Different Senses of Self

A Buddha and enlightend person has probably still a sense of self. I feel sutta’s show this.
But it is not an ego-like sense of self. It is not like the perception that there is a mental entity inside who lives, who knows and experiences and dies. But he/she has a natural sense of self that, i believe, goes back to the natural clarity of mind. That clarity is a kind a radiance.

The more one removes defilements, the more this radiance, this natural clarity of the mind shines. This is also what we experience as “I am happy without any reason”. That is the experience of the natural clear light nature of the mind.

The unawakened mind does not know that this natural sense of self is not really a mental entity, but the natural clarity of the mind. That is the difference between seeing things as they are and not?

This radiance of the mind does not disappear while one lives, and therefor a natural sense of self also remains, i believe. But this is not known now as mental entity anymore but as the clear light nature of mind.

There is a sense of self that is rooted in attachment and that gives the impression that you are a mental entity that experiences, knows, lives, will die etc. This is always something conceived.
But when the mind is not conceiving there is also a sense of self. But now this goes back to the natural clear light nature of mind, its clarity.

The big magician is the stream of mental vinnana’s. Lost in this stream of mental vinnana’s a cinematic reality arises with an entity like perception of me, and like reality is a story. But this is mere the result of conceiving.

Is seeing the sense of self as it really is like seeing this sense of self is the natural clarity of the mind?

The suttas are quite careful not to refer to natural brightness of the mind as any sense of self. To identify anything at all as any form of self, or as belonging to self or self is in them or they are in self, is to not be freed from self identity view.

We can just use the names of those things to refer to things, and not use any self terminology to avoid misunderstanding, even subtle self deception kind. This is what the abhidhamma is good for.

But what do you think it would even mean that there is no sense of self at all?

For example, the Buddha did not want to teach after his awakening because he forsaw that this would be tiresome for himself when people would not understand him. I feel this is impossible when the Buddha would live in a reality of mere impersonal processes. No, this shows that also a Buddha has still a sense of me and self, i feel.

He has a sense of self also in the sense that he knows he is born in this and that family, has done this and that during his life, and he is now awakened. He has a sense of self as in remembering his former lives. “That was Me.”. He has a sense of self as in a personal and private history and past.
If he would have no sense of self at all, this would be impossible, i feel.

And can one claim awakening without a sense of me and self?

The Buddha also had preferences, a certain character. He is not free of any personality or character. He is still a quit introvert person, liking quit places and Sangha and not liking noisy Sangha’s etc. But some enlightend persons are not introvert and have different characters. It is said that the fundamental character of a person does not change.

He also has a sense of self that he experiences the old body as still an aspect of himself. He is not completely cut of from the discomfort of an old body. He does not live apart from the khandha’s or totally alieniated from them. He still also seems to live like a person.

Are you sure that there is no sense of self in a detached mind?

Annata does not necessarily mean that you have to lose your empirical sense of self, @Green. It’s about not identifying with the finite things around you too much, and not thinking that you yourself are infinite.

But you already knew that, didn’t you. :wink:

That’s tiresome, not self.

That’s a conventional self, just a stream of processes, not ultimately self.

It’s exactly where the sense of self is gone by the arahant, the conceit and ignorance that they are enlightened. A stream winner to arahant still have a sense of self “I am”, but not viewing anything as self, or belonging to self or self in anything or anything in self.

Personality, characters are also not self, but just conditioned things.

Not a Buddhist teaching. All conditioned things are subject to change. Only nibbāna is the unconditioned.

That’s just the body.

You are assuming a soul which can be identified beyond the 5 aggregates. Totally not the not self teaching of Buddhism.


Oke, i have just another approach. That is probably not buddhist but maybe a little bit.

I do not really aim at ending rebirth of an endless miserable samsara. That is just not part of my system. I cannot really connect to that goal. I also do not wish to implant this in my mind and then connect to this goal. For me that feels wrong.

For me a Buddha represents a person who is totally himself, ultimately sensitive, open-minded, receptive, detached, pure. I feel this way one is really a friend for oneself, others and the world. That is my heartwish.

The power of anusaya, asava, tanha’s, kilesa’s result in becoming not myself. That is how i understand Dhamma. It leads me into a proces of becoming impersonal, insensitive, alieniation. A hardening or coarsening process. That is the wrong Path.

Being pure means one is personal. Personal is, for me, not really the same as emotional, impulsive, partial. But personal i have always understood as being pure, open, sensitive.
Personal is wrongly understood, i feel. Because, being emotional and reactive is not personal but impersonal! It is acting like a machine. A conditioned machine.

For me the solution of suffering lies in being personal, being oneself.
That is what i feel is the holy task. The holy life, for me, is about being oneself in the world. Then one is really a friend for oneself, others and the world.

Being oneself also means that one has no views like…“i am this or that”… and one does not try to be someone. Such as a peaceful person, a controlled person, a friendly person, etc. Trying to be a certain person is a cause of suffering, also for other persons. We cannot shape openess but we can shape habits, tendencies but, i feel, one must not become a machine.

A Buddha shows to the world what it is to be oneself. To be free of the influence of bagage, of adventitious things that we collected. Usually this bagage rules my thinking, speaking and acting.

If there is something noticable for me it is the rapid change. The one moment one is receptive and sensitive and the next moment a fortress and insensitive. It all lies so close.

That there are only 5 khandha’s is something i have never read in the sutta’s. That we are a human is, i believe, also mere an assumption, at best a conventional truth.

You seem to focus quite a bit on “oneself” whereas I think the Teacher saw this focus as quite limiting. When you divide the world into what is “myself” vs what is “other” you necessarily limit your point of view in a way that can lead to problems. I wonder what you think of other modern philosophers - who were not Buddhist - who have also come to something like this realization. Take for instance Jean-Paul Sarte and his famous line, “Hell is other people.” I wonder what you make of this explanation? :pray:

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Yes, there’s something not ethical about trying to get people to believe in rebirth, only so that they can then struggle to not be reborn for possibly eons by purifying themselves. We’re more enlightened now than in the past. We know equally well that God is dead and that rebirth is ended. This causes a problem, and there are Buddhist recriminations against Westerners and the “failings” of their secular view.

It’s important to keep good boundaries. Friends keep good boundaries.

Only if rebirth is not factual, which this objective evidences strongly suggests that it is. https://www.reddit.com/r/Buddhism/s/u4sVIG0OLE

I recommend that you read more, perhaps try to finish the 4 nikayas, I did it in 3 months or so. The path when not walked with right view becomes the wrong path, with all the wrong factors in it. Give yourself time to adjust to the right view. Practise to get some partial results and increase in faith.

For me the use of Dhamma is to focus on removing tanha, defilements, anusaya etc. Because that is the Path to become naturally oneself. That is the Path due which one does NOT alieniate, become insensitive, coarse. The Pali sutta’s do not share that this focus is wrong or limited. On the contrary.

It is only due to the influence of defilements that the world becomes divided into me and you.

In some sense you can be said to be right in that arahants do not need to have restrain internally, they are unable to do evil because the roots of evils are eradicated for them.

Externally, what we see is super well restrained person.

Due to mindfulness of feelings, arahants do know feelings, but do not need to react with negative emotions, actually is incapable of reacting with negative emotions, as they have eradicated mental suffering.

So no insensitivity. Of course, cultural ignorance can be there. Go off internet for long enough, one would not know about all the woke progress.

There’s no self anywhere to be alienating, but also not taking anything as self.

The sense of self is the result of the feeling of aliveness and awareness that one is aware or alive (self-awareness).

Naturally, the individual forms a mental image of themselves in the form of ‘I’. In the same way the word hand isn’t :raised_hand:in itself is the same way in which this ‘I’ is not the entirety of ones mind and body. The word appears in conversation to designate ones particular mind and body.

The middle way encourages to one to look at how particular aspects of experience arise through causal relationships and not taking things on a given (on the basis of blind faith). Looking from the middle, one is free from the snares of extreme thinking and realigns with the suchness of life just as it is

The problem is the natural inclination, because of natural ignorance of the four foundations of mindfulness and the mechanisms by which aspects of ones being function, to make sense using thought as mental impressions. It is this becoming lost in thought that causes problems, where, an individual lives in ideas.

The sense of self in itself is neutral. The ideological self is born from the feeling of being alive and being aware of such. The mental and thinking aspect of an individual makes sense of such. The sense of self and the ideological self are not problems in themselves. It is an unhelpful *relationship *to ones mental image of themselves rooted in ignorance, aversion, and clinging which is problematic. Suffering (the story or narrative told about ones pain, stress, dissatisfaction and worrying experiences) is conditioned and that is why it is possible to untangle it by discerning its exact proximate cause.

I have had such experiences that i do not doubt there is something deeply mysterious about this life. And we are more then a brain and body. I am quit convinced of that. I also do not doubt there are other beings than what we call humans and animals.

But i feel the brain is most important in how we think, speak and act. I do not know how it all works.
Some teach that all depends on mind, like there is a duality. I do not know.

I now read a book of a prof. about the brain. It is really amazing how important this brain is. Damage shows that. The prof. says he will explain consciousness…oke…i keep reading. There are so many bizarre changes when the brain damages. I read yesterday that even ones sexual orientation can chang due to brain damage. It is all so complex and one starts to wonder…who or what am I?
A man had brain damage and suddenly he became sexually totally unrestricted. He was never so before. He wanted sex all the time with his wife and if not he masturbated. He even started to download childporn. He became arrested. Was he accountable? Yes, said the judge. The scientist doubt this.

I know rebirth and the idea of endless samsara is very important in almost all buddhist schools, also mahayana and vajrayana. Maybe least in Zen. They feel it is indeed most important to contemplate the dangers of samsara, the suffering, the misery. But the goal is to turn mind to Dhamma.

What do you exactly mean by this?

Is restraint the right word?

I do not fully agree with this. Water has an essence. It is H2O. It can also contain defilements. Those are not essential to what water is. Likewise, i believe, we have an essence and there are adventitious defilements that are not essential to who we are.

If defilements are removed from water it is not that the essence of water has changed. It is still H2O. I believe, in the same way our essence does not change while adventitious defilements are removed.
I believe, removing adventitious defilements will only reveal what our essence is. We only get more understanding about who we are. But this understanding does not grow from views, contemplation, thinking, conceit, but from experience.

Do you feel that a Buddha does not have this?

You shouldn’t, according to your first statement… I am afraid that it is the scientist who is more in line with Buddhism here.

If our interest is in Buddhist teachings, we should carefully consider Bhante’s words.

What i meant with the statement:

is not a statement about free will. Not about accountability or responsibility nor about the relation between body and mind.

It is a statement that there is more going on in our lives then what happens in the physical body and brain. Our body is not really limited to the physical body and brain. There is also something like a subtle body. I am sure about this. But i did not mean to make a statement about free will.

This is essentially not Buddhism … but you are right about free will.

Scientific research is peer reviewed and the findings have to be repeatable.

Where does this come from? My stating that it makes perfect sense to me that we are more than a brain and a body doesn’t any way mean that I think “we are” something else. The other scrap you took from me from somewhere I don’t recall and so don’t know what it is in reference to.