Buddhism and No-Self Essay

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Eastern enlightenment religions have been gaining popularity throughout the western world for the past few decades, with many people attracted to a "different" way of experiencing religion. As with many other enlightenment religions, Buddhism requires disciples to understand concepts that are not readily explainable: one such concept is that of no-self. In this essay I shall discuss the no-self from a number of modern perspectives; however, as no-self is difficult to describe I shall focus on both the self and no-self. Beginning with psychological aspects, and neurophysiological research on transcendental meditation, I shall discuss the impact of modern brain science on our understanding of the self and transcendence. Next I will outline…show more content…
123-125) Modern psychology attempts to scientifically explain many aspects of our lives. Yet it seems that when psychology meets religion the result is rarely a fair compromise. As an example, if faced with a person claiming to have no sense of self a psychologist may suspect some form of dissociative disorder. An excellent modern example of spiritualism clashing with psychological diagnoses is that of the much-maligned Aleister Crowley; after years of searching for his own samyaksambodhi he entered into a period of silence and claimed enlightenment – the psychological description of Crowley is that of a paranoid schizophrenic who declined into catatonia. I simply wonder where the line is that divides the religious experience from the psychopathological. Neurophysiologists have shown interest in that state of no-self that Buddhist monks can reach while in prayer. It has been found, using a specialized brain imaging technique based on CT scanning, that the brain-state of Buddhist monks in deep meditation is radically different from that of the average waking person (Newberg et al., 2001). In fact, during meditation the body changes its physiological ‘state' to a more beneficial pattern (Weiten, 2005, p. 145). This is not to say that Buddhism is "the path" – similar brain patterns have also been found in Franciscan Nuns deep in prayer. Interesting work has also been done researching the effect of electromagnetic interference on brain function. Researchers
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