Seeking Observing Ego
November 16, 2009 2:42 PM   Subscribe

Reaching the observing ego has been elusive recently when months ago it wasn't. I'm not pushing for it, just waiting. Even after 45min sit, it is more common to find emptiness. Suggestions?
posted by 77144 to Religion & Philosophy (22 answers total) 10 users marked this as a favorite
 
Is a desire or expectation interfering with the process? If you just let it happen, it still might not come.
posted by Jpfed at 2:49 PM on November 16, 2009


You might want to add more in a comment and add some tags - this is super-vague. Anyhow, absent any further details, my suggestion is to talk to your roshi or teacher or whoever is "overseeing" your meditation, because they will have the best idea of where you've been and what you need to do next. Are you asking how long you should wait or when you should expect it to come? I'm afraid this is unanswerable. Also, it's absolutely normal for kensho to ebb and flow, go away and come back. Such is the nature of life, etc. Assuming that's what we're talking about here.

Book recommendation: The Three Pillars of Zen, Philip Kapleau - it deals directly with the anxiousness and impatience.
posted by desjardins at 2:50 PM on November 16, 2009


Emptiness is the first stage towards clarity, which in turn will lead to bliss and supreme enlightenment. Give it 20 years. Go find a teacher also.
posted by Burhanistan at 2:50 PM on November 16, 2009


I don't have an answer, but a Web site suggestion: Open Enlightenment.
posted by infinitywaltz at 2:50 PM on November 16, 2009


I'm not pushing for it, just waiting

Sounds great. So what's your hurry?
posted by hermitosis at 2:51 PM on November 16, 2009 [1 favorite]


Cunard Steamship motto:

Getting there is half the fun
posted by Postroad at 2:55 PM on November 16, 2009


Hmm... in my experience, when one is meditating, if you are expecting something to happen - waiting for it - you entirely miss whatever else is going on. Even if it's happened many times before, even if you think you know how to "make it happen". Coming to a sit with expectations is an interesting experience all by itself, and once you realize that's what you're doing, I bet things will change. You don't have to "stop expecting things", since you can't, really. Just pay attention to what's happening in the mean time and when you start having thoughts like "why isn't this going the way it usually does? what's wrong? am I meditating incorrectly? is there something wrong with me? does this mean I'm not trying hard enough?" just... take all that with a grain of salt and get back to your observations.

At the meditation center I go to, there's a Japanese painting on the wall of one of those little off-shoots that spider plants make - a long skinny tendril with no leaves whatsoever, then, all of a sudden, a new baby plant starts growing, way at the bottom of the picture. It says: "Try not to expect anything/ In this way everything will open up to you".
posted by Cygnet at 2:58 PM on November 16, 2009 [1 favorite]


Find a teacher.
posted by Wordwoman at 3:00 PM on November 16, 2009


Oh, and I very much agree with those who are suggesting that you find a teacher.

Really, it makes a BIG difference.
posted by Cygnet at 3:04 PM on November 16, 2009


What hermitosis said. Also: don't just do something, sit there!

Really, sitting is all it is. What happens, happens.
posted by dirtynumbangelboy at 3:06 PM on November 16, 2009


Just sit.
posted by Danf at 3:09 PM on November 16, 2009


It's all chemistry. Remembering that has put me on the outside looking in a few times, though I find I lose it when I remember that that's chemistry, too.

Cygnet has it, though- waiting implies there is something you're waiting on. Just be.
posted by Pragmatica at 3:55 PM on November 16, 2009


Zazen. Seriously.
posted by ellF at 6:04 PM on November 16, 2009


When I don't know what do do, I don't do anything.
posted by Area Control at 6:59 PM on November 16, 2009


I'm speaking from a different practice, but I believe we have a common goal.

You are exactly where you are. That's it. That's all there is.
posted by bam at 8:38 PM on November 16, 2009


You don't need to find a teacher to get a handle on your experience. It can be nice to talk to someone, but it's no necessity.

You may wish to consider that the "observing ego" is a reification, and that there is no such thing. Perhaps 'emptiness' is the more fundamental experience? If you're interested in others' thoughts on the subjects take a look at Zen's doctrine of No-Soul, or Douglas Harding's website, or 'I Am That' by Sri Nisagardatta Maharaj.
posted by BigSky at 9:29 AM on November 17, 2009


You don't need to find a teacher to get a handle on your experience. It can be nice to talk to someone, but it's no necessity.

Completely disagree. I'd bet that anyone who ever attained anything at all did so because of a guide. It doesn't mean you have to swear a blood oath of loyalty or anything remotely approaching such, but just reading books will always be like hungry people reading cookbooks without knowing how to turn on the stove. I'm sure this is an unpopular viewpoint here to post-modern university educated types, but it's a basic reality.
posted by Burhanistan at 9:34 AM on November 17, 2009 [1 favorite]


Completely disagree. I'd bet that anyone who ever attained anything at all did so because of a guide.

How did the first one attain anything at all? You know, back before there were 'guides'. Maybe he paid attention to his own experience? What a nutty idea...
posted by BigSky at 10:55 AM on November 17, 2009


How did the first one attain anything at all? You know, back before there were 'guides'.

If you're referring to the historical Buddha, he is reported to have met and stuided under teachers.
posted by Burhanistan at 11:53 AM on November 17, 2009


I was not referring to anyone in particular; just pointing out that if there is some sort of discovery to be made, or transformation to be experienced, or overlooked vantage point to be appreciated, which can be achieved or accessed by following someone's teaching, then that means it must have originally been discovered by one person. Excepting revelation from the Godhead, it could not have come into existence otherwise.

The example of Gautama Buddha is a poor one for your argument as your own citation shows. In following the advice of two hermits he almost starved to death. It was when "Siddhartha began to reconsider his path" that he had the experiences leading to his discovery of the Middle Way.

But if you're curious about a historical figure who did just fine without anyone telling him what's what, look at Sri Ramana Maharishi. Interestingly enough, the Wikipedia article on Ramana Maharishi has a quote where he describes his awakening, which the OP might find quite pertinent to his question:

"Enquiring within 'Who is the seer?' I saw the seer disappear leaving That alone which stands forever. No thought arose to say I saw. How then could the thought arise to say I did not see?"
posted by BigSky at 12:53 PM on November 17, 2009


Who's doing the observing when you're observing your own ego?
posted by desjardins at 1:39 PM on November 17, 2009


Who's doing the observing when you're observing your own ego?

I get the sense that this is imagined from a third person / outside party perspective. When you (desjardins) are meditating, I could be standing in the room, looking at you, thinking "desjardins is meditating". But is that perspective a natural one for you who's doing the meditating? If you were to have the thought while meditating, "Starting to think about what I'm going to do this evening." and then immediately ask yourself "Who was doing that labeling of thoughts?", an obvious answer might be "desjardins". But there's a difference there between my experience and yours, I would be attributing the meditating to another entity, a body. In your experience, is there another entity in your field of consciousness that is doing the labeling? I suspect there isn't; "labeling" and "thinking" might be occurring but with no identifiable doer. So, I'd answer your question with: unknown maybe no one at all, and still there is 'observing' going on.

Toni Packer, who is well known for her refusal to teach any type or method of meditation, likes to use the term 'awaring'. Why not the adjective 'aware'? Perhaps it's because an adjective presupposes that there is something that is modified. While drawing the attention to the action, the process, makes it easier to investigate what the 'I' or the 'observer' is, if there is any such thing at all.
posted by BigSky at 4:44 AM on November 18, 2009


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