' Personal Identity and Nirvana '...
Its interesting to compare our dream state subjective identity with our waking state subjective identity.
In our dreams at night we may have some task or goal we are trying accomplish. In the dream it feels and seems like our identity has some latitude of autonomy and free will to act. Yet we know that each thought, intention, sensation, perception and characteristic of identity, is programmed 100% by the subconscious. There is no pre-existing entity there at all. It's all creative fiction, including the characters and scenery.
Let's say we see a church bell swing and then hear the dong sound in our dream. We now know the "bell" never made the sound we heard. No sound entered our ears. The mind just created the dong sound from no mechanical cause that generated the sound. All the thoughts, intentions and sense of identity are created in the same way because there is no self-entity there besides the one the mind generated.
The completely fictional nature of this dream self is recognized upon awakening. The strong feeling-sense of "me-ness" as an autonomous person or entity was part of the subconscious projection. It was just subjective scenery like the church and swinging bell were objective scenery. No church, no bell, no "me" ever actually existed outside of the mind's projection.
Sometimes we notice in the dream that we are "dreaming" and then we wake up. We sense our waking self suddenly appeared in the dream and realized "Oh, this is a dream!" and we then wake up. But instead consider the subconscious created a "me" self that "noticed it was dreaming" as its creative content. It's not that the "real" waking self appeared in the dream. But yet there seems to be a lingering sense of the continuity of this self when afterwards we reflect upon this dream in which the dream character realized it was dreaming.
It's like my "real self" was the real one in the dream all along and somehow managed to notice its dreaming situation and woke up.
What is not noticed is something really profound: the "waking real self" is also just another subconscious projection. All of its personality characteristics, sense of personal identity, thoughts and intentions are programmed into and as the "me" self-entity by the subconscious, and that there is no "real me" self there at all!
The self-identity as a "me" is simply a subconscious projection created out of previous conditioning, memories and imagination. Especially confusing is the particular subconscious element or content that gives the convincing certainty of being a valid and "real" me. That "self-certainty" is just part of the subconscious content. Its a necessary ingredient to making the self illusion so enduring. The sense of "autonomy" is also a projected mental characteristic.
So a "seeker" is not an autonomous identity or person that is choosing to seek, but is actually a projection of subconscious "seeking" characteristics.
Likewise there is not a real "me" or self that experiences suffering, but rather the subconscious is projecting a "suffering me" character. The "me" and the suffering are one piece. This is like when in our night dream when we experience fear. It's not that there is a "me" that has a separate emotion of fear occur to it, but rather at that moment the subconscious is projecting a "fearful me" as one piece.
The greatest and most important illusion is that there is an actual continuing "me" self that exists over time having various experiences occurring to "it". That "me" self is 100% subconscious fabrication with no real "me" self there at all.
When we were born there was no "me" sense at all. It takes almost two years before the subconscious really gets the "me" fabrication up and running in consciousness.
What's really interesting is that the subconscious can suddenly cease creating a "me" identity in consciousness. Then we have conscious awareness without a self-identity story being fabricated.
This moment is described as "liberation". Its a funny kind of liberation because in this liberation no one, no self and no "me" was liberated. It just ceased to occur.
"Where did "I" go in such a case?"one might ask. I would suggest "To the same place a whirl pool goes when its ceases whirling... and that's not to say that the location and substance of the whirlpool; the ocean, ceased as well.
In this case the "ocean" is the unestablished, unfabricated awake state of nirvana.
Posted by thomas meehan