Posts Tagged ‘self’

Are you here now?

January 7, 2010

Christmas is over and the New Year begun. My book is off to the publishers and I’m at last able to do other things, including getting back to those Questions!

Chapter 8 asks “Are you here now?”.

I like this question a lot because at first sight – like “Am I conscious now?” – the answer seems as though it must be an emphatic “Yes”. And yet my meditation experiences led me far away from “Yes”. This is not just because I have spent so much time questioning the nature of consciousness that I no longer have any idea what the word means, but because the whole sense of a persisting self has taken so many knocks.

In this chapter I describe a retreat which was extremely painful in many ways and included an interview with John which left me quite disturbed. He didn’t seem to understand me at all, and I didn’t really understand why not, or why he reacted the way he did. I suppose I was expecting a certain kind of help from him and that is not what I got. The way I have written about it makes it seem much less dramatic than the interview described in Chapter 6 but it was just as disturbing.

John clearly thought so too. In the “Response of a Zen Master” which follows the rest of the book, he writes “The interview on  p. 132 was a disaster for both of us. I failed to show you a way beyond your intellectual fixation and you persisted in a partial viewpoint that was intellectually convincing to you.”

If you’ve read his response you might like to comment – for I still don’t know what to think about it all this time later.

Who is asking the question ?

February 28, 2009

This is a wonderful question; a horrible question; but one that lurks within every other one of these Ten Zen Questions.

Before you read Chapter 3, you might like to have a go at it yourself. Settle down to sitting quietly and looking at the floor, or a nice flower, or whatever you like – or do an easy task like washing up or just walking – and ask yourself “Who is asking the question?”.

You can listen to me agonising about it if you like. 
And then you can read Chapter 3 and see how I got on.

What do you think? Where did the question take you? Have any of you experienced the “headless way” or tried any of the other things I describe there?

Oh, and by the way, the Psychology Today  blog is up and running. You might like to join in there too, or at least take a look. It will be very different from this one, though on the same topics. Advice welcomed!