My philosophical framework for meditation is based on the simple but profound precepts of Theravada Buddhism: Namely, that the causes of suffering are the product of impermanence and belief in a substantive self. But there is one apparent paradox in Buddhism that has always bugged me, and it is indeed the occasion of many philosophical disputes within Buddhism itself. Namely, if there is no such thing as a substantive “self,” what is it that reincarnates and inherits karma from a previous incarnation?
I had an intense experience while using theta-wave based binaural beats in which I imagined the immaterial component of myself floating above my body and examining my brain. With each thought or feeling, positive or negative, anything with emotional valence one way or the other, a part of the brain would light up. Now, I imagine my higher self or soul as that which endures the contracted and hyper-perspectival period of time of the “lower” ego that endures in specific iterations or incarnations.
During this time, my soul is encased in a flesh-container that refracts the light of experience in an extremely local and perspective-bound manner, and it is this perspective-boundedness that we tend to see as a substantial “self” in our ordinary waking consciousness, and we become attached to this self as a locus of major and enduring significance, and this causes suffering because it endures violence as the faculties of mind and body we enjoy inevitably decay with age and even our pleasures are transient. Thus, reaching for Vipassana (insight) through anapanasati (breathing in and out meditation) as our satipatthana (basis of mindfulness), we are led into a kind of meta-perspective by which we see the radical perspective-boundedness of our particular fleshly iterations and by exposing our delusional beliefs about the self, we liberate ourselves from captivity to its vicissitudes.