The eBook Zone Mind is out Now! Learn more...

The eBookZone Mind is Out! Learn More...

Sunday, September 2, 2012

The Ethics of No Self

Last Friday, I found myself in the front garden of our summer home waiting for a van that seemed will be delayed. I had to wait. But, as I breathed in the fresh air of the summer morning. As I felt the gentled breeze of a cool morning on my face and hands, I felt at peace. I was lost. I felt no pain. The only thing I noticed was perhaps the cool air filling my lungs. But, eventually, I wasn’t there any more.

I was still aware of my sensory perceptions. Yet, at the same time, I was there but not there. I had, at that moment, no pain, no worries and no wants or needs. In that state of awareness, it didn’t even matter who I was any more. In a way, it was like sleep. Indeed, it was like I was dead to the world. Everything was alright. It didn’t matter what happened to me. And, in truth, I had no real control over many of what happened in my life.

And, as I emerged from that state of no self, I realised that what seemed like a very long time was actually just about five minutes. Where was I during that time? Was death just the cessation of all suffering that is caused by our attachment to a self? Indeed, was the self, a delusion and had no basis in fact? I pondered my thought further. For, what I felt or did not feel, during that moment was a realisation that I shouldn’t fear death that much.

Here, I’m not saying that life is to be wasted or that life is devoid of value. What I am saying that, often, it is that we become so attached to our ‘self’, that we forget that our ‘self’ constantly depends on our minds and bodies, on our world and on the people around us. In addition, there will be a time when we are not. And that is not an unfinished sentence. For, yes, when we die, we will not be who we (think) we are today. Indeed, it wouldn’t really matter to us who we are for we would not be able to conceive a separate identity or even of a ‘self’.

Of course, there was a time when I was not. A time when none of us were. For me, it was just before the 1980s. Yes, the time before I was even conceived! In this sense, there was a time when who I was wasn’t important. A time beyond self. And, this might be the truth about who we are. Or, rather, about who we are NOT. For, whether we believe it or not, our self may not be based on reality because an ‘objective’ reality never exists for us or any living being. This is because we will always experience our world through our senses. In a way, none of us can claim to have authority over truth.

Again, I’m not saying that there is no truth. What I am saying that we don’t have the capability to know absolute truths. There will always be a piece of the puzzle missing or, indeed, we may not have the means to find that piece in the present. We live in our own realities, if you may, and our sense of self may help us to better connect the fragments together. Yet, it would be a mistake to conclude that our final picture is the truth.

Who would we be without feeling? Without thought? Without emotions? Without society? Without the world? Without language? I could go on asking and asking more questions. But, I believe, that the answer to all these questions is simply that we would be not. After last Friday’s meditation, I realised how futile it is for us to give our ‘self’, an existence and importance as if we could exist without the smallest of living beings and without our brothers and sisters who form part of our human family.

Understanding this, I believe, is understanding the ethics of no self. For, if who we are closes our hearts and minds to others, then we are living the delusion of the self.

No comments: