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something strange

I've been thinking a little about "I" and what it means.
If "me" is my whole body, mind games and thoughts included, then how come people who lose an arm or a leg keep a sense of self?
Or people who suffer brain damage?

I'm not sure how to put it... How come you experience your self as "person without arm" as opposed to loose arm?
Get it?

(To complicate things further, think of Siamese twins.)

Comments

  • federicafederica Seeker of the clear blue sky... Its better to remain silent and be thought a fool, than to speak out and remove all doubt Moderator

    you are not who you think you are.

    If you have worked out that losing a limb does not detract form 'you' then your sense of identity has nothing to do with your skandas. It has everything to do with Mind and Consciousness....

    Earthninja
  • EarthninjaEarthninja Wanderer West Australia Veteran

    I better stay out of this thread. Hahah.

    WalkerHamsakaEliz
  • lobsterlobster Veteran

    @0student0 said:
    I've been thinking a little about "I" and what it means.

    Cool. <3

    It does not mean much, in Dharma (Buddhist teachings) we talk about arising conditions. So for example a man with half a brain or less can still exist. Which we know from examples such as
    http://www.newscientist.com/article/dn12301-man-with-tiny-brain-shocks-doctors.html
    and also politicians. ;)

    Where do you feel the sense of unique 'Iness' comes from in yourself?

    Bunks
  • EarthninjaEarthninja Wanderer West Australia Veteran

    Damn it!!! Couldn't help it!

    @0student0

    From my understanding so far.
    "I" is a false belief created by language imputed on us as babies. At a young age people tell us , that's you! And this this me!
    Innocently we believe this and then conditioning takes over the rest, we live our lived believing in this me, I, self. Somehow inside this body, thinking thoughts or choosing choices.

    But when inquired into, this me or I can't be found other than a feeling or thought.
    I,me is possessive in nature. So we say my foot, as if there is an owner of the foot. We also say the body/mind is me!
    But all there ever was and is, is the body/mind. No me to be found.

    The person living life is just a thought, a concept believed in. There is just life.
    So when the arm gets chopped off, ofcourse the organism is still alive. But there never was an owner of the arm.
    Other than a believed in thought.
    Everything is on autopilot, we are products of our genes and conditioning, no author of this life. Just life.

    Metta to you all!!!

  • HamsakaHamsaka goosewhisperer Polishing the 'just so' Veteran

    @0student0 said:
    I've been thinking a little about "I" and what it means.
    If "me" is my whole body, mind games and thoughts included, then how come people who lose an arm or a leg keep a sense of self?
    Or people who suffer brain damage?

    I'm not sure how to put it... How come you experience your self as "person without arm" as opposed to loose arm?
    Get it?

    (To complicate things further, think of Siamese twins.)

    That is a great place to be IMO :)

    I believe it was @Lobster who said this on another thread (probably many others): "I" is a process.

    Maybe it is like turning on a blender. Is a blender a blender if it is just sitting there quietly on the counter top? It is an amalgam of plastic, metal, copper wires, and doo-hickeys. Is it a blender yet?

    Turn it on, and you see what happens to the fruit and ice cream you put in it. Now THAT is a blender. Your first clue? It blended.

    Otherwise, I'm completely clueless.

    WalkerBuddhadragon
  • ShoshinShoshin No one in particular Nowhere Special Veteran
    edited June 2015

    "I" am quite interesting, :) especially when it comes to other languages, for example Japanese

    Pronouns are used less frequently in the Japanese language than in many other languages, mainly because there is no grammatical requirement to include the subject in a sentence. So, pronouns can seldom be translated from English to Japanese on a one-to-one basis.
    The common English personal pronouns, such as "I", "you", and "they", have no other meanings. However, most Japanese personal pronouns do. Consider for example two words corresponding to the English pronoun "I": 私 (watashi) also means "private" or "personal" and 僕 (boku) also means "manservant".
    Japanese words that refer to other people are part of the encompassing system of honorific speech, and should be understood within that context. Pronoun choice depends on the speaker's social status (as compared to the listener's), as well as the sentence's subjects and objects.
    The first-person pronouns (e.g., watashi, 私) and second-person pronouns (e.g., anata, 貴方) are used in formal contexts. In many sentences, pronouns that mean "I" and "you" are omitted in Japanese when it is clear who the speaker is talking about.

    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Japanese_pronouns#List_of_Japanese_personal_pronouns

    @0student0 have you heard of Nagarjuna

    "Nagarjuna asked King Menander about his chariot, and then described taking the chariot apart. Was the thing called a "chariot" still a chariot if you took off its wheels? Or its axels?

    If you disassemble the chariot part by part, at exactly what point does it cease to be a chariot?

    This is a subjective judgment. Some might think it's no longer a chariot once it can no longer function as a chariot. Others might argue that the eventual pile of wooden parts is still a chariot, albeit a disassembled one.
    The point is that "chariot" is a designation we give to a phenomenon; there is no inherent "chariot nature" dwelling in the chariot.

    Earthninja
  • BuddhadragonBuddhadragon Ehipassiko & Carpe Diem Samsara Veteran
    edited June 2015

    Losing an arm, suffering brain damage, simply means that part of your skandhas have been maimed, rendered defective, for lack of a better term.
    It does not add nor subtract to/from the already ineffable conventional self with which you emerge in this round of samsara.
    The parts do not affect the whole.
    The whole, after all, is a metaphor, a mirage, anyway.

    Earthninja
  • gracklegrackle Veteran

    It was the Ven Nagasena who had the dialog with King Meander.

  • RodrigoRodrigo São Paulo, Brazil Veteran

    @0student0 said:
    I've been thinking a little about "I" and what it means.
    If "me" is my whole body, mind games and thoughts included, then how come people who lose an arm or a leg keep a sense of self?
    Or people who suffer brain damage?

    I'm not sure how to put it... How come you experience your self as "person without arm" as opposed to loose arm?
    Get it?

    (To complicate things further, think of Siamese twins.)

    These are great questions. What about not trying to get the answers from others, but from yourself?

  • lobsterlobster Veteran

    Here is Sam Harris, a smart cookie and ninja, describing the experience and nature of the self from an atheist perspective.

    WalkerVastmind
  • BunksBunks Australia Veteran

    @Earthninja said:

    From my understanding so far.
    "I" is a false belief created by language imputed on us as babies. At a young age people tell us , that's you! And this this me!

    Do you think that's the reason or do you think it is innate in human beings to conceptualise and separate phenomena?

  • EarthninjaEarthninja Wanderer West Australia Veteran

    @bunks I don't think it's innate, the inherent problem is we believe what we "think" is true.
    "I like this" "I believe that..." We believe the 'person' is more than a label.
    But there are people who can see the falseness. :)
    They don't believe the labels, there is no separation or lines for them.
    So I don't believe it's innate, I think it's conditioned to us so early. We can't help it!
    But we have the ability to see it's falsehood. Although it results in the end of the person. (As a belief) :)

  • robotrobot Veteran
    edited June 2015

    But do you you think humans would have evolved without the sense of self and individuality? Or would we have failed to become human as we are? Perhaps never achieving the self awareness necessary to be awakened.
    I think that belief is what makes us human.

    vinlynEarthninja
  • howhow Veteran Veteran
    edited June 2015

    So we are not just karma's taxi cabs from point a to point b.?

    BunkslobsterZenshinShoshin
  • lobsterlobster Veteran
    edited June 2015

    Interesting question @robot about human development. The sense of identity is indeed part of child development. Before I knew how this process unfolded I was disturbed by my memory of an act of individuation. Doing a volitional act of contrariness, something I knew was wrong but I did it anyway, probably when I was around the 'naughty twos' that parents will be aware of.

    I stamped on a butterfly. >:)

    'no, no, no' - this is what kids do . . .
    https://en.m.wikipedia.org/wiki/Child_development_stages

    Children are not (re)born as developed karmic entities from previous models as some ignorant cultures historically like to surmise. B)

  • EarthninjaEarthninja Wanderer West Australia Veteran

    @robot yes maybe it does, and it certainly caused our species to survive. That sense of individuality is what helped us create the world we live in for sure.
    Yet it also causes all the suffering as well. All wars are based on fear and feeling separate.
    I think we've reached a stage in this evolution whereby this belief is now killing us.
    We don't need it to survive. Life still goes on as it always has. There has never been an individual living life.
    But yes I think you are right to say that, we probably wouldn't have survived if death is not an issue anymore haha.

  • JeffreyJeffrey Veteran

    This is what Milarepa taught the shepherd boy in a story. He asked if he was in his mind or his body as one of the first questions asked.

    Earthninja
  • robotrobot Veteran

    But if the human species is made up of individuals who are unawakened, living their lives believing that they are real and separate beings, and that by awakening, and relinquishing that belief, the human form is transcended, then isn't it true that the belief in a existent self is innate to humans?

    Earthninja
  • EarthninjaEarthninja Wanderer West Australia Veteran

    @robot fair question but I would say it's a learned belief. I don't think anybody should or would try this but if a baby was raised without language at all. As an adult they may have no belief of a self and other. Just one field of experience.
    But hey it this is hypothetical, I'm blaming language because it appears that the thoughts of "I" only appear as words in our heads. Without the words, there would be no false beliefs.
    Just an idea, I mean it could be human nature to believe themselves as individuals living life.

  • JeffreyJeffrey Veteran

    The "self" in Buddhism
    It's time to disentangle the Buddhist confusion regarding the soul or self. Most Buddhist masters and teachers, even the Dalai Lama stumble and stutter when asked about this topic.
    The question is: "If there is no self-entity in Buddhism, then what reincarnates and can remember past incarnations?" The Buddha often spoke of his many past lives in perfect memory and detail.
    The great Japanese Zen master Dogen Zenji, made very clear there is no soul or spiritual entity within our body or energy complex. But once when asked from a student what they should do after they die and are afraid in the after-death world, Dogen said at that time while in the after-life state, they should pray to the Buddha's for protection. What???
    In Tibetan Buddhism there is a practice called "phowa" where one is trained on how one's "mental consciousness" (yid lus) should leave the body at death for a better after-death state and reincarnation. There are also full descriptions of what one needs to do before reincarnating in the next life. That indeed is a perfect description of a "soul". In In Tibetan Bon they are much less embarrassed by discussing such "soul" notions.
    Dzogchen text translator and Dzogchen teacher Malcolm Smith wrote to me:
    "...In fact, there is even a passage in Dzogchen RR ["Rigpa Rangshar" Tantra] that asserts it is ok to refer to vidya (rigpa) as a self...."
    "...If we have to have a soul, it might as well be vidya (rigpa), it is after all, permanent, unconditioned, a knower, stainless, and free from the three realms. But If we don't have to have one, vidya (rigpa) still has these characteristics. It is our essenceless essence."
    We need to understand that our consciousness has three simultaneous characteristics: emptiness like space, knowing clarity, and energetic formation. "Energetic formation" means we always have some level embodiment present. The energetic formation aspect is a "thigle" or sphere of pure awareness surrounded by various densities of life force or prana or chi. This is the "soul" or energetic self that reincarnates as a mental body (yid lus).
    But here's the deal; Buddha pointed out that this "self" is empty. That means it is never a fixed, permanent entity of unchanging characteristics. In fact it is dependent upon upon memories, mind, perceptions, interdependent relationships and karmic energetic dynamics. So even though it survives death as consciousness, it's an ever changing identity and energetic continuum.
    That is the only "who" that you are. Focus only on the energetic formation aspect, which includes its software of conceptualizing and reification of subjects("me") and objects, and you have localized karmic selfness. It is the energetic formation that gets entangled with a human brain and its brain chatter, at least until death or deep samadhi.
    Focus on your empty knowing aspects of pure awareness and you experience vast and infinite Buddha Mind, the Mind of Clear Light, nirvana.
    So, there is a "soul" in Buddhism, it's absurd to think otherwise. But the soul is empty, in constant flux, but an unending continuum of experiencing.

    ~Jackson Peterson

    Earthninja
  • 0student00student0 Explorer

    Thanks for all these different insights. I'm getting closer to understanding this "I" problem.
    For more answers, though, I'll take one commenter's advice and come up with my own.

  • JeffreyJeffrey Veteran

    “As my teacher used to say, ‘It’s so easy for spirituality to become just talk.’ There can be a certain level of enlightenment of mind, of total clarity - an awakening as space or spaciousness - that can go on and on. But even with that, there can be, and there very often are, very subtle forms of the individual me protecting itself. As soon as you drop below the level of the neck, self-protection becomes an immense issue for many people. It’s one thing to change my mind or have no mind or be nothing, but when that starts to come into the heart, it is getting really close to home. That’ opening is of another order of intimacy. And so I think some spiritual communities can miss it because some people can be very enlightened in their mind but nowhere else.”

    ~ Adyashanti

    Emptiness Dancing

    lobster0student0
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