"What did your face look like before your parents were born?" is a zen koan that I've also heard as a question that a wise teacher asked to trip up a wise-ass student, "who were you before you were born."
I asked this to my four year-old grandson and learned that he is quite convinced that he has always been who he is. So then I asked, "at the moment of conception, when you were smaller than the head of a pin, were you who you are now?"
"Yes, he answered"
And at the moment right before conception, when you didn't exist, you were not who you are now...right?" He nodded "yes."
Buddhists believe this idea of a permanent "self" is one of our delusions. My grandson doesn't agree. But I didn't think it fitting for me to tell him an opposing view. He's got to figure this one out on his own.
And then there is this question. If "self" is created at the moment of conception, then does it disappear at the moment of death? He saw no problem with that idea. (We framed it in the context of the mice in his house that we were trying to send off to another world.)
And if you think this post is bad, you should thank me for not yet writing about the downfall of capitalism from a libertarian perspective, which is actually where I'm stuck.
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