Dogen the 13th Century Zen monk/ philosopher, said;
“To study the Buddha Way is to study the self. To study the self is to forget the self. To forget the self is to be actualized by myriad things. When actualized by myriad things, your body and mind as well as the bodies and minds of others drop away”
It is pretty much his most famous quote. This is definitely not the kind of forgetting that means we stop caring for ourselves because we feel we don’t really matter or even really exist (a feeling a lot of us have from not been respected, loved, listened to etc). And it’s not the kind of merging into others and losing ourselves in someone else that creates a sort of unhealthy dependence on the other. That is a collapsing into and feels different. As children if we don’t properly individuate and separate from our families/ carers, then this again is not forgetting the self. How can we forget the self if we never felt like we knew it in the first place?
Forgetting the self to me is the experience we have when the idea of self is seen as just that, an idea. But seeing through that idea does not drop us into a reality where we’re all one homogeneous soup with no distinctions. In fact it seems more that it makes us see the exquisite beauty expressed through the uniqueness of everyone, everything and each moment. But in this uniqueness we are simultaneously expressing our complete interconnectedness and interdependence. Shunryu Suzuki expressed it as; ‘not one, not two’.