Extracts From Books I & II
What's It Like To Be Enlightened?
Loses The Self
Self Vs. No-Self
Trying to comprehend the experience of no-self prior to experiencing it is challenging for two main reasons. The first part of the challenge is that what it means to have no self is impossible to imagine from the point of view of a self. It doesn’t matter if the self trying to imagine no-self is in a state of partial enlightenment or not. No-self is equally unimaginable from the points of view of the body, mind, spirit, and awareness.
The second part of the challenge is that the presence of the self is impossible for the self to see. The self is invisible from the point of view of itself. It doesn’t matter if the self trying to see or detect itself is in a state of partial enlightenment or not. The presence of the self is invisible from the points of view of the body, mind, spirit, awareness, and whatever else the self might take itself to be.
As a result, it’s easy to conclude that the self is gone when its presence is never clearly seen to begin with. While the self is present, you can’t clearly see it, and as a consequence you can’t really tell if it’s there or not. Therefore, you don’t actually know what it is that is supposed to be absent or no longer there in no-self. And you won’t really know until the self is gone. So the nature of both the presence and the absence of the self will remain elusive until it’s gone.
One thing to look out for that will help you recognize the experience of no-self is that no-self isn’t exactly something that happens to you. It happens to all experience, you might say. It’s not just that you lose your self; all experience loses the self. You never realized that all experience had a self. But when the self is gone, you recognize that the presence of the self wasn’t just there, where you experienced yourself to be—in the body, mind, spirit, or awareness. Rather, its reach extended throughout all of your experience. The whole field of experience and everything in it was caught up in and shaped by the self. So when you lose your self, everything else loses it too. Not just you but the whole field of experience and everything in it will be selfless. I imagine that this might sound strange. However, even a temporary taste of the experience of no-self will make this evident for you. Until then, you can keep it in the back of your mind as a way of helping you determine whether or not you are having an authentic no-self experience.
So, the experience of no-self does not take place here in a mind/body. Nor does it take place in spirit or in awareness. The experience of no-self is not known in the place that the self currently seems to be. Rather, no-self is experienced everywhere and in everything. No-self is in the chair you are sitting on, it is in your dog, it is in your right hand, it is in the thoughts continuously appearing and disappearing in your mind, it is in the roar of the plane flying overhead. It is not only in those things but it is them. No-self is what they are discovered to be.
(End Book I Quote)