Who are you? We should be aware of how we define ourselves. I am a physicist, because I identify in part, with my education and first career. So here’s some advanced physics and its parallel with meditation and our sense of self. We don’t hear much about Relativistic Quantum Field Theory (RQFT) even though it was a major Nobel-winning breakthrough in 1965 when it was first created for electrodynamics (QED). We do hear about Quantum Mechanics (QM) from earlier in the century, when it was discovered that very small things like electromagnetic waves (light) are actually made up of small quantities called photons. We do hear about Einstein’s relativity, though his two theories get mixed up: Special Relativity (SR) = constant speed of light, so if you go very fast odd things happen, and General Relativity (GR) = his theory of gravity being a warp in spacetime. Well, RQFT was the unification of QM and SR and is technically called Second Quantization. Just like light being made up of photons and looks like a wave at larger scales, RQFT explained that every electron in the Universe is just a piece of the “electron field”. Same thing for each of the fundamental particles: a “proton field” a “neutron field”, etc. (technically each particle is a soliton in the corresponding field). Einstein thought it might go even further and all these fields might simply be different ways of folding up empty spacetime. OK, so here’s the parallel with meditation: what if like all the electrons being the same field, each of our selves are expressions of a Universe-wide field of consciousness? This is much different than saying we are all the same thing (e.g. a generic human?), and it is different from saying we are all connected (i.e. have an effect on each other). This is saying there is only one consciousness, and it is having experiences from multiple points of view. When we are in third Jhana it does feel like this, so I think it’s a reasonable theoretical explanation. But coming back to the practical aspect. Because we experience things with the mistaken belief that we are separate beings, we suffer. Buddha said we suffer from anicca, dukkha, and anatta (impermanence, dissatisfaction, no-self). We are talking here about anatta. So when we meditate we let go of all that defines us, so stop thinking of our self as the person who has this relationship, property, education, job, role, values, dreams, etc. Instead we become a universal person, or as Shibuya Sensei translated Buddha: “Sabbe dhamma anatta ti yada pannaya passati. Atha nibbindati dukkhe. Esa maggo visudhiya.” = “Achieve universal consciousness. Being not disturbed by anything at all.”

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