The notion of self is mysterious but can be related very intimately to this discomfort that we experience in life. How consciousness rose in human beings? The concept that there is someone living life from the craddle to the grave is no doubt useful from an evolutionary perspective. That this person never changes, is always the same. How does the brain develop this idea? How is it that we get this feeling of being someone permanent that never changes throughout life? How does the brain create this notion that a permanent individual lives all experiences through his entire life? If we understand how this concept develops in the brain it can allow us to access the freedom of letting go of this notion. At the same time, we can stay in touch with the reality of life and the need to see and feel a continuity to simply interact with the world that surrounds us. It is sometimes essential to recall the notion of the self (this notion that a unique person lives life from beginning to end) but very often we recall it in situations where it is not needed and it brings a burden of anxiety, anger and sadness in us.
The Neurological Formation of the Self
Antonio Damasio in his book ”Self Comes to Mind” explains three steps that neurologically give birth to this sense of self. They are:
- the protoself
- the core self
- the autobiographical self
Once we get to know the different steps of this ego fabrication, we can see it happening in the mind/body. Each step engages us into more suffering. It is fascinating to observe it from a scientific perspective as well as from a Buddhist approach.