After completing the recent book No Self, No problem: How Neuropsychology is Catching Up to Buddhism, I contacted Hierophant Publishing to see about connecting with author Chris Niebauer to discuss what Buddhists call Anatta, or "no self."
As longtime listeners of Find the Good News will probably note, I often bring up this question often: who am I—who are you—really? What does it mean to take up a body, adopt an identity, live a life on a historical and linear timeline? Most important of all, do we have the capacity to simply change our individual story in an effort to live a more peaceful, wholesome, healthy, and happy life? Is my "I" more than the sum of its parts?
Chris and I discuss these things and more in this upcoming episode, so make sure to tune your signal and Find the Good News!
NO SELF—NO PROBLEM
While in grad school in the early 1990s, Chris Niebauer began to notice striking parallels between the latest discoveries in psychology, neuroscience, and the teachings of Buddhism, Taoism, and other schools of Eastern thought. When he presented his findings to a professor, his ideas were quickly dismissed as “pure coincidence, nothing more.”
Fast-forward 20 years later and Niebauer is a PhD and a tenured professor, and the Buddhist-neuroscience connection he found as a student is practically its own genre in the bookstore. But according to Niebauer, we are just beginning to understand the link between Eastern philosophy and the latest findings in psychology and neuroscience and what these assimilated ideas mean for the human experience.
In this groundbreaking book, Niebauer writes that the latest research in neuropsychology is now confirming a fundamental tenet of Buddhism, what is called Anatta, or the doctrine of “no self.” Niebauer writes that our sense of self, or what we commonly refer to as the ego, is an illusion created entirely by the left side of the brain. Niebauer is quick to point out that this doesn't mean that the self doesn't exist but rather that it does so in the same way that a mirage in the middle of the desert exists, as a thought rather than a thing. His conclusions have significant ramifications for much of modern psychological modalities, which he says are spending much of their time trying to fix something that isn’t there.
What makes this book unique is that Niebauer offers a series of exercises to allow the reader to experience this truth for him- or herself, as well as additional tools and practices to use after reading the book, all of which are designed to change the way we experience the world—a way that is based on being rather than thinking.