I received the following comment on one of my previous blogposts and wanted to respond to it with an independent posting.
“If there is no self in All Rest…then who is seeing and noting?”
It raises an extremely interesting and deep question around which there seems to be an enormous amount of confusion. I’d like to make a few observations that may be helpful.
I give a standard power point presentation that outlines my hope for how science and mindfulness could cross-fertilize with each other to the dramatic benefit of humanity. In that presentation, I mention an interesting quote by Albert Einstein. Here are the relevant slides.
So Einstein said: “True human worth equals the magnitude and direction of liberation from self.” What’s revealing about this quote is that Einstein, having been trained in mathematics, is thinking of the endeavor of transcending self as a vector-valued function rather than a scalar-valued function. Translated into ordinary English, that means that in fact “No Self” is a multi-dimensional phenomenon. Put another way, there are various sizes and flavors of experience that might be described as No Self.
One flavor of No Self would be a spontaneous deactivation of inner See-Hear-Feel activity (See Chapter 1 of my manual).
Another flavor of No Self comes about when the mind-body elements get disentangled (See The Five Khandhas paradigm of early Buddhism).
Yet another flavor of No Self comes about when we can detect the continuous goneness of every experience and, furthermore, identify with the Goneness and disidentify with the mind and body.
As to the central point in your question, which, if I paraphrase, boils down to
“If there is no self, who is meditating?”
The quick answer is “the habit of meditating is meditating,” just like the habit of driving the car can drive the car even when you have no conscious perception of a driver.
For more details see the following videos (with thanks to Har-Prakash Khalsa):
- Self-Enquiry & Mindfulness Meditation
- The Absolute Witness
- From Surface to Source & the Gold Standard for Spiritual Maturity