Alan Watts, Eckhart Tolle, and Rick Hanson on The Illusion of Self

Let's interweave today, addressing a thrilling topic: Illusion of Self (Hindu: Anatman, Buddhist: Anatta). Following are three passages from books featured in my "A Book/Week" series. Each has precise sourcing data beneath it. Enjoy!

Alan Watts

"To be human is precisely to have that extra circuit of consciousness which enables us to know that we know, and thus to take an attitude towards all that we experience. The mistake which we have made—and this, if anything, is the fall of man—is to suppose that that extra circuit, that ability to take an attitude toward the rest of life as a whole, is the same as actually standing aside and being separate from what we see. We seem to feel that the thing that knows that it knows is one's essential self, that—in other words—our personal identity is entirely on the side of the commentator. We forget, because we learn to ignore so subtly, the larger organismic fact that self-consciousness is simply a subordinate part and an instrument of our whole being, a sort of mental counterpart of the finger-thumb opposition in the human hand. Now which is really you, the finger or the thumb?"
~Alan Watts pg 9 "Cloud-Hidden, Whereabouts Unknown: A Mountain Journal"
{A Book/Week ~ Book 20} Thorough exploration of pages proximal to this passage in Vocal Readingshttps://youtu.be/099DqvkD8o0

Rick Hanson

"The brain indexes across innumerable experiences to find the common feature: the experiencing of them in one particular body. In effect, subjectivity arises from the inherent distinction between this body and that world; in the broadest sense, subjectivity is generated not only in the brain but in the ongoing interactions the body has with the world. Then the brain indexes across moments of subjectivity to create an apparent subject who—over the course of development, from infancy to adulthood—is elaborated and layered through the maturation of the brain, notably regions of the prefrontal cortex. But there is no subject inherent in subjectivity; in advance meditation practices, one find a bare awareness without a subject. Awareness requires subjectivity, but it does not require a subject. In sum, from a neurological standpoint, the everyday feeling of being a unified self is an utter illusion: the apparently coherent and solid 'I' is actually built from many subsystems and sub-subsystems over the course of development, with no fixed center, and the fundamental sense that there is a subject of experience is fabricated from myriad, disparate moments of subjectivity."
~Rick Hanson pg 210 "Buddha's Brain"
{A Book/Week ~ Book 19} Thorough exploration of pages proximal to this passage in Vocal Readings: https://youtu.be/ukIYyPwfGso

Eckhart Tolle

"Isn't it amazing that your body is just as spacious as the universe? So your physical body, which is form, reveals itself as essentially formless when you go deeper into it. It becomes a doorway into inner space. Although inner space has no form, it is intensely alive. That 'empty space' is life in its fullness, the unmanifested Source out of which all manifestation flows. The traditional word for that Source is God. Thoughts and words belong to the world of form; they cannot express the formless. So when you say, 'I can feel my inner body' that is a misperception created by thought. What is really happening is that the consciousness that appears as the body—the consciousness that I Am—is becoming conscious of itself. When I no longer confuse who I am with a temporary form of 'me,' then the dimension of the limitless and the eternal—God—can express itself through 'me' and guide 'me.'"
~Eckhart Tolle pg 251 "A New Earth"
{A Book/Week ~ Book 18} Thorough exploration of pages proximal to this passage in Vocal Readings: https://youtu.be/pMbKm2V7WRU

Share this post


Leave a comment

Note, comments must be approved before they are published