"What did your face look like before your parents were born?"
Only when you let the ego fall away, can you find again the magic of the world.
What happened to the children who were constantly asking questions, poking things, testing grounds?
What happened to the children who were curious, paid attention to what arose endured and ceased before their eyes?
What happened to these beings who modelled the world but could nonetheless perceived its contingency, the extraordinary, the magic of impermanence that lets new phenomena arise?
Only when you don't obsess about yourself and what's 'yours', can you pay attention to how impermanence and emptiness manifests.
If you stop appropriating phenomena as 'yours' (if only 'your' experience, 'your' perspective…), there's no need to continue imagining some 'you' at the center!
Let go of your "place in the world" and you might be "the true person of no rank" answering Chán master 臨濟義玄!
Any self-narrative is an attempt to 'locate' and 'anchor' yourself, to try and secure "your place in the world": this is 'my' spot, the spot where 'I' stand, 'my' position on this-or-that issue, 'I' can isolate 'my' perspective from all others and this proves 'I' exist…
Such a narrative provides reassurance and a sense of stability under normal, non-catastrophic conditions; but such a rigidity in an impermanent context is a liability when some major unexpected event strikes!
Letting go of "your place in the world" is finding the actualised answer to the Zen kōan What did your face look like before your parents were born?
The kōan is obviously not to take at face-value: in China, at the time this kōan was asked, the social status of one's parents would pretty-much set one's own social status… or "place in the world" —so the question really means "who are you, when you're free from the narrative about who you are?"
In Sŏn (Korean Zen), it is often said "Great Doubt: great awakening. Little Doubt: little awakening. No Doubt: no awakening."
This 3'02'' video can be 'explained' as "sunshine on a wall… light bounced on angular objects… light coming through trees moved by the wind…"
But can you doubt? Can you see the music arise? Can you "not know"? Can you pay attention not just to the causes, or to causality, but also and simply to the consequences?
How about yourself? Can you pay attention not just to the causes and the past, or to causality —kamma and the four other niyāmas,— but also and simply to the consequences: the experiencer here&now?
Who are you, when you're free from the narrative about who you are and where you come from? Who are you, when you're free from what you 'know' (the myths, the sciences, the explanations, the educational formatting, the social conditioning, etc.)?
Can you experience the contingent reality so intimately that your self-narrative dissolves, that you reclaim freedom and leave the past as past?
Can you experience the contingent reality of your mind so intimately that "subtle nuances" are as raw and new and striking as "stark contrasts"?
3'02'' video: "arising enduring ceasing" © Denis Wallez
Music: "Slow down", from the CD "Sutra" composed by © Szymon Brzóska for the show http://youtu.be/xFDHRzNRvgQ and available at http://www.sadlerswells.com/page/shop