No-self: the Psychological Analysis of Self-view in Buddhism
2011, 43 (02):
“No-self”, the core of Buddhist psychology, gives distinctive opinions on the nature of self: 1) the subtle manas is the root of self; 2) eastern Zen-meditation is the method of self-researching; 3) self is the illusion gathered by five skandha; and 4) “no-self” is the unity of unreal self and real self. Buddhist psychology reveals the truth of self by “no-self”, which is a supplement and transcendence to the self research-paradigm in western psychology.
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Different from the western self-psychology which takes self as one’s consciousness and cognition, Buddhist psychology takes a deeper level analysis on self. It argues that self originates from the mamas which is subtle and can’t be realized by human beings. Most importantly, manas is one of the citta that persists alaya-vijnana and regards it as “self”. That’s why we human beings are different from the “Buddha”. Alaya is a concept about the internal structure of the mind beyond the subconscious in modern psychology. Moreover, the “seed”, which is storied in alaya, can regenerate, and it is a path that is never ended—— one’s behavior can be converted into new seeds and be storied in alaya. However, in western self-psychology, libido (subconscious) and collective subconsciousness can only be obtained through genetic, which seems a " bottom - up " process from generation to generation in western psychology.
Then, we’ll see how “self” originates from manas in Buddhist psychology in the first part of this paper.
Empirical Research Methods prevents western psychology analyzing “self” on a deeper level while Buddhism can make it benefiting from a kind of mental experience—— Zen-meditation. First of all, Zen-meditation is the unity of subjective and objective in contrast to western dualism. Dualism can be used in Natural objects-researching, but we will find problems when it is used in subjective world. For instance, when we use Dualism to research “self”, we’re just using “self” to research “self”, and this can’t succeed certainly. On the contrary, however, Buddhism, which is the unity of subjective and objective, can make it through “forgetting self”.
Secondly, Zen-meditation gives up all the languages and concepts. In Buddhism, languages and concepts are the obstacle to find the nature of self. So, Buddhism, especially Zen, aims to go beyond logicality and strives to deny all kinds of conceptualization. Only through this can Buddhism reveal the truth of self.
Finally, Zen-meditation, which surpasses positivism and thinking, is neither experience nor transcendentalism. Though it can’t be experienced by ordinary people, it does exist, because it can be experienced by some “Buddha”. They get this experience through Zen-meditation just like some scientists do in science-researching. So, we can say it is Zen-meditation that makes Buddhism as a supplement and transcendence to western researching-methods.
In Buddhist self-psychology, self is perceived as the illusion gathered by five skandha. Buddhist psychologists oppose those ideas that regarding the five skandha or the illusion as “self”. They maintain that “no-self” is the core of Buddhist psychology and, furthermore, the unity of unreal self and real self.