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Human Self Living its Own Life

Just about any form of self-inquiry, and many forms of mediation, gives a taste of it: this human self lives its own life.

In shikantaza meditation, I allow anything arising to live its own life. Thoughts come and go. Sensations come and go. Sights come and go. Tastes and smells come and go. Movements come and go.

In headlessness, I find myself as capacity for the world, as that which allows anything to arise, to come and go, to live its own life.

As Big Mind, I am that which is beyond and includes all polarities.

In the self-inquiry of differentiating that which comes and goes from that which does not, I first see that I am not that which comes and goes, then that I am that which does not come and go, and finally that the two are not separate.

Seamless field

Each of these allows for a taste of all phenomena as coming and going, living their own life. And the world of phenomena is a field with no boundaries anywhere, it is a seamless whole. There is no inside nor outside in this field of phenomena. This human self is just part of the landscape.

This human self living its own life

Each of these practices also allows for a taste of this human self as living its own life. There is doing there, but no doer. The thoughts, sensations, sights, tastes, smells and movements of this human self comes and goes as anything else. They live their own life, as anything else.

There is a thought, then a movement. It may appear as if the thought somehow initiated the movement, but that too is just another thought, a story about a connection not directly experienced (as Hume and others have noted).

Taste of selflessness

In finding ourselves as either (a) the witness of the world of phenomena, the seeing, pure awareness, or (b) as the Ground of anything happening, there is a taste of selflessness.

In the first case, finding myself as the seeing, there is a taste of selflessness in the world of phenomena. This human self is not separate from anything else, and there is no doer in or as that human self.

In the second case, finding ourselves as Ground, it becomes clear that there is no I even as the seeing. Even that is a superimposed story. The seen and the seeing is revealed as inseparable, as somehow differentiable but not two.

Transcend and include

So first, there is a transcending of the world of phenomena, tasting and then realizing that there is no I anywhere there. It all comes and goes, so I cannot be any of those things coming and going.

Then, I find myself as that which does not come and go. As awareness, consciousness, as room for and awareness of everything coming and going.

Then, there is an inclusion of that which comes and goes. That which arises as a particular form within awareness is awareness itself. The two are not separate, and not two. The seen and the seeing is not two.


There has been many tastes of this lately, including many times today (more as a thread throughout the day). This human self is doing something, and there is just the seeing of it and realization of it happening on its own.

Thoughts come and go. Sensations come and go. Sounds come and go. Tastes and smells come and go. Movements come and go. And it is all living its own life.

Maybe more remarkably: it is all perfectly capable of living its own life. It does anyway. It always has lived its own life.

And it is perfectly capable of doing so, even without the appearance of an I or a doer there.

There are many forms of liberation here. First, it is the liberation of anything arising from a superimposed I, a doer. In Zen language, we can say that the head on top of the head falls away. Thoughts are liberated from a sense of I. Sensations are liberated from a sense of I. The movements are liberated from a sense of I. The doing is liberated from a sense of a doer.

Then, there is the liberation of differentiating the seen from the seeing, that which changes from that which does not change. Each fall into place in awareness and realization of this difference.

And finally, not so different, Ground awakens to its own nature as having no I anywhere. It is liberated from being temporarily deluded about its own nature.

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