Originally posted by JS357
Quote from http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Nondualism
"Nondualism ultimately suggests that the referent of "I" is in fact an artificial construct (merely the border separating "inner" from "outer," in a sense), the transcendence of which constitutes enlightenment."
Could someone enlighten me further on this thought?
The Greek thinking went like this: we are confronted all the time by change, yet change implies a subject which changes: some essence that is first encountered in its initial state and, after change, encountered as different. So what changes and what persists? Diverse answers were suggested.
The Buddhist notion of "no self" is partly a statement about our essence if you like, in similar terms, and partly a proposed way to achieve a significant change. "I" experience my "self" in many different contexts, as part of that context, and it is an illusion to believe that this "I" is really anything more than an aspect of the context or situation in which it is encountered. When the context changes, then this imagined "I" is different also. "I" experience myself as a child, as a parent, or as knowledgeable or as foolish, as strong or weak, all in relation to a context which is no more than a passing moment in the interminable wastes of time. "I" may be a lowly minion at work, an autocrat at home, a hale-fellow-well-met socially, without ever being authentic. When I search for the "real me," I am very likely to discover that this, again, is a construct that I am free to invent and to re-invent. It is not unusual that people complain about lacking any confidence about that "real" self, feeling that they have failed to find it or that they have lost it.
[One suspicion I have is that what people are truly complaining about is not the self they experience internally, but an identity - how other people see them. They are searching for a mask that works for them, and they would do well to take their lead from Oscar Wilde or WB Yeats and choose any mask they like.]
One proposal might be that it is delusional to keep up that search. When we accept that there is, finally, no self, this releases us from a miserable and always failed project. More importantly, we are free then to encounter our lives and our environment without restraints.
In psychotherapy, a common goal is to lead a client away from fantasy and towards the ability to live "here and now." Fantasy refers to countless ways in which we respond not to the situation as it objectively is, but instead respond to signals that remind us of our life history, so that we are responding to memories and imagined similarities which may bear no reasonable similarity to what is happening.
In the psychology of perception, it is found in many ways that we do not passively "perceive" what is out there; instead we actively match what is there against what we expect to find, based on past experience, and frequently what we think we perceive is actually a false belief. We see what we expect to see and fail to see the unexpected. We also know that memory is highly fabricated, to the extent that witness evidence is notoriously unreliable and suggestible.
Whether "enlightenment" constitutes a so called higher state of the human mind, or it is primarily the ability to see what is really there to be seen, is open to debate. I personally feel impatient with the notion of "transcending" reality when reality is itself so obviously and urgently what has value. We never ever experience anything "rationally" and without feeling, so there is no question that the experience of seeing things as they are will have feelings attached which would be positive ones. There is a sense of delight in moments when we really appreciate something, accompanied by surprise when it is new and unexpected. The ability to live in the moment is widely praised and sought after. If you take this thinking away from subjects such as a setting sun or beautiful landscape, and apply it instead to the ability to see other people as they are, without forming judgements or evaluating them against standards, but just to appreciate and marvel at their uniqueness, to have an open minded curiosity about the life path which shaped them and brought them into contact with you, then maybe the radical nature of this approach will be more evident.