No Self

The more I study myself, the more I realize that ‘my self’ is largely an illusion. Perhaps there really is no self. That would explain why the Buddhist monks put so much emphasis on self-discovery – because the longer one studies themselves, the more one realizes that there really is no self. Look deep inside your soul and you begin to see that there’s nothing there – it’s just emptiness, no self.

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The Heart Sutra on Emptiness

The following is a quote from the Heart Sutra (also known as the Prajñāpāramitā-hṛdaya Sutra). The sutra is spoken by Avalokiteśvar, a Boddhisattva, and is addressed to his disciple, Sariputra.

‘Thus, Satiputra, all things have the character of emptiness, they have no beginning, no end, they are faultless and not faultless, they are not perfect and not imperfect. Therefore, O Sariputra, here in this emptiness there is no form, no perception, no name, no concepts, no knowledge. No eye, no ear, no nose, no tongue, no body, no mind. No form, no sound, no smell, no taste, no touch, no objects…There is no knowledge, no ignorance…there is no decay nor death; there are no four truths. There is no pain, no origin of pain, no stoppage of pain, and no path to the stoppage of pain. There is no knowledge of nirvana, no obtaining it, no not-obtaining it.’

Buddhism and Emptiness

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What I like about Buddhism is that it does not attempt to conceal or distract one from the emptiness inside their lives. Other religions seem to focus a lot on the idea that by doing or accepting X you will somehow be complete.

“Accept Jesus in you life and you will be complete!”
“Follow the commands of God and you will be complete!”
“Spread love and peace and you will be complete!”
So many religious teachings seem to offer a feeling of ‘completeness’ as a sort of motivation for following their religion.
But Buddhism on the other hand doesn’t seem to do this. Rather than promise a feeling of completion, Buddhism says ‘You will always be empty. Embrace the emptiness! Become one with the void.’ I prefer this, this idea of ’embracing ones emptiness’ rather than the ideas that completion and completeness can be obtained. The feeling of emptiness is an integral part of our lives.

Emptiness in Life

For a while I tried to end the emptiness inside my life. But eventually I learned that emptiness is inevitable. It will never go away as long as I exist. So instead of despising it I decided to embrace it. Things in life go much smoother when one learns to accept and embrace the feelings of emptiness in their life – when one understands that these feelings are a part of you – that they will always be a part of you.

You Will Be You

You are who you are. Whether there is determinism or free will, whether you are conscious or unconscious, whether you are a radical individualist or a collective slave, whether you know yourself or have not the slightest idea about your being – you are who you are. You will be you, not forever of course, because everything is ephemeral – but for the time being, while you exist – you will be you. And only death will change that. Only in death will you finally join everything that once was in the emptiness of nonexistence. But until then, until you do finally cease to exist- you will be you. No matter what you do, or what you believe, or how you feel – you will be you. So stop trying to be someone else, because you will never be that person. You will be you. In the end, everyone – you, me, your role model, your true love, your best friend, your worst enemy – in the end all of use become “one” in death. When we all cease to exist – that is when you and everyone else will finally be identical! But until then, until you die, you will be you.  So stop trying to be someone else! You exist now – and you will be you!