Self in Buddhism
To those who meditate, self is what does their thinking, breathing or anything else they consider to be meditation. For them, there is meditation and a meditator that does the meditation. What performs their meditation, or anything else in their life, is construed as self.
The realized or enlightened, those who experience the true nature of reality, have meditation experiences as well, but in their case the events lack an experiencer. They have seen through the mistaken belief that someone is doing what occurs on its own. They realize they have taken an unnecessary and harmful step in believing that everything that they feel in experience proves the existence of a feeler. Having seen such an assumption is unfounded, they live in a world where what occurs is all there is, and where anything added to an occurrence is unneeded and unwanted.
Those with a self may be frightened by the idea of not having one. Without a self, they may believe they will cease to exist, or turn into a zombie, which couldn’t be further from the truth. Their self will be gone, that is true, but their life will continue as before, only much more pleasantly. Few things in human existence equal the bliss of discovering that the self we have expended so much energy on does not exist, and that the energy is now freed for greater awareness and compassion. Furthermore, the old problem of liking our self has been obviated by the knowledge we no longer have one we must like.
So, how can we experience the bliss resulting from the absence of self? We can see it immediately, if fortunate, or over a period of time through meditation. It is possible to take one piercing look and see that no one is inside us, that in fact, all our thoughts and emotions come from a vast nothingness, or we can discover that through meditation. If successful in either case, our sense of self will be displaced by a vivid and boundlessly free sense of nothing. When that occurs, we will have had the first of the insights leading to enlightenment.
Leave a Comment