Question Question Question

No question, no answer.
An answer without a question is not the answer;
it is an answer.

The real Dharma is in the irritation
and not in books or teachings.

Our real path is our own confusion
and not in books or teachings.

Real realisation – enjoying the fruit –
is acknowledging irritations and confusions
and is not in books or teachings.

Otherwise we live by assumptions;
something that is accepted as true without proof.

If we do not question to our satisfaction, then we will stay irritated, confused and angry – I should know 😉 ! Books and teachings can only state the problem; it is we who have to do the working out. The Buddha said, “Don’t take my word for it.” We (awareness) have to question until we are satisfied, and then we know that we know what we know.

Personally, I find that people in the Dharma are given answers and then think that they have the answer. But they cannot empathise when questioned, and become aggressive or defensive or shy away. The reason that we become irritated is that we are not yet confident in the answers. We have to question everything, and not just follow and conform.

Terminology can be confusing and even interfere with experience. Truth has to be explained properly to the understanding of the individual, and the individual needs time and space to analyse and digest teachings.

Questions are so valuable. We may think that questions are never ending; on a conventional level that would be correct. However, on the path to enlightenment, there is an end to questioning, and experience turns into one taste, where there is merely experience without judgement because there is no reference point.

I just received two questions, one on the blog and one implied in an email: “No self?!” and “Isn’t there always something happening?” These two questions are related.

In saying, “No self”, we are not negating the feeling of existence – we are a unique, free, life force.

When Buddhist text says, “No self” this is referring to what we think of as a self. Our minds are full of thoughts and we (awareness) identify so strongly with these thoughts that we believe them to be us. Thoughts are acquisitions. This ‘self’ created from our compilation of thoughts is an intellectual self image. I once met someone who was upper class and well educated, but who couldn’t get his head around this as he believed he was the sum of all his learning – unfortunately, he was not a happy man.

Awareness forgets that awareness was present before a thought. Our thoughts are identified by awareness. When awareness is aware of awareness, there is no self identity: that comes a moment later, and we’re back into a self image again. It happens very quickly! In the present moment, we are not able to recognise whether we are making any progress or not; only when we look back on that moment and see that we didn’t react in the same old way can we acknowledge progress. And then we have to drop that, otherwise we develop pride which obscures our clear view.

So even though we may say “No self”, there is still an alive, intelligence presence – pure awareness – that is wide open and creative, and is not limited to the contents of the mind at all.

There’s always something happening.” There are two things going on here that may cause confusion. One is that in samsara there is always something going on, and the other is that there is always something aware of what is going on! When we rest in whatever goes on, we merely rest in awareness. That is one taste, making no judgement, and is easily recognised if, when looking out through the eyes, we allow all images to enter at once by being aware of peripheral vision; everything is merely as it is without comment.

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  1. daisymae21 says:

    Hello Tony. I know you’ve written about this topic before many times on your blog but thanks for clarifying what is meant by the statement “no self”. I think of all the concepts that are constantly being trotted out by “new agers”, this is the one that causes the most confusion! It’s as if there is this thing, this entity called the self that has to be eradicated at all costs and then we’ll finally be happy…I wonder if there is a connection to the widespread misunderstanding of the teachings about non-attachment. It’s not the objects themselves that cause us pain – they are impermanent and inanimate – but rather our attachment to them, and in a similar way it’s our attachment to our created self identity – also impermanent – that causes us suffering.

  2. tony says:

    I agree with you there is much confusion out there.
    Self is attachment. We/Awareness are attached to an idea about our self, and to pleasure. The only way to be detached is to rest in ‘pure’ awareness, this is done by merely recognising. The residue of a feeling of self will still be present, but it no longer clings so strongly.

    Detachment is clarity, but clinging to a idea about ourselves make clarity foggy. However we do have unique qualities which can express love in its own peculiar way…thank goodness!

    Pleasure? We can enjoy these bodies and minds (grilled tomatoes on toast is great…love it!) we just don’t become obsessed about it. It doesn’t have to control us.

    Likewise the idea of our self is a built creation, maInly due to our desperate clinging to a feeling of existence in this body and emotional mind, our environment seems to make this clinging worse.

    We have unique qualities which can express love in its own peculiar way…thank goodness!!!


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