Short answer: No.
Longer answer: Gary Weber, who presented at Buddhist Geeks, says that he has been without self referential thought for fifteen years. Several experienced practitioners who post on the Internet boards make the same claim. It certainly seems to be a possibility. However, for this practitioner at this time that is not the aim. The aim is to increase flexibility–not be stuck in the I voice–with the view that this additional flexibility can reduce unnecessary and useless suffering for self and others.
Working with and modifying the flow of the structure of subjective experience reveals in real time that there is no permanent ‘thing’ called a self. But there are mental processes that create that experience…and they can be changed. The processes are impermanent…the body will die…but they are persistent and also subject to modification.
Example: While meditating, an experience of discomfort arose. Close investigation showed a picture of me and those involved in the center of the visual field. Probably would not even have noticed it in ordinary I voice. Then, using active imagination, the picture was made smaller and more translucent and the discomfort immediately diminished substantially. This technique of ‘changing the submodalities’ of a picture is a direct import from classic code NLP. Just doing on oneself in the mental and temporal space created by meditation. At the time conscious thought decided not to completely eliminate the discomfort around that incident because there may well be unknown positive benefits from keeping the memory of the incident somewhat active.
Description: Woke up in the middle of the night. Noticed muscle tension and twitching. Put attention on the tension and twitching. Inquired, with the impersonal voice, what is connected to this tension? Paused. Image flashed into the visual field of a giant snake with open mouth. Word thought: this is craving in action. Pause. Craving without an object! Just the craving process running, looking for something to crave. Pleasant warm sensation spread throughout the body. Became relaxed. Feet and hands became almost hot. Abided in this state until falling back to sleep. Woke up this morning, refreshed.
Attended two breakout sessions with Leigh Brasington. Had the chance to describe some of these practices. He said that they functioned as practices to disperse or address the hindrances. Also described the details of a restful contented state that automatically follows. He labeled this state as the third jhana. Seeing how these practices and results fit within a traditional Buddhist framework was exceptionally helpful.
After spending time clearing the buffers in the non conscious mind, the mind and body just drop right into states of focused happiness and contentment. (Jhanas in Buddhist traditions). These states of contentment provide a basis to watch internally, in the flow of subjective experience, the dance of the universe.
Of course, then it is time to get out of bed, get a cup of coffee, and move one with the day!
Traditional meditative systems usually sharply compartmentalize ‘meditation’ and ‘dealing with your stuff’. The big difference in this practice strategy is that the practitioner uses a variety of techniques to directly allow the unknowns in the non conscious to arise into awareness and be resolved first, and then move on. What has been allowed into conscious awareness and resolved is no longer the fuel for projection onto others.
By focusing attention, actively imagining, recalling from memory, and thinking, to put it simply, smiling thoughts. The operational definition of a smiling thought is any word, image, sensation, or combination, that automatically and non conciously generates a smile! 🙂
Speculative answers are yes to both. The default emotional network is the baseline or set point of affect, temperament, or usual feelings. A dependable indicator is the default facial expression, especially around the eyes and mouth. Cultivating positive emotions and sustaining them for extended periods of time may lead to laying new neural tracks that affect the set point if the default emotional network. In turn, the default emotional network may incline to resilience and equanimity.