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The Origin of the Delusion of Self - by Bill Smart

Self is an delusive creation of the Discriminating Mind. This is as opposed to the pure (no trace of Self) , direct experience of Buddha Nature. The Discriminating Mind is the source of the delusion of dualism, in contrast with Buddha Nature which is non-dualistic. The Discriminating Mind, in addition to creating the delusion of dualism, also performs a variety of post-processing functions on originally pure, Direct Experience. Such functions include: filtering, selecting, reducing, augmenting, interpreting, categorizing and assigning associations, and of course Attachment (identification of Self with experience or thought).

The cornerstone and most persistent creation of the Discriminating Mind is the dualistic delusion of Self/Other – the delusion of Self.

This appears to happen as follows:

1. First Buddha Nature becomes Aware of Direct Experience. (This is a very clumsy statement because of language restrictions. Actually, Buddha Nature/Direct Experience/Awareness/Becomes (is) are just different words describing the same thing. There are no dualities, no separation, no activities, no becoming, only now - Just THIS!)

2. Then the Discriminating Mind creates the delusion of duality.

3. As soon as the delusion of duality is created, like the opening of Pandora’s Box, there arises a multitude of dualistic-based delusions, the most insidious and destructive of which is the dualistic delusion of Self/Other, but also include other more benign dualistic delusions such as Thoughts. (Why this happens is not really of interest to me; but I assume it is an evolutionary trait, probably to some extent existent in all life forms (sentient beings), that had a survival advantage and was therefore retained and passed onwards.

I believe the best religious reference to this is in The Holy Bible in the Book of Genesis concerning the banishment of Adam and Eve from the Garden of Eden. I read this story as a metaphor for how the rising of duality and Self conceals Buddha Nature. The Garden of Eden is of course a metaphor for Buddhahood. It is a state of living in the constant presence of God – being one with God – a monist, non-dualistic state. Adam was given only one command: “…you must not eat from the Tree of the Knowledge of Good and Evil, for when you eat of it you will surely die." [Genesis 2:17]. Adam and Eve were banished from the Garden (lost their non-duality, their awareness of Buddhahood) because they ate the fruit of the Tree of Knowledge of Good and Evil.

Although the Judeo-Christian interpretation of this myth focuses on temptation and disobedience as the cause of the banishment, I believe the metaphorical cause of the banishment was the knowledge that they acquired from eating this fruit. They acquired knowledge of Good and Evil; which is another way to say they acquired the ability to create dualism which is represented by the dualism of Good/Evil.

The myth goes onto say that after eating of the Fruit Adam realized he was naked. This I believe is a metaphor teaching that as a result of the rising of duality Adam created the delusion of Self/Other, and became 'self-conscious'. He ‘realized’ his Self as naked – apart from God, no longer clothed in God’s grace and protection; no longer clothed in the non-dualistic robe of Buddhahood. This is all depicted very well in the entire chapter of Genesis 3.)

4. Finally, depending on the existence and degree of attachment you have to these delusions, thoughts can be completely transparent (no concealment of Buddha Nature), varying degrees of translucency (partially obscuring Buddha Nature), to completely opaque (totally concealing Buddha Nature)

My experience, testimony and conclusion in this area is that awareness of thoughts, like awareness of sensory experience, can, if encased in attachment, completely conceal Buddha Nature; or, like awareness of pure, direct experience, can themselves be the manifestation of Buddha Nature.

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Copyright © 2004 Bill Smart.  All rights reserved.  Reproductions permitted.