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Self and No-Self

Guy Claxton's The Heart of Buddhism, Chapter 5, discusses self, or the illusion of self, or maybe no-self ("anatta"). Analyzing "self" as something like a computer program, Claxton argues that the self sees itself as a kind of "thing" — "It starts out by putting the 'entity' into 'identity.'" — with a place, boundaries, independence from other things, and persistence. But perhaps "self" is none of those? Claxton goes on:

... But as we shall see in more detail later, Buddhism agrees with modern science in regarding this construct as both optional and inaccurate. Aldous Huxley in Island gives two nice summaries. First:
Tunes or pebbles, processes or substantial things? 'Tunes' answers Buddhism and modern science. 'Pebbles' say the classical philosophers of the West. Buddhism and modern science think of the world in terms of music. The image that comes to mind when one reads the philosophers of the West is a figure in a Byzantine mosaic, rigid, symmetrical, made up of millions of little squares of some stony material and firmly cemented to the walls of a windowless basilica.

Well — maybe. Quoting somebody doesn't make it so. On the other hand, Mantra - Notice the Music. And consider 0-1: the naïve concept of "self" is the antithesis of all three of those atoms: not "0" in that it's something, not "-" in that it's unchanging, and not "1" in that it's separate from the rest of the universe. Or turning that on its head, the Buddhist conception of "no-self", as Claxton presents it, is precisely 0-1:


^z - 2015-03-11