Nibbana tangent parts 1 & 2 (Agnosticism)

by David Turell @, Tuesday, May 21, 2024, 17:17 (64 days ago) @ dhw

DAVID: My fully developed self likes excitement. But I don't benefit myself at the expense of others.

Matt: I would say that is a well-balanced self.

DAVID: I am conscious of myself; therefore, I have a self I invent as I live. Being religious, that self is connected to my soul.

Matt: I’m not sure about invention. I think most of us are conscious of the different facets of our “self” and eventually of changes that may have taken place as life proceeds. But if, for instance, you are kind-hearted and like helping people, I wouldn’t say you have “invented” your kindness.

We work on our ego-defense mechanisms all our lives. Most of the time they are reasonable, butthey can make us sick.

dhw (to Matt) I’ll leave it there for the time being, as I am becoming more and more convinced that in terms of the development of the self (as opposed to its total disappearance) we are actually in agreement.

MATT: I think you're too hung up on the concept that Nibbana means the destruction of the self. Nibbana's best description is of an egoless person. The "self" is a concept. An idea. We invent it with our minds.

It’s a concept we use to describe something which is very real to us. That’s how language functions, even when it is used to describe something that can’t be pinned down to one specific quality. I don’t think many people would quarrel with me if I said my “self” was the sum total of all my personal attributes, whatever they maybe. (See below for changes.) The “ego” is also a concept or idea, and as you have fastened upon it here, I just wonder if maybe you are thinking in terms of egotism, which puts one’s own self before anyone else’s. That is certainly undesirable! But that was not the word you used when I raised my objections to your picture of the ideal, in which we must rid ourselves of all desires, and “all concept of self must disappear”. If you had said all egotism must disappear, I would have agreed, though I still object to the removal of desires which can bring us joy without inflicting any harm, and of passion which can often lead to good works of benefit to all.

dhw: I started to read the article, but stopped very soon when I saw how enormous it was, and when I read this:
QUOTE: “the substance theory and illusion theory are the two most representative views, despite their contradictions. The core claim of the former is that the self is a reality, an independent entity, based on the notion that most of us intuitively perceive the sameness of our personality, memories, and recollections as if the subject “I” is always present, while the latter states that the substantial, continuous self is an illusion because our experience is always fluid.”

I see this as a totally false dichotomy. For me the self is a reality, an independent identity based on personal attributes which although partially continuous may also be partially fluid. The fact that it is an independent entity does not mean that it can’t change, and the fact that it can change does not mean that it is illusory!

Self is not an illusion. It lives in my consciousness.

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