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An argument in favour of organizing Shinzen’s primary grid, a kind of periodic table for sensory experience, with the external, “objective” category in the first column, and the internal, “subjective” category in the second column:

Although the “sense of self” may appear to arise in subjective space, that is only so because we are conditioned to think that is where it belongs. In fact, the “self” arises in the negative space, the “otherness-to”, which is neither the object of experience nor the experience of object, and that can and does happen as easily in either of the first two columns of the primary grid — it happens all over the gird, in fact.

Put another way, although the self arises at the “near end” of one’s experience, so to speak, this doesn’t just happen in subjective space. It happens across the spectrum of the conscious experience of any and all objects, concomitant with the emergence of the self-defining level of consciousness.

(This “otherness-to”, incidentally, may be the structural basis for the emptiness of self and other phenomena.)

Thus, with the subjective column having no priority as especially “loaded” with any “starting point” for self-hood, the path is clear for other considerations to take priority. The first of these is to create a gradient from coarse and gross to fine and subtle, shading off from objectivity towards transcendence; not because reality is so structured, but because the minds of those who might benefit from mindfulness practice are so structured. This leads directly to the second and most important consideration, which is the pedagogical point that it is easier to start with noting objective external experience than thoughts and feelings. It is helpful, for purely teaching purposes, to have the easiest practices to teach appear in the first column.

[This post is a stub, a sketch of an idea to be developed later. If you find it interesting or intriguing please Like it, leave a comment, or send me a note and I will be happy to flesh it out more fully.]

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