Neuroscience learns what Buddhism has known for ages: There is no constant self

Evan Thomson, a researcher from the University of British Colombia, has confirmed that the Buddhist teaching of a constantly changing self is accurate.

According to Buddhists, change is the only constant in the universe, which means that there is no such thing as a stable self.

Neuroscience also says that the brain and body is said to be constantly in action or progressively flowing, which proves that there isn’t any stable self.

Evan Thompson, a philosophy of mind professor at the University of British Columbia, says “And from a neuroscience perspective, the brain and body is constantly in flux. There’s nothing that corresponds to the sense that there’s an unchanging self.”

Neuroplasticity, a concept coined by neuroscientists, states that our brain is malleable and able to change. This means you can change your brain in many aspects, opening up your possibilities for growth.

This concept can be incredibly liberating. Why? Because you’re not defined by your thoughts or your idea of who you are. The possibilities to change yourself are endless.

It also goes against the common thought in western society that we need to “find ourselves”. Instead, life is about change and growth. Buddha puts it best:

“Nothing is permanent. Everything is subject to change. Being is always becoming.”

Buddhist Monks have long said that the universe and ourselves are constantly changing. By training our mind, they say we can elevate our awareness and control.

This is also why they talk about the practice of non-attachment. If we attach ourselves to something, we are desiring for it to be stable, which directly goes against the forces of the universe.

Buddhist teacher Pema Chodron says:

“Impermanence is a principle of harmony. When we don’t struggle against it, we are in harmony with reality.”

What about consciousness?

Neuroscience has long been baffled by consciousness. They can’t explain why or how it exists.

Buddhists however define consciousness into three different areas:

consciousness is conditioned by mental fabrications (saṅkhāra);

consciousness and the mind-body (nāmarūpa) are interdependent; and,

consciousness acts as a “life force” by which there is a continuity across rebirths

As Neuroscience advances, perhaps Buddhism will be proven right in regards to consciousnesses.

 

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