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Throughout most philosophies and disciplines, there are major points made about the costs of "self-identity" (sometimes called ego, but slightly different). 

We mix up "who we are" with what we acquire and/or have.  We look at things on too narrow a time line, so we misconstrue normal ups and downs as "losses".  And we even think we have losses when we don't really have losses.  (See The Mountain Of Haves - essential knowing.)

This confusion is the basis for much unhappiness and for our putting artificial limitations on ourselves, which take away from what we could experience in our lives.  We spend much of our lives stuck in defending ourselves, not knowing what we are defending is not ourselves, but some confused unexamined idea!  (See Who I Really Am!)

And, on top of it all, we fail to have a valid reference point from which to measure or view all of this.

If you "buy into" the following truth and viewpoint, you will experience life differently, more and more as you assimilate and "own" the fact of it. 


If we differentiate by making deeper distinctions, we come up with a self that is different than the normal concept.  Just as in Who I Am, I am not that which I have, as that would be patently  ridiculous

What is the self to sacrifice?  Let's look at it using the analogy of a ship.  In looking at a ship, we can include everything in it and attached to it, or we can differentiate it into more distinct pieces (distinctions) so that we can discriminate between those as to what they are.

We buy a basic shell size and shape and have some factory installed equipment which normally comes with it as part of the package.  Then we choose to add some more equipment and maps and navigation items.  We put "stuff" inside the ship, from food to cushions to whatever.  And as we run the ship, we accumulate barnacles.   The end result is:

Ship +   factory    +  equipment   +    maps and        +    stuff         +   barnacles
hull    equipment       added           navigation items    accumulated 

Let's start to mix this metaphor with our actual self.

Note that the ship comes mostly with a hull and pretty well attached equipment, such as mast or a deck.  Fairly much not changeable but it is maintainable, such as not allowing it to rust.  

The ship hull has a space in it and it also has attached (in a sense) to the space some metal.  This all is akin to the body and the brain being the factory equipment and parts that come with it.  

However the unique thing here is that the captain is contractually stuck with the ship for his life, with no replacement, ever.   Also, the captain is a starting novice and must learn a few things about his ship, but until he knows enough to run the basics, he is supervised and has tugboats guide him at times when in the harbor, with other guides as he goes, until he is "certified" to go out there on his own.

The "captain" in the human is the director of the ship, using a higher level computer to make the critical decisions, rather than just wetting his thumb to see which way the wind will blow.   The self is the captain  (the decision force) and the higher level computer is the prefrontal cortex. 

Of course, the captain would be duly certified using a carefully designed program and doing lots of hours of study of the relevant items.  There is a definite point at which time he is certified as competent enough to go on his own.

The difference between this and the human situation is that we have miscellaneous trainers who aren't so good, often lending us erroneous information to program into our computers.   And then they don't follow any program that is systematic, so alot is missed.  Then, when a certain number of years transpire, we are released onto our own; note that it is not based on a certified test or the amount of knowledge that has been acquired. 

Basically, we are shown incorrect examples, fed erroneous information, information is left out, and we get released based on years and not competence and knowledge.

No wonder we have so many "shipwrecks" in our lives.

Now, since we weren't trained very well and often didn't pay enough attention, we believe that we are not just the director, but that we are all the equipment and the stuff in it and all the maps and erroneous information accumulated.  Wouldn't that be silly for the trained captain to believe that? 

And then we compare our "life ship" to that of others and then rate ourselves, mostly based on shortcomings in some area.  The truly informed, trained captain would not do that, as he knows that his job is simply to navigate the waters (life, in our case) - and he is fully capable of doing that and that's enough. 

The truly informed captain knows that he is whole and complete as a basic operating unit and that he has acquired some knowledge which he can never lose.  He does pay attention and observe results, so that sometimes he has to improve the programming in his computer so that he can do better.

People, in their lives, often leave the programs mostly intact and they will navigate alot without using the high level computer, guessing where to go, just as their ancestors had navigated and survived.   Yes, they are off course alot and wasting alot of fuel, but they think the status quo is where they should be.  They have lots of needless  problems, but then, again, they think that is part of the status quo.  

And since they believe they cannot change much, as they believe that the outside forces are stronger than they are, they assess how bad off they are (as if it is permanent) and fault themselves for not having sailed further.   They fail to note that they are basically ok in the "now", as they have sailable boat and water to float it in and sufficient fuel to keep going.   They claim that they simply have no power over their overeating or there various ways of filling their needs - a total non-truth, but  that is what they learned.

The captain hires others to join him on the boat, but holds them to solid standards.
Humans have others jump on board at random, with some selection, but often don't discriminate as much as they should and then put off with misbehavior, believing that they might not be able to hire good replacements. 

The captain knows that there are plenty of replacements he could hire, if he runs a good ship.

delivers more goods, gets paid more... 

Self + given equipment, programming + added knowledge/programming + barnacles + stuff accumulated

     Maintain                        correct poor info      remove       changeable


No, it is "paying a price" to purchase something I think will be worth more.  Yes, since I can't control all outcomes, I do sometimes pay a price and not get a benefit.  But it we broaden our view to a longer period of time, we find that, on average, our net gains are bigger than our net losses, so we end up ahead, on average.

The assumption here is that you don't continue making unproductive decisions.  For instance, Buddha determined in his first ascetic period that such a strategy made no sense (and he almost died from sticking to it too long) and that it made more sense to go "the middle way" (not any of the extremes), as did Aristotle.  If you have reasonable feedback and pay attention, you'll correct your course. 

Unless you are officially brain impaired, you are already wholly capable of running your life productively and well.