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Buddhists/I am-ness or being


Dear, Joe

I have glimpse about being. I are free to be happy because just I am I-am-ness. this is what I understand. your previous example to me that we have our higher Self other than ego. I want you to explain me about this and how to experience being which is said to be very simple task.

Best regards,


Dear Socheat,
 I hope I did not say we have a higher self.  We do not have a self that is higher and lower. Our view of true reality is blocked by our sense of self, that self that separates things to know things. We know things by objectifying them.  By this I mean we have a mind that creates the image of the things we see.  When we see a tree we have the thought ‘tree’, this is making the tree an object in our consciousness.  We do not perceive the tree, what we perceive is the thought of the tree.  We do this with ourselves too.  We create an object of thought of who Socheat or who Joe is. We identify this thought as our self.  This is the only way our mind can work.  This act of separating to know something is called ego.  It is not that we are a self with an ego, we ARE the ego.  We are the act of separating to know something.  We call this dualistic thinking.  There must be a duality between the between that which is seen and that which is seeing it, a subject/object duality.  Without the ability to do this we do not exist.  Someone in a coma cannot do this so they have no sense of self, they have no ego.  Since we can only know like this we cannot live in the moment or the present. Why? Because if you only know by separation it has to happen in time.  There is that which knows and that which is known.  In other words, there is a self that perceives something else.  I perceive the tree.  I, the subject, perceive the tree, the object.  So there is a separation between that which is perceiving and that which perceives.  They have to stand apart from one another.  You cannot be that which you perceive, therefore, you cannot perceive yourself.  If you cannot perceive yourself then how can you know yourself?  In the normal sense that we do it you cannot.  That self you are trying to know is the thing that is separating you, it is causing the problem.  The eye sees but it cannot see itself.  You cannot become awakened because to be you is to not be awakened.  Nirvana means extinction not bliss.

‘I amness’ or suchness is reality without the ego separation.  There is an I but there is no I.  There is a story in India philosophy called Indra’s Net.  At each point on the net is a mirror reflecting all the other mirrors, each expressing the universe.  In the classic Zen example of polishing a mirror you are trying to achieve I am ness by striving to polish the mirror and reflect true reality.  However, by polishing the mirror you are creating the duality between the person that polishes the mirror and the mirror.  By creating or striving for I am ness you are creating the duality.  It is a dilemma.  If you are aware it is happening then it is not happening. If you strive to do this it won’t work but if you don’t strive to do it, it won’t work. So what do you do?  It’s a dilemma and the dilemma is what you do.  What does this mean?  That which is seeking to solve the problem is that which is causing the problem.  It must cease to exist, it must dissolve.  It cannot do this willingly but it can set up the conditions for it to happen.  Smash the mirror. You can practice I am ness but you are doing that so that eventually you dissolve, you go away.  You are no longer practicing it, you become it.  The eye sees, the self is.  Now you are both perceiver and perceived simultaneously with no separation yet separate.  This is true suchness.  This is true reality, it already is, we stand apart from it with ego consciousness.  Is it easy to realize it? Not for most people but for some, yes.  If you are standing in the ocean looking for water what can someone say to you to see it?

I hope this helps you.  Take care,


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Joe McSorley


I can answer questions dealing with Taoist philosophy and Zen and not the historicity and religion of Buddhism and its different schools. I studied under Dr. Richard DeMartino and Masao Abe of the Kyoto School of Zen.

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