1-Sentence-Summary: No Self No Problem is a provocative read about the implications of Buddhism in neuroscience, and more specifically about the idea that the self is only a product of the mind, meaning that there is no “I”.
Read in: 4 minutes
Favorite quote from the author:
The world is largely split into two philosophies: the Westerners with their intellectual approach to life and the Eastern way of thinking. Westerners are all about science, facts, numbers, and leaving no room for subjectivity in certain areas of life, while Easterners prefer a rather holistic approach to the world.
Eastern medicine, philosophy, and religion are all part of another way of thinking. However, when the two merge, it can be pretty interesting to see what comes out of it. In No Self No Problem, the author narrows the gap between the two and explains how Buddhism philosophy plays a central role in neuroscience.
Here are three of my favorite lessons from the book:
- The illusion of yourself begins in the left side of your brain.
- The “I” you grew up believing in is an illusion, and it can also cause you a lot of pain.
- If you train the right side of your brain to be more aware, you’ll also awaken your intuition.
Ready to learn more about the way in which philosophy, Buddhism and science meet? How you’re not really what you think you are, but rather an interpretation of your brain? If so, let’s begin!
Lesson 1: We think in terms of “I” due to the left side of the brain, which is a storyteller.
What would you answer if somebody asked you who you are? Would you say you are your profession, your civilian status, or perhaps your gender? Would you say you are a doctor, a wife, a daughter, or something similar?
Yes, you would. Our brain is fooling us continuously into believing that we are something that language can define when we’re not. There is no such thing as a self. We are made up of many different parts that work together as one being.
The mind is simply a collection of thoughts, feelings and emotions that make up who we think we are. It all comes down to the left side of your brain, which is responsible for language and storytelling. This side is telling you who you are, and it is wrong.
It is also responsible for interpreting what you see, yet that’s also quite abstract, as it’s only as real as the language you use to describe your surroundings. Don’t get me wrong – these mechanisms are useful for humans. However, they’re only as real as we make them be!
Lesson 2: The problem with “I” and with using language to make sense of the world is that it causes suffering.
When we use our language system and the mind to interpret what we see, hear, and feel, we’re essentially trying to make sense of the world. Everyone does it. That’s how we define the “I”, and everything that follows.
However, with benefits, disadvantages come. In our case, suffering and pain is a result of these thinking processes. We are used to patterns, and we use them to make sense of things too.
Therefore, if we see a pattern that our brain recognizes as something unpleasant, we suffer. Our suffering is real and palpable, and it can cause plenty of damage in the long run. However, these life scenarios can only cause us as much suffering as we let them.
If you choose not to take them for good and understand that everything you see is the interpretation of your brain, things will take a turn for the better. Always assume that there’s more to it that you’re not aware of and that your thoughts are not always reality.
Lesson 3: Moving your body can help you gain more control of your brain and activate its right side.
The right brain is responsible for spatial consciousness and movement. It’s not surprising that the best way to tap into your right-brain side is through movement-based activities, such as yoga, exercise, or even meditation.
When you move, you’re making use of certain brain functions that would otherwise remain silenced. Yoga can help you increase focus, reduce stress, and improve memory retention. In fact, non-language function is what the right side is all about.
In yoga or meditation, the brain needs to stop thinking and start doing, which is why these types of exercises are great at helping your nonverbal side of the brain be more aware. In fact, with all this awareness comes another remarkable superpower we as humans have – intuition.
That’s right! Moving and focusing on eliminating thoughts and language can help you become more conscious of yourself and your surroundings. With this side of your brain active, scientists have discovered that you can actually make better decisions.
No Self No Problem Review
No Self No Problem teaches you about how the brain functions and how you can to hack into your own mind and learn to control the left side and the right side of your brain.
The only way to understand your mind is to be fully aware of its functions and the way you use it to make sense of the world.
The author bridges the gap between religion and science by pointing out a common point between the two and how they’re, in fact, quite similar at the core.
Reading this book will not only make you smarter, but it’ll also help you help yourself more and become more objective, aware, and intuitive. I recommend this read, as long as you’re willing to really pay attention to what the author has to say.
Who would I recommend the No Self No Problem summary to?
The 40-year-old person who just discovered yoga and the power of meditation, the 24-year-old who is a health-conscious person with a passion for yoga, or the 36-year-old philosophy teacher who enjoys a scientific lecture that can teach them new ideas.