Sunday, March 8, 2009

Letting Go of My "Self" and Other Grand Adventures

It's funny how convinced we are of our own concreteness. I mean, I know at some level that I am an impermanent being subject to the same laws of death, decay and rebirth that are part of every particle's experience, but I still don't believe it to my core. This, in essence, is the nature of Buddhist wisdom, knowing at your very core that you are an impermanent collection of diverse particles and therefore deeply and inextricably connected to every other being in existence. When looked at in this way, Buddhism is hopeful and inspiring. It advocates selflessness and compassionate connection through deep understanding of shared experiences. However, the level of awareness necessitated by a moment to moment participation in this vein of self-understanding is mind-boggling and near impossible. How does it play out? With every breath, with every step, with every action, with every thought, a being must know at its core that their experience is a masterfully constructed yet completely illusionary web of misconceptions, assumptions and culturally-conditioned responses. Can you imagine an existence in which you are so aware of your non-concreteness that the possibilities are literally limitless? Step by step you see your experience as an infinite collection of interactions with no bounds. The struggle I have with this awareness is less about recognizing my multi-faceted and impermanent self and more related to letting go of my desire to contain and manipulate it. If you posit that all experience is illusion, ignorance of the reality of impermanence and therefore incomplete, you must at some level strive for authentic experience. This process is completely terrifying which then points back to how strongly we actually cling to our self and our self's misconstrued understanding of reality. It starts on a surface level. My belief that I am an extroverted, entertaining social butterfly is an inauthentic reality and should therefore not be clung to or built upon as though it will remain static. That's scary. Our society tells us the exact opposite at every turn. We are smart, we are artistic, we are athletic, good leaders, the list goes on. Buddhism tells us to look at those labels and realize them as the limiting and dishonest concepts they truly are and then work to remove them as a foundation for the way we live our lives. It's fascinating in practice and as I probe deeper I'll tell you more about how it manifests. For now I can tell you it's changed the way I view my future, my goals, my friends, and even my attempts to force my current job position to fit who I think i am. In effect, this realization and slow progression of stripping away at my assumptions about myself has helped me let go of resentment, open myself up to possibilities and squeeze the juice out of every opportunity. I try to no longer look at situations or people as "fitting me." Turns out it's not about "me" because, in a nutshell, the "me" that I perceive doesn't even exist so I should just open up my clenched hands and let go...


No comments: