Selﬁng, is a very accurate description of how we are creating and maintaining the shell-like falsehood of who we are. Most people are actually selﬁng all day. If we look into a mirror, what do we say? “Oh, I don’t like my hair.” This is selﬁng. Then we talk to someone: “Oh, I don’t like this person.” Or, “This person has very good manners and I want to hang out with this person. Maybe I can get something from this person.” We are engaging in this mental compulsion, this constant selﬁng.
And we pray to some kind of divine entity hoping that we will be successful and that we will be redeemed. That’s another way of selﬁng. It’s another way of constructing this misperception of who we are. It has nothing to do with the truth. It has nothing to do with pure awareness.
Lost in a Vicious Circle?
So humanity has been lost in this vicious circle, beautifully and dreadfully through eons and eons, this vicious circle which is the process of selﬁng. Of course there are many who have had the courage to break that vicious circle in their very lifetime and those remarkable individuals came from every tradition, not only the Buddhist tradition. And you can be one of those remarkable individuals. Why not?
So the true spiritual practice is actually unselﬁng. And then ﬁnally, when we know how to turn our attention inward, we have the desire to ﬁnd everything inside, not somewhere else. And then something extraordinary happens and then we have the possibility to come close to the mind of Buddha, the awareness, the opening heart, the liberation, the taste of the supreme truth. We begin to actually experience all of them in every moment when we have the taste of liberation, and that is the process of unselﬁng.
So when we have experiential understanding of this notion of unselﬁng, that means that we have recognized the truth. We have glimpsed the truth and have realized our true nature. From that moment on there is a beautiful dance that happens in our consciousness. The dance is the dance between awareness and unawareness. It is the dance between selﬁng and unselﬁng.
The Beautiful Dance of Awareness
It is a beautiful dance because in one moment we are in the realm of awareness and we are unselﬁng and in the next moment we might be in the realm of unawareness and we are selfing. “Now I’m selﬁng, don’t come close to me. I’m not so nice anymore because I’m selﬁng. Oh, now I’m unselﬁng. Come here. Let’s have a cup of tea because I’m loving, I’m melting. I’m harmless. I’m at peace.”
It is an amazing dance, this dance between selﬁng and unselﬁng, and this dance will continue for a long time. Do not try to have any hope beyond this beautiful dance. This dance is what we need. And do not try to long for some kind of great, eternal liberation, which does not happen very often. There is no eternal unselﬁng.
Get The Latest From InnerSelf
Do not expect that you are going to run into eternal liberation. It’s the idea that you are always residing permanently, uninterruptedly in the realm of supreme awareness. This may exist as a possibility, but do not expect it, because when you expect it then your attention will be focused on that and you will not know how to enjoy this beautiful dance, the dance between awareness and unawareness.
Taking Refuge in Comfort is Deceiving
When we feel a sense of comfort because we have acquired something from the outside, some favorable circumstance like making a lot of money or earning high academic degrees, there is comfort. Maybe we realized that we are very healthy, or maybe somebody told us that we are extraordinary; maybe we realized that we are very smart or very strong or very ﬁnancially secure. There is comfort and it is very easy to be deceived by the comfort because the comfort is actually happening in the realm of self.
Do not take refuge in comfort any more because comfort is ﬁlled with discomfort. There is a fear of losing everything that you own. There is also fear regarding this false posture that we construct called “I.” I am; I am secure; I am great. This is already falling apart. Deep down we know that. So there is this unspoken, silent discomfort and insecurity.
Unselfing: Dissolving and Melting the Self
When we meditate and pray, then unselﬁng happens. Unselﬁng is very beautiful because in that effortlessness of dissolving self, then the melting happens. Our fear melts. Our sorrow, our contraction, our pretension, our passive-aggressiveness, and our hopes all begin to melt. All of our mind’s strategies begin to melt; our strategy to be successful, our strategy to get whatever we want from God, or our strategy to make enlightenment happen sometime in the future, as if enlightenment is some kind of a thing, some kind of reward. We lose all of these strategies, not painfully but ecstatically, in that moment of unselﬁng.
This is very fearful to the spiritual ego because melting is very wishy-washy. The spiritual ego doesn’t like anything that is wishy-washy. It loves boundaries. It loves fences and wants to have very strong fences between the Buddhist neighborhood and the Christian neighborhood. The spiritual ego doesn’t have an open heart to language that it is not familiar with. So this melting is very wishy-washy but it is the real deal after all. This melting is enlightenment.
So the essence of spirituality is actually just to melt. We melt all of the ideas of who we are, where we are going, and what we are doing. We just melt everything. When we melt everything, what melts is not our true nature but our painful ego. And where we land is this eternal ground, the sorrowless land within, which is always there.
©2012 Anam Thubten.
Reprinted with permission of the publisher,
Snow Lion Publications. www.snowlionpub.com
The Magic of Awareness
by Anam Thubten.
About The Author
Anam Thubten grew up in Tibet and at an early age began to practice in the Nyingma tradition of Tibetan Buddhism. Among his many teachers, his most formative guides were Lama Tsurlo, Khenpo Chopel, and Lama Garwang. He is the founder and spiritual advisor of Dharmata Foundation, teaching widely in the U.S. and occasionally abroad.