No Mind, No Self: The Buddhist Concept

In [1]Eastern traditions the concept of no-mind (or no-self) means prior to thought, prior to desire, prior to any conceptualization, whatsoever. It is discovered by stripping away all sensation, desire, concepts, intellection, volition, and awareness of "I." It partakes of the Oneness of all. Buddhism calls this mind the Buddha Nature, and much of Buddhist practice is aimed at its realization. They also call it "no-mind" because it is without any grasping at a (selfish) self. The Buddhist concept of no-mind (or no-self) can be very useful to an open-minded individual. Though this concept can be useful, it can be extremely difficult to comprehend for the traditional westerner.

There are some western philosophers, as well as easterners, that acknowledge that there is no basis for the self, and that an individualís identity is unsearchable. However, they accept this concept in completely parallel ways.

[2]Some Western philosophers, such as the 1950\'s existentialists, have also come to this conclusion, but they have tended to regard this as a cause of depression and angst rather than as a source of celebration. This society of \'Existential Angst\' most likely occurred because the philosophers had discovered the emptiness of the self, but at that time they lacked the meditational tools to build upon it.

While these westerners believe the concept of no-self to be a cause of depression, easterners embrace and celebrate the realization of emptiness. The reason for celebration is quite simple. A meditator whose mind has no unalterable spirit also has no constraints, and may choose the foundation of imputation of the self in order to realize the ultimate potential.

Those unfamiliar with Buddhist philosophy may be appalled by this complex concept because most people regard our sense of selfhood as something quite basic to our security and sustained reality. Even more incomprehensible is the fact that Buddhist meditators make the concept of no-mind the main focus of their meditation. Though this new way of thinking may seem appalling to those who are unfamiliar with this philosophy, the intentions are far from appalling. [3]The Buddhist meditators are trying to elucidate the basis of assertion of the Self by clearing away all the socially conditioned and biologically-contingent accretions. Their intention is to become aware of the clear emptiness, the \'suchness\' at the centre of the individual\'s existence. This realization leads to liberation from the round of rebirth and suffering.

Given the western and eastern standpoint of the concept of no-mind (or no-self), it is safe to say that this concept is useful in a more positive and optimistic way for easterners. Not to say that it is useful in a negative way for westerners, but it is used in a more scientific way to determine a cause of an illness or negative state of mind, depression.

From a western upbringing, I believe the concept of no-self to be very useful. I feel that it is more useful to meditate on this idea of emptiness because I feel that it brings more awareness to an individual. By meditating on this concept and realizing its importance from the eastern viewpoint, one can humble his or herself and be more open to life from a whole new perspective. Learning about eastern traditions and Buddhism helps me to have a more open mind about the self. Being brought up as a Catholic, I was never taught about the idea of emptiness and that I should meditate on this concept. I was also not taught to focus on negative feelings, let alone embrace and celebrate them through meditation. We normally regard our sense of selfhood as something absolutely basic to our security and continued existence. If more people were taught to meditate and humble themselves with these teachings, the concept of no mind (or no self) could be much more useful.

No Mind, No SelfThe Buddhist Concept