Oakville Zen Meditation

#239 Self, No-Self, True-Self: what does that mean?

                                 Self, No-Self, True Self: what does it mean?

 How do we define the “self”?

In our Western world, the way we define and delimit Self that is you, others and me living beings is very arbitrary, restrictive, too materialistic.

This “individual self” is just a biological organism made of around 30 trillions cells and trillions of trillions of atoms generating our body and mind and their physical and mental functions.

Self does exist but, we have been conditioned by our Western education, philosophy and religions to view ourselves as a unique, independent and separate entity, different from every other living beings.

The view has been a fantastic ego booster but also, unfortunately, a great source of suffering.

What is the meaning of “No-Self”?

The meaning of No-Self” is very difficult to comprehend - if not to accept- since the self that is YOU, ME, and any other living beings does exist as a material, mental and sometime spiritual identity.

However, all living beings do not have a permanent, unique, independent, separate, self–intrinsic and self sustained entity. These 6 adjectives “ does not have ” define the “No ‘ in the word No-Self.

Nothing to do with negativity and non-existence.. Zen calls it “ your little self”

Expanding the reality of our individual little self further that is outside self.

It is obvious that the Self is totally interconnected and part of the outside world which keeping us alive.

Despite our trillions and trillions of atoms in our body, none of our atoms are specific of us and are found all around in the Universe. 72% of our body is made of hydrogen. 72% of the material Universe is also mage of hydrogen. Is it a coincidence?

Only the infinite molecular sequences of our DNA which creating our ~24,000genes make us specific at the material level.

How do we define our “True self” or Universal Self or True Nature?

Defining our True Self is impossible with words because it can be discover only thru experience and not by thinking. An analogy would be to describe the taste of orange juice only with words. After thousands words, you will have, still, no idea of what an orange juice tastes like w/o tasting it that is experiencing it.

To experience something material or immaterial implies consciousness and consciousness is not individual but universal since we all are sharing the same. Mindfulness meditation is the way to experience what we are and not what we think we are.

Zen says: “There is nothing in the Universe, which is not part of us, and there is nothing in us, which is not part of the Universe. This is called Oneness, this is True Self.”

Maybe Universal Self can be equated to God by many believers around the world.


Using a metaphor will help. Visualize the ocean and its zillions on waves on its surface.

Each of them is different, change all the time and come and go like birth and death.

Each wave is equivalent to our biological self but each wave is ALSO an integral part of the ocean that is the True Self. A wave cannot exist on its own. So the biological self that is a single wave is also part of the True Self that is the ocean.

Having some ego is obviously critical to function, love, have fun and survive but too much of it is also the main sources of our unhappiness, dissatisfactions, stress and other negative feelings.

Ego-driven mind promotes ongoing desires, negative feelings and delusions since the ego takes everything personally.

Discovering that you – biological self- are more than what you think you are will open the door to less dissatisfaction, more optimism, inner serenity as well as more empathy and generosity to others.

It means also that, maybe, death is just the death of our biological self. The cosmic Self is permanent and shared by all living beings. Obviously, many will challenge this Oriental belief.

Meditation will help in the quest to discover your True Self already inside you.

Also take a look at this link