I’ve been reading Joseph Goldstein again, his instructions for meditation, and he repeats many times there is no I. Yet I feel I am me. He says the more I meditate the less I’ll feel I am me. I hope so, though he says hoping is a hindrance to fully embracing my non-I-ness.
Buddha suggested that the concept of I, the sense of a separate self, is the source of my suffering. Our suffering. Since you and I are not separate, my suffering is yours, yours is mine. Except there is no you or me, and the you I think you are lives in New Hampshire or Ukraine, and I’m here in California. Illusion says Goldstein. And I believe him. I feel what he says is true on a gut level, my gut being an organ in my amalgam of transitory phenomena otherwise known as my body.
So here is this non-existent self wanting to meditate. I define meditation as not thinking while remaining conscious of the illusory nature of everything, in order to attain a state of greater clarity. Yet who attains clarity if there is no I? Where will the clarity reside? In the mind of the non-existent? How does that work?
The thing is, I benefit from meditating. Indeed, meditation seems to strengthen my I-ness, and reading Joseph Goldstein’s thoughtful insights regarding meditation greatly enhances my meditation practice. After a good sit, I feel less anxious and my appreciation for being alive is vastly amplified. Yet the question keeps being asked: is there anything to realize beyond there’s nothing to realize?
What I’ve decided, for my own illusory purposes, is to be okay with thinking I am a particular person. Marcia suggests that who I am, the me I think I am, is my vehicle for navigating this illusory existence. After all, Goldstein’s instructions are addressed to a you, a thinking feeling you (me) and his kind and gentle and thought-provoking way of communicating makes it possible for me to accept what he says.
And he does acknowledge I have a mind, which I find reassuring, even though he also says that depending on someone else’s reassurance is a hindrance to freeing myself from the illusion of separateness. Oh well.
So this is where we are right now in the stream of illusory phenomena.