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The Self

Been exploring the notion of "no self" lately after reading a great book called Buddhism Plain and Simple. It is almost trippy to think about really. Apparently If I interpreted it right the "self" or "I" is an Illusion. After meditating I have often wondered If my personality is really the true me or maybe I have somewhere along the way I have created a false identity for myself and now I am trying to live up to this. For example we all get a little anxious sometimes but were not completely anxious all the time. What If I get anxious on one occasion and my mind decides I am an anxious person then from then on whenever I feel anxious my mind will say its just me being me but forgetting all the times I'm not anxious if this makes any sense. What If you decide you absolutely detest a certain genre of music? I find with this my mind then become biased and will then reject any song I hear from that genre even when deep down I kind of like it. What's your thoughts?

Jeffrey

Comments

  • EarthninjaEarthninja Wanderer West Australia Veteran

    There is no self, anywhere.
    We say "my mind" or "my body" the thing that says "my" is a thought. It isn't actually there. That's why they call it a hallucination or illusion.

    There is no "person", the mind(thoughts) break up reality into seeming separate things and events. The biggest one being the "person"
    But outside of the body/mind there is no such entity. "Chris" is just a name this body mind was given. Through shared words, the brain somehow believes there is somebody living life and making choices. But when looked at and investigated, you can see it isn't true. It's obvious.

    Feelings happen by themselves, thoughts happen by themselves, bones grow, cells reproduce, heart beats by itself. Sleep happens by itself, attention happens by itself.
    There never was anybody living life. That's the illusion.

    Freedom from suffering is not some attainment the "person" gets. Freedom is when the brain sees through it's own charade. Then there's nobody who was born, nobody to die.

    But... This creates a lot of fear, because then "we" are seen to be just a story. A hologram that really had or has no choice. This is why enlightenment appears hard, who wants to see they don't actually exist? (Only as a story)
    Hands up?

    That's why we suffer, things don't happen the way the "person" wants. Feelings like anger or love, just arise. We like love, we don't like anger. Yet there never was anybody to reject or accept. Just the feelings and thoughts about them.

    We exist as a story, there are some people whose brains seem wired to see through this illusion. Most people don't.
    There will always be belief in this separate entity. And when you believe you are a person. Then duality is created.
    Self, versus other.

    Life has always just been living itself, that which grows the flower is that which moves the body. The scary thing for many people is it can be seen that there isn't even someone making choices. Choices are made the same way thoughts arise.

    There is nothing to attain, no way we can change what's going on. Nobody to accept or reject it. Nobody was born, just life/existence doing it's thing.
    Realising this is liberation but nobody even does that. The brain either does or doesn't.

    Morningstar
  • EarthninjaEarthninja Wanderer West Australia Veteran

    @federica said:
    Oh thoughts on this subject are legion.

    You have Noooooooo idea what you've started continued.....

    Remind me, someone, have we actually ever discussed 'self/Not-self' before....?

    ;)

    Your going to start saying this is all some highfalutin buddhist concept that Is pointless I keep harping on about lol.

    Funny how me and you were the first ones to comment. I think this might be the third time we've engaged in this in the past 6 months haha.
    <3

  • 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

    Oh we're engaged now are we? I wasn't even aware we were dating......

    EarthninjaBunksVastmindmmo
  • Tony_A_SimienTony_A_Simien Veteran
    edited November 2015

    Zen biology lesson for "not self"

    Morningstar
  • DavidDavid A human residing in Hamilton, Ontario, Canada. Ancestral territory of the Erie, Haudenosaunee, Huron-Wendat, Mississauga and Neutral First Nations Veteran
    edited November 2015

    "Because the ego deals in form and definition, it cannot comprehend the Self - which is beyond all form but without form would not appear to exist. In reality, there is no subject nor object; therefore, there is no relationship to be explained."

    -- David R. Hawkins

    The individual sense of self is a handy tool that gives us perspective.

    In my view, our true self is a non-abiding one and mind sends signals to the brain. When we search while seeing the physical as existing but the non-physical as non-existent we run into problems, I think.

    robot
  • I've gone out to look for me.
    If I should show up before I get back, keep me here until I return.

    EarthninjaVastmind
  • EarthninjaEarthninja Wanderer West Australia Veteran

    Somebody goes looking for somebody, somebody finds nobody. Then realised nobody was looking for nobody.

    Shoshin
  • pegembarapegembara Veteran
    edited November 2015

    Striving to be a Nobody
    A lovely poem composed by the late Bhante Suvanno, Abbot of Lunas Buddhist Hermitage in Kedah, renounced at age 60.

    Everybody wants to be a somebody
    Nobody knows how to be a nobody
    If ever there is a 'somebody'
    Who knows how to be a nobody
    Then that nobody is a real somebody.

    If you ever want to be a nobody
    Then follow that somebody
    Who already is a 'nobody'
    Later, let go of everybody
    Even that somebody
    Who already is a nobody
    Eventually, you will be a real nobody.

    Rev Acara Suvanno Maha Thero
    1921-11 March 2007

    ZenshinEarthninjalobster
  • Tee Hee - thanks @pegembara

    To remind those of you wishing to confirm your somebody/nobody status
    http://liberationunleashed.com

    Do it. Let us know what returns ...

  • Before asking what self is, it's good to know what "is" is.
    What does it mean that something "is", and what is the nature of being. Without dividing it into self and other, body and mind, what are the universal qualities of being?
    Anicca, anatta, dukkha.

    Now everything that is, inherits those qualities, and it becomes totally irrelevant how you call it. Self, according to Buddha, needs certain qualities. For something to be the self, it cannot lead to afflictions, and it should be able to take any form it wants (Anatta-lakkhana Sutta). Mind appears as a natural candidate, but because it inherits all the properties of existence, it fails in fulfilling the requirements.

    Even if we disregard Buddhas definition of the self from Anatta-lakkhana Sutta, whatever we come up with, it will always be marked by qualities of existence.

  • techietechie India Veteran

    I once asked a buddhst monk online. He replied: anythng solid is self, anything fluid isn't.

    Jeffrey
  • DavidDavid A human residing in Hamilton, Ontario, Canada. Ancestral territory of the Erie, Haudenosaunee, Huron-Wendat, Mississauga and Neutral First Nations Veteran

    @techie said:
    I once asked a buddhst monk online. He replied: anythng solid is self, anything fluid isn't.

    Maybe you should have asked "what is solid" then.

  • DavidDavid A human residing in Hamilton, Ontario, Canada. Ancestral territory of the Erie, Haudenosaunee, Huron-Wendat, Mississauga and Neutral First Nations Veteran
    edited November 2015

    @Mingle said:
    Been exploring the notion of "no self" lately after reading a great book called Buddhism Plain and Simple. It is almost trippy to think about really. Apparently If I interpreted it right the "self" or "I" is an Illusion.

    Even an illusion is not nothing or we could not label it as illusion.

    I think the idea that we are separate and are thus individual selves is an illusion but quite a handy one once we learn to use it as a tool and know we are not separate.

    If we were all just illusions to be seen through, does it really solve anything or make morality even harder to define?

    Why have compassion for a bunch of illusions that don't even really exist?

    And what is perceiving the illusion?

    Once we stop desperately trying to find the true and abiding self, define it, cage it or even dismiss it, it is free to simply be what it is but what it is is not a thing and does not abide.

    Barah
  • ShoshinShoshin No one in particular Nowhere Special Veteran

    "I AM" but the cycle of subjective clinging to fleeting memories ( data filtering through the sense doors) of past actions and reactions =karma in motion

    The SELF
    ............I
    ............V
    ............E
    ............
    ............A
    ............G
    ............G
    .............R
    .............E
    .............G
    .............A
    .............T
    .............E
    .............S

  • we still try to do wholesome loving things for our 'self' or for 'other' people. and those things are meaningful. non-self is not nihilism that anihilates meaningful behaviour or feelings. like my friend is grieving and it is meaningful for me to help her even though we can say that there is no 'self' or 'other'. other things can be stirring or meaningful as they appear evident.

  • JeffreyJeffrey Veteran
    edited November 2015

    What is more interesting? What you 'think' you 'should' understand? Or what you actually see and think about?

    https://www.facebook.com/BuddhismConnect/posts/409577552536199

    Not Self - Lama Shenpen Hookham

    It is important not to try to prove or believe there is no self but instead examine our experience to discover what we do find.

    A student writes:
    "As you say in Course Book 3 (of the Discovering the Heart of Buddhism Course- ed.) the most difficult of the three marks of conditioned existence to accept and understand is not-self, that there is no 'I'.

    I can see that there are problems differentiating the experience from the experiencer and in determining the nature of 'I' but because of our apparent ability for abstract thought we are aware that we are aware; therefore 'something' is aware of something / someone else. I can see how we can blink in and out of existence from the 'space,' but something appears to exist and appears to experience, even if we label it incorrectly."

    Lama Shenpen:
    You are right. It is important not to think that you need to prove or believe there is no self. Here the phrase not-self, no self or non-self can be a bit distracting because it suggests what you should believe or find rather than encouraging you to examine your experience freely, just to discover what you do find.

    I am glad you are not being put off in your explorations by an idea of what you should be finding. Just keep exploring and asking. It is the only way to discover what is truly the case.

    You are right that there is some kind of appearance of existence and an experiencing of that. There is also the process of labelling which could in fact be misleading. As you say, there are always those two aspects to an experience, the experience itself and the experiencer of it. So, you need to home in on that and try to discover what exactly that is all about.

    Normally we think of the one experiencing as being the 'me' who suffers and we have very strong emotional attachments to what we think that 'me' is. Try for example imagining yourself in danger or falsely accused of some crime. A very strong feeling of 'me' comes up doesn’t it? That is not as subtle as the momentary experiencer of an experience.

    The feeling of ‘me’ is quite an elaborate phenomenon. It relates to our attachment to our body, personality, self-image, hopes and fears about the future, about who we are and who we want to be and so on. All the suffering from desire, attachment, anger and hatred, confusion and not knowing are associated with this 'me' and so it is this 'me' that we are seeking to explore.

    When we analyse our experience, looking for what it is at the heart of all this suffering, that is when it starts to become evident that it is not as we thought it was, because, for a start, nothing that seemed to constitute it endures for more than a moment. If something does not endure, it hardly qualifies as 'me' does it?

    So the way to practice is to notice when you grasp onto things with attachment, aversion and confusion and notice that the experience of attachment or aversion or confusion was momentary and it is very hard to work out what it was that was 'me' that had those experiences.

    Even so, the idea persists that there is an on-going 'me' to whom all this is happening. As thoughts come up in our meditation, there is always the sense that these thoughts happen to 'me.' One can get carried away with the emotionality of the story lines that come up or one can just notice they are thoughts and drop that story line and then there is a moment of peace.

    You may wonder what that experience of openness and peace is as you let go of the thoughts. You may wonder what the thoughts that formed the story line itself were. Both are worthy of attention.

    As you investigate in this way you will start to notice that the original idea of 'me,' the big 'I am' that storms around causing trouble everywhere is not as clear cut and obvious as it was originally. A lot of intelligent doubt has arisen as to the nature of the experience of 'me.'

    That helps the meditation open up tremendously. It helps with daily life awareness. It helps us to notice those big 'I am' thoughts and let them go without slavishly following them as if they were truth or important even.

    That is what the meditation on not-self helps to achieve. It does not however yield the answer to subtler questions such as what is this sense of an experiencer and something experienced that arises moment by moment. We have to go deeper in order to discover what that is all about.

    However, if we have practiced noticing not-self for a long time so that our mind is not so stirred up with distracting self-centred emotions, it’s possible to go deeper and discover a deeper reality than simply the not-selfness of our grosser delusions.

    Lama Shenpen Hookham.
    Find out more about Lama Shenpen and her teachings - www.buddhismconnect.org

    Barah
  • techietechie India Veteran

    there may be no self but doesnt mean there's no pain. Just bcus we say 'there is pain' instead of 'I am in pain' it doesnt mean the pain goes away.

  • silversilver In the beginning there was nothing, and then it exploded. USA, Left coast. Veteran

    I spent a too goodly amount of time conversing and arguing over this self/no-self stuff on a non-duality forum and now - in the end - I've decided it's meaningless for me - there's nothing in it that makes much sense in daily life. I have no idea why there's so much contention over it among some 'combatants'. :confounded:

  • 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

    I am because we are.

  • silversilver In the beginning there was nothing, and then it exploded. USA, Left coast. Veteran

    Ah...that dependent origination thingy. ;)

  • 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

    Actually, it's 'Ubuntu' and Zulu in origin.

  • silversilver In the beginning there was nothing, and then it exploded. USA, Left coast. Veteran

    @federica said:
    Actually, it's 'Ubuntu' and Zulu in origin.

    Um, do you mean that the 'Ubuntu' (a people?) / Zulu said it before Buddha coined the 'dependent origination' thing?

    {Hakuna Matata!}

  • DavidDavid A human residing in Hamilton, Ontario, Canada. Ancestral territory of the Erie, Haudenosaunee, Huron-Wendat, Mississauga and Neutral First Nations Veteran

    @federica said:
    I am because we are.

    You think therefore I am.

  • 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're fine, how am I?

    silver
  • DavidDavid A human residing in Hamilton, Ontario, Canada. Ancestral territory of the Erie, Haudenosaunee, Huron-Wendat, Mississauga and Neutral First Nations Veteran

    Probably delightful

  • The "middle" self should work out perhaps? Not too selfish not too unselfish.

  • DairyLamaDairyLama Veteran Veteran

    I don't think the self is a problem.

  • ShoshinShoshin No one in particular Nowhere Special Veteran

    "I" was curious one day so "I" said to "myself" why is it when "I" seek you,that you become stealth ?

    When"I" think "I" have found you, you just disappear, fading away as if you are not here

    You just arrive 'out of the blue and make your presence felt in all that "I" do

    "I" am throwing in the towel, "I" gave all that I've got-If "I" continue to seek you, "I" could well lose the plot !

    Perhaps I should cling to nothing, just go with the flow, um now that sounds good "I" might give it a go! :)

  • DairyLamaDairyLama Veteran Veteran

    There are lots of people agonising about getting rid of the self without having a real clue of what the self is.

  • non duality = non self = emptiness

    (advaitha = anatta = sunnata)

    ?

  • silversilver In the beginning there was nothing, and then it exploded. USA, Left coast. Veteran

    @SpinyNorman said:
    There are lots of people agonising about getting rid of the self without having a real clue of what the self is.

    Okay. What is it? :no_mouth:

  • DairyLamaDairyLama Veteran Veteran

    Feel it.

    silver
  • ShoshinShoshin No one in particular Nowhere Special Veteran

    @SpinyNorman said:
    Feel it.

    Who is feeling who/what ? :lol:

    silver
  • EarthninjaEarthninja Wanderer West Australia Veteran

    The self/no self thing reminds me of a story I heard.

    There once was a little girl who was scared of the ghost in her room. How do you get rid of the ghost?

    Same as the "person" how do we get rid of the idea of this separate entity?

    If you believe it exists, that's what's going on. If you think it doesn't exist that's what's going on.
    Occasionally the brain sees through this illusion, then your whole perception of the universe changes.

  • Self manifests as intention, which is nothing more than reaching out. If you want to see how self looks like exactly, observe your thoughts, and when you notice intention/desire/clinging, move your attention to your body (inside of your head and chest) and then let go of this intention. You will notice relief happening in the "inner" body, with a particular shape. After few times, you will be able to feel exactly how this reaching out looks like.

    Jeffrey
  • OK let's take a short break.
    Put sum chestnuts, shrimp, steak, tofu or whatever on the fire, grab our/your brew of choice, kick back, take a deep breath, and just r-e-l-a-x.
    Self will do just fine and non-self will find it's way as well.

    Peace to all

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