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Saturday, November 6, 2010
Personal Reflections ... Philosophy ...

Are we anything more than the sum of our fears?

Think about it. Hopefully the answer is “yes” — but not by much, if at all! The Buddhists say there is “no self”. If the self is but the sum of one’s fears, then it’s pretty much a non-entity.

So how do we go beyond being but the sum of our fears?

◊   posted by Jim G @ 9:41 am      

  1. Jim, Why do we have to be the sum of our FEARS? How about being the sum of our HOPES or our JOYS or our EXPERIENCES. Actually, I see “us” as being exactly that–the sum of our EXPERIENCES IN LIFE. We learn thru our experiences in life; it seems to me that it’s the experiences in life that make us who we are. Therefore, as I see it, we would be the sum of our experiences in life.

    And those experiences would include fears (OK), but MORE OFTEN just the ordinary things of life that teach us, mature us, grow us. (I hate the recent tendency to use the words “mature” and “grow” as transitive verbs, but here such use seems to fit.) The joys in our life, the beauty we encounter in life, the love of others in our life, relationships, such as those with colleagues all are part of what “sums” us up. Our WORK is an especially big part of what makes us who and what we are in life. Other things we love to do, like baking bread, taking photos, making a good vegetarian meal make us who we are. How about the THINKING we do about what we read and study? Certainly that is part of what makes us what we are. Who could dismiss those things? I for one refuse to dismiss them.

    If I think longer, maybe I can come up with even some more things that make us who we are. So, I think that FEARS would be a very small part of the sum of who we are. Thus, I think I have to disagree with the “fears” and the “but not by much, if at all!” of your blog.

    I mean no disrespect here concerning the Buddhists, but I never could accept the “no self” aspect of Buddhist teaching. I’ve done some thinking about that myself and came to the conclusion that I just had to “leave it” as far as that Buddhist concept was concerned. Somewhat like there is so much of the RCs that I just can’t accept. They have a lot to offer, but then you get to the part(s) that you say, oh, I don’t think so.

    A friend of mine a long time ago said to me: “Take what is useful for yourself and leave the rest.” (Well, again I paraphrase a bit, but that I’m pretty close to a complete quote.) So, there’s a LOT about the Buddhists that is good, that I’d say is great and should be gratefully and joyfully and lovingly accepted into one’s life; but there is also that which one just cannot agree with; thus one “leaves” it. Just about as some people do with any other organized religion or philosophy.

    So, I’d say PLEASE do NOT limit yourself to FEARS as being the sum of who you might be. There are so many other aspects to your “self” that the “no self” thing just has to be left aside. Take all the rest the Buddhists have to offer with appreciation of the beauty and joy and helpfulness and wonder they offer. May I most respectfully say, Jim, broaden your view of what makes a person a person.

    Well, that’s my opinion. MCS

    Comment by Mary S. — November 6, 2010 @ 11:44 am

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