Excerpt About Appropriation

The Centeredness of the Usual Self that Usurps Being

The self-centeredness I am referring to is the appropriation of practice. This is a subtle and crucial point. We appropriate not only the enlightenment drive as our own motivation to practice but also the practice itself. The idea of causality appropriates doing, action, and what is happening as the activity of the individual self: “My sitting and practicing, my sincere effort, makes things happen.” The centeredness of the usual self usurps Being as source and locates it in an individual self: “I am sitting and practicing and I am making things happen.” We see here how the notion of causality—that an action creates a result—is mixed and conflated with the belief that we are a separate autonomous self, a self that is the agent of such causal doing. So we appropriate not only the activity and the realizations of practice but also the practice itself. This appropriation of practice is different from an important stage of our work where we need to own our experience. In the course of recognizing our essential autonomy, we do have to acknowledge our self and own our experience, understanding, and knowledge. We recognize that our realization is our own in the sense that it is not somebody else’s and that it is particular to us. Part of the soul’s maturation includes acknowledging our realization, acknowledging our understanding, which can appear as a sense of ownership. But that sense of ownership is different from the appropriation of the ego self. The appropriation of the ego self tends to constrict openness, tends to disconnect us from the realization. True ownership of our realization, however, is more a recognition of a particular maturation and development.

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