I wonder if someone could clarify the Buddhist concept of no self. To
me the ultimate form of myself is pure consciousness which is the same
pure consciousness that shared by all. Does the concept of no self mean
the lack of self as a separated, individual, body encased ego?
I'll give you a capsulization of what Middle Way buddhism says about the
self and no-self. It is consistent with what you are saying above, but
it is very detailed and uses lots of reasoning to refute beliefs and
arguments that try to establish an inherently existing self. In India
and Tibet, there were lots of Hindu and Buddhist and other philosophical
views positing some kind of self. And these Middle Way reasonings were
established to counter the other views.
Basically, Buddhism says that there is no *inherently existing* self.
That is, no self that stands on its own, independent of other things,
under its own power, "from its own side" as the Tibetan writers say.
There is, however, a conventionally designated self, like the one
reading this e-mail or the one paying my taxes. But under careful
analysis of ultimate things, an independent self existing under its own
power cannot be found.
Here's how the analysis starts. There is a Buddhist teaching that the
self is the aggregates. Sort of like a mind/body complex, the 5
aggregates are form, feeling, discrimination, mental/volitional factors,
and consciousness. But this teaching is only a provisional teaching in
order refute a self *other* than the aggregates. Once the student is
not relying on a notion of a self other than the aggregates, it can be
pointed out how the self doesn't exist inherently in any way at all
related to the aggregates.
The structure of that reasoning goes like this, where each of the
following sentences is the conclusion of lots and lots of subsidiary
The self is not inherently other than the aggregates.
The self is not inherently one with the aggregates.
The self is not inherently dependent upon the agregates.
The self is not the basis upon which the aggregates inherently depend.
The self does not inherently possess the aggregates.
Here is a verse from Chandrakirti's _Guide to the Middle Way_
(translation by Geshe Kelsang Gyatso):
Form is not the self, the self does not possess form,
The self is not within form, and form is not within the self.
Thus all the aggregates should be known in these four ways,
Said to be the twenty views of the self.
You can then alter this verse, substituting each of the 5 aggregates in
the place of "form." You'll then have the 20 views of the self that
Middle Way Buddhism tries to refute.
A Cracked Pot
A water bearer in India had two large pots, each hung on each end of a
pole which he carried across his neck.
One of the pots had a crack in it, and while the other pot was perfect
and always delivered a full portion of water at the end of the long walk
from the stream to the masters house. The cracked pot arrived only half
For a full two years this went on daily, with the bearer delivering only
one and a half pots full of water in his master's house. Of course, the
perfect pot was proud of its accomplishments. But the poor cracked pot
was ashamed of its own imperfection, and miserable that it was able to
accomplish only half of what it had been made to do.
After two years of what it perceived to be a bitter failure, it spoke to
the water bearer one day by the stream.
"I am ashamed of myself, and I want to apologise to you."
"Why?" asked the bearer. "What are you ashamed of?"
"I have been able, for these past two years, to deliver only half my
load because this crack in my side causes water to leak out all the way
back to your master's house. Because of my flaws, you have to do all of
this work, and you don't get full value from your efforts," the pot
The water bearer felt sorry for the old cracked pot, and in his
compassion he said, "As we return to the master's house, I want you to
notice the beautiful flowers along the path."
Indeed, as they went up the hill, the old cracked pot took notice of the
sun warming the beautiful wild flowers on the side of the path, and this
cheered it some. But at the end of the trail, it still felt bad because
it had leaked out half its load, and so again the pot apologised to the
bearer for its failure.
The bearer said to the pot, "Did you notice that there were flowers only
on your side of your path, but not on the other pot's side?
That's because I have always known about your flaw, and I took advantage
of it. I planted flower seeds on your side of the path, and every day
while we walk back from the stream, you've watered them. For two years I
have been able to pick these beautiful flowers to decorate my master's
table. Without you being just the way you are, he would not have this
beauty to grace his house."
Know that in our weakness we find our strength.
Love and Light
~ cracked pot of gold at the end of the Rainbo ~ *g*
whitman wrote "song of myself" and here is myself sung
caught in the middle of some time
solving the riddle of what's yours and mine
it may sound simple just spending time
let the ghosts do the talking i'll do mine.
lies sat next to the one eyed man
showed him some big master plan--
no one to see it
(no one can!)
so he opened his eye and the world began. ..
here are the lies
here are your eyes
here are mine
hey long ago i was someone
i didn't mean nothin' to anyone
i danced with stars
turned my back to the sun
someone told me to walk
and i'd just run
they can fill you up with drugs and rules
cram your head with god and school
remember the sin you didn't do
remember what "they" did to you
let the ghosts do the talking
berlin is my chosen name-- at the time i felt it represented the failure
of walls to prosper or stand or even exist -- the knowlege that peace
love and freedom prevail.
now i know that i didn't need another name!
i write these songs here -- heard long ago-- for you who are my own
and this you already know
always (means eternal)
... Here's my contribution to
the 12 Holy Nights:
The north winds
Few people know how instrumental you were in starting this
list. It was our gerchmezzing on the Kundalini list that
created the friction to start this list (which is really the
original I Am list.) For you and a few others to make the
crossing to the new list was a brave thing to do in those
days. A year-and-a-half never seemed so long ago.
(gerchmez. verb. To create a ruckus or friction within a
spiritual community such that -- knowingly or unknowingly,
intentionally or otherwise -- it leads to growth within a
group of people including the creator of the ruckus or
Not having seen either the Mahaparinirvana or the Mahaparinibbana
wouldn't doubt that there's a sutra that teaches that there is a Self.
There are various levels of teaching in Buddhism, as in every religion.
just read a passage in Kelsang Gyatso's _Ocean of Nectar_ that says that
the Vaibhashikas and some Sautrantikas say that the 5 aggregates are the
self. A(n unnamed) sutra is quoted:
O Monks, any Sramana or Brahmin who views
the self correctly, is viewing correctly
only these five, appropriated aggregates.
And this is a provisional, refutational teaching to refute the notion
the self is something other than the aggregates.
So it wouldn't surprise me that there's a sutra talking about a self, in
order to reach Hindus who might otherwise be uninterested in Buddhism as
nihilistic teaching. But most of the talk about a self in Buddhism is
towards no-self, from what I've seen. I have a text at home that
a strategy of several levels in Tibetan Buddhism (from memory here):
1. For the student of least ability, teach not to do evil things.
2. For the student of higher ability, teach to focus the mind
on something positive.
3. For the student of middling-to-high ability, teach the non-dual
reality behind appearances.
4. For the very highest-level student, teach emptiness and compassion
which can be very frightening.
Same kind of thing happens in Advaita Vedanta with creation theories.
1. First a realist theory is given the student
(God creates the world, which exists pretty
much as it appears)
2. Later, a subjectivist theory is given the
student (the mind creates the world though
the agency of the elements and sensory
3. The last theory given when the student is
ready is the theory of non-creation and
non-causation, where nothing is created
or destroyed, and nothing causes anything
else to occur.
Something occurs to me here. Dreaming that one is awake is one thing,
becoming awake to the fact of dreaming is another thing.
In the former, one is still stuck in the dream, subject to the rules
of the dream. In the latter, the dream becomes lucid, there is the power
to move about and act within the dream consciously...
So the waking up being spoken of is becoming lucid within the waking
world/self dream. Saying "just wake up" is a first step. One becomes a
lucid dreamer when one wakes up to the dream. To become lucid in a dream
one has to remember to check whether one is awake or dreaming by
examining the dreamscape for inconsistencies; does time flow 'normally',
do the characteristics of inanimate objects have the consistency they
have in a waking state, etc.. I suggest that the dream of our waking
lives is no different. The same techniques can be applied, examining the
ordinary daytime state for inconsistencies in a similar fashion, leading
to becoming lucid to the world dream. This it seems to me is the
function of the various meditations on time, thought, death, zen koans,
I am, who am I, etc. and of the words of all the sages.
"The office of experience is to frustrate and to cheat,
yet not for a malicious purpose. Experience brings pain
so that consciousness may be gradually awakened to
self-realization, for if consciousness flowed freely
toward the object and thereby found the fulfillment
of its yearning, there would be none of the shock
necessary for consciousness to become aware of
its own true nature."
Dedicated to those moments of feeling unloved:
"The cultivation of the Higher Love is difficult. For
it is much harder for feeling to win detachment
from the object than it is for thought. It is a lofty
achievement to be able to radiate Compassion
without thought of return and with full willingness
to grant complete freedom to the object. Yet until
Love has reached this height, it remains sentimental.
And to the merely sentimental lover, Compassion
may seem cold, though in reality It is the warmth
of the real SUN."
"I moved about in a kind of space that was not other
than Myself, and found Myself surrounded by pure
Divinity, even on the physical level when I moved
there. There is a sense in which God is physical
Presence as well as metaphysical, but this Presence
is everywhere and in everything, and at the same
time the negation of all this. Again, neither I nor God
were there, only Being remained. I vanished, and the
object of consciousness vanished in the highest, as
well as inferior sense. I was no more, and God was
no more, but only the Eternal which sustains all Gods
and all selves."
Pathways Through to Space