Friday, January 15, 2010

Reflections: What if 'Self' isn't Real?

We all have many teachers. I was asked the title question by one of mine recently. I am very grateful. And again, I must humbly acknowledge that my understanding is likely, as yet, still incomplete.

What if 'Self' isn't Real?:

Although I don't believe in the classical Christian God (to some folks dismay), what I do believe in these days is an all-pervading consciousness. 'Self' may very well be an artifact or epiphenomenon of the fact that our sensory processing and response mechanisms are housed in individual bodies. (This could explain why neuroscientists, while they can map perception of distinct features of the external world on to different areas of the brain, have failed to map comprehension/conscioousness.) What if this all-pervading consciousness is the sum or some mathematical factor of our individual consciousnesses?

More importantly, if we accept that the ‘self’ is not real how does this affect our view of the world and the rest of humanity? If 'self' is not real, I am not separate from the other 'selves' in the world. Past, present, and future merge with this unified 'being' into one shimmering pearl. Seen as the 'whole' we are no longer subject to the suffering of individual moments nor are we subject to suffering due to a perspective of isolation. The result is a sense of equanimity or, in other words, an inner monastery we can tap into during our daily living.

If we accept that the ‘self’ is not real how might that impact our daily lifestyle as well as any long term goals we might have? Does it matter if our bodies survive? Why should my individual contribution to consciousness matter in view of a greater consciousness?:
-- To add strength and positivity. To help aid and heal the whole.
-- In the effort to "liberate all beings" from the view of individualized 'self'.


BigDaddyBuddha said...

I like the post; good to get back to the basics everyone once in a while.

Also, and I swear I'm not trying to be a total smartass here, I think "conscioousness" is one the cutest misspellings ever. More words with double oo I say!

Emily Breder said...

There you are! You should have a link to your blog on your Twitter profile. I had to search through your tweets for it.

Great post!

Emily (aka OhioBuddhist on twitter)

Happi said...

BigDaddyBuddha -

I'll leave the typo in then. (I'm trying to not be too OCD about this blog.) Thanks for stopping by and commenting. - Happi

Emily -

Good point about the link. I'm juggling a lot at the moment, so thanks for pointing it out. Glad you liked the post, although at this point I have to admit its more like a theory in my head... - Happi

Kozan said...

I am responsible for the whole catastrophe... when seen, experienced from this side, every word has power, every thought acted on has power, every single thing is affected.

and then, my habitual way of viewing myself sez, "No way man, I am not responsible for everything within my range of consciousness, leave me alone..."

then, being lifted by this Self, the big no-self, this self continues to practice, and I'm inevitably left with nothing I can concretely call myself. Resting here, requires humor and the mind of a parent, the mind of a 'person of great strength', the manifestation of just this...

Words are incomplete so I will stop here.

Thank you!

Happi said...

Kozan -

That's profound. And a blessing. And you're right, the words are incomplete, but still offer a lot of insight.

Thank you. Gassho _/|\_

- Happi