I'd get rid of life, but there's nothing better to trade it with.
I understand both oxymorons. I believe you transcend desire by perpetuating it to such an extent that it "exposes itself" and reveals the illusory nature of the ego (as defined by Buddhists). The thing with Alan Watts and Zen Buddhism is that they don't make the distinction between spirit and matter, or form and substance. As everything is relative, and opposites depend on each other, everything becomes one process, one pattern.
What I gathered from his and Tolle's teachings is that once the goal of ego transcendence is attained you define "you" as the awareness of everything that is happening, or even moreso you and what is happening merge, which is why Watts has defined himself as "the whole blinking works" - God. I'm not sure what happens to the self-talk. He does say thoughts become like clouds, they come and go without attachment. And it is possible that enlightened monks etc. do experience life without referring to themselves in their mind as "I" ("I wonder what I should do tonight," "I liked that book," "Maybe I'll introduce myself to that lady," etc.). They would be so present, and act without hesitation (but without neglecting consideration), that self-talk wouldn't be necessary. They can still think, obviously, about things, and will express themselves verbally using "I," but they wont need to bring the false sense of "I" into it. Or maybe they still employ the I-ness self-talk but their consciousness, being in a constant state of transcendence, doesn't identify with that "I" like it used to. The "I" is registered as a cloud or mirage so effortlessly that allows one to live in both "worlds" simultaneously: the first is the ego-world which was before all he experienced, the second in this place of transcendent awareness. So there is this simultaneous mode of being. Is this what it is like you for non-e? Or a little different? Do you experience the "I" as in your human form you but only incidentally, not in total identification with it? What is the "I" for you? If you had to pinpoint your being, where would it be?
I don't want to deny my tools and I don't think that is the point of this experience. I did cry when I "broke out" of ego-identification but I think I can stay there and still "operate" effortlessly. It is like after this transformative experience everything is still the same, except that "you," the little man in your head thinking thoughts and feeling feelings, disappears. There is still an "I," still self-talk, still the body, still baseball games, still everything, but this transient virus of ego-indentity is absorbed back into the pattern being. Maybe you are not even aware that it is there non-e. Maybe you don't have to be. Maybe it is just a bi-product of conscious thought, a fact always in the background that does or doesn't need to be addressed, depending on the individual. When I was walking home and I experienced this transcendent thing I was still aware of "myself," my body, etc. but the lines of separation between me, the road, and the group of people I passed dissolved. Everything was the same except I did have that feeling like I was something contained in a bag of skin. And thus I wasn't self-conscious, or was, or something.
Do you speak to yourself like you are two people, two "I's" ? I do, frequently. Perhaps to keep myself company, I don't know. But I have conversations and debates in my head about things. "You really should do your homework now," "I know but there's something else I need to do first," "Oh alright then." When you ask a question to yourself, i.e. "what should I do tonight?" it implies a questioner AND a subject, and as you play with answers this second personality is developed, the problem "I" and the solution "I" = two people. It is just one stream of thoughts but these different "I" are arising out of it. And when I look in the mirror, it is like I am not that person, but he is my avatar or something. "I" am this little man-identity behind the eyes of this avatar. It is where I live, and I receive inputs and send thoughts to the brain/body. And in this little man there is usually two voices, two "Is." So there is like three people here, and they all have very low self-esteem. So they are always thinking about what other people think about them and how to present themselves. And when I am alone they keep each other company.
So my real definition of myself is based on an illusory, imaginary little man in my head, that projects itself as a body, and then constructs its identity based on the reactions it receives from people I come into contact with (opinions of others - or "otherselves" I really like that I think it will catch on). So it is a complete fiction, really, an illusion, but a strong and persistent one. I have this image of "who I am" that I carry around with me and which is strongly rooted in memory. It converses with itself and tries to construct itself to not receive criticism and to succeed. However, arrogance disgusts it, and it recoils from inferiority feelings, but that's all it mainly experiences. It is a mental construction, just an image, created because human beings have the faculty of conscious thought. It is a string of thoughts that have, over time, constructed a sense of "I," which persists because of memory. And that is what I believe I can transcend.
Is any of this familiar? Do you or have you experienced something similar? This ball of selective memory that sits in the place in your head where you apparently think? This conscious thought pattern that has cycled so much so often it has created an image of itself detached in a way from your body? Are there degrees to this? Do I have it chronically? Or does your sense of "I" work completely differently?
There is another way which is to keep this sense of "I" intact and just work on self-development. Work on improving your sense of yourself until it becomes satisfactory. If you still have this sense of "I" then your experiences must have given you another alternative "piece of mind" gift. You are really a spirit, at different levels your identity is absorbed into higher versions of the self. That degree of understanding and experience does sound more than satisfying. And I don't mean this is "self devleopment," I got side tracked. Self-development would be like engaging in CBT, or finding something you are good at so you have value, or falling in love, or finding good friends, or a vocation, etc. Working with the sense of "I" and developing it until it is no longer something you want to get rid of. Building confidence, etc. BUT who knows how long that feeling will last. Maybe the ultimate experience is self-transcendence. And maybe self-transcendence comes in different "forms."
My sense of "I" is wounded, and that is why I seek self-transcendence. Avoiding pain, seeking pleasure. Normal human response. I do wonder though if I increased my sense of "self worth" whether I would still seek it. My sense of self would be coming from form, and, as Tolle says, form always eventually dissolves and I would be left feeling empty again. That's why I think self-transcendence should always be the aim, it is the ultimate. Identfying with "the formless," the unshifting, unchanging, and not with temporary structures of form. It's funny, I have ADHD, which could be classified as a "chronic sense of dissatisfaction," so perhaps these high ideals are purely biological, although my environment has also shaped who I am (obviously because my environment provided me with all this religious/spiritual material).
C.S. Lewis in his autobiography used to believe in a idealist type philosophy, which I guess is similar to Mahayana Buddhism in a way. But he was later baptised an anglican. It was like he moved from this identity of fractal consciousness to identifying with a spirit. And the spirit may be the "real" thing, but, as I said, this "I" ego-sense I've been talking about is more like a by-product of a thinking mammal and probably cultural influences as well. Can you have both? Can you know yourself as a spirit and also transcend, while in incarnational form, this tempting identity of "I" that thinking and memory has constructed? Perhaps, perhaps. Or maybe if you know yourself as spirit you don't need to. I guess it will just require more learning/reading, etc to learn more detail about these different schools of thought and integrate them with my experience. I often think though, from reading Buddhist texts, that once you transcend the "I" and you experience yourself as one with life you don't feel the need for religious ideas (though I guess being Eastern they don't really follow much Western stuff do they?). Then there is also the possibility that this "oneness" is some kind of neurological process and separation still exists; it isn't "real" in that it is a "trick of the mind." Real spirituality would then supersede it (and all the sciences).
But ultimately non-e we are slightly at odds. My reading has been in eastern philosophy, where yours in more rooted in Western esoteric traditions plus you have had real experiences. If you had read more of what I have we could relate better (in that you could understand my perspective of this ego-feeling "I" construct - or did my description about thought and memory help?). But yes, there must be many different ways to transcend the ego/personality/self. I understand Mahayana Buddhist philosophy because it matches my experiences. I can see what they are talking about, I am aware of it. Thus its appeal.
The people like Tolle and Watts and Ganagi may be at peace and in a state of detachment but can they extend their auric field, see other entities, "travel" the densities, and understand ancient and esoteric sciences? Probably not. Watts said that humans may develop psychic abilities in the future but that for Buddhist that was secondary to "awakening to the true nature of the self." But perhaps this true nature is archaic now, and was misunderstood. I am beginning to realise there are many possibilities. But my immediate concern is this pain and the way out seems to be transcendence in the Buddhist sense. All I can do is try I guess.
Thanks for the reply non-e.