What is the ‘self’? The 3 layers of your identity. | Sam Harris, Mark Epstein & more | Big Think - Deepstash

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The true self vs the flexi self

The true self vs the flexi self

In the West, we continuously feel we should be different from others. We feel that deep inside is our self, our identity to which we must be true. We also see ourselves as unique. In everything we do, we want to reflect that individual self. 

In Asia, people have a flexi-self or inter-dependent culture. It is a self that's oriented more to duty than to rights. They know they are different but don't attach much significance to being unique. 

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Choice is very important in the West

In the West, making choices can make us a little anxious because it defines who we are. However, when people from Asia make choices, it doesn't have this overlay. 

They feel we are less free than they are. They think we are kind of in a prison, because we must define ourselves in every moment. For example, if we take care of the elderly, we want to feel that it's an extension of our great love. Yet, somebody from a more flexi self will take care of the elderly parent because it's their duty, not an expression of themselves.

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We have made things hard for ourselves

Chinese philosophers would say it is extremely restraining to stick to what we think we naturally are meant to be.

Our responses can fall into ruts and patterns that repeat endlessly.  For example, when someone does something against you, it can make you angry because it brings back a childhood memory of being angry. What it really is, is a patterned response.

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What you think you are, is just a bunch of patterns you've fallen into

What you think you are, is just a bunch of patterns you've fallen into

Many of the patterns you've fallen into could be potentially destructive for you and those around you.  Instead, you should be trying to break those patterns and change the way you interact with the world.

You'll never get to the good life unless you work through these patterns and create different patterns.

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The egoless-ness or no self

The egoless-ness or no self

Most people misinterpret the idea in Buddhist psychology of egoless-ness or no-self. They say we don't need the ego or the self at all. 

We need our egos. But we take ourselves more seriously than we need to. The self is not as fixed as we would like to think. The ego is a way of organising oneself from a young age.  For many people, it stays in an immature place where our intellect defines who we are.  Because the ego likes repetition, we're always reinforcing its own vision of itself.  And that restricts us.

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Discussing consciousness scientifically

Discussing consciousness scientifically

Consciousness is very subjective. Consciousness is what it's like to be you. Its an experiential internal qualitative dimension to the physical system.

We can't reduce that experiential side to neurotransmitters and states of the brain. So, when you're trying to study human consciousness by looking at the states of the brain, you can only correlate experiential changes with changes in brain states but you can never dismiss the first person experiential side.

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The self is an illusion

Most people don't feel identical to their bodies. They feel they have bodies and that they're inside the body, inside their heads. But that locus of consciousness inside the head is an illusion, meaning it makes no neuro-anatomical sense.

The processes in the brain can be independently erupted . We are a changing system, a process.

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"It is health that is real wealth and not pieces of gold and silver." - Gandhi

The 3 layers of identity: The self in culture, the self in Eastern philosophy, the self in neuroscience.

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