The ‘Me’ Vacuum

This is your brain on 'Me'

This is your brain on ‘Me’

NEAR FLAGSTAFF, AZ

April 17, 2016 10:41 AM

The other day, I asked Michelle how she accesses Emptiness. She responded (in part):

Usually I’ll be ruminating on something and then snap into a “wait, this is ridiculous to spend all of this mental energy on illusion” sort of realization and it will just happen like that.

When I get caught up in my me-me-me thoughts, I focus on the feel of the contraction/thoughts and visualize pulling them out of my head and dropping them to the ground beside me.

What happens next is what most people call “enlightenment.” The outside world fills the space that was left behind when the me-me-me thoughts were removed and the world and I become one. The Gateless Gate—the felt barrier between the inside world and the outside world—vanishes.

Notice what happened with both Michelle and I: We were focused on interior thoughts (the introspective section of the brain was activated), then we removed the contents of the interior. Because nature abhors a vacuum, the interior space automatically gets “filled” with the outside world.

We didn’t just shift our attention from interior (Me-me-me) to exterior (Squirrel!), we emptied the contents of the interior, which caused the exterior world to fill the space left behind.

The LSD study excited me (in both good and bad ways, but I see the error of the “bad” way now, so it’s all good) because I never put all the pieces together before. I really didn’t care how the “experts” interpreted the results, what excited me were the pieces.

Three key pieces (very simplified, but who cares):

  • There is a part of the brain responsible for introspection (the Me-Part)
  • There is a part of the brain responsible for interpreting the exterior world (the World-Part)
  • There is a perceiver of what these two parts of the brain are putting out (the Witness)

I’ll address the Witness (and my error) in a moment, but the insight I got from the LSD study is this:

  • In the “unenlightened” experience, only one of the two brain parts are active at a time: Either the Me-Part or the World-Part.
  • In the “enlightened” experience, both parts are active at the same time BUT the Me-Part is empty of content.

And the beauty of this insight is this:

To access the “enlightenment” experience (Emptiness/one-with-all) you simply have to activate the Me-Part of the brain, then remove its contents.

The Me-Part is activated (“Me, me, oh, me how I love you”), then the contents are dropped (“Ahhhh! Argh.” Silence). The Me-Part is active, but it has no contents, which causes a sort of “me” vacuum. The World-Part then naturally activates and perceives the exterior world. But because the Me-Part is still active (but empty), this makes the World FEEL like the “Me” FEELS (the world “fills” the Me-Part of the brain).

Bang! The Gateless Gate vanishes, all self-boundaries drop, and enlightenment—the Emptiness/Vastness/one with everything—is experienced.

Two other posts are just aching to be written because of this conclusion (and I hope they’ll be next): A technique post and a Gateless Gate explanation.

END OF POST.

For those curious where I screwed up earlier…

Where I screwed up earlier

I screwed up when I said previously, “Enlightenment—the Witness—is simply a neurobiological process inside our heads.”

I should have said:

Enlightenment—the feeling of being one with everything—is simply a neurobiological process inside our heads.

Stupid me. I fell for the common Witness Aspect mistake of confusing the perceived with the perceiver (something I’ve criticized other nondual teachers of). The Witness perceives the Oneness, but doesn’t realize initially that he stands apart from it. This unity/separation paradox is resolved with the I AM aspect.

As I’ve said maybe a thousand times before, this is a blog, not a book. Sorry for the misunderstanding.

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8 thoughts on “The ‘Me’ Vacuum

  1. Wayne, do you consider “enlightenment” to be a state of being? Kinda like extra-sensory/ sensitivity of awareness, or simply a heartfelt knowing that is beyond explanation.
    Traditionally, cannot be expressed in words, but alluded to as neti, neti. I enjoy your journey of self discovery and expanding awareness.

    • I don’t like to use the term “enlightenment” anymore b/c there doesn’t seem to be a consensus on its definition. Some say it is when the Gateless Gate collapses; some when the Ego Story is seen and dis-identified with; some is when one learns to see/distance themselves from their thoughts; …

      I tend to (now, but this shifts) use the Gateless Gate as the defining quality of awakening: Do I FEEL separate from the exterior world or one with it? This a constantly shifting state, but if it is relatively effortless to “step through,” then I consider that person “enlightened.”

      I consider Michelle “enlightened” b/c she can step through the gate relatively easily. She though, still habitually holds onto the belief that oneness should be permanently felt (though she knows better, it’s still habitual to want permanency). Because of this “habitual belief oneness should be permanent,” She probably doesn’t consider herself enlightened.

      • Which begs the question, can “enlightenment” or stepping thru the gateless gate be meaningful without the ego? Since we live in a relative reality, when we realize one with everything, rising above polarity/ duality, then ego is no problem, or rather a non-issue b/c it becomes a tool for realization and growth.
        Zen masters would often chastise their students b/c they don’t realize the fact that they’re buddhas already, albeit sleeping ones.
        In that sense, the concept of “enlightenment” really can not be defined definitively b/c it is a quality that is beyond physics/ or our physical/ mental boundaries which we perceive and reference ourselves by in ordinary life. An analogy would be like operating at a higher frequency which we ordinarily cannot tune into, and therefore beyond our normal perception. If we can somehow consciously elevate ourselves spiritually, say thru unconditional love or prayer, meditation, singing joyfully, helping others…
        then the less there is of me, me, me.. the more we perceive of HER.
        That’s what I feel the big “E” to be… simply being with full awareness, living in a
        mindful awaken state, moment to moment. It’s just a habit like any other habit, but unpredictably has a life of it’s own. A very positive shift. 😀

  2. Hello Wayne,
    I really like this post. What you say here just seems to be so. Thank you.
    Not to be nitpicking, but since you are a writer and a good one, there are a couple of
    grammar thingies I would like to bring to your attention.
    1) It should read “…what happened with both Michelle and me,” not “Michelle and I.”
    It is “with me” and not “with I,” isn’t it?
    2) It should read “…only one of the two brain parts is active at a time,” not “are active.”
    One is, two or more are, yes?
    Forgive me, Wayne. Many years ago I used to do some proof reading of Krishnamurti’s Collected Works. (-: Have a wonder-full day!

    • Thanks Dolli. I’ll probably leave them though, as it’s a slippery slope when you start to change a blog. I try to fix typos as they can be misleading, but not grammar since the meaning can (usually) be grasped.

      Now if I end up self-publishing the book… 🙂

  3. In the “enlightened” experience, both parts are active at the same time BUT the Me-Part is empty of content.

    That´s an interesting way of putting it, Wayne.

  4. There is quite a decent body of modern research which shows that psychedelics seem to make the same changes in brains as many years of meditation. Specifically, the shutting down of the internal chatter network. Gary Weber is a good person to check out (some YouTube videos and his own web-site: http://happiness-beyond-thought.com/. He thinks that one can work on achieving a realization of non-duality, that it involves shutting down the bla-bla self as he calls it.

  5. “When I get caught up in my me-me-me thoughts, I focus on the feel of the contraction/thoughts and visualize pulling them out of my head and dropping them to the ground beside me.

    What happens next is what most people call “enlightenment.” The outside world fills the space that was left behind when the me-me-me thoughts were removed and the world and I become one. The Gateless Gate—the felt barrier between the inside world and the outside world—vanishes.”

    So true and great how it was put into so appropriate words by you. Adya & other teachers talk of the types of experience of enlightement, opening of mind, heart, gut etc. What you mentioned is what is the state of experience of lot of people enlightened today – the opening on the mind level. There may be surely other experiences (like opening of heart and infinite love as a feeling) as much as related to enlightement as – the empty me (empty mind) experience.

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