Thursday, August 20, 2015


I'm having a bit of a hard time with my self.  I started reading Sam Harris's Waking Up with some reluctance, having formed an impression of him as one of those hard-line atheists whose militancy seems to me uncalled-for, too much protesting.  But as usual, I was wrong.  He starts out with a valuable attempt to redefine that much-abased term "spirituality," and moves on into an at times (for me) overly analytical exploration of the meaning of "consciousness."  I tend to get lost in his neuroscientific dissection of the mind and its functions.  Having just emerged from Ken McLeod's more poetic approach to the subject (in his soon-to-be published A Trackless Path), I found myself looking for common ground between the two--and was, in some ways, successful.  There are grounds upon which the rationalist and the mystic (Jigmé Lingpa) meet.

I have yet to finish the Harris book, and might have more to say about it when I'm done.  In the meantime, though, I've been trying to get a fix on the illusion of the self in meditation, and am finding that, as I say, quite hard.  It's a "now you see it, now you don't" experience.  There are times when the illusoriness of the illusion is quite clear to me--the self simply seems to disappear; and other times when the illusion itself pops back convincingly to muddy things up again.  I think of the magician's practice of illusory devices--his play between what-is and what, confoundingly, seems to be.  I look once, and it's there.  I look again, it's gone.  You see what I mean?

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