Wednesday, February 15, 2012

Intention Experiment

It just hit me exactly what I recognized all those months ago.

I was trying to work out the "There's no me" thing, and couldn't get past the overwhelming feeling that there was. I mean, the evidence for a me was plain: The intention to perform actions was mine, I willed thoughts into existence. 

I think, therefore I am.

How could there be no me when I was clearly doing stuff? My existence didn't just seem ironclad, it felt ironclad, right down to the core. But, if you've been reading this blog, obviously now I'm pretty damn vocal about there being no self. 

So what was it? What was that single click, the thing that permanently took what I thought to be my life, sucked it out of its thought-constructed fantasy world, and slammed it right into the simple place called "reality"? 

Well, nothing nearly that epic. It was just seeing that the intention to do things isn't my intention: it isn't caused by an intender, willed in by a willer, or anything like that. Intention itself is the cause of intended actions.

All credit for narrowing this down goes to StepVheN by the way, he's been digging into this stuff for a few months now.

Anyway, here's an experiment for you to try:

Think of a flying pig.

Just popped in your mind automatically, right? Right. I'm magic.

Now think of your personal favorite animal. Flying. For 15 seconds.

Takes a bit more effort, doesn't it? Notice the feeling of that effort, that intention. If you haven't seen no-self yet, you'll interpret this as the feeling-equivalent of the effort *you are* putting into thinking. Just take note of that, how the driven thoughts feel different than the automatic ones.

Now raise your arm. Same feeling of effort, right? The intention.

Blink consciously. Wiggle your toes. Same thing, yeah?

Of course, man, get to the point!

Well, instead of looking at these actions as you are causing them to happen, look at them instead as if intention itself is the driving force behind them. Effort is the driving force behind them.

Look at how much better that fits what's going on. For everything. Everywhere where it feels like there's a you which causes the action, look at if as if the drive to do the action itself is driving it. Inseparable from the action, as well.

Look at how the intention doesn't come from a you. It may be triggered by curiosity, or passion, or any other reason.

If I remember correctly, the action that got me to see this was wiggling my toes. Could've been any conscious action.

The point is, it's that simple. Once you see it there's no going back. And by seeing, I mean seeing - noticing, directly in the world of phenomenon, how this plays out. Scientifically. It's insane.

Now at the time I just interpreted this as "Life's is running automatically on it's own, no core causer in control", which is true. But when I try to explain that to people, I keep getting the "But it feels like there's a me" argument.

Sometimes it's fancier, like "The sense of self is necessary, why are you saying we should get rid of it?"

I'm not saying you should get rid of it. I'm saying it's not a sense of self - it's a sense of effort, of intention, of a drive to do something (also the sense of an experiencer to life, but that's a different angle to take this). Tacking an "I" onto that drive, and saying that it causes the drive is false. That's the error that the entire human population is stuck in, however.

Obviously, don't agree with this, don't disagree with it, etc. etc. etc. This isn't an argument, it's an experiment. Try it out, and give me the results.

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