Neuroscience tells us the thing we take as our unified mind is an illusion, that our mind is not unified and can barely be said to “exist” at all. Our feeling of unity and control is a post-hoc confabulation and is easily fractured into separate parts. As revealed by scientific inquiry, what we call a mind (or a self, or a soul) is actually something that changes so much and is so uncertain that our pre-scientific language struggles to find meaning.
Buddhists say pretty much the same thing. They believe in an impermanent and illusory self made of shifting parts. They’ve even come up with language to address the problem between perception and belief. Their word for self is anatta, which is usually translated as ‘non self.’ One might try to refer to the self, but the word cleverly reminds one’s self that there is no such thing.
David Weisman SEEDMAGAZINE.COM
The anatta is in a state of impermanence, called anicca. Consciousness is envisioned as a wave of momentary mental states.
Weisman asks, "Why have the dominant Western religious traditions gotten their permanent, independent souls so wrong?"
"Modern science initiated a deep spiritual crisis that led to an unfortunate split between faith and reason—a split yet to be reconciled. Buddhism was seen as an 'alternative altar,' a bridge that could reunite the estranged worlds of matter and spirit" writes Dr. Martin J. Verhoeven, Research Professor of Buddhist Studies and Practice at the Institute for World Religions. "Thus, to a large extent Buddhism's flowering in the West during the last century came about to satisfy post-Darwinian needs to have religious beliefs grounded in new scientific truth."
In his book The User Illusion: Cutting Consciousness Down to Size Danish science journalist Tor Norretranders presents a scientifically sound and intellectually stimulating theory of conscious experience. “The user illusion” refers to a computer users idea of how the computer works based on how they interact with it. The bits and bytes are concealed by a largely metaphorical, extremely simplified, and not necessarily accurate illusion. Norretranders central thesis is that consciousness is our user illusion of ourselves. Consciousness arises after much information has been discarded. Conscious experience is a manageable distillation, essence, of our extremely rich raw experience. The User Illusion is incredibly readable in spite of its plethora of references. Norretranders pulls from innumerable sources, most notably Gödel, Libet, and Shannon. He integrates a wide array of prior research, tying together ideas from information theory, thermodynamics, physics, psychology, and philosophy to substantiate his theory; this is indeed the strongest aspect of the book.
Norretranders builds his theory of consciousness on the tenants of information theory. He makes sure the reader understands the basics before he applies them to his broader claims. The take home message is the notion of information and exformation. Exformation is discarded information. Norretrander uses the example of grocery shopping, among others. At the register the prices of the individual items are summed, it is this number, the total, that we are interested in. The sum is useful to us, it tells us how much money to take out of our wallet, the individual prices are not, they are irrelevant once we obtain the total. The author then extrapolates to consciousness, explaining that a huge amount of information must be discarded along the path from unconscious to conscious experience.
The concept of "medical materialism," so well described by William James in his Varieties of Religious Experience, is just one more form of reductionism that is sometimes applied to matters of religion. For our purposes here, we will define "reductionism" as any attempt to explain the greater in terms of the lesser, that is, any attempt to explain something large and deep and complex in terms of categories drawn from something simpler and smaller and easier to understand.
Reductionistic explanations do appeal to some people because they make something complex seem as if it can be understood in terms of something smaller and simpler to grasp. If we want to belittle the love that exists between two people and say that it's really nothing special, we might say that their "love" is nothing more than the actions resulting from hormones acting on their brains; or that their happy marriage is nothing but a mutually selfish relationship of economic convenience for both of them. What this does is attempt to reduce (hence the term "reductionism") the significance and meaning of something by ascribing it to more trivial causes. It is trying to explain the greater in terms of the lesser.
“Once called the “religion of healthy-mindedness” by the philosopher, William James, the New Thought movement was born almost 150 years ago as a revolt against the negative dogmas so prevalent in the churches of that day. The early New Thought movement was driven by the discovery that physical healing was possible through the power of mind and spiritual awareness. As that initial idea unfolded into successful application, practitioners of New Thought began to see that the power of an uplifted consciousness could also bring healing to negative circumstances and conditions in one’s personal life. As it evolves today, twenty-first century New Thought is driven by a far broader intention. Planetary healing through self-realization is emerging as the new promise of these teachings.”
The Principles of Universal Spirituality
There is one infinite, all-inclusive, creative, living Intelligence beyond and within the universe.Whether we call it God, Brahman, Allah, Spirit, or some other name, It is the Great All in which all things exist and of which all things have been made.
Our essential nature is spiritual. We are spiritual beings having a human experience, and as spiritual beings, we share in God’s essential nature.
We have a creative relationship with our experience of life. The spiritual universe operates according to spiritual laws, which allows us to co-create our life experience consciously. Through right alignment with spiritual law and conscious contact with the Creative Intelligence within, we can achieve happiness and fulfillment.
Life is a spiritual journey toward an awareness of the true source of our being. The ultimate destiny of every individual soul is to awaken to the true source of its being–God Itself.”
“Thinking about sense-objects will attach you to sense-objects; grow attached, and you become addicted; thwart your addiction, it turns to anger; be angry, and you confuse your mind; confuse your mind, you forget the lesson of experience; forget experience, you lose discrimination; lose discrimination, and you miss life’s only purpose.” –Bhagavad Gita 2:62, 63
you may find value in reading Swami Nirmalananda Giri's lesson in its entirety. - @Ddrrnt
"Darin Drda, author of The Four Global Truths, writes:
Although they speak different languages, both tell the same story: the fate of life on Earth will be determined by forces beyond humanity’s control. This idea strikes me as a very dangerous one, certain to accelerate our collective journey down the road to ruin. What’s more, it doesn’t jive with the powerful and paradigm-shifting insight of 20th century physics that reality is participatory."
"The true definition of ‘apocalypse’ is more akin to ‘the lifting of the veil.’ What has long been hidden shall be revealed. Is it possible to understand this potential, and how to apply it, without falling victim to the aforementioned ‘isms of divine destruction, collapse, or extraterrestrial saviours?"
"The dark matter of our unconscious has created the human world we inhabit, including the crises that we appear unable to solve. Our old story of the Self, that we are “isolated beings in an indifferent universe” (and all it’s variations), is breaking down, because in fact, it was never objectively real in the first place. It was constructed by our level of consciousness.