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Seeing Through the Self, Part 3

Robert Dimuro

Posted on August 9, 2020 14:32

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The ability to understand and experience the true nature of human consciousness is paramount to our mental well-being.

In Parts 1 and 2, I wrote about why the self doesn't exist from a logical, scientific, conceptual, and experiential point of view. Here, we'll contend with why the nonexistence of self matters. Not surprisingly, it turns out that our concept of "self" greatly influences how we think about human well-being, our position in the world, and how society should be organized.

Perhaps the most practical implication of selflessness is that there's no free will, as only a self that transcends experience can create and control experience — namely, our thoughts, decisions and actions. Many people, especially in the sciences and academia, buy into this concept. To the extent that opinions are changing on this front, we're placing more emphasis on external stimuli in people's lives, including the influences bestowed on them by their families, communities and their environment at large.

In my opinion, this seems to be the basis underlying the spirit of equal opportunity, whether or not people realize it. If we value equal opportunity, we should be conscientious of the fact that certain individuals are born and raised in conditions that make it very difficult to be happy, healthy and productive in life. Although we don't want to live a communist society that manufactures a completely level playing field for every individual, we should strive to give everyone in society the best possible chance to realize his/her potential by attempting to minimize the negative effect that being born into an unfortunate circumstance has on one's ability to earn a decent living and pursue happiness.

Although societal initiatives are important in this domain, they only pertain to people's material well-being. The deeper importance of embracing selflessness is that it improves one's spiritual well-being, as true happiness isn't correlated with the size of one's bank account. In fact, according to research from Purdue University, the ideal income point for one to feel satisfied with one's life is around $95,000, and the ideal income point for one's emotional well-being is around $60,000 to $75,000.

The data seem to suggest that money only buys one happiness insofar as it allows one to live in relative comfort and stability. The rest of the happiness pie is filled with an outlook on life that deemphasizes the self. This tends to involve community work, bonding with loved ones, having an intimate connection with the present moment, and simply being one with the world.

When you think about it, this makes perfect sense, as we tend to normalize our experiences to reflect our present realities. This is why pleasure garnered from material gain is shallow and transient. Our survival instincts orient us in the direction of constantly trying to improve our material positions and accumulate wealth, which, although important, can cause us to overlook genuine sources of happiness and spiritual fulfillment. This is why the ability to understand and experience the true nature of human consciousness is paramount to our mental well-being.

Robert Dimuro

Posted on August 9, 2020 14:32

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Source: Daily Mail
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