Our dialogue about choosing continued when my friend wrote me the following:
Because the "I" is just a thought, how could a thought make a decision or take an action? "Choices" appear to happen and action happens. That it happens without the ego doesn't mean nothing happens, it means the "I" doesn't choose or do it. It just happens.
Making a philosophy out of "there is no doer" could lead to a belief there is no one to choose or do anything, therefore, forming a mental idea, that there is nothing "I" can do. This is not freedom from the "I" or realizing there is no doership. It is a belief that could have confusing consequences for a person drawing this conclusion. No conclusions need be drawn from the seeing that happens when the inquiry into doership is done. When it is seen there is no one, no conclusions need be formed, no philosophy developed, no mental perspectives crystalized to try to be lived by.
Here is my reply:
I agree with everything you say, and I also find it helpful or "enlightening" to explore the mechanisms of identification and action as if there is a self to act. I find both perspectives to be useful, although I also appreciate what you said about having no belief or concept about what is happening. But just so that I do not even form a belief in not having any beliefs, I also play with holding beliefs very lightly, picking them up and letting them go as seems useful.
One quick question for you. You point out that the "I thought" is just a thought and therefore cannot do anything, but what about that which thinks the "I thought"? What is that? Can it act? I will share that in the Diamond Approach which I have been studying for several years, there is a pointing to the unreality of the ego or self-image, but there is also a recognition of a truer individual self that is an expression of our true essence. In many spiritual traditions this is referred to as the "Pearl beyond Price" as it can have a pearly quality when it is experienced. It has a solidity and reality that is way beyond the experience of the ego. Ultimately, it is a concept also, but this is where my ideas about varying degrees of truth come in. There are concepts that are only experienced in the egoic mind such as the typical ego identity. But then there might also be concepts that are arising in the much larger field of consciousness. Perhaps you could call them ideas in the mind of God. These concepts have a much greater reality or effect. This pearl or true essential self may be an idea arising in the much larger field of consciousness, and it may have a reality that means it is capable of choice and action.
And I hope you can also see that exploring these different levels of truth does not and cannot contradict, deny or harm the bigger mystery beyond all concepts. You expressed this absolute view quite well in your questions, and it is also possible to function from that place, although there would generally be a falling away of a lot of action based on the concept of an "I". If the complete absence of a separate sense of self is happening, then that is wonderful. My guess is that if the complete absence of identity continues for a while, there would also be very little action or activity beyond the simplest meeting of the body's needs, and that even that would fall away at times.
To me the ideal is a kind of flexibility to move in and out of conceptual realities in the same way we put on and take off our clothes depending on the activity and the weather. And this includes the complete flexibility to take off all of your clothes or concepts and go naked for a while :) But to me complete freedom also means that you are totally free to dress up in clothes and concepts and play with consciousness in that way also. This is not so much a prescription for something you must get better at, but rather a description of the freedom your consciousness is now expressing and always has been expressing. We have always been incredibly free to form all kinds of identities ranging from true essential expressions of individuality to the relatively false and imaginary egos we form. And we as consciousness are of course also free to drop them completely and live from a non-conceptual place.
I hope this helps you see my perspective. I definitely enjoy your sharing your perspective.