Anatta

Thinking about anatta – the Buddhist concept of no-self. This needs to be tied in with the idea of process. There is no determined spiritual entity called a soul, incorporated at conception and evacuated at death. What there is is a process. It is becoming clear that what it means to be human cannot be understood by looking at the individual in isolation qua individual. If an individual is a process then that process can only be understood if one takes into account what gave rise to that particular process, what enables it to continue and develop and what brings it to completion. Not all processes are completed but some, I believe, are terminated prematurely and some become warped and distorted. Instead of looking at individuals as fixed entities we should look at them as dynamic processes, acting and interacting with others in a vast cosmic orchestra.

Nuala O Faolain has just died, three months to the day after she was diagnosed with cancer. The interview she gave about her impending death made a huge impression on the whole country. It is impossible not to see her life as a dynamic process, sometimes messy, often controversial, always fully engaged with others.  

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