Problems with no-self

An open and inclusive investigation into Buddhism and spiritual cultivation

Re: Problems with no-self

Postby reflection » Thu May 16, 2013 3:13 am

Alex, you've now seen that one can argue a self and one can argue no self. And the arguments may seem convincing either way. But some doubt remains. That doubt will remain until one steps beyond arguing and instead experiences things directly. That is not by a thought, argument or idea, but by looking deeply inside ourselves. Then you don't need arguments anymore.

If for the time you have issues with the idea of no-self that's because you see it at the level of intellect. I don't think it's really a problem as long as you can put aside the intellectual understanding when you meditate.
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Re: Problems with no-self

Postby binocular » Thu May 16, 2013 6:50 am

reflection wrote:Alex, you've now seen that one can argue a self and one can argue no self. And the arguments may seem convincing either way. But some doubt remains. That doubt will remain until one steps beyond arguing and instead experiences things directly. That is not by a thought, argument or idea, but by looking deeply inside ourselves. Then you don't need arguments anymore.
If for the time you have issues with the idea of no-self that's because you see it at the level of intellect. I don't think it's really a problem as long as you can put aside the intellectual understanding when you meditate.

The problem is that what you're suggesting is circular / self-referential. Ie. if one learns to see things a certain way, one will see them that way, which will seem like one is "seeing things as they really are." And any path of practice, whether Buddhist, or scientific, or Hindu or whichever, is like that - even though they typically suggest that they can overcome this problem of circularity / self-referentiality.

What you're suggesting requires absolute faith that the process usually taught as "Buddhist" is true and leads to the proposed results.

IOW, all this seems to be more of a meta-practical, meta-religious problem.

I don't know how to solve it directly. But for me, investigating concepts of religiousness, religious choice, religious epistemology etc. has helped to alleviate the felt urgency of the issue.
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Re: Problems with no-self

Postby reflection » Thu May 16, 2013 12:45 pm

That interpretation again comes from argumentation. If one looks deeply inside oneself without bias one can see what is there and what is not there. Then there can only be one way things are, not multiple truths. To be without bias is not holding to views, not holding to the intellect. That way it's not circular because you take your own experience as a guide, not what anybody else says, or even what your intellect says. Exactly as the Buddha recommended.

Well, I admit that's the ideal case and I don't think many people see no-self fully. Otherwise there wouldn't be so much different opinions on core teachings of the dhamma. But it's not like you see no-self 100% or you don't see it at all. You can build it up, slowly beginning to understand it by looking deeper instead of using argumentation. That way it will not be based on a religious aspect. To see it partly is already very useful and brings forth some trust that the Buddha may have been right. Ones ideas won't go from one side to the other anymore.
Last edited by reflection on Thu May 16, 2013 4:21 pm, edited 1 time in total.
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Re: Problems with no-self

Postby binocular » Thu May 16, 2013 3:13 pm

I don't think you understand what I'm saying. And it would take several paragraphs to explain, and I don't feel like it right now. It's like a non-Christian trying to explain to a Christian why "Just place your faith in Jesus" is useless advice ...
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Re: Problems with no-self

Postby reflection » Thu May 16, 2013 4:01 pm

Don't bother. I get what you were saying, I just don't think it's true.

I do hope Alex sees my point.
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Re: Problems with no-self

Postby chownah » Thu May 16, 2013 4:04 pm

binocular wrote:I don't think you understand what I'm saying. And it would take several paragraphs to explain, and I don't feel like it right now. It's like a non-Christian trying to explain to a Christian why "Just place your faith in Jesus" is useless advice ...

Seems to me that reflection understands what you are saying. Don't put your faith in anything. Go by what you experience directly. A good place to start is to try to understand the difference between thinking that there is or isn't a self and thinking that the best thing is to have no doctrine of self. Thinking that there is or isn't a self usually leads into a thicket of views just like the "circularity" you mention above. The no doctrine idea implies that you can still function even if the idea of self is not part of your coping skills.....and one need not experience the full blown absence of this doctrine to understand where it leads....I think this is part of what reflection is saying.
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Re: Problems with no-self

Postby binocular » Thu May 16, 2013 4:30 pm

chownah wrote:Seems to me that reflection understands what you are saying.

I don't think so.


Don't put your faith in anything.

Not possible. We always put our faith in something (at least ordinary people always put their faith into something).


Go by what you experience directly.

Not possible.
There is always interpretation of experience, this is how we get to consider it experience in the first place (again, talking about ordinary people).

Maybe at some very advanced level, direct experience makes sense. But for me, it's useless: it's just feelings in the body, with no evaluations to them.


A good place to start is to try to understand the difference between thinking that there is or isn't a self and thinking that the best thing is to have no doctrine of self.

I think I understand this part very well.
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Re: Problems with no-self

Postby chownah » Fri May 17, 2013 2:40 pm

Binocular,
The things you say are not possible are routinely done by many people every day....maybe you are interpreting them in a very narrow way and so they seem impossible. I suggest you open your mind just a bit wider and try interpreting these things in a broader way and try to find some sort of truth in them.....but only if you want to......I don't want you to think that I want you to do something contrary to your nature.
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Re: Problems with no-self

Postby binocular » Fri May 17, 2013 3:13 pm

chownah wrote:The things you say are not possible are routinely done by many people every day....maybe you are interpreting them in a very narrow way and so they seem impossible. I suggest you open your mind just a bit wider and try interpreting these things in a broader way and try to find some sort of truth in them.....but only if you want to......I don't want you to think that I want you to do something contrary to your nature.

Your and reflection's suggestions work for someone who has already converted. Not for someone who is outside.
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Re: Problems with no-self

Postby chownah » Fri May 17, 2013 4:15 pm

binocular wrote:
chownah wrote:The things you say are not possible are routinely done by many people every day....maybe you are interpreting them in a very narrow way and so they seem impossible. I suggest you open your mind just a bit wider and try interpreting these things in a broader way and try to find some sort of truth in them.....but only if you want to......I don't want you to think that I want you to do something contrary to your nature.

Your and reflection's suggestions work for someone who has already converted. Not for someone who is outside.

There is no inside or outside.....what works works....but you have to put in some effort to find out what worksif you want to benefit from what works. Like they say at AA "it works if you work it". ......I haven't seen much from you in the way of trying to figure out what to do.....seems like mostly you put your effort into making excuses so that nothing need be investigated. But maybe I just don't understand your motivation for posting here. Is there anything that anyone has posted that has stimulated you to go out and learn or try something? If not then oh well, maybe Buddhism is just not for you.
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Re: Problems with no-self

Postby reflection » Fri May 17, 2013 7:48 pm

I think this whole faith / bias-confirmation idea doesn't have a lot to do with the thread at hand, neither is it really helping anyone, so I'll leave it to my previous replies. :namaste:
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