The Buddhist’s concept of Anatman (no-self) is a bit tricky to fully comprehend for many people. It might seem a bit unusual or even boring, but it really is not like that at all. Buddhist’s believe that we can have no part of us that is separate and unchanging. In trying to understand what this means, imagine the body of a still lake, then walk into it, what happens? Now there are ripples in the water it has changed and even though it might at one point lie still again, it will never be the same as before, this is similar to the concept of no-self (soul).
No soul/self to Buddhists means that they see themselves as ever-changing; they will never be the same person they were yesterday and tomorrow they will change again, with each new experience they change. The concept of no-self does not deny our existence, just denial of a need for a wasted life. A life in the here and now spent on “I” and “me”, that is a wasted life. A soul is a permanent thing, this is why it is denied it, nothing is seen as permanent.
It might be hard at first to see the point in being detached and feeling neutral to both pleasant and unpleasant things in the world, but there are many benefits to living life that way. One of them is in not being held back. Think about it, when you are constantly striving towards one goal whatever it might be, you get tunnel vision and do not even realize what it is passing you by. Tunnel vision keeps you from missing out on, well…life.
Another benefit is seen through detachment; being detached is like clearing the cobwebs of your mind, it opens you up to a clearer reality, it frees not just your mind but your entire body . In fact staying detached has been shown to improve one’s health. No anxieties can exist, no worries at all when you are detached, it is freeing to have such an inner peace with oneself.
Happiness is sometimes related to our memories of past experiences and essentially how they weigh us down. When we hold onto moments of the past whether they are good or bad moments, we can not enjoy the here and now or see things for what they are. Our behaviors affect our happiness because they set off a chain reaction; being miserable makes you feel constant torment, which makes you miserable. Allowing ourselves to be tormented by such things is really just allowing an invasion of our minds.
You do not have to be a Buddhist to see the logic in this. When applied to everyday life not only can you reach the sense of fulfillment and serenity that you long for, but you might pass the behavior on as well, creating a circle of harmony and peace that could continue to grow outward.