Applying "no self"

So I was confused about no self until I saw this:


A key idea of Buddhism is that everything constantly changes. Any object, such as a red tulip in your garden, changes moment to moment. Its colours change depending on the light. The sheen on its petals changes depending on moisture in the air. Placed in the wrong location, such as a vegetable garden, a tulip ceases to be a flower and becomes a weed. The tulip has no single, unchanging essence. The same is true for you. You are real – you exist – but, from a Buddhist perspective, you have no intrinsic identity that is separate from the things going on around you. Your identity is constituted in the moment, in part, by your situation.

If you believe that you have a single, consistent, unchanging, core ‘self’ that uniquely defines you, this belief, according to Buddhist philosophy, is the foundation of human suffering. Here, suffering is not merely physical discomfort, like having the flu or shutting a door on your hand. Suffering is personal: you’ll toil to avoid feeling flawed in some way. You’ll constantly worry about your reputation or that you’re failing to live up to standards created by others. In this sense, believing that you have one true self is worse than a passing physical illness; it is an enduring affliction (translation: a chronically imbalanced body budget).

Many people go through life believing that they have an unchanging, core identity. They usually also think that their friends, families, acquaintances and lovers have enduring selves as well. No wonder, because we describe ourselves in this way all the time. We go on dates and quiz each other about what we’re like. In job interviews, the classic question is: ‘Tell me about yourself.’ Zillions of surveys you see online and in magazines ask you to describe yourself: are you an introvert or an extrovert? A dog person or cat person? When we answer these kinds of questions, we are almost always looking to reveal the unchanging features of a core, enduring identity.

But how do you apply this. It’s different from before when I heard that it does not exist, but the reality as I learned what they really meant was that there is no “separate self” that exists independently from everything else. Which I guess means you are influenced by what’s around you. Would sounds obvious, except to me, but how does one apply this sort of thing to other people?

You don’t apply it to other people. It’s about the self. I was once a husband, then I wasn’t, now I’m a husband again, but to a different person. That earlier husband doesn’t exist anymore, except as part of the memories of me and if I keep leaving the lid up, I might find out what it is to not be a husband again.


Spend a week not putting the lid up at all. The complaints about not putting it down will go away.

Interestingly, another piece in AEON articulates the problem with “mindfulness” as the magic bullet in therapy:


(There are) has disturbing implications for how mindfulness encourages us to relate to our thoughts, emotions and very sense of self....

Anattā is a metaphysical denial of the self, defending the idea that there is nothing like a soul, spirit or any ongoing individual basis for identity. This view denies that each of us is an underlying subject of our own experience…

Its conceptual toolbox doesn’t allow for more confronting statements, such as ‘I am feeling insecure,’ ‘These are my anxious feelings,’ or even ‘I might be a neurotic person.’ Without some ownership of one’s feelings and thoughts, it is difficult to take responsibility for them. …

By relinquishing the self, we divorce it from its environment and therefore its particular explanatory context.

Re the OP: Lausten is right. The concept isn’t meant to apply to others, only to oneself.

Good to see Xain back at the task of trying to figure out Buddhism. …

Ever see One Flew Over The Cockoo’s Nest? Seems to me what happened to Randle Patrick McMurphy is what it means to have ‘no self.’

I don’t always like myself, in fact shoot myself in the foot often and I can beat the shit out of myself like no one else.

But, I’ll take it any day to No Self.


Just say’n :wink:



Ever see One Flew Over The Cockoo’s Nest? Seems to me what happened to Randle Patrick McMurphy is what it means to have ‘no self.’
Indeed, he was lobotomized.


But I fear using such an extreme example diminishes the issue.

“Mindfulness Meditation” is the new CBT, which was the new psychotherapy, which was the new exorcism. It’s being touted as the new cure for all that ails thee. And among its biggest selling points is that it’s drug-free, surgery-free, and benign.

It seems particularly attractive to ex-Christians and atheists because it’s kinda spiritual and Buddhism is atheist-friendly.

But it isn’t benign. There are some legit problems with it (in addition to being over-sold)…

And some people, especially trauma survivors (who are using MM a LOT), are DEVELOPING anxiety disorders and psychosis from meditation because they get “stuck.”


Yipes, not sure how we got to Cognitive behavioral therapy (CBT). Though I could see it slipping past me. I was just making a riff out of the notion of “No Self.” Guess it helps that I managed it once and it sucks. The here and now and living in it is where it’s at so far as I’m concerned.


At this point I have as little patience with psychology as I do with religion. So much of what is good is obvious if you exercise Mindful Living - the rest of it devolves into people loving to hear themselves talk. But, that’s just me.




Yipes, not sure how we got to Cognitive behavioral therapy (CBT). Though I could see it slipping past me. I was just making a riff out of the notion of “No Self.”
I'm sorry, I didn't mean to confuse things.

I brought up CBT because for about 20 years, many thought that CBT was the perfect therapy for every emotional issue. And these days, Mindfulness Meditation is replacing CBT in that role.

There are Mindfulness Meditation books, videos, classes, and even apps for your phone … dozens of them. It is ubiquitous. And part of the reason is that MM seems completely safe and side-effect free.

But there are, in fact, some real problems with MM, its overuse and people using it without understanding of it.

So, when you point out lobotomy, that makes it so extreme it sort of muddies up the waters.

Am I making any sense? I’m in a hurry and the more I explain it the more difficult it becomes to explain.

I know nothink about Mindfulness Meditation. But I would play along if it staved off a lobotomy. I imagine it would be like taking a trip to our contemporary “Paranormal” Forum.

I didn’t think it meant just for you but to all. That if there was no “one” to love or “help” then they can’t really teach compassion or helping others.

Even some advice for when you’re anxious is phrased as “who is anxious or depressed”?