Does Anything Make Sense?

Hello, I really need some help with this argument that the self does not exist, it’s an illusion. It seems similar to bundle theory/no-self theory. It’s very obscure and quite troubling:

“Existence arises out of nothing. This nothingness, this ultimate void, is God. The word ‘god’ refers to this nothingness. Because it’s the source of everything… What we’re talking about here is not an idea of nothingness, which is something. But we’re talking about, literally, nothingness. And what you discover is that you are nothing, and God is nothing, and so, because of this — you are God.” (Emphasis mine)

“Who are you? Stop theorizing and look for yourself! Notice that anything you identify as yourself is just another perception, not the perceiver you believe you are. Notice that right now in your awareness your experience terminates into nowhere, not you! Nothing perceived can be called you because it’s always contingent and changing… Can you start to get a sense that actually ‘you’ cannot be found in direct experience? Might that point to the possibility that you are actually not a thing? Like… nothing.” (Emphasis mine)

This thought seems to resemble Eckhart Tolle’s teachings about enlightenment and being completely present to experience the truth: “He highlights the fact that his teachings are not the actual truth just pointers to what is since the truth is something that cannot be conceptualised by thoughts/mind… Actually reaching this state of ‘reality’ is reaching a state where you don’t identify with your mind because you know through experience that thought/mind is not who you are.”

“Your belief that you experience reality through perceptions is a fiction. Perception is reality. There is nothing else beyond. That is just your thoughts creating fictions.

Strictly speaking, there is no such thing as truth either. Truth is another story created by your mind.

The you that you think you are right now is a complete fiction. There is no YOU. There is a body and this body not distinct from the whole of reality. There is no you controlling your body. There is no you sensing your body. There is no you controlling your thoughts. The body acts like a dumb machine. Your thoughts are all mechanical reactions. Reality simply senses itself and exists. So you are literally it. You are existence itself. But right now you cannot possibly understand any of this because your believe too strongly that you are a separate entity. You can’t imagine anything else.”

“Various philosophers and cognitive scientists state that there is no ‘true self’ or a ‘little person’ (homunculus) in the brain that ‘watches the show’, and that consciousness is an emergent property that arise from the various modules of the brain in ways that are yet far from understood.”

There do appear to be a series of functions in the brain that operate as an “executive”. That’s not to say you aren’t right, but it still seems to be the fact that the vertebrate brain has such a feature that acts as a co-ordinator.

What do you think of the Buddhist monk Vasubandhu who believes the “Self is made up of constantly changing sensory organs, sense impressions, ideas and mental processes. Any imagined unity of self-hood is a false projection.”

“When we see, smell, and taste milk, we have distinct sensory impressions, which are combined in our awareness. The ‘milk,’ then, is a mental construct—a concept built out of discrete sensory impressions. The sensory impressions are real, but the milk is not. In the same way, the ‘self’ is made up of constantly-changing sensory organs, sensory impressions, ideas, and mental events. These separate, momentary elements are real, but their imagined unity—as an enduring ‘I’is a false projection.”

“the question of how experience can exist without an experiencer. The answer is that any given awareness only appears to be made up of two parts, subject and object, a ‘cognizer’ acting upon a cognitive object. In reality, any given moment of awareness consists in a full, constructed appearance of subject/object duality without there actually being any separate subject. The object is an aspect or shape of the consciousness itself.”

“Similarly, when asked with regard to memory ‘who’ remembers if not the self, Vasubandhu rejects the subject/object structure. What is really occurring is only a series of discrete elements in the continuum of aggregates, which arise successively, causally linked to one another. The reason I remember my past is because my aggregates now are the causal result of the past aggregates whose actions I remember. My consciousness today arises with the shape of my past aggregates imprinted upon it.”

I’ll dumb it down.

The problem with “there is no self” is what do they mean by “self”? That is the critical question.

By “self” they just mean a mind-identified self, where I essentially say “I am my thoughts” and thus when I get angry I say “I am angry” since I view thoughts the same as I view my arms or legs = thoughts are an essential part of me. In reality, thoughts come and go and thus we should not identify with them and should just view them more like our clothes = they’re here now but will be gone tomorrow. Eckahrt Tolle calls it being the “silent watcher” where we should just observe our thoughts and not judge them, then they should pass by. But if we identify with them, then we get into trouble and THAT state (the mind identified self) is what is not real. People over read this into thinking it means they as a person don’t exist. Not true. Just them as a mind-identified person is not real, since we are not our thoughts. Its just stating a simple fact that my thoughts don’t define me.

So the only “self” they’re saying that doesn’t exist is the mind-identified self, which identifies with thought. I wouldn’t suggest any Catholic read this stuff ( I used to, but don’t anymore) but its not entirely inconsistent with Catholic teaching that says we shouldn’t act out every thought we have = if I have a lustful thought, obviously I shouldn’t act on it and thus its best to observe the thought than saying “I am my lust! I am what I think, thus I need to be lustful right now!”


As Catholics we seem comfortable with mystery. God as Trinity is a good example. Self is also a mystery. We usually relate to the small, self, the false self, the self that must die,mthebillusion self. True self is our self in Christ, still very much a mystery.

Notice he defines “false projection” with changing impressions/organs/etc. So apparently he has defined “true” as unchanging impressions/organs? But how does he know the milk is not changing? He’s already said he doesn’t think the milk is real, so he has no reference frame to know our changing impressions aren’t accurate. Maybe the milk is rotting and thus our changing impressions make us to have a true projection? And since he’s conceded that impressions/sensory perceptions are unreliable, he can’t know what the milk is doing. The whole line of thinking is incoherent babble.

Lawrence Kraus in “A Universe from Nothing” tried to prove that the Universe could arise from nothing and he was torn apart in debates with Thomists who showed that his definition of “nothing” is not nothing but includes quantum fields which when they are in state A, there is no physical particles, but when they are in state B, particles are formed. But that is not “nothing” since quantum fields with discrete states A, B, C, etc exist. So scientifically that’s false. “Literally nothingness” cannot give rise to anything. The reason is that there is always something there, even if it is discrete quantum energy fields.

The original descriptions sounds pessimistic, but it could also be uplifting to acknowledge that, yes, what we truly are does arise from nothingness, or no-thing-ness, so our reality is not limited by the physical universe. We were made for more than we can comprehend. As John says, “God is Love” and Love is not a thing, or no-thing. And yet it’s the origin, ground and sustenance of existence itself.

Notice that this perfectly describes a wild animal. So this is saying humans are animals.

Its essentially a free license to sin. You are not responsible for your sins. A get out of hell free card!!!

Its popular today because we’re living in a very self-absorbed narcissitic and navel gazing culture that is looking for any way out of moral responsibility.

But notice the core error with all of this - they keep saying “perception is reality” and nothing is objective, etc etc yet they’re making objective conclusions like “there is no such thing as truth”…talk about a self contradiction…they say “there is no such thing as truth”…presented as truth!!! And so on for all these objective statements.

The objector (Leo Gura) claims this idea of nondualism cannot be “proven” by logic, science, or arguments. This seems to make sense if he talked about God (being separate from us), but this is the (non) argument that awareness is existence and nothing truly exists outside our experience. We are truly “nothing” which is also God, the cause of existence.

He asks you observe for yourself that nothing you perceive can be called “you” (self/ego) because it’s always contingent and changing (what you call mind-identified self). He adds the soul is nothingness which is also God (and also you lol).

Ultimately logic doesn’t apply to nondualism and it’s simply a truth that one must realize in order to be “enlightened”. It doesn’t matter if you apply science or rationality, it’s supposedly beyond our understanding :man_shrugging:t2:. One “cannot possibly understand any of this because you believe too strongly that you are a separate entity.”

In the depth of mystics experience emptiness = fullness, nothingness = everythingness. When one can reconcile the paradox, one is on the path.

Again , this is self-refuting. If “nothing exists outside our own experience “ then objective statements can’t be true, including “nothing exists outside our own experience “

No, it’s making objective truth claims (“a truth one must realize…”) so is subject to rationality and logic

Notice it wants the benefits of objective truth claim without the burden of proof of objective truth claim.

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The person making the argument effectively denies that he exists and is making an argument, so not sure why I’d listen to him.


If one must read such opinion at all (I ask, why?), then consider doing so with a sense of whimsy, or as fantasy entertainment.


What do you make of Vasubandhu’s arguments against a creator God, that “theism is essentially the absurd notion that all of creation might be the result of a single cause”?

“If you’re looking for my [just] cause for believing this, then clearly you don’t believe God is the cause of everything! If I believe it, it must be ’cause God made me believe it!.. ‘Causes’ are real, substantial entities, whereas ‘reasons’ are conceptual constructs devoid of causal capacity.”

“His non-Buddhist opponents would also like to distinguish reasons from causes, so instead of attempting to unify their causal basis himself, Vasubandhu suggests that commitment to the unitary nature of divine causality commits them to conflating them.“

He supports the “notion that the diversity of the world—especially its changes through time—are inconsistent with the notion of a single creator. An important, implicit premise in this argument is the notion that things do not change their defining, characteristic natures. Everything is what it is: ‘As for something that becomes different: that very thing being different is not accepted, for it is not acceptable that it differs from itself.’ (AKBh 193.9–10) Thus, if God is the cause of everything, God is always the cause of everything—or, if God’s nature at time t is to be the cause of everything, then God must cause everything at time t .”

Theist response: “God is posited as the creator of each specific thing at its specific time due to God’s having unique, temporally-indexed desires.”

“Vasubandhu responds then things are not caused by a unitary God, but rather each thing is caused by one of God’s countless, distinct desires… the theist is then responsible to account for the causes of those specific desires… specific temporally-indexed desires imply that something is interfering with God’s creative action—namely, the particular temporal location. If God is capable of—not only capable of, but having it as His inherent nature to be—creating something, what could possibly prevent that thing’s occurrence at every moment in which God is expressing God’s own nature (which should be every moment forever)?“

“One unwise option the theist proposes is that God’s creation changes through time because God is using other elements—material causes, for instance—to bring things into being, and those elements follow their own causal laws. That, of course, makes God’s actions subject to other causes, and amounts to the Buddhist view that all things are the results of multiple causes and conditions… when it is proposed that God engages in creation for his own pleasure, Vasubandhu replies that this means that God is not sovereign because He requires a means to bring about a cause, namely his own pleasure… Vasubandhu mocks the idea that a praiseworthy God should be satisfied with the evident suffering of sentient beings.”


“If you think that God is the only cause, then you must deny that seeds cause sprouts… but is God really deserving of the name ‘cause,’ if He has intermediary causes do His work of creation? For… ordinarily we do not require that something be an uncaused cause in order to call it a ‘cause.’ We call a seed a cause of a sprout, even if it is itself caused by a previous plant. So to say that God is the ‘cause’ of the sprout whereas the seed is not amounts to denying a visible cause and replacing it with an invisible one.”

“the theist might say that to call God the ‘cause’ is to say that God is the original cause of creation. But if this is what God is doing to gain the name ‘cause,’ and God is beginningless (uncaused), then creation too must be beginningless—which means that… God has nothing to do.”

As is apparent from this and the rest he has a very warped view of what we mean by cause.

All causes are reasons. Not all reasons are causes. A cause is a reason that is extrinsic to the thing.

Yes, God is the cause of everything at any given moment. That’s what classical theists claim.

Unique, temporally indexed desires?

God isn’t temporal, created reality is. This writer seems to think God is temporal and has sequential moments, as if we’re claiming he’s an unchanging but temporally existing stone.

All secondary cause have God as their first cause. God isn’t subject to these, he’s what keeps them in act and behaving according to their innate nature’s.

What’s with the either/or? The seed is the cause of the sprout, but itself only exists or has any causal power in a derivative way.

God is the first cause of creation at all times. Again, it seems to think of God existing for an infinite duration of time, but time itself is a creation. Created reality and time has existed for a finite period, and there has been no duration of time in which it hasn’t existed.

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