Self. No self:–updated

More from Buddha’s Brain: The Practical Neuroscience of Happiness, Love, and Wisdom by Rick Hanson:

The self keeps changing; in the brain, every manifestation of the self is impermanent. Just as the individual frames in a movie create the illusion of motion, the overlapping neural assemblies that flow together and then disperse create the illusion of a coherent and continuous self.

The self arises and changes depending on various conditions, notably pleasant and unpleasant feeling tones. It also depends on relationships—including with the wider world. The most fundamental basis for the sense of “I”—the subjectivity inherent in awareness—emerges in the relationship between the body and the world. The self has no independent existence whatsoever.

Self-related mental activity, including the sense of being the subject of experience, refers to a unified, enduring, independent “I” who is the essential owner of experiences and agent of actions—but such a one does not exist. The self is a collection of real representations of an unreal being—like a story about a unicorn.

The apparent self is useful for relationships and for a healthy sense of psychological coherence over time. Humans have a sense of self because it served vital survival functions during our evolution. It is pointless to be averse to the self, since aversion intensifies the self. The point is to see through the self and let it relax and disperse.

The self grows through identification, possession, pride, and separation from the world and life.

2 responses to this post.

  1. Hopefully it is very clear that the “ego”, “I” is a mirage, delusion, created by past memories weaving together a story we live. Our life can be lived without the ego or I fully engaged at times.

    The “I” is to identify us from one another, that is all. We have unique personalities and environments. our memories are not full or complete. Any memory is just snippets of the event which is embellished with current feelings to construct a scenario. As you can see, these stories sometimes are inaccurate and influenced to much by our current feelings about us.

    For instance the same event will be recounted extremely differently even by us. Recently, Alex and I went down to San Diego to a classic piano get together by about 10 pianists with wide raging talents. Some world renowned and spectacular. Alex has such a passion for this that I wanted to enter his world and explore it.

    It was great but it lasted way to long for a chronic pain guy like me and Alex just had back surgery recently. At the end of the day we were in pain, tired and grouchy. We deteriorated from there for about an hour of negative crap.

    Now, the next day arrived and I faced a query. Would I remember this event as negative because of he last hour of pain or the next day or would I drop the end of the day and judge or describe my experience?

    Then, I sat in quiet, focusing on my breath for a while underneath the conscious. I observed the day through the prism of letting the events exist or stand on their own.

    It came to me that It was a wondrous day to see such devotion of time and talent to a life long pursuit for these individuals. Watching their hands flow like a river over those notes touched me. My awareness has let me mix with ease in all social situations now.

    As a pro jock with zero musical talent, I felt right at home and honored to be amongst them. The last hour of tired was just that, tired and not worth thinking about.

    We have this ability to choose our memory or change it when It enters our brains.

  2. So now I choose to enter a wonderful scenario into my memory with all the details and senses that I can dream up. I will think about this often in the next couple of days and imprint this positive experience of me as part of my ego, who I am.
    I am my true self perfect and related to all of you on this same journey of life.

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