Self

Long discussion with — last night about religions in general and Buddhism in particular. He is quick on the uptake and very interested in Buddhism. Discussed the problems of self, no-self, emptiness and Nirvana. He saw the idea of self as a changing process, rather than something permanent, or eternal, but remarked on the natural tendency to desire a continuing existence after death. I answered spontaneously without thinking, that to think thus was to be thinking in samsaric terms. It was to say that I understand that all the entities of present experience are contingent and ephemeral and I do wish to transcend them all and enter Heaven, or Nirvana, or whatever, but I would like to do this as my present impermanent,  relational self. Put like that the contradiction is obvious. I never saw it so clearly before. It is like a caterpillar saying – I do want to be a butterfly but I do not want to give up chomping on these delicious leaves. 

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