By M. Albahari
We spend our lives retaining an elusive self - yet does the self really exist? Drawing on literature from Western philosophy, neuroscience and Buddhism (interpreted), the writer argues that there's no self. The self - as unified proprietor and philosopher of recommendations - is an phantasm created through stages. A tier of clearly unified recognition (notably absent in ordinary bundle-theory money owed) merges with a tier of desire-driven options and feelings to yield the influence of a self. So whereas the self, if genuine, might imagine up the recommendations, the options, in fact, imagine up the self.
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Extra info for Analytical Buddhism: The Two-tiered Illusion of Self
For reasons just mentioned, such suttas are not prolific: yet what is there is both informative and overlooked. While this exercise will involve some joining of dots (I do not pretend that the Buddha explicitly endorsed the view I propose), I will try to keep inference and hypothesis to a minimum. Fourth, just because concepts are used to talk about nibb¯ana (often by saying what it is not), it does not follow that nibb¯ana is reduced or made complicated or rendered imaginable by those concepts any more than (to use a famous Zen metaphor) a finger pointing at the moon reduces the moon to the finger.
So when the Arahant dies – an event referred to as parinibba¯na¯ – there will be no continued and conditioned flux of khandha¯s into another psycho-physical existence. No more perspective will be generated for the witnessing (should there be witnessing):19 there will be no more subject in relation to objects. With no rebirth, there can be no dukkha¯, mental or physical. ha¯. I have mentioned that the term ‘nibba¯na‘ has more than one nuance. ha¯ and mental dukkha¯ ceasing. ha¯. The liberated mind of the Arahant is, I will argue, the positive thing that Some Central Distinctions and the Four Noble Truths 29 ‘nibba¯na‘ denotes; it is what Buddhism refers to as ‘unconditioned’ (although the term ‘unconditioned’ is not a positive but a negative descriptor).
Physical objects such as the body will, on the Buddhist analysis, be conditioned by space. To be conditioned by time is to be either destructible and hence impermanent, or indestructible and existing forever within time (as opposed to existing outside of time). Since the five khandha¯ s – whether mental or physical – are impermanent through their 16 Analytical Buddhism: The Two-Tiered Illusion of Self synchronic and diachronic co-dependence, they will be conditioned by time. To be conditioned by quality means that an item will be positively definable through parameters that are empirically or conceptually delimited.
Analytical Buddhism: The Two-tiered Illusion of Self by M. Albahari