In a dream at night, when “you” went from this place to another place, was there any actual movement of your dreamed identity across an actual expanse of space or distance? Did your dream character actually travel across a distance within the dreaming brain?
In neuro-science it has been proven that what we experience with the five senses is a neural movie occurring within the brain. It’s the brain’s representation of what it thinks is “out there”.
Eyes can’t see “out there” and ears can’t hear what’s out there. All the five senses are passive receptors of stimulations; but the stimulations are electro-chemical in nature, not experienced colors, shapes and sounds. The brain processes those electro-chemical stimulations and turns them into colors, shapes and sounds as our sensory experiences. The world we experience is always only a brain generated, virtual representation. We never experience what’s actually “out there”.
Just like our dreaming subconscious generates an imaginary self, who stars in our dreams as a dreamt “me”; the self as a “me” that we feel we are in daily life, is also just a virtual “me” that is generated by the brain, just like the virtual, inner movie world it lives in.
It’s this virtual “me” that seems to “move around” in its virtual world that it thinks is the actual world “out there”. There is no actual self other than the imaginary and virtual one generated in the brain.
That being logically and scientifically clear, can one then say they ever really “moved” from one city to another? Their traveling is only within changing images within a brain, by a brain generated self-image doing the traveling.
We can say “our actual physical body” traveled from New York to Paris, but our actual experience is confined 100% to being the brain’s inner virtual movie world and its inner, brain generated virtual tourist, felt as a real “me”.
It can become shockingly clear that although it seems a body traveled from one place to another, the observing “me” as the brain generated spectator, only saw the progressively changing scenery of inner brain generated movies.
And the spectator was also just a part of the inner movie whose thoughts, feelings, perceptions and actions were just part of the conditioned scripting built from memory and electro-chemical stimulations of the five senses.
The “me” has no more autonomy than the virtual trees that appear to view as the brain generates all those “tree” images.
It’s this same brain generated “me” that is programmed to feel that it can make choices, think, become enlightened, and commit actions.
When actions turn out to be troubling in result, the brain programs the self or “me” to feel regret or shame or a need to make amends, according to pre-programmed conditioning such as “morals” and “acceptable” social behaviors, for example.
There is no inner “true self” that can know and do. Just like there is no true self in a dream at night. ALL the activities of the dreamed self while sleeping, are 100% programmed by subconscious conditioning; and this is also true of the daytime self.
The “me” is just the current brain software constructed, self being projected. The characters in an old video, being watched on tv now, have no free-will to alter the script. Likewise our “me” or personal self, has no freedom to act outside of its brain generated script. You see there is no self at all other than the self generated from the neural activity of the brain. How can such an imaginary self ever “move”?
But beyond the imagined, brain generated “me”, impersonal pure awareness can’t be framed or understood by a non-existent ”me”; it’s not in the brain’s programming capacities.
“When we try to pick out anything by itself, we find it hitched to everything else in the Universe.” ~John Muir
Painting by Denis Nunez Rodriguez
“We need to reflect very deeply, with a strong attitude of not giving up. Then a definite impact can be made on the mind. The ability to think more skillfully and the ability to sustain one’s mind with a positive attitude are inherent capabilities.
But how do you get somebody interested in reflecting deeply enough to discover those inherent capabilities without their getting burned out from the frustrations and disappointments that arise from seeing their own minds?
Somehow, students have to gain a greater confidence in their potential than in the confusion that oppresses them. That confidence is buddhanature. We need to encourage a kind of self-esteem in the student—not ego self-esteem, but buddhanature self-esteem.
Trust in our basic goodness is very important. Teachers must do whatever they can to instill this in their students, and students must do whatever they can to instill it in themselves.”
~Dzigar Kongtrül Rinpoche
Author “It’s Up to You”
Excerpt from “Let’s Be Honest” (Conversation with Pema Chödrön and Dzigar Kongtrül) https://www.lionsroar.com/pema-chodron-and-dzigar-kongtrul-lets-be-honest/
A flower is not a flower. It is made only of non-flower elements — sunshine, clouds, time, space, earth, minerals, gardeners, and so on. A true flower contains the whole universe. If we return any one of these non-flower elements to its source, there will be no flower. That is why we can say, “A rose is not a rose. That is why it is an authentic rose.” We have to remove our concept of rose if we want to touch the real rose.
– Thich Nhat Hanh, in “The Heart of the Buddha’s Teaching”.
Photo: Bastien Riu