No Permanent Self

One of the main teachings of the Buddha is now coming forward in the scientific community. This teaching is that there is no permanent self. Along with impermanence and nirvana, non-self is one of the three Dharma Seals. All forms of Buddhism have these Dharma Seals.

What Is The Self?When we look into impermanence, we see that everything changes. This is not all. Nothing remains the same for even two seconds. Because everything changes moment by moment nothing has a fixed identity. Nothing has a permanent self. It is simply because everything is transforming and has no permanent self that freedom is possible.

Zen Master Thich Nhat Hanh states,

Impermanence is looking at reality from the point of view of time. No self is looking at reality from the point of view of space. They are two sides of reality. No self is a manifestation of impermanence and impermanence is a manifestation of no self. If things are impermanent they are without a separate self. If things are without a separate self, it means that they are impermanent. Impermanence means being transformed at every moment. This is reality. And since there is nothing unchanging, how can there be a permanent self, a separate self? When we say “self” we mean something that is always itself, unchanging day after day. But nothing is like that. Our body is impermanent, our emotions are impermanent, and our perceptions are impermanent. Our anger, our sadness, our love, our hatred and our consciousness are also impermanent.

So what permanent thing is there which we can call a self? The piece of paper these words are written on does not have a separate self. It can only be present when the clouds, the forest, the sun, the earth, the people who make the paper, and the machines are present. If those things are not present the paper cannot be present. And if we burn the paper, where is the self of paper?

Nothing can exist by itself alone. It has to depend on every other thing. That is called interbeing. To be means to inter=be. The paper inter-is with the sunshine and with the forest. The flower cannot exist by itself alone; it has to inter-be with soil, rain, weeds and insects. There is no being; there is only interbeing. [Read More…]

I invite you to see also, The Buddhist Teaching of Non-Self.

Now watch this video to see what science is saying about no permanent self.

Now that we are at the dawn of scientific revolution in which many disciplines are defining what it means to be human, we are getting detailed descriptions of what goes on in the brain to create our sense of self.

Could it be this delusional image of ourselves as separate entities that is keeping us in this perpetual state of anxiety, scarcity, fear, dissatisfaction and leading us to this very delicate point in evolution? What do you think?

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