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You cannot talk as if there isn't, in fact, a dynamically real self; even if its ultimately a function of a higher self, this does not mean that it doesn't cause you to act in certain ways.
Here's the introduction to the special issue:
As you wake up each morning, hazy and disoriented, you gradually become aware of the rustling of the sheets, sense their texture and squint at the light. One aspect of your self has reassembled: the first-person observer of reality, inhabiting a human body.
As wakefulness grows, so does your sense of having a past, a personality and motivations. Your self is complete, as both witness of the world and bearer of your consciousness and identity. You.
This intuitive sense of self is an effortless and fundamental human experience. But it is nothing more than an elaborate illusion. Under scrutiny, many common-sense beliefs about selfhood begin to unravel. Some thinkers even go so far as claiming that there is no such thing as the self.
Not only neuroscientific thinkers. Philosophical and spiritual thinkers also. Psychologist Susan Blackmore does a good job of presenting this selfless perspective in her book, "Ten Zen Questions." I'm fine with it. Actually, more than fine.
I love the notion that "I" don't exist. Takes the pressure off me to know that I'm an illusion. Like Janis Joplin sang, "Freedom's just another word for nothing left to lose." Like salvation. Life after death. Hell or heaven.
But what about me and my conscious experiences? Where do I fit into this integrated system of inputs, outputs and multiple parallel processing systems?
The strange thing is that I feel as if I am in the middle of all this activity, experiencing what comes in through the senses, and deciding what to do in response, when in fact the brain seems to have no need of me.
There is no central place or process where I could be, and the brain seems capable of doing everything it does without any supervisor, decider or inner experiencer.
...The temptation to fall into dualism is so strong that escaping from it, and from the popular idea that we have a spirit or soul, has been a rare insight in human history. This insight is not confined to modern science and philosophy, but can be found at the heart of Christian mysticism, Sufism, Advaita, Taoism, and Buddhism.
All these traditions claim that the apparent duality of the world is an illusion, and that underlying the illusion everything is one.
Along with this often goes the idea that there is no separate self who acts, so that realizing nonduality also means giving up the sense of personal action or of being the "doer" of what happens. This is rather hard to accept, which is probably why such traditions are so much less popular than the great theistic religions, or those that promise heaven and hell to reward the actions of individual souls.
...There's some stupid bastard doing a U-turn in the middle of the road right in front of my bike. I am angry and want to shout "You idiot -- what do you think you're doing? You nearly knocked me off!" Can the sight of that idiotic man be me?
Yes. Of course.
If I stop, calm down, and search for the me who is looking at him I will find only him, and his car, and the road. If I search for the me who is angry with him I will find only the anger bubbling up. It's the same with everything I experience; there is not a separate me as well as the experience.
It is hard to accept that I am all those people walking down the street; that I am, at least in this fleeting moment, that Muslim woman with her stupid veil, that annoying child with the ice cream, that crowd of giggling school girls.
Yet somehow or other this way of looking makes it easier to be kind.