What’s It Like to Turn Off Your Self?
I like this guy’s mix of science background and generally down-to-earth quality. He claims he’s actually succeeded in stopping his thoughts. I mentioned him before — listened to the podcast of his interview at Buddhist Geeks, which is worth a listen. This is good, too. You can see he’s a regular guy, sipping his ice tea with slice of orange, enjoying a few laughs and a thoughtful discussion about, among other things, what neuroscientists call the neural Default Mode Network, which is seems to be strongly associated with the activity of thinking about one’s self.
Gary was able to shut his default mode network off, it seems. He no longer has that self-narrative of thoughts. He is still able to function, however. He can read and make memories — they are just no longer oriented in terms of self. He’s able to function in a professional setting where he’s required to digest new material, but says he just goes the the meeting “empty.” And when a question is asked he just waits to see what comes up.
About how dismantling the self was one of the focal points of his spiritual practice — of which there are several. It was during a yoga pose that his thoughts simply stopped. He makes some interesting points about self and where it comes from, how it may have evolved out of language — the necessity of having a subject and an object… And he talks about two important aspects of self — self in time and self and other.
On one level this seems so cool. But the rational part of me needs to step back for a moment. He turned off his thoughts. Obviously, he’s doing okay. He’s not a vegetable. He functions at a high level. But what happens next week? Next year? It’s just very new territory, it seems to me.
I really recommend you watch the video, if you have any kind of interest in this sort of thing. It seems to me he’s achieved what is sometimes referred to as a continuous non-dual state. He’s got a mystical consciousness. I like how he politely disagreed with the idea of “After the Ecstasy the Laundry.” His ecstasy continues.
He also has a website and blog where he talks about some of this stuff.