The Self does not exist

A Computer Scientist's Perspective on Reality and Oneness

November 20, 2020

In this article I’m going to put forward an argument concluding that you as an individual, you as a self, do not exist

What is Life?

The first premise of this perspective is that all species survive as an expression, or template, on the food web

In this way all living things are comparable to a self-propagating computer program. All exploit features of the food web of which we are a part in order to fuel continued existance. The grass exploits the possibilities presented by sunlight, atmosphere and soil, the horse in turn exploits the possibility of using the oxygen and glucose provided by the grass. Beyond the individual’s lifespan, all reproduce

In this manner all life is a simple case of infinite expression. There is no higher meaning, no higher objective of life than “because we can”, there is no more fundamental Truth than “because it does”, and why should there be?

What is the Food Web?

Many individuals and over many millions of years, by simply finding a way to survive, build a reality which leads us to perceive the relationships between them in an abstract, shifting exchange of life - of action and reaction:

an example food web graph between species, a directed graph

What is a Human Being?

The individuals of each species exist in a network of relationships abstracted by the food web, but also in a literal sense they are an ecosystem themselves. The human body, for example, is made up of trillions of cells, and in it lives hundreds of trillions of bacteria, living organisms who survive and perpetuate on network of exchange within the human system itself. In this sense the human in the network is not only a plant-eater, a meat-eater, it is also an ecosystem in which other organisms exchange, and it is as much defined in its survival by this exchange as the concept of the food web is defined by the exchange in which the human ecosystem plays a part

However the second and more closely guarded point on which our sense of “self” pivots is on the idea that it is human thought that constitutes, through a stream of consciousness, a higher being, “self-aware” and separated from the ecosystem on which it survives, the ecosystem and social webs of which it is a part. “I think therefore I am”

What is a Thought?

A rudimentary examination might focus on the form of the thought, that it is constructed by complex linguistic rules, and that it transmutes ideas, perspectives and emotions into another kind of data which finds its expression within the human mind

But in fact the nature of the thought lies in the thinking. It is true that a thought is constituted of different parts - it may be built up of emotions, framed by perspectives, explained with ideas - and it is true that it changes: that in the formation and exchange of these different parts it lives, and when the exchange stops, it dies

It is important to observe that a thought does not stop with the individual. If it is to live for more than a few moments it must be communicated, and as long as this continues a thought can be perpetuated for many centuries. The language in which a thought is made stands testimony to this - itself a system of rules and labels passed from person to person ad infinum, itself changing with time by the very process of exchange which perpetuates it

By this definition it is clear that the vast majority of a thought’s nature is external to the mind in which it is experienced and that no individual has ever had an idea which is not itself the product of vast exchange. The thought is therefore a largely external phenomenom, and far from being the highest expression of “You”, the mind is a tool, and the medium upon which these beings live

What am I?

If it follows that I cannot define my boundaries by my living flesh, since it is made up of many external bodies, and I cannot define my boundaries by my stream of thought, which is also a medium for fleeting and external organisms, then what am I?

Does it follow that I am nothing but the physical wiring of my brain, the configuration of my personality settings, a machine, replicable and replaceable, and also changing from one moment to the next?

Does it follow that there is no ethical consequence to my actions, that I can kill and do harm, because “my actions are not my own”?

I believe that in a deep sense, all human beings are instinctively kind. Deep within us, a feeling in our heart, our gut or in our “soul”, there is a life force which presses us to positive expressions, to kindness and love. I believe that we are all capable of feeling this, and that when we do, we feel it in the core of our body and not in our head. When we meditate, when we’re not thinking or waiting or speaking but just feeling, we feel it in there

This I call the “will to live”, the “will to being”, and I put to you that it is the core within all living organisms. I believe that the cradle of our existence in which the “I” truly exists is not actually a function of separateness at all, and rather the heart of our existence is what connects us to not only everyone else, but to life itself

The realisation of this leads to the conclusion that the “self” does not exist at all; in a material sense it is merely the pattern of creating labels and statements, always preceding “I am not..”. Ultimately it washes away in the experience of life, it is something we “think” and not something we “are”. I believe that it follows that life itself is one great organism, of which we are all composing expressions. Take action!