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Is Sems the same as Ego?

I am asking this because ego seems to be trapping me and others in samsara. The reason I say this is that I am getting obsessive somehow in that I am trying to figure out language. Like I am looking at the etymology of words. For example Bs usually have something to do with the body. Body, Baby, Birth, bones, brain, biology, abortion. B also has to do with 2. The problem is that I get obsessed and am analyzing words without ceasing.. In the morning I am ok but at night I am so on edge or seasick. Does that obsession have anything to do with ego? My teacher said once that my illness of thought and mood disorder has something to do with clinging. And then I set a pattern and am trapped. At first the new knowledge of letters is interesting and even jubilant. Every meaning is in a positive light. But the problem is that eventually I go into negative moods and everything is fearful. Does that have anything to do with ego?

And then in tantra 'sems' has to do with conditioned mind whereas 'rigpa' is the primordial ground and is what we want to uncover. My model in my head is that sems is just conditioned mind and when we tame that mind we notice rigpa. It is like there is a strawberry in our mouth but we can't taste it because there is so much else. So is this karma and entrapment that I am seeing? Is the ego trapping us in samsara thus?



  • JeffreyJeffrey Veteran
    edited July 2014

    My teacher says that love has to be the motive (rather than ego) or else you will spin us off into paranoia. Love is like the blessing of the universe. This is what I mean on this board when I say adhistana.

  • Straight_ManStraight_Man Gentle Man Veteran
    edited July 2014

    So-called attempts at self-satisfaction lead to suffering. Unless we work through the disappointment, which is temporary, and seek success from effort/practice.

    Love leads to outward focus, helping others for the sake of helping them and not for extreme greedy gain wanted or expected. Ego is greedy.

    Monkey mind, to use the Zen term, tries to please the true core of what is wanted. So, if one thinks with effort about language meaning patterns, one will find monkey mind offering more of such-- until the core (Buddha nature perhaps, or consciousness) switches to something else. I do not know the Pali Canon terms for this, merely the English Zenist term, so my thoughts are somewhat crude, sorry. It is monkey mind that glees over little new things (unconsciousness in psych terms), and the core (composed of consciousness) that directs.

    That is the little I know about that, anglicized for simplicity.

  • lobsterlobster Veteran

    In Shingon meditation, meditation on kanji or letters is done. In Kabbalah, this obsessive interpretation of script is known to have potential detrimental effects.
    The problem is one of meaning. One goes through all the possibilities. So it includes the whole range of associations. I have done that with a range of symbols, it can be a form of mental masturbation. The benefits may be the wisdom that comes from understanding the potential of symbols but you have also met the other side . . . What I would suggest is equanimity is not disturbed by observing a range of arisings . . .

    If it causes dukkha, recognise that and I hope the way out can arise.

  • CittaCitta Veteran

    I am not sure that the parallel can be made @Jeffrey.

    The ego is a relatively recent and western concept that has no direct equivalent in Buddhadharma.

    Sems is the Tibetan term that translates citta.. stream of consciousness.

    It has no implication of a self sense per se.

  • JeffreyJeffrey Veteran

    @Citta are you sure sems is the same as citta? If it was you would have to say bodhicitta was awakened sems??

    And would that be saying jnana is awakened vijnana?

  • sovasova delocalized fractyllic harmonizing Veteran

    vi-jnana the vi means like branched off

    sems, as far as i understand, is thinkin' mind, it's not like you have to delete ego to uncover egolessness, it's just like swimming up out of the water and realizing there is atmosphere

    rigpa ... pure awareness ? also rendered as ordinary mind..

    ego seems to imply separation. i think sems can still arise within the pristine awareness and be neigher rejected nor indulged

    love is truly blessings. yeah man, might be like a record on these pages to say do some metta sitting, but it's really good to engage in. sit and breathe, masters have said that shamatha better equips and makes us more receptive to metta, so, do that and chill.

    i think studying etymology is very good. look into learning the tibetan script my friend, as the formation of words starts with "root" letters - much like arabic and hebrew.. words "grow" from letters

    depending on your enthusiasm, there is a wonderful series of lessons on the tibetan alphabet by Geshe Michael Roach on youtube. With a few hours every other day or so, you can learn to read tibetan letters and some words in about 2 months on your own

  • JeffreyJeffrey Veteran

    Could Sems care if it died?

  • CittaCitta Veteran

    @Jeffrey said:
    Citta are you sure sems is the same as citta? If it was you would have to say bodhicitta was awakened sems??

    And would that be saying jnana is awakened vijnana?

    If we leave aside the definition of jnana as some kind of special state..then I think we could say that @Jeffrey.

  • JeffreyJeffrey Veteran

    I mean jnana not jhana.

  • CittaCitta Veteran

    @Jeffrey I suggest that you google semsde and longde .

  • JeffreyJeffrey Veteran

    unfortunately semsde turns up everything but Buddhism

  • KeyouseKeyouse Explorer
    edited December 2014
    I thank you greatly for these words of wisdom, kind Straight Man. :) Bless you.
  • silversilver In the beginning there was nothing, and then it exploded. USA, Left coast. Veteran

    I'm such a beginner, @Jeffrey, but the first question I had upon reading your post was do you ever start bringing your attention back to your breathing - and the here / now before you get on a tear with the words? It sounds sort of like a case of OCD.

  • Hi @silver, I think I was having symptoms of schizoaffective disorder (I have).

    There is such a thing as Rigpa and Sems. I was wondering if the thoughts in my mind during an episode were none other than Sems.

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