Thursday, January 5, 2012

No Self for Dummies

I was feeling guilty for not explaining "No Self" better to H and C. I was driving along and then it hit me. "Self" is actually much harder to understand than "No Self" because it is invented much as G_D, Santa Claus, the Tooth Fairy, and the Stork... are invented. Where is this "Self" to which we are so attached? When was it born? Does it die? Is it fully developed early on?

Having realized that "Self" is totally a construct of our mind I realized that "no Self" is a much clearer view of this changing entity ("I") that, as well, is also a construct of our mind.

Sorry, C, that I couldn't do it in 30 words or less. Another challenge.

3 comments:

North Shore Meditation and Dharma Center said...

The absolute is not a denial of the relative. Unlike God and Santa, you do exist.

C said...

Ok, here goes.

You said, (earlier) “…that which is changing, …” So isn’t the “that” the “self” even though it changes?

I know that you said that your parents were different to you than to each of your siblings. I get that. I know that I am different to each person I come into contact with because my response is based on how everything about me relates to everything about that other person.

However to me, I am still the same person, I have the same sense of self now as I did when I was 5.

When I was a small child, at about 5, I had an experience that was very clear. I had an instantaneous sense or awareness that I existed. It was almost a physical sensation. I am. I exist. And with it, I was also aware that it was different from not existing. But the not existing did not lack an awareness of not existing. I think this is why I asked about this.

If the “self” is consciousness, then consciousness though evolving, is still consciousness, the same consciousness, which upon death is also reborn.

Also you said, that though “Zen people aren’t very concerned with rebirth at death…[and]…few say you are not a Buddhist if you don’t believe in it.

So isn’t the real point is not whether we are reborn or not or whether we create good or bad karma, but whether we live to cause less or more suffering.

And wouldn’t it follow that to desire to live to cause less suffering, that we must not only experience suffering in our own “self” but also to acknowledge the self in each of us in order to care whether one’s suffering is eased?

Anonymous said...

Kim! I REALLY like your writing on "no self". I want to give you lots of details about what I like about it, but really it's more like the stream. It just flows. Well, I guess I could say this: the part about you & your sister creating different parents. I'm finding a lot of value in this since I know that I've struggled with how my sister experienced our dad and how I did. Without wanting to make her perception wrong, wanting to protect her hurt feelings, and sympathize - having been part of the dynamic that she experienced growing up - I have generally settled on agreeing with her in conversations about 'how he was', but on the inside I've carried a different feeling about him. More compassionate or identified, maybe. My agreement w/ my sister has always felt like an unjust compromise of my feelings. … Also I love the part about the creative process. The violinist, asked about the difficult movement, never able to do it again. How we tend to value replication, our whole economy is based on this preference. Commoditization. Creativity is valued only if it can create a product. The Buddha statue, for example…

Creativity IS flow, and it can never happen the same way again.

Here's a thought: "Someone like Mr. Wikopedia (sp? Wikipedia.) could have all the right answers to your questions…" I think maybe we're asking somewhat insignificant questions if anyone can have all the right answers to them.

And brains should be in service of the heart. What ties this discussion to the one about anger as emotion or decision - Emotion is known in the body, the nervous system is a complex communication system that gives unadulterated advice to the brain. The brain gives instructions to the body. The body gives instructions to the brain. We forget, there's a 2-way communication. The brain is a tool that we train to use well. We've got it a little strange in our culture. We've been thinking the body is the tool we are training. Other way around. The body electric says "Danger" or "Safety" or "Love" or "Fear". It sends the message to the brain so the feedback from the brain will be appropriate. However, our minds have to be trained well in order to receive that message, understand it, and respond appropriately. Perpetual or preferenced emotional states probably result from the brain not being able to read the initial signal and send appropriate response signals back to the body. A stuck loop occurs.

I am in disagreement with Kosho's "Complaint Free World" thing. Sometimes it's the appropriate thing to file a complaint. (that's a bit aside, but it just popped into my brain…)

Oh, and about the substance that karma sticks to? I determined the other night after you left our house, that karma sticks to Twinkies. Remember, Twinkies stick around a long long time in a landfill. :)

Ginger