Susan Murphy Asks What is Forgetting the Self?

Susan Murphy Asks What is Forgetting the Self? October 10, 2007

“There is no curriculum for work on character except life, and no graduation from it except death. How we die is just the final articulation of our character spoken in the hearts of those we leave behind. The whole matter is properly a modest business. Good character is not expounded, it is merely lived. And shame, not praise, is its compass. Perfection of character is indeed a koan, like the bodhisattva vows – we must resolve what it may be as moment by moment enquiry into who we really are, and what that wants of us.

“Descartes famously said, ‘I think, therefore I am,’ seeming to express in seed form the Western Enlightenment view of the primacy of consciousness and reason in the making of the world. But meditation practice, and he exploration of the nature of awareness it opens up in us, soon discovers that while something about us may be defined by thought and reason, it is not even remotely the whole of what we seem to be. Who are we between or before or below thought, in sleep, or in deep states of meditation when the ordinary sense of the self dwindles to a small speck in vast space? Dogen said, ‘To enter he Way is to study the self. To study the self is to forget the self.’ How interesting: a meticulous study that becomes a meticulous ‘forgetting.’

“What is this forgetting of the self?”

Susan Murphy

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