Can We Reinvent Ourselves? A Buddhist View

IAI TV (16 July 2018)

Is self-transformation possible and, if so, how can it be achieved? An initial reading of Buddhist philosophy might suggest a simple but perhaps unilluminating answer. The Buddha taught that attachment to self is a central cause of human suffering. It underpins many of the psychological states that detract from our happiness and that we might wish to change. However, the Buddha also taught that attachment to self is rooted in ignorance because there is, in fact, no self. Taken at face value, this might seem to suggest that self-transformation is not possible because there is no self to transform. You can’t change what’s not there. In this article, I reconstruct a positive answer that self-transformation is not only possible from a Buddhist perspective but it can be simple, ordinary and mundane so long as what one does is properly targeted.