Realization process: the personal self and fundamental consciousness

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Just sharing here something I'm investigating experientially.

I mentioned her last year, Judith Blackstone. She's a psychologist and a spiritual writer, and combines both. She's very well versed in Asian spirituality, and I think her version of taking that wisdom and considering the value of psychotherapy and the personal self makes her a unique voice in a "nonduality" which is really an experience of unity whileh honoring and preserving the personal self. Her view is that the more we experience FC (fundamental consciousness), the more our uniqueness/authenticity comes through - they co-exist and are co-dependent you could say - they blossom together, rather than being at odds. There's no "impersonal self" when we access our being but a "personal self", albeit one grounded in something much larger than the constricted sense of ourself we usually have on a day to day basisé

The somatic therapy model she presents is very practical and adopted around the world by various kinds of therapists.

Here's something she writes in an article of hers where she presents her own version of "nonduality" (which has sources in various schools of Asian spirituality, including some strands of Tibetan Buddhiam), and how it complements a model of more traditional (though very modern) psychotherapy she aligns herself with.

This is a model than addresses therefore the dangers of dissociation and spiritual bypassing (i.e. using spirituality to cover up old wounds and the need for healing, rather than to help heal).

Quote:I have observed that nondual teachings emphasizing only perceptual, cognitive, or
behavioral shifts may lead to a particular type of confusion that is detrimental to
psychological health. The methodologies of these teachings often present nonduality
as a state in which one attends without distraction to the present moment, or
understands that one does not really exist as a subject (as in the phrase ‘‘thoughts
without a thinker’’). Although I do not doubt that these approaches have brought
some measure of relaxation and clarity to many people, they may also exacerbate
one’s fragmentation between subject and object (e.g. thinker and thoughts), rather
than producing the wholeness that the term nonduality implies.

Sometimes it is taught that we cannot know that we are enlightened because there
is ‘‘no one there’’ to know. This can be effective as a pedagogical strategy to help
the novice practitioner (momentarily) shift from a dualistic self/object state to the
openness of nonduality, but it can also be misleading, for students who will try to
dissociate from themselves as the knowing subject.

If we actually could not know that we were enlightened, we would not have the
many descriptions of it available in the world’s spiritual literature. For example,
Longchen Rabjam clearly and gleefully describes his experience of nondual
realization as, ‘‘Within the spacious expanse, the spacious expanse, the spacious vast
expanse, I, Longchen Rabjam, for whom the lucid expanse of being is infinite,
experience everything as embraced within a blissful expanse, a single nondual
expanse’’ (2001b, p. 79).

In the type of nondual experience in which one realizes one’s own nature as allpervasive
space, the subject (as nondual consciousness) does not vanish. It becomes
one with the object of experience. In this type of realization, we can have any kind of
experience without disturbing our realization of the stillness and pervasiveness of
nondual consciousness. Nondual realization does not eradicate our ‘‘lesser’’ mental
functions, such as the ability to reflect on, learn from or enjoy our experience, to
have preferences, or to remember past events.

Spiritual teachings that train one’s focus on the content of experience, especially on
the sensory world outside of one’s body, or that claim that nondual consciousness
has nothing to do with personal experience (e.g. that is ‘‘impersonal’’) may
contribute to the common psychological problem of dissociation. Rather than
experiencing the integration of subject and object, the subject is simply negated, and
the practitioner becomes fixated on the object. This is a manipulation of experience
that obstructs both the wholeness and the fluidity of nonduality. It censors our
participation in life, placing us in the mode of observer, rather than experiencer.

I have found that many spiritual practitioners attune to awareness outside of their
bodies, rather than experiencing consciousness pervading their body and environment
at the same time. In my observation, when nondual consciousness pervades the
whole body, even the quality of the pervasive space changes. Instead of simply
empty, it has an intrinsic radiance, as well as a quality that might be described as the
quality of ‘‘being.’’ Hisamatsu writes, ‘‘For the nothingness of Zen is not lifeless
like emptiness, but, on the contrary, is something quite lively (lebendig). It is not
only lively, but also has heart and moreover, is aware of itself’’ (cited in Stambaugh,
1999, p. 79).
 This is from a paper she published and hosts on her website:

Judith Blackstone, Ph.D.
The Journal of Transpersonal Psychology, 2006, Vol. 38, No. 1, p.29-30

and... p. 31...

Quote:For me, this is one of the great mysteries of nondual experience, which is often
hidden behind the term ‘‘impersonal.’’ We can feel that we are as much the tree or
the lamp or the person facing us as we are our own self, but at the same time, we are
always our own self, our own personal subjectivity. For example, we cannot
perceive the room from the perspective of the other person, or get up and leave the
room as that other person. As nondual consciousness, we do not sense ourselves as
separate from our experience, we are suffused in the stimuli of the present moment,
and yet we are still experiencing and knowing. We experience ourselves as transparent,
dissolved in empty space, and yet it is our own subjectivity that experiences


I have a hunch her writings point to something that is psychologically true and maybe metaphysically as well, but am making no claims about that. (She limits herself there as well.) My own motivations are both psychological (healing) and for expanding my sense of self and experiencing unity (i.e. spiritual).

When I do the guided meditations, there's definitely a felt difference afterwards (and during).

This is an interview/presentation that includes her guiding the viewer though the two main meditations. The first is the longer one, occurs between about 8:30 and 38 minutes. The second, the more subtle "vertical core", is shorter, and can be accessed from 1h11 to 1h22.

Try it if you're interested.

(This post was last modified: 2023-07-28, 12:27 AM by Ninshub. Edited 2 times in total.)
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Where do thoughts come from? They pop into consciousness from some unconscious process that is invisible to us. This is true for materialists as well as non-materialists. It is true of thoughts, emotions, impulses, sensory experiences, and the ego. Even if you feel like you are using your mind to solve a problem, where did the impulse to solve the problem come from? And that feeling of control, that is just like any other mental experience, where did that come from? If you think you are just an observer, consider that the thought or feeling of being an observer is just like everything else. So is the feeling or thought of not having a self or of not having agency. 

These ideas/feelings of self or non-self are neither true nor false the way happy or angry is neither true nor false.

Buddha called consciousness a magicians trick. 

The Buddha refused to answer when asked if there was or was not a self. What he said is that wherever you look for a continuous unchanging self in the body, or mind, you won't find anything that is worthy of being attached to as a self. If you can observe it, it is outside yourself, if you can't control it it is independent from you and is not yourself. The body cannot be controlled it ages, sickens, and dies. The mind cannot be controlled, it wanders constantly during meditation, it produces unwanted emotions and suffering. The sense of self is constantly changing from moment to moment depending on the situation - we are a friend, or an employee, a supervisor, a teacher, a parent, a child, sports fan, a person of a nationality, an ethnic identity, a neighbor, a stranger etc etc. When we are not thinking about self, the sense of self is absent entirely. Yes, everyone experiences "no-self" many times a day. They are just not aware of it. The point is not whether there is or is not a self, that is an opinion, a feeling, the point is that being attached to anything you can observe as a "self" will lead to suffering - so why hold that opinion (attachment)? This view itself is just an opinion, a feeling, it is not right or wrong, or true or false.

If you practice meditation or are on a path of spiritual development, my opinion on how to measure progress is purely practical: you are making progress if you are suffering less and if you are acting less selfishly and with less self-importance, if you can solve problems with compassion and reason rather than out of control emotions. If you are more mindful during daily life rather than lost in thought and carried away by emotions, impulses, sensations, and ego.
The first gulp from the glass of science will make you an atheist, but at the bottom of the glass God is waiting for you - Werner Heisenberg. (More at my Blog & Website)
(This post was last modified: 2023-07-28, 07:01 PM by Jim_Smith. Edited 10 times in total.)
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The sense of self (psychological experience or construct) is different from there being a self or not (metaphysical reality). So I don't think you can conclusively state from having an unstable sense of self that there is no self. Certains strands of Asian thought argue that, others argue differently (including within Buddhism itself). Survival data points to a persisting personal self.
(This post was last modified: 2023-07-28, 06:54 PM by Ninshub. Edited 1 time in total.)
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(2023-07-28, 06:01 PM)Ninshub Wrote: The sense of self (psychological experience or construct) is different from there being a self or not (metaphysical reality). So I don't think you can conclusively state from having an unstable sense of self that there is no self. Certains strands of Asian thought argue that, others argue differently (including within Buddhism itself). Survival date points to a persisting personal self.

For me the question always is if there's no Self who was Buddha talking to when he said you've had so many lives your shed blood and tears are greater in volume than the oceans, that after so many lives [your] bodies are "swelling the cemeteries" you have become disenchanted with fabrications enough to seek Liberation...

That said I would tentatively go with Scott Robert's Nondual Logic and say both "there is a Self" and "there is no Self" are wrong...
'Historically, we may regard materialism as a system of dogma set up to combat orthodox dogma...Accordingly we find that, as ancient orthodoxies disintegrate, materialism more and more gives way to scepticism.'

- Bertrand Russell

(This post was last modified: 2023-07-28, 06:30 PM by Sciborg_S_Patel. Edited 2 times in total.)
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(2023-07-28, 06:01 PM)Ninshub Wrote:  Certains strands of Asian thought argue that, others argue differently (including within Buddhism itself). 

Going back to this bit in relation to Judith Blackstone. I think it's in that same interview I posted in the OP that she says the different contemporary outlooks on non duality vary according to which there is something there at the bottom or not.

She then says this is a debate that's actually been going on within Tibetan Buddhism for centuries: rangtong vs. shentong. Her view aligns with the shengton tradition.

Wiki article: rangtong and shentong

Quote:Classic Jonang shentong holds that while all relative phenomena are empty of inherent existence (svabhava), ultimate reality (paramartha-satya) is not empty of its own inherent existence.[3] In this view, ultimate reality, the buddha-wisdom (buddha-jñana) or buddha-nature (buddhadhātu), is only empty of relative and defiled phenomena, but it is not empty of its countless awakened qualities.[4] Tibetan defenders of shentong, like Dölpopa, describe opposing views on emptiness and Madhyamaka as rangtong ("empty of self", "self-empty"). These views general hold that all phenomena (relative and ultimate) are equally empty of inherent existence and thus have the same ontological status.
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(This post was last modified: 2023-07-28, 07:31 PM by Ninshub. Edited 2 times in total.)
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