I am pleased to offer the following excerpt from my book ‘Enlightenment to Go: Shantideva and the Power of Compassion to Transform your Life’.
As a young child I remember the great excitement I felt about Santa Claus. Every year, as Christmas approached, his name would be invoked as a way of making me behave myself. While my parents, being good Presbyterians, didn’t allow the frippery of Santa to hijack the sacred annual landmark of Christmas, Santa was allowed a walk-on role. In our home, as in countless millions of others around the world, in the build-up to Christmas, heartfelt letters were written to Santa. What he may or may not bring us was an ongoing topic of conversation—or, in retrospect, expectations management. On Christmas Eve, stockings were draped from the mantelpiece, and a glass of milk and biscuits were left out for our nocturnal visitor, who was in the habit of leaving a lot of crumbs on his plate as though to evidence the gusto with which he’d wolfed down his midnight snack.
One of the highlights of the weeks leading up to Christmas was the visit to see Santa himself. Our particular Santa was to be found in his grotto on the fourth floor of Barbour’s, a department store uncannily similar in character to Grace Brothers in the vintage TV series Are You Being Served? Quite why Santa chose to visit Barbour’s year after year, why he wore a thick red suit in the middle of an African summer, and how he got away from his North Pole workshops at a time of year when they were, presumably, at their most frenetic, were never questions that occurred to me. Instead, I’d line up with all the other kids behind a cordon, as white-gloved security men nodded knowingly at our mothers and allowed us, one by one, through to where Santa sat in a cottonwool igloo decorated with fairy lights. There we’d perch on his knee, blurt out what we wanted for Christmas, hope desperately he believed us when we told him that yes, we had been very good boys and girls, before walking away with a small gift from the large sack of presents he kept by his chair.
For those brief few years, there was no doubt in my mind that Santa existed. Not only had I met him, I had sat on his knee. I knew what he looked like and something about his kindly personality. Why shouldn’t I believe in him?
As it happens, most of us have a tendency to believe in a Santa-fied version of ourselves. While this point may not be immediately obvious, hopefully it will be clearer by the end of this and the following chapter, both of which focus on this important truth.
Generally speaking, each one of us assumes that we are separate and independent from the world around us. We each have a body, a personality, a home and a variety of things we call ‘mine’. And though we don’t usually give much thought to exactly who or what this ‘I’ comprises, we usually think of ‘me’ as an owner and/or controller. We talk about ‘my body’ as being like an important but subsidiary entity belonging to ‘me’. Similarly ‘my personality’ or ‘my mind’ belongs to this ‘me’. ‘I’ am the one running the show. Even those who don’t have any religious leanings tend to think of people as having a core, an inner nature, or an essence: some distinctive component that makes them uniquely who they are.
Buddha’s most important teaching, however, is that a person—or any other phenomenon—that exists independently and separately from everything else is an impossibility. As Geshe Loden explains: ‘Holding an object as self-existent is viewing it as having a self or entity that exists independently of parts, causes and conditions . . . [This] view of self-existence, or inherent existence, is totally mistaken because all phenomena are empty of such a mode of existence.’
Geshe Loden explains that it’s easier to understand the concept of ‘emptiness of self-existence’ when we apply it to ourselves, rather than to other phenomena. So that’s where we’ll begin.
Dependence on parts
Who is this entity we call ‘I’ or ‘myself’, the owner or possessor of my body and mind? This is the subject of our analysis. At functions, we’re often given a name tag to pin onto our lapel so everyone can learn one another’s names. If you had a name tag labelled ‘Self’, where would you pin it? Presumably, somewhere within your psycho-physical continuum. The idea that ‘I’ could exist separately from my body is illogical because if that were true, ‘I’ would be completely unaffected by whatever happened to the body, which is clearly not the case. So our search for a place to pin our ‘Self’ label is narrowed to somewhere in our body or mind. And as Shantideva explains:
Teeth, hair and nails are not the self,
The self is not bones nor blood,
Neither mucus nor phlegm,
Also not lymph or pus.
Shantideva continues for several verses on the same theme, reviewing every part of the body before dismissing it as not the thing we call ‘me’ or ‘myself’. On one level this may seem an incredibly obvious point, but on another, we’re building up a case that has profound implications for the nature of our existence, which is why Tibetan Buddhists frequently repeat an analytical meditation along these lines (provided at the end of this chapter).
To investigate this for yourself, slowly scan upwards through your body—feet, legs, torso, arms, shoulders, neck and head—asking, ‘Is this the “I”, or “myself”? Are my feet “me”? Are my ankles “me”? Are my shins “me”?’ What we find, as our body scan progresses, are body parts of ‘me’ but not the actual ‘me’. Like a frustrated receptionist at a conference gathering, we’re left holding our ‘Self’ label, unable to find the elusive delegate on whom to pin it.
But then we may decide that we were looking in the wrong place. We were never going to find ‘Self’ closeted away with the kidneys and liver. He or she is far too cerebral for that. ‘Self’ is an aspect of consciousness, a part of our mind, we may decide. Okay, so let’s go looking through the various aspects of mental functioning.
Tibetan Buddhism defines six kinds of ordinary consciousness: sight, sound, smell, taste, touch and mental consciousness. We can make our way through the first five without too much trouble—there’s obviously more to ‘me’ than a consciousness of taste, for example, as much as ‘I’ may like Belgian chocolate. Similarly, ‘I’ am a lot more than only an appreciation of sound, scent or touch. So we might conclude that ‘I’ have to be a part of mental consciousness.
Are we getting closer? When we meditate on mental consciousness, however, what we discover, after the agitation settles down, is merely spacious clarity and an ability to cognise things. That is the nature of mental consciousness. There is no other mental factor to be found beyond clarity and cognition, or clarity and awareness. And there’s more to ‘me’ than that too. As Shantideva confirms:
Flesh and skin are not the self,
Heat and winds are not the self,
Neither are bodily cavities the self,
Also the six consciousnesses are not the self.
When he talks of ‘heat’ and ‘winds’ he is referring to the four elements—earth, water, heat and wind—on which Tibetan medicine was traditionally formulated. We may feel uncomfortable with this as a basis for analysis. We may also feel that in defining the mind in terms of six consciousnesses, the deck in this analysis is stacked in such a way that it can result in only one possible outcome.
But we don’t have to use the four elements if we don’t want to—I personally prefer to think more along Western lines, thinking about the body in terms of skeleton, muscles, blood vessels, organs and so on. Nor do we have to define the mind in terms of six consciousnesses—we can use whatever method of classification we like. We can go for the Freudian definitions of id, ego and super-ego—to which of these can I pin the label ‘Self’? Or if Transactional Analysis is more to our liking, we can look at mind in terms of parent, adult and child—where does the ‘Self’ name tag go there?
It really doesn’t matter what method of categorisation we use for body or mind, the result is always the same—having looked at every component part in turn, we’re still left without a specific place to call ‘me’. If we were able to dissect both body and mind, and arrange the various body and mental constituents in front of us, we would be unable to identify an ‘I’ or ‘self’ among any of them.
By the same reasoning, if we were to dismantle my Honda car and arrange all its various component parts on a workshop floor, we would find no specific part on which to pin the name ‘Honda’. That’s because ‘Honda’ is simply the label we apply to a collection of parts, arranged to function in a particular way.
And the same is true of me. ‘Me’, ‘myself’ and ‘I’ are only labels for a collection of physical and mental components, arranged to function in a particular way. There is no ‘me’ that exists separately or independently of this collection, in just the same way that there is no car that exists separately from the collection of parts on the workshop floor.
‘I’ am a label applied to a collection of parts. There is no ‘I’ that owns, controls or manages the parts. ‘I’ am the collection of parts. My whole concept of ‘I’, just like others’ perception of ‘me’, is wholly dependent on those parts. What happens if I get a bad knock on the head, and my personality changes from that of a relaxed individual to one with a very short fuse? Or if I lose my legs in a car accident and have to use a wheelchair? Even though I may have the conviction that I, myself, am essentially unchanged, other people wouldn’t think of me as just the same person but with a bad temper, or just the same person but without legs. The overall idea of who ‘I’ am would change.
I recently came across the tragic story of a young man who was blinded by a rare illness. Difficult though it was to adjust to life as a sightless person afterwards, what made matters even worse was that he was shunned by a number of his former friends. For whatever reason, they couldn’t cope with the fact that he’d lost his sight. He would hear their voices in the street, or when he stepped inside his local pub, but they never approached him as they would routinely have done in the past. Even though he felt he was essentially the same person he had been before his blindness—and although he would have cherished their friendship more than ever—to them it was as if he was unrecognisable as their former friend.
The mistaken view we have of a self who is a controller or possessor can be demonstrated in a different way. Tibetan Buddhists, fond of debate, sometimes use the device of supposing, hypothetically, that some misconception is true. What would its implications be? In our example, let’s suppose the conference receptionist with ‘Self’s’ label, frustrated at having searched through every ‘body’ and ‘mind’ delegate without success, heads down a corridor to the management suite to report the important missing delegate—and who should she run into, lurking alone by the fire hydrants, but Self!
What would be the implications of that?
Most obviously, if Self really was that independent, it wouldn’t matter what was going on with body or mind, he or she wouldn’t even know it was happening. Self would have no relationship with them, and would remain unaffected by whatever they went through. Similarly, if Self took themselves off on a Self-development course, whatever they learned wouldn’t have any impact at all on their cognitive behaviour, personality or other mental or physical activity, all of which would continue to operate independently of Self.
Which obviously isn’t our experience.
The reality is that, for the most part, we think about ourselves as existing in a way that we just don’t. We hold this unexplored assumption of a ‘me’ which is somehow independent or separate from a collection of parts, which is over and above the parts, owns them and to a large extent controls them.
Dependence on causes
That’s not the only assumption we make. We also tend to assume that ‘me’, ‘myself’ and ‘I’ operates as a fixed entity, quite separately from the outside world too. There is ‘self’ and there is ‘other’, and for the most part we see a clear distinction between the two. But how much scrutiny can this assumption withstand?
On a physiological basis, it’s hard to sustain an argument that we are stable, self-contained systems who exist independently of the outside world. After all, we’re so dependent on food that all it takes is a couple of days without nourishment (and just a few hours without water) and we’re unable to function. Just a couple of minutes without oxygen and it’s game over. While the fragility of our life is something we rarely think about, unless brought face to face with it by some shock occurrence, the reality is that our hold on life is tenuous and we are highly dependent on favourable external circumstances. Living in a developed country, most of us are insulated from that harsh reality, but most beings with whom we share the planet aren’t nearly so lucky.
Even before we go near matters of life and death, however, our physical and mental state is profoundly influenced by external circumstance. The person who is the life and soul of the party, joking, dancing and entertaining friends, may seem a very different creature from the withdrawn individual sitting in the corner—but what if the only difference is a few hours and a very different blood-alcohol reading? And which is the real self—the party animal or the more reserved version?
Like chemical cocktails, our physical and emotional state is constantly changing depending on what we put into our system. Food stressors, like sugar, caffeine, alcohol and chocolate, have a very different impact on the way we feel and behave than food supporters, like water, vegetables and oil-rich fish. Over a sustained period of time we become what we eat, or don’t eat—factors which would be irrelevant if ‘I’ really was a self-sustaining being.
In reality, not only are we wholly dependent on the outside world for our physical continuity, but there isn’t a single cell in our body that remains constant. My entire self is comprised of cells which are constantly dying off and being regenerated, not to mention all the bacteria we carry along for the ride, all separate life forms with their own agenda. These components, including all our organs, blood and bone, are constantly being replaced by materials from the outside, ‘non-me’ world, so that our bodies are not only fundamentally ‘non-me’, they are also in a state of constant flux.
Not even the way in which these outsourced components is arranged is determined by ‘me’. One of the most fascinating scientific inquiries of recent decades is the Minnesota Twin Family Study, which studied hundreds of pairs of identical twins who had been raised in separate homes. The study showed such striking psychological and behavioural similarities between the twins that researchers concluded that genes affect ‘almost every behavioural trait so far investigated, from reaction time to religiosity’.
Apart from the obvious similarities of physiology, other unexpected ‘coincidences’ were curiously quirky, including such things as the habit of flushing a toilet before using it, the collecting of rubber bands on wrists, reading magazines from back to front and, in the case of one pair of twins, each wearing seven rings on exactly the same fingers, and three bracelets.
It is interesting to note that ‘religiosity’ might be genetically determined—it would certainly help explain why unrelated people who share very similar backgrounds have such different levels of interest in spiritual matters.
Although the term DNA was unknown to Shantideva, he nevertheless recognised the essential truth of our genetic dependence.
Although the basis is quite impersonal,
Through constant familiarity
I have come to regard
The drops of sperm and blood of others as ‘I’.
It is hard to think of a greater challenge to our sense of identity than this! Never one to shy away from the uncomfortable truth, Shantideva points out that we’re so used to thinking of ourselves as an independent ‘I’ that we have long lost sight of the fact that our whole existence is based on the genetic material of two other people. We tend to forget that our appearance, intelligence, personality and physical profile is largely determined by genes. But, apart from reminding us of this fact, how much of what we believe to be uniquely ‘me’ really is the result of asserting our conscious will, and how much was decided years ago by the joining of that particular sperm and egg? We may think that ‘I’ am responsible for certain decisions and behaviour, but what if much of this is genetically determined?
To advance the analogy of my dismantled Honda, this time taking into account dependence on causes, our challenge is still to find a place to stick the label ‘Honda’, but now we discover that the dismantled car scattered across the workshop floor was codesigned by one engineer from Volkswagen and another from Hyundai; that none of the parts come from a Honda factory, but rather from a wide variety of other sources; and that every component has been exchanged for a different one. How authentic does that Honda label feel now?!
So far we have investigated our dependence on causes from a purely physical perspective. When we look at the workings of our mind, here too we find that everything we take to be ‘me’ actually originates from somewhere else. Counterbalancing nature in the developmental debate is nurture, and this is what we’re talking about. The language that we speak, every idea we have about what constitutes ‘normal’, our education, socialisation and attitudes all come from somewhere else. The details of our world view may be as individual as our experiences, but they originate from outside of us, and so many of our dominant convictions are shaped by the community in which we live.
I’m often struck by the thought that a child born in one part of Jerusalem may be brought up to resent Muslims, while a child born five minutes’ drive away may be brought up to resent Jews. What do we consider to be the main issues of the day: the economy, climate change, the impact of globalisation? Or where to score our next hit, how to collect more social security money and what to do if debt collectors show up at the door? Our views about what matters are largely driven by the environment in which we find ourselves.
And our mental components are even more liable to change than our physiological ones: with a different environment, and exposure to powerfully presented new ideas, it’s quite possible for us to experience a 180-degree shift in our opinions.
The ‘I’ that exists purely as a label refers not only to a constantly changing group of body parts, but to attitudes and ideas that are also subject to ongoing revision. At university I remember a psychology lecturer playfully suggesting that, to draw a distinction between the different versions of ourselves that evolve over time, people should have date stamps attached to their name. ‘David Michie: July 2010’ may be of the same continuum as ‘David Michie: July 1980’, but the two have very different perspectives and should not be confused. Who do we think of when we hear names like Mohammed Ali or Iris Murdoch? The stars of their prime, or the people of their twilight years? Which versions are the ‘real’ them?
This is the challenge we face when we try to apply a label to a constantly changing collection of parts, each of which in turn is dependent on a wide variety of causes. As Shantideva puts it (here using this reasoning as a caution against anger):
Hence everything is governed by other factors which in turn are governed by others,
And in this way nothing governs itself.
Having understood this, I should not become angry
With phenomena, which are like apparitions.
Dependence on projection of the mind
The writing of Professor Richard Gregory, one of Britain’s most eminent neuropsychologists, provides some of the most accessible insights into current scientific thinking about how we experience reality.
Most of us become aware, at some point, that our perception of a particular sensation is different from that of other people’s. It can seem unfathomable why someone wouldn’t love the same piece of music that we do; why, looking at the same vista, they aren’t also struck by the same sense of wonder; why, taking a mouthful of the same food, they don’t share our delight or revulsion. This is because most of us assume the truth of what’s known in neuropsychology circles as a direct-perception theory, which is that the brain acts as a mere receptor for sensations channelled to it through the eyes, ears and other sensory doorways. This view has long been abandoned as simplistic by neuropsychologists. Advances in technology have revealed a far more complex process.
To use the cognitive visual system as an example, it is now known that some 80 per cent of fibres in the part of the brain that processes visual imagery comes from the cortex—which governs functions including memory—and only 20 per cent from the retinas. Our eyes may receive images of furry moving fragments behind our neighbour’s fence, but we ‘see’ their poodle chasing the postman. Our eyes may receive the profile of a two-dimensional piece of china with a handle, but we ‘see’ a cup. As Professor Gregory explains: ‘We carry in our heads predictive hypotheses of the external world of objects and of ourselves. These brain-based hypotheses of perception are our most immediate reality. But they entail many stages of physiological signalling and complicated cognitive computing, so experience is but indirectly related to external reality.’ (My italics.)
Far from being simple receptors of images, our brains draw on memory and other brain functions to project a predictive hypothesis onto what we’re seeing. In fact, our perceptions may be up to 90 per cent memory. ‘This startling notion,’ says Professor Gregory, ‘that perception is projecting brain-hypotheses outwards into the physical world—endowing the world with colour and sound and meaning—has surprising implications.’
Buddha couldn’t have put it better himself. Professor Gregory’s explanation concurs exactly with Dharma teachings on dependent arising, specifically on the idea that the existence of an object is dependent on a projection of our mind—or ‘mind’s imputation’, as it is sometimes described. Both the Dharma and contemporary neuroscience use the same word to describe the way we perceive reality: as a ‘projection’.
Although our usual experience of reality is that things outside of us exist in a particular way purely from their own side, a more accurate understanding is that we are the co-creators of the way that things exist. According to science, the way that things exist is 90 per cent us and only 10 per cent them. No wonder everyone doesn’t experience the same sights, sounds, tastes and so on as we do: we may be looking at the same thing, but we are creating very different realities.
Quantum physicists concur on this subject. Just as the direct-perception theory has long been abandoned by neuroscientists as an adequate description of how we experience the outside world, so too the theories of nineteenth-century classical science—which held that an object’s properties, such as its mass and length, had definite values—were thrown out by Einstein’s Theory of Relativity. To quote physicist David Bohm, ‘Relativity and quantum theory have shown that it has no meaning to divide the observing apparatus from what is observed.’ Or as Austrian physicist Erwin Schrödinger summed it up: ‘[E]very man’s world picture is and always remains a construct of his mind and cannot be proved to have any other existence.’
Where does this take us in our pursuit of ‘me’, ‘myself’ or ‘I’?
As science and the Dharma agree, ‘I’ is a projection of my own mind. My perception of ‘I’ is necessarily different from other people’s perception of me and, as we well know, can change dramatically depending on what kind of mood I’m in. If I’m feeling depressed I’ll be convinced that I’m unattractive, incompetent and socially inept and will project all kinds of other negativities onto ‘me’. If I’m feeling upbeat and optimistic, I may think of ‘me’ as good-looking, charming, a high achiever and so on.
Which is the ‘real’ I?
The Santa Claus-like ‘me’
Recognising that ‘I’ is simply a label for a collection of parts, rather than an owner or controller of those parts; that each part—as well as the collection—is dependent on causes which are constantly changing; and that the entire collection is a construct of the mind, with no independent reality, does this all mean that ‘I’ somehow don’t exist?
In a word, no. What it means is that ‘I’ exist in a way that’s very different from what I usually suppose.
Here it might be useful to return to the metaphor of Santa Claus. While my annual visits to see Santa and opening of his Christmas presents were a source of great excitement, at some point in my childhood the sobering truth was revealed. I can’t remember whether this was a one-off bombshell or the result of questioning over a period of time, but—one way or another—I came to realise that my idea of Santa was just an illusion. It was impossible for Santa to exist in the way that I thought he did, visiting the home of every child in the world in a single night to give them presents. Nor had he ever existed like that.
Did that mean Santa didn’t exist at all? No, it didn’t. A man in a red suit and white beard still ‘Ho ho ho’d’ on Barbour’s fourth floor every year. Kids still lined up to see him and mumble their requests. While I would never be fooled about Santa again, I could see why other kids, who hadn’t yet discovered the truth, were so excited to see him. I knew the illusion they were under, because I had once believed the same thing.
So it is with ‘me’, ‘myself’ and ‘I’. In the same way that as children we projected a fantasised way of being onto a man wearing a red suit and white beard, so too most of us project a fantasised way of being onto a collection of physical and psychological components. Just as there is no Santa who flies through the night on his sleigh, there is no ‘I’ who owns, controls or possesses our physical or mental functioning. This ‘self’ who is the powerful centre of our particular universe—whose rights we’re so quick to defend, and interests we’re so keen to advance—is, in fact, nothing but an elaborate fabrication we impute onto a constantly changing collection of parts. Everyone else is involved in their own particular make-believe too, trying to persuade others to believe in the particular projection of themselves that they’ve created, to concretise this great ghost called ‘self’.
The ease with which we can change the view we have of ourselves, from one mood to the next, should perhaps tip us off to the fact that this imputed self has so little substance. For most of us, all it takes is an encounter with an articulate, confident communicator, and we can come away feeling either wonderful or dejected about ourselves. Would we experience such feelings if we fully understood they were talking about something that was just their own projection?
Liberation from ‘I’
Dharma teachers sometimes talk of ‘the two I’s’. The true ‘I’ is just a label for a collection of parts. This is an accurate use of ‘I’. The false ‘I’ is the entity we project onto that collection, the one we attribute with a way of being and all kinds of characteristics which are as real as Santa Claus.
Making the discovery that this ‘I’ is an illusion comes as a shock. Cherishing the ‘false I’ or ‘self’ is among our most powerful instincts, our most deeply ingrained habits. It is the motive behind much of our behaviour. To have this ‘self’ unmasked as a fantasy is a truly life-changing discovery. But it is also a wonderfully liberating one.
Because cherishing this false self is also the cause of all our dissatisfaction and unhappiness. And while Buddha’s teachings on renunciation and bodhichitta help us to replace our negative mental projections with more positive ones, it is his teachings on dependent arising, or emptiness of self-existence, which provide the direct gateway to permanent freedom. In his book Confession of a Buddhist Atheist, Stephen Batchelor sums up the extraordinary contribution made by Buddha, referred to here by his family name, Gotama:
Gotama did for the self what Copernicus did for the earth: he put it in its rightful place, despite its continuing to appear just as it did before. Gotama no more rejected the existence of the self than Copernicus rejected the existence of the earth. Instead, rather than regarding it as a fixed, non-contingent point around which everything else turned, he recognised that each self was a fluid, contingent process just like everything else.
In the next chapter I offer some suggestions on how to go forward on the basis of the analysis provided in this one. But I’ll close with a few words that might have been used by any Buddhist teacher: ‘The true value of a human being is determined primarily by the measure and the sense in which he has attained to liberation from the self.’ This is the enlightened observation not of the Dalai Lama or Shantideva, but of Albert Einstein, who, approaching the nature of our existence from a scientific perspective, reached an identical conclusion.
Analytical meditation: Where is the ‘I’?
It’s very important to establish clearly at the outset of this meditation what we are trying to find, which is the ‘me’, ‘myself’ or ‘I’ that we usually assume ourselves to be. We are trying to find the ‘I’ who possesses or controls ‘my’ body and mind. The independent ‘I’ who exists separately from body parts and mental functioning. The ‘I’ who is angry when other people are provocative. The ‘I’ who suffers from depression, stress or anxiety. Where is this ‘I’ to be found?
As usual, first stabilise the mind through a breath meditation exercise. Given the subtlety of this meditation, you may want to extend this stabilisation period so that the mind is as calm and relaxed as possible.
When you are ready, ask yourself: ‘Who am I? Are my feet the “I”? When I talk about “me”, are my feet who I feel myself to be? Are my feet who I think of as “I”?’ Take your time in this investigation.
Having discarded feet as a possibility, move up to the legs. ‘Are my legs the “I”?’
Continue this same analysis, working your way up your body through the torso, hands, arms, shoulders, neck and head. Can you find the independent, self-existent ‘I’?
If ‘I’ am not a body part, perhaps I am a functioning of mind or consciousness? Go through each aspect of consciousness. ‘Am I my eye consciousness? My nose consciousness? My ear consciousness? My taste consciousness? My touch consciousness?’ Look at each of these one by one.
We are left only with mental consciousness—is the ‘I’ to be found here? When the mind is settled, I discover mental consciousness to be nothing more than spacious clarity and awareness. Is that who I think of my ‘self’ as being?
Recognise that, having looked through every element of body and mind, you are unable to find an independent, self-existent ‘I’. Focus single-pointedly on the un-findability of this ‘I’.
(NB The passage above is an excerpt from my book Enlightenment to Go. It is always emphasised that the un-findability of a self should never be taken too far, or interpreted in a way that suggests no ‘I’ exists. On the contrary, there is a ‘true I’ – that is, a label for a collection of parts, causes and mind’s imputation. What’s more, the Buddhist view is that our mind is a continuum of clarity and awareness that continues through this lifetime and after it. It is the potential of this mind for enlightenment which is the basis of our spiritual path.)
(Photo Credit: Thanks to Mike Arney on unsplash for the great picture of Santa).
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