What do we mean by 'self'?

Two K statements come to mind :
“You don’t exist” and “the self is evil”.

As I recall he said the self was a “trick” of thought’s. Thought creating the ‘thinker’ separation, the ‘experience-er’ separation also ‘observer’ separation… none of whom exist, all just thought. A ‘trick’! Radical-stuff!

Maybe. That’s the problem with evaluating subjective experiences, we don’t have access to other people’s inner worlds, or at least not anywhere near full access. Testimonial and inference are illuminating, but not definitive. Leave it alone, it’s simple; try to figure it out, it’s impossible!

Here I am spending most of my time trying to figure it out. “To dream the impossible dream!”

So there’s nothing wrong with being self-centered because it’s essential. But there is something wrong with this center accumulating psychological contents. So the question is whether the self-center can be aware of this mistake and correct itself. If the self-center isn’t self-correcting, what good is it?

The center (what we call the self) is necessary but its accumulated content is not because it serves no useful purpose and creates confusion and misunderstanding. The center has no identity beyond awareness of what actually is right now. It’s just one brain’s awareness of its environment, minus all the content it mistakenly identifies with.

No. The functional centre is just a focus of an organism’s sensibility. It’s probably an aspect of proprioception. It is not what we are calling ‘self’.

Without the functional centre the organism would not make sense of its environment and so it would die.

The accumulation of experience and knowledge (by the functional centre) at the level of surviving is not the issue. Squirrels remember where they have buried their nuts, chimpanzees learn how to spoon out ants from the ground using a twig. Learning through experience is how the functional centre enables an organism to live.

But the capacity to accumulate knowledge in human beings has gone beyond what the functional centre is equipped to deal with. It lacks proprioception in the area of psychological thinking.

So this is where another ‘instrument’ or capacity of the brain becomes necessary. Probably this is what K calls intelligence.

Subjectively, who I believe I am right now. Objectively, the pernicious effect of a precious body of information, content, which is unnecessary, confusing, and confounding.

Presented without context these statements don’t have very much meaning (for me at least).

Obviously most people believe themselves to exist, and the existence of egotism in the world is a fact.

And if the self doesn’t exist, how can it be ‘evil’?

So my question is: what is this ‘you’ or ‘self’ that is being pointed to (when we say things like ‘you don’t exist’ or ‘the self is evil’)?

Okay, but Krishnamurti equated freedom with having no center, yet it is obvious that the organism’s brain must look out for itself, it’s best interests, so there is a functional center. But this center is dysfunctional when it holds psychological content that confuses and misleads.

This is true - which is why we can leave it open. We can say ‘maybe’ (if given reasonable grounds for that maybe).

But the question of whether the accumulation of psychological content is necessary is something we can ask from within our own ‘inner world’.

For example, take an obviously phoney religious belief that some people may have. Is it a necessary content for the brain to accumulate?

If it is not necessary it can be dropped. It doesn’t come back.

Yes, I think you answered your own question. K obviously still needed a functional centre in order to physically survive in the world.

So when he talks about there being no centre I take it that he is talking about the psychological centre, not the ordinary healthy functioning of the brain-body.

As you say, the brain becomes dysfunctional when it treats psychological content as though it were necessary for its survival.

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But the question of whether the accumulation of psychological content is necessary is something we can ask from within our own ‘inner world’.

For example, take an obviously phoney religious belief that some people may have. Is it a necessary content for the brain to accumulate?

Would you say it’s necessary for a person who grew up in a family in which physical violence has been endemic for 10 generations to have a loaded relationship with violence in adulthood? Is it necessary for a person who has been terrified of heights all their life to feel fear about standing at the edge of a 1,000 foot cliff? Is it necessary for a person who is finding their way/place in the world to take in and accumulate psychological content?

I guess I’m asking if there is psychological necessity?

What do we mean by “self”?
Interesting question … because we all seem to be begifted (or befouled) with it.
Interesting because it is (should it exist at all) very near, very close , so close that we can touch it , feel it, be aware of it (most of the time).
Interesting … because it causes so many problems in ourselves and in the world.
If there is anything worth its while studying and learning about it, this must be it.
But … are we learning? Because I am afraid that we are in the dark (or in the unknown) what it is : to learn, to investigate?
What is standing in my way? Who puts this question? The self itself? Like a dog chasing its own tail?
I do not know that by asking these (what seems to be “silly” questions) it can be helpfull in any way.

I’m not a neuroscientist or medical doctor, so I can’t say how much the fear of heights, for example, is built into a person’s biology. We know that people can be genetically predisposed to certain psychological conditions - such as bi-polar depression, schizophrenia, etc. While intergenerational trauma of the kind you describe is a wound written deeply into the neurochemistry of the brain.

But the brain is plastic. It can change. Maybe some brains are more plastic than others? - I don’t know. But nothing is set in stone at the level of psychology.

K suggested that insight can act directly on the chemistry of the brain and alter the synaptic connections - undoing the damage caused by unhealthy synaptic connections.

However, the question I was asking wasn’t quite as dramatic as this.

Yes, it is understandable that a person looking for their place in the world might adopt strange beliefs and worldviews (to fit in or make sense of life) - but if that person sees the falseness of the belief, it drops away.

If the brain sees for itself that a belief is unnecessary or obviously false, it is gone for good. It doesn’t come back.

Maybe all psychological beliefs are like that?

Most excellent and powerfully put question!

Is it possible for an organism living a reality based on conflict and violence for hundreds of thousands of generations to be free of conditioning?
Can the human brain see what it is living?

Are you asking whether the brain can see the totality of it.
The totality, being, not my brain or your brain, but the totality of, if i may say, all the brains …???

If I say it is impossible then i obstruct myself and i stop asking for the impossible.
What happens if I say that it is possible?
Does desire take place? Or knowing for that matter …
Where does it leave me when i say none of these things? Do i enter the unknown? How will I know this?

That’s the question because obviously the human brain can’t discern the critical difference between necessary, practical knowledge, and what it chooses to believe about itself, others, and its environment.

The human brain is not only profoundly confused about itself and its environment, but astonishingly unaware of its confusion. Why is the brain not in a state of alarm? Perhaps only then would its incessant stream of consciousness stop in its tracks and remain inactive and silent until all is clear.

Dear @Inquiry, are you confused? or are you only describing the mass of humanity “out there”?

Don’t you have some inkling of the critical differences between practical knowledge and the emotional reactions and activity arising from the importance of my self image?
Surely you must by now? If so, what is the real barrier between theory and awakening/freedom?

We all have our inklings, and that’s why we’re here.

Am I confused? I can’t think of any other reason why the brain hasn’t emptied itself of the content that creates incoherent thought (confusion). Can you?

The following is a continuation from the ‘Present World Crisis’ thread. You were asking

What is the self to me? It’s the question, isn’t it, worth revisiting o’er and o’er.

My answer for today, now: The self is who-what I feel I am.

I don’t understand the particular context for your thinking about the ‘self’, so I will communicate my own view about the self alongside the Samkhya-Yoga view with which you may be more familiar?

I take self or ego to be the accumulated contents of psychological memory with which the brain (or functional centre) has identified itself.

This identification is an error. - As explored over on the ‘Conditioning’ thread, I understand the process of identification to have begun with the brain responding to external challenges and dangers, seeking its own security and survival, through the accumulation of relevant memory and knowledge. However, this process of gathering self-protective knowledge then unwittingly spilled over into the area of psychological thought, creating the (non-functional) ego.

This, I take it, is the origin of the thought-created ego, the egoic mind, the self-centredness in humankind.

So it is this egoic mind that needs to be transformed (when we ask ‘what’ it is that needs to be transformed).

That is, the brain needs to be able to disidentify with, or dissolve, its accumulated psychological contents, its psychological memories; and be free to act in the world without any dependence on psychological thought.

To explain this in a language with which you may be more familiar, perhaps you know a little about the Indian Samkhya and Yoga schools?

In the Samkhya school suffering is caused by the apparent conjunction (samyoga) of purusa (pure consciousness, pure awareness) and antahkarana (ordinary brain-based consciousness) - purusa being actual, and antahkarana (in this connection) being non-actual.

Antahkarana is the composite of manas (functional intellect or mind), ahankara (the principle of egoity), and buddhi (intelligence), which are themselves modifications of prakriti (matter/energy).

In Patanjali’s closely related Yoga school antahkarana is glossed instead as citta (thought-based consciousness); while liberation is achieved when the movement of vrtti (thought) is stilled, and the relationship between citta and purusa is completely severed.

As you may know, because of their close relationship, Samkhya and Yoga are often referred to as a single or complimentary system: Samkhya-Yoga.

What then is chiefly responsible for human suffering in the Samkhya-Yoga system? It is the delusion that there is an ‘I’ that suffers or enjoys: the mental quality of egoity (ahankara).

Ahankara refers all activity to an ‘I’ (aham), creating the illusion that it is the purusa itself which suffers or enjoys.

However, this supposedly real ‘individual person’ is really a consequence of the mistaken identity (samyoga) of purusa and antahkarana. It is the purusa that gives ahankara apparent life and consciousness, by virtue of its own (purusa’s) luminous presence.

So the ego (ahankara) is rendered apparently conscious and active only by its illusory identification with purusa: it remains a purely apparent or borrowed subjectivity. It is non-actual.

So when you say

The self is who-what I feel I am

I take it that you are describing the felt illusion of this borrowed subjectivity. What do you think about this?