Who is this thing we call “self”?

Day 98 of #LiveWell2017

Day 98 self as illusion

Even though I was posting about gratitude, I spent a good part of the month of March reading books about meditation. One of the threads that continued to arise among all the books I read was this notion of the self and how we perceive ourselves as “I'” or “me”. I often found myself feeling confused about who or what “self” is, and I am not sure I understand the nuanced definitions of various philosophers, psychiatrists, and practitioners of meditation. On top of those definitions, there is this widespread notion that “self” is an illusion.

Of course, most of us in the U.S. understand the self as it is traditionally defined by Western psychology – that we are this entity separate from other beings, with our own thoughts and actions and characteristics. Philosophers have discussed the concept of self at length over time, as Simon Blackburn writes about here. And then there is the Buddha’s teaching of “no-self” explained here.

Sam Harris explains this notion of “self as an illusion” this way:


So, help me think about this some more. What do you think about these concepts of self and I and me? Is self an illusion? Does meditation help us see that? Does understanding it help us to be more present in our daily lives? Does it help us to #LiveWell and #CreateGoodness?



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