I do not exist

Perception

Image source: Wikipedia

The image above shows how the outside world gets reconstructed in our brains. Our sense organs bring information to our nervous system which transmits the signals to the brain where the neurons go to work. Every object “out there” triggers a pattern of neuronal firings in our brains, which our mind interprets as a tree, a dog or a man, as in this picture. It is in this regard that the world we see is a projection of our mind. We cannot be certain of what it is that is out there. All that we can be certain of, is that there is activity in our brain which our mind projects as the world out there. The world out there is created in our brains in-here. The world out there is an illusion created by our minds. It is Maya.

Now, to the fairytale. According to Damasio, the neuronal firings in our brain which create the outside world also create the fairytale “I”. V.S. Ramachandran’s extensive body (pun intended) of work with fMRI[i] has shown how our body parts are represented in the brain. Damasio’s thesis is that just as our brain maps our body, so also it maps our “self”. According to Damasio’s framework the self that we identify with, is the result of several complex processes in our brains. It is like a thought, it is ephemeral. There is no cartesian “I” to be found anywhere in the body. The “I” is a fairytale that our brain conjures up. As Alice remarked in Alice in Wonderland “it gets curiouser and curiouser”. I am a fairytale, a figment of my imagination.

“Who in the world am I? Ah, that’s the great puzzle” says Alice.

I do not exist. The “I” is a thought like any other thought in our brain. It is a “fairytale” that our brain conjures up. Strange as it sounds, it has been scientifically proven to be so.

I do not exist. The “I” is a thought like any other thought in our brain. It is a “fairytale” that our brain conjures up. Strange as it sounds, it has been scientifically proven to be so.

The Vedas say that the world outside of us is an illusion, a mental construct, neuroscientists agree. Damasio goes even further and posits that the “self” itself is a mental construct. The implication is that all that exists, including ourselves, is mind-made. It is all in our head. Our mind creates our experience of whatever is out there and it creates the experiencer, that is us. Our mind is the creator of the experience and is the experiencer.

“I Am A Strange Loop”, says Hofstadter.

It seems to me that the answer to Alice’s question “Who in the world am I?” is, we are our mind. Without mind there is no world out there and there is no me. “No mind no matter. No matter no mind”, as Yogi Berra might have observed.

[i]  (http://fmri.ucsd.edu/Research/whatisfmri.html, n.d.)

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