Different Senses of Self

I think there may have been an unintentional misquote between @Green and @Meggers ? :pray:

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We can not conclude from science that free will is an illusion. Determination in cause and effect is an inherent premise of empirical science.

But the history of philosophy shows that the tools we have available in science, namely logic, math and the empirical method, may be insufficient to access every aspect of reality.

Which is why comparing Buddhist doctrine to science may not lead us anywhere. It has to be taken for itself.

lol. I shouldn’t laugh. I just happen to be in a position to take this with a high degree of warm familiarity. Even in a psychiatric hospital there are rules, so who knows the extent of reports and information the judge was looking at to determine whether or not this man was reasonable.

There are people who cannot feel pain, you know, and they have to worry about that and find ways to modify. There are people now like Occupational Therapists who can help with adjustments.

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Yup, sorry. I was referring to Green. Anyway, I’ll leave this to the teachers. A little unusual for a heretic to defend orthodox doctrine :sweat_smile:

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Let me repeat myself, “scientific research is peer reviewed and the findings have to be repeatable.” It’s obvious from that statement that “science itself” accepts boundaries.

Yes, sorry Meggers. I confused you with Green there. Please disregard.

@Green Whilst alive, the feeling of aliveness would have still persisted.
Whilst persisting, the awareness of being aware of ones aliveness is present but now there is no longer an attachment to ones ideological sense of self neither the habit of superimposing concepts over the flow of life itself. The capacity for conceptual thought and to reflect on ones nature is present but there is no longer confusion as to ones condition and so one is not lost in habitual thought.

There is a seeing the factors that has led to the origination of ones present condition, thus knowing how aliveness has come to be. Seeing as a result of this - cognitive function, most particularly, thought in relation to other factors, has enabled one to contemplate and create a self-image (‘I’) through the cognitive faculty of mind. The middle way is seeing the factors that have led to the origination of something, how when A comes into contact with B, C arises as a result. This pattern is weaved all throughout the buddhadhamma. Is there a need to thus make a fixed judgement to affirm a fixed self or not a self?

The thinking process is in full effect with no capacity to exercise ones will over it, initially but not permanently, from birth. When a baby moves around, this is cognition, and slowly the baby is strengthening. Self-awareness comes to develop, and thought/cognition serves a function for the survival of the body.

Because the habit is well established, this can lead to an experience where one is lost in a befuddlement of concepts, ideas, and sees reality through a sort of conceptual overlay. Because of ignorance, one is not born with a natural awareness of the thought process or the four foundations of mindfulness. It makes sense then as to why individuals can run into hurdles in life.

Cultivating awareness of the thought process itself which develops as a response to when dukkha (dissatisfaction, worry, emotional pain) arises as a consequence of stress, dissatisfaction, worry, and such of habitual thinking in many cases. Contemplating existential topics can be a common source of stress. This capacity to understand the cognitive process enables flexibility - leading to the capacity to choose the most helpful response that is conducive to calm and wellbeing through foresight. The dhammachakka looks like a boats wheel. Maybe for good reason?

Thinking (aggregate 1) can invoke feeling (aggregate 2). Feeling can invoke thinking. This happens because of consciousness - aliveness(aggregate 3), an appropriate form (aggregate 4) and perception (aggregate five).

Naturally, one is automatically making sense of data sensory input and looking to support or prop oneself in one environment . As one develops and matures they become aware of this prior statement, which then leads to the development of responsivity and conscious awareness - enabling the ability to let go of the unhelpful aspects of habitual and automatic thinking & developing resistance to deflect internal mental and external stressors. Seeing the function and purpose of language & cognitive thinking: one can learn to let go of the unhelpful factors of such when it is not conducive to peace of mind.

Except we don’t have that and Awakening is not coming into contact with it.

@Meggers Except who does not have what and awakening is not coming into contact with what?

Foresight. We don’t have foresight and Awakening is not coming in contact with it. Hence the need to keep either two (or four) feet on the ground, eyes and ears and such open.

That’s the journey. :pray:

It still doesn’t end in foresight.

I know that when staying up and drinking coffee while pondering these issues I will be miserable in the morning. That’s some kind of foresight. And ultimately discussions like these have the potential to disrupt, rather than improve, our continuation of the path. I think this simple kind of foresight is what @dhammapala is referring to.

But ultimately I believe that mainstream Theravada does not recommend losing one’s immediate sense of empirical self. I’ve heard Bhikkhu Bodhi say this on several occasions.

@Meggers It is ongoing,
And a practice.

None of it really has anything to do with me. I’m not a Buddhist. I just think it offers potential for useful intervention into Western culture. My focus is on interventions taken up through the visual arts and moving image media. That places considerable demands on me, and so I spend a lot of time on a lot of things.

Honest question…is there anywhere in the suttas that specifically state the following:

“There is no self”

The texts referring to the 5 Khandas seem to use the phraseology:

“This is not mine, this I am not, this is not my self”
(PTS translation)

I am starting to learn pali so may be confused, but a in front of atma doesnt necessarily mean “This self doesnt exist” (if Buddha wanted to say that I think there is a different way to say that. The negative prefix just suggests that kind of wording “not self” as in “this is not self”

Verse 279: “All phenomena (dhammas) are without Self”; when one sees this with Insight-wisdom, one becomes weary of dukkha (i.e., the khandhas). This is the Path to Purity.

the other 2 characteristics are all conditioned things, so it excludes nibbāna, this one includes nibbāna as not self also. So there’s no self to be found as all are not self.

Just read the thing, many cases are published in journals. I also didn’t claim it’s scientific, and truth is not limited by science. Court case are not scientific, and it doesn’t need to be. The rebirth evidences are sufficient for court judgements to say rebirth is a fact. Read them please before replying. A lot of the time I spend to just convincing people to read it.

Whatever subtle bodies you know there are, they too are not self. Apply the second discourse. All that is impermanent is unsatisfactory, what is impermanent and unsatisfactory is not worth calling as a self. DN1 Lists down 7 body-mind thing the annihilationists claims to be a self which got destroyed in death. 1st is physical body, 2nd is deva body, 3rd is brahma body, 4-7th are the formless mind realms.

This is where we can use the Mahayana concept of emptiness to deconstruct any notion of essence.

Just to remind, since your goal is enlightenment, the important thing is to have right view. Wrong view leads to wrong path factors all the way to wrong samadhi, wrong knowledge and wrong liberation (not liberated thinking one is liberated). A stream enterer has right view of no self. To get to enlightenment, you should have at least first the intellectual knowledge of no self, proper understanding and acceptance of it, intellectually. Then if your mind is ready, realization can happen, direct seeing. Without such intellectual acceptance, it’s not going to get you to the right liberation.

It’s understandable that people resist this deep subtle teaching of no self, so don’t feel too bad about it. It’s challenging, it’s good that you see it as challenging, so you can see where to work on.

Now back to water. How about heavy water? DHO, one extra neutron to one of the hydrogen, we still call it water, the properties are largely the same as H2O. What is essence if 2 or more things can be called the same name? Isn’t essence supposed to be unique? Or unchangeable. 2H2O can be destroyed with electrolysis, separated to 2H2 and O2. Shouldn’t something which is essence be unchangable? Apply again the second discourse. Whatever is subject to change is unsatisfactory, and thus not self (empty of essence, as mahayana viewpoint).

What is water is H2O then? A mental concept we project onto the world. It doesn’t deny that if we collect H2O molecules from a soup of molecules, eventually, we will be able to gather a thing which behaves just like water, because it is water. Functionally, pragmatically there’s no issue. The important thing is to see that projecting anything as essence is troublesome for it is the basis for delusion of self, which is the basis for attachments, which is the cause of suffering.

Also, just for extra, we can see that H2O is not always water. Go cold enough, it becomes many different kinds of ice in many different temperatures/pressure regions. Go hot enough, it becomes steam, and at some temperature/pressure points, the separation between gas and fluid form of it becomes blurred and there is no clear transition between them. Why can the same molecules exibit so many different properties? because it’s conditioned. What is conditioned is not worth calling as self, it is subject to change.

Now go back to humans. 5 clinging aggregates, remove the defilements, becomes just the 5 aggregates, which the arahants who are living, experiences. According to your water analogy, that you would consider as the essense (or true self) of the arahant. Yet, those 5 aggregates, are also impermanent, and thus unsatisfactory. Thus also not worth identifying as self. And anyone who does identify those as self cannot get to arahanthood in the first place.

Also, consider after the death of the arahant. Nothing leftover. How can an essense suddenly be gone? poff? Answer: there’s no essense in the first place. No self to be found anywhere. Incidentally, this is also why it’s important to see that there’s nothing after parinibbāna, to not have anywhere for the delusion of self to take hold of, to identify as self.

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Brains. You mentioned something about brains. If you identify brain as self, then which part of brain is the self? Modern psychology cannot find a core, a CEO of the brain. If you think of the neuron connection as the self, then which neuron connection is the true self? it’s changing all the time. Which frozen slice of it is the true self? Is the true self just a static thing? None of them upon close analysis can stand up the test. There’s nothing to be identified as the self in the brain.

If it’s not scientific then why are you trying to pass it off as evidence? We live in a world that has standards. It’s got to come up to a bar. I’m personally not interested in your suggestions. I’ve said that I find it inappropriate trying to force beliefs on people. It’s rude. And just because this is a Buddhist forum doesn’t mean that you can browbeat people into your way of thinking. To repeat for one last time: I’m not interested. It’s an incoherent idea and serves no purpose.

Happy to not try to force any beliefs on you @Meggers, but if you are interested in a civil chat as “two unenlightened wordlings” as the EBTs might describe us, I am happy to banter with you on this as I find it confusing and have thought a bit about it.

As a background, I am a Professor in one of the major Unis here and have published over 100 articles in the medical literature, my publications are cited about every 1 to 2 days and I am actually one of the editors of a national medical journal…so I get what you mean by peer review and science etc…but happy to work through some of the concepts. At the end neither of us will change our views, but you might have a better idea of why I hold my views, thats all I hope for, no interest in changing your views (no idea who you are, and Im guessing I never will :)!

If interested, all I ask is that you answer this simple question:
On a scale of 0 to 100, how would you rate the literal story of Aladdin’s lamp (0 being completely certain a genie will not come out of a magical lamp if you rub it; 100 being completely certain that it will).

If not interested, no worries!