I saw another thing in LWSleeth's posts. How dost thou understand: "
In my opinion, the fact that a serious samadhi practice is nothing but the work of meditation and self abandonment is why relatively few take up the practice. They prefer all the mental stuff the self can do."
I don't want to be an interpreter but I understand this words not as denial of existence of the self, but rather statement that it is evil, the thing we should abandon.
[SIZE="3"]The problem seems to be that you demand to be properly convinced, but some of us are saying that is impossible. I'll get back to that at the end of this post, but let me correct your misinterpretation of my words. I didn't say the self is evil; illusion is a better term (but an illusion that can result in evil, if evil means intentionally hurting others).
Some confusion is added to this discussion because participants aren't clearly distinguishing between the traditional idea of "soul," and what the Buddha meant by "self." To treat the two ideas as the same is a big mistake. A soul is traditionally understood as something far more basic and neutral than self, so neutral that most people don't have trouble imagining all our souls are identical, but that can hardly be said of the self.
One way to see self is to look at a baby, and then look at the same human years later as an adult. Take all the qualities of a baby, subtract them from the qualities of the adult, and you have left much of what the Buddha meant by "self."
Looking at those "adult" qualities, they are almost entirely conditioning . . . stuff we've learned or "acquired," as the Buddha put it; he actually referred to it as the acquired self, and contrasted that with the "unborn, not made" plane of existence we can come to know through samadhi meditation. Included in what conditions consciousness are our body, parents, cultural influences, purposeful training, and all other experiences that shape our minds, and that includes too the self-concept we carry around about ourself.
Now, take all that away and is there anything left? Yes, the pure consciousness that is similar to the baby (I know, even a baby has some conditioning). What the Buddha taught was a way to escape the conditioned self, and to fully reestablish the pure, unconditioned consciousness. So "no self" actually means no conditioning; and if we had to give a name to that pure aspect so alive in a baby, we could call it "soul."
There is one more important point to this, and that is, when the unconditioned experience is achieved, that naturally, effortlessly results in happiness and peace. So, unlike something you said earlier about being happy despite external conditions, it is really that the goal is achieving the happiness that comes from the pure place inside. Because now we've been conditioned to make our happiness dependent on things being a particular way "out there," that is why you see inner practitioners trying to hold to their inner happiness no matter what is going on in the external world. But to correct your misconception, it isn't that you are just supposed to be happy in miserable conditions, it is just that you learn how to achieve an inner experience that naturally results in happiness.
Finally, I said in my opening sentence you seem to want to be convinced, but that is impossible. I say that because of the kind of convincing you keep demanding. It seems to me you want it to all make total sense, which I think is okay (and it should), but even if it all does you won't be convinced there is "something more." Why?
I'll use an analogy. If have lived in the desert all your life, and I tell you that is possible to feel the presence of the ocean if you live near one, you might ask me to explain how it is possible. I could make sense of it by describing what nerves are, how water molecules affect the skin, and so on until it all made sense. However, you would still not know for yourself if it were possible until you went to the ocean.
Maybe that example is a bit mundane because you have so much experience with feeling moisture in the air, but you have no experience with this inner thing, and so you have to imagine it. One thing the inner experience has in common with the ocean analogy is that the inner way is felt. I don't mean emotions, but the way you reach out with your senses to feel the ocean.
In the inner way, however, one reaches inward with feeling, and not senses-type feeling, but the basic, underlying sensitivity of consciousness. As consciousness becomes more still, it also become more sensitive, and as it become more sensitive, it detects more; as it detects the deeper, pure thing, that in turn makes consciousness more sensitive, and then you can feel even deeper.
So this inner path is a feeling/sensitivity path, not a path of reason (even if it can be made sense of). My point is, people can make sense of it to you for the rest of your life, but "reasons" only will satisfy mentality, not the feeling part of a human being that makes him want to find out if there is something more to this existence. Eventually if you want to know
if there is anything to the inner way, you will have open up to learning how to feel it.[/SIZE]