No-self?

I am aware, therefore I exist.

2 comments:

Raymo.E-J said...

In this way, function defines form...
Further discussion:
http://www.thebigview.com/buddhism/emptiness.html

gene said...

Ha! Great point, Clemente.

The site Raymo pointed to is a good one. But before I follow it, here's what I would say on this subject off the top of my head.

Most people walk around with the impression that they have a "self", a "personality." This makes you who you are. We are born, we have a personality that may or may not change as we age, then we die. The dominant Judaic/Christian/Muslim view goes on to say call this our spirit, and it's so permanent that it even goes on into the afterlife.

Buddhist philosophy teaches that the self or personality we usually think of is an illusion. It's not real, and our understanding of it is wrong. We all are just awareness at the most basic level. In "The Wisdom of Yoga" Cope says that this awareness is like a radar screen. Things show up on our radar of awareness: body sensations, feelings, memories, etc. My basic awareness is no different from yours.

Then on top of this basic awareness, we have judgements and patterns of behavior that we have developed over our lives. I like what Cope says on this even more. He says that the basic awareness is like a computer's operating system (Windows, Linux, Mac) but that our patterns of behavior are just lots of individual programs running on top of that (Microsft Word, internet browsers, etc).

Meditation practice is in part training to help us see these patterns of behavior in ourselves, and understand that they are not "us", and that our "personalities" are not as firm as we thought they were. Ergo... there is no "self."

It's said that when the Buddha first awakened from under the tree, having just become the Buddha, the first thing he said was "I have seen the builder of the house". He meant that he understood how the self is an illusion, and how what we think of as our "personalities" are created.