By Deepak Chopra, MD
Most of us recognized ourselves in the mirror this morning. The person looking back at us has a familiar name, a family, a job. He (or she) carries around a long menu of likes and dislikes, along with a personal history from the moment we emerged from the womb. It would amaze the vast majority of the human race to be told that this person in the mirror is an illusion. Sam Harris’s new book, Waking Up, delivers this startling notion loud and clear, and his aim, in a nutshell, is to debunk the illusion of the personal self, which he says is the key to becoming real.
No one can predict if the message will stick. “No self” has been around for centuries as a basic tenet of Buddhism. (Refer to Part 1 of this post for more details.) Harris dresses it up in brain science, but looking for Buddha in the brain is as futile as looking for Mozart in a piano. It’s obviously specious reasoning, but in Harris’s profession of neuroscience, everything comes down to the brain. Devout Christians find sermons in the stones; brain scientists find them in the anterior cingulate.