Continuing the discussion from Facebook is bad and you should stop using it:
Very recently Ven. @sujato started a thread on the subject of “Facebook”, which succeeded in bringing forth a lively discussion on the pros and cons associated with the various ways social media are being used, and their possible dangers. Strangely today I came across two articles on a related subject, which I wish to share with you here. They may at first appear unrelated, but they are highly related imho, and very interesting too.
The first is about the famous case of Krista & Tatiana, the twins conjoined at the skull and, moreover, have access to certain functions of each others neural activity. The second is about the practice of “selfies”; finally academic psychology research is paying attention to the widespread phenomenon, and beginning to examine it from a psychological point of view, showing its possible problems.
The conjoined twins have turned 11 years old now and research on their spectacular case is continually ongoing. Their case is demolishing certain aspects about the concept of “self” which have been persistent in Western psychology for a long time (particularly the idea that a prominent sense of self, and an “integrated” sense of self, are necessary for mental health). Their unique bodily condition is demonstrating beyond doubt how our innermost sense of self is conditioned by something so fragile and, moreover, changeable, as the physical body. Well we already know that; what this case is showing is how the sense of self in one individual can even involve both the bodily and mental co-existence of another individual. Astonishing!
The study on the “selfie” is showing on the other hand how a more rigid or “integrated” sense of self is created out of delusions and emotional cravings (just what moha and lobha really are), and how these conditions (which we refer to as “poisonous roots”) are reinforcing the delusion that one’s “face”, for example, or the objects one holds or backgrounds one shows in the selfie picture frame, are being identified with the “self” and with the “wellness” of the self.
Two remarkable stories I came across today, showing how Western psychology is beginning to envisage the Buddha’s most significant teaching on the sporadic and hollow nature of our sense of personhood.
Here are the articles:
Irrespective of what the so called erudite scientific community says using a lot of highly technical words about the self, one thing, at least for me, is very clear from all these. And this is what it is. The Buddha said the six internal sense bases are old kamma and the self, soul, atman, etc are all conceivings. In other words, consciousness arises dependently and named as such just as a fire is named based on the material out of which it originates ie; wood fire or electrical fire or whatever. What is at the core is how beings express or communicate their experiences with others. In order to communicate they have to do a sort of reckoning that is to say they need a starting point just like a peg which a surveyor for example uses in saying “from this point”. And this starting point in respect of the living beings have been conditioned through eons and eons of samsaric journey to be “I”. When this “I” got tagged with a self, soul or atman is anybody’s conjecture.
And finally, the Buddha said whatever arises is Dukkha and whatever ceases is Dukkha and in short grasping the five aggregates is Dukkha.
Selfitis. Is that what the rash on the back of my head is?
I mainly use the selfie function on my phone to check for obvious shaving mistakes in areas I can’t see in the mirror. I will have to return to the low tech ‘fault-finding fingertips’
Just as a general note: by addressing these issues here (FB, selfies, etc.) I don’t wish to alienate anyone or make anyone feel uncomfortable. It’s not like renunciation is all or nothing, and even monastics have certain worldly inclinations. The occasional selfie, or one being taken in an auspices event or moment, is quite alright and fine! The problem is with relating to such technological activities with any degree of obsession. This I believe is quite a serious concern. But otherwise it’s fine; after all, we all without exception do suffer from profound moments of self-obsession and vainglory whether we indulge in taking selfies or not; and only an arahant is truly and finally free from this pride and self-love (māna). And again we’re all afflicted by such restlessness which drive us to seek ever more increasing and varied forms of self-simulation (uddhacca), of which only an arahant is truly free.
So, adoration to the delivered, and to those who are no longer, here!