Message Boards Message Boards

Science and Meditation

New Scientist: The great illusion of the Self

Threads [ Previous | Next ]
Toggle
New Scientist: The great illusion of the Self

As you wake up each morning, hazy and disoriented, you gradually become aware of the rustling of the sheets, sense their texture and squint at the light. One aspect of your self has reassembled: the first-person observer of reality, inhabiting a human body.

As wakefulness grows, so does your sense of having a past, a personality and motivations. Your self is complete, as both witness of the world and bearer of your consciousness and identity. You.

This intuitive sense of self is an effortless and fundamental human experience. But it is nothing more than an elaborate illusion. Under scrutiny, many common-sense beliefs about selfhood begin to unravel. Some thinkers even go as far as claiming that there is no such thing as the self.

In these articles, discover why "you" aren’t the person you thought you were.


What are you? --- The one and only you
When are you? --- You think you live in the present?
Where are you? --- Trick yourself into an outer-body experience
Why are you? --- Why are you like you are?
Psychological Disorders --- When the self breaks
What are we to do? --- Our perception of our self might be an illusion, like free will, says Richard Fisher. But that doesn't mean we can't learn from it

Link to collection of articles

RE: New Scientist: The great illusion of the Self
Answer
2/26/13 8:51 AM as a reply to PP.
I really like that lead picture. I always feel like I can almost do it for real in jhana.

But since they arent meditators...any observations they make about the 'self' are completely hypothetical in nature. So when push comes to shove, they can just forget about any of this.

RE: New Scientist: The great illusion of the Self
Answer
2/26/13 11:27 AM as a reply to Joshua, the solitary.
Joshua ..:

But since they arent meditators...any observations they make about the 'self' are completely hypothetical in nature. So when push comes to shove, they can just forget about any of this.


What do you mean hypothetical? That they are hypothesizing what it would be like to have a self? I think they are definitely making experiential observations just like meditators do.

RE: New Scientist: The great illusion of the Self
Answer
2/26/13 1:05 PM as a reply to Adam . ..
Adam . .:
Joshua ..:

But since they arent meditators...any observations they make about the 'self' are completely hypothetical in nature. So when push comes to shove, they can just forget about any of this.


What do you mean hypothetical? That they are hypothesizing what it would be like to have a self? I think they are definitely making experiential observations just like meditators do.


It is the same thing as a buddhist who can give you the pali names of a hundred types of joy and yet have no meditative attainment. Or somebody who has memorized the sutras. The sutras are afterall, everything about attaining enlightenment so does reading them make you enlightened? It's just ink on paper, or pixels as the case may be.

The scientific method is not experiential observation. Where is the experiential? It's just watching, taking notes. Meditative practice is absolutely not watching and taking notes, it is more like allowing more pure knowing to enter.

Buddha wasn't taking notes and supposing reincarnation for example, was probably the case. He said it was absolutely the case. My vision is not clear enough to see whether it is the case or not. When the buddha makes intellectual statements, it is after the fact. If it wasn't, then if everybody asked themselves the grand questions of life, it would always lead to great enlightenment.

This is painfully clear when Krishnamurti (who had some attainment) held these intellectual debates with scholars and philosophers. He would break it down and argue intellectually, and after certain points they could not follow. It was a quantum leap through their illusions.

RE: New Scientist: The great illusion of the Self
Answer
2/26/13 3:17 PM as a reply to Joshua, the solitary.
I suspect the difference lies with the first big break-through: the A&P. Without this insight, which is not an intellectual one, ideas like no-self and the likes will only be treated as concepts. These concepts can then be shuffled around and analyzed without having any permanent effect on the thinker.

It seems that the A&P opens up a new introspective circuit which allows for the mind to contemplate ideas like these, not only on a conceptual level, but 'turning it around' to the real - happening here and now - experience. Hence the being 'on the ride' after crossing the A&P: you can no longer just shrug off and replace these ideas with something else, since now they are not ideas, but insight.

It's hard to say where the line between thinking and meditating goes but there certainly appears to be one. What do you think?

RE: New Scientist: The great illusion of the Self
Answer
2/26/13 8:52 PM as a reply to Pål S..
Pål S.:

It seems that the A&P opens up a new introspective circuit which allows for the mind to contemplate ideas like these,
-------------
It's hard to say where the line between thinking and meditating goes but there certainly appears to be one. What do you think?


I feel the 'fetter', or 'canker' model works well for showing how the mind gets more freedom through attainments, the a&p being an important one. Whilst the pre-path mind was like a prisoner swamped in chains, the meditator through meditation has unraveled a chain or two, like Houdini.
Or before an attainment one is like a rook on a chessboard. Afterwards one can move like a queen, due to the rules governing movement of the mind changing. I feel an attainment is more of a dropping away of certain rules governing mind movement rather than growing another dimension organically but it's the same kind of thing. emoticon

RE: New Scientist: The great illusion of the Self
Answer
2/27/13 12:41 AM as a reply to PP.
Well, they seem to have some fairly good insights into the sense of self!

More importantly, it’s enquiries like this that may help mediation go mainstream in more than just the generic mindfulness approach.