Self is a relationship. This, at least, is how it presents without our presuming some essentialist explanation—a soul, a true nature, a universal I Am, etc. We commune with ourselves. A prerequisite for self-awareness is dualism. “I” have my counterpart that I call “me”. Ziqi said he lost his “me”. Did he cease to be a self? No, he continued to speak about himself and to explain his experience—he was still self-reflective. Yet he was now also able to experience a sense of oneness with all things—he was not only an utterly unique self-so tree, but also the forest. This is omnicentrism—everything is Everything by virtue of its being its unique and distinct self. Everything explains everything else.
Imagining viewing ourselves in a mirror with another mirror behind us might give a metaphorical sense of what this experience entails. The reflection continues into theoretical infinity, so we now see it in a broader context; we see it at work and realize something of its ephemeral nature. Ziqi tweaked and expanded his self-relationship; he did not eliminate it.
We have said that the Numinous Reservoir is the mind of the sage and this involves a relationship with her own self-arising. We all share this experience; what differs is the qualitative character of that relationship. It’s a matter of attitude. Having released herself from the need to know the why or what of it, she can release herself into an unmediated experience of life. This is spontaneous living.
But spontaneity suggests acting without reflection. Is that even possible or, if so, desirable? We think not, and will speak to this next.