Vipassana Meditation -No-Self Journey 3
In this third vipassana meditation I will guide you on a meditation dealing with the experience of no-self. No-self is a highly advanced experience in Buddhist meditation and wisdom practices, and it is, perhaps, one of the most misunderstood concept and experience. Along with impermanence, dependent origination, typical reality vs ultimate reality, and emptiness the experience and awareness of no-self is considered a highly desirable experience in advanced meditation practice. I offer one caution, however; if you are person suffering from mental health and/or substance use disorders and/or symptoms, the meditation on no-self may be too dissociating to practice. It may be unhealthy for you to practice it. In my opinion, it may be better to let this meditation go. Let us begin with our guided meditation.
- Settle into your cushion or chair. Take a few full, deep, slow, calming breaths. Notice the impermanence off your breath as it arises, stands for a few seconds, then falls away into non-existence. That specific breath will never come again. No-self experience also rests on the same impermanence principle as the rest of materiality.
- As you rest in meditation, contemplate your experience of your self. The self is a construct based on experience of life and its consciousness. The what or who that is doing the experiencing is the experiential basis of consciousness about your self – the experiencer. Since we humans have no other point of self-reference, we conclude that all our experiences – the good, the bad, the ugly, and the boring – are evidence of an enduring self within an experiential way of being and doing. I assume you agree so far with this explanation. Meditate on this!
- As you meditate deeper, contemplate on the possible reality that that “this self” represents an impersonal pattern of brain-mind processes that are based on causes and effects. The awareness of the phenomena we experience is just another phenomenon. Such a view contradicts and disrupts the standard perception of self as I, Me, Mine, Ego, Self. Our entire worldly experience as a self is based partly on conditioning from pleasant, unpleasant and neutral experiences. Meditate on this!
- Now we shall take a deep dive! As you meditate even deeper, “play” with the possibility that your self is not a fixed, stable, independent entity. It is simply mind and body consciousness about experiences; it is simply neuron activation about an experience. There is nothing to hold onto. Impermanence once again propels us forward and downward. We have MIND plus EXPERIENCE plus impermanent MATERIALITY as the basis for all the foundations of the self. Meditate on this!
- Meditating on the experience of no-self, the dissociative emptiness and boundlessness that such practice may bring; simply be with the “feeling” of the experience here now. Do your best not to flee from it (unless it is causing serious discomfort for you). If you have been able to reach an “experience” of no-self, simply be in the experience of it without judgments. Be part of the transformational experience you are now in. The question is: if there is no-self, what/who is experiencing the transformation? Meditate on this!
- Now bring yourself, your mind and your body, back to presence in the meditation room. Contemplate where you have been and what you have been experiencing. Prepare to end the meditation. Before standing take a few breaths and re-associate with feelings in your legs and feet.
For more information refer to Catherine, S. (2011). Wisdom Wide and Deep: A Practical Handbook for Mastery of Jhana and Vipassana. Boston: Wisdom Publications, pp. 389-431.
By Anthony R. Quintiliani, PhD., LADC
From the Eleanor R. Liebman Center for Secular Meditation in Monkton, Vermont
Author of Mindful Happiness