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If Not Self, then who?

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If Not Self, then who? Darrell 3/9/15 10:48 PM
RE: If Not Self, then who? Incandescent Flower 3/9/15 11:12 PM
RE: If Not Self, then who? Darrell 3/9/15 11:32 PM
RE: If Not Self, then who? Marek Mark 3/11/15 11:37 AM
RE: If Not Self, then who? Darrell 3/11/15 6:55 PM
RE: If Not Self, then who? Incandescent Flower 3/12/15 10:51 AM
RE: If Not Self, then who? Not Tao 3/9/15 11:40 PM
RE: If Not Self, then who? Bill F. 3/10/15 12:29 AM
RE: If Not Self, then who? Alin Mathews 3/10/15 3:58 AM
RE: If Not Self, then who? Alin Mathews 3/10/15 4:12 AM
RE: If Not Self, then who? Andreas 3/10/15 4:24 AM
RE: If Not Self, then who? Alin Mathews 3/10/15 7:14 AM
RE: If Not Self, then who? John M. 3/10/15 5:17 AM
RE: If Not Self, then who? Alin Mathews 3/10/15 7:11 AM
RE: If Not Self, then who? Alexander Rice 3/10/15 7:15 AM
RE: If Not Self, then who? Alin Mathews 3/10/15 8:15 AM
RE: If Not Self, then who? Alexander Rice 3/10/15 9:10 AM
RE: If Not Self, then who? Alin Mathews 3/10/15 9:24 AM
RE: If Not Self, then who? Alexander Rice 3/10/15 9:53 AM
RE: If Not Self, then who? Mark 3/10/15 11:26 AM
RE: If Not Self, then who? Psi 3/10/15 3:48 PM
RE: If Not Self, then who? Psi 3/10/15 6:06 PM
RE: If Not Self, then who? Mark 3/11/15 5:29 AM
RE: If Not Self, then who? Psi 3/12/15 9:32 AM
RE: If Not Self, then who? Darrell 3/12/15 11:49 AM
RE: If Not Self, then who? Psi 3/15/15 6:32 PM
RE: If Not Self, then who? Darrell 3/15/15 9:07 PM
RE: If Not Self, then who? Psi 3/12/15 10:40 PM
RE: If Not Self, then who? Mark 3/13/15 5:06 PM
RE: If Not Self, then who? Psi 3/15/15 3:47 PM
RE: If Not Self, then who? Mark 3/16/15 4:56 AM
RE: If Not Self, then who? Psi 3/16/15 10:35 AM
RE: If Not Self, then who? Mark 3/16/15 12:43 PM
RE: If Not Self, then who? Psi 3/16/15 3:45 PM
RE: If Not Self, then who? Mark 3/16/15 4:30 PM
RE: If Not Self, then who? Psi 3/16/15 5:25 PM
RE: If Not Self, then who? Psi 3/16/15 5:51 PM
RE: If Not Self, then who? Psi 3/16/15 6:27 PM
RE: If Not Self, then who? Psi 3/17/15 9:13 AM
RE: If Not Self, then who? C P M 3/17/15 10:05 AM
RE: If Not Self, then who? Mark 3/17/15 11:01 AM
RE: If Not Self, then who? Psi 3/17/15 11:45 AM
RE: If Not Self, then who? Mark 3/17/15 12:05 PM
RE: If Not Self, then who? Andreas 3/10/15 4:14 PM
RE: If Not Self, then who? Piers M 3/11/15 12:37 AM
RE: If Not Self, then who? Mark 3/11/15 5:20 AM
RE: If Not Self, then who? Darrell 3/11/15 7:06 PM
RE: If Not Self, then who? Derek 3/11/15 7:39 AM
RE: If Not Self, then who? Mark 3/11/15 9:32 AM
RE: If Not Self, then who? Darrell 3/11/15 10:40 AM
RE: If Not Self, then who? Chuck Kasmire 3/11/15 8:20 PM
RE: If Not Self, then who? Darrell 3/12/15 11:51 AM
RE: If Not Self, then who? Sadalsuud Beta Aquarii 3/15/15 10:36 AM
RE: If Not Self, then who? Darrell 3/15/15 8:15 PM
RE: If Not Self, then who? Sadalsuud Beta Aquarii 3/16/15 9:07 AM
If Not Self, then who?
Answer
3/9/15 10:48 PM
Yeah, pardon me while I reveal my ignorance.

So if we have the five aggregates, all being not self, then there's nothing left, as far as I can see. There's no one home, no one is driving the bus. all intention rises out of the chain of causality that leads to the present experience/moment. That moment/experience is interpreted on the basis of the past.

So from where does the desire to unravel the self, and attain liberation arise from? Why would self want to undo itself? Why would ego contribute to its own demise, or at least radical diminution?

EDIT: Tangentially related. If after everything is reduced by way of Not Self, emptiness and impermanance, then where does the phenomenal world rise from? Intuitivley, I've always felt that there is a qualitiless, characterless, no thing that isn't even no thing absent of absence that everything arises from. That's what the Taoists hint at it seems. Yet Buddhism seems to point to there not even being that, meaning the not that I just tried to reduce to words. And other times it seems Buddhism implies there being some sort of ultimate source.

I know that didn't make a heck of a lot of sense. Thanks for humoring me.

RE: If Not Self, then who?
Answer
3/9/15 11:12 PM as a reply to Darrell.
Perhaps because that "no thing", when contrasted with the million "some things", is understood to peaceful, and thus compassion (for all the million some things, self and other) is spontaneously born?

RE: If Not Self, then who?
Answer
3/9/15 11:32 PM as a reply to Incandescent Flower.
I'm not sure if you're responding to the first or second question, I think it's the second.

How can a No Thing be peaceful when it has no qualities or charactersistics? Peaceful is one or both of those.

None of this is meant to be argumentative, nor is there any ill intent. I'm only trying, sincerely, to understand. Seems like the place to ask, as everyone here has understood more than I'm even aware there is to be understood.

RE: If Not Self, then who?
Answer
3/9/15 11:40 PM as a reply to Darrell.
Hi Darrel,

I've always had this same question.  Hopefully someone can give you a good answer.

Another question is: If stress is caused by clinging to the aggregates, what is actually clinging to the aggregates?

EDIT: A possible answer is that there still is a "you" in the aggregates, it's just that you are nothing more and nothing less than the aggregates.  The Buddha used an analogy to describe the aggregates.  He said that the cart wasn't just the wheel or the axel or the wood or the yoke, but all of those things together.  I suppose you can say the cart doesn't really exist and we're just separating a group of phenomena and saying "this is cart, and everything else isn't cart" but that doesn't exactly deny the fact that there is a cart sitting there.  Maybe the problem is that these aggregates are stuck together, not that a "you" is stuck to the aggregates.

RE: If Not Self, then who?
Answer
3/10/15 12:29 AM as a reply to Not Tao.
So from where does the desire to unravel the self, and attain liberation arise from? Why would self want to undo itself? Why would ego contribute to its own demise, or at least radical diminution?

Wow. These are some really beautiful questions.

The short answer: I don't know.

But some thoughts: Looking at it through a simple pragmatic lens many people become interested in meditation or seeking through some desire to lessen their stress, suffering, dissatisfaction, rather than to disentangle the self. At a certain point if they practice consistently, practice meaning directly experiencing their reality without abstracting it through the filter of concepts, they notice that that filter of concepts is itself not stable and permanent. Some times there is the experience of reality that is immediate and present and other times there is a state of feeling mildly dissasociated through abstract thinking. The main fixture of that filter of concepts is the self, and so interest grows into the nature of the filter as with that filter there is a degree of inherent dissatisfaction through sectioninging reality off into one's self on one end and the world on the other, leaving the self both vulnerable to the negative and harmful effects of that which it views as threatening, and separate and isolated. When it really becomes apparent that reality is being filtered through a false notion -I am not denying the feeling of identity here, rather its sense of solidity and permanence- and that often this division is painful as it positions oneself in opposition to reality, the desire to see through that and disconnect can become powerful. My own personal experience is that there is a great deal of liberation in seeing how the sense of a separate identity is created, and that seeing this clearly, the tension associated with the idea of a permanent, separate identity self liberates, meaning the tension is effortlessly released because it has been seen clearly to be an illusion. Of course it is not that seeing this once undoes the process entirely. There are still causes and conditions, and the process of infusing this realization more deeply is probably one of those things that doesn't ever reach a crescendo, but life becomes immeasurably easier and simpler in a steady, undramatic way in the process.

The religious answer would be that there is some pull that is more powerful and deeper than the drive towards satisfying the ego. But clearly this is not universal. Most people could give less than a fuck about the stuff that is talked about here, and so why is that drive so strong in others when in others it is dim or absent entirely in most people. The pragmatic dharma answer would be that crossing the A&P ushers in that interest, and while I agree in a broad way with this, what brings most people to the experience of A&P and why the desire? I don't have an answer for that either, but it's a rich question.

In the Vajrayana tradition I practice within the focus is less on removing the presence of the self, and more on recognizing the sacredness of our experience. Emotions are seen as sacred expressions of enlightened energy that often become distorted through our filters and controls, and individual experience is regarded as sacred. I feel less kinship with traditions that emphasize self-annihilation (though my teacher often speaks this way), but I recognize the value in their perspective, and find a great deal of value in the the Theravada approach, which tends more towards this ideal. 

Tangentially related. If after everything is reduced by way of Not Self, emptiness and impermanance, then where does the phenomenal world rise from? Intuitivley, I've always felt that there is a qualitiless, characterless, no thing that isn't even no thing absent of absence that everything arises from. That's what the Taoists hint at it seems. Yet Buddhism seems to point to there not even being that, meaning the not that I just tried to reduce to words. And other times it seems Buddhism implies there being some sort of ultimate source.

I don't know. But ultimate source apart from phenomena? No, at least not from what I understand of canonical Buddhism, there have of course been many permutations on those original permutations so I'm sure there are things out there that speak towards that. Do you have an example?

But yeah, excellent questions.



Another question is: If stress is caused by clinging to the aggregates, what is actually clinging to the aggregates?

You may be saying the same thing, but perhaps stress and clinging are identification itself and it isn't anything more complicated than that. The perception that there is a you who is clinging is stressful, and seeing through this perceptually would dismantle the stress/perception of identity. But this is where I think the Bahiya Sutta -one of the few Suttas I know well- and it's attendant realization, is useful. In the clinging, only the clinging. And in the perception of self, or no-self, only that. Nothing extra. The argument (and I don't mean you personally arguing, but just a thought) that you feel there is something extra reflecting is itself, when experienced directly, your whole entire, immediate experience. There is nothing else in that experience but the experience itself. In the experience of I there is only I, but no I apart that reflects the experience. When the experience of identification is absent there is only directly that experience, with no reflection or reflector. When the sense of reflector enters back into experience, there is only the sense of reflector, no actual reflector to be found in the experience if you look directly. The same can be said for anger, or love. It's beautiful.

RE: If Not Self, then who?
Answer
3/10/15 3:58 AM as a reply to Not Tao.
Not Tao:
Hi Darrel,

I've always had this same question.  Hopefully someone can give you a good answer.

Another question is: If stress is caused by clinging to the aggregates, what is actually clinging to the aggregates?

EDIT: A possible answer is that there still is a "you" in the aggregates, it's just that you are nothing more and nothing less than the aggregates.  The Buddha used an analogy to describe the aggregates.  He said that the cart wasn't just the wheel or the axel or the wood or the yoke, but all of those things together.  I suppose you can say the cart doesn't really exist and we're just separating a group of phenomena and saying "this is cart, and everything else isn't cart" but that doesn't exactly deny the fact that there is a cart sitting there.  Maybe the problem is that these aggregates are stuck together, not that a "you" is stuck to the aggregates.

i reckon not self is still the subjective sense of being a substanceless feeling of Being, only this time claiming no self. It's all Being re-arranging the deck chairs on the titanic no matter which self hat it wears; normal self, higher self, true self, ego self, not self, souls self, one self, supreme self etc. ad nauseum it's all the same illusory Being lording it over the body and playing mind games while Rome burns.  

then theres...  it's all so convoluted one has to wonder why those trying to make sense of it don't just give it a miss and go and fix this damaged planet billions of spiritual beings have closed their eyes to. 

RE: If Not Self, then who?
Answer
3/10/15 4:12 AM as a reply to Darrell.
Darrell:
Yeah, pardon me while I reveal my ignorance.

So if we have the five aggregates, all being not self, then there's nothing left, as far as I can see. There's no one home, no one is driving the bus. all intention rises out of the chain of causality that leads to the present experience/moment. That moment/experience is interpreted on the basis of the past.

So from where does the desire to unravel the self, and attain liberation arise from? Why would self want to undo itself? Why would ego contribute to its own demise, or at least radical diminution?

EDIT: Tangentially related. If after everything is reduced by way of Not Self, emptiness and impermanance, then where does the phenomenal world rise from? Intuitivley, I've always felt that there is a qualitiless, characterless, no thing that isn't even no thing absent of absence that everything arises from. That's what the Taoists hint at it seems. Yet Buddhism seems to point to there not even being that, meaning the not that I just tried to reduce to words. And other times it seems Buddhism implies there being some sort of ultimate source.

I know that didn't make a heck of a lot of sense. Thanks for humoring me.

so there's the nondual type of non-self (as in not actual) state of awareness (which no one has ever experienced without an actual living brain that we know of). but there's also this magnificent actual universe that Buddhists reason could not possibly be the oh so pure self either, because substance gets diseases etc ... plus the self can't control it, kind of reasoning. honestly the vanity of the dream of being a supreme being just amazes me.

here is

Pañcavaggi Sutta: Five Brethren

(aka: Anatta-lakkhana Sutta: The Discourse on the Not-self Characteristic)

translated from the Pali by

Thanissaro Bhikkhu

   http://www.accesstoinsight.org/tipitaka/sn/sn22/sn22.059.than.html 

 

RE: If Not Self, then who?
Answer
3/10/15 4:24 AM as a reply to Darrell.
Heres what I think. Buddha never said there werent a self. just that those skandhas were not a permanent single entity. Not self does not mean there is no self. Your questions is what I think what lead people to move "beyond" Hinayana and eventually makeup Mahayana, not that there was any beyond since all those mahayana ideas were around at the same time as all the hinayana stuff.

If you read the Sutta Alin links to you can easily refute the premisses that the Buddhas puts forths. That whole sutta is essentially, this is what a self should be able to do, these things etc cant do that, are subject to this or that, therefor that is not self. Which is fundamentally flawed from a logical standpoint. Who is buddha to say that his definitions of a self is correct. However there is no mention that you are nothing in that Suttha.

RE: If Not Self, then who?
Answer
3/10/15 7:14 AM as a reply to Andreas.
Andreas:
Heres what I think. Buddha never said there werent a self. just that those skandhas were not a permanent single entity. Not self does not mean there is no self. Your questions is what I think what lead people to move "beyond" Hinayana and eventually makeup Mahayana, not that there was any beyond since all those mahayana ideas were around at the same time as all the hinayana stuff.

If you read the Sutta Alin links to you can easily refute the premisses that the Buddhas puts forths. That whole sutta is essentially, this is what a self should be able to do, these things etc cant do that, are subject to this or that, therefor that is not self. Which is fundamentally flawed from a logical standpoint. Who is buddha to say that his definitions of a self is correct. However there is no mention that you are nothing in that Suttha.

right it doesnt use the exact words 'you are nothing' but it is saying 'you' (self) are not any 'thing' or any sensation.

which is another example of buddhism being 180° different to Actual Freedom wherein a human is 'only' the apperceptive sensational flesh and blood body and the idea that you are a disembodied/dissociated self is a mental fabrication harmfully inflicting emotional suffering on itself and other feeling beings. whereas actuality is but one undivided substance and therefore can not contain a substanceless self denying all connection to IT.   

RE: If Not Self, then who?
Answer
3/10/15 5:17 AM as a reply to Darrell.
Darrell:
Why would self want to undo itself? 

It doesn't. Moreover, it cannot -- because it is not. Admittedly, this is supremely weird stuff.

RE: If Not Self, then who?
Answer
3/10/15 7:11 AM as a reply to John M..
John M.:
Darrell:
Why would self want to undo itself? 

It doesn't. Moreover, it cannot -- because it is not. Admittedly, this is supremely weird stuff.

as more and more actual facts are uncovered intelligence sloughs off the need for all unsubstantiated beliefs. in that process it discovers the self was a non factual belief also.  

so it is the awakening intelligence of the actual brain that undoes the ideologies/theologies/psychologies/philosophies etc that formed the 'belief' that awareness was a self.  

supremely hard to face for those who've spent their entire life, conditioning family, writting books, even making a living out of the belief that we are non-actual spiritual entities temporarily inhabiting a body. most who glimpse their own illusion can't make the leap. instead they rationalise away the need to become 'that' harmless! (what, no instinctual aggression, no herd instinct, no feeling me?) so they turn back and continue entertaining the self.  and the wars of weak minds go on. mind has to be strong and rational to delete the psyche. makes for good stock for future generations.  

RE: If Not Self, then who?
Answer
3/10/15 7:15 AM as a reply to Alin Mathews.
My experience is not that there is, or is not a self. That is not how I understand 'the middle way'.

The middle way is to see that 'everything' is objects of the mind; that the object created by the agregate of past sense experiences is not somehow special; and that using it mindlessly as your default frame of reference creates a bunch of suffering. The self object is just one of the many objects I can choose to identify with. For example, if I'm filling a glass of water and I notice that I'm bored, I can now just move more towards 'being' the glass filling with lovely cool splashy sloshy water and time ceases to be noticed much. If I'm discussing an idea with someone and I notice that I'm becoming attached to 'my idea' being adopted at the expense of the quality of my reasoning I just shift to their perspectice, or to a more neutral 'group' perspective.

A side effect of the ability to shift perspective freely is that you are no longer mindlessly adding more and more cruft to your 'self' object, so over time it will become more pared down and minimalist and may cease to be noticeable altogether but it's the ability to shift perspective that is key.

RE: If Not Self, then who?
Answer
3/10/15 8:15 AM as a reply to Alexander Rice.
Alexander Rice:
My experience is not that there is, or is not a self. That is not how I understand 'the middle way'.

The middle way is to see that 'everything' is objects of the mind; that the object created by the agregate of past sense experiences is not somehow special; and that using it mindlessly as your default frame of reference creates a bunch of suffering.
yes i've come across the 'everything' is objects of the mind middle way teachings. what past sense experiences? do you mean memory? but i only experience now sense experiences. all i've been advocating is using intelligence to the max. how do you read a mindless default frame of reference that creates a bunch of suffering, from that?

The self object is just one of the many objects I can choose to identify with. For example, if I'm filling a glass of water and I notice that I'm bored, I can now just move more towards 'being' the glass filling with lovely cool splashy sloshy water and time ceases to be noticed much. If I'm discussing an idea with someone and I notice that I'm becoming attached to 'my idea' being adopted at the expense of the quality of my reasoning I just shift to their perspectice, or to a more neutral 'group' perspective.

sure, i'm aware the default state of the human condition is to sheet every experience home to an 'I' choosing what to identify with instead of finding out what boredom is and deleting it's senselessness forever. moving on to another state of 'being' imagining it's a glass filling with lovely cool water is just the self trying to be less aware of it's boring time.  why not examine why you keep repeatedly having to shift perspective. don't you want to stop the whole boring shebang from happening again and again? why not get free of it? check out why you have to keep resorting to shifting tactics? isn't it better to always enjoy whats happening and if you can't then find out why not. your using  psychological band aids for wounds that don't have to keep happening.

A side effect of the ability to shift perspective freely is that you are no longer mindlessly adding more and more cruft to your 'self' object, so over time it will become more pared down and minimalist and may cease to be noticeable altogether but it's the ability to shift perspective that is key.

but you are just mindlessly adding more and more cruft by accepting second best (pared down and minimalising) in the hope it may cease to be noticeable. it's makes more sense to use your mind fully to examine why you keep making 'self' objects and then repeatedly having to shift your perspective to the next one. why not be still and 'look' the cruft in the face so you can knock it off forever? 

RE: If Not Self, then who?
Answer
3/10/15 9:10 AM as a reply to Alin Mathews.
Alin, I was just trying to explain my experience of the concept underying OPs question succinctly and in a way that would have made sense to me before I started having it as an everyday experience. Actually my experience is more deeply integrated but making a simplified example gets the point across.

I'd say that objects are made up more like the growth rings in a tree. While in meditation if I do the right setup I can follow a timeline of episodic memory chronologically, jump between memories based on shared characteristics like 'woodenness', visually look around scenes, recall emotional reactions and hold an object in my mind and see what memories are associated with it. Objects in general don't seem to be made from memories in quite the way you were implying. Say I stare at a candle for a few moment and then move my attention to the candle flame object in my mind -- its shape is influenced by the candle flame, but would you call it a memory?

RE: If Not Self, then who?
Answer
3/10/15 9:24 AM as a reply to Alexander Rice.
Alexander Rice:
Alin, I was just trying to explain my experience of the concept underying OPs question succinctly and in a way that would have made sense to me before I started having it as an everyday experience. Actually my experience is more deeply integrated but making a simplified example gets the point across.

I'd say that objects are made up more like the growth rings in a tree. While in meditation if I do the right setup I can follow a timeline of episodic memory chronologically, jump between memories based on shared characteristics like 'woodenness', visually look around scenes, recall emotional reactions and hold an object in my mind and see what memories are associated with it. Objects in general don't seem to be made from memories in quite the way you were implying. Say I stare at a candle for a few moment and then move my attention to the candle flame object in my mind -- its shape is influenced by the candle flame, but would you call it a memory?

no worries, you prob didn't realise you replied to me instead of the OPer. i did that to Not Tao just recently.

cool your exploring consciousness, enjoy.

my whole focus is on using it to become harmless. hope i didn't confuse you. 

RE: If Not Self, then who?
Answer
3/10/15 9:53 AM as a reply to Alin Mathews.
Oops, I'd been using whichever 'quick reply' button was nearest without realising that it does different things depending on which one you click!

RE: If Not Self, then who?
Answer
3/10/15 11:26 AM as a reply to Darrell.
Interesting questions, I doubt language can give a good answer. But fun to exchange points of view!

An early concept of self is probably perceiving it as a "thing", typically the body and thoughts. This is probably a model most of us have at some stage. I think that changes for most people.  Education explains that the brain is sitting inside our skull and there is no detectable perceptions in the physical brain e.g. we don't find colors, smells etc in the physical brain. That points to the magic of consciousness - nobody explains how that works. Most of us also have some notion of evolution, genetic traits and the importance of the environment. So most people will accept that the self is massively influenced by things outside of the body i.e. free will is not 100% free. 

I suspect a lot of people exploring further see the self as a process. We can try to break down the notion of a self into parts and Buddhism seems to do that. This can be misleading, for example a process like a wave in water could be demonstrated not to exist in this way. At any one instance a wave seems to consist of water but the water is not the wave. The wave only exists as a process over time. It does not exist without the water particles but proving that every water particle is not a wave should not prove that waves don't exist. It is sort of funny that Buddhism suffers some of the same reductionist issues as science (basically confusing what something is and how it happens - the sum is more than the parts)

I suspect that no-self is experiencing the self as a process. In any instant of experience the "things" making up that experience would not be perceived as self but there is still a stream of events that keep the process happening. 

Motivation could come from a desire to understand the nature of self. There is a very deep feeling of dissatisfaction that can sometimes surface when the model of self does not match up with experience.

The closest thing I know of regarding what is underlying all of this is the experience under anesthesia - absolutely nothing. That does not need to lead to pessimism, it can be a strong motivator to make the most of now.

Asking a question like "where does the phenomenal world arise from" is similar to asking questions like "where do the laws of nature come from" or "where does time come from" or "where does space come from". There are things that are outside of the intellectual capacity of humans and those questions are likely candidates. Chomsky has a good take on this e.g. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=D5in5EdjhD0 The Buddha seems to have avoided answering those questions too.

If the self is a process then it can't possess things like freewill. The question of freewill makes more sense in regard to the ego - if the ego is attached to freewill then behavior will be different so in that regard it is "real". But a limited examination of the ego makes it clear that the ego is not actually making any decisions.

As Chomsky says some sentences can have the structure of a question but are not questions because they are are not based on solid definitions. The question of freewill is often in this category - to answer a question about freewill requires a definition of self. If self is defined then the question of freewill goes away.

Does that make any sense ?

 

RE: If Not Self, then who?
Answer
3/10/15 3:48 PM as a reply to Darrell.
[quote=Darrell

If Not Self, then who?]Try this:

Look at the Self as just a thought process.  An impersonal thought process.  Biological Machinery.  Without the thought process of a Self, there is not a self there.  There is no who in whoville...  But , there is a thought process, that has never been denied.

It also helps to have been able to be mindul and aware of thoughts as they arise and pass away, to have the insight of seeing thoughts as an impersonal process, in real time.  This is nothing mystical, once one sees a thought arise that is just basically random, and they know they did not create it, then, from that realization one can begin to see a crack in the whole illusion.

I used to go thought fishing, just meditate on the breath, and wait for a thought to arise, catch and release.  Then wait for another thought to arise, catch and release.  Investigate, where do these thoughts arise from?  Am I really creating them?  If I am creating them in real time, how can they arise already created?  Is there a me in the mind creating thoughts, then another me being aware of the created thoughts?  If that is true, now there are two of me?  

Mostly, one has to investigate for themselves, and it takes time, for there is also the feeling of a self, or an ego, it all supports each other.  Yet, falls apart under investigation.

And, I am pretty sure one can not have these insights without meditating. And it can take some time., maybe even years of practice for soem to be able to just let go of thoughts as soon as they arise.  If one does not meditate,  One will always be stuck in discursive mind-mode.  One also has to strengthen mindfulness to be aware quick enough and deep enough.  And Investigate and Contemplate, what is actually true?  One has to see and experience this for themselves.  It is the only way.  Regardless of whatever anyone says if it is not derived from experience, it is just speculation, and will lead one in circles.

Psi

RE: If Not Self, then who?
Answer
3/10/15 4:14 PM as a reply to Darrell.
There is also an important thing to remember when reading suttas etc. They were not made in a vaccum. Often they are part of a debate with contemporary indian philosophies regarding souls, nature of consciousness etc. So the talk about self might refer to the notion of every being being a part of /being Brahman etc.

RE: If Not Self, then who?
Answer
3/10/15 6:06 PM as a reply to Psi.
Wanted to add, another perspective to investigate.

Not Self is the Impersonal Nature of Phenomenon.

Like this, 

In Water a wave arises and passes away.

In Mind a thought arises and passes away.

Does the Water have a Self behind the Phenomenon?

Does the Mind have a Self behind the Phenomenon?

What about a Dog fetching a ball?  Does a Dog have a Self?  If , no, why not?  Is Human DNA more important than Dog DNA?

Does a Tree need a Self to grow leaves?  Does a Human need a Self to grow Fingernails, Hair? Is there a Self that commands salivary excretions?  Is there a Self that dialates the Eye?  Does a Self move the Eardrum?

Here is another Investigation,

Sit in a room with some things in it, some wall hangings, some random stuff.  Sit still and be aware of eye movements.  The eyes will move and lock onto objects without intentions, they will scan and find objects on their own.  There is no self behind these eye movements.  The eye is an impersonal organ that reacts due to causes and conditions.

Psi

RE: If Not Self, then who?
Answer
3/11/15 12:37 AM as a reply to Darrell.
Hi Darrell,

I too have had (and still have at times) questions like these. Yet, I've never found an answer and have come to the conclusion it's probably a waste of time. Entertaining (or frustrating) yes, but perhaps not very discerning.

I don't know who first said it but at times like these remind myself of this: "Why ask why, it's just the way it is."  Because you can go round in circles with endless ruminations, speculations basically mental proliferation to the nth degree.

One of my favourite little ditties from one of the sutta's is when The Buddha picks up a handful of leaves from the forest floor, and says to the assembled monks "Where are there more leaves? In my hand or on the grounds of this vast forest?" To which they of course reply, " Venerable one, there are far more leaves in the forest than in your hand "." Yes right " says the Buddha. "The Tathagata knows all there is to know, just like the leaves in the forest. But I'm going to impart the knowledge you need to know, to overcome this mass of suffering which is like the leaves in my hand. You (the monks) do not need to know about the leaves in the forest. It won't help you (to gain liberation). [Or some such, I'm paraphrasing].
Excuse my account of the story if it's a bit wayward but you get the gist.

I have heard/read somewhere not to ask the question "Who Am I?" presumably because there is no "I" in the first place...?

However, listening to the late Ayya Khema, whose talks I greatly appreciate, she said (with regard to agitation): make enquiry. "WHY AM I?" She further elaborates.. "Every answer you get is a new question. Until there is such a profound answer which you realise is the deepest truth!"

RE: If Not Self, then who?
Answer
3/11/15 5:20 AM as a reply to Piers M.
Hi Piers,

I would not want to be going around in circles either. But "Why ask why, it's just the way it is" lets the environment you grew up in answer the questions for you - whether those answers are conscious or not.

If the question is well defined then there is a lot less chance of going around in circles. That is perhaps the risk of these questions - something like "self" or "freewill" can be put in a question without a definition. I suspect a lot of these types of questions then change e.g. instead of "what does the self...?" it becomes "what is the self?". Something the Buddha seems to have spent a lot of time on. Given that the Buddha spent so much time talking about things I'm not sure he is a good example for not asking questions.

The "deepest truth" are words that I would take very lightly. Anyone who thinks they have the deepest truth or even that there is a deepest truth sounds like someone who is recruiting or building their ego.

Accepting that we have limits to our understanding and perception is probably a healthy thing. Of course this does not undermine a project of trying to find the limits.

RE: If Not Self, then who?
Answer
3/11/15 5:29 AM as a reply to Psi.
Hi Psi,

Reducing the self to a single thing seems too reductionist. I don't think anyone could believe that they don't exist while they are not thinking. The perceptions and passage of time maintain a sensation of self even without thoughts.

I think a reasonable model of self should include the perceptions i.e. the act of observation would be part of the self. How about the self as a process involving the aggregates and the environment occuring over time.

There are risks in considering the self as only thoughts and/or ego. For example you may not take repsonsibility for actions, biases and the suffering caused by these. It would be a shame to limit the path to that.

RE: If Not Self, then who?
Answer
3/11/15 7:39 AM as a reply to Darrell.
These are good questions.

Darrell:

So from where does the desire to unravel the self, and attain liberation arise from?


It comes out of suffering. That being said, most people assume their suffering is entirely the fault of the outside world. A few people intuit that at least part of their suffering is caused by the way their mind works.

Darrell:

Why would self want to undo itself? Why would ego contribute to its own demise, or at least radical diminution?


The self or ego is not an autonomous agent. I know most people think it is, but it isn't. The self or ego is as much a product of of the mind as anything else.

RE: If Not Self, then who?
Answer
3/11/15 9:32 AM as a reply to Derek.
Hi Derek,

Derek Cameron:

The self or ego is not an autonomous agent. I know most people think it is, but it isn't. The self or ego is as much a product of of the mind as anything else.

I'd guess most people do not believe in a completely autonomous agent. For example upbringing, culture, environment impact behavior. A lot of peolpe believe in destiny too. It might be worth mentioning this because there are sometimes assumptions on this forum that the majority are clueless.

To reduce self or ego to the mind seems too reductionist. For example the ego is not just a product of the mind but of interactions with others in the past. Even things like technology are going to impact concepts like self, for example online interactions are an extension of self in a way that did not exist 100 years ago.

I hope that is not too negative! I'm interested to bounce ideas around this topic.

RE: If Not Self, then who?
Answer
3/11/15 10:40 AM as a reply to Darrell.
Thank you everyone for all the thoughtful and thorough responses. There's vast amount to take in here. And more than I could respond to without writing a good sized novel.

Much of what everyone has posted is helpful, or at least food for thought. I'll have to print this out in order to read it all carefully and take it in fully.

A sort of post script to the second part I wrote. My reason for asking about what the phenomenal world emerges from is the result of experimentation with psychoactives in my youth. I had several experiences where "I" disappeared entirely. I disappeared into something that was seemingly an infinite vastness. It was aware and intelligent, but not in anyway that we think of those two words. It had an utter lack of anthropic qualities. And it had no quality in and of itself, aside from the intelligent awareness. And at the time, there was no doubt it was the source of all. when I first read the Tao Te Ching, #25 "Something mysteriously formed, Born before heaven and Earth. In the silence and the void, Standing alone and unchanging..." I was astonished. It was a description of what I encountered/experienced.

But with the passage of time, and the acquisition of new ideas and knowledge, comes doubt. Was it just the chemical (that seems like a materialist and reductionist view) was it simply that the complete stripping away of conditioned self, that the deathless ultimate source was able to be revealed? I don't know. But it has left me with a sense, in spite of doubt, that there is a sort of ultimate substrate for reality.

These experiences of egoless and selfless states are what led me to Buddhism, Taoism and other non-dual traditions. Mainly Buddhism and Taoism, as those most closely mirror and describe what I appeared to find in my youthful chemical searching, which seemed, and still seem very real.

Thank you all again for your time and response.

RE: If Not Self, then who?
Answer
3/11/15 11:37 AM as a reply to Darrell.
Well, meditation, and precisely, insight into mind and body, couse and effect, and then into three characteristics should give you the answer to this question. So the best advice is - stop thinking and start practice!

There is a body, there is a mind, there is suffering of the mind, there is a nervous system, but there is not any "self" that is more than just mental illusion made up from all this things unskillfully percived.

RE: If Not Self, then who?
Answer
3/11/15 6:55 PM as a reply to Marek Mark.
Fair enough. I'll let it rest as such.

RE: If Not Self, then who?
Answer
3/11/15 7:06 PM as a reply to Piers M.
Piers,

I'd come across that Sutta before. Sometimes I don't hear or understand these things the first time around.

You reminded me of a line from a song that goes "Why does it happen? Because it happens..."

RE: If Not Self, then who?
Answer
3/11/15 8:20 PM as a reply to Darrell.
Darrell:
So from where does the desire to unravel the self, and attain liberation arise from? Why would self want to undo itself? Why would ego contribute to its own demise, or at least radical diminution?

Good questions. Around 40,000 people kill themselves each year in the US. The desire to escape emotional torment is strong. The sense of self - a being in a big world surrounded by things it desires or needs as well as threats and dangers seeks security and happiness and tries to avoid pain and suffering. When people hear of awakening - it’s a place free of suffering - the greatest ease, happiness and all that stuff - so you go after it - but what one goes after is nothing more than a conceptual idea. Until a person experiences the deathless - an awareness completely free of all entanglements - even time and space - they have no idea what the teaching is pointing to - it just seems like it’s gotta be better than where they are.

Darrell: My reason for asking about what the phenomenal world emerges from is the result of experimentation with psychoactives in my youth. I had several experiences where "I" disappeared entirely. I disappeared into something that was seemingly an infinite vastness. It was aware and intelligent, but not in anyway that we think of those two words. It had an utter lack of anthropic qualities. And it had no quality in and of itself, aside from the intelligent awareness. And at the time, there was no doubt it was the source of all.

That sounds like it. Whether inducing it through psychoactives counts or not can’t say. But it certainly seems to have convinced you that all is not as it seems here in samsara.

Andreas: There is also an important thing to remember when reading suttas etc. They were not made in a vaccum. Often they are part of a debate with contemporary indian philosophies regarding souls, nature of consciousness etc. So the talk about self might refer to the notion of every being being a part of /being Brahman etc.

This is an important point - if we do not consider how these terms were used and understood we will miss the point - and end up distorting the teaching. The sutta reference (regarding not-self) cannot be understood without taking this into account - how people of Buddha’s time used the term atman which here is translated as self. Here is something from the Chandogya Upanisad (which predates Buddha by several hundred years at least): “This self (atman) of mine that lies deep within my heart-it is smaller than a grain of rice or barley, smaller than a mustard seed, smaller even than a millet grain or a millet kernel; but it is larger than the earth, larger than the intermediate region, larger than the sky, larger even than all these worlds put together…It is Brahman…”.

If the five ascetics in the sutta are searching for an unchanging atman that is Brahman - or something along those lines - they are not thinking in terms of our western contemporary sense of self. It appears as though they were looking for or holding fast to subtle qualities of jhana as this atman that they are seeking. This is not evident from the sutta but after Buddha awakens he intentionally seeks out those skilled in jhana as his first converts as Buddha’s technique for awakening was a tweak to the jhana practice - something he was already quite skilled at. The not-self teaching here is describing how they need to change their view.

In the sutta where it says “If form were the self, this form would not lend itself to dis-ease.” - Buddha is not creating his own definition of self - he is referencing the understanding of atman that the five ascetics already believe in - an unchanging self free of all suffering - he is just saying “If this is what you are looking for then form, etc. can’t be it (because they change)”

If you asked these ascetics your questions they would be completely confused - they are not trying to unravel their self but rather trying to find it (atman).

So if we have the five aggregates, all being not self, then there's nothing left, as far as I can see.

It seems that way if we don’t look at the details of this model. Consciousness plays a dual role - there is consciousness as a clinging aggregate - where it is always said to be bound-up with an object via one of the senses - eye consciousness for example. Here there is consciousness, the eye, and what the eye is seeing. The glue that holds all this together is craving or passion. What this actually is cannot be known until stream entry when consciousness has completely released and then reconnects again with the aggregates - the reconnection takes place because of a deep desire for existence - that's the glue. It tends to be a long slog but eventually consciousness is able to drop its need to be bound-up and what is left is then consciousness without feature, without support, above the floods, and all that stuff. It’s a consciousness that is completely untouched by the world of changing phenomena. As it is without feature - you can’t pin it down. The Buddha avoids the issue of is this consciousness a self or not-self but rather points to how our experience is deeply changed (end of suffering) when this is our everyday experience.

RE: If Not Self, then who?
Answer
3/12/15 10:51 AM as a reply to Darrell.
Darrell:
I'm not sure if you're responding to the first or second question, I think it's the second.

How can a No Thing be peaceful when it has no qualities or charactersistics? Peaceful is one or both of those.

None of this is meant to be argumentative, nor is there any ill intent. I'm only trying, sincerely, to understand. Seems like the place to ask, as everyone here has understood more than I'm even aware there is to be understood.

Before answering your question, I think it's useful to draw a couple distinctions. First, the distinction between "Self" and "selfing process". "Self" is simply the experience of a sense of identity, while "selfing process" is the mind's tendency to cling. All clinging has (if sometimes only subtly) a "Self" sense wrapped up in it somewhere, but all sense of "Self" does not necessarily involve a process of clinging. Here's an experiment: look in a mirror and mentally say your own name, and see what sensations or images get called up. You may experience a little clinging the first time, but try again. You will find eventually that you can experience with wonderful neutrality the sensations or images that imply "Self"and that then promptly disappear. The selfing process always has a quality of grossness or stressfulness to it which can be drawn in contrast to the simple "Self" sensations. What's important to learn from this is that, in looking to gain liberation, we are not trying to discard our sensations or images of "Self", but rather we are trying to attenuate the clinging process, which confusingly enough is often bound up with those simple "Self' sensations and images (though not exclusively -- it can also be bound up in the sense doors and inconceptual proliferations).

Next, there is the distinction I will draw between "No self" and "No thing". "No self" is simply seeing, in contrast to the mind's tendency to identify with the things it comes in contact with, that certain phenomena do not imply an inherent self on which the ego or conceptual proliferation must base itself. The illusion of an inherent self is stressful because it is not in accord with the truth -- that all phenomena are in flux. Thus, "No self" brings an accord of peace, because the conditioned mind is used to the stressfulness of illusion, and the harmony of truth is understood to be a more worthwhile pursuit of one's energies. However, until one follows this path all the way to the end, the mind is always busy somewhere wrapped up in the selfing process, even if this is very subtle, indeed to the point of it going almost completely unnoticed. If one is to follow this path to the end, when all selfing process is ceased (indeed a very tricky state to describe), then one makes contact with nirvana, or the unconditioned, and the mind kind of reboots itself, dropping a chunk of the selfing process. These peak experience are what I would call "No thing". I should note that this is a gradual process, where levels of selfing process are dealt with progressively at subtler and subtler levels over time, requiring new peak experiences to produce greater levels of liberation, hence the models of stages of enlightenment. It is argued that, once one has made first contact with "No thing", then for the rest of their lives they are aware of its presence as, as you call it, a "base" of experience with which they make regular contact (what is called "fruition"), though it does not entail the peak experience they invoked to attain it. For some, it seems this only happens after the second peak experience resulting in contact with the unconditioned.

So, back to your question, "No self" produces peacefulness because it is in harmony with the impermanent nature of experience (in contrast to the stressfulness of illusion), and "No thing" produces a progressive base of peacefulness by undoing certain levels of the selfing process, a task which fruition refreshes. Now, as to why the mind would seek to liberate itself? In seeking peace through harmony with the nature of experience, one comes across "No thing", and thus a path is born. I also grant that it is possible that the mind has some intuitive sense of there being a "No thing" base of experience before making first contact with it, but I can't really say for sure.

Sorry for the time it took to reply, your question really made me think. Thanks for that! And I appreciate that there was no ill intent in your inquiry. However, I will echo that an intellectual understanding of these things is no substitute for experiencing what they point to.

EDIT: I should add that one can experience firsthand the nonexistence of a perceptible "No thing" or base of experience, when all experience including apparent conceptions of a "No thing" are seen to fall under the umbrella of conditioned phenomena subject to the law of a fluctual and thus impersonal nature. "No thing" is more of a convenience, as a means of talking with others about the peak experience, as well a way of explaining the fruition phenomenon. So, the question is not whether or not there is a "No thing" -- obviously, there couldn't be a "No thing" -- but whether or not consciousness can cease involvement, even momentarily, with that which is constantly in flux and impersonal.

RE: If Not Self, then who?
Answer
3/12/15 9:32 AM as a reply to Mark.
Mark:
Hi Psi,

Reducing the self to a single thing seems too reductionist. I don't think anyone could believe that they don't exist while they are not thinking. The perceptions and passage of time maintain a sensation of self even without thoughts.

I think a reasonable model of self should include the perceptions i.e. the act of observation would be part of the self. How about the self as a process involving the aggregates and the environment occuring over time.

There are risks in considering the self as only thoughts and/or ego. For example you may not take repsonsibility for actions, biases and the suffering caused by these. It would be a shame to limit the path to that.
Really? What about when you are in a deep sleep?  Where is the Self then?  Hmmmmm?  Self is a process, on/off.  Not always there.  It is the continuity that helps give off the illusion of permanency.

And only a fool does not take responsibility for their actions. Self as a concept or part of language exists, I mean one can not steal something, then be brought up in a court of Law and say , There is no Self therefore there was no Me that committed a crime.  There still exists actions, cause and effect, and consequences for actions.

But the root problem was that the Thief, in the above example, in believing he was a Self, saw or thought of an object, let greed arise in the mind,clung to the object of desire, then acted out the process of stealing, to make something Mine.  Then due to cause and effect, was arrested and drawn into court.

But, to have a self invloved just helps the storytelling move along so we can communicate, but in actual reality, there was no Self invoved, but alot of impersonal processes.

But, to investigate, here is an experiment, when you are in deep sleep, post something at the same time to prove that there is always a Self.

Is not that a fair test of Self?  It should at the very least open a crack in the whole Self, I exist concept, of coure the rational ego mind can come up with endless excuses of why the deep sleep state is not a fair test, and how else is the me going to get any rest, etc...

But, at night, fight as it may, the Me, the I , the Self, shuts down...  It is a process, dependent upon causes and conditions.

It is indeed perplexing to contemplate.

Psi

RE: If Not Self, then who?
Answer
3/12/15 11:49 AM as a reply to Psi.
Really? What about when you are in a deep sleep?  Where is the Self then?  Hmmmmm?  Self is a process, on/off.  Not always there.  It is the continuity that helps give off the illusion of permanency.

I've been troubled by that question as well. Yet I wonder, who is aware of the dreams that occur? And then there are those times where there has been the drive to do something, and I've woken up to find my self doing that very thing. Much to my shock and surprise, no less.

RE: If Not Self, then who?
Answer
3/12/15 11:51 AM as a reply to Chuck Kasmire.
Whether inducing it through psychoactives counts or not can’t say. But it certainly seems to have convinced you that all is not as it seems here in samsara. 

Good point. you're absolutely spot on, of course.

RE: If Not Self, then who?
Answer
3/12/15 10:40 PM as a reply to Psi.
Psi:
Mark:
Hi Psi,

Reducing the self to a single thing seems too reductionist. I don't think anyone could believe that they don't exist while they are not thinking. The perceptions and passage of time maintain a sensation of self even without thoughts.

I think a reasonable model of self should include the perceptions i.e. the act of observation would be part of the self. How about the self as a process involving the aggregates and the environment occuring over time.

There are risks in considering the self as only thoughts and/or ego. For example you may not take repsonsibility for actions, biases and the suffering caused by these. It would be a shame to limit the path to that.
Really? What about when you are in a deep sleep?  Where is the Self then?  Hmmmmm?  Self is a process, on/off.  Not always there.  It is the continuity that helps give off the illusion of permanency.

And only a fool does not take responsibility for their actions. Self as a concept or part of language exists, I mean one can not steal something, then be brought up in a court of Law and say , There is no Self therefore there was no Me that committed a crime.  There still exists actions, cause and effect, and consequences for actions.

But the root problem was that the Thief, in the above example, in believing he was a Self, saw or thought of an object, let greed arise in the mind,clung to the object of desire, then acted out the process of stealing, to make something Mine.  Then due to cause and effect, was arrested and drawn into court.

But, to have a self invloved just helps the storytelling move along so we can communicate, but in actual reality, there was no Self invoved, but alot of impersonal processes.

But, to investigate, here is an experiment, when you are in deep sleep, post something at the same time to prove that there is always a Self.

Is not that a fair test of Self?  It should at the very least open a crack in the whole Self, I exist concept, of coure the rational ego mind can come up with endless excuses of why the deep sleep state is not a fair test, and how else is the me going to get any rest, etc...

But, at night, fight as it may, the Me, the I , the Self, shuts down...  It is a process, dependent upon causes and conditions.

It is indeed perplexing to contemplate.

Psi
Wanted to add, that it seems that there is a difference between an idea that there is no self , and an understood experience of no self.

I could see how a person could use an idea of no self to cause mischief, and that such a person could use any idea to cause mischief.

But, on the other hand , the experience and the understanding of phenomenon as no self, is very pure and clean.  If there is no slef delusion operating, one will not be attracted or averse to sensations and phenomenon as they arise, and the mind existing within that awareness would never cause any mischief, at least not intentionally.

With humility, I do admit this is all rather hard to explain, and that my explanations may lead to misunderstandings, for that I am sorry to all.
Because of my inability to explain all of this very well means there are deeper levels of understandings to be discovered.

@ Mark, sorry if I come off as argumentative,  it is something I am working on...

 I will have to investigate the ideas you have brought forth about the awareness of time, and perceptions.  But for now I could only add that when there is only the present moment, of which that is all there ever really is, time too may be an illusion, or just and idea.  And indeed maybe time goes forward and backward like it does in math...  If I understand that correctly.

Psi

RE: If Not Self, then who?
Answer
3/13/15 5:06 PM as a reply to Psi.
Hi Psi,

No offfence taken, I'm glad someone wants to engage in a discussion with me. It is an interesting topic.

I don't think there is a strong case for sleep being an on/off of conscience. Certainly sleep changes our experience. We generally have an idea if we have slept for a long time or short time, we'll even often wake up at an exact time. There are lucid dreams etc also. The Indian philosophy has a long tradition of considering sleep as other states of consciousness and I think western science is reaching similar conclusions.

I'm not sure there are very many people who take responsibility for all their actions. An extreme example, funding a government which then goes to war would require a lot of sacrifice if people really wanted to to take responsibility (whether the person wanted the war or not). We have very good techniques for not taking responsibility - both in terms of ignoring impacts of actions and not taking appropriate actions. I can certainly vouch for being a fool myself by your definition.

One eye opening fact in the spiritual traditions is some of the immoral behavior engaged in by people who are very far along the path. Things like sexual abuse happen (obviously not always) and can involve people who were considered enlightened or at least very awake. This has been openly discussed in some buddhist circles recently. 

You seem to be assuming that the self is at the root of all evil. This might not be the case. For example social conditioning may cause actions that are immoral and even someone who is experiencing a non-dual concept of self could act in ways that a conscientous dualistic concept of self may not permit.

The experience of no-self does not seem to impose a perfect morality. Someone could have poor ethics and be an advanced practioner in meditation who spends a lot of time in a state of "no-self".

You seem to be assuming that the self would need to be "something" to exist. Consider the eco-system. It exists but it is not an individual physical thing it is a collection of many things interacting over time. A cloud is part of the eco-system but it is not the exo-system. Proving that every part of the exo-system is not the eco-system would not refute that the eco-system exists. Self could be considered in a similar way.

On one level we have some agreement! It is all an illusion. We can be extremely confident that human experience is not able to comprehend reality. We have maps/models that work very well and can give an illusion of reality but a little bit of investigation causes that to pretty much unravel.

You seem to have a notion of self limited to subjective experience (e.g. it turns on/off) You might consider a broader notion. There is the internal subjective experience, the external interaction of your body in the world (your physical body), the technology and environment you interact with and the cultural/social relationships you are engaged in. I think parts of all those things are parts of the self. Let's assume for a second that someone in a coma has no subjective experience, then they wake up. While they were not having subjective experience the self as a process was still very present, for example family and friends caring for that person kept a place for the person, the society paid for the hospital bed and the body was functioning.

If we limit the self to subjective experience then no-self could be thought of as not identifying with typical subjective experience. But I suspect that is not the point. If we have a view of the self as a process and experience it as such then we are in the present moment and engaged with the mind, body, environment and relationships - I prefer that vision of no-self (basically changing how we experience it)

I'm still keen for you to show me the errors of my ways so please dive in with the critique!

 

RE: If Not Self, then who?
Answer
3/15/15 10:36 AM as a reply to Darrell.
Darrell:
So from where does the desire to unravel the self, and attain liberation arise from? Why would self want to undo itself? Why would ego contribute to its own demise, or at least radical diminution?


I have a really simple answer to this that came to me the other day. Basically it's about energy (I was a physics grad years ago). Like the Tao Te Jing says, everything wants to come to the rest state.

Like if you pour water into a tray, it sloshes about, then comes to rest, flat, evenly distributed, the lowest energy state.
The only way you get get it continually slosh about, is if you keep agitating it.

This is what being unenlightened is like. The mind is continually agitating itself because of its false ideas (protecting a non-existent self, trying to get non-existent things). It would be as if waves on the water kept reacting to other waves, agitating itself again and again (samsara).

The Tao, the alive intelligent attentive nothing, which is the raw material of your mind, is the same. It can get stuck in knots, which cause repeated agitation. But when the knots are seen through, the mind stops leaping about confusedly agitating itself, and naturally comes to rest more, it does not leap around creating objects.

You can see this for yourself, when you are very chilled, your attention is just resting evenly, flatly, on nothing at all, on everything all at once, just like water in the tray.  It feels open, relaxed, natural. That's why they called it the natural state (in Mahamudra for example).

That is why enlightenment is possible, the energy to do it comes because it's a downhill journey. Like a cart on a hill with chocks under it's wheels. You pull out a chock (like crossing the A&P), and the thing goes zoom, then it gets stuck in rut, so you lift a little, then off it goes again...

Does that make any sense? Thanks for enduring my ramble.

RE: If Not Self, then who?
Answer
3/15/15 3:47 PM as a reply to Mark.
Mark:
Hi Psi,
No offfence taken, I'm glad someone wants to engage in a discussion with me. It is an interesting topic.

I don't think there is a strong case for sleep being an on/off of conscience. Certainly sleep changes our experience. We generally have an idea if we have slept for a long time or short time, we'll even often wake up at an exact time. There are lucid dreams etc also. The Indian philosophy has a long tradition of considering sleep as other states of consciousness and I think western science is reaching similar conclusions.
Hi Mark,  Well, in Lucid Dreaming it has been shown in that the awareness part of the brain is active, and yes in a lucid dream there is and can be a sense of self.  But, when one has no awareness of the other sleep states, there is no self mental function operating at that time, at least no mind has awareness during those states of consciousness.  So, I would say that what we normally consider to be a waking, talking, thinking self, is, for lack of better words,  simple turned off.  There is a body and a mind, yes, but no self to be found.
I'm not sure there are very many people who take responsibility for all their actions. An extreme example, funding a government which then goes to war would require a lot of sacrifice if people really wanted to to take responsibility (whether the person wanted the war or not). We have very good techniques for not taking responsibility - both in terms of ignoring impacts of actions and not taking appropriate actions. I can certainly vouch for being a fool myself by your definition.

One eye opening fact in the spiritual traditions is some of the immoral behavior engaged in by people who are very far along the path. Things like sexual abuse happen (obviously not always) and can involve people who were considered enlightened or at least very awake. This has been openly discussed in some buddhist circles recently. 
The experience of no self and the insight of no self is not the same as stages of enlightnenment.  There is sexual misconduct and wholesome sexual conduct.  If someone were fully enlightened, I would not think they would be engaging in sexual misconduct.  For those not fully enlightened, since they are human, might engage in sexual misconduct.  In that case there may have been an error in judging themselves at a certain stage of enlightenment, or that other may have misjudged the said person and their stage of enlightenment.  There is of course, in this world, psychopaths, charlatans, and a whole range of human diversity and variety of behaviours.  But, one can only practice wholesomeness within themselves, one can not fix others.

You seem to be assuming that the self is at the root of all evil. This might not be the case. For example social conditioning may cause actions that are immoral and even someone who is experiencing a non-dual concept of self could act in ways that a conscientous dualistic concept of self may not permit.

The experience of no-self does not seem to impose a perfect morality. Someone could have poor ethics and be an advanced practioner in meditation who spends a lot of time in a state of "no-self".
For one who had expirtated all delusion and craving, they would not act in immoral ways.  Suppose the Self, the one we feel is me, was gone, who then would act immorally?  Where would immoral ideas arise from, if there were no self?  If someone said they were fully enlightened and had no feeling of a self or me, but then acted immorally, then you would know they were probably full o' crap.

No self experience is not full enlightenment, you are correct, it is just one aspect of Dhamma.  But, someone who had poor ethics, would probably also have an unsettled, instinctive, and discursive mind, and such a mind would not have the experience of no self.  Hence the reasoning for Moral Training.  Moral Training, is not just a do it because you are supposed to thing, it is a do it, because it has results based upon causes and conditions.  And Moral Training lends to a more Harmonious interplay with those we encounter.  That being said, Metta might not stop a Murderer with a knife, and it would be wise to run.

You seem to be assuming that the self would need to be "something" to exist. Consider the eco-system. It exists but it is not an individual physical thing it is a collection of many things interacting over time. A cloud is part of the eco-system but it is not the exo-system. Proving that every part of the exo-system is not the eco-system would not refute that the eco-system exists. Self could be considered in a similar way.

On one level we have some agreement! It is all an illusion. We can be extremely confident that human experience is not able to comprehend reality. We have maps/models that work very well and can give an illusion of reality but a little bit of investigation causes that to pretty much unravel.
Yes!!  We are 50-75 percent water, we are part and parcel of the environment, everchanging and ever exchanging.  There is no constant group of atoms, molecules , or electrons that can be said to be a self, a core self.



You seem to have a notion of self limited to subjective experience (e.g. it turns on/off) You might consider a broader notion. There is the internal subjective experience, the external interaction of your body in the world (your physical body), the technology and environment you interact with and the cultural/social relationships you are engaged in. I think parts of all those things are parts of the self. Let's assume for a second that someone in a coma has no subjective experience, then they wake up. While they were not having subjective experience the self as a process was still very present, for example family and friends caring for that person kept a place for the person, the society paid for the hospital bed and the body was functioning.

If we limit the self to subjective experience then no-self could be thought of as not identifying with typical subjective experience. But I suspect that is not the point. If we have a view of the self as a process and experience it as such then we are in the present moment and engaged with the mind, body, environment and relationships - I prefer that vision of no-self (basically changing how we experience it)

I'm still keen for you to show me the errors of my ways so please dive in with the critique!

 
Yes!!  Internal Sensations and External Sensations, either pleasant, unpleasant, or neutral, these will always be there, even for the fully enlightened, it goes along with a human body and mind.  But what is the self other that just an idea, a concept, a mental formation.  Indeed a sensation in and of it's Self...

Psi

RE: If Not Self, then who?
Answer
3/15/15 6:32 PM as a reply to Darrell.
Darrell:
Really? What about when you are in a deep sleep?  Where is the Self then?  Hmmmmm?  Self is a process, on/off.  Not always there.  It is the continuity that helps give off the illusion of permanency.

I've been troubled by that question as well. Yet I wonder, who is aware of the dreams that occur? And then there are those times where there has been the drive to do something, and I've woken up to find my self doing that very thing. Much to my shock and surprise, no less.
Troubling for sure, who is aware of the dreams that occur? And even more eerie, is there a who behind the production of the dreams? And if there is a Self both creating and being aware of the dreams at the same time, then there are now two selves involved in the dream and the dream fabrication.  And yes, that sometimes dreams during sleep turn into intentions and actions during the day, an interplay of hidden mind forces.

It is fun to really Investigate this type of phenomenon and not just take things for granted.  Like, why do we take for granted that the dreams arise from a hidden impersonal type of process in the unconscious mind, yet at the same time take for granted that the daily waking thoughts are fabricated by an us?  If there is a Self at the core, how does it both create and experience a dream at the same time, and even surprise itself? In waking life I can not tell myself BOO! and get scared...  Perhaps, they are both part of a fascinating and complex impersonal process, The mind and the mind capacities rivaling and surpassing any computer humans have yet invented.  At least computers publicly acknowledged.

Psi

RE: If Not Self, then who?
Answer
3/15/15 8:15 PM as a reply to Sadalsuud Beta Aquarii.
"I have a really simple answer to this that came to me the other day. Basically it's about energy (I was a physics grad years ago). Like the Tao Te Jing says, everything wants to come to the rest state.

Like if you pour water into a tray, it sloshes about, then comes to rest, flat, evenly distributed, the lowest energy state.
The only way you get get it continually slosh about, is if you keep agitating it.

This is what being unenlightened is like. The mind is continually agitating itself because of its false ideas (protecting a non-existent self, trying to get non-existent things). It would be as if waves on the water kept reacting to other waves, agitating itself again and again (samsara).

The Tao, the alive intelligent attentive nothing, which is the raw material of your mind, is the same. It can get stuck in knots, which cause repeated agitation. But when the knots are seen through, the mind stops leaping about confusedly agitating itself, and naturally comes to rest more, it does not leap around creating objects.

You can see this for yourself, when you are very chilled, your attention is just resting evenly, flatly, on nothing at all, on everything all at once, just like water in the tray.  It feels open, relaxed, natural. That's why they called it the natural state (in Mahamudra for example).

That is why enlightenment is possible, the energy to do it comes because it's a downhill journey. Like a cart on a hill with chocks under it's wheels. You pull out a chock (like crossing the A&P), and the thing goes zoom, then it gets stuck in rut, so you lift a little, then off it goes again...

Does that make any sense? Thanks for enduring my ramble."

That makes a great deal of sense. As much as anything else that others have offered here. So you're saying that things come to rest eventually because of a Cosmin Inertia, but that this Cosmic Inertia, unlike the water in the tray requires something to interrupt the pattern of agitation? Am I understanding this correctly?

Too bad that this rest state didn't just return to stillness on it's own, as in an object at rest wants to remain at rest. But that takes us into the Eckhart Tolle and company "You are already enlightened" BS. For whatever reason(s) there do not appear to be any shortcuts on the path.

RE: If Not Self, then who?
Answer
3/15/15 9:07 PM as a reply to Psi.
Psi,

At risk of over simplifing, I feel that what we're addressing might be the product of conditioned consciousness, at levels below the threshold of awareness. I don't know enough about levels of mind, and such, more experienced practitioners/meditators could hopefully enlighten me about this. But if the brain and/or mind stuff is being conditioned from the moment the brain/mind starts perceiving/sensing/cognizing, then I wonder if what we're seeing is just a conditioned state that sees itself as a perceiver running on much the way software and programs run in the background on a computer.

This is probably reductionist, and most likely a reflection of my current state of ignorance. But it's something I've been thinking about and seems applicable to what was being said in this part of the thread. My gut feeling, that deep down small still voice that rings true, feels that there's something of an intelligent aware No Thing that underlies all, and somehow, this whole mess (reality) emerged out of that. If that's the case, then the dreamer and the dreamed are all in the imagination of the Imaginer as someone once put it.

Marel Mark was right though, when he wrote "Well, meditation, and precisely, insight into mind and body, cause and effect, and then into three characteristics should give you the answer to this question. So the best advice is - stop thinking and start practice!" Yet, I do think these questions might help with the development of insight and wisdom. Perhaps.

RE: If Not Self, then who?
Answer
3/16/15 4:56 AM as a reply to Psi.
As you suggest no-self is not the same as enlightened and with the same argument you can see that self is not the cause of immoral actions. People with a strong perception of self can behave morally which is another argument for self not being a cause of immoral behavior.

Another way you could look at this (given your definition of self) : If you agree that the self is an illusion then something else is driving your behaviour.  If you believe the self is a real thing that causes your behaviour then an exploration of what that "thing" is should help clarify that it is an illusion.

Psi:
Yes!!  We are 50-75 percent water, we are part and parcel of the environment, everchanging and ever exchanging.  There is no constant group of atoms, molecules , or electrons that can be said to be a self, a core self.

This is another good argument for self being a process rather than a thing. No-self would then be better conceived as a different perception of the process (not a disappearing of the process)

Yes!!  Internal Sensations and External Sensations, either pleasant, unpleasant, or neutral, these will always be there, even for the fully enlightened, it goes along with a human body and mind.  But what is the self other that just an idea, a concept, a mental formation.  Indeed a sensation in and of it's Self...

If the self is considered as a process then it is very real, as real as any other concept. The self is much more than just a mental formation. It is happening whether you think about it or not, whether you are aware of it or not. That process involves objective things i.e. the physical body and subjective experience and physical environment and inter-subjective experience (relationships).

How you perceive the self can change and that is part of the process but the perception it is not the whole process.

In summary, a concept of the self as just subjective awareness is reductionist and an over-simplification. To give a practical example, if I change the place where I live and the language I speak (and think in) then there is a noticeable difference in the perception of self. But those changes are related to the cultural environment - that demonstrated to me that the self is much more than just perceptions.

A more inclusive model of the self has some benefits - your actions, your environment, technology you use and your relationships all have a  place in developing a more coherent view of the self. This is an engaged practice that contrasts with some practices centered on subjective exprience where meditation can be misused to build another illusion of self whcih is given the label "no-self"

RE: If Not Self, then who?
Answer
3/16/15 9:07 AM as a reply to Darrell.
Darrell:
"I have a really simple answer to this that came to me the other day. Basically it's about energy (I was a physics grad years ago). Like the Tao Te Jing says, everything wants to come to the rest state.

Like if you pour water into a tray, it sloshes about, then comes to rest, flat, evenly distributed, the lowest energy state.
The only way you get get it continually slosh about, is if you keep agitating it.

This is what being unenlightened is like. The mind is continually agitating itself because of its false ideas (protecting a non-existent self, trying to get non-existent things). It would be as if waves on the water kept reacting to other waves, agitating itself again and again (samsara).

The Tao, the alive intelligent attentive nothing, which is the raw material of your mind, is the same. It can get stuck in knots, which cause repeated agitation. But when the knots are seen through, the mind stops leaping about confusedly agitating itself, and naturally comes to rest more, it does not leap around creating objects.

You can see this for yourself, when you are very chilled, your attention is just resting evenly, flatly, on nothing at all, on everything all at once, just like water in the tray.  It feels open, relaxed, natural. That's why they called it the natural state (in Mahamudra for example).

That is why enlightenment is possible, the energy to do it comes because it's a downhill journey. Like a cart on a hill with chocks under it's wheels. You pull out a chock (like crossing the A&P), and the thing goes zoom, then it gets stuck in rut, so you lift a little, then off it goes again...

Does that make any sense? Thanks for enduring my ramble."

That makes a great deal of sense. As much as anything else that others have offered here. So you're saying that things come to rest eventually because of a Cosmin Inertia, but that this Cosmic Inertia, unlike the water in the tray requires something to interrupt the pattern of agitation? Am I understanding this correctly?

Too bad that this rest state didn't just return to stillness on it's own, as in an object at rest wants to remain at rest. But that takes us into the Eckhart Tolle and company "You are already enlightened" BS. For whatever reason(s) there do not appear to be any shortcuts on the path.

I bolded the key phrase about the water - it is confused and sees itself as threats/desires. LIkewise, the tao gets confused and sees bits of itself as threats... 

Imagine a person with a big shoe vanity complex. at some point they have gained the belief, that what shoes you have makes you better. So their whole life they are always checking out other peoples shoes, saving up to buy better shoes, shoe shopping, jealous when other people have better shoes, thinking about how to get more shoes.  As they walk around, they face endless STRESS as they see shoe problems and shoe opportunities EVERYWHERE where a normal person just doesn't see or think any of this stuff. They are expending a huge amount of needless energy, suffering a lot, because of this one errant belief.

The key thing to note is that once the belief is in place, the energy of this narcissism is self-fuelling - everytime someone treats them well, they assume it's because of their shoes, and vice versa - it creates a feedback loop, which is what lets the system be self agitating.

Eventually they get a partner who loves them very much (somehow!!!) and this person tells them that actually, they don't care what shoes they have. Pop goes the belief. Now they see the obvious truth that shoes are not related to who you are, their shoe obsessed behaviours will (quickly or slowly) unwind by themselves. They are liberated from shoe-samsara.

I can't stop writiing as I am avoiding going outside in the pissing rain!!

Imagine you told a kid that the point of life was to punch yourself in the head repeatedly, and the more pain you felt, the more discomfort, the better you were doing, and that one day, if you punch yourself enough, if you endure all the pain and blood, you win Life and Everything. This is basically what being unenlightened is like. It's self-agitating, so all it takes is a fraction of a second of clear-seeing and the whole thing collapses.

you are already enlightened refers to the fact that the second by second condition of being enlightened is no different to the unenlightened one, BUT the unenlightened person keeps crashing into the feedback loop, because of the errant belief. A more accurate saying is - there is no enlightened "state" - everyone is basically enlightened most the time, but unenlightened people have moments of unenlightenment where they crash into their errant belief and thus do weird things.

peace 

ok going to the shop now emoticon

RE: If Not Self, then who?
Answer
3/16/15 10:35 AM as a reply to Mark.
MarkAs you suggest no-self is not the same as enlightened and with the same argument you can see that self is not the cause of immoral actions. People with a strong perception of self can behave morally which is another argument for self not being a cause of immoral behavior.

Sounds true enough, except that if you say that Self is not the cause of immoral actions, then what are you saying is the cause? Perhaps, the Devil?

And true, people with a strong sense of self can behave morally.


If the self is considered as a process then it is very real, as real as any other concept. The self is much more than just a mental formation. It is happening whether you think about it or not, whether you are aware of it or not. That process involves objective things i.e. the physical body and subjective experience and physical environment and inter-subjective experience (relationships).
The idea of a Self is just that, a concept, so in that sense Self is as real as any other concept.  So too, if as you say the Self is happening whether one thinks about it or not, then it would also be true , that a shark, a kitten, and a cow also have selves.  They would, according to your logic also have a self, even if and when they think about it or not.


How you perceive the self can change and that is part of the process but the perception it is not the whole process.

In summary, a concept of the self as just subjective awareness is reductionist and an over-simplification. To give a practical example, if I change the place where I live and the language I speak (and think in) then there is a noticeable difference in the perception of self. But those changes are related to the cultural environment - that demonstrated to me that the self is much more than just perceptions.

A more inclusive model of the self has some benefits - your actions, your environment, technology you use and your relationships all have a  place in developing a more coherent view of the self. This is an engaged practice that contrasts with some practices centered on subjective exprience where meditation can be misused to build another illusion of self whcih is given the label "no-self"
All I know is that I used to pound the table and believe that there is a Self.  Now I do not, and everything that I investigate proves that there really is no Self.  There is a Mind, and there is a Body, there are Sensations, There is Thinking, There are Emotions, There is Mental Content, There are Habits, all that, but I just do not see that there is an underlying Self that holds all this together.  There is no core Self to be found, no permanent continuous thingy of a Self, everything traces and reverse engineers back to previous causes and conditions, even genetically, evolution all the way back to the tiny creatures millions of years past, our forgotten ancestors, they had no self, and neither do I ...  emoticon

I think, therefore I am not.

This is not to say that we do not use a concept of Self to navigate around the World and get stuff, and eat other living things, and hold on to stuff, to wish for things to be different, and to wish for things to remain as they are.  But one does not have to have the concept of a Self to do all this.

I ask then, if there is a Self, Where is it?  Point me to it.

Cool Beans

Psi

RE: If Not Self, then who?
Answer
3/16/15 12:43 PM as a reply to Psi.
Psi:

Sounds true enough, except that if you say that Self is not the cause of immoral actions, then what are you saying is the cause? Perhaps, the Devil?
I had not thought of the devil - not something I believe in. There are multiple causes I see. For example letting emotions like anger determine actions. Poor education e.g. reproducing immoral behaviors. The nature of the people surrounding you is another - we are all influenced to varying degrees.  The way society is stuctured and technologies implemented e.g. it is easy to emit a lot of CO2 is many developed countries. Trying to pin it to any one thing seems unreasonable. 

The idea of a Self is just that, a concept, so in that sense Self is as real as any other concept.  So too, if as you say the Self is happening whether one thinks about it or not, then it would also be true , that a shark, a kitten, and a cow also have selves.  They would, according to your logic also have a self, even if and when they think about it or not.
Yes I think there are broad implications in that regard. If you have ever had a pet like a dog or a cat it is pretty hard to belive they don;t have a self. The subjective experience is an important part of self (it can be temporarily not present) so for example I don't think a tree has a process equivalent to a human.


All I know is that I used to pound the table and believe that there is a Self.  Now I do not, and everything that I investigate proves that there really is no Self.  There is a Mind, and there is a Body, there are Sensations, There is Thinking, There are Emotions, There is Mental Content, There are Habits, all that, but I just do not see that there is an underlying Self that holds all this together.  There is no core Self to be found, no permanent continuous thingy of a Self, everything traces and reverse engineers back to previous causes and conditions, even genetically, evolution all the way back to the tiny creatures millions of years past, our forgotten ancestors, they had no self, and neither do I ...  emoticon

What you wrote earlier is contradictory to this as you implied the self is responsible for immoral actions. By trying to reach a state of "no-self" you are attaching to a current state with a self.

I don't want to sound overly repetitous but if you try to imagine the self as a single thing thenyou will not find it. If you reduce the self to only mind and body then you are missing a huge part of what defines us - in particular the environment (natural and technologies) and the culture/society (relationships).

If you consider the self as a process then it can exist without being a physical thing. As much as a wave exists or the eco-system exists. The whole cannot be represented by any one part.


I think, therefore I am not.

Again reducing the self to thought is not a rational definition.


This is not to say that we do not use a concept of Self to navigate around the World and get stuff, and eat other living things, and hold on to stuff, to wish for things to be different, and to wish for things to remain as they are.  But one does not have to have the concept of a Self to do all this.
It is possible to train the mind to have diverse perceptions. To some degree if you put enough effort in then you will largely get out what you were expecting. Sometimes people spend decades trying to create an experience like "no-self" as "no-thoughts" they succeed but it is just another illusion. Some illusions are perhaps more valuable than others.


I ask then, if there is a Self, Where is it?  Point me to it.

You are falling into a misconception. If self is a process then it does not have any one location. For example if I take a photo of a wave it is not a wave, if I hold up the water that was part of the wave it is not the wave either. By starting with the assumption that self might be a physical thing you are not able to define it and then no meaningful question can result.

If I asked you to "show me the eco-system. Point me to it" you should consider that a poorly constructed question. If you could not point to it it would not prove that you don't know what the eco-system is.

RE: If Not Self, then who?
Answer
3/16/15 3:45 PM as a reply to Mark.
MarkI had not thought of the devil - not something I believe in. There are multiple causes I see. For example letting emotions like anger determine actions. Poor education e.g. reproducing immoral behaviors. The nature of the people surrounding you is another - we are all influenced to varying degrees.  The way society is stuctured and technologies implemented e.g. it is easy to emit a lot of CO2 is many developed countries. Trying to pin it to any one thing seems unreasonable. 

The Devil excuse was a joke on my part.


Yes I think there are broad implications in that regard. If you have ever had a pet like a dog or a cat it is pretty hard to belive they don;t have a self. The subjective experience is an important part of self (it can be temporarily not present) so for example I don't think a tree has a process equivalent to a human.
Why does a tree have a process not equivalent to a human?  They are both representations of the DNA code.  Universally, pretty much the same, in fact , the Tree and the Human are related, our evolutionarly roots stem from the same process, the same beginning.

What you wrote earlier is contradictory to this as you implied the self is responsible for immoral actions. By trying to reach a state of "no-self" you are attaching to a current state with a self.
There is no state of No Self, it just is, same as there is air and water.
I don't want to sound overly repetitous but if you try to imagine the self as a single thing thenyou will not find it. If you reduce the self to only mind and body then you are missing a huge part of what defines us - in particular the environment (natural and technologies) and the culture/society (relationships).

If there is no single thing to be defined as a self then why are you trying so hard to defend somethind that can not be found?  What again exactly am I missing?
If you consider the self as a process then it can exist without being a physical thing. As much as a wave exists or the eco-system exists. The whole cannot be represented by any one part.
I do not think anything exists without some physical aspect.  Even the subtlest of thoughts.  For something to exist, as far as I know, it has to have three dimensions, and as we are discussing with thoughts, they exist, so thoughts must have three dimensions, thoughts are things, but they do not have to have an implied or imaginary owner behind them, neither does a cloud.  Light also has mass, it bends, it bounces, it is absorbed, Light too, is a thing.  And, actually, Humans emit light, Humans are bioluminescent, so the body we like to pretend of as ours is emitting and expanding outwards at the speed of light, fascinating, where then does the imagined Self end?  How many Light Years out?


I think, therefore I am not.
Again reducing the self to thought is not a rational definition.
Right, Self is not a thought.
It is possible to train the mind to have diverse perceptions. To some degree if you put enough effort in then you will largely get out what you were expecting. Sometimes people spend decades trying to create an experience like "no-self" as "no-thoughts" they succeed but it is just another illusion. Some illusions are perhaps more valuable than others.
Then what if one were to train the mind to examine phenomenon to find the truth of reality, no matter how bizarre, or simple and mundane?  What if one did not try to create or imagine anything, and just simply observed phenomenon as it is, as it arises and passes away, with clear comprehension and non-delusion?  What then of that form of perceptual training?



I ask then, if there is a Self, Where is it?  Point me to it.
You are falling into a misconception. If self is a process then it does not have any one location. For example if I take a photo of a wave it is not a wave, if I hold up the water that was part of the wave it is not the wave either. By starting with the assumption that self might be a physical thing you are not able to define it and then no meaningful question can result.

If I asked you to "show me the eco-system. Point me to it" you should consider that a poorly constructed question. If you could not point to it it would not prove that you don't know what the eco-system is.
Then , perhaps the self , like the ecosystem, is an impersonal process, and if you can be aware of that , then you will understand what I am pointing to, that is all, it is just that simple.The Self is an impersonal process...  Is not that astounding to contemplate?  And, happily, it is a process that can be changed and molded, hopefully for the better, for the beneficial towards all, inclined towards the wholesome.

We are Groot...

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=1GncYQHBJIw

Psi

P.S.  Thanks for the Discussion  emoticon

RE: If Not Self, then who?
Answer
3/16/15 4:30 PM as a reply to Psi.
Psi:

Why does a tree have a process not equivalent to a human?  

One reason is my assumption that the tree lacks a subjective experience.


If there is no single thing to be defined as a self then why are you trying so hard to defend somethind that can not be found?  What again exactly am I missing?
I'm presenting a definition that is different from what you earlier assumed the self to be. My point is that it is a process not a thing.

I do not think anything exists without some physical aspect.  Even the subtlest of thoughts.  For something to exist, as far as I know, it has to have three dimensions, and as we are discussing with thoughts, they exist, so thoughts must have three dimensions, thoughts are things, but they do not have to have an implied or imaginary owner behind them, neither does a cloud.  Light also has mass, it bends, it bounces, it is absorbed, Light too, is a thing.  And, actually, Humans emit light, Humans are bioluminescent, so the body we like to pretend of as ours is emitting and expanding outwards at the speed of light, fascinating, where then does the imagined Self end?  How many Light Years out?
You are presenting a materialist argument. The hope within science that everything could be explained with physical cause and effect was abandoned with Newton. Science now accepts that things can exist without having three dimensions - in fact there is no clear definition of what matter is. The whole idea of cause and effect starts to break down when considering small scales. Light does not have a mass. You could learn a lot by watching the You Tube clip of Chomsky that I recommended in my first post of this thread.

Then what if one were to train the mind to examine phenomenon to find the truth of reality, no matter how bizarre, or simple and mundane?  What if one did not try to create or imagine anything, and just simply observed phenomenon as it is, as it arises and passes away, with clear comprehension and non-delusion?  What then of that form of perceptual training?
You have an assumption that reality is something within reach of human experience. There is a alot of evidence to suggest that is unrealisitic - again that video touches on this.

Then , perhaps the self , like the ecosystem, is an impersonal process, and if you can be aware of that , then you will understand what I am pointing to, that is all, it is just that simple.The Self is an impersonal process...  Is not that astounding to contemplate?  And, happily, it is a process that can be changed and molded, hopefully for the better, for the beneficial towards all, inclined towards the wholesome.

OK we are making progress emoticon Yes the self as a process makes sense. The concept "impersonal process" makes no sense as it implies there could be a "personal process" which would require a self - processes do not hides "selves" somewhere.

I'd be happy to continue the discusion but please watch that clip of Chomsky - I'm not going to do a better job than him on those points.

RE: If Not Self, then who?
Answer
3/16/15 5:25 PM as a reply to Mark.
[quote=
]I'd be happy to continue the discusion but please watch that clip of Chomsky - I'm not going to do a better job than him on those points.Sure, I have listened to and read Chomsky for a few decades now, he is brilliant, and it would be a pleasure.  But, I need some time.

Could you perhaps look at this article in link below, which also brings to bear Synchronicity, which is something altogether fascinating, as I went to this article only after the previous post, and have never read the article in the linke below, and at this time am still finishing it.  But, lo and behold, trees... It is also funny how I am being labeled as a materialist, a reductionist, and a scientismist, ad I was going to bring up Quantum entanglement as a point to show how everything was interconnected, even across the universe...  Oh well...  Higg's Boson has probably made that point ever more clear, but this is about what we can discover here and now with the senses we have.  Anyway, the synchronistic link.

http://liberationunleashed.com/articles/the-death-illusion/

Psi

RE: If Not Self, then who?
Answer
3/16/15 5:51 PM as a reply to Psi.
Who Dat?

Another link, Ego Tunnel


http://emptinessteachings.com/2013/04/14/the-myth-of-the-self-neurology-weighs-in/#more-5447


I also like to re-read what Daniel Ingram has written here in link below, from time to time.

http://www.dharmaoverground.org/web/guest/dharma-wiki/-/wiki/Main/MCTB+No-Self


Psi

RE: If Not Self, then who?
Answer
3/16/15 6:27 PM as a reply to Psi.
Okay, I am two minutes into Chomsky's lecture, but I already understand that there are human limitations and imponderables.  Why would you think I did not already know this?  Perhaps you are thinking No Self is a belief, a philosophy, viewpoint, or an idea, or something to be right or wrong about?...  It does not matter, , you can not convince me of something that I used to believe in, but have found to be untrue.  It is like a child that found out Santa was not real, and then the other kids trying to tell him that Santa is real, I ain't buyin' it.

Earlier you said that to say that there to say there is an impersonal process is to imply that there is a personal process.  Yes, in the same fashion that one were to say there in non-delusion is to imply that there is delusion,  Delusion is a belief in an idea or concept that is not supported by facts.

This may sound like this is coming from a closed and contracted mind, but it is from an entirely open mind, it is only from this stance can one really observe this phenomenon of what we consider to be Self.

And, I will be the first to admit , I am still investigating, tirelessly, and the more investigation, the more layers of Self seem to unravel.

Back to the Chomsky...

Peace

Psi



RE: If Not Self, then who?
Answer
3/17/15 9:13 AM as a reply to Psi.
Around the 45 minute mark Chomsky states that there is no such a thing as material, or the physical,  and indeed it seems he is right,  Anicca.


https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=D5in5EdjhD0


And as seen below, no material, so solid core, same argument would apply for the argument of a conventional view of a Self, there is not, there is no material , no solid core.  Thus Anicca and Anatta are intertwined.  We could start another thread for the discussion of Anicca, just as valid and just as important of an insight to develop.  Anatta is indeed a tricky animal to work around.  It may seem that I am pounding the table on the subject of Anatta, or No Self, but I am just trying to stay on topic, there are many aspects to be discussed.  If this were to be a discussion on Morality, No Self may not be the way or means to discuss Morality, perhaps a better angle would be to discuss Right Speech, Action, and Livelihood.
Then came our Quantum theory, which totally transformed our image of matter. The old assumption that the microscopic world of atoms was simply a scaled-down version of the everyday world had to be abandoned. Newton's deterministic machine was replaced by a shadowy and paradoxical conjunction of waves and particles, governed by the laws of chance, rather than the rigid rules of causality. An extension of the quantum theory goes beyond even this; it paints a picture in which solid matter dissolves away, to be replaced by weird excitations and vibrations of invisible field energy.Quantum physics undermines materialism because it reveals that matter has far less "substance" than we might believe. But another development goes even further by demolishing Newton's image of matter as inert lumps. This development is the theory of chaos, which has recently gained widespread attention.— Paul Davies and John Gribbin, The Matter Myth, Chapter 1
Chomsky 55:35   "In fact Humans are very much genetically alike as compared with other species, and it is not surprising as apparently there is a common origin not very long ago , 50,000 years is nothing."

So if we are self , so are other genetically related beings.  Trees, kittens, sharks, and cows....  But we think of a Tree as growing due to an impersonal process, why do we not easily understand the Human Being as growing and living subject to the same laws of nature as the Tree?
Does a Tree have a Self directing the growth of the branches, or does it respond and react impersonally to stimuli in the environment.  Humans resopnd and react to stimuli in the environment in the same way.  It is just harder to grasp due to the increased level of complexity involved and the limitations of the human mind.  And, of course, the clinging to the concept of a Self.

Psi

RE: If Not Self, then who?
Answer
3/17/15 10:05 AM as a reply to Psi.
Psi:
Around the 45 minute mark Chomsky states that there is no such a thing as material, or the physical,  and indeed it seems he is right,  Anicca.
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=D5in5EdjhD0
...

Psi

I read an interesting article last night related to this: "Consciousness myth" by GALEN STRAWSON:
http://www.the-tls.co.uk/tls/public/article1523413.ece

RE: If Not Self, then who?
Answer
3/17/15 11:01 AM as a reply to Psi.
Glad to hear it was worth your time. 

I wanted to explore the idea of self as process and it seemed to hold up OK. We can agree to disagree emoticon It was a good discussion thanks.

Best wishes.

 

RE: If Not Self, then who?
Answer
3/17/15 11:45 AM as a reply to Mark.
Mark:
Glad to hear it was worth your time. 

I wanted to explore the idea of self as process and it seemed to hold up OK. We can agree to disagree emoticon It was a good discussion thanks.

Best wishes.

 

Well, I could agree that there is a process, and from that process we invent a concept, and we call that a self.

But that also leads back to a deeper mystery of what happens to the self or ego, when the words and concepts are taken away?

And best wishes to you, time for further investigation.

Psi

RE: If Not Self, then who?
Answer
3/17/15 12:05 PM as a reply to Psi.
Following a link from another thread I just came across http://tedxtalks.ted.com/video/The-transparent-avatar-in-your by https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Thomas_Metzinger who presents the concept of self as process (in 2000)  It is worth watching for 16 minutes.