What is it that experiences life from this particular body & mind that I have?

i.e. why am I experiencing the world from my body instead of yours?

I feel like an answer could be: because there isn't really any 'separate bodies' or selves & you just don't have the realization (Anatman) yet. Still, what causes the subjective 'self' to appear as a particular body experiencing life from its limited perspective, or is it all one giant reification error for someone who hasn't detached from egotic self yet? & then karma, the 12 links, mindstream identifies with this, attaches to this body, so on and so forth...


4 Answers 4


The question of why ‘awareness’ has a perspective, why is it not free to roam, so that now it is seeing things from the perspective of your physical body, and now seeing things from the perspective of my physical body, is an explosion of phantasms of conceptual ideas littering your understanding. However, the major oversight is not seeing that your question assumes that non-individuated awareness would be all-perceiving. Why must that be? Isn’t this just the concept of God reemerging, but now called ‘awareness’?

In Buddhist philosophy there is no God. Why then rename God “awareness”?

It is a basic, but profound insight that there is nothing that endures permanently, and thus nothing that has an intrinsic self. Therefore our ‘physical’ bodies are constructions of our mind. This does not mean that there isn’t the appearance of a body, it means that the appearance of a body is conceptually structured. Why then fail to see that we are simply transferring the independent selfhood and permanence of existence of our naïve understanding to ‘awareness’?

But there is another taint in the framing of this question. You are assuming that this ‘awareness’ is basically a ‘seeing’ of what it is aware of. But this is just our naïve understanding put into a new box labeled “awareness.” It’s carrying an important misunderstanding forward in a different guise. Change it slightly and perhaps we can make this misunderstanding more uncomfortable to live with: let’s assume that ‘awareness’ doesn’t see, it hears. This means there is no perspective from your body, and none from mine. Sound pervades all directions, and so as long as we are standing near each other, ‘awareness’ will hear the same thing. But it won’t know what anything looks like. It will be like a blind man.

Let’s go a step further: the blind man goes deaf. Why, after all, is this ‘awareness’ framed as a perceiving, when what we really need it to be is a knowing. That is why we abstracted it out of ‘our’ experience and made it something separate from what is experienced, after all. But if it is a knowing, rather than a perceiving, how does it know, if it is something other than what is happening?

I leave you with that to ponder.

In my own case, I came to the insight that knowing is not different than appearing, and thus, ‘awareness’ knows by doing, not perceiving. And because of this, ‘my’ ‘awareness’ is locked into my body because that’s what it’s doing. And similarly for ‘your’ ‘awareness’.

Take out the imputed self-identities of ‘me’ and ‘you’, and the conceptual image of an all-perceiving ‘God’, and you’re getting close to the truth.


The confusion lies within mistakenning a 2nd body just as this body. The 2nd body, or any other bodies, is an image in your sight. Anything more than an image, is fabricated upon it. Although it is not to declare the other bodies don't exist. It is merely stating in your experience, there is no other body except body images. Thus in your experience there is only this body sensing everything.


Your world is a process which you collect stimulus from sensory organs and then interpret them, identify and categorize them using previous memories and behaviors. If you take for an example your eyes. Eye receives a picture, sends it to the brain. brain interprets it based on previous memories, experiences and behaviors. Then a value is assigned in your mind as; this is good or bad.

A very important phenomenon takes place here. The moment you interpret the outside stimuli, the mind which allowed the process (chakku viknknana) and the outside world you perceived are one and the same. But you interpret it as there is an outside world, and 'I' perceived it. In fact with everything we perceive, what we primarily do is to ascertain our-self that there is 'me', perceiving the world. This is the reason we assign a value to the outside stimuli as good or bad (it is good or bad to 'me'). In reality, only the perception process exists, creation of 'one-self' within that process is unawareness (moha) in action, its the deception we fall into. We build the world in our mind to assert the sense of 'me' (sathwa pudgala saknkna).


If two people are standing in a cold room, they can both discuss "Why do I feel I am cold" vs. "Why don't I feel that you are cold" until they both freeze to death. That discussion would have a sad ending.

However, one can also avoid the mental chatter and simply put on a jacket when cold. And in this way both people could become warmer and smile at that shared experience without needing any notion of a self.

So there is something quite peculiar about that notion of a self. Let's see what the Buddha says.

In DN1, the Buddha enumerates and dispenses with theories of a self with a very simple statement about contact. Contact is the experience of catching something with our senses. And contacts can precipitate into notions of a self along with endless discussions about notions of a self.

DN1:3.45.1: Now, these things are conditioned by contact. Namely, when those ascetics and brahmins assert that the self and the cosmos are eternal on four grounds …
DN1:3.46.1: partially eternal on four grounds …
DN1:3.47.1: finite or infinite on four grounds …

So we can think of the senses as a net that we refine to catch this or catch that. And one of the things that may plop into our net is the notion of a self. But there's a danger here. There is a danger that our view might be very limited.

The Buddha equates chasing notions of self with fishing in a small pond.

DN1:3.72.3: Suppose a deft fisherman or his apprentice were to cast a fine-meshed net over a small pond. They’d think: ‘Any sizable creatures in this pond will be trapped in the net. Wherever they emerge they are caught and trapped in this very net.’

The Buddha advises us to look beyond that small pond with its notions of identity. He advises us to step beyond notions of "self" and encourages to not get caught up in the net of identity.

Practically speaking, the Buddha shares many techniques for escaping notions of identity. A notable example is:

MN62:3.2: “Rāhula, you should truly see any kind of form at all—past, future, or present; internal or external; coarse or fine; inferior or superior; far or near: all form—with right understanding: ‘This is not mine, I am not this, this is not my self.’”

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