Reply Sat 8 Oct, 2005 10:01 pm
Any Buddhists around?! Ok, even if you are not a buddhist: I would love your input on 'no self'.

It's a lot to chew.
I've been reading, and discussing (only know two buddhists though) this concept.

In a lot of ways, it makes complete sense. Intellectually.
When I test it, it works. But I don't rightly know. I'm somewhat confused and still churning this around.

I would love to hear any personal explanations. Other ways to say it or describe it. Also, how you feel about this.

Sorry I'm being so vague.
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Reply Sun 9 Oct, 2005 12:24 am
I'm no expert, but my hubby practices Buddhism. Somewhat. Not sure what you mean by 'no self'. There are many forms of Buddhism, most practice to achieve self-awareness, I believe. You try to achieve the middle path (which is not easy!) You've read the Buddha''s Four Noble Truths and the Eightfold Path, I guess? So, thru those steps one achieves Nirvana, a state beyond thought, which frees one from the perpetual cycle of birth, suffering, death and rebirth.
When you say you have tested it, what do you mean?
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Reply Sun 9 Oct, 2005 12:36 am
i'm guessing you mean that the ego is an illusion, but i didn't know that was a particularly buddhist concept. i thought the material world being an illusion (maya) was more characteristic of buddhism. as to the self being an illusion, it strikes me as a holistic notion, that all things are aspects of an underlying unity. not being a mystical sort, i don't have any such feelings, although as you say it's not without intellectual appeal.

i am you as you are he as you are me and we are all together perhaps. ;-)
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Reply Sun 9 Oct, 2005 12:25 pm
It sounds similar to a Jewish notion. One of the names for God is Ayin, which means Nothing in the sense of being without boundaries, not a thing. And it is the goal of the mystic, according to this one particular way of explaining, to go from yesh, what-isness, thingness, to ayin, Nothing. This is through bittul, nullification, of thisness, and of the self, and there is wordplay that one should see himself as nothing in the act of making nothing out of something. But these types of themes are fairly common in the mysticisms of most world religions.

I'm not sure how I feel about it. It's certainly an intriguing reality map.

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Reply Sun 9 Oct, 2005 01:33 pm
There are a number of Buddhists who frequent A2K. JLNobody and I may be the best known, and have both contributed countless posts on the subject over the years. You should check both the Spirituality & Religion, and Philosophy forums to read most of the threads that have dealt with Buddhism, or Buddhist concepts.

Here are a few Spirituality & Religion Forum threads that may be of interest to you:

Very Happy "What are the purposes of Religion?" (Mar05) Purposes of Religion
Very Happy "Explain Zen Enlightenment." (Mar05) Zen Enlightenment
Very Happy "How does one think and perceive when they are in a State of Nirvana" (Dec04)
Very Happy "How often do you have alone/meditation?" (Dec04)
Very Happy "Which religious book do you read most?" (Sep04)
Very Happy "Zen Holy War" (Sep04)
Very Happy "Jesus, Buddha & Krishna, the same entity?" (Jul04)

And here is a sampling of Philosophy Forum topics that touch on Buddhism:

Very Happy "Do you believe in souls?" (Oct05)
Very Happy "4 Nobel Truths"
Very Happy "For Awareness ... Science or Buddhism?" (Sep04)
Very Happy "Is the Universe infinite?" (Aug04)
Very Happy "Has anyone since Buddha achieved Nirvana, really?" (Jul04)
Very Happy "Is Heaven/Nirvana Boring?" (Jul04)

At least twice this number of threads exist here at A2K on the subject of Buddhism, and can be "dug out" with little effort.

JL and I have written so frequently answering the same questions that it would be nice if you were to first read some of what we've said so often before diving in with your own questions. To find our posts just click on our name and then search through our posts, all of which are listed. You can also search using the term "Buddhist", or "Buddhism", or etc. See what can be found here, and then in a few days ask your question(s) and we'll be glad to respond.

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Reply Sun 9 Oct, 2005 01:44 pm
This Asherman. He's one badass dude.
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Reply Sun 9 Oct, 2005 01:54 pm
"How does one think and perceive when they are in a State of Nirvana" (Dec04)
Thought/Perception in State of Nirvana

"How often do you have alone/meditation?" (Dec04)
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Reply Sun 9 Oct, 2005 02:03 pm
Anatta, existence precedes essence-essense is an illusionary construct. I am the walrus. The only straight line is the string of a cat's craddle.
So says the Dys.
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Reply Sun 9 Oct, 2005 02:04 pm
Ooh man, Two bad dudes! In a show down!
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Reply Sun 9 Oct, 2005 02:06 pm
"Which religious book do you read most?" (Sep04)
Religious Books

"Zen Holy War" (Sep04)
Zen Holy War

"Jesus, Buddha & Krishna, the same entity?" (Jul04)
Jesus, Buddha, et. al.

Allright, that's enough for today. I have to go visit Natalie in the hospital now. BTW, you're right Dyslexia IS one tough dude, and a sensitive and sensible (usually) man of our times. Also the term "Annata" is Sanskrit meaning "no self", or "no soul".
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Reply Sun 9 Oct, 2005 03:46 pm
I'm looking into all this madness. I been called a Buddhist more then once and I don't even know what it is. I'll be back with a quality post.
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Reply Sun 9 Oct, 2005 05:10 pm
Thank you so much Ash for filling me in. I will definetly do some reading before asking any more q's. Smile

I apologize for just jumping in like that, and truly appreciate the time and effort to help me out!

Thanks to everyone else as well. I need some time to chew :wink:
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Reply Sun 9 Oct, 2005 06:24 pm
I'll try to supply links to the relevant threads in the Philosophy Forum tomorrow. Lately I've been waking up at 3 a.m. restless. That might be a good time to make it easier for you to access earlier material on Buddhism. Its probably time we had a Thread that pointed to all those previous Buddhist-related threads at A2K. Actually, it would probably be a good idea to go back through all of my 201 pages of posts looking for those threads relevant to Buddism. Ah, there's a project for me.

Once you've looked over the earlier stuff, I'm sure you will still have questions. Don't be bashful about asking.
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Reply Mon 10 Oct, 2005 07:28 am
0730 New Mexico Time: I'm going to try putting links to the Philosophy threads relevant to Buddhism below.

"Do you believe in souls?" (Oct05)
"4 Nobel Truths"
"For Awareness ... Science or Buddhism?" (Sep04)
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Reply Mon 10 Oct, 2005 07:38 am
Here are some of the many Philosophy Forum threads that are relevant to a discussion of Buddhism. If you post to any of these threads, it will rise from the dead and become active again. Not a bad idea in some cases.

"Do you believe in souls?" (Oct05)

"4 Nobel Truths"
Noble Truths

"For Awareness ... Science or Buddhism?" (Sep04)

"Is the Universe infinite?" (Aug04)
Infinite Universe

"Has anyone since Buddha achieved Nirvana, really?" (Jul04)
Achieving Nirvana

"Is Enlightenment/Awareness a prerequisit for Buddhism?"
Enlightenment a prerequisit?

"Is Heaven/Nirvana Boring?" (Jul04)
Nirvana Boring?

"Buddhist Dilema" (July04)
Buddhsit Dilema
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Reply Wed 12 Oct, 2005 01:39 am
Excellent, Ash. Thank you!

I have a million questions, but I want to work through some of them on my own first before asking. Probably a lot of them are already answered, and I just need to read through.

I think it's an excellent idea to have one area where all the Buddhist-related threads are.
This is a serious pursuit for me; and I have found myself increasingly drawn to Buddhism. So far, it has not led me astray. I continue to uncover more and more layers of relevent material. It has been very helpful.

Thanks for all your help.
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Reply Wed 12 Oct, 2005 12:03 pm

The more you know, generally speaking, the better off you will be ... no matter the subject. Learning is a great pleasure, and education the key to leading a better, and more satisfying life. Go for it.

In the meantime, here are a few things you might want to put into practice:

Very Happy Give yourself a half hour a day to meditate. Put a straight chair in a room where you won't be disturbed. Sit facing a blank wall for your half hour (let an alarm clock measure the time outside your circle of vision). Sit up straight with the base of your skull directly over that point where your spine attaches to your hips. Shoulders back and squared, feet flat on the floor. Let your hands sit in your lap, one palm in the other. Posture is very important.

Breath in and out through your nose in a slow fully conscious way. Draw the breath deep into your lungs filling them to capacity. This should not be forced, but done mindfully. Think about each breath as it is inhaled, held, expelled, and held. Concentrate on the breathing, nothing else.

After a short time several things will happen. Your mind will stray. Errant thoughts will come that have nothing to do with your thoughtful breathing. "What time is it? It must be nearly half an hour? Take a look at the clock? My shoulders ache, my nose itches. Move to a more comfortable position, let those shoulders slump ... just for a moment. I wonder what's for dinner tonight? Did I turn off the stove before sitting down? What was that sound? Is someone waiting to see me? Why am I doing such a foolish thing as sitting in front of a blank wall thinking about breathing? etc., etc. etc." These thoughts will come, especially at first, without your even being aware of them. Acknowledge the thought(s), and then dismiss them and return to your breathing exercise. This will become easier as you gain experience in sitting meditation.

Those who become adept at sitting meditation often respond to their mind emptying by going to sleep. In a monastery meditation hall, there is a senior monk who walks ceaselessly behind the sitters carrying a long curved stick. When a sitter becomes drowsy, they make a small bow and gasho. This signals the monk in walking meditation. The stick touches each shoulder, and then comes down with a sharp WHACK. Generally that wakes a sitter up nicely. In appreciation the sitter makes another bow and gasho. A gasho is placing the palms of the hands together similar to the conventional western prayer gesture.

Very Happy Be more fully aware of you daily activities. Focus fully on whatever it is that you are doing. If you are washing dishes, keep your mind focused on that task. At the office completely focus on the details of whatever job you are doing. Bring your past experience to bear on the task of the moment. Ask yourself what will be the likely result of your effort. Let your self be lost in your work whatever it is.

Think before speaking, or acting. Try to understand the situation you find yourself in, and the people who may be affected by it. What are the sounds you hear and the things you see? What do they mean? What response are you to expected to make? Will your words or actions cause others to suffer more than they would if you remained silent, or in active? What words or actions might reduce the suffering of those around you? Take things seriously, but not too seriously. Indulge and surprise people by doing random acts of kindness.

Very Happy Control your emotions, don't let them control you. Emotions are natural to our species, but if left uncontrolled are they are the source of much of the world's suffering. Anger, greed, jealousy, bitterness, vengeance, prejudice, and chauvinism all crop up in every person. If these were not controlled by self-discipline, social customs and law you can imagine how much more suffering there would be in the world.

The other side of the coin are those emotions that we associate with pleasure, just remember always that the coin has two sides and that ultimately they are joined. Attachments lead inevitably to suffering, so don't let yourself become too greatly attached to sensory or mental pleasures.

In the illusory world of multiplicity change and value-making are inherent. Difference makes for choices, and one choice will almost always be valued over another. We attach ourselves to those choices that we believe pleasurable, and avoid those that we associate with suffering. In choosing we attach ourselves to that which will slip from our grasp, and in losing we will suffer. Ultimately, all those distinctions we make are empty and meaningless. Does this mean that one can think, speak or act in ways that will cause suffering? No, no, no. One should accept that all thoughts, words and actions have the potential for increasing suffering, but at the same time recognize that suffering can be conquered and surmounted. How? By practicing in every moment the precepts, the Middle Way, that has enlivened Buddhism for 2,500 years.

Study of the Sutras is a good thing. To hear and heed the words of wise teachers is a good thing. To practice daily a life dedicated to reducing all suffering is a good thing. Perhaps you will have the Enlightenment experience, and that is a very, very good thing. Even if you never get a glimpse of the elephant, the hunt will make your life, and the lives of those around you, better. To live a Buddhist life should make it easier to bear disappointment, loss, sickness and death.
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Reply Wed 12 Oct, 2005 09:21 pm
For the past two months I have been actively practising the two last suggestions. Sure, I dabbled in it before, but not like this. This is serious.

Formal meditation I have avoided. I have tried it and it has been a horrible experience. Like being tied in a straight-jacket. However, I feel different now than before.
I'm ready to give it a try.

The studying is the easy part for me. I love studying the scriptures and talking about Buddhism. I tend to think too much, over intellectualize, etc.
However, I do find that I have a strong sense of curiousity and thirst for knowledge. Always seeking, seeking.

Would you mind if after a certain amount of practise - as you have laid out (formal meditation, awareness of the moment in daily life, studying and listening to teachers); if I were to bring up questions that may arise?
I know that meditation is going to be an experience for me. I may have a lot of questions regarding that especially.

thanks again
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Reply Wed 12 Oct, 2005 09:54 pm
Ask whatever you wish, whenever you wish. Probably most will have already been covered in one of the several threads I've provided. JLNobody is probably hovering somewhere in the bushes, and his insights are to be treasured. This isn't something that others can do for you, it must be done by each individual.

Work on mitigating suffering for yourself and for those immediately around you. The effect will multiply and the overall suffering of the world will be reduced by a fraction. Fractions add up, and pretty soon major and significant effects can occur. Don't worry about that, just tend to the moment. Be compassionate as naturally as you breath. Pay attention to the details and in the end the picture will be a masterwork. You can know all the words, be eloquent in expostulating on obscurities, and never touch the truth once. Wisdom and knowledge are not synonyms. Wisdom is the prize, knowledge is just one of many ways to it.

Don't chase Enlightenment, it will find you in good time. Prepare yourself for the experience by emptying out "self" so will be room in the cup for the fine wine.

Gravitas is a great virtue, practice it.
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Reply Thu 13 Oct, 2005 12:13 am

In addition to a straight Buddhist take on "no self" I would refer you to the Krishnamurti literature.

e.g. http://www.prahlad.org/gallery/krishnamurti.htm

This reaches similar conclusions but dismisses all formal methods for attaining "enlightenment" as being counter-productive.
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