Let's do some self-enquiry

Omkaradatta's picture

Average: 3 (4 votes)

Let's do a bit of self-enquiry together:

I used to post on a Yahoo! groups spiritual list, and there was a fellow there who kept insisting he was the brain, that he was a collection of neurons inside the brain.

Let's examine this notion to see if it has any validity.

Suppose the brain were a book, and written on a page inside were the words "I am a book" (in accordance with the thought "I am a brain").

This seems to me like a valid analogy, and if you agree then let's continue. Supposing the above were true, let me ask you a question:

Are the *words* "I am a book" really a BOOK?

Clearly, this is not the case. Instead of a book, the words could be written on a brick wall, or emanating from empty space, and the situation would be exactly the same.

The thought "I am a brain" is just a thought, so how can it BE what it refers to? The words/thoughts about the brain are not really referring to anything 'outside' them, they are emanating from somewhere, arising in consciousness.

Forget about the brain -- you are not the medium, you are a bunch of words, concepts, mental images. For this same reason, you are not the body, either, but an image of the body (self-image) in the mind.

It may feel strange to realize that one is really nothing but a bunch of description, but there it is. "You" are all map, no territory (well, there are emotions/feelings to consider, but that's for another blogging).

Is there a 'real you' that isn't description? We could say that you are the formless, undifferentiated and undefined capacity to be, feel and experience. Your real name is "-ing": Being, feeling, thinking, experiencing, all happening right now.

Phroggy's picture

Brain goo theory

Yah, I suspect the brain theory comes out of the belief that intelligence is somehow formed bioelectrochemically in a mass of goo, even though science can't find it. When we make science our God, we create such conceptual boundaries for ourselves.

Phroggy | Mon, 09/29/2008 - 09:20
Omkaradatta's picture

Even if it was...

Even if it was, we cannot be the brain -- the brain would only be the carrier for 'us'. We would not be the tissue, but a complex, living and constantly changing network of impulses. The 'carrier' could be thin air, and it wouldn't make a bit of difference to anything.

Strictly speaking, we cannot be a bioelectrochemical series of impulses either, because "biochemical series of electrical impulses" (and corresponding mental images we may have about it) are merely thoughts in the mind, and one cannot BE a thought about something :-p.

I'm trying to communicate (a sense of) the notion that 'externality' is false, but I don't know if my explanations are doing the trick or not. It probably depends on the reader. In any event, the notion "I am a brain" is clearly absurd. Anyone who identifies with meat oughtta be deep-fried and served up for din-din ;-).


Omkaradatta | Mon, 09/29/2008 - 09:46
Phroggy's picture

No more theories

Another way to say it is that we can't be an object of our own perception, whether it's a body or a brain or thoughts or any other sensory object or mental object, because there must be something there to perceive this object. That which stands apart from the object so that it can observe it, must be other than the object.

If this is seen deeply, intuitively, then it becomes clear that you cannot be anything you can point to and say 'Aha! that's me'. You will never be able to identify yourself as an object of your perception, because you are the subject; that which knows there is an object perceived.

It is not a theory, it is plainly obvious once seen, but there must be the willingness to look.

Phroggy | Mon, 09/29/2008 - 18:20
Omkaradatta's picture


You've repeated this one any number of times, but the truth bears repeating. One cannot become the object of one's own observation. The Subject is undefined, undifferentiated, nothing in particular (even the word 'awareness' falsifies things, really).

Nisargadatta put it this way:

"Compare consciousness and its content to a cloud. You are inside the cloud, while I look at it. You are lost in it, hardly able to see the tips of your fingers, while I see the cloud and many other clouds and the blue sky too and the sun, the moon, the stars."


Omkaradatta | Mon, 09/29/2008 - 19:39
Jibanda's picture

You have a logical error in your enqury

As in most of your arguments (and as in most logical trials to do self enquiry), you have 2 simple logical errors in your above enquiry:

(1) You mix between the sign (the sentence, the words) and the signified (the person, the I). The fact that the signified said "I" don't mean that the letter "I" said "I".

(2) You compare the written sentence "I am a book" in a book to the said sentence "I am a brain" of a person. But in the very choosing of this analogy you assumed beforehand what you try to prove, that the relation of the written sentence to the book is identical to the relation of the said words to the brain.

Jibanda | Sun, 03/16/2014 - 05:00