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Buddhadharma : Summer 2009
buddhadharma: the practitioner’s quarterly summer 20 0 9 34 that constitutes our identity throughout the different stages of our life. These thinkers also maintained that since highly advanced meditators could recall their past lives, this supported their position that the self takes rebirth, moving from one life to the next. They maintained that this true self was unchanging and eternal and, somehow, independent of the physical and the mental aggregates. That was largely the consensus before the Buddha. The Buddha argued against this position. Not only is our intuition of an inborn self a delusion, he said, the philosophi- cal tenets that strengthen and reinforce such a belief are a source of all kinds of false views. The Buddhist sutras there- fore refer to the belief in selfhood itself as the mind of the deceiver Mara—the embodiment of delusion—and as the source of all problems. The Buddha rejected the idea of a self that is somehow independent of the body and mind. Does that mean that the person does not, in any sense whatsoever, exist at all? Buddha responded that the person does indeed exist, but only in relation to the physical and mental aggregates and in dependence on them. Thus the exis- tence of the individual is accepted only as a dependent entity and not as an independent, absolute reality. Buddhist philosophical schools therefore all agree that an independent self, separate from the body and mind, cannot be found. However, when we say “I do this” or “I do that,” what exactly is the true referent of the person? What exactly is the person then? Diverse opinions arose among the Buddhist All phenomena exist merely in dependence upon their name, through the power of worldly convention. They do not exist objectively.