Buddhist Perspective of “Who am I? What am I?”

From the perspective of the Buddhist teaching ‘Anatta’ or “not-self,” the existence of a sense of identity of any being may not exist through the binding concept of a soul. The law of the impermanence under the Buddhist belief rejects the concept of anything infinite, everlasting, and even divine, all which are made present within the concept of a soul. The permanent self does not constitute to the identity of a being because it is within the actions of a certain individual that defines one’s identity. The soul has nothing to do with the actions of the individual because its occurrence is in relationship of the fives heaps. In this belief, the soul has neither relation nor cause to anything; hence, it is inexistent.

The Buddhism belief’s emphasis on ‘emptiness’ negates the idea of anything eternal because of the ever-changing and influx feature of what life is perceived to be. Francis Story writes “‘Anatta’ means ‘non-soul’, ‘non-ego’ and ‘non-self’; it is the denial of any abiding or constant and unchanging element in the life-process.”

Therefore, the ‘I’ in the “Who and What I am” is ever-changing in every sense, even continuously evolving—never constant. Both the separate and permanent identity may and may not be. Nevertheless, from the perspective of the ‘Anatta’ framework, only one exists between them. The nothingness and fleeting ideas that the “non-self” implies may be somehow contradictory but are still correlated by the teachings of karma.

The concept of rebirth, though may seem as a cyclical process, still holds its ever-changing qualities as the Buddhist belief teaching. The permanent identity or soul cannot exist for it negates the concept of permanence. The separate identity exists, for it has and is in direct relationship to fundamental skandhas and with this is liberated from the concept of any ego, of any soul.

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