The purpose of this meditation turned out to be to contemplate the way in which my I appears – or rather, how it appears to appear.
I began by making the appropriate preparations for meditation and then started by reviewing the brief but brilliant instructions in ‘How to Understand the Mind’ by Geshe Kelsang Gyatso.
I this fabulous book he tells us that normally we see our body in the parts of our body, but in fact when we look for our body, we cannot find it – only the parts of our body. In the same way, when we look for our self, we find it in the body and mind, but if we look with wisdom for our self, we cannot find that either.
I thought about how the self appears to me. When my body is hot, I say ‘I am hot’. But when my knee hurts, I don’t say ‘I hurt’. I say ‘My knee hurts’. This indicated to me that when there is a generalised bodily experience then I identify my body and my self as the same entity. But when there is a localised issue, I recognise that my body is separate from my self. How odd.
Furthermore, when I have angry thoughts in my mind I normally say ‘I am angry’. I would never normally say ‘I have angry thoughts in my mind’.
Both these thoughts led me to conclude that I view my body as my self and my mind as my self and usually all three are just considered as one entity.
If this was how things were then it would be fine, but it does not take long to find inconsistencies which I normally overlook, ignore or simply don’t comprehend. For example, if I was asked specifically ‘Are you your body’ I would say ‘of course not’. That’s when I am thinking specifically about the issue. But when it’s a cold day I will walk into the house and declare ‘I’m freezing’ without any hint of that being incorrect. How familiar I am with this idea.
So this is what I contemplated in my meditation today – the fact that I do have a body and I do have a mind and I have a self which depends upon them both, which owns them both. But which most of the time I consider these three to be one – all three of me!
I looked at this threesome and found that I could not find the self at all. It completely vanished when I looked for it. It was noticeably absent – it was almost rude of it, since it’s there the rest of the time. I focused on this absence as the object of my meditation, and looked long and hard at the absence of my self.
May all living beings come to terms with their lack of inherent existence, for the benefit of all living beings.
Practice in the Meditation Break
I will try to keep a consideration of this thought throughout the day.