Eastern philosophy says there is no “self.” Science agrees - Deepstash

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I think, therefore I am.

I think, therefore I am.

Stern thought. In the worldview of the West, we herald the greatest thinkers as world-changers. There is no more concise example of this than philosopher René Descartes’ famous statement, “Cogito, ergo sum,” or, “I think, therefore I am.” But who is this? Let’s take a closer look at the thinker, or the “me,” we all take for granted.

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WEI WU WEI.

Why are you unhappy? Because 99.9 percent of everything you think, and of everything you do, is for yourself — and there isn’t one.

WEI WU WEI.

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Western view: The self is a pilot

Western view: The self is a pilot

The “I”( first thing that pops into our minds when we think about who we are.) represents the idea of our individual self, the one that sits between the ears and behind the eyes and is “piloting” the body.

The “pilot” is in charge, it doesn’t change very much, and it feels to us like the thing that brings our thoughts and feelings to life.

It observes, makes decisions, and carries out actions — just like the pilot of an airplane.

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Eastern view: The self is an illusion

Eastern view: The self is an illusion

Buddhism, Taoism, the Advaita Vedanta school of Hinduism, and other schools of Eastern thought have quite a different take on the self, the ego, or “me.”

They say that this idea of “me” is a fiction, although a very convincing one.

Buddhism has a word for this concept — anatta, which is often translated as “no self” — which is one of the most fundamental tenets of Buddhism, if not the most important.

From neuropsychologists POV, science is just now catching up with what Buddhist, Taoist, and Advaita Vedanta Hinduism have been teaching for over 2,500 years.

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There is no “self center” in the brain

There is no “self center” in the brain

While various neuroscientists have made the claim that the self resides in this or that neural location, there is no real agreement among the scientific community about where to find it — not even whether it might be in the left or the right side of the brain.

Perhaps the reason we can’t find the self in the brain is because it isn’t there.

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A sense of self.

A sense of self.

our illusionary self — the voice in your head — is very convincing.

It narrates the world, determines your beliefs, replays your memories, identifies with your physical body, manufactures your projections of what might happen in the future, and creates your judgments about the past.

It is this sense of self that we feel from the moment we open our eyes in the morning to the moment we close them at night. 

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LAO TZU.

Do you have the patience to wait

Till your mud settles and the water is clear?

Can you remain unmoving

Till the right action arises by itself?

LAO TZU.

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The big difference between Eastern spiritual traditions & psychology is that the former has recognized this experientially & the latter did so experimentally (and accidentally, for that matter). 

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Do our brain communicate within?

Do our brain communicate within?

While each side of the brain is specialized to do certain types of tasks, both sides are usually in continuous communication.

When this connection was disrupted, however, it became possible to study the job of each side of the brain in isolation. 

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LAO TZU.

As soon as you have made a thought, laugh at it.

LAO TZU.

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Is our Brain Cross-Wired?

Is our Brain Cross-Wired?

 It is also important to know that the body is cross-wired — that is, all the input and output from the right half of the body crosses over and is processed by the left brain, and vice versa.

This crossover is also true for vision, so that the left half of what we see goes to the right side of the brain, and vice versa. 

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An untrustworthy interpreter.

An untrustworthy interpreter.

The left brain acts as an “interpreter” for reality. 

The truth is that your left brain has been interpreting reality for you your whole life, and if you are like most people, you have never understood the full implications of this.

This is because we mistake the story of who we think we are for who we truly are. 

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The uncontrollable inner voice.

The uncontrollable inner voice.

The next time there is an intrusive thought, consider the very fact that your being unable to stop it proves that there is no inner self that controls it.

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Science supports the Eastern view.

Science supports the Eastern view.

 The individual self is more akin to a fictional character than a real thing. 

The unfortunate truth is that each of us will experience plenty of mental pain, misery, and frustration in our lifetimes.

Mistaking the voice in our head for a thing and labeling it “me” brings us into conflict with the neuropsychological evidence that shows there is no such thing.

This mistake — this illusory sense of self — is the primary cause of our mental suffering. 

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CURATED BY

helluo1ibrorum

परिवर्तनमेव स्थिरमस्ति ~ My Focused Discourse on Self-help | Psychology | Emotion & Intelligence | Engineering & Innovation | Effects & Laws | the Cosmos.

CURATOR'S NOTE

Stern thought. In the worldview of the West, we herald the greatest thinkers as world-changers. There is no more concise example of this than philosopher René Descartes’ famous statement, “Cogito, ergo sum,” or, “I think, therefore I am.” But who is this? Let’s take a closer look at the thinker, or the “me,” we all take for granted.

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