Space & Innovation

Buddhism and Science Agree: There is No Consistent Self

It's rare that science and religion see eye to eye on anything, but Buddhism and neuroscience both say there is no "you" or "me."

<p>Photo: Ivan Tejero // Unsplash</p>

Neuroscience and Buddhism agree on a very big concept: there is no consistent self. Buddhism has been teaching the concept of anatta, the idea of not-self, for thousands of years, but now Evan Thompson of the University of British Columbia has confirmed the science behind it, according to Big Think.

Thompson said, "The brain and body is constantly in flux. There is nothing that corresponds to the sense that there's an unchanging self."

That's actually great news for our self-esteem, because as Thompson puts it, "when there is no consistent self it means that we don't have to take everything so personally."

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This idea could help us overcome the things we struggle with, both mentally and physically. Thinking of ourselves as forever unchanging is extremely limiting, but if we accept that we are not consistent beings, it might be easier to be the people we want to be.

If you think back to your life five or 10 years ago, it's easy to illustrate this concept. For most of us, our work, our relationships, our friends and what we considered important 10 years ago are not exactly the same today. If we're always changing and evolving, the things that consistently bother us don't really matter that much.

Buddhism and neuroscience actually have pretty similar goals: to understand the mind and how to use it to make us happier beings. But it's up to us to put those understandings into practice.