Eastern philosophy says there is no "self." Science agrees

Yes, i know. This does not really motivate me. I am not really connected to buddhism via this perspective of rebirth that must end. When i first came in contact with buddhism i felt it is about purity. That is what i felt immediately. That is what touched my heart. I really loved Dhammapada. I believe this was the first book i read about buddhism. At that time i had no idea that buddhism is about a mere cessation, a wish to cease. I am still shocked about this. I think it never leaves anymore. Now, i feel, my God, are we so fed up with life that we even want to cease for ever without anything remaining?
I have never ever felt such a drive and cannot believe Buddha did.

I do believe there are different beings than what we call humans and animals, but this idea of endless rebirth and misery, this does not live in my heart.

I’m having trouble understanding your response. To be honest, I can’t make heads or tails of it. Can you clarify? :pray:

That is described as an overreach:

And how do some overreach?
Some, becoming horrified, repelled, and disgusted with existence, delight in ending existence:
‘When this self is annihilated and destroyed when the body breaks up, and doesn’t exist after death:
that is peaceful, that is sublime, that is how it is.’
That is how some overreach.

Iti 49

The above describes craving for non-existence. The Teacher taught the method for the destruction of craving. So take heart!



I believe Buddha used two strategies. An active one, using a lot of effort. Trying to controll the mind and applying all kinds of skillful means to have a relative pleasurable mindset and abiding here and now. He was all the time using antidotes, intervening in his mind. Replacing this with that.
This way he got some controll over the mind but did find the truth.

Then under the Bodhitree he just sat, only observing, not intervening, not using skillful means to change anything. Mara’s army, the inner demons attacked him, but he just observed with a total open mind, totally embracing everything, not fighting anything. The demons became flowers.

This way he really found what he searched for. The demons were nullified. Inactiveness, might not seem much but the Buddha discovered the opposite.
In other words, one can fight everything, one can apply skillful means, intervene, etc. but do not expact enlightment from that. All such things are only means to get an open loving mind who does not live in conflict with anything, also not with dukkha and defilements.

It is not productive at all to dislike dukkha. The only thing that is really productive is embracing everything and everyone in a total desireless openess. Dukkha needs to be accepted and embraced totally, otherwise one will only give rise to more suffering. The cure is a total all embracing openess and love. That is for me the Dhamma.

I know, but the mere cessation believers have a backdoor. They say they do not aim at the annihilation of a self but the cessation of khandha’s. Which they see as fundamentally different things. Because, they say, the khandha’s are merely impersonal processes. So not a self is annihilated or ceases but merely impersonal processes cease.

But dear @Green, the ”mere cessation” believers have no way of truly knowing, thanks to this view of theirs, that the blissful realms I mentioned in my post are actually impermanent… :wink:


From a meditative point of view if someone meditates and reaches a deep unconscious state with zero awareness and then emerges out if it, have they really gotten a glimpse of temporary ”cessation”?

The annihilation/nihilism/”cessation”/extinction devotees affirms this is the case and true! :muscle:

Eventhough why this even happened in the first place while meditating was because of sloth and torpor, dozing off and entering deep dreamless sleep? :stuck_out_tongue_winking_eye:

So such a thing can happen that requires no effort, no wisdom, not even ethics, not even meditation, while in a state of sloth and torpor but still gets you a glimpse of something identical to temporary ”cessation” = a glimpse of the highest spiritual goal on the path… :sweat_smile:

How can being unconscious lead to knowing that arupa loka is impermanent? :smiling_face:

The Gelug branch of Tibetan Buddhism has a unique presentation of nibbana that differs from a lot of the other traditions including Theravada. Similar to Iti 44 of the EBT nibbana is said to have two elements:

  1. Nirvana with remainder - experienced by Noble beings when not in meditative equipoise on voidness
  2. Nibbana without remainder - experienced by Noble beings when in meditative equipoise on voidness

This contrasts with all other extant traditions I’m aware which holds that #1 is only experienced in this life whereas #2 is only be experienced at/after death. It is quite a stark difference. What is interesting for me is that Iti 44 contains the words “idheva, bhikkhave” which one translation gives as “here in this very life” which would seem more in accord with the Gelug understanding than the Theravada. Of course, it could be an erroneous translation? Actually, I think I’ll open a separate question/topic about that.

May you find this hopeful and encouraging.


The hypothesis of the instrumentalists you quote goes back to epistemology, mainly Kant’s critical argument that we can now that there is an ultimate reality beyond our sense perceptions but that we may never know what that reality is. Hence the theory that our empirical experiences, while factual and valid for us, are only signs, or what our brains and sense organs construct out of this reality that otherwise remains completely dark to us (called noumenon or thing-in-itself).

I agree, it seems they just entered bhavanga at those moments. In for example sannavedayitanirodha there is also no bhavanga. At least that is what i read.

Namo Buddhaya!

I can’t speak for other contemporary theravadins but i say that there is a single principal nibananirodha and it comes into play when attaining cessation of perception & feeling and final extinguishment.

As i understand it, this is orthodox theravada

Patisambhidamagga has this

“There are two kinds of relinquishment through cessation: relinquishment as giving up, and relinquishment as entering into. It gives up defilements and aggregates, thus it is relinquishment as giving up; cognizance enters cessation which is the nibbana principle thus it is relinquishment as entering into. These are the two kinds of relinquishment through cessation.”

In other words, when a person destroys fetters by attaining nirodha he knows & sees the nirodha principle as the unmade and therefore he knows exactly what is parinibbana as essentially the same principle coming into play with no consequent arising of dukkha.

I don’t say that a person enters parinibbana but i say that a person enters cessation of perception & feel, but this difference is conventional, both realize cessation.

It is as if a flame goes out temporarily compared to a flame being permanently extinguished. The cessation of flame is equal. If you blow out a flame liable to blaze up again you see it’s absence and it is the same absence of flame that would be if you were to fully extinguish everything as to have all be cold.

Likewise one who attains nirodha sees absence of dukkha as the unmade truth & reality and he understands that parinibbana will be the same but without a sequel due to everything ‘becoming cold’

You have to take into account the logic of the deep jhanas that tends to go with the cessationist view. There are six types of consciousness (5 senses + mind), at the entry into the first jhana, the 5 sense consciousnesses cease. After the first jhana, mind consciousness goes through various increasing states of cessation in tandem with increasingly refined objects of consciousness.

These jhanas and arupas are, AFAIK, described as states of extreme lucidity and awareness. The whole point is you really see the whole process of the citta ceasing with extreme clarity.

You don’t have to believe this is possible, but you learn more by considering a steelman version of opposing arguments over strawmen :slight_smile:

I do not really need encouragement but still thank you for this nice gesture. My heart lies most in the karma kagyu tradition. I feel they have a very nice balance between listening, studying, reflecting and meditating.

I think the message of EBT is also that one must not make anything ones fixed abiding.
Only that is real detachment. A total openess. Openess is not a bhava. One must not make any state ones home, also, not emptiness, peace, quit, stillness. This is the key of no- self for me. One must never practise to abide here or there in a fixed way because that is suffering and also not freedom.
One must, for example, not practice peace but just remove all the cause for unrest. If one practices peace and makes that ones self, ones home, that will not help at all. Then one becomes very rigid.

The mind that has not made anything her home, and sees nothing as her home that has no idea and notion of self. If one conceives…"oh emptiness is my real self…then one starts to make that ones home. Oh that is not good. Rigidness will always be the results of a doctrine of self.

But this also means one must not declare war to having a tempory home, such as jhana or becoming temporary angry if this is needed. It is not bad to become like a child when one meets a child, for example. One is temporary childish…so what? Nothing bad about this.

One must not become in a war with temporary being this or that. That is also the consequence of having no doctrine of self, i feel. Having no attachment to a doctrine of self means, i believe, that one is totally openminded and extremely flexible. There is no rigidness at all, also not in morals or attachment to rules and views and practices, rituels etc. But always connected to goodheartedness because there is not really a difference between this total openess and goodness.

I believe, you only see formations ceasing. You never see the citta ceasing.

Mind-consciousness also will never know Nibbana because Nibbana cannot be an object for mind-consciousness. Mind consciousness can have ‘there is nothing’ as object or come at the boundary of sanna and vedana and has that as object, but not Nibbana. That is how i see it.

Jhana’s may be a way to enter nirodha but this does not mean that nirodha is the endstage of this progressive stilling. No, it is explained as a total break with jhana and conventional mind. That is how i see it and that is also how it is explained by great teachers.

Jhana is like experiencing a progressive emptiness from a perspective of one who experiences that progressive stilling. But nirodha is the collapse of this perspective and one becomes that emptiness. Non-dual state.

Okay agree to disagree I guess :woman_shrugging:

Well the cessationist view of jhāna is already wrong when it comes to the following you wrote: ”at the entry into the first jhana, the 5 sense consciousnesses cease” - Maybe in theory this happens, but not in practice :headphones: :ear: :eye: :sun_with_face:

Do you mean to say that you think people who say they’ve experienced the cessation of the 5 sense consciousnesses are lying?

The Buddha recollected past lives in the fourth jhāna:

"When the mind was thus concentrated, purified, bright, unblemished, rid of defilement, pliant, malleable, steady, & attained to imperturbability, I directed it to the knowledge of recollecting my past lives. I recollected my manifold past lives, i.e., one birth, two…five, ten…fifty, a hundred, a thousand, a hundred thousand, many eons of cosmic contraction, many eons of cosmic expansion, many eons of cosmic contraction & expansion: ‘There I had such a name, belonged to such a clan, had such an appearance. Such was my food, such my experience of pleasure & pain, such the end of my life. Passing away from that state, I re-arose there. There too I had such a name, belonged to such a clan, had such an appearance. Such was my food, such my experience of pleasure & pain, such the end of my life. Passing away from that state, I re-arose here.’ Thus I remembered my manifold past lives in their modes & details.

Without the senses (that the cessationist theorists claim already ceased in the first jhāna) I don’t see how there all of a sudden can be descriptions of:
sights (”had such an appearance”)
taste (”food”)
hearing (”I had such a name” = one does not choose their own name - they hear it from their parents, right?)
and so on: ”such my experience of pleasure & pain”
in the fourth jhāna

”at the entry into the first jhana, the 5 sense consciousnesses cease”
Maybe this obvious error regarding the nature of the jhānas is the root cause of the wrong cessationist view/theory?

If one is wrong, the other is also bound to be wrong.

You do the recollection after you come out of the jhanas.

You also don’t have vitakka-vicara in the fourth jhana so how can you recollect? Again, this contradiction is solved by recollecting after the jhana (after coming out of meditation).

But let’s not have yet another ‘nature of jhana’ discussion though, it’s been had so many times!

Edit: But like, why do you have to be so polemical about this? Why not at least try to gain a good faith understanding of the view you oppose? :pleading_face:

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Well both in theory and in practice it is less of a strain on oneself to remember past lives while in jhāna contrary to going through all the buried memories one has of loved ones in previous lives (parents, siblings, children, friends), all the various experiences and all the deaths (which could involve being killed) coming out of jhāna.

It would be waaaaay too traumatic to recollect ALL THIS when you come out of the jhanās since it would be just too overwhelming to deal with…

In which suttas does it say ”the recollection of past lives is made after you come out of the jhanas.”?

Do the past lives just resurface due to the jhānas but only make themselves truly known after you come out of the jhānas? I want some proof of the actual workings of this.