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I would imagine the following may be a bit odd to be asking here outright and dare I say it, a little egoic to do so, but I was referred to this place to ask questions, and I have some questions. But first, some background on myself, what I know, and the finally the problem.

Firstly, my experience with Buddhism is a bit all over the place. Mostly it's the domain of Zen Buddhism, and primarily it's from Alan Watts. This man was really my first gateway to dropping the illusion of ego, of separation from what is, and a better understanding that one goes with existence as it is. I largely come from a Wattsian perspective, but other influences that stand out are the works of Jiddu Krishnamurti, Jon Kabat-Zinn, Sam Harris, Thich Nhat Hanh, Eckhart Tolle, Moojiji, Sadhguru, Ram Dass, and Terrence McKenna, to name a few. The general themes on ego are especially topics I have absorbed, and have tried to take myself as something simply being, with as little subjective imposition as possible: to simply be instead of constantly caught up in games of past, of future, of being something of status or image, seeing through the various illusions of it all. All things are change in a society that infers constants. Regarding the experience of ego death, all I've done is meditation, such as vipassana, but mostly my views on the reality of no ego and embracing the "eternal now" as Alan put it mostly come from intellect: there's no thinker of thoughts, feeler of feelings. No constant caricature, for that ghost is mostly gone.

Now, all of this is great because one really gets a point of view more in line with the world in an objective sense, more in line with what is instead of what's inferred upon, judged upon, and the like. One may ask "gosh, you have a vast amount of resources and you get the basic jist of the illusion of ego, so what's the problem?" The problem actually comes from a perspective of ego, actually; What do I do with my life upon the realization of no self? I've mostly realized what I've wanted to do with my life always came from the point of ego: to make money, to have status, to be a person of substance, and I want none of that anymore. I got into hospice care and nursing with my realization of going with the world, so I'd rather help those alive to be comfortable in what their state is in, but I now realize I am doing this from the view of forcing. To force myself to do this because of what I know, even if that's from the domain of the self illusion, that I am somewhat "holier than thou" with information and act in such a manner. In a sense, I would be using my ego against other egos, and that quite literally is egocentric doing.

It's dawned on me I realize I have no interest in any of this line of work of itself any longer, and that actually kills it all for me. I'm doing it for ends, for goals, but reality has no ends or goals. I feel caught between subjective impositions of society and what we say we must do, against objective understanding of what world and what just is. Why should I continue to do this? For money? Who cares when my heart really isn't in it? I feel constantly pushed around in a social context, that I am literally a skin-encapsulated ego that must do X and live like Y, but I see nothing of substance there. I literally feel my life is one where I am pushed around by others, and all of the reasons I am being pushed don't stand to any level of pressure, to be compatible with life in its most basic, naturalistic sense. I hold the view all I can do is offer my time for others, for that's the currency of all life, but I feel however sincere I care for others and their sorrows, it's not time I feel fully utilized for I feel I am pigeonholing it into the things I do as a vocation, as a back layer, instead of being the forefront, for it is a forefront to my life. I grasp the pain of others and understand that most of their pain comes from their point of reference mostly, and all I can do about that is reason in my head how their ego creates it. How do I help them see that? I know it, but it's like I have some information, but I lack a language to speak it in for others to get it. It feels as if I'm trying to hammer a square peg into a circle hole; something goes into the hole, clearly, but it's not what I have on offer. I'm looking to put the square peg into a square hole, and here comes the problem.

I feel a different course is in order. It's been in the back of my mind as I have been on this journey, but I feel with my understanding and taste of this is to perhaps delve deeper into Buddhism, Zen or otherwise, in a much more profound manner. Not as intellectually listening to hours of lectures on Youtube, to inquire in just my room, but to cultivate a life and a realm of being where this is the whole game of the show, perhaps not for just myself, but for others. Having more tools and especially other living people beside me to show me the way can help me have more ammunition to aid others, to potentially teach and help people be more at ease with the world that way. I know the central themes are that nothing is supposed to be done, that nothing has to be done, to improve oneself, but there's just something in my experience of ego death that makes the way I live like an odd filter, that I know far more of life than how I live it.

My bind is I feel stuck: there's no places near me that appear to teach these concepts and how to apply them, there's no weekend retreats or ways I can ever imagining learning this stuff and finding a way to truly live it, to teach it and be with it not as a level of intellectual awareness in the back of the mind, but as the forefront and core to the goings on, for it matches the facts of life we can observe. I live in the Poconos in Pennsylvania, and the only thing here that is anything remotely spiritual is a church. I don't adhere to Christian canon, for it argues that a self/soul/ego must exist, and that's something that isn't true. I feel like all I know is thanks to the internet but am in such a specific social context that there's no place to really apply this as a way of life; it literally just stays in the back of the mind and not the forefront. Perhaps I'd be able to offer myself more by living and having a life where the tenants of no self, of one always being in a now-state would be helpful to teach and cultivate in others instead of having it merely in the back of my mind with what I do. I can avoid the pain of attachment to health, to status, to such ideas as constants, but what good am I trying to help others understand that too? I have the understanding of it for myself, but I truly lack the depth of it to teach this, to help people out.

I want to apologize for rambling, and I have very clearly written a novel, and I bet a lot of this looks like a job application of "how can I live a career as a Buddhist" or something, but the truth is what I feel about my relation to everything else is just so profound that I constantly feel I am in a Truman Show-like experience when I am around others. I cannot adhere to their views and ideas for I see them as affronts, and ultimately I cannot live a way that in my heart of hearts seems more truly to reality. I feel trapped and being forced to live as an ego, and I for one find it puzzling to be in that state, for the ego is an illusion! I guess I'm mostly asking for resources, for something, anything, to help make these types of understanding of the world something more applicable to living in it instead of high-level contemplation in my room at home. What good does no self and realizing the unity with everything else that there is only to have it beaten out of you and being forced to assimilate to a society and way of living that treats that reality as not practical? Ultimately, how can I make the experience and understanding of no self as a fabric to living a full life with that understanding as the heart of it, not something that is often treated as an extra, an aside, to daily living?

  • Welcome to the site. As was mentioned in, for example, Answers vs Advice this site exists primarily to try to answer questions; and so I highlighted the various specific questions which you asked, in case that helps people to answer any or all of them. – ChrisW Jul 11 '15 at 21:46
  • Have you tried listening to Ajahn Brahm? Listen to one of his videos and see if it helps. If his talk doesn't help lighten the weight, than I'll try writing a response to your questions < youtube.com/user/BuddhistSocietyWA/videos – Soto Apr 20 '16 at 23:05
  • This is SO relevant. youtube.com/watch?v=b784rKhEWaE Alan Watts. You'll listen to what he says about ego here. – esh Apr 21 '16 at 3:42
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You don't need to do anything special to live mindfully. Your present situation is irrelevant. You can be mindful at work, and spend all the rest of your free time doing formal meditation. All things are the same, arising and passing away. If you feel you need more time for formal meditation and wish to do some real good teaching others what you learn, then ordain as a monk.

I would suggest you attend an extended meditation course. Doing this will give you a much better feel of what the practice actually is than just doing it by yourself, and will equip you to seriously implement it into your life.

You say there's nothing around you to do this, but a google search of "Pennsylvania Vipassana retreats" yielded this immediately :

SN Goenka Retreats

This mid-atlantic site lists retreat locations in several states near Pennsylvania.

Even if the Vipassana taught there isn't exactly the practice you'd prefer to do, its a good starting point and a great exposure to what practice really is to go and do a 10 day retreat. If you're able to travel even farther, then you could do a longer one somewhere else. What you're able to do depends only on how serious you are about it and how far you're willing to take it.

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It's amazing when you go from living a "normal" life of seeking pleasure, comforts, possessions, status, etc. to recognizing that none of those things brings lasting happiness and seeking spiritual truths instead. It's also disorienting. What previously motivated you, may no longer do so.

What do I do with my life upon the realization of no self?

You can begin a serious program of Buddhist practice and study to see where it leads you. The authors you mentioned are mostly modern authors. There is a world of ancient wisdom of the Buddha's teachings to be explored and more importantly, experienced both through formal meditation and by applying what you learn in daily life.

Why should I continue to do this? For money? Who cares when my heart really isn't in it?

Money is useful for being charitable which is one of the first Perfections or virtues in Buddhism. It's an extraordinarily useful thing for a compassionate being to have to help where there is need. There is nothing wrong with seeking a job that's more in line with your new perspective; but don't think that money is worthless. In Buddhism, money is not considered evil. Attachment to money is the problem; hence the virtue of Dāna.

I grasp the pain of others and understand that most of their pain comes from their point of reference mostly, and all I can do about that is reason in my head how their ego creates it. How do I help them see that?

You cannot hand someone else wisdom. You can develop your own mind and your own understandings. This can make you a good role model (for lack of a better word) for those in your daily life who are suffering. People don't always notice or welcome the words you want to say to them. But they notice your actions and the manner in which you live your life. You might inspire some of them to consider practicing meditation too, by your example. This can help them to reduce their suffering by seeing the causes of greed, hatred, and delusion in their lives.

I can avoid the pain of attachment to health, to status, to such ideas as constants, but what good am I trying to help others understand that too? I have the understanding of it for myself, but I truly lack the depth of it to teach this, to help people out.

Same as above. Developing your own wisdom and compassion spills over onto those around you. They may see the good changes in you and be inspired by those changes.

how can I make the experience and understanding of no self as a fabric to living a full life with that understanding as the heart of it, not something that is often treated as an extra, an aside, to daily living?

This goes back to your first question. Beginning a serious program of Buddhist practice and study can easily become the meaningful focus of your days, leading to changes in you which can both directly and indirectly help those around you. Spending time studying and practicing meditation is not a selfish pursuit, it's actually a great act of kindness and compassion to develop yourself in this way as it benefits both yourself and others.

edit:

This World Buddhist Directory may be helpful to you to find places within traveling distance that could serve as local support to your practice.

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Altruism is best when it is a natural calling. Some are more inclined to solitute. Regardless, time living with like-minded peole (spiritual friends or Kalynamitta) is the general Buddhist approach for getting through the 'adjustment period' from world alientation to a spiritual social intregration. I would suggest to spend some time in a monastic environment, to investigate the lifestyle. In the monastary is learned a unique way of intregrating egoless with interaction. It might be like going 'home'. It may not. A domestic plane, bus or train ride won't hurt. Try this link: https://forestsangha.org/community/monasteries/continents/north-america

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What do I do with my life upon the realization of no self?

I'm sorry but I'm going to try to reply using 'received wisdom'.

You presumably know, a famous 'zen proverb': "Before Enlightenment chop wood, carry water. After enlightenment chop wood, carry water."

Perhaps you'll be looking at the ninth and tenth of the Ten Bulls.

Have you met the "brahma viharas"? For example do you know there is such a thing as "metta"?

The "realization of no self" might be an opportunity to practice mudita.

Why should I continue to do this? For money? Who cares when my heart really isn't in it?

Some people recommend, not acting out of "desire", but acting out of "responsibility".

For example there's this answer (the following advice is from the Pali canon rather than Zen):

In brief, duty and responsibility should be what dictate our worldly affairs, not concern or care.

See also this answer:

  • For a monk:

    In an absolute sense, we only have two responsibilities:

    "Bhante, in this religion, how many duties are there?"

    "The duty of study and the duty of insight. These are the only two duties, bhikkhu."

    -- Dhp-A 1

  • For a lay person:

    In a practical sense, a lay person has duties towards six groups of people:

    "And how, young householder, does a noble disciple cover the six quarters?

    "The following should be looked upon as the six quarters. The parents should be looked upon as the East, teachers as the South, wife and children as the West, friends and associates as the North, servants and employees as the Nadir, ascetics and brahmans as the Zenith.

    -- DN 31 (Narada, trans)

I grasp the pain of others and understand that most of their pain comes from their point of reference mostly, and all I can do about that is reason in my head how their ego creates it. How do I help them see that?

People say that, of the Threefold Training, it's the first (i.e. "virtue", i.e. relating with others) that's the most difficult to perfect.

I can avoid the pain of attachment to health, to status, to such ideas as constants, but what good am I trying to help others understand that too? I have the understanding of it for myself, but I truly lack the depth of it to teach this, to help people out.

Some people are helpful, friendly, compassionate, loving, kind, and good to know.

Perhaps you can find work with someone like this. Perhaps you can become friends with someone like this. Perhaps you can find people who do have the depth to teach this.

The Upaddha Sutta mentions,

As he was sitting there, Ven. Ananda said to the Blessed One, "This is half of the holy life, lord: admirable friendship, admirable companionship, admirable camaraderie."

"Don't say that, Ananda. Don't say that. Admirable friendship, admirable companionship, admirable camaraderie is actually the whole of the holy life. When a monk has admirable people as friends, companions, & comrades, he can be expected to develop & pursue the noble eightfold path.

The footnote says,

As AN 8.54 points out, this means not only associating with good people, but also learning from them and emulating their good qualities.

I guess I'm mostly asking for resources

People have suggested some "useful resources", which are listed on this page. Please feel free to ask for anything more specific.

A few more random ideas:

  • There are, I don't know, other things you can do as a hobby. Hobbies are a way to connect. In the Zen tradition there's calligraphy (see for example here or here).

  • I don't know the States but you seem to be about two hours' drive from New York. Maybe there's someone to meet in or near New York. :-)

  • Maybe you can create a resource in your home/town: advertise that you're practising Buddhism (study, discussion, meditation, charity) and invite people to join you.

What good does no self and realizing the unity with everything else that there is only to have it beaten out of you

I'll try to answer this literally:

  • What good does no self ...

    The good of "no self" is that things (including sensory experiences) are impermanent and unsatisfactory: and so you would risk feeling dissatisfaction if you took (mistook) these things to be yourself.

    People cause trouble (for themselves and others) by being greedy and angry i.e. "selfish". If you can avoid contributing to that then so much the better.

  • ... only to have it beaten out of you

    That sounds quite violent.

    It also reminds me of the Zen story Nothing Exists.

    I imagine that, things being impermanent, anything "beaten out" can re-enter.

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What do I do with my life upon the realization of no self?

Who is asking this? :) Who is "I" and what is "my" in that sentence? :)

What do I do with my life upon the realization of no self? Why should I continue to do this? For money? Who cares when my heart really isn't in it?

A monk said to Joshu, “I have entered this monastery. I beg you to teach me” Joshu asked.

“Have you eaten your rice- gruel?” “I have,” replied the monk.

“Then”, said Joshu, “go and wash your bowl(s).”

The monk was enlightened.

I grasp the pain of others and understand that most of their pain comes from their point of reference mostly, and all I can do about that is reason in my head how their ego creates it. How do I help them see that?

I can avoid the pain of attachment to health, to status, to such ideas as constants, but what good am I trying to help others understand that too? I have the understanding of it for myself, but I truly lack the depth of it to teach this, to help people out.

Can you avoid the pain of not being able to help people out? It is easy to fall into the trap of messiah illusion, that your enlightenment is somehow a beacon for others or that it can somehow be forced against the will of the people and relieve them of the pain to which we often cling so strongly. There is only pain and frustration there.

Remember to wash your bowl. And I forgot it as I wrote it ^_^

For me, it helps me to get drunk. It helps me remember how stupid I am, and how good it feels, it's far too easy to get trapped in self-importance of no-self.

Many "enlightened" people I met get involved into a super-tricky subtle ego, squaking like a buddha, walking like a buddha, but not a buddha. Getting drunk and stupid sometimes relieves them of their self-importance and their pain.

I guess buddhism in the Balkans can take specific and funny culturally-relevant shapes ^_^

Check out a book called "Nirvana, The Last Nightmare" by Osho, watch a 1987 cartoon called "Man Who Planted Trees" (http://www.imdb.com/title/tt0093488/)

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Forgive me as I am late. But I thought I would put my thoughts here. This question actually came as a suggestion when I was typing out my own question. I decided to "let go" of my question which is very similar to this and go out on a hunch and answer this instead, which may seem weird, but here goes. Also, I will say what I perceive as The Buddha's teaching as purely common sense in my answers as I like to speak out of my own experiences and observations. I think Gautama Buddha is a very common sense person, when it comes to affairs as a psychologist. He speaks very simple things if I am to believe the texts. I am not an enlightened being nor do I wish to be one. I honestly don't care about enlightenment or Nirvana, no matter how much people say that it is the highest goal.

Now, I totally understand what you're going through and your background in understanding the ego. After listening to all those people, Watts, Sadhguru, Ram Dass, you name it, what helps and doesn't help at the same time is the moment we get back to our self. Those quiet moments we have to ourselves bring back our issues because, the ego doesn't let go so easily. We do think back to what all those realized masters have to say as a consolation. What I'd suggest is letting go of those people's teachings. Take the crux of the matter as you know it AHEAD. Don't go BACKWARD. I have a hunch you're stuck with the thoughts and feelings those teachings gave you and then since the feeling of peace was impermanent, you lost it and consequently there is a feeling of loss. It wrecks that peace which didn't last too long. And of course, you feel lost.

Consider this. We are stuck anyway in this Samsara as the Buddha puts it. Let's strive to get unstuck from our "oh-my-god, what-am-I-doing?" moments, to just being, doing and living. Let's move ahead, moment by moment. Use your breath as an anchor to help you get back to the current moment. Just living it. Yes it is really hard. But I'd suggest taking all moments at face value and just saying "Its okay.". About the thoughts that have cropped up I'd suggest giving them up as they are only thoughts. Why I say this is that, full acceptance of the situation, whatever that maybe, is necessary to make our next rational choice in talking to someone, or in carrying out our next activity, and in living life as it is. Also, don't get stuck in the feeling that you lost your ego because you realized it intellectually. Its hiding ;) Its a creepy little guy backing up on you when you least expect it.

Your loss of interest in any activity is most probably because you suddenly see no point in anything FOR YOURSELF (the ego playing back here). Might I come to a very similar question? What is the point of life? Or why are we here? It is to live. Whatever the situation maybe. Experience it for what it is. You can't really quit life, that'll just be nonsensical suicide. This life is precious for its moments. When you live it fully and truly let go of seeking anything, you'll start gaining more peace. Mindfulness may be a thing but that's all just hype nowadays. Just fashionable terms being thrown about in the hope that someone falls into that trap or propaganda. Let it be. Let everything be. All your opinions included. They will arise. They will pass. Don't try to hold the cup on your head, take it and keep it down on the table or something and let it be.

I'd suggest a healthy mix of rationality, questioning and peaceful acceptance is what you need, to live, in your situation. By peaceful acceptance, I mean to say, take everything you see/read with a pinch of salt and try to live simply or try doing activities just as an experience, without judging. Like a child, if I may say. This is because everything changes. Don't cling to moments. Keep dancing with them and move ahead. Take what life has to give you and breathe. Be grateful that you are given so many breathing moments.

You've observed little kids of course. They just go about joyfully onto the next activity, the next moment and hardly bear any grudges or are not really stuck in any moment. Of course we can laugh our way through life, its not a problem. What I mean to say is accept all sorrows and joy equally in life as you experience it.

This is what I experienced. I am also partly stuck like you. It is frustrating that the solution is so subtle. But I'd like to say that by relaxing and breathing and being meditative as I do everyday activities, I allow a certain calm to pervade me. I don't know if I made sense there.

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What do I do with my life upon the realization of no self?

What stops is I-making, mine-making or self conceiving. (Anusaya) Ānanda Sutta, (Anusaya) Sāriputta Sutta Also everything conceivable is not self, non self or not worthy of being identified as self. Saying there is no self is an extreme view.

Why should I continue to do this? For money? Who cares when my heart really isn't in it?

There is nothing wrong in earning a living as long as it is Right Livelihood.

I can avoid the pain of attachment to health, to status, to such ideas as constants, but what good am I trying to help others understand that too? I have the understanding of it for myself, but I truly lack the depth of it to teach this, to help people out.

If you are attached you do not make the right decision. You might make a decision out of fear or without taking all into account. The best if to use Bhavana / Vipassanā to reduce this attachments.

What good does no self

Well as mentioned above it is not self. If I am to rephrase this as what good is realisting not self. I-making leads to craving and future misery due to conditioning.

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