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Cosmic Donuts and No-Self Cybermen | The Truth Is You

Cosmic Donuts and No-Self Cybermen


One of the common insights along the road to waking up to what you really are is one the Buddhists call "Anatta." Commonly this is translated to mean "no self." It's the insight that there is no long lasting independent self that can be found. It's the deconstruction of a self as a fixed identity, a thing that can be called "me."

As insights go, the insight of no-self is a whooper. It collapses all the normal conditioning that culture and language brings us up to think we are.

Being so powerful it is quite easy to get fixated with this insight and get stuck there. I see it as a transition point as the self sense we have moves from being a noun of fixed proportion, to an involvement with a self-story where the self sense gets held more as a verb, an ongoing motion and action.

Not everyone sees it this way. I have no way of saying they are wrong, or what is so for them. I only have access to my own being after all.

Whether they are right or not, becoming fixated with the no-self insight can lead to some very weird and entertaining mental gymnastics.

Putting aside that a person is saying they are not a person, and that they are standing there telling you that they know that they do not exist, the picture of reality that comes out gets pretty funky.

The first I call the Cosmic Donut. How this works is that the sense of self is denied from being within the body. A general identification with all that is takes place. In a sense the person takes on the identity of reality itself, with a hole in the middle. They deny being in the body itself. You can see this when you ask them who is speaking the words coming from their mouths. You'll get some response like, "Words just happen. There is no one here to speak them. It's to bad you can't see that." So, they are involved with the general state of being, but not "in there."


The next works a bit like the Cybermen from Doctor Who. These folks go one step further than the Cosmic Donuts. They declare that not only do they not exist, you don't either. In fact, no one has ever existed anywhere. From an absolute perspective I can get with these people. The trouble comes when they deal with the relative story of every day life. No story is really happen (according to them), and it's all a dream. These types can be a little more dogmatic and insistent than the Cosmic Donuts. They will insist that, "You do not exist. You are only a dream happening with no dreamer. There is only this, with no witness anywhere to be found." In a sense they seem to try to convert you to the blank, robot like existence of the mindless drone. Just like the Doctor's classic foes.

With both of these camps you don't have much of a chance for a reasonable conversation on the subject. I encourage you to try. I, on the other hand, am giving up. I have realized that I don't really mind that some of the folks in the world are Cosmic Donuts, and other's are Cybermen.

Don't get me wrong, I do think that the no-self insight is an important one. For me though, it was just not the end of the journey. I went further. I don't think that's necessarily better mind you. It's just what happened for me. My personal self-sense went from fixed and rigid fact, to collapsed fantasy, to ongoing adventurous self-story. I happen to dig the story and love seeing how it plays out.

Have you come across any Cosmic Donuts, or Cybermen in your adventures? I would love to hear about them.


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Leave A Reply (4 comments so far)

  1. Rerox
    5 years ago

    That part of my journey was kinda exciting in certain ways when I look back.

    • Travis
      5 years ago

      I share that feeling, Rerox! It can be a very exciting insight, and restructuring of though patterns and references. Cheers!

  2. Richzee
    5 years ago

    you don't have to look to far to see a donut or a cyberman. The internet is littered with them!! Anatta is one step in the journey, but if examined all the steps are one. Thanks for the article. I was thinking about this on the drive home from work today!! The realization of no self leading to the development of another self…the no self self! Clinging and holding on to the realization….the opposite of what Buddha taught.

    • Travis
      5 years ago

      Thank you for the kind words, Richzee.

      I like that, the "no self self." It does seem like s fair number of people cling to that, doesn't it?

      As the Buddha said, "Once you cross the river, there is no need to carry the raft along with you."