Question and Answer (or Question and Question?) Part Three

How do you see yourself? Is there a sense of self?

If you mean, do I build myself up to be something, or say I believe this is the right way, and therefore this other thing is the wrong way, or I have a system of living that I will defend and fight to prove right above all others? I am this or that? I belong to this or that group, and I will make decisions based on the mandates passed on to me? Is that what we mean when we talk about the self? Or at least, something close to it? If that is the case, then no. There is none of that sort of activity here.

Your first question, "How do you see yourself?" is excellent. Or maybe, "What do you see within."

I am aware of thoughts, and the whole movement of that kind of activity. I can't use memory to try to tell me something about myself, build up some conclusions and try to live life in that way. I just don't see the use of that. That would keep me out of the moment. And it isn't that I have decided to do it or that I won't do it; I can't do it. I am not capable of that anymore.

My memory has been affected in some way, though. So many memories that should be there, swimming around in the mind, able to make itself known in a split second, are simply gone. If I have no reason to think of something, no stimulus that calls up memory, it simply is not there. I have really noticed this since I have returned to the USA. I will go to a place that is very well known to me. A place where I may have spent years as a child. But nothing is there in my mind. I see these places and know that I have been there, but I have to exert myself in order to remember the past as it relates to that location. I can quickly remember the physical location, but as far as what I did when I was there, such as games I played, people I hung out with, or situations - good or bad - none of that is there. I am not sure how I know it or remember it. I just know it, and nothing else is attached to it.

I remember people and their voices, but only when I see them. When I do see them, that is all I see. For example, I saw someone recently I have not seen for at least 15 years. He was my next door neighbor for seven or eight years, so there should be plenty of memories there, one would think. But when he was there in front of me, nothing else was there other than him in front of me. I had no idea if he was a good or bad neighbor or whatever. When he started talking about the past, about situations we were both involved in, only then would the memories come up. But once the memory was no longer needed, it was gone as if it had never been there.

On the outside it must appear that I have a very poor memory. Perhaps brain damage? I don't know. My mom might say to me, "I saw X today. You went to school with him. Do you remember?" No is nearly always my answer. Then she'll give some more information or a situation, then something might come up. But that is not always the case. Sometimes there is nothing there. I would need the person directly in front of me in order to trigger some memory, and that would only be if I were trying to remember. I am not sure what that means, but this is still a new situation for me.

It is funny; I have trouble recalling events that actually happened, but I have no problem making up things that have never existed.

What do feel will happen in the moment when you die?

I assume you mean the ending of the physical body; the death of the organism. You probably have already guessed at my answer:

I don't know. I have absolutely no way of knowing what will happen when this body dies.

For some, not knowing what happens after death is more horrifying than death itself. It is more important for them to be in a good situation in death than to be attentive and compassionate here. But since I have no idea what happens, I might as well fully live life here NOW.

Have you attempted anything like astral projection/out of body experiences?

When I was very young; maybe 10 or 11 years old. I do not remember much about it. The only memory that comes up is of me falling asleep. Attempting to do that might have helped me to dream more clearly, but I really have no way of knowing if that is true.

How did your realization affect your relationship with your wife? One of the things that scares me most would be that in the end of thought, the people that currently matter to me most would not matter anymore. The question that I think I want to ask is, what distinguishes your relationship with her from others - what determines which people you intentionally interact with?

She would be the first to tell you, I was always too serious, brooding, stressed out, and quite negative. Negative in the sense that it was hard for me to see a positive resolution to the problems I thought I had. I was quiet and kept to myself, mostly. After December 1st, 2006, nothing was ever really the same. I am still quiet, but it isn't like before. I am more of a listener than a talker, especially now, because questioning requires listening and reflection.

Some people find it difficult to spend time with me because I usually don't talk unless I am asked something. There is nothing to respond to, otherwise. In the last few months I have realized this more and more; people are uneasy if you don't talk. If you just sit there all blissed out or whatever, it doesn't make for social interaction. After all, we humans are social creatures, and some people need it more than others.

I have been thinking of this for the last few weeks. How to effectively interact with others without struggling in my own memory. Since January, for the most part, if there is nothing to respond to, I don't speak. But my wife, Akiko, is helping me with this. She helps me to see the importance of communicating something, even if nothing is said to me. Some people really feel they need it. So communicating something to them, even if it seems unimportant, can make them happy. Even if I am just talking about how lovely a tree is.

Being in the moment, having a quiet mind, or whatever we call it, does not make us numb and unfeeling. It only seems that way because we are tied so closely to our thoughts, and those same thoughts project our emotions. But once those useless thoughts have been silenced, the useless emotions are silenced as well. So, when that has occurred, what is left? This is a question that is impossible to answer with the past. Once we leave those destructive thoughts alone, or rather they leave us alone, what is there? If thought is there, giving birth to emotions, and thought is of the past, then the emotions are of the past as well. Once you are out of the past, those emotions are gone. Now, does that mean we will be emotionless zombies? Or could it be that once the false emotions are gone, we are finally able to experience real feelings in the moment? I am not saying yes it is or it isn't. But look at it. If you are seeing someone without the destruction of your projected thoughts, then you are truly seeing that person for the first time. And from that space we are able to feel what is real for the first time. It is difficult to imagine something more wonderful than that.

If we are not busy, my wife and I will spend all of our time together. Beyond whatever we need to get done, that is our preference. But we have no trouble separating to do those things we need to do. And we are devoted to one another (in whatever way you wish to interpret that). But she doesn't think that I am "better" than another person just because we are married. And it doesn't necessarily make her accept what I say as true. And that is just fine with me.

I am happy to interact with anyone, just not as intimately as I may do with Akiko (There are, after all, certain things I will do only with her). There is no separation there in my mind. I cannot think that another person is different; I can only see the person in front of me, not a projection of every person I have ever met.