The self: a convenient fiction

QUOTE: "When it comes to what we think about, what we like and what we do Walt Whitman captured our natural hypocrisies and inconsistencies with this famous and keenly insightful remark: ‘Do I contradict myself? Very well then I contradict myself, (I am large, I contain multitudes.)’"

What if I approach inner work more in the manner of modules? A nice metaphor is that of apps on your cell phone. Apps are small programs who are designed to do one thing, and do it extremely well. Maybe an app is for connecting you to a certain site, say your bank. Another app is to watch movies. Another app might be a GPS. And so on.

There is a long history in spiritual circles of the illusoriness of the self. pretty much everything the Buddha had to say was about it. Within the Christian tradition there is the John Main strand, popularized by of the false v. real self – although I am getting to the point where I find even that dichotomy illusory, or at least misguided.

to back me up it is worth following the link in the article to the lecture by Julian Baggini who explains that, “the fact that we are a very complex collection of things does not mean we are not real.” The article then outlines Baggini’s metaphor of the waterfall which is an "illusion" though very real.

The question for inner work then becomes what are these collected experiences? What to make of them? What to make of the collection of experiences, and what to make of the Collector? Baggini suggests that the way forward is to understand the history of the collection and the process of collecting.

I find the waterfall imagery and metaphor quite powerful and fruitful going forward.

About spaceloom

An urban monk, and an experienced spiritual director with a Masters in Psychology. Married with two children. Want to know me better? Read my thoughts.
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