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Buddhadharma : Fall 2018
JOSEPH GOLDSTEIN 69 particularly troublesome and that may last just a few moments, leav- ing hardly any wake. These thoughts go mostly unnoticed, and yet in the moments that we are lost in this almost subliminal stream of mental activity, we recreate and strengthen the felt sense of self. On a recent retreat, during walking meditation, I began to pay particular attention to these light, quickly passing thoughts. I saw that many of them, in one way or another, were referencing a sense of self: a memory, a plan, a comment, a judgment. Each time I was lost in one of these ephemeral thoughts—which was quite often, pre- cisely because they were so quick and not obviously impactful—it was the ongoing and unnoticed strengthening of a felt sense of self. This reminded me of an experience we’ve all probably had of waking up in the morning, and then falling back into a dream state for a few moments before becoming fully awake. Being lost in the play of light, unobtrusive thoughts is like falling back into the dream, and so I began to remind myself during the day: “I’m dreaming myself into existence.” This remembrance became an inspiration to stay more fully awake. Through a deepening recognition of selflessness, there is a surpris- ing and growing sense of connection and intimacy. On the deepest level, we realize there is no one there to be separate, and the natural outgrowth of this realization is compassion. As Dilgo Khyentse expressed it, “When you realize the empty nature of phenomena, the energy to bring about the good of others dawns uncontrived and effortless.” Selflessness, then, is none other than love, not in the sense of a particular feeling, but as an activity, an awake, compas- sionate responsiveness to ourselves and the world we live in. The self is not something in and of itself; rather, we create the felt sense of it moment to moment.