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How we can strengthen dis-identification in normal life? How can we free our attention from self-reference?

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    You might want to elaborate, to attract more answers... – Andrei Volkov Feb 6 '15 at 19:50
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We should try to see everything as "impermanent, unsatisfactory and uncontrollable"

When you see and contemplate that you can not control anything, not even your body, then you will understand that nothing is really yours.

I mentioned the body because the Buddha used to give this example, as you cannot control it, you cannot prevent it from getting old, sick or die... then what is really yours to control?

Another good technique, very common in Mahayana Buddhism, is to see "emptiness". When you see that everything comes from something else you will understand that everything lacks a self, a true identity, our bodies are just pieces of this planet, combined in a certain way based on the DNA of our parents... See dependent origination

In Theravada Buddhism, they would probably recommend you to focus on anatta (non self), as the Buddha used to say: "This is not me, this is not mine, this is not my self". There is no soul, a permanent soul would contradict impermanence, there is only a everchanging mindstream, so where is the identification? Hope it gives you something to think about!

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It's not good to mix up actual daily living with meditation principles and practice. First one should master meditation and then one will naturally do "dis-identification" spontaneously and quite perfectly during day-to-day life. If one forces it to happen before one has that foundation, it will not be a real dis-identification and will damage both one's meditation life (2nd training) and one's life (1st training).

It's like training for the Olympics. Meditation is the training, the Olympics is day-to-day life. A participant, once already in the contest, should not think about "training"... one should just enjoy the road and live rightfully as best as one can, free of technique. When training on the other hand, the Olympian practices those techniques with all his might, strengthening and teaching his muscles. One should work similarly on exercising the various facets of meditation, specifically the Wings of Awakening.

Thus, make special time to practice Vipassana and dis-identification will happen gradually. Don't force indifference in daily life or try to meditate. Just live mindfully and right. People are not meditation objects.

Make that special time throughout the day, even 2 minutes of moderately-powered Vipassana can completely change the way you would respond to anger-causing, delusion-causing, love-causing situations...

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  • Sorry could you clarify the first paragraph, or should I ask that as a separate/new question? Is there a technical name for or authoritative description of what you're describing there, and/or are you speaking from your own experience? What does "forcing it to happen" mean, how do you do that (i.e. what exactly should you not be doing)? – ChrisW Apr 30 '15 at 9:49
  • Its the difference between indifference and natural detachment/equanimity. – Ahmed Apr 30 '15 at 14:09
  • The former tends to have no practice component to it but can be mistaken for the wisdom of the latter which is caused by wisdom either at the mundane level or supermundane level. – Ahmed Apr 30 '15 at 14:10
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Identification is due to notion or perception. How do dis-identify is by cultivating opposite perception as in Girimananda Sutta. Also perception results in conditioned metal reaction which creates sensations followed by formations when you react to the sensation. Much of these sensations are generally around the head based on the volitional formation. These can be dissolved slowly by brining your attention to them maintaining equanimity and knowing their 3 characteristics.

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Please note below my answer is based on my personal experience.

I can feel your question and I'm fully aware of this situation. What I'm doing is "trying" my best to keep my "attention" focused on part of the body .

Start from something easily could feel in your body. In my case it was touch of lips and chest. To hold this attention you need effort . Be careful this does not mean that you have not kept your attention on your daily tasks.

Do an experiment when you walk next time in a park. You will notice even if you keep attention still you can walk without any problem . If not ,that is a warning that you have identified with the sensation of that body part. By balancing you will find your sweet spot.

But still you will see all your "ego" plays only thing is now it will have less impact. In my experience still this was not help me with emotions . I'm still keep identifying with emotions. But this helped me most of the time with unnecessary Ego "thoughts" / inner chatter .

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Dis-identification as a practice is really, really, hard. Probably also not as helpful as you would want it to be either. Even as you try and explain insights to yourself, you will find yourself confused, identified with your insight. Given the way our language is constructed, we are hopelessly bound to conventions in our thinking and everyday experience.

An Example: "I think it is going to rain".

That sentence is just f*cked from the get go.

First: I think - implying that you are there apart from your thoughts, and you are taking the action called thinking - and as you're taking this action; thinking has revealed to you some content called going to rain.

Second: it is going to rain. - It is? Who is going to rain? What will he do after he is done raining? Why is he doing it?

But there's no clear language for saying something like: "Consciousness says wetness coming", or whatever. If you talk like that, people will stop listening to you.

So, as we are bound by convention, trying to disentangle the threads of identification is extremely difficult, because in our language; there is only identification. The more you try and disentangle yourself, the tighter the trap gets (think Chinese handcuffs).


What is powerful; what is extraordinary; what is beyond measure is to be aware of identification as it arises.

I've played some powerful games in life; some ridiculously competitive games that bestow upon the winner the admiration of the spectators.

There are basically three ways to deal with winning a game like this inside the context of dis-identification.

  1. Reject it completely. Do not for one second take pleasure in the victory, and ignore the admiration. Make sure that at no time do you in any way gain pleasure or conceit from the admiration, and focus at all times on the fact that you are not special; they don't admire you, but rather your position or accomplishment. Know that it is impermanent - and the success can be taken away at any moment.

  2. Allow yourself to freely indulge in the admiration. Become dependent upon it for self-worth, and freely step into the role you are playing. Define yourself as your accomplishment, and embrace the status it bestows upon you. Live in the role with all of yourself for as long as you can, and ignore any concerns you have about what the future may hold.

  3. Love god and do what you will.

Okay. The last one was spoken a bit tongue and cheek, and I'll say more about it, but #3 is where you will find peace.

#1 Leaves you in a state of constant tension - embracing what is not so much a state of being open and aware as defensive posture designed to protect you from identification and subsequently loss.

#2 Thrusts you fully into the realm of the Gods. Short lived and exciting, but devastating when lost, and difficult to escape from. This is like the ultimate context of attachment for people with worldly success.

#3 Play the game fully. Why not? Holding back to protect yourself is every bit as egotistical and constraining as falling in love with yourself as a winner. All the time playing the game though, you are open and aware of your sense of identification. You can't stop it when it arises, but all there is to do, is to see it; to notice it; to bring the attachment into the light of consciousness and observe it.

Whenever you truly give your whole self to something, you disappear. There is no you as the doer; no thing that's getting done. But if you find yourself indulging in identification, love yourself for it; laugh and let it be.

There is nothing beyond this; no prize for dis-identifying completely. There is just seeing and letting go.

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