Critical Question for Buddhism
I’ve never understood how it is that, as some forms of Buddhism suggest, using language to distinguish between “self” and “other” somehow creates desire or leads to selfishness. As one commenter on a previous post put it:
We desire because we see ourselves as limited, needy, cut off from everything else. We live in a self-other dichotomy, in other words.
I really want to understand this idea, for two reasons: first, I don’t want to misrepresent Buddhism when I teach it, and, second, if there is some substance to the idea I’d love to incorporate it in my own ways of thinking.
But the idea simply doesn’t make sense to me. Here’s two comments about it.
- Identifying or labeling something is somehow facilitates desire? How so? That seems like saying that I get hungry because I’ve called something food, which is certainly a non sequitur, right?
- The thought that you have a self is supposed to contribute to your selfishness? How so? I’m fairly certain that Mother Theresa, as a devout Catholic, was 100% certain that she had a soul, but that didn’t appear to make her selfish.
Any ideas about how I could make sense of this claim?