one of the monks who had decided to go over to Shasta saying that she repudiated me because I had lied to her about what was happening at Shasta. I later learnt that the inner clique at Shasta had decided to say that I had lied because whilst I had said that those at Shasta believed that they had experiences of previous lives as Jesus, Bhodidharma, etc. this was not true because they had had previous lives as Jesus, Bhodidharma, etc.This level of casuistry confirmed my belief that Shasta had gone down a wrong path, which it looked as if it would be difficult to turn back and sadly that seems to true. A further confirmation saddened me and told of how badly things had gone wrong even at my beloved Throssel when I read a published history of Throssel and its founding in which I was not mentioned at all. If you go to Germany you will find Hitler and all his lesser cronies mentioned in the history books despite the difficulty and guilt this causes, but if you had gone to Hitler's Germany you would have found many people who written out of the history books. This is standard practice where they fear and cannot face the truth.
I have on occasion over the intervening years pondered why this all happened. At one time when I was at Shasta we were visited on a number of occasions by the father confessor and spiritual director of a group of Augustinian nuns. We all got on well with him, I particularly like discussions I had with him on the dutch mystic Jan van Ruysbroek. One time we were all sat in Jiyu's cottage and he said 'It is o good to come to a monastery where so much training is going on. Everyone seems to be in training, except of course you Jiyu.' Jiyu, clearly outraged, explained to him that he did not understand the training of an Abbess (despite the fact that he was spiritual director to one!). He never came back. I realised at the time that he was right, Jiyu was a teacher but no longer a trainee. In the pressure cooker atmosphere of a training monastery without the backbone of training, or the insight and honesty to admit that she had stopped, makyo stepped in as the outcome of falsified training and took the place of authentic experience, as she herself had taught that under those circumstances it would. Outside scrutiny might have helped but Jiyu was never one to brook outside interference or even any real criticism.
The real tragedy is the number of people that have been damaged by this. Those who where there at the time and followed down the path that she led seem to have been caught ion the same trap believing that whatever they are doing is true training and brooking no criticism to the contrary. There are those who have managed to slip through the holes in the net of Mara that was woven and hopefully in the long run they will prevail and true training become the norm again.
Gasho to all of our little sangha here.
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Howard



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PostSubject: Re: My experience and leaving, Mark (Daiji) Strathern   Sat May 25, 2013 5:23 am

Hey Jack

Think of the most profound mistake that you've ever made. Imagine the unresolved karmic inertia of that mistake continuing on unencumbered by your death. Now consider some new being with the tendency to make a similar type of mistake, experiencing on a visceral level, the full shared karmic inertia of your mistake.

It is never pleasant!

The question of is it real or imagined, is kind of irrelevant to the meditater who understands that meditation is simply where we allow all arising phenomena, their own birth, life and death..free of our fiddeling intent.


Last edited by Howard on Sat May 25, 2013 5:31 am; edited 1 time in total
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PostSubject: Re: My experience and leaving, Mark (Daiji) Strathern   Sat May 25, 2013 5:25 am

Hi. Past lives are a core part of the Buddha's teaching. He taught rebirth as opposed to reincarnation. The reason for this is anatta, no self. Therefore it isn't an individual who goes from life to life, but bits of no self. One lifetime can therefore split into many future lifetimes, or none, and if your really lucky many lifetimes can converge in one body for a party, or hate session depending on stuff (stuff being a seriously technical word I shall not divulge any more on cos I'm more enlightened than you).

For me past lives are a natural part of life, and nothing to be afraid of. They can be opened to with love in the same way that our childhood can be.

My experience of past lives began during my first big 4 year sit. I spontaneously re-experienced dying in a 1st world war muddy hole. I sat there too terrified to move til a man walked slowly up to me and bayonetted me. I sat in a corner of my room for 3 days reliving that one. No pictures, just emotion and paralysis. This happened in the context of me opening and letting out my childhood pain, and was in keeping with this.

Many years later I relived the 1st ww memory again in a cranial session, with full pictorial splendour. It was as really as remembering what I had done the day before.

I have had girlfriends clients and friends spontaneously regress into past lives 100's of times. Initially I felt incompetent in dealing with this, so trained with Roger woolgar, and lovely man who was an acknowledged expert in this field. He demystifies it for me and gave me the tools and compassionate non-panicking awareness that have made past lives an easy thing for me. I have relived 52 of my "own" past lives.

A key part of past lives is they feel real to the person reliving them, they are re enacted as if they are happening now, and feel totally personal to the person reliving them. "it happened to me!"

I'm still not sure if past lives are real and I live most of my life as if they are not!

The implications of past lives being real is fundamental and huge. If past lives are true, then we cannot be killed, and so we have nothing to fear. If past lives are not true then we are all going to die, life is meaningless beyond the biological, and we cannot escape our terror of dying no matter how hard we try.

When I was 19 I realised this so decided to explore the "past lives are true" option, as the "not true" option wasn't so appealing... Hee. Buddhism was the natural first port of call....

This thread is a remarkable answer for those who say "past lives are rubbish cos I don't remember them". Have you all noticed how difficult it is for us to remember exactly what happened to us in this life, as adults let alone children! The different versions of big events at shasta written here are fascinating to me.

The meaning and reality for them of what Jiyu and eko were experiencing at that time isnt touched on. I have experienced most of what I have read that they experienced. Not a problem, very cool even hee. And maybe evidence that past lives are true... HORRAY!

HORRAY HORRAY!

I don't want to just be biogical. No no no no no no. And no.

Scary!

Carl jungle called "just my imagination" the gate to the unconscious.

Let's all take acid turn on tune in and drop out.

The messiah's handbook : "imagine the universe as wonderful and perfect as you can, and rest assured that the IS has imagined it better than that."
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jack



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PostSubject: Re: My experience and leaving, Mark (Daiji) Strathern   Sat May 25, 2013 8:41 am

Jimyo,

Thanks for noting your experience. I quite respect that people would not want to discuss it more in a public forum. Have a good quiet boat ride away from the phone.

Howard wrote,

Quote :
The question of is it real or
imagined, is kind of irrelevant to the meditater who understands that
meditation is simply where we allow all arising phenomena, their own birth, life and death..free of our fiddeling intent.

Good point. Being able/willing to experience phenomena without being forced to label it as real or not is a helpful degree of freedom. I have occasionally dreamed things with useful emotional experience and insight that were totally unrelated to any real life history. Interpreting those as karma, a visit from an angel, tapping the collective unconscious, some nocturnal kensho, etc really seemed a frantic embellishment that detracted from value. Without those embellished explanations it was much easier for me to let the experience, as you say, "live and die" without embalming it by rationalizing it with an explanation.

David wrote

Quote :
... depending on stuff (stuff being a seriously technical word I shall not divulge any more on cos I'm more enlightened than you)

For some reason J found that seriously funny. But it made it hard to distinguish clearly between irony and seriousness in what followed. But it's OK not to know for sure.

The Buddha did teach rebirth, and the literature claims he experienced his past lives. For a true believer, that in itself is sufficient. I'm more of the "faith to doubt" sort of Buddhist.
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PostSubject: Re: My experience and leaving, Mark (Daiji) Strathern   Sat May 25, 2013 11:10 am

Jack,

" The Buddha did teach rebirth, and the literature
claims he experienced his past lives. For a true believer, that in
itself is sufficient. I'm more of the "faith to doubt" sort of Buddhist."

I really like that ! Doubt in the beginning, Doubt in the middle, and Doubt
right up to the end. Why ?, because experience is definitely not to be
relied on to put one on solid ground. Two people can have a similar
experience and come to different conclusions about it. As all experiences ,
including past life experiences have a start and end, they can be said to be
in the final analysis, not real. The definition of Real being that which never
changes. They can be said to exist, which is not the same thing. I can for
example have had the experience of falling in love and, the next person
may not have ever had that experience but It doesn`t in any way define
who we really are. I would never be able to prove that there is an
experience of being `in love` to someone without that experience, no
matter how hard I tried. Similarly with `past life` experiences.

As you asked earlier, I have no problem in saying that I have had past life
type experiences. Not many and ranging from mild and fleeting to `full on`
and rather `overpowering` in the sense of feeling that I was the person
who was living the experience. This included definite physical feelings of
pain which disappeared after the experience ended. For me such
experiences of the `major` type would start coming on slowly in intensity
over a period of time until the `main events` would play out. Afterwards
there would be a definite feeling of lightness and tension released and
physical pain, if any, having completely gone. One particular experience
immediately repeated itself as I couldn`t quite accept it the first time
around. I know what I learned from it and it never returned in any way.
At all times, I knew `in the background` that the experiences were
occurring within me and I didn`t feel that there was a danger of losing my
identity altogether in the experience....which is nice !

Over the years, my understanding has come to be that the past life lives
have nothing whatsoever to do with me as my true identity. I don`t
identify with them, and am free of them. I don`t think that the teaching
of past lives holds any major importance. The majority of people don`t
have these experiences and have ..mercifully...no idea who they apparently
were in their apparent past lives. The memories are deleted, a new birth
takes place in a different time and place and given a couple of `go rounds`
, any sense of continuing identity is lost.
There may be some use to the past life teaching in giving encouragement
that any training and understanding will not be lost after death. Well, ok.

I think that a better way of viewing past lives would be to see that we are
acting them out all the time. Whilst we see ourselves as separate
individuals, doers of action, we are all the time reaping the results of past
actions without break. suffering and enjoying the results. The past lives
are here and now and we always have the opportunity of working out our
`stuff`....all the psychological baggage.

It could be tempting to think that if we have past lives, that we can get
a leg up on the spiritual ladder...a status thing really. Spiritual folks seem
to be just as obsessed with status as worldly people. Maybe more so. The
spiritual world seems to be full of cranks, false gurus and their teachings.

You said that the Buddha taught rebirth and that for a true believer, is in
itself sufficient. The trouble is, that belief is only an unexamined opinion.
It is religion. I believe that there is the existence of true faith but it is a
faith pending the outcome of investigation and inquiry.

Where are our past experiences now..including past lives...All gone. There
is only one thing that has been present through them all, and that is the
main point .
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david.



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PostSubject: Re: My experience and leaving, Mark (Daiji) Strathern   Sat May 25, 2013 11:50 am

Hi Stan, how do you know what Stuff means I never told you. Now you've told everybody!

I think people are trying to get their leg up and over as well.

And while we're on the subject of time, who says the past is gone? Who says the future isn't here yet? Maybe that thingie that is constant through it all is still constant through it all.... Now we're getting deep....

Hi Jack.

I'm glad J found it seriously funny cos I was serious about the stuff term, as every 5 year old should be!

And I'm not one for irony and I don't do ironing either.

Everything I wrote after about me and my experience is true.

Except Carl jungle is really Carl jung. Sorry Carl.

Something learnt 1st hand from being with Roger woolgar and the people around me is past life memories are very close to the surface of our concious awareness. They are very easily accessible. You don't have to be a zen tart to experience them, just to be willing to listen...


"love is listening" tic what a nit hahn

"listen a little deeper, below the surface world of "you" and discover the vistas of your entire life, of lives before. Then open in the same way to others, and the gulf between you and me dissolves, loneliness is conquered. Then let the fires of the intensity of being engulf you and inflame you until only ash remains" Sri Lampash Boti

"The mind creates the abyss, the heart crosses it" Stephen LeVine

"I was trying to get my leg over" zen teachers anonymous



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david.



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PostSubject: Re: My experience and leaving, Mark (Daiji) Strathern   Sat May 25, 2013 11:52 am

Hi Stan, how do you know what Stuff means I never told you. Now you've told everybody!

I think people are trying to get their leg up and over as well.

And while we're on the subject of time, who says the past is gone? Who says the future isn't here yet? Maybe that thingie that is constant through it all is still constant through it all.... Now we're getting deep....

Hi Jack.

I'm glad J found it seriously funny cos I was serious about the stuff term, as every 5 year old should be!

And I'm not one for irony and I don't do ironing either.

Everything I wrote after about me and my experience is true.

Except Carl jungle is really Carl jung. Sorry Carl.

Something learnt 1st hand from being with Roger woolgar and the people around me is past life memories are very close to the surface of our concious awareness. They are very easily accessible. You don't have to be a zen tart to experience them, just to be willing to listen...


"love is listening" tic what a nit hahn

"listen a little deeper, below the surface world of "you" and discover the vistas of your entire life, of lives before. Then open in the same way to others, and the gulf between you and me dissolves, loneliness is conquered. Then let the fires of the intensity of being engulf you and inflame you until only ash remains" Sri Lampash Boti

"The mind creates the abyss, the heart crosses it" Stephen LeVine

"I was trying to get my leg over" zen teachers anonymous



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Howard

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PostSubject: Re: My experience and leaving, Mark (Daiji) Strathern   Sat May 25, 2013 5:16 pm

Past lives are just one of many flaws to our egos contention that we are an inviolate bag with a name that separates us from the rest of existence.

When the issue of past lives come up.....

Ego response (A)

Doubt past lives or the dream of the inviolate bag will start to lose it's credibility.

Ego fall back plan (B)

Lay claim to the past life experience to suport the specialness of our bag..


I think that a past life is both a teaching about not feeding the ego and

the consequences for not following that lesson.
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PostSubject: Re: My experience and leaving, Mark (Daiji) Strathern   Sat May 25, 2013 8:30 pm

Howard,

If past life experiences come up unasked for, what has Ego got
to do with it ? It`s just another experience. Are you the Ego ?
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PostSubject: Re: My experience and leaving, Mark (Daiji) Strathern   Sat May 25, 2013 9:14 pm

Stan Giko wrote:
Howard,

If past life experiences come up unasked for, what has Ego got
to do with it ? It`s just another experience.

The problem I see with PLEs is they challenge the prevailing paradigm. No one thinks there's something special about remembering what they did on their summer vacation (English class anyone?), but because western thought arbitrarily marks physical birth as the beginning of the individual the notion of remembering something that occurred before that moment is controversial. In Asian/Buddhist countries does anyone care about this sort of thing?

That said what's the point? Well, sometimes things need to be remembered to be completed. In the realm of psychology/psychiatry it is generally accepted that when (usually bad) stuff gets pushed out of conscious memory it can cause all kinds of physical/emotional/mental problems. The first step is to regain awareness of the memories, then you can deal with unfinished business. Calling something a past life memory is a way of categorizing an experience which actually can be gone through without calling it anything at all. It is visceral and immediate; it asks to be felt deeply and released. Like everything else it occurs in the context of zazen. The question of identity is just a distraction. Jesus and Bodhidharma were ordinary people, like everyone else. If there is a problem it is people choosing to believe in the lie of celebrity.
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Howard

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PostSubject: Re: My experience and leaving, Mark (Daiji) Strathern   Sun May 26, 2013 3:21 am

Hey Stan



Howard,If past life experiences come up unasked for, what has Ego gotto do with it ? It`s just another experience. Are you the Ego ?


I don't know if PLE's are unasked for.
Is meditation not making yourself available for the medicine for suffering's ills?
Is a PLE not such a medicine?

Don't kid yourself with "whats the ego got to do with it". The Ego's ability to remain single mindedly focused on whatever affects it's survival, rivals any addicts attention to whatever they are addicted to.

All I did was mention two common ways that the ego can respond to a PLE to further it's own survival. The examples mentioned on this forum of Doubting of the validity of a PLE or others taking possession of a PLE are just about the EGO's response, not about the Ego instigating the PLE.

As for "Are you the Ego"?

I have no idea who or what this "you" is that you're asking about..
Meditation illuminates self and selflessness, ego and egolessness, exclusiveness and inclusiveness but that "you" doesn't really seem to be anything!
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david.



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PostSubject: Re: My experience and leaving, Mark (Daiji) Strathern   Sun May 26, 2013 6:01 am

Isan Stan Howard I agree with what you are saying. My experience fits.

Where I am with this is death is everything. I am terrified of death. If I don't die when my body dies I can relax and enjoy the show. But I am not relaxed.

If I am honest I don't know for sure what happens when I die, so I am underneath terrified.

The proof of this is the way I am. Can't escape that!

And theories ain't going to help me, any time soon.

I have watched people die, I have climbed 1000 foot rock faces, I have recently realised that nearly all zen teachers are emotional let alone spiritual cowards (they knew for 40 years about eido and publicly supported him like obedient children nuff said). So my bull¤¤¤t lie detector is now switched on.

I'd like to meet the person who really knows that when we die we do not die, and I will give them the first easy for them test, I'll take them up a 100 foot rock face roped up. That usually has an interesting effect. If they like that I'll take them up a 1000 foot rockface. If they pass that test, we can start talking about their childhood. If they have no memory of it, or have done little allowing their child inside to appear, they are really frightened underneath aren't they?

Anyone here want to tell me they know to their core that when they die they do not die?

Let's stop the pretence and theories shall we.

I'd love to know for sure past lives are true. I'd love to be able to float out of my body at will like some people say they do. Then I'd be closer to knowing. And maybe lot less scared.

Who am I?




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PostSubject: Re: My experience and leaving, Mark (Daiji) Strathern   Sun May 26, 2013 7:38 am

I propose Anne for the rock face test
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david.



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PostSubject: Re: My experience and leaving, Mark (Daiji) Strathern   Sun May 26, 2013 7:46 am

lol
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Howard

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PostSubject: Re: My experience and leaving, Mark (Daiji) Strathern   Sun May 26, 2013 2:08 pm

David's post
Isan Stan Howard I agree with what you are saying. My experience fits.

Where I am with this is death is everything. I am terrified of death. If I don't die when my body dies I can relax and enjoy the show. But I am not relaxed.

If I am honest I don't know for sure what happens when I die, so I am underneath terrified.

The proof of this is the way I am. Can't escape that!

And theories ain't going to help me, any time soon.

I have watched people die, I have climbed 1000 foot rock faces, I have recently realised that nearly all zen teachers are emotional let alone spiritual cowards (they knew for 40 years about eido and publicly supported him like obedient children nuff said). So my bull¤¤¤t lie detector is now switched on.

I'd like to meet the person who really knows that when we die we do not die, and I will give them the first easy for them test, I'll take them up a 100 foot rock face roped up. That usually has an interesting effect. If they like that I'll take them up a 1000 foot rockface. If they pass that test, we can start talking about their childhood. If they have no memory of it, or have done little allowing their child inside to appear, they are really frightened underneath aren't they?

Anyone here want to tell me they know to their core that when they die they do not die?

Let's stop the pretence and theories shall we.

I'd love to know for sure past lives are true. I'd love to be able to float out of my body at will like some people say they do. Then I'd be closer to knowing. And maybe lot less scared.

Who am I?

An interesting post. but..Death visits no more often than birth. Do you equally fear birth? .......and life is really where we spend 99.9999....% of our time except.... I suspect that time is largely subject to what distinguishes us as human and so...that "who knows "is really just a question of perspective.

Yes, you, like myself, don't know for certain what happens when our cells collectively die but doesn't everything becomes less certain the closer you examine it. Most of our knowledge, like our comfort, is dependent on not examining things too deeply.

The more interesting question to examine is "what "is terrified. Perhaps I am fooling myself but all I can find is that this "what" is simply an artifice of past actions.

Identity is just a name for feeding that inertia.

Ego is really the denial of this truth.

And so this "what" that is terrified, is really suffering's cause.

One medicine for the fear of death (and life) is to see that there is either being the dream of being separate from existence or there is waking up.

Your cliff hanging test is compromised by the human response to approaching pain, without which we wouldn't have survived long enough to have footwear. ( I do know folks that say we are just monkeys in shoes.) No offence meant towards monkeys but my point is that this may test for fear but it doesn't tell you if its fear of pain or of death.

As for Zen teacher cowardice, cowardice is just an arbitrary limit that each of us accepts of our discomfort. It is what keeps us slumbering in that dream rather than paying the costs of waking up. All of us should spend as much time in front of that BS detector as behind it.

The main hindrance to being scared is not the feeling of fear but how we deify it's antidote (comfort) and how blind we become with that practise. (like those zen masters you speak of).
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PostSubject: Re: My experience and leaving, Mark (Daiji) Strathern   Sun May 26, 2013 5:46 pm

Hey Howard,

Thanks for your reply. I didn`t really have an objection to your previous post and pretty
much agreed with it. It`s just that it left a bit of an impression that PLEs are best viewed
mainly in a negative light, as opposed to taking a neutral stance. Ok, the ego is likely to
usurp virtually anything to it`s own ends but, it tries to do that with all and any type of
experience, anyway.
In your following reply, you said.....

"Is meditation not making yourself available for the medicine for suffering's ills?
Is a PLE not such a medicine?"

I think that now balances it up nicely ! We`ve got the poison or medicine option now.
Again, even meditation can be usurped by the ego. Plenty of proof of that around.
I`m taking it that you meant the `practice` of awareness, letting go etc. There are so many
types of meditation. Further.......


"I have no idea who or what this "you" is that you're asking about..
Meditation
illuminates self and selflessness, ego and egolessness, exclusiveness
and inclusiveness but that "you" doesn't really seem to be anything!"

Whoah, steady on !.... Fair enough, I understand that anything investigated, reduces down
to Awareness in the end. No `Separate` self can be found...as an object that is ! In fact, there
is no separate self in any object as everything in duality is impermanent. Anything that
is impermanent cannot be said to be ultimately real in the final analysis. Sooner or later
it disappears. It can be said to exist though...not the same thing.
But can you really say that you don`t exist ? Does anybody think they don`t exist ? It`s
not a good position to take as the next question would have to be...How do you know ?
There has to be someone or something that `says` that there is no self in the first place !
I don`t know why this glaring fact is never taken into account ?
I think the teaching that says that there is no self is completely upside down and very
misleading. Rather it should be, what is the self ? This seems to be the fundamental
existential crisis of identity that gives birth to the identification with the body/mind and
consequently the Ego. There seems to be no safe permanent ground to rest our weary
heads on....
But wait,....We have the deal for you ! What if our real identity is awareness itself ?
The
Buddha said .."There is, O monks, an unborn, unoriginated, uncreated,
unformed. Were there not, O monks, this unborn, unoriginated, uncreated,
unformed, there would be no escape from the world of the born,
originated, created, formed. Since, O monks, there is an unborn,
unoriginated, uncreated and unformed, therefore is there an escape from
the born, originated, created, formed."

So what fits the bill ? Simple Awareness...whole, complete,limitless, actionless, non dual
and self luminous ! Without awareness, virtually nothing is known. Awareness sees birth,
death, life, the Ego and always experiences itself eternaly. The Buddha`s escape from the
born, created, formed etc. Why cannot our true identity be Awareness ? Not the practice
of, or resting in or increasing of......How far are we from Awareness ? Awareness will never
be seen as an object in the same way that the eye can never see it`self.
How to get to this point ?...again, the Buddha said, by the removal of Ignorance. Only
one thing can remove Ignorance by definition and that is knowledge/understanding.
The inquiring and doubting mind is paramount here. In very short supply in most
religious organizations !

So yes, the self "doesn`t seem to be anything" but there is virtually nothing outside it.
Anyway, by my great compassion, I`m shuting up now and posting this vastly abbreviated
reply to you...if you`re still there ?

Funnily enough, I noticed that you spelled Ego with a small `e` and I spelled it with a large
one. I guess that yours must be smaller than mine. Ego, that is...;-)


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Howard

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PostSubject: Re: My experience and leaving, Mark (Daiji) Strathern   Sun May 26, 2013 7:30 pm

Stan's quote

But can you really say that you don`t exist ? Does anybody think they don`t exist ? It`s
not a good position to take as the next question would have to be...How do you know ?
There has to be someone or something that `says` that there is no self in the first place !
I don`t know why this glaring fact is never taken into account ?
I think the teaching that says that there is no self is completely upside down and very
misleading. Rather it should be, what is the self ? This seems to be the fundamental
existential crisis of identity that gives birth to the identification with the body/mind and
consequently the Ego. There seems to be no safe permanent ground to rest our weary
heads on....


Hey Stan

Who are you playing with?

Who says they don't exist? Nobody,unfortunately, because just imagine the fun ways you could disprove it.

Not existing is different from not finding a definable you because the former is impossible whereas the latter is just seeing that we are in fact unlimited and inseparable from everything else.

This is just the shifting of identification from ego which is barrier oriented, to awakening within a wider expanse with no separations in sight.


The teaching of no self is only upside down or misleading from the perspective of self.

This answer is not understood within a mentality conditioned to protect itself, but rather through the abandonment of this protection.

The teaching of no self is the question of what is the self, when being open to the answer trumps everything else.

I'm not sure about big E verses little e spelling of ego as a representation of size. I'd suggest avatar size as a possible alternative if enough folks hadn't already pm'ed me about what they really thought I'm holding up...



Makes me wonder about that other fella's big feet though.
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PostSubject: Re: My experience and leaving, Mark (Daiji) Strathern   Sun May 26, 2013 8:30 pm

Stan,

Thanks for the overview description of your experience. I particularly find the "neutral" and rational nature of your account to be much more convincing than accounts which give great importance to it.

I'm convinced that PLEs are not an uncommon human experience. I think it helps to have a "bucket" like PLE to put that experience into so that it doesn't seem so unexpected and scary, just like my Christian friends can put theirs into buckets of God, the Virgin Mary, etc. Some of those experiences seem wholesome in reaching physical and mental catharses. I don't know if these labeled buckets are real or not; i'm not sure it matters too much as long as the experience can be usefully integrated.

We live entirely in the "reality" our mind gives us. What is real? That's an interesting unresolved question. The answer Zen gives to me is "Don't worry about figuring it out. Live it."

I do not know the boundary between the range of subjective experience that is creatively useful and that which becomes debilitating and destructive. That makes me personally cautious. The reality John Nash experienced in "A Beautiful Mind" was entirely real to him while functionally disabling him in dealing with normal life. A's story, told previously here is, one of a monk who exacerbated a degenerating mental psychosis of sorts by conflating it with intense PLEs. Jiyu's stories, true or embellished, seem riddled with at least the possibility that some were self-created experiences and "memories" -- something I've also observed in Christian communities.

None of the above is criticism of anything you wrote about. I respect the integrity of your reply.

Howard,

I know Zen extolls the value of egolessness. From anything I've read, the Buddha never taught egolessness or the value of it. Rather his teaching was that there was no permanent self -- just a flux of experience transiting the psychological levels he described as skandhas. This has been vastly more useful to me. The "I" valuing and trying to achieve "non-I" seems oxymoronic. It is however possible for the "I" to see that it shouldn't be taken too seriously, that it will change as it always has, and that the construct, while useful in real life, probably is a shell of sort -- similar to corporations which have a useful, but imaginary reality.

David,

In the one instance where I believed (with good reason) death to be probable and imminent, I was not afraid. My previous thought about it, while not full of fear, imagined it would be more intensely anxious rather than the relative calm and acceptance actually experienced. No visions, no angels or Buddhas coming to rescue me -- mostly just acceptance and curiosity.
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PostSubject: Re: My experience and leaving, Mark (Daiji) Strathern   Sun May 26, 2013 10:00 pm

David, yes our good friend Yama keeps us on our toes.

Howard I think Stan is back playing with the God of Fire again.

I, personally, have never believed in past lives so really can't contribute much to this conversation, but I also feel that reality is supremely indifferent to how well my beliefs match with it, and as usual I can't resist sticking my oar in. In the end it seems to me that if there are past and future lives and some kind of causal link between present actions and future outcomes then what counts is present action, if there is no causal link between present actions and future outcomes then clearly also what counts is present actions. Again if if there are no past or future lives and this is all we've got then again whether or not there is a causal link between present actions and future outcomes what counts is present action. My beliefs are rather irrelevant it is present action that counts, at least that's how I see it; though of course in some sense belief is also a form of mental present action.
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PostSubject: Re: My experience and leaving, Mark (Daiji) Strathern   Mon May 27, 2013 6:43 am

Hey Howard,

"Who are you playing with? "
Why, my self of course ! I quite enjoy it.

"Who says they don't exist? Nobody,unfortunately, because
just imagine the ways you could disprove it."

Excuse me ? nobody ? Ask the man in the street if he exists !
Try and film it for me if you can....I`d love to see the bit where
you disprove it Lol.
I still say, everybody knows that they exist. Why ? because
they are conscious and consciousness/Awareness is self
evident and self revealing. It cannot be negated. You exist
because you know that you exist. Knowing what that "you" is,
I agree a whole different story...as you say.

"Not existing is different
from not finding a definable you because the former is impossible
whereas the latter is just seeing that we are in fact unlimited and
inseparable from everything else.
"

Now I do like this ! because we are "unlimited".....unborn, uncreated,
undying...eternal.
"inseparable from anything else"......the `All is one` ; Reality is in fact
Non-dual ! and I agree that defining the self as an object is impossible.
It`s because the self cannot be located through the senses...as the
Buddha says. This doesn`t mean that the self cannot be known. There
is another method....knowledge. the only thing that can remove the
core problem of Ignorance. It`s the way of understanding rather than
experience. Most `seekers` dislike this aspect as they want some form
of enlightenment as some form of mega experience. Ditching the mind
that thinks and doubts produces endless training and endless trouble.
Great business for all the gurus of course.

"The teaching of no self is only upside down or misleading from the perspective of self."

Agreed....and the `No self` as well !

"The teaching of no self is the question of what is the self, when being open to the answer trumps everything else."

Yes, I absolutely agree. but what is the answer ? can we in the end
just see ourselves as one big negative ? a void, a flame extinguished ?
Sure doesn`t work for me. Fortunately, there is one thing that remains
through all the experiences and searchings and that is pure ordinary
awareness. It is the one constant throughout everything and it is always
taken for granted and ignored. It remains hidden in plain sight.
We read the written words on a page but don`t see all the white
background that supports the writing as we are busy reading.
All objects pass away but the seer always stays. We can rest our weary
heads on that.

Anyways, thanks for the opportunity to flex the old mind muscles



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PostSubject: Re: My experience and leaving, Mark (Daiji) Strathern   Mon May 27, 2013 6:47 am

Hi Mark,

"Howard I think Stan is back playing with the God of Fire again."

Hey,....party pooper ! anyway, there`s no "again" about it.
:-)
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PostSubject: Re: My experience and leaving, Mark (Daiji) Strathern   Mon May 27, 2013 9:59 am

Hi Stan - sorry to be a party pooper again but purely on philosophical grounds Descarte's 'cogito ergo sum' - I think therefore I am - which seems to be the nub of your argument is often viewed as a step too far. You can say 'I think therefore there is'. But what exactly there is is contentious, there is no logically irrefutable evidence for any particular existant. We might all be fictional characters in some cosmic drama being played out in god's mind. In fact there is a Hindu myth about Brahma which is almost exactly that.
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PostSubject: Re: My experience and leaving, Mark (Daiji) Strathern   Mon May 27, 2013 2:31 pm

Hi again Mark,

I don`t base any of my arguments..if they can be called that...
on the position of " I think, therefore I am." as per Descartes.

I would say that I am the self whether I think or don`t think.
No thought of any kind is necessary to prove my existence .
My position is that my existence/primary identity is simple ,
whole and complete awareness which is not dependent on any
objects. It stands alone. Awareness must exist before any
thought can occur. It is prior to thoughts. Thoughts cannot
exist without Awareness. further, thoughts are not sentient.
I see them, they do not see me. They occur within me and
are of a different level of reality.

So,...I would say that thoughts are me, and by extension
must be made of awareness. However, I am not the thoughts
because I am `more` than that. The thoughts disappear, but
I remain. I see them arise and I see them go.

I feel that everybody thinks on one level that they are just
witnessing awareness but don`t have the confidence to own
that knowledge due to personal and historic conditioning.
How many times do you hear old folks saying...`I don`t feel
any older on the `inside` now, than when I was twenty` ?

Anyway, when I awaken from a nice deep sleep, there were
zero thoughts for hours on end. I don`t disappear on awaking
and am aware that there were no thoughts (objects) within
me for several hours. Awareness never blinks.

I do in fact prefer that `Brahma` you mentioned, to that
Descartes theory. As I understand it, Brahma means pure
Awareness before the creation of the world. The one in whom
the creation plays out. I rather like the cut of his cloth....
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PostSubject: Re: My experience and leaving, Mark (Daiji) Strathern   Mon May 27, 2013 3:17 pm

42, dudes, 42.
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PostSubject: Re: My experience and leaving, Mark (Daiji) Strathern   Mon May 27, 2013 8:40 pm

Ah! Glorfindel, I refer you to Dostoevsky's 'Notes from Underground', I paraphrase: two plus two equals four is not the beginning of life, gentlemen, but the beginning of death.

But good to see you back and glad to hear that life is less on the edge, though as you say, thrilling as that can be for a bit.
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PostSubject: Re: My experience and leaving, Mark (Daiji) Strathern   Mon May 27, 2013 11:43 pm

Well said Stan and Mark. (And glad to see you back here as well, Glorfindel).

As Descartes might have said had he been a mystic:

AWARE--therefore I am.
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PostSubject: Re: My experience and leaving, Mark (Daiji) Strathern   Tue May 28, 2013 7:24 pm

Hi Kozan

"AWARE--therefore I am."

That`s a really good descriptive statement of the standpoint of
a mystic.

It implies a state of being...`Aware` leading to a conclusion of
the certainty of existence. It is still dependent on the `I`being
aware.

However,......

What is written is "AWARE" . All capitals and NOT I am
`aware`. This suggests an attempt to convert the language
of experience to the language of knowledge.
This is very difficult because experience would say ` I am
awareness, therefore I am` and direct knowledge would say
`Awareness I am`...no therefore. I tend to take that "AWARE"
as an attempt to denote Non Duality.
The use of words is very difficult at this point because the
vast majority of spiritual writing is Experiential. Very little is
rooted in the language of knowledge/Identity.

That taken into account your mystics statement might be a
statement from a knower of the self after all !

If the knower is confident enough to `own` his true identity,
is without doubts, then ` I am awareness` is a natural
statement of identity. It`s safe enough to use that identity
as the chances of anyone asking you, if you are awareness is
infinitesimally small . It`s trade talk only.

Best not say that you`re awareness to the cop that pulls you
over though !

Just some musings.....
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PostSubject: Re: My experience and leaving, Mark (Daiji) Strathern   Wed May 29, 2013 10:12 pm

Kozan wrote:

Quote :
AWARE--therefore I am.

If you had no sensory input or memories, would you "know" you exist? I'm not sure that you would.

We call our experience of sensation and memory an "I", and it seems incredibly certain that this perception of having an experience means that something else is experiencing it. What if the experience and the experiencer were just different projections of the same consciousness -- i.e., like a radio receiver of sorts? No modern educated person believes the music comes from the radio. It probably doesn't represent any real music being played anywhere. If it's synthesized music, it's even more abstract. Yet it seems real music is coming from the radio. The experience is conditioned by the quality of radio playing it, and it seems very much that the radio which manifests connection and sensitivity to electromagnetic waves is the source of the sound.

The freedom comes from understanding what the radio is, such that it isn't mistaken for what it isn't. It's fine that it's a radio. That's a rough analogy to the "I". If one assumes this "I" is something separate from experience and is permanent -- well that's enough to make the Buddha shudder,

Interesting speculation, but the cat meows and must be fed. Another chain of experience set in motion because "I" have to feed him.
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PostSubject: Re: My experience and leaving, Mark (Daiji) Strathern   Sun Jun 02, 2013 10:52 am

Jack,

Regarding "Kozan wrote",
Quote:
AWARE--therefore I am."

Hi Jack,

I`d like to comment on this line of inquiry of yours, independently of Kozan. I hope you don`t mind.


You said...
"If you had no sensory input or memories, would you "know" you exist? I'm not sure that you would."

Fair comment. However, you`re assuming in the first place that there`s agreement on who
or what this "you" is ! Who are you addressing ?
If you were in deep sleep...not dreaming or `half asleep`, but `dead to the world` asleep and
I abruptly woke you up, I suggest you would not be at all happy about it. If I kept doing
it..and remember in deep sleep there is no sensory reception or memory, I suspect you
would start exhibiting violent tendencies towards me ! Despite the lack of sense reception,
you would know that I desturbed your enjoyment of that state. I suggest that this is because
in the deep sleep state, there is the awareness of the experience of no objects. We all enjoy
the experience of good deep sleep...a holiday away from all objects, problems, desires etc.
Objects...and all experiences are objects to us in Awareness, are not needed to know that you exist.
The experience of `Nirvikalpa` samadhi is the same but whilst`still awake`. There are no
objects there, including a feeling of an `individual` self. There is a feeling of `bliss` and a
wish to return to that state when it inevitably ends. Unfortunately, in both states, there is
an absense of an individual self to extract the knowledge of what those states are. By means
of memory it is known that a period of non experiencing of objects took place.

You continued.....
"We call our experience of sensation and memory an "I", and it seems incredibly certain that this perception of having an experience means that something else is experiencing it. What if the experience and the experiencer were just different projections of the same consciousness -- i.e., like a radio receiver of sorts? No modern educated person believes the music comes from the radio. It probably doesn't represent any real music being played anywhere. If it's synthesized music, it's even more abstract. Yet it seems real music is coming from the radio. The experience is conditioned by the quality of radio playing it, and it seems very much that the radio which manifests connection and sensitivity to electromagnetic waves is the source of the sound".

Basically, I agree with you IF the self is taken to be the body/mind. I`m not sure if I understand your analogy correctly but it seems to be saying that all experiences occur in the
mind and it is a closed loop. But who sees the mind ? The mind does not see you...you
see the mind. Only you are sentient/aware. The mind is inert although it feels alive if you
identify yourself with it. There is a definite difference between `pure` Awareness and the
mind. Being able to discriminate the difference between the two at all times is the ` Be all,
and end all` of freedom from any objects. At this point, Reality is experienced as Non-
Dual. It`s the difference between `Do I see the world because it`s there` ? and `Is the world
there because I see it ?`
And that radio...yes, it does seem that real music is coming from it. If you say it doesn`t,
where is the music when you switch it off ? Do we say that when the body/mind dies, there
is no Self/Existence ? There is absolutely no concrete proof that the `I` of Awareness dies
when the body dies. We don`t know that, that will happen. We can see other people die and
we know their bodies will exist no longer but are we the body ? The body is just an inert meat tube seen within awareness. it isn`t sentient and doesn`t know the `I`. Nor the
individual `I` of the relative world nor the real `I` of Awareness.
Where the radio analogy falls down is that it can`t function as a radio without electricity.
Likewise, nothing functions outside of Awareness.

You next said.....
"The freedom comes from understanding what the radio is, such that it isn't mistaken for what it isn't. It's fine that it's a radio. That's a rough analogy to the "I".

Yes, the relative `I`. The `I` taking the position of the body/mind complex. Nothing wrong
with it as such, as it`s needed to negotiate one`s way in the relative world.
It cannot be said to be Real as everything in the relative world is impermanent. Only
something permanent can be said to be real. Can Truth become untruth ?



You concluded.....
" If one assumes this "I" is something separate from experience and is permanent -- well that's enough to make the Buddha shudder,"

Yes, agreed, the apparent, relative `I` is not permanent. but neither are experiences of any
kind. Can you find where the Buddha said that there is no self ? He did say that there is no
SEPERATE self and that there is no self that can be located through any of the senses or in
sense objects.
However, there is another way and that is the way of knowledge. Discriminating the Real from the Unreal. Training is essential to get to this point as it purifies the mind and makes
it subtle enough to discriminate effectively.
If you place reliance on the Buddha`s words and wouldn`t like to see him "shudder", could
you consider why he said......

"There is, O monks, an unborn, unoriginated, uncreated, unformed. Were there not, O monks, this unborn, unoriginated, uncreated, unformed, there would be no escape from the world of the born, originated, created, formed. Since, O monks, there is an unborn, unoriginated, uncreated and unformed, therefore is there an escape from the born, originated, created, formed."

Where is this `Unborn` if it cannot be located by the senses ? What can the only thing that
fits the criteria be ? If not the Self / Awareness, then what ?


Jack, I`m not being argumentative or combative here. I love inquiry into this existence of
ours and enjoy your input. It makes for enjoyable mind exercise. I`m grateful to you.
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PostSubject: Re: My experience and leaving, Mark (Daiji) Strathern   Mon Jun 03, 2013 3:15 am

jack wrote:
Kozan wrote:

Quote :
AWARE--therefore I am.

If you had no sensory input or memories, would you "know" you exist? I'm not sure that you would.

We call our experience of sensation and memory an "I", and it seems incredibly certain that this perception of having an experience means that something else is experiencing it. What if the experience and the experiencer were just different projections of the same consciousness -- i.e., like a radio receiver of sorts?

Thanks, Jack for your comment. I was actually playing fast and loose with my paraphrase of Descartes. And you are quite right, that there is no "knowing" we exist unless, and until, awareness is born into existence as a mind-body.

As Stan so effectively points out, that which is awareness itself, is the crux of the matter here.

The only thing, or one, who experiences mind, body, consciousness, or existence itself--is that which is awareness itself. I would propose to you that awareness itself is empty, unborn, undying, and (that which is) the source of existence itself.

I think that your radio analogy is a good model of the mind. Our current material reductionist culture tends to equate (and reduce) the mind with (and to) the brain--despite the fact that there is absolutely no evidence what so ever to support this assumption.
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PostSubject: Re: My experience and leaving, Mark (Daiji) Strathern   Mon Jun 03, 2013 4:58 pm

Stan wrote:

Quote :
Jack, I`m not being argumentative or combative here.

Nothing you wrote came across that way. I don't even object to argumentative or combative as part of good honest discussion. Only when it degenerates into a contest of winning or losing does it become unwholesome. There's no hint of that in what you wrote.

Stan wrote:

Quote :
We all enjoy the experience of good deep sleep...a holiday away from all objects, problems, desires etc. Objects...and all experiences are objects to us in Awareness, are not needed to know that you exist.

Deep sleep without dreaming is common state of unconsciousness. I often awake from it with no residue memory of experience to hint whether it was enjoyable or not. I infer that it must have been sleep since I awakened without any other apparent cause to attribute it to, perhaps because I remember drifting off, and because I've experienced similar phenomena repeatedly. When I awake, I experience mostly a pleasant rested state, but I don't think I can reliably conclude from that, that the the state preceding it must have also been "pleasant." As an unknown, it just doesn't have any character at all -- neither pleasant or unpleasant -- just tasteless.

What is amazing to me is that few of us human beings have qualms about going to sleep -- even into deep sleep. Most of the time it's a rather pleasant experience as we find ourselves lapsing into it.. But if we think of dying as a state like that, we become anxious because we conclude there will be no further experience of awakening to awareness.I think our fear of death is the fear of experiencing our own unconsciousness -- though that seems oxymoronic.

As I drift to sleep there is the pleasantness of relaxation. Then nothing -- a blank. Then a feeling of being rested or annoyed depending on how and when I was awakened. During the "blank," there's no experience and no sense of an "I" experiencing it. I assume reasonably there was continuity of existence only because there was a subsequent awakening where there was another flow of experience.

Franklin Merrill Wolfe, in his epigrams, wrote "Consciousness is" and then wrote of consciousness without an object. His was a mostly experiential account that I find enigmatic and intriguing. But I can't say I can imagine what consciousness without an object would be like.

You wrote later of the relative vs. the absolute "i." I can see some possibility of this. The relative "I" becomes the personal experience of each of us manifesting an impersonal potentiality of consciousness, perhaps even a collective memory-- perhaps the "Buddha nature" that life in all forms manifests. The corollary to that is that which is real (the absolute I) is also not personal. And it's the personal "I" we really want to hang onto.

Consciousness trying to examine unconsciousness is like at snake swallowing its own tail. It really becomes impossible. Even in psychiatry -- the "unconscious" is something that has only been inferred. Probably more than 99% of our body's consciousness (at the cell level, the autonomic nervous system level, the operational level of the digestive tract, the circulatory system) is mostly inaccessible to our mental awareness, let alone control, -- and it's our mental awareness which we typically consider conscious.
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