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October 01, 2012


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"No-self is what we always have been from birth, are now, and will be until we die. Understanding this -- or at least seriously considering that it is true -- is key to understanding what it means to be "spiritual."

---What would be this understanding of what "spiritual" means? I think, I understand what the no-self or non-self means. However, I still don't have that key to the understanding of what spiritual means. Brian, do you have any info on what spiritual means, as noted?

Roger, "spiritual" means different things to different people. Now I see it as shorthand for "finding meaning in life." Or "understanding what life is all about."

Thanks Brian,

Correct, "spiritual means different things to different people

There are those definitions that express,

---finding meaning in a spirit life or understanding what a spirit life is all about.

The only problem I can see with having a sense of oneself is that one can get a false sense of "who" one is. But once it's clear that I am no more than what I'm feeling, thinking, experiencing right now, and everything I've felt, thought, experienced, and can't deny having done up to this moment, I see no problem.

I really like this post.
I nearly considered taking you on as my Guru Brian, until I copped myself on and shook that notion off! You can be a wise olde chap now and then.

Maybe the reason I like it is because it happens to resonate with what is going on in my life - considering the notion of no self. I actually love all Marks points that you quoted. Maybe because I have been there and worn them all.

I too, for 14 long long long years tried wiping the mirror clean! Yes seeing certain aspects of the 'self' as bad, trying to get rid of them which just seemed to make them stick more. Ah the great trick.
For me to push away or try to grasp is what creates a self - somebody that owns something likeable or disowning aspects as if they were your own in the first place.

Once upon a time I seen thought as something to get rid of, quieten the mind, see thoughts as enemies. Tried to get the camel through the eye of the needle. The odd time it seemed I was getting somewhere but the camels stupid humps would never get through. So I usually always ended up with a disgruntled camel!!

I love this "..adopting an attitude of nonjudgmental awareness"

And especially this "...Contrary to this way of thinking, conceptual thought does not disappear as a result of meditative insight. Only the belief in the ego's solidity is lost."

I could go on and on all night about this post but I shall have some discipline.......

Just one little question, is Epstein's book good all the way through? Would big time consider buying it on kindle with your recommendation.


Marina, I haven't read all of the book. I just re-found it after rummaging through a drawer of books that I'd put away for future reading.

Epstein is an MD, a psychiatrist, I recall. He takes a psychological rather than religious approach to Buddhism, which I like. I can recommend the book. I've put some question marks next to some passages which I disagree with, but I do that with almost all books.

Give it a buy. I think you'd like it.

""...Contrary to this way of thinking, conceptual thought does not disappear as a result of meditative insight. Only the belief in the ego's solidity is lost."

---what is meditative insight?

---conceptual thought, resulting from this way of thinking, doesn't require belief or non-belief in the ego's solidity or liquidity. This way of thinking creates a conceptual thought that simply points in the direction of the nonconceptual no-thing-ness.

Just wondering what you think of this article which brings attention to how the Buddha approached the issue of No Self, Self, Not self etc.

"Some writers try to qualify the no-self interpretation by saying that the Buddha denied the existence of an eternal self or a separate self, but this is to give an analytical answer to a question that the Buddha showed should be put aside."


Delving further into the Thanissaro pages, this struck me as very reasonable and worth sharing:

1. Compare the following two dialogues.

Having taken a seat to one side, Vacchagotta the wanderer said to the Master, 'Now then, Venerable Gotama, is there a self?' When this was said, the Master was silent.

'Then is there no self?' For a second time the Master was silent.

Then Vacchagotta the wanderer got up from his seat and left.

Then, not long after Vacchagotta the wanderer had left, the Venerable Ananda said to the Master, 'Why, sir, did the Master not answer when asked a question asked by Vacchagotta the wanderer?'

'Ananda, if I, being asked by Vacchagotta the wanderer if there is a self, were to answer that there is a self, that would be conforming with those brahmans & contemplatives who are exponents of eternalism (i.e., the view that there is an eternal soul). And if I... were to answer that there is no self, that would be conforming with those brahmans & contemplatives who are exponents of annihilationism (i.e., that death is the annihilation of experience). If I... were to answer that there is a self, would that be in keeping with the arising of knowledge that all phenomena are not-self?

'No, Lord.'

'And if I... were to answer that there is no self, the bewildered Vacchagotta would become even more bewildered: "Does the self which I used to have, now not exist?"'

— S XLIV.10



Could there be a nondual Self, the noumenon of ones mind/ego/physical self.

It seems so Roger. The expanded, much much all self. It seems there might be nothing else, or no one else but The Self! No object, no subject, no percept no percieved? Or am I going beyond myself again?

Perhaps, "...the question should be put aside."

Robert Paul Howard


Our nonconcepted nonknown Self would still be present. There is the non-conceptual, no-nsubjective, non-objective existence, which the nondual Self resides. Yes, this Self would not be perceived/known by the senses/mind.

"Roger, "spiritual" means different things to different people. Now I see it as shorthand for "finding meaning in life." Or "understanding what life is all about."

Those are two very different things. Anyone can find meaning, but can anyone ever understand what life is all about?

Perhaps, "...the question should be put aside."

But if one has an itch, one must scratch, therefore when it is said that
during spiritual introspection the true nature of the I / Ego is experienced as not being concrete (as it is in ordinary life) but ideation is still occurring and being experienced by an amorphous type of I/Ego, one logically asks how does this translate into the dogma of No Self ?


Good question. Depending on how one defines life. One could find understanding in life as an objectified reality. On the other hand, I may have an itch, but I still don't absolutely know what i'm scratching.


There may be a self to Buddhism after all (see above link)l. And because neuroscience can't find one does not mean that is not one. From the classical spiritual perspective, it should not be able to find one anyway. But why should one believe a false self that says there is no self? That is not the voice of truth.

If you say not-self, then you are correct. we can achieve that not-self state. but while we don't achieve, ourself still real. we do have a self.

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