concept of "no-self"


#1

While I find the thread on Buddhism interesting, I have spent
25 years reading up on the subject, and, as a Catholic,
all I can say is:
whether you consider it religion or philosophy, the concept
of “no-self” cannot be in any way reconciled with the
Catholic teaching on the “self”.
The tricky part surrounds the idea of “extinction” As I
understand it, meditation is a process of “noting” our
reaction to various stimulae. Then, the idea is to
"realize" [realization…sartori?] that there is no “self” at
all, merely a sequence of stimuli, reaction…a process of
recognizing that we are “attached” to some stimuli and
adverse to others…that this attachment or aversion leads
inevitably to suffering, and that the “extinction” of
suffering comes when attachment is recognized for
what it is, and, somehow we rise above it by recognizing
that there is no “self”…only sequence. "All conditioned
things rise, endure and pass away."
Therefore, no Deity, no soul, no everlasting life…just…
extinction of desire and, ultimatley, Nirvana.
As to the precepts, it is my contention, and has been for
decades, that without Deity, a human being cannot
generate an “ought” with any seriousness.
Believe me, I wanted Buddhism to “work.” It seemed so much
simpler a way to live. Unfortunately I found that it did
not make sense of suffering, loss, failure. If these were
circumstances that had to be seen
as phenomena, or worse yet, bad “karma”,
then I opt for a suffering Savior who Himself suffered and turns
my offered-up suffering into gold…Who offers me
the “weight of glory” not extinction.
I learned many valuable things in those 25 years of reading
and meditating. Many anecdotes that taught points worth
learning. But, always, in my heart I could sense
Someone saying: "*I *am the Way and the Truth and the
Life."
reen12


#2

While I find the thread on Buddhism interesting, I have spent
25 years reading up on the subject, and, as a Catholic,
all I can say is:
whether you consider it religion or philosophy, the concept
of “no-self” cannot be in any way reconciled with the
Catholic teaching on the “self”.

You have spent a long time studying Buddhism. And from what I gather you spent this time meditating also. So, you probably know considerably more than I. However, I want to offer a small bit of insight on this concept of “no-self”.

I’m going to draw an analogy here, so bare with me.

Drill Sargent John Doe has spent the past 6 weeks training his new recruits on all the aspects of being a soldier. The recruit learns survival techniques, how to shoot a gun well, etc. At the end of the 6 weeks training, the new soldiers will be going off to war in a far away country. They are apprehensive, but know that their drill sargent taught them well and they will come home safely.

Now, Buddha taught his disciples the concepts of impermanence, suffering and egolessness (or no-self). He taught them the four noble truths and eightfhold path. Why did he do so? He did it to get them through their training and live their lives intelligently so that in the end they would enter peace. He used these concepts to help them reach beyond their every day existence of clinging to things that would eventually go away.

I submit to you that Buddha used the concept of no-self to point people to nirvana - not for people to get immersed in the concept of no-self and go no further. He did the same with meditation and techniques. They are all tools to get one to the other side of the river. He said most people run up and down this shore and do not cross over the river. Only a few use the raft and make it over.

He trained people and taught people so that they could get to the other shore. He didn’t come to share objective truths and create dogma. His objective went beyond dogma. His objective was simply to end suffering.

Hope this helps.

Peace…


#3

When shall we begin to grow, in who we are? When do we “grow up?” Is it after we no longer feel anything at all?

Maybe some people don’t like feeling any pain; but I say that, if you don’t learn how to deal with it, and handle pain NOW, then you never will. Seriously. (Look down that life-long long road of yours, and keep on lookin’ all the way, “past the point” of infinity, to see that never ending road of yours: where shall you begin your experiences? If you haven’t already begun, look down that road and recognize to yourself, that there can only be a beginning for you when there is a moment of NOW! For, now is all we have, and it’s all we’re ever going to have, no matter how far down that road you go! If this now of yours doesn’t make you happy, then maybe you’re in need of a special friend–a special Love Who burns deep within your own, individual, heart)

“Peace”…? okay.
try love. And be here now! (Be here now in love)


#4

“No-self” is not something you have to believe in or else.

“No-self” is something you discover after a long journey of heart-breaking compassion and long-suffering wisdom.


#5

I love you

ahimsaman72 http://forums.catholic.com/images/statusicon_cad/user_offline.gif vbmenu_register(“postmenu_447483”, true);
Senior Member


#6

[quote=Ahimsa]“No-self” is not something you have to believe in or else.

“No-self” is something you discover after a long journey of heart-breaking compassion and long-suffering wisdom.
[/quote]

What’s that?

“No-self” is something… *who *discovers?


#7

[quote=love-bias]What’s that?

“No-self” is something… *who *discovers?
[/quote]

***Exactly!

***Keep on journeying.

You’ll find out “who” discovers. (Hint: it’s not an owl.)


#8

lol.


#9

You’ll find out who discovers…”

“____ find out ____ discovers.”

I’m sorry but you have me confused for that which is not. But as it is, I am a human being. Otherwise I could not discover anything at all.

You still didn’t answer my question, and it’s because you are unable to. That’s because you can’t see me: in your midst I become a ghost, because all you see is a bunch of chaotic spasms. You are blind to my existence. You would ever deny my existence.

Sadly, I do not know why. Hitler made the same mistake. As did the Communists. And others like them.

But though you may never perceive my invisible existence, let me assure the others reading this: I am really here. And I am in love.


#10

[quote=love-bias]“You’ll find out who discovers…”

“____ find out ____ discovers.”

okay, gotcha.

So, I think I’m learning here:

___ shall discover all these things about existence, just as long as ___ keep walking down ___ own path. As long as ___ do, continue walking down ___ own individual path of discovery, then ___ will find much. After all, no other person can discover these things for ___ because nobody else can be ___. Only ___ can be ___.

…soon I shall discover that ___ am not even really here! Indeed, ___ shall fade from existence altogether upon learning more.
[/quote]

You’re trying to believe in “no-self”, which will only lead to confusion. Best to believe in love, and let the love do the rest.


#11

whoops, sorry 'bout that: I edited my message.

apologies to ya freind.
–but you’re right about love. However, I don’t see how we can love if we don’t exist. Otherwise who loves whom?

Regarding others and not even myself: the ones I love, I most certainly believe in their individual existence. I would die to think that they don’t really exist. :frowning: sob, sob

:heart:


#12

Dear Ahimsaman,

Thank you for your courteous reply to my post. My
difficulty is in the use of the word ‘dogma’.
A dogma is an authoritatively taught belief that
is held to be absolutely true.
no-self was taught by Siddhartha Gautama [the
"authority"] as absolutely true. Hence, a "dogma.“
I’m simply saying that I do not “believe” that dogma.
Conversely, I invite you to consider that in
"crossing the river” there may be a Deity waiting
on the other side…smiling at us?
I keep thinking of Christ saying: "I come that they
may have life and have it more abundantly."
If there were two doors, one that said “no-self”/
extinction of desire and another that read
abundant life, I believe human nature [ontologically]
would urge an individual toward that second door.
Finally, I do want you to understand that I do
understand what you are saying, and am grateful to you
for taking the time to offer your insights. All I am
saying, in return, is that I don’t accept the dogma
of “no-self” and no matter how long I “sit” I want no
part of it.
Every best wish,
reen12


#13

[quote=reen12]Dear Ahimsaman,

Thank you for your courteous reply to my post. My
difficulty is in the use of the word ‘dogma’.
A dogma is an authoritatively taught belief that
is held to be absolutely true.
no-self was taught by Siddhartha Gautama [the
"authority"] as absolutely true. Hence, a "dogma.“
I’m simply saying that I do not “believe” that dogma.
Conversely, I invite you to consider that in
"crossing the river” there may be a Deity waiting
on the other side…smiling at us?
I keep thinking of Christ saying: "I come that they
may have life and have it more abundantly."
If there were two doors, one that said “no-self”/
extinction of desire and another that read
abundant life, I believe human nature [ontologically]
would urge an individual toward that second door.
Finally, I do want you to understand that I do
understand what you are saying, and am grateful to you
for taking the time to offer your insights. All I am
saying, in return, is that I don’t accept the dogma
of “no-self” and no matter how long I “sit” I want no
part of it.
Every best wish,
reen12
[/quote]

Your welcome. I enjoyed your post and noticed the sincerity in your comments. Let’s throw the word “dogma” out the window. If it’s not helpful to the discussion, we can use something else.

To live with Buddhism, you don’t have to deny the existence of God. Of course, this would be a modern twist, but workable. I am going to post a link to a place where a Zen monk has a conversation with a lady about God. I can’t access the website right now for some reason. I don’t deny at all the existence of God and the fact that Jesus Christ was the Son of God and rose from the dead.

The Buddha taught many things. Many things I can’t understand. But, he also taught not to take anything for truth just because someone had authority to do so, nor because it was a tradition, nor based absolutely on reason. He taught direct experience as the path of knowing.

Buddhism is not a one way faith that I can see. It is not a “believe or die” faith. It is a faith based simply on the end of suffering as we know it. He didn’t expect blind obedience to his teachings. It would help to know the background that he grew up in and the religious ideas of the day.

Ahimsa can share better about Hinduism and its impact, but you can see that Siddhartha was trying to get away from some of the things he saw in Hinduism. He deplored the caste system. He saw that neither indulgence nor asceticism was helpful. He took a very practical and direct approach to life. That’s all he was teaching those who followed.

I posit that Jesus Christ did the same thing. Jesus came and rebelled against the religious authorities of His day. He denounced the self-centered thinking of those in authority. He challenged everyone’s belief in God and how God was to be worshipped and loved.

They were both rebels. :slight_smile:

“no self” is part of existence. You neither have to believe it nor disbelieve it. According to Buddha, “no-self”, impermanence and suffering are “facts of life”. Kinda like the law of gravity. It exists. You simply recognize that fact that it exists. You directly experience it. Clinging to a “self” is the thing Buddha wanted to help people with. It is with clinging to the idea of a permanent self or craving to existence or non-existence that causes suffering.

Peace…


#14

[quote=ahimsaman72]Your welcome. I enjoyed your post and noticed the sincerity in your comments. Let’s throw the word “dogma” out the window. If it’s not helpful to the discussion, we can use something else.

To live with Buddhism, you don’t have to deny the existence of God. Of course, this would be a modern twist, but workable. I am going to post a link to a place where a Zen monk has a conversation with a lady about God. I can’t access the website right now for some reason. I don’t deny at all the existence of God and the fact that Jesus Christ was the Son of God and rose from the dead.

The Buddha taught many things. Many things I can’t understand. But, he also taught not to take anything for truth just because someone had authority to do so, nor because it was a tradition, nor based absolutely on reason. He taught direct experience as the path of knowing.

Buddhism is not a one way faith that I can see. It is not a “believe or die” faith. It is a faith based simply on the end of suffering as we know it. He didn’t expect blind obedience to his teachings. It would help to know the background that he grew up in and the religious ideas of the day.

Ahimsa can share better about Hinduism and its impact, but you can see that Siddhartha was trying to get away from some of the things he saw in Hinduism. He deplored the caste system. He saw that neither indulgence nor asceticism was helpful. He took a very practical and direct approach to life. That’s all he was teaching those who followed.

I posit that Jesus Christ did the same thing. Jesus came and rebelled against the religious authorities of His day. He denounced the self-centered thinking of those in authority. He challenged everyone’s belief in God and how God was to be worshipped and loved.

They were both rebels. :slight_smile:

“no self” is part of existence. You neither have to believe it nor disbelieve it. According to Buddha, “no-self”, impermanence and suffering are “facts of life”. Kinda like the law of gravity. It exists. You simply recognize that fact that it exists. You directly experience it. Clinging to a “self” is the thing Buddha wanted to help people with. It is with clinging to the idea of a permanent self or craving to existence or non-existence that causes suffering.

Peace…
[/quote]

Here’s the website link I spoke of. Please read it. It’s very insightful.

hsuyun.org/Dharma/zbohy/Literature/essays/czs/zenandgod.html

Peace…


#15

Peace reen12

There is no self, or there is no me is quite profound and I believe it sums up the life of Christ the servant through love.

Whenever I serve the needs of another person in the way that benefits them, I put their needs before mine and so there is no self.

When my own needs are more important than serving the needs of others then there is self.

When you look at the life of Christ he always served the needs of others first, even giving his life, and for Christ could that mean there is no self.

peace

Eric


#16

[quote=Eric Hyom]Peace reen12

There is no self, or there is no me is quite profound and I believe it sums up the life of Christ the servant through love.

Whenever I serve the needs of another person in the way that benefits them, I put their needs before mine and so there is no self.

When my own needs are more important than serving the needs of others then there is self.

When you look at the life of Christ he always served the needs of others first, even giving his life, and for Christ could that mean there is no self.

peace

Eric
[/quote]

:thumbsup: I love how you worded this - it’s honest and deep. So true.

Peace…


#17

Dear Ahimsaman72,

Thank you for the website you referred to. I read it and
will re-read it before responding.
It is difficult for me to engage in dialog with others,
because I take certain things to be true:
Jesus was God. The Logos…i.e., the “informing
principle” of Creation. So, to me, referring to Jesus
as a “rebel” is like equating God with a highly skilled
brick layer. Reducing Him to human nature
alone, bracketting off His Godhead. [reductionism.]
And surely, it is the very experiencing of my own
needs, which I set aside to help another, that
constitutes virtue. That is, my “self” has needs;
if I don’t feel a sense of suffering in setting aside
my need to aid another, why is such activity
heroic in some cases?
And how is it that Jesus, from the cross, cried out:
"My God, My God, why have You abandoned Me?"
These are the words of a Self.
Jesus doesn’t promise to relieve suffering, only to
help us bear up under it. "Come to Me, you who
are heavily burdened, and I will give you rest."
Not release, mind you…just rest.
There is a confusion in terms, here, I think.
In classic spiritual writings, terms like “self-
abnegation”, abandonment to Divine Providence,
self-forgetfulness are employed.
They in no way are remotely connected to the
no-self concept.

The odd thing is, my belief is that we don’t even
belong to our"selves". I believe we are creatures
created by God. I see the no-self concept as
full of self…as if I were a work of art that I can
perfect by my own efforts, instead of a creature
created and sustained in existence by Another,
who only wills the best for each of our selves.
I hope I’ve said all of this clearly, and, please,
take no offense, for no offence is intended.
Thank you for a most interesting exchange of
thoughts,
reen12


#18

[quote=reen12]Dear Ahimsaman72,

Thank you for the website you referred to. I read it and
will re-read it before responding.
It is difficult for me to engage in dialog with others,
because I take certain things to be true:
Jesus was God. The Logos…i.e., the “informing
principle” of Creation. So, to me, referring to Jesus
as a “rebel” is like equating God with a highly skilled
brick layer. Reducing Him to human nature
alone, bracketting off His Godhead. [reductionism.]
And surely, it is the very experiencing of my own
needs, which I set aside to help another, that
constitutes virtue. That is, my “self” has needs;
if I don’t feel a sense of suffering in setting aside
my need to aid another, why is such activity
heroic in some cases?
And how is it that Jesus, from the cross, cried out:
"My God, My God, why have You abandoned Me?"
These are the words of a Self.
Jesus doesn’t promise to relieve suffering, only to
help us bear up under it. "Come to Me, you who
are heavily burdened, and I will give you rest."
Not release, mind you…just rest.
There is a confusion in terms, here, I think.
In classic spiritual writings, terms like “self-
abnegation”, abandonment to Divine Providence,
self-forgetfulness are employed.
They in no way are remotely connected to the
no-self concept.

The odd thing is, my belief is that we don’t even
belong to our"selves". I believe we are creatures
created by God. I see the no-self concept as
full of self…as if I were a work of art that I can
perfect by my own efforts, instead of a creature
created and sustained in existence by Another,
who only wills the best for each of our selves.
I hope I’ve said all of this clearly, and, please,
take no offense, for no offence is intended.
Thank you for a most interesting exchange of
thoughts,
reen12
[/quote]

No offence taken at all, friend.

I meant no disrespect to the Lord Jesus by referring to him as a rebel. He was in fact human (which you would agree with). He was Son of man and Son of God. So, He bathed, washed His hair, combed it, etc. He did all the “human” things we do every day - except without sin.

The truth is - in his day, He was considered a blasphemous heretic by the religious establishment. His statements of forgiving sins and “I and the Father are one” and “If you have seen Me, you have seen the Father” were hard statements for the authorities to accept. In fact, they didn’t accept them.

Remember, the scene of the money-changers


#19

[quote=reen12]Dear Ahimsaman72,

Thank you for the website you referred to. I read it and
will re-read it before responding.
It is difficult for me to engage in dialog with others,
because I take certain things to be true:
Jesus was God. The Logos…i.e., the “informing
principle” of Creation. So, to me, referring to Jesus
as a “rebel” is like equating God with a highly skilled
brick layer. Reducing Him to human nature
alone, bracketting off His Godhead. [reductionism.]
And surely, it is the very experiencing of my own
needs, which I set aside to help another, that
constitutes virtue. That is, my “self” has needs;
if I don’t feel a sense of suffering in setting aside
my need to aid another, why is such activity
heroic in some cases?
And how is it that Jesus, from the cross, cried out:
"My God, My God, why have You abandoned Me?"
These are the words of a Self.
Jesus doesn’t promise to relieve suffering, only to
help us bear up under it. "Come to Me, you who
are heavily burdened, and I will give you rest."
Not release, mind you…just rest.
There is a confusion in terms, here, I think.
In classic spiritual writings, terms like “self-
abnegation”, abandonment to Divine Providence,
self-forgetfulness are employed.
They in no way are remotely connected to the
no-self concept.

The odd thing is, my belief is that we don’t even
belong to our"selves". I believe we are creatures
created by God. I see the no-self concept as
full of self…as if I were a work of art that I can
perfect by my own efforts, instead of a creature
created and sustained in existence by Another,
who only wills the best for each of our selves.
I hope I’ve said all of this clearly, and, please,
take no offense, for no offence is intended.
Thank you for a most interesting exchange of
thoughts,
reen12
[/quote]

No offence taken at all, friend.

I meant no disrespect to the Lord Jesus by referring to him as a rebel. He was in fact human (which you would agree with). He was Son of man and Son of God. So, He bathed, washed His hair, combed it, etc. He did all the “human” things we do every day - except without sin.

The truth is - in his day, He was considered a blasphemous heretic by the religious establishment. His statements of forgiving sins and “I and the Father are one” and “If you have seen Me, you have seen the Father” were hard statements for the authorities to accept. In fact, they didn’t accept them.

Remember, the scene of the money-changers in the temple? Jesus was not a “happy camper”. He showed people the love of the Father. He showed them what holiness is all about. He showed them the mercy of the Father. The establishment just didn’t want to see this. They were happy with their own ideas about holiness.

The Catholic faith acknowledges the human nature of Christ. It is a hypo-static union. He lived as a human, suffered in the Garden of Gethsemane and eventually suffered on the cross. He did so in His human body.

Your body has needs. Your self has needs - yes. You have to eat, sleep, wash, etc. You can’t walk around denying you are a “self” and that you don’t exist. The teaching of no-self is meant to get you to focus off of yourself. It teaches no permanent separate identity that exists outside of everything else in your consciousness.

I always capitalize references to Christ because He is indeed worthy. I have enjoyed your thoughts and hope you keep them coming down the pike!

Peace…


#20

this thread is one of the most beautiful threads I’ve seen in a while.


(but then, it’s one of the only threads I’ve looked at, in like a month)


Anyway, you have all done, and perhaps are doing, a most excellent job in exchanging your thoughts with each else.


Rock on my friends!!!
:bounce:


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