When pain occurs it occurs to me. Otherwise I would not merely feel pain. There is distance between myself and what I feel. --If I had no self--if there were no me--I would be the pain I feel, because there would be no distance between it and the part of my mind I call my self. I would be a room full of fire rather than a room lit by fire.
The whole is greater than the sum of its parts, which means that the whole is something completely other than the sum of its parts. The self arises out of this. The Buddha said that if one breaks down a person's consciousness into its components he finds no self. That is beside the point.
You can transcend the self, or dissolve the self, but that is a lower state of consciousness (perhaps), not a higher one. In deep states of meditation Buddhist monks feel no physical pain. That's because they've shut off part of their brains. Lower cognizance equals lower consciousness, in a sense. But it could also open up the mind to a different dimension of awareness. A dimmer switch could actually make some things more visible.
I have felt, at fleeting moments, what may be referred to as nirvana--that is, complete clarity. But I don't know whether that made me more or less like a snail, more or less like a deer, more or less like a plant. I'm talking about awareness not intelligence.
Thursday, August 10, 2017
For now, consider the ducks in the park. They squabble over food, but they never worry about the way things are, because they are unaware of death and rebirth. But I try not to worry about the way things are for different reasons. I am aware of death and rebirth. If there is an ultimate good, moksha or nirvana, it is not something I can fully comprehend, except to say that I have felt a brief whiff of it in this life, but it was not something I could maintain. I can only aim at something I can grasp with my mind. How can I aim at liberation? When I have felt it I neither knew where it came from nor how it was arrived at. The world is dynamic. While I have a nature, the nature of reality is atman. Maybe my nature is the same as the nature of reality. It must be so. But since I don't know how to arrive at the ultimate state of union I must be satisfied with assuring myself that "the way things are" is simply an illusion. The present is not the past, and the future is not like the present either, not exactly.
Tuesday, August 1, 2017
A quick note: It must be remembered that baseline awareness is the most obvious active element in reincarnation. Once I saw a horn hung between two fires in my mind's eye when I was high, and that may have carried over from a previous life, but baseline awareness is the part of me that feels and the main aspect of myself which reincarnates (see Reincarnation below). As long as this effect is achieved there need not be a reason to believe that the underlying pattern in the brain has to be exactly the same for each and every person. Reincarnation is based on the recurrence of baseline awareness, not necessarily the recurrence of the same exact pattern for everyone. Though the recurring pattern in the brain would be almost exactly the same for everyone.