Wednesday, October 27, 2010

No self in Buddhism

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Reflections and shadows do not exist, if nobody is there who sees them. They do not consist of anything. They have no weight and no fixed shape. You cannot touch them or smell them. They are immaterial.

The sense of being here and now, awake and conscious, is like a shadow or a reflection in the sense that it is immaterial; it does not consist of anything. However, a reflection of a birch tree in a pool of water is a reflection of something. The sense of being here right now is not a reflection of anything. Or, maybe it is? Who knows?

A birch tree consists of something, molecules, atoms and whirling electrons, but it is not really a tree until someone is there who notices it. Physicists say, “If the nucleus of an atom were as big as a pinhead, the atom would be as big as a football stadium”. Also real stuff consists of practically nothing. The observer is necessary to make reality real.

Maybe the observer, the sense of being here, noticing the world, arises not just because of a number of neurons are firing. This sense of being here, right now, awake, is maybe also a reflection of something. Without firing neurons, no sense of being here would emerge, of course, and without a sense of being here, noticing the consciousness of being here, there would be no firing neurons. There would be just empty space with a few vibrating particles here and there, and electromagnetic fields between them.

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