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In search of the I

I have a tendency to experience the same event twice. Once intellectually and then days, weeks, months or even years later, I understand it emotionally. It is an epiphany both times. So I'm sitting with this idea of 'I' and can very clearly see that I am not the same 'I' that yagr was seven years ago. Science tells us that every cell in my body has died and been replaced every seven years so it's a good starting point for me. So there I am accepting that I am not that I at all. Eventually, after a bunch of explanation that is too much for me to type, I start looking at the different me from one moment to another. Then, between moments... then, I experience understanding emotionally, then existential crisis.

What in the hell is keeping 'me' together? I have been sitting here trying to gain some clarity for about six weeks...I got nothing. Anyone want to help?

KundoShoshin

Comments

  • Your name. Me, a name I call my self.
    Imagine if there is no yagr and no birthdays to celebrate and no name cards to give.
    What do you do? Are you a teacher, plumber, homemaker, driver, engineer ......? A father/mother, son/daughter, brother/sister ... etc?

    Kundoyagr
  • ShoshinShoshin No one in particular Nowhere Special Veteran

    @yagr said:
    I have a tendency to experience the same event twice. Once intellectually and then days, weeks, months or even years later, I understand it emotionally. It is an epiphany both times. So I'm sitting with this idea of 'I' and can very clearly see that I am not the same 'I' that yagr was seven years ago. Science tells us that every cell in my body has died and been replaced every seven years so it's a good starting point for me. So there I am accepting that I am not that I at all. Eventually, after a bunch of explanation that is too much for me to type, I start looking at the different me from one moment to another. Then, between moments... then, I experience understanding emotionally, then existential crisis.

    What in the hell is keeping 'me' together? I have been sitting here trying to gain some clarity for about six weeks...I got nothing. Anyone want to help?

    I am a vibrating bundle of energy flux held together by karmic glue... often finding the self in a state of confusion when it comes to what I hold true

    It would seem that it's Karmic glue... Tis karma that brings us together and karma that takes us apart...in both subtle and not so subtle ways... fed by desires craving grasping & clinging

    From what I gather this psycho-physical phenomenon we call the self ( "I" included) is an amazing piece of karmic work...

    The physical form as science points out is in a constant state of flux "new cells for old ...Bring out your old cells... new cells for old" and it is only one fifth of what makes up "I me my self" ....the other four consist of consciousness sensation perception & mental formation AKA the Five aggregates...

    Mental formation so it would seem is where our impulses are formed into habitual behaviour patterns...I guess this is where the ongoing sense of the same self tends to pop up moment to moment day to day week to week year to year...
    I'm often in the habit of.......... :)

    BTW the above is part experiential understand and guess work,,,,Not sure which part is which though ;)

    "To study the Buddha Way is to study the self. To study the self is to forget the self. To forget the self is to be actualized by myriad things. When actualized by myriad things, your body and mind as well as the bodies and minds of others drop away. No trace of enlightenment remains, and this no-trace continues endlessly"
    ~Dogen~

    @yagr ...

    May you find your self and lose/forget your self ....

    Metta

    yagrperson
  • federicafederica seeker of the clear blue sky Its better to remain silent and be thought a fool, than to speak out and remove all doubt Moderator

    @yagr said: ...Science tells us that every cell in my body has died and been replaced every seven years so it's a good starting point for me...

    At the risk of blinding you with research and hijacking the thread (tut tut, that would never do...! Just wait til the Mod finds out....!) you may (or may not!) be pleased to know that information is only true, in part.

    Found this
    So your brain (or most of it) where we presume the 'I'/Mind resides, is actually a pretty safe place to be. The brain does NOT regenerate.

    However, as the nice presenter points out, some parts of it do.

    The Hippocampus is where, apparently, our memories reside.
    But as has been pointed out before, memories themselves are tricky little muggers, because a memory is only based on remembering the previous memory of the same event... in other words, you don't remember the event; you remember the last time you remembered the event.

    Which is why people's memories get hazy and after a while, we can only recall certain salient moments of a particular event (this is why Police investigators need to speak to witnesses to an incident, as quickly as possible....)

    What the heck this does to your original question, I don't know, but it just goes to show that a little knowledge is a dangerous thing.

    Here to help!

    image

    yagr
  • KeromeKerome Love, love is mystery The Continent Veteran

    I know what you mean @yagr that phenomenon is keeping me busy as well.

    yagr
  • DavidDavid some guy Veteran

    @yagr said:
    I have a tendency to experience the same event twice. Once intellectually and then days, weeks, months or even years later, I understand it emotionally. It is an epiphany both times. So I'm sitting with this idea of 'I' and can very clearly see that I am not the same 'I' that yagr was seven years ago. Science tells us that every cell in my body has died and been replaced every seven years so it's a good starting point for me. So there I am accepting that I am not that I at all.

    For myself it was easier to accept that I am ever changing as long as I exist and that I will not always exist as an individual.

    Eventually, after a bunch of explanation that is too much for me to type, I start looking at the different me from one moment to another. Then, between moments... then, I experience understanding emotionally, then existential crisis.

    What in the hell is keeping 'me' together? I have been sitting here trying to gain some clarity for about six weeks...I got nothing. Anyone want to help?

    Conditions.

    Everything exists right now. If conditions are right, they manifest and if not they stay hidden. Jmtc

    yagr
  • @federica said:

    @yagr said: ...Science tells us that every cell in my body has died and been replaced every seven years so it's a good starting point for me...

    At the risk of blinding you with research and hijacking the thread (tut tut, that would never do...! Just wait til the Mod finds out....!) you may (or may not!) be pleased to know that information is only true, in part.

    Sincere thanks for this @federica. Sheepishly, I must admit that I already knew that and chose, in the incredibly rare moment of pragmatism, to ignore that because it seemed to help me visualize to do so.

    @federica said:

    The Hippocampus is where, apparently, our memories reside.
    But as has been pointed out before, memories themselves are tricky little muggers, because a memory is only based on remembering the previous memory of the same event... in other words, you don't remember the event; you remember the last time you remembered the event.

    Which is why people's memories get hazy and after a while, we can only recall certain salient moments of a particular event (this is why Police investigators need to speak to witnesses to an incident, as quickly as possible....)

    I touched on that concept with the intention of going back and re-addressing it later in the story...from the first page of my story I posted here some time ago...

    know that I was too young when my dad died to really remember him, but sometimes it seems like I can.  Mom has always told me stories about him, especially stories about things that we did together, but it gets confusing.  Am I remembering time I spent with him or was I remembering the picture in my head that forms when mom tells me stories about the things we did?  I honestly don't know and though I'd like to, a part of me doesn't care; I have memories of my dad and they're good memories so what does it matter?

    As always, I appreciate your light on things. :)

    federica
  • ShoshinShoshin No one in particular Nowhere Special Veteran

    @yagr a few years ago I read something by a Swedish researcher who specialized in memory and the connection of what we eat with our memories..
    In the article he mentioned something about last week's potatoes becoming today's memory of what went on last year or something to this effect...but what I do remember ( or perhaps it was the carrot I ate last week that remembers ;) ) this was mentioned in the article....
    "Food particles become woven into our bodies, just as memory becomes woven into ourself"

    However I can no longer find that particular article but did find this "Last Week's Potatoes"

    “So what is this mind of ours: what are these atoms with consciousness? Last week’s potatoes! They now can remember what was going on in my mind a year ago — a mind which has long ago been replaced. To note that the thing I call my individuality is only a pattern or dance, that is what it means when one discovers how long it takes for the atoms of my brain to be replaced by other atoms. The atoms come into my brain, dance a dance, and then go out — there are always new atoms, but always doing the same dance, remembering what the dance was yesterday.”
    –Richard Feynman (The Value of Science)

    .....

    “No man ever steps in the same river twice, for it is not the same river and he is not the same man.”
    –Heraclitus

    yagrlobster
  • DakiniDakini Veteran
    edited December 2018

    Well, some people say, that the existential crisis provoked by realizing you are a state of constant change, is the point. That's where learning truly begins.

    We could also say, that "you" are the mind-stream made up of your cumulative experiences, including those from prior rebirths, that carries into your next rebirth. The body is the vessel. You change your vessel from time to time, so there's no point in identifying with it. Just be careful to care for it properly, so your opportunity to gain wisdom in this lifetime will be maximized.

    For those who haven't arrived at an acceptance of rebirth, IDK; stay focussed on on developing compassion and wisdom, so as to be of optimal service to others....? What does it matter, what is keeping "you" together, when the suffering world needs help? If a child runs out into the street in front of a bus, would you wait until "you" figured out what was keeping "you" together, before reacting, and grabbing the child out of harm's way? Or would you simply react with your compassionate heart, and your body/mind, and whatever bits of scotch tape are holding it together, would follow automatically?

    Maybe worrying about what's holding "you" together is "wrong focus"? Maybe the existential crisis, is your ego feeling threatened, and making a desperate attempt to survive your attempts at realizing that it's an illusion? You know, like when you get a candida outbreak in your body, so you go on a sugar-free diet to kill it off, and the candida freaks out, and induces cravings in its die-off process, to test your resolve. The symptoms indicate you're on the right track.

    IDK. Just thinking out loud.

    yagrShoshin
  • KeromeKerome Love, love is mystery The Continent Veteran

    If you think about integration, you will find it is like a clockwork... many small cogs all clicking in unison to make the brain do what it does. But in effect there is no ‘I’, no central part that makes it what it is, at most you can say that you have a watcher, a witness who observes through the senses.

    yagrlobsterKundo
  • @Dakini said:

    Maybe worrying about what's holding "you" together is "wrong focus"? Maybe the existential crisis, is your ego feeling threatened, and making a desperate attempt to survive your attempts at realizing that it's an illusion? You know, like when you get a candida outbreak in your body, so you go on a sugar-free diet to kill it off, and the candida freaks out, and induces cravings in its die-off process, to test your resolve. The symptoms indicate you're on the right track.

    IDK. Just thinking out loud.

    No argument with anything you said, thank you. I do need to clear something up though. In the interest of saving myself a couple of keystrokes, I took a few shortcuts. One of them was to use the phrase 'existential crisis' when I was pretty sure that didn't fit well enough but couldn't think of a better phrase. There is angst for certain, a bit of frustration - and while it may be my ego (probably is) I don't think it's feeling threatened at all. My frustration is in staying together...not fear of losing my self. If there's no reason for the illusion...if I realize it is an illusion, why the hell won't it fall away?

    Yeah, that might not be perfect either but it's better. I'm finding myself rushing through posts because my health has declined and I find it very hard to concentrate for any length of time... perfect time to lose the self - cause it ain't working well. Okay, that was a joke - I see all kinds of problem with that statement but can't figure out how to fix it and keep it funny....so I'll smile at that and close. :) <-- that's the smile

  • @Shoshin said:

    “No man ever steps in the same river twice, for it is not the same river and he is not the same man.”
    –Heraclitus

    Favorite movie is the Circle of Iron w/ David Carradine, written by Bruce Lee. His character told the young neophyte who kept stepping in a stream, "You can't do it! It's impossible!"
    "Do what?"
    "You can't step on the same piece of water twice."

  • KeromeKerome Love, love is mystery The Continent Veteran

    @yagr said:
    If there's no reason for the illusion...if I realize it is an illusion, why the hell won't it fall away?

    Well, let’s assume the self is like a mechanical clock — many parts working in unison. The watch is not going to deny it is a watch even though it is just a collection of parts giving rise to the condition of watch-hood... there is no-self, but there is also the unity of the co-depending parts making contributions to the whole, and the functioning of the whole.

    Just so I don’t think the illusion of person-hood is just going to fall away; while the conditions of no-self and co-dependency can be realised, there isn’t anything out of the elements that make up the illusion of ‘I’ that suddenly goes missing when you do. You still have a body, a single point of view, an analytical mind, self-awareness, and so on.

    That’s my understanding, anyway.

    yagr
  • nakazcidnakazcid Somewhere in Dixie, y'all Veteran

    Look between the H and the J. It's right there.

    lobsterpaulysoShoshin
  • ShoshinShoshin No one in particular Nowhere Special Veteran

    There is angst for certain, a bit of frustration - and while it may be my ego (probably is) I don't think it's feeling threatened at all. My frustration is in staying together...not fear of losing my self. If there's no reason for the illusion...if I realize it is an illusion, why the hell won't it fall away?

    In a sense @yagr the more one tries to escape oneself the more the self/the illusion will persist ...

    I guess to become free of the self is to understand/become 'aware' of the paradox of self "I don't like my Self" ...It's like trying to let go of what one doesn't have hold of in the first place...

    In the long run it is only awareness in it's pure state that will sever this relationship/bond...

    I hope this sheds a little light .....

    lobsterZazen1yagr
  • What in the hell is keeping 'me' together? I have been sitting here trying to gain some clarity for about six weeks...I got nothing. Anyone want to help?

    Dukkha, illness, a carrot you ate, memory, flitting, attention, attraction, revulsion, thoughts, changelings ... some of which have been mentioned. More available ...

    The question is what will keep you a part? Or what will part you from your part in existence? Or to put it more hopefully, is there a being that lets go of the sense of separate bit parts?

    Act like a Buddha not an other or udder.


    Yum ???

    GuiyagrShoshin
  • GuiGui Veteran

    @lobster said:

    The question is what will keep you a part? Or what will part you from your part in existence? Or to put it more hopefully, is there a being that lets go of the sense of separate bit parts?

    One answer might be knowledge of, acknowledgment of, and realization of Buddha Nature.

    yagrlobster
  • @yagr said:
    why the hell won't it fall away?

    Old habits die hard?

    yagrShoshin
  • federicafederica seeker of the clear blue sky Its better to remain silent and be thought a fool, than to speak out and remove all doubt Moderator

    The most potent word in the English language, is, apparently 'If', so Kipling and the Spartans would have us believe. They make a compelling argument.

    The most potent instruction in the Buddhist Dhamma is 'Let Go.'
    Beats 'If' into a cocked hat for potency, any day, if you ask me.

    True dat.

    yagr
  • @federica said:
    The most potent word in the English language, is, apparently 'If', so Kipling and the Spartans would have us believe. They make a compelling argument.

    The most potent instruction in the Buddhist Dhamma is 'Let Go.'
    Beats 'If' into a cocked hat for potency, any day, if you ask me.

    True dat.

    Yeah well, you might be right ( in fact, I'd be surprised IF you weren't) but...the most potent letter in the English language has got to be the elusive 'I'. :)

    Shoshin
  • The sense of continuity between our independently arising I is a delusion according to my experience and dharma.

    There is no I. Just these dependent originations, attached to body, mind, yagr, lobster, location
    and the classic klesha

    KeromeyagrShoshin
  • ShoshinShoshin No one in particular Nowhere Special Veteran

    I'm reminded of this limerick I think belongs to Alan Watts...(well he mentioned it in one of his many talks).

    There was a young man who said though it seems I know that I know... what I would like to see is the "I" that knows me when I know that I know that I know ,,,....If you know what "I" mean ;) ;)

    ...And this from a book whose title and author are lost to memory....( well I vaguely remember the author having something to do with Zen and neuroscience )

    Awareness is fundamentally non-conceptual before 'thinking' splits experience into subject and object...It is empty and so can contain everything, including 'thought'. It is boundless. And amazingly, it is intrinsically knowing

    yagr
  • Buddhist dharma includes but in many versions does not orientate adequately to the emotional attachment to the flitting, flighty and fickle ‘I’.

    For example we may love our cushion comforts, our latest lama or a spiritual insight, book, mantra or teaching etc. An emotional sub text reinforces this and it materialises as a 'spiritual life'. As if that is distinct from real life ...

    How many good, bad and ugly selves are we?
    [lobster loses count]

    Shoshin
  • ShoshinShoshin No one in particular Nowhere Special Veteran

    How many good, bad and ugly selves are we?

    From an old post...

    According to Ven. Piyasilo (A Malaysian Buddhist monk and taken from a booklet called "On Being Your True Self" )

    WE ARE A "BUNDLE" OF SELVES

    "In our every day lives, very often we are but a bundle of selves - of which only normally one is operative at any time. One self decides at night to get up early in the morning, but what happens ? When we get up in the morning we find that another self has taken over in the night. The new self has now taken over and he (or she) does not want to get up.

    We all know that from time to time we are subjected to what are called 'moods'. For example, we may feel depressed, or angry, or restless. The moods take possession of us and we do no know why we are simply 'not ourselves'. And to the extent that they persist, we feel as through that we are someone else. If we analyse ourselves, we will discover that we are not so much a self as a succession of selves- a "bundle" of selves like a cable of wires- transmitting messages all at the same time.

    NO UNCHANGING, PERMANENT SELF

    There is no single unified, completely integrated self that is continually operative inside us. We can even say that we are each a collection of selves, each of which is fighting for supremacy,and this explains why we so often fail to do the things we have set out to do.

    Another way of looking at this situation is that we are always going through an ever changing process without any unchanging, permanent self. We are but the totality of this "bundle" of selves, which are often in conflict with one another. It is as if we were a bundle of selves loosely tied together by the thin string of personality with' a label bearing our name and address.

    GETTING "ON THE LEVEL" WITH OURSELVES

    In order to harmonize our various conflicting "selves", we should learn to know ouRSELVES better. This is done through the practice of awareness, of which there are four aspects: the awareness of oneself, of others, of the environment, and of the truth. The awareness of oneself is best cultivated through the practice• of meditation. Such meditation methods, like the Mindfulness of Breathing, helps us become more calm and more aware of ourselves. When we reach a state of mental calm during such a practice, we are said to have reached "horizontal integration" - we are "on the level" with ourselves.

    "VERTICAL -INTEGRATION"

    As we become more and more of ourselves, we get a clearer understanding and experience of other people and our environment. We begin to see our untapped energies and enjoy our own higher potentiality. Our consciousness becomes more and more developed. This is called "vertical integration", that is, the integration of our conscious mind with the Unconscious (or the "higher mind").

    As our consciousness becomes more and more developed, our experience of things begins to deepen and the horizon of our thoughts begins to widen. People and things around us no more delude us, but appear as they really are. No more do we see merely the surface of things, but we begin to "see through" them!"

    >
    >

    lobsterDakini
  • While we each have a separate conciseness, we each have an "I". Since we are not alone, we have a "We". I have my happiness and my suffering separate from others, yet not. We are all interconnected, interdependent, your happiness or suffering, no matter how closely or remotely it may be, though it is yours, is also my joy and my suffering. It is the reality of being.

    ShoshinlobsterZazen1
  • FoibleFullFoibleFull Canada Veteran

    Truth is not found in intellectualization. It is found in experience/awareness.

  • @FoibleFull said:
    Truth is not found in intellectualization. It is found in experience/awareness.

    I knew it!
    Nobody tells me Nothing! If only Buddhists were told this from the start ... wait ... I think we are. :3

    I 'n' Aaaargh, Pastafari
    https://tennessee.uloop.com/news/view.php/56624/how-to-celebrate-christmas-as-a-pastafarian

    Dakini
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