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  • hardie karges 9:13 am on September 18, 2022 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: , , Freud, , , , , , ,   

    Buddhism and the Nature of Self/Not-Self… 

    The notion of self is a linguistic convenience. But language is not reality. And this is one of the debates in Buddhism, of course, not so much the exact nature of ‘self,’ which is proscribed in Buddhism (with an ‘o,’ not ‘e’), but more the exact nature of ‘not-self,’ or ‘no-self,’ that distinction itself often at the crux of the debate, as if there were any real difference, as if it really mattered. Because what matters is that this is not the Hindu cosmic self nor the Christian eternal self, both of which are not what the Buddha envisioned for his group of followers and his emerging view of the world.

    But what exactly did he envision for the self? Not much, apparently. Best guesses are the (s)khandhas, or ‘heaps’ of causes and conditions that he enumerated to constitute the typical person sans persona that is typically referred to, though many modern Buddhists like to wax long and hard on the ego and ensuing egolessness that would obviously result from that starting point. But our concept of ‘ego’ is so tied to Freud’s concept of id, ego, and superego that it may be misleading. Because I’m sure that the Buddha had no such wild notions.

    The Freudian ego also makes the same mistake that the Buddha was trying to solve, positing self as a thing, or something, anyway, which is an independent actor on an ever-shifting stage, when the actions themselves were much more important, as modern psychology now acknowledges the behavior, rather than some elaborate tripartite self, so like verbs not nouns. The Buddha might even go a step farther and see the composite self as a collection of adjectives, thus tendencies to act, not even dignified by the actions themselves.

    I’m sure that he had our modern notion of selfishness in mind, though, so we have that much in common, what with his obsessions with craving and desire. And that’s where Buddhism has much to say about our modern consumeristic economies and lifestyles to the point that ‘stuff’ becomes the meaning of our lives. This is a trap, of course, and a never-ending cycle of unfulfillment. After all, how can things satisfy us if we ourselves are essentially non-things? Sometimes the world is too much with us. Even the Buddha and Wordsworth could agree on that. The Buddha called it samsara….

     
  • hardie karges 10:39 pm on June 1, 2019 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: , , Freud, ,   

    Freud and the Buddha, ego and self… 

    Life is too short to waste time in pathetic displays of ego, though many of our so-called leaders offer litle guidance in that regard. And ego is one of the traditional pet peeves of Buddhism, though I doubt that the Buddha or anyone else in his time could really conceive of it the way we do in our post-Freudian world. Even if the discipline of psychology has largely been transformed from the science of the mind to the science of behavior, his tripartite division of ‘the mind’ into the three paradigms of id, ego and superego still linger in the consciousness of those of us who studied him, though such distinctions may now seem quaint, fanciful and downright misleading in our post-rational era of particles, genomes and information bits and bytes. But that classical era of psychology shines a light on the Buddhist role of psychology as analogy and metaphor, with many such ‘mental formations’ as self, soul, permanence and eternity serving as linguistic conveniences where no such observable entities may truly exist. But if it feels good, then we do it, and even the Buddha was sympathetic to such machinations and intellectual short-cuts if the results are beneficial to society and the individual in perpetual limbo and looking for a path forward where such is a trail with few markings. We spend half our lives being born and half our lives dying, gathering moments for memories all along the way, and looking for signposts to mark our progress…

     
  • hardie karges 6:14 am on September 4, 2016 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: , , , Freud, ,   

    Buddhism, Existenz, Ego and the Three-Body Problem… 

    IMG_0712The ultimate conundrum of life is that we didn’t ask to be born. The ultimate responsibility is that we not dare to risk death, either. For that we never know the reason why, but simply that it—life—is given, and things given must be accepted in the spirit with which they are given, not without question, but definitely without fail…

    Yet we do risk death, deliberately, repeatedly and with great flair, and often for no good reason. Up until less than a hundred years ago, as hard as it is to believe, people wanted to go to war, to fight, to kill, and this was the high point in many a young man’s life—or death! We look at the past with a mixture of wonder and agony at all the gratuitous violence and senseless destruction without realizing that the key to that phenomenon is right within us—and largely curable… (More …)

     
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