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Anatman Living

At the end of Chapter 4 ("Being No-Self and Being Nice") philosopher Owen Flanagan in The Bodhisattva's Brain suggests a philosophy of life for someone who doesn't believe in a "self" (atman):

The analytic philosopher and scientific naturalist who denies that we humans are or have atman has his own way to defend anatman, either in an Aristotelian or neo-Lockean way or possibly both at once, depending on how close or far away he understands the views. One could imagine, although there is no necessity, a Western philosopher from our no-self tradition(s) advising that seeing oneself as a selfless person gives one some reason to beware egoism and to live compassionately. It is rational for each of us to proceed to find the best niche for oneself, for a person with one's talents and interests. Find some worthy goals and projects that suit you, and get fired up and passionate about them. Sure, work those projects from the here and now. Don't get ahead of yourself. Delight in the small steps along the way. And don't let the setbacks surprise or defeat you. But always remember, never forget, never lose sight of the fact that once you figure out what sort of worthy projects suit you, nothing less than the meaning of your life turns on doing your best to make them work out. Well, that and being as lovingkind and compassionate and unselfish as possible. Your job is to make sure you choose projects that do not diminish the prospects that when you die the story is one of a wise person who led, as far as possible, an excellent life. If you dedicate yourself to living wisely and compassionately and mindfully, then even if you, for some reason, miss out on knowing when and how the final chapter ends, we will rightly say that you led a good human life and flourished. If there were gods, they'd bless you. But there aren't, so they won't. But we, your fellows who remain alive and on our own personal journeys, will be grateful for who you were and how you were. You flourished, Buddhist style, and you increased our chances for doing the same.

How sweet!

(cf. My Religion, ...) - ^z - 2013-07-13