What is egolessness? There are several degrees of egolessness:
An impermanent mental state like the temporary awakening from a dream An enduring experience while still separated from the mundane realities of life, such as when a second language is known well enough to speak in but not yet well enough to think in different terms.
A lasting experience integrated with daily life, such as when a second language becomes as natural as one’s native tongue. No-self is the loss of the self-identity. This is the experience of the moment without an intervening or experiencing self. Action and actor are one. This occurs in deeper levels of egolessness called awakening. It’s called awakening because the ego is considered an illusory dream state for a mind asleep to the reality of life.
The states of egolessness and no-self are not analogous to psychosis. The former two states are mindsets that are deliberately cultivated and chosen. They involve a well-functioning mind where the thoughts that contribute to the feeling of self are reduced to the point where untainted awareness comes to the mental foreground. Psychosis, on the other hand, is an involuntary condition, the consequence of a malfunctioning brain and disordered mind. In psychosis, thoughts lack order and cohesion. Since ego is itself a complex pattern of thoughts, the ego is as disordered as all the other thoughts the psychotic mind manufactures. Awareness in this context is a prisoner of the distortions presented to it.
The process of sitting while intensely concentrating yet without thinking is usually referred to as sitting rather than meditation in meditative communities because the term meditation usually refers to thinking deeply about a subject. On the other hand, sitting involves being aware without thinking. However, since the term meditation has been so often applied to “sitting in awareness,” the terms meditation and sitting are used here interchangeably.
To fully describe all areas and their known complex functions would take volumes, but the section that follows is only meant to highlight the anatomic specificity and functional specialization of certain areas within the brain. This is analogous to peering behind the magician’s curtain to see that there is no magic at all but rather complex machinery that operates so smoothly as to give the appearance of magic.
The brain is composed of individual nerve cells called neurons that are the fundamental units of the brain. These neurons have thin projections that make contacts, called synapses, with other neurons to form circuits. An impulse travels down the circuit by way of these connections, but that does not mean that every impulse is transmitted, as is the case with a telegraph signal, where each click sent is also received. Neurons have additional connections to modulating neurons and supportive cells, called glia, which increase or decrease the tendency of a given neuron for transmitting an impulse down the circuit.