Nibbana tangent part 1 (Agnosticism)

by David Turell @, Thursday, May 30, 2024, 00:21 (56 days ago) @ xeno6696

Matt: If you take your 'self' to be that bare aware "in the now" consciousness, you are correct, but dhw is taking a definition that includes more than just that. See my comment re: Phineas Gage again.
And:
MATT: You overidentify that a "sense of self" means you as an entity. You already spend a good chunk of your day doing things where the sense of self is repressed or at least on snooze, unless every waking second of every day you repeat to yourself "I am dhw, I am dhw."

I will expand a little on my original reply to this, which was that the self is the total of all our attributes at any given time. The fact that we don’t consciously think of each one all the time does not mean they are not there. (I used the analogy of my flat feet, which you misinterpreted as meaning that all attributes were permanent.) No, the attributes may change at any time through illness, accident, or new experiences. But that does not mean they are not present or are not real. A bigot one day may have an experience that changes his rigid opinions. Psychotherapy may perform the same function. The bigotry was real, not illusory. Now the open mind is real. Phineas Gage is another illustration.


You're conflating "self" with "sense of self" with every line here. Buddhism (and my own meditative experience) demonstrates that I can still be a "self" without a "sense of self." And I'll be candid here: my lived experience from the meditations leads me to a very strong conviction on this: I know I'm right about this. On this, this is direct experiential knowledge here. Under your definition, if I lost half my memories, I'd still have the *same* sense of self, and that's patently false. I'd have *a* sense of self--I'd feel the same, but I wouldn't be the same, and as I interacted with friends and family, it would start to come out, all the different things that I had forgotten. This was my experience with Alzheimer's patients. This taught me (before Buddhism) that I can't take my memories for granted--they might not exist and that will hurt people--Buddhism just extended to also give me some mental distance between myself and my memories. Maybe instead of "that's not me" it looks more like "did I remember that correctly?" but that's purely a difference in degree. What ever my "self" is, it isn't my memories. Another way to look at it, The past can't be changed, the future is unknown, the only thing I can be *sure* of--and can fully rely on--is *right now.* This is why it would be more truthful to describe yourself as this "bare awareness right now."

This isn't a statement that the past doesn't exist. But that for all intents and purposes, if you don't remember it, it might as well *not* exist. This is like methodological materialism. The closer you get to your temporal present moment, the more safe and secure you can be about where your self actually lives. We're like a prism with the future streaming into us with white light, and the rainbow of past events scattering to the winds.

Returning to the Alzheimer's patients, the final lesson I learned is that it's a lot of suffering when people lose memories of entire people. So don't forget the past, but treat your recollections lightly.

MATT (to DAVID:) I developed at a young age an intense worry that I was being too selfish when dealing with other people. So a message that targets the ego/self as a source of pain in the world has a strong resonance for me. I've been that guy.

You are an excellent illustration of the point that I am making. You disliked your selfish attributes of the past, and so you took steps to change them. Your previous self was real, and so is your current self. You have not removed any sense of self; you have changed the excessively egotistical attributes of your previous self.

I changed myself long ago. I was jolly fat kid and changed into my skinny much more serious guy before andv after medical school. I went from New York liberal to very conservative.> >


Matt: I applaud overall your description of the self, and on most things we're closer that maybe it seems, but again, as above, you're confusing the 'self' for the 'sense of self.' One goes away and the other remains. Imagine an hour or so of your life where phrases or feelings like "I am ME" just stop appearing? You don't feel the other "I'm NOT me", you feel neither thing. THAT is what consciousness without a sense of self is like. All of those things you describe happen to me or that guy, but without that sense of self. (I stopped using 'ego' because I looked up what that means in Freudian terms and its WAY too packed of a word for me to be using it. I'll just keep it to that felt sense of "I AM.")

Why lying? A trauma will change your attributes, as above. But your quote above was directed towards me, and the relevant part of my reply was this:

Lying is strong, but illustrative. See above as to my logic.


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