Thursday, 19 June 2014

the sense of self, now and back then - part two

The temporary dislocation of the continuity of my ordinary self (see last post) may relate to what neuroscience seems to be telling us: that the ego, the strong sense of myself as a continuing presence, is re-constructed "as we go along," continuously. There is no solid place inside all this flux and change that is "me." "Me" is part of the flux. But that's OK, because out of the flux comes a pretty useful thing: the illusion that "I" is separate from everything else. Well - useful in a social sense, but not actually accurate.

(I don't know what the pretty patterns mean either, but it shows different areas of the brain lighting up, as different patterns of neurons fire, re-making "me" by the moment.)

I think that's what the unusual, alienating, dislocating state of mind I referred to in the last post comes from. Without any analysis on my part, and certainly with almost no understanding, my mind sets aside the usual clatter and chatter and exists in the present.

Although mindfulness meditation methodology has no doctrinal, religious content, it derives from Buddhist meditation practice. And maybe that's because it was Buddha who had the insight (revelation, nirvana, whatever you like to call it) that the self is an illusion - at least, the self as we usually inhabit it.And he did so once he'd given up starving himself and pursuing asceticism and bodily denial because it proved futile. He just meditated, and out of that came his enlightenment, his insights into human suffering and the nature of the self.

Understanding that the self as we usually think of it and feel it - i.e. as a constant entity - is an illusion, and living with that understanding, in the reality of the present moment, seems to yield great benefits. Even the NHS recognises that now. 

So there you are - from 12-year-old oddness through Buddha and neuroscience to the NHS. I have linked it all up for you.

 Is that my Nobel Prize you're holding? Oh no, it is Nurse Ratched with my medications....

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