Where is the true self to be found? Barry Magid October 29th 2017

This talk was given at the Village Zendo a few days before Halloween. The occasion of Halloween and masks opens up ideas of appearance and reality, true self and false self and no self. And all of these can be quite confusing, especially if we have powerful reasons to stay confused about them. A pervasive fantasy we carry around is that we've got a precious true self deep inside. Close to the end of his life, Thomas Merton wrote that he concluded there is no true self, other than the self you already are. How are we to understand this in the context of Buddhism? How do the costumes we wear and the roles we perform relate to our identity? Are there deep down true essences we're trying to bring out or is who we are truly who we are in this moment? What would it mean to you if your true self is the way you treated your partner this morning?

Thomas Merton, from one of his last journals

The time has probably come to go back on all that I have said about one's true self. And show that there is, after all, no hidden mysterious real self, other than, or hiding behind, the self that one is. But what all the thinking does is to obscure what is there or objectify it and thus falsify it.

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