What does it mean, I don't exist?

This is the place to post whatever questions you have related to the teachings of Eckhart Tolle. The rest of us will do whatever we can to help you achieve a better understanding :)
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Webwanderer
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What does it mean, I don't exist?

Post by Webwanderer » Mon May 15, 2006 5:57 am

The conceptual statement "I don't exist" is something that is being kicked around like a prized merit badge. It seems that in the non-dual circles, adopting this idea is the golden calf of attainment. But if I don't exist, how do I know it? What is it that doesn't exist and what is it that knows it? I mean if I really don't exist, how is it that I can even make such a bold statement.

In other words, what gives?

Well, in a forum such as this, we seldom ask such probing questions without postulating some sort of answer. So I offer the following as a possible, if not likely, expose'.

There are two selfs, or I's, as we perceive them. One Real and one unreal. The unreal identity is the one that in Reality does not exist. That identity is the one with a name, Lucy, Phil, Kiki, Heidi, Mc, Midget and of course Webwanderer. That also includes the rest that I didn't name, but what does it matter, you don't exist anyway.

This assumed identity is a concept. It is a belief in personhood. It is supported by memories and more beliefs about an existance separate from everything else in its perceived world. Now the world it sees out there is no more real than its belief in its separate selfness. The world it sees is an interpretation of data based on the false premiss that there is something "out there" that is not me in here. (The fact is, everything we think we see out there is an interpretation of a chemical process going on in the back of the brain. Its based on sensory input from eyes, ears, touch etc. But lets not let science get in the way of a good discussion.)

This knot of assumptions and beliefs has the feel of a real person and most of the world accepts that self, as a truth. This false concept of personhood is what keeps us at war with our neighbors because we feel we need to defend our vulnerability. This separate person that we believe ourselves to be is the I that does not exist. So, when we make the statement "I do not exist", if we do so with understanding and clarity, we are indeed speaking the Truth.

Being is the True "Self", of which there is only One and we are It. There is no other, I AM is Non-Dual. Although historically we have given it a name, True Self or Being has no name. A name is a noun and denotes a limitedness. Life is a verb, Being is a verb. In Awareness, our True identity, experience is Eternally new and all Creation is within us. There is nothing "out there." There is no out there.

Unfortunately words only conceptionalize the undefinable, but they may be useful as pointers.

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Post by singh » Mon May 15, 2006 9:14 am

If you could decide either for existance or non-existance, if the choice was your's, what would you decide, TO BE OR NOT TO BE?
When I can not speak my mind, I can only sing my heart...J. Lennon

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Re: What does it mean, I don't exist?

Post by phil » Mon May 15, 2006 2:36 pm

Great question WW, hey, the concept Phil wants a merit badge, so it'll give it a go.
Webwanderer wrote:This assumed identity is a concept.
Hmm. And concepts exist, don't they?

By "exist" I just mean the normal use of the word, has mass and weight and takes up space.

Somewhere in my brain are nerve cells that store a million memories and concepts that define "Phil" and these cells are made of water and other stuff, and have weight, and take up space.

If "I" is a concept, and we say concepts don't exist, we might as well say our brains don't exist.

A photograph of Phil is a real thing, it's just not the person in the photograph. Perhaps what the teachers mean is, don't stare at the photograph so long you start thinking the photograph is Phil.

But, you know, the photograph itself is _part of_ Phil.

If you saw open my skull with the right equipment, you could probably find and touch the image of Phil in my brain.

If we look at "I" like a scientist, instead of a philospher, we might observe the whole darn world is basically just a concept.

The concept of "me" exists in my brain as a pattern of electro/chemical energy. What is every atom in the universe but a pattern of electrical energy? The boundary line between what exists and what doesn't can be rather murky. Maybe that boundary line doesn't exist either?

So, the good news is, if you really want to understand Tolle, you have to get a masters degree in physics on top of everything else. :-)

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Post by Chelsy » Mon May 15, 2006 3:30 pm

To see the Truth of what Webwanderer has said, one must go beyond the mind.

When the wave realizes it is the ocean, all the attempts of the wave to stay a wave dissolve.

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Post by gina » Mon May 15, 2006 3:38 pm

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Last edited by gina on Wed Jun 14, 2006 12:48 am, edited 1 time in total.

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Post by Egoicmidget » Mon May 15, 2006 5:26 pm

My take is that our brains and ego’s in there insatiable quest for more and conclusions of what things mean gets hammered when there is no answer.
The brain insists there has to be “gestalt” a wholeness as it were.
My view is duality itself contains the answer.
If we adopt an awareness (or concept) we embrace a view point which is of the mind/ego.
Definitions truly hamper us because language, by it’s very nature is dualistic.
The concept of oneness for me combines into a whole seemingly opposite polarities.
But once again this is of the mind and so can only be a pointer towards a concept.
Once again the mind gets in the way.
The other side of the coin is that awareness the non-self (the I don’t exist self)eventually tells the self the truth which is you have always been were you are seeking to go, and then you discover in fact you are already there.


So if I mention a non-self the opposite of the self we get into another confusing discussion.
However, my version anyway, is that the non-self is fused and in actuality one with the self (I).
And because this is so an awareness of (I) is possible.
The more the mind gets involved in trying to “get it” the more verbiage occurs leading to confusion.
Because the duality says “wait a second if I don’t exist, who knows this.”
It’s that question itself that provides the answer in terms that are not of the mind, so as the sages have taught us the question , “WHAT AM I” or “WHO AM I” ? Inquiry seems to strip away what we are not.
Which leads us to the conclusion that we are awareness itself ,which doesn’t have form to the best of my understanding. It is formless and as such the mind gets totally lost trying to understand which is it’s function.
So my own mind and it’s desires and curiosity inhibit me from the final answer which, again to my understanding cannot be found using the mind although that isn’t to say the mind won’t receive the gift.

The true self shines despite our struggles it is there and our awareness clearly feels this truth.
The witness is the abiding consciousness that always there eternally.
If you feel you will know this truth. If you think the mind won’t get it.

John

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Post by Chelsy » Mon May 15, 2006 6:16 pm

The true self shines despite our struggles it is there and our awareness clearly feels this truth.
The witness is the abiding consciousness that always there eternally.
If you feel you will know this truth. If you think the mind won’t get it.
Beautiful post, John

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Post by gina » Mon May 15, 2006 7:34 pm

...
Last edited by gina on Wed Jun 14, 2006 12:46 am, edited 1 time in total.

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Post by Egoicmidget » Mon May 15, 2006 8:12 pm

From "Spectrum of Consciousness" pg.288 "_Ken Wilber

The chapter is powerfully titled "That which already is".

The Zenrin poem states it perfectly.


" If you understand, things are just as they are.
If you don't understand, things are just as they are".


And Eckhart(not Tolle but Meister) defines as follows:

"Simple people conceive that we are to see God as if he stood on that side and we on this.

It's not so; God and I are one in the act of my perceiving him".


After reading that I pondered for quite awhile to let that sink into my being.
To me, that defines formless awareness and unity consciousness and the eternal far better than I ever could.


John

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Post by heidi » Mon May 15, 2006 10:41 pm

act of my perceiving him".
That him thing has a tendency to personify that which can't be personified or manifested - just as we tend to give we-who-don't-exist names and personalities. When we stop trying to name or manifest God, we'll understand our not-ness and be as whole as any unmanifested being can Be! :).
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Post by Webwanderer » Tue May 16, 2006 12:18 am

Alright, I had this nice clear pool of understanding and somehow it got so stirred up it now looks like a mud hole, but as John stated, too much verbage can be confusing. Let's try to clear things up a bit.




Phil wrote:

Hmm. And concepts exist, don't they?

By "exist" I just mean the normal use of the word, has mass and weight and takes up space.

Somewhere in my brain are nerve cells that store a million memories and concepts that define "Phil" and these cells are made of water and other stuff, and have weight, and take up space.




Do concepts exist? Sure, but that does not mean there is any truth in them. A concept is an idea, right or wrong, hypothesis or speculation, it exists as what it is, thought. That is not the issue. The concept of a separate person is a real concept, but is the person real. Writers have concepts of personalities in their stories, and they can hire actors to play the roles. But does the personality created become real just because the actor plays the role well. No merit badge for you.

As to how much your brain weighs, how is that relevant to the "space" taken up by an idea or concept? If concepts take up space are we in danger of running out of room to fit more in? Or is there an overflow valve that lets out unused concepts to make room for more? Maybe that is what our mouth is for.If "I" is a concept, and we say concepts don't exist, we might as well say our brains don't exist.

Are you saying every concept you hold in your brain exists as a reality, in and of itself, and not just as a real concept? The point isn't whether the brain exists, but whether the conceptual person that we identify as "me" exists. As we begin to see more clearly we begin to see the self for what it is.



Phil wrote:

The concept of "me" exists in my brain as a pattern of electro/chemical energy. What is every atom in the universe but a pattern of electrical energy? The boundary line between what exists and what doesn't can be rather murky. Maybe that boundary line doesn't exist either?





OK, you score some good points here. Maybe the merit badge isn't out of reach after all. Yes, everything is content within Awareness. All concepts and false identities and beliefs and bodies and stuff ad-nausuam, all of it is part and parcel of the One Being. It is an internal reality. The "I" that doesn't exist is that belief in a self that sees an external world, of which it is separate.

The "I" that does exist is not really an I at all, but Awareness of I. "I AM" is, fundamentally, just a pointer.. But it is as close as limited language allows us to get, in words, to the Truth of of our Being.[/quote]

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Post by phil » Tue May 16, 2006 2:28 pm

Webwanderer wrote: The concept of a separate person is a real concept, but is the person real.
I dunno. But we could do a scientific experiment to find out. Do you have a brick, or some other heavy object handy? Please remove your shoes.

Experiment:

1) Hold brick close to body at chest level.

2) Then, release all attachments to brick.

3) Publish your results! :-)

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Post by mccpcorn » Tue May 16, 2006 3:28 pm

Perhaps the phrase should be "I" doesn't exist?

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Post by Webwanderer » Tue May 16, 2006 10:34 pm

Phil Wrote:
Webwanderer wrote:
The concept of a separate person is a real concept, but is the person real.


I dunno. But we could do a scientific experiment to find out. Do you have a brick, or some other heavy object handy? Please remove your shoes.

Experiment:

1) Hold brick close to body at chest level.

2) Then, release all attachments to brick.

3) Publish your results!
So Phil, I gather by your recommended experiment that you have accepted, or at least are suggesting, that an effective way to determine the truth of the existance of a separate person, is to smash ones foot with a brick. Hmm...

It would follow then that you are also suggesting, by said experiment, that proof of a person is a functional body. Then it would seem reasonable, that if said rock should damage said foot to the point of a necessary amputation, then said person is no longer as much person as he was before the foots removal.

I would remind you that no matter how deeply an actor believes himself to be the charactor that is being played, he does not become that charactor no matter how effective the role is played. And an actor, playing King Lear, will experiece pain in a smashed foot the same as anyone esle. It does not make him King Lear.

A pretended person is just an imagining, even if the imaginer believes it real. I will grant however, that a strong enough belief in any false concept, is likely to seem real. Sheding light on that misperception, is the point of worlds great teachings. Let us ask ourselves, are we genuinely seeking truth or are we just enjoying the controversy?

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Post by chaz » Tue May 16, 2006 11:25 pm

Wow... so much mind stuff.....just be.
Chaz

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