Wednesday, July 14, 2010

(No)Self



Our reading after meditation tonight made me realize how very little I know about Buddhism.  In the current chapter of “Ending the Pursuit of Happiness”, Barry Magid compares the Buddhist view of self to the self of psychoanalysis.
The first startling revelation to me was that for Buddhists the concept of “self” is empty.  Instead of a soul or self existing in a being, nothing that is permanent or stable can exist in something that is always subject to change, death, and decay.
That’s a lot to process.  I had always thought of my self as something as defined at birth as my dog Jake’s smell.  I had a stack of words to describe my self, including my name, my race, my ancestry, etc.  But since I am told I am “becoming continuously”, I can have no self.  
I’m sure it’s just a matter of semantics, but sometimes those Buddhists do make things difficult in their interpretation of life in the present moment.

2 Comments:

Blogger Cyndy said...

Here's a riddle I just made up based on your post: What's the opposite of an egomaniac? A Buddhist.

I don't know much about Buddhism either so that might be way off base and not funny at all. But I do like the kind of minimalist attitude that Buddhists seem to have. It seems like it must be a very peaceful way to live and it's probably a lot easier to appreciate things for what they are right now - as opposed to what they were, or will be one day.

1:26 AM  
Blogger Kristin said...

I can definitely see the "becoming continuously" side of things; though, I'm still trying to figure out what that means in terms of "self." I don't feel so much like I don't have one, but rather that the one I have isn't set. It's more like water than ice. Liquid than solid. I'm going to think about that!

5:11 PM  

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