In this article, I argue three things
- There is a constant felt-sense of contraction in body and mind. You identify with this sense of contraction and experience it as ‘me’.
- You can become aware of this experience, realize its untruth, and let go of or transcend it.
- By letting go of the sense of contraction, and your seemingly ever-present identification with it, the amount of suffering you experience in life will decrease, and the amount of fulfillment you experience will increase.
As you read, contemplate the arguments experientially. Look for the sense of contraction, contemplate its implications, what it means to be identified with it, and play curiously with letting go of it all the way.
Finding the “I am” contraction
I believe this insight to be of critical importance in coming to understand yourself, or the self process (the experience you’re having of being a person right now). The feeling sense I’m addressing is at the center of your experience of self.
t is the knowledge and sensation of “me,” to which all thoughts, emotions, and self references fundamentally refer.
Exercise: Getting in touch with self
- Sit still for 2 or more minutes (set a timer) and experience you.
- Do you notice any sense of bodily tightness associated with this experience?
- Can you become aware of a mental contraction in the place of “I”?
- The physical, emotional, and mental spaces are typically ripe with this self-obsessed tension.
- Leave no dimension of your experience in the dark.
- Look in the areas most associated with your character and its woes: The pelvis, belly, chest, throat, and face are all home to this fundamental sense of “me”.
- When you find the contracted sense, simply sink your attention into it with the intent of building a sense of perceptual clarity around it.
- Become acutely familiar with your self-experience. Develop a high definition perception of the experience of ‘me’.
- The purpose here is merely to build awareness of a phenomena
This feeling can be found at any time you are around. Even your happiness refers to or belongs to the self-sense. And the self-sense is at its core…. A contraction.
The Buddha was wrong when he said life is suffering. The truth is that life is nothing at the very worst and beauty at best. In Truth, self is suffering. No self no suffering.
Confronting the contraction
Once this feeling has been identified, your job is to understand it.
To understand is to ‘stand under’ and see from without. In the case of self-contraction, you typically experience yourself as within, or as, the phenomena, and so are unable to see it for what it is. Instead of being an object of your awareness, it is the subject and so is always automatically overlooked.
The part of mind which understands is never exposed or applied to the self process due to the assumption that “me” is an immutable source of consciousness. Due to this assumption, your attention is always in front of, or seems to be coming from, the ‘me contraction’.
You always experience this contraction as:
- the one who is looking
- the thinker of your thoughts
- the character at the center of your story
- the one with a will
- the one who suffers and feels
- the one who wants
- the one who likes and dislikes
As a result you never pay attention to what it actually is.
We want to confront it directly, here and now, with an open courageous disposition. Our intent is to understand what the contraction is.
We want to know its nature, to know its substance. We want to know why it exists- what its motive, purpose, and function is.
Exercise: After reading the prompt below, sit still for 2 or more minutes and come to understand the self-contraction.
This step in the process is a matter of questioning and discovery.
- Adopt a scientific disposition towards the experience of contraction and its association with your sense of self.
- Do not presume to know what the experience or dynamic is at all.
- Come from a place of deep not-knowing and view this most familiar experience as if for the first time.
- Instead of being the contraction and self-sense, look at it for what it is.
Our intent here is to become experientially aware of its raison d’etre.
We want to see first hand the active dynamic called ‘me’ at its root. This root is a sense of contraction that pervades body, mind, and world, experiences.
Ask yourself the following questions. Give a few seconds to each consideration, and quickly but deeply contemplate them in your own case.
- What is this sense of contraction ‘about’?
- How is this sense of contraction related to me?
- What is it doing?
- What is ‘me’?
- What is the substance of my self-experience?
Interesting isn’t it 😊
The Truth gon’ set you free
You are not this sense of contraction. You are whatever observes it.
This makes sense to you on an intellectual level, yes? Consider it for a moment and try to grasp that you are not your perceptions of you. Even the mind can quickly grasp the conundrum it seems to be in.
The real challenge is to understand the contraction in place of the contraction itself, as opposed to a logical conclusion so that the contraction is seen and felt as untrue, un-you, and unnecessary.
It is through this seeing that freedom from contraction is won. When your whole mind has clearly seen that you are not the self-contraction, it is far less likely to automatically identify consciousness (which is not inherently bound to any feeling or structure) with it.
The question you must then ask is “What do I do to experience the transcendence, relaxation, and full understanding of self and its mechanisms?”
My answers are the practices I have found to be good at helping you realize the truth about yourself, and subsequently freeing yourself from its dominance.
Lol. In part, free yourself from yourself.
- Directly relax and give up the need to exist as a feeling of contraction. At the same time come to understand in the feeling body/mind that you merely exist and are not bound to or found within perception. You are Beingness itself devoid of necessity.
- Do research on the nature, mechanisms, purpose, and tragedy of selfhood. Get an intellectual grasp of what is occurring so that your mind can go to work deconstructing its many illusory contraction inducing structures. Read books by people who’ve done it. Listen to their reports on what they realized about what they are and what they aren’t. Use this to deepen your own contemplation
- Contemplate ‘what am I?’ until you become directly conscious of the absolute truth of Self, Mind, Consciousness, and Reality
- Pay attention to it with intent and an open contemplative disposition until you see through all that which is existentially untrue.
- Look at the one who is presumed to look and realize that it is being looked at, and so cannot be the looker.
- Cultivate the attentional skills of concentration power, sensory clarity, and equanimity (shoutout to Shinzen Young) so that you can become conscious of and master the mind in its entirety.
While these are great at moving you in the direction of Truth, they cannot give you the realization of truth.
In order to know the truth, you must simply be in the place of what’s true and experience it directly for yourself. These tools help you do that.
Get curious about what you are. Dedicate your life to the pursuit of the truth of. Your curiosity will carry you to more and more true experiential understandings and consciousness.
Exercise: I FEEL FREEEEEEE
Perform each of these self-manipulations/contemplations for 30 seconds one after another
- Experience yourself as simply and only consciousness
- Ask what am I?
- Contemplate the phrase/question “I am not my perceptions of me”
- Become aware of the ‘me contraction’ we talked about earlier and consider my argument ‘you are not the contraction, but the consciousness which experiences it.”
- BE FREE
The more deeply you realize that you are not bound to or defined by the appearances and contractions of self the more capacity you have to enjoy, learn, and act. Freedom from the ever-present self-contraction is happiness itself.
In the absence of self, there is you, and you are free.
Learn to not take yourself seriously
Experience your true nature- whatever the fuck that means