By M. Albahari
We spend our lives maintaining an elusive self - yet does the self truly exist? Drawing on literature from Western philosophy, neuroscience and Buddhism (interpreted), the writer argues that there's no self. The self - as unified proprietor and philosopher of concepts - is an phantasm created by way of levels. A tier of obviously unified cognizance (notably absent in common bundle-theory debts) merges with a tier of desire-driven techniques and feelings to yield the impact of a self. So whereas the self, if genuine, may imagine up the recommendations, the ideas, in truth, imagine up the self.
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Extra info for Analytical Buddhism: The Two-tiered Illusion of Self
For now, we have enough background against which to venture forth and interpret the Buddhist position on consciousness and no-self. To this task we now turn. 2 Nibb¯ ana Introduction The Third Noble Truth alludes to the ultimate goal of Buddhist practice, nibb¯ana. In a general introduction to the Sam . yutt¯a Nik¯aya (a selection of discourses in the Sutta Pitaka belonging to the Pali Canon), Bhikkhu Bodhi writes: What exactly is to be made of the various explanations of Nibb¯ana given in the Nik¯ayas has been a subject of debate since the early days of Buddhism, with the ground divided between those who regard it as the mere extinction of defilements and cessation of existence and those who understand it as a transcendental (lokuttar¯a) ontological reality.
The Fourth Noble Truth states that there is a path to the cessation of dukkha¯ (and hence to nibba¯na): the Noble Eightfold Path, which is broadly divided into the threefold practice of ‘insight-wisdom’ (pañña¯), ‘meditation’ (sama¯dhi) and ‘virtue’ (sila¯). Being a practice-oriented tradition, Buddhism does not make lofty reference to a mode of flawlessly happy consciousness without prescribing a system of training that will purportedly effect this transformation. ha¯ and more motivated by such qualities as generosity, compassion and equanimity – actions that are ‘kammically wholesome’, in other words.
Ha¯ in any states of affairs; such a mode of conscious existence would, by normal psychological standards, be quite extraordinary. Now an Arahant, lacking tan. ha¯, will generate no more kamma and hence, no conditions for future rebirth into the cycle of sam . sa¯ra¯. So when the Arahant dies – an event referred to as parinibba¯na¯ – there will be no continued and conditioned flux of khandha¯s into another psycho-physical existence. No more perspective will be generated for the witnessing (should there be witnessing):19 there will be no more subject in relation to objects.
Analytical Buddhism: The Two-tiered Illusion of Self by M. Albahari