Thursday, June 28, 2007


Nothing is permanent; all is flux.
Heraclitus has said that you cannot step
into the same river twice,
because the river has flowed on;
everything has changed.
And not only has the river flowed on,
you have also flowed on.

We think of our separate selves as permanent things,
as if viewing a river from a distance, but this is a misperception
- in reality, the ego self is merely an ever-changing stream
of impressions.

Saturday, June 23, 2007


"Clothe thyself in the garment of nothingness
and drink the cup of self-annihilation."

-Attar, 12th C. Persian poet
Here, 'nothingness' does not imply a wasteland,
but means the absence of thought,
of the object/subject duality.
And 'self-annihilation' means dissolution of the ego,
not suicide.

Painting by ContemporaryIranian Artist, Farah Ossouli,
who has reinvented traditional Persian miniature painting.

Tuesday, June 19, 2007

The Formless

Jain Cosmological Mandala

All the Incarnations of the Divine have said in different ways (presumably according to what the people around them could cope with at the time) that there is only one formless Self which one has to realise within oneself. This Self is all-pervading and all-knowing.
The trouble with talking about the Self being formless and singular, is that the human ego latches onto this idea, and thinks to itself, "Ah, I am all-pervading, I am the Formless, I am God." and becomes even more glutted. The All-pervading is unattached, non-possessive compassion; not an illusory 'I' which is attached possessively to a particular mind and body. It is an infinite single circle the centre of which is everywhere, not in a particular spot.

After Shri Mataji Nirmala Devi

Monday, June 18, 2007

Blonde Readhead, 23 album art

Like the Zen koan visual paradox can be contemplated in order to bring about suspension of thought. This principle is used in the mandala, in which the eye is simultaneously drawn along opposing axes.

Saturday, June 16, 2007

The Seer

"In Plato's Alcibiades, Socrates is pondering the meaning of the Delphic inscription 'Know thyself'. It is, he says, as though someone were to say to the eye, 'See thyself', which it should do in a mirror, especially in the mirror of another eye. 'If the eye is to see itself, therefore, it must look at the eye, and at that part of the eye - the pupil - where sight which is the virtue of the eye resides.' It is then a small step to be talking about the soul, which should look at that part of the soul in which wisdom resides, and looking at wisdom we may arrive at God and thus come to know ourselves. This is sound doctrine supported by similar reflections the world over, as in the vedas, which give the name of Brahma to the Person in the Eye and say of him: 'The eyes opened from them a luminous ray, from it the sun was made - the sun, becoming seen, penetrated the eyes..."
Francis Huxley, The Eye the Seer and the Seen


"We observe all the mind's movements, whether good or bad, until we realise that the mind is simply mind, not a self or a person. This is called cittanupassana, Contemplation of Mind. Seeing in this way, we will understand that the mind is Transient, Imperfect and Ownerless. This mind doesn't belong to us."

Tuesday, June 12, 2007

The Flat View

Philosopher Ken Wilber has written extensively on the subject/object distinction, identifying it as the fundamental modernist paradigm, and cataloging its effects on society. He has noted the way many subjects have been compressed into a "flat" view by the objectivist perspective.

According to some strains of Eastern thought, the object/subject division is arbitrary.

Ownership and Subjectivity

In Kenneth Einar Himma’s substantial commentary, there are a number of conceptual misunderstandings I want to get out of the way first. This will allow us to see the core of his contribution much clearer. On page 2, Himma writes about the problem of “explaining how it is that a particular phenomenal self (e.g., me) is associated with a set of neurophysiological processes.” This philosophical question is ill posed: no one is identical to a particular phenomenal self. “Phenomenal self” must not be conflated with “me.” Under SMT, phenomenal selves, in standard situations, are highly specific forms of representational content. They are not particulars in an ontological sense. First, Himma introduces the notion of a “mental subject,” without giving any defining characteristics. He then proceeds to make a strong claim about conceptual necessity, presenting it as self-evident without an independent argument: “…it is not conceptually possible for a conscious mental state to occur that is not instantiated by a mental subject” (p.3). I must admit that I do not have this modal intuition, the point is not self-evident to me.
In the next paragraph, Himma begins by stating the apparently uncontroversial fact that “…we have a conscious sense of being phenomenal selves that function as mental subjects” (p.3). Unfortunately, even this point is controversial. Let us take the expression “mental subjects” to mean “subjects of mental states under a standard interpretation,” where the “standard interpretation” is just ordinary, everyday folk-psychological discourse. I would then propose to delete the word “phenomenal” in this sentence. Why? Because the phenomenality of the phenomenal self is not a content of conscious experience in standard situation. What is true is that we have a conscious sense of being selves functioning as mental subjects. The whole point about the phenomenal transparency of the self-model developed in BNO, however, was to draw attention to the fact that, in standard situations, human beings do not have a conscious sense “of being phenomenal selves,” but simply of being selves.
In the first paragraph of section 2, Himma writes: “But, as a theory of mind, physicalism holds that all mental states, properties, and processes can fully be explained in terms of the causal properties of neurophysiological states, properties, and processes (even if such states turn out to be nothing over and above neurophysiological states).” It is not clear to me how it could come as a surprise that neurophysiological states turn out to be nothing over and above neurophysiological states. I also think that on page 6, top paragraph, there maybe something of a strawman fallacy, introduced by an equivocation of “epistemic subject” and “phenomenal subject” in the way Himma use the concept “mental subject”. Some eliminativists may claim that no such things as “phenomenal subjects” (e.g., subjects of actually existing states of consciousness) exist at all. This, however, would not commit them to the claim that there is no kind of knowledge whatsoever, because epistemic subjects do not exist. For instance, scientific knowledge might still exist from an eliminativist’s perspective, and the subjects of the process of expanding scientific knowledge might be scientific communities moving through time.
Since “subject” is also a well-introduced notion in, say, logics and epistemology, it may be a misconstrual on the part of the opponent to seriously describe his claim as holding that qua (epistemic) subject he is actually nothing more than the relevant brain state (as he does in the next but one sentence). At least this is not my own position.
Another misunderstanding can be found in the next to the last sentence of the first paragraph in section 3. The point is not that the self-model is a “self-model in the sense that it performs … functional operations for itself and presents their outputs to itself” (p.7). Here is what the theory really says: the self-model performs certain functional operations for the system itself and represents their outputs to the system itself. The PSM is neither the subject nor the object of conscious self-representation. The whole point of the theory is to avoid the typical classical fallacies in German idealism that claim an identity of subject and object for the special case of self-knowledge and are then not able to give an account of the epistemicity of the underlying relation anymore. The PSM is not a little man in the head, an agent that performs functional operations. Rather, it is an instrument (in a teleofunctionalist sense) developed by the system as a whole to satisfy its needs. It also is not an epistemic agent representing information to itself—instead, it is a vital part of the system as a whole that achieves this.
In section 4.1 he presents us with an interesting thought experiment on two functionally isomorphic twins living on two different planets, to which I will return below. Here, the initial misunderstanding recurs, unfortunately this time in a much less benign form. On page 10, Himma writes, “nevertheless, there remains one crucial difference between you and your twin: one of these phenomenal selves is you, and the other is not. You are the phenomenal self…” As pointed out above, this is a misconstrual of what the theory says. We are not phenomenal selves. We are systems transiently generating phenomenal selves. And as whole systems we have unique physical properties (space-time positions) that ground our individuality.
To simply begin assuming the existence of “selves” again, and then to ask questions about the strength of their relationship to particular self-models, is simply a petitio principii
[begging the question, eg. "If these people are guilty and have shown no remorse for their crime, this can only mean that they are bad people, and this strengthens our conviction that they are guilty" g.] in this context. It assumes that selves in a strong sense exist. This would have to be shown first. The problem recurs a number of times, but it becomes most obvious when Himma refers to Nagel’s beautiful, but incoherent neo-Cartesian interpretation of the succession of mental states caused by what he calls the “View from Nowhere”, in his book by the same title (cf. BNO: 582ff, 596f). He writes, “…the issue, as Nagel might describe it above, is why one of these self-models is yours while another perfectly similar self-model is someone else’s” (p. 11). This simply introduces a new entity, standing in an ownership relationship to the self-model. Let us follow Nagel and call it the “objective self”. What is the empirical fact making the introduction of this additional entity necessary? What are the criteria making a level of description a relevant level of description? Himma’s thought experiment actually seems to support my own point: the purported fact that one of the phenomenologically isomorphic self-models in our functionally isomorphic twins is you while the other is someone else is not an arbitrary fact. It is not a fact at all.
After clearing away some of these misunderstandings, let us turn to Himma’s critique of the self-model theory, as presented in section 4. In his new version of a twin- earth experiment for phenomenal selfhood already mentioned above, he presents us with two functionally isomorphic twins living their self-conscious lives on two different planets. First, as Himma clearly sees, such twins would not share all physical properties: they would necessarily be located at different points in space-time. However, as both twins are also described as functionally identical, and given the theoretical background of SMT, it follows that they will also possess phenomenologically identical self-models. Because their phenomenal content supervenes locally, their PSMs will be equivalent in this respect. It is important to note, however, that the intentional content of our twins’ mental representations will necessarily differ. Because their epistemic position and their perspective on the physical universe diverge, at least one of them may have a large number of false beliefs about himself (see above for a Caveat). And this is the reason why it is not true, as Himma claims on page 9 f., that you and your twin are mentally and physiologically indistinguishable: mental states are individuated by their intentional content, by what they represent for the system. True, you and your twin would have exactly the same kind of phenomenal self-experience. You would be phenomenological clones. But you would certainly not have identical self-knowledge. Your twin would have a host of false beliefs about his own physical history, and it does not matter how many of them are conscious, integrated into your PSM, and how many are not. Unconscious mental states are individuated by their intentional, representational content, possibly by their causal role. Conscious mental states like occurrent beliefs are individuated by their intentional, representational content plus the first-person characteristics we today call their “phenomenal content”—and how to reconcile these two types of characteristics, how to match up the inner and the outer taxonomy, is precisely the reason for the underlying philosophical problem, the epistemical asymmetry. SMT says that the evolutionary function of phenomenal states consisted in making certain facts globally available to an organism within an internally constructed window of presence. Your phenomenological twin brother could never sign a contract on twin earth, because he would seriously misrepresent his socially constituted personal identity. He would think he was you, and he would consciously experience himself exactly as you do, but he could never really sign a contract or buy a house. There is a large number of facts about his own history that he cannot make globally available with the help of his conscious self-model, because with regard to him, these facts simply do not exist—he has the wrong kind of history. I have already pointed out that it is a petitio to simply claim that selves as distinct entities exist and are “associated with a stream of experience” (p.10), and that it is a misunderstanding to say that you are “identical” to a phenomenal self. Nevertheless, let us assume we were classical Cartesian souls, non-physical substances only contingently associated with the flow of experiences generated by a concrete physical body. As you and your twin can clearly be distinguished on the epistemological level of analysis, it would make a great difference for a substantial self whether it was associated with the twin possessing a much higher degree of self-knowledge, a much larger set of true beliefs about himself and his own history, or to the phenomenal clone on another planet, who only transparently hallucinates the possession of self-knowledge. Or would it?
Kenneth Himma has thought very hard and systematically about the self-model theory of subjectivity. For me, the perhaps most important point he makes (p. 15) is that in addition to phenomenal mineness, there is a more global phenomenal property, which he calls “me-ness.” I fully agree that on our search for the minimal set of necessary conditions, for the core of phenomenal selfhood, many other factors than the sense of ownership alone play a role, and that these factors are important. As explained in BNO, I believe that the phenomenal experience of substantiality (as opposed to ownership) has a lot to do with invariance over time: we must further investigate those layers of the PSM that stay rather stable over time and are characterized by a high degree of invariance. I have offered autonomous, internal sources of input, like certain parts of the body image (the “proprioceptive background buzz”) and certain aspects of our global emotional state (upper brain stem and hypothalamus) as candidates in BNO. There may be many more if we take a closer look. Himma’s property of “me-ness” also has a lot to do with the constitution of autobiographical memory: a fully amnesic subject could well exhibit ownership, but would rarely possess the global phenomenal property Himma is trying to get at. What is more, the conscious experience of agency certainly plays a vital role in constituting phenomenal me-ness, the sense of being a subject of intentions and goal states. In my own theory, I have analyzed agency as a specific subtype or form of ownership, because I think that phenomenal agency appears exactly when certain time slices of the process of assembling specific motor commands and possibly of integrating reafferent bodily feedback are integrated into the conscious self-model (see Metzinger 2006). But now, eminent French philosophers like Elisabeth Pacherie and prominent neuroscientists like Marc Jeannerod are developing an alternative model portraying agency as an entirely different phenomenon than ownership. Of course, I will not enter this discussion here, but it is clear that goal states and intentions may contribute more to what Himma has in mind than the simple bodily sense of ownership alone. To support Himma’s point, let me also point out that this is particularly true of the two more subtle concepts I have introduced, namely “cognitive agency” and “attentional agency”: I am quite convinced that, for instance, the conscious experience of being able to control and direct your attentional focus has a much greater role to play in the phenomenology of selfhood than is commonly assumed.
Fourth, and last, if we are interested in longer time windows and in understanding the genesis of Himma’s more comprehensive phenomenal property of me-ness, we do not only have to think about neural correlates, but must also begin to think about the social correlates of conscious selfhood. Many empirical data seem to show how low-level bodily ownership may be partially hardwired and in full existence at birth (e.g., in the phantom limb experiences of congenitally limb-deficient patients). “Me-ness,” however, is something that must clearly be learned in the course of social interactions. As a matter of fact, another way of strengthening Himma’s point could be by saying that emotional auto-regulation and the different varieties of phenomenally experienced agency (see above) are acquired post-natally as well, in a social context. In this sense there are clearly strong functional differences underlying the conscious experience of ownership vs. the conscious experience of being a subject of these states.

Reply to Himma: Personal Identity and Cartesian Intuitions
Thomas Metzinger
Philosophisches Seminar
Johannes Gutenberg-Universität Mainz
D-55099 Mainz
© Thomas Metzinger
PSYCHE 12 (4), August 2006
Reply to: Himma, K.E. 2005. The Problem of Explaining Phenomenal Selfhood: A
Comment on Thomas Metzinger’s Self-Model Theory of Subjectivity, Psyche 11 (5).

Metzinger, T. (2006). Conscious volition and mental representation: Towards a more
fine-grained analysis. In Sebanz, N., and Prinz, W., eds., Disorders of Volition.
Cambridge, MA: MIT Press.

Sunday, June 10, 2007

The Knower of all Fields

Kahlil Gibran, The Divine World

"I am the knower of all fields.
When one understands the field
as well as the knower,
one has acquired true knowledge."
-Shri Krishna in the Bhagavad Gita

The 'field' refers to the field of consciousness (the body and the senses).
By saying that He is the Knower of all fields, Shri Krishna is stating that there is only one Self. Until the Knower has been realised, this seems impossible because it flies against the apparent fact that 'I' know only my own field. But this possessive ego knowledge is in fact non-knowledge. The only real knowledge is knowledge of the Knower.

One may ask, "If there is only one Experiencer, why do I not experience all the billions of billions of fields, all the human and animal bodies, that have been, are, and will be?" This is because one expects to see the images of these lives and hear the words of their thoughts, but words and images are the realm of the illusory mind. True knowledge is felt directly on the central nervous system, not usually as either verbal or visual impressions, though some mystics have had such experiences. The Knower is the brain and the nerves, not the mind and the thoughts. This is why the Knower, and the knowledge of all fields, can only be experienced in a thoughtless state. And this is why prophets such as Lord Muhammad have said cryptic statements such as: "Your hands will speak".


The Kumbh Mela is a religious festival that takes place at the confluence of the sacred Ganges and Yumuna rivers. Ved Mehta uses it to reflect on the nature of Hinduism:
"The variety of religious men and women camped at the mela, who seem sometimes to agree on nothing except the importance of bathing in the rivers, reminds one that, in a sense, the Hindu religion can be defined only in terms of a region and its rivers."
-Ved Mehta, Portrait of India
The word 'Hindu' derives from the river Indus.

Ownership and Dissociation

Non-possessiveness of mind/body/self does not mean self-neglect or self-abandonment. In some forms of mental illness, known as dissociation, people disown their thoughts or memories. Sometimes people may even disown part or all of their body.
"Despite incontrovertible evidence, some people have even been known to deny that the disowned limb is attached to them, and others have begged for surgical amputation of body parts that do not fit into their internal sense of self."
New Scientist, 13.9.2003

Cloud Haiku

Though resembling ash
left by world-consuming fires,
clouds revive the fields.

Painting by US artist John Cox, detail

The formality of the rectilinear roads, fields

and telegraph poles, is contrasted with the
formlessness of storm clouds.


Psychologists have recently done a study of the word choice of poets.
The work of poets who had committed suicide was found to contain a much greater frequency of the words 'I' and 'mine', and had an almost total absence of words indicative of an attitude of sharing: 'we', 'our'.

Gardenia Haiku

Though quick to wither
you exude Eternity
-gardenia bloom

Friday, June 08, 2007


Far from the idealized, Buddhist “paradise” marketed by the Dalai Lama and his milieu, the Tibet of old was a brutal, feudal society. One should note that old Tibet was a theocracy, presided over by the prelates of the Buddhist hierarchy and headed up by the Dalai Lama himself. Western news media, travel books, novels, and Hollywood films have portrayed the Tibetan theocracy as a veritable Shangri-La. The Dalai Lama himself stated that ‘the pervasive influence of Buddhism’ in Tibet, ‘amid the wide open spaces of an unspoiled environment resulted in a society dedicated to peace and harmony. We enjoyed freedom and contentment.’ A reading of Tibet's history suggests a different picture. In the thirteenth century, Emperor Kublai Khan created the first Grand Lama, who was to preside over all the other lamas, as might a pope over his bishops. Several centuries later, the Emperor of China sent an army into Tibet to support the Grand Lama, an ambitious 25-year-old man, who then gave himself the title of Dalai (Ocean) Lama, ruler of all Tibet. Here is quite a historical irony: the first Dalai Lama was installed by a Chinese army. To elevate his authority beyond worldly challenge, the first Dalai Lama seized monasteries that did not belong to his sect, and is believed to have destroyed Buddhist writings that conflicted with his claim to divinity. The Dalai Lama who succeeded him pursued a sybaritic life, enjoying many mistresses, partying with friends, and acting in other ways deemed unfitting for an incarnate deity. For this he was done in by his priests. Within 170 years, despite their recognized status as gods, five Dalai Lamas were murdered by their high priests or other courtiers.”(“Friendly Feudalism: The Tibet Myth” by Michael Parenti; 7/04.)

Wednesday, June 06, 2007

Nagarjuna's Theory of Emptiness

"There is a fundamental disparity between the way we perceive the world, including our own existence in it, and the way things actually are.
There are no self-enclosed, definable, discrete and enduring entities.
If we examine our own conception of selfhood, we will find that we tend to believe in the presence of an essential core to our being, which characterises our individuality and identity as a discrete ego, independent of the physical and mental elements that constitute our existence. The philosophy of emptiness reveals that this is not only a fundamental error but also the basis for attachments, clinging and the development of our numerous prejudices.
Any belief in an objective reality grounded in the assumption of intrinsic, independent existence is untenable.
All things and events, whether material, mental or even abstract concepts like time, are devoid of objective, independent existence.
To possess such independent existence would imply that things and events are somehow complete unto themselves and are therefore entirely self-contained. This would mean that nothing has the capacity to interact with and exert influence on other phenomena. But we know that there is cause and effect. In a universe of self-contained, inherently existing things, these events would never occur.
Effectively, the notion of intrinsic, independent existence is incompatible with causation. This is because causation implies contingency and dependence, while anything that possesses independent existence would be immutable and self-enclosed.
Everything is composed of dependently related events, of continuously interacting phenomena with no fixed, immutable essence, which are themselves in constantly changing dynamic relations. Things and events are 'empty' in that they do not possess any immutable essence, intrinsic reality or absolute 'being' that affords independence.
Nagarjuna argued that grasping at the independent existence of things leads to affliction, which in turn gives rise to a chain of destructive actions, reactions and suffering.
In the final analysis, for Nagarjuna, the theory of emptiness is not a question of the mere conceptual understanding of reality. It has profound psychological and ethical implications.
The ideologies that divide humanity - racism, nationalism, class - originate from the tendency to perceive things as inherently divided and disconnected. From this misconception springs the belief that each of these divisions is essentially independent and self-existent."
New Scientist, January 2006

Acharya Nāgārjuna (c. 150 - 250 AD) was an Indian philosopher, the founder of the Madhyamaka (Middle Path) school of Mahāyāna Buddhism, and arguably the most influential Buddhist thinker after Gautama Buddha himself.
Coming from a scientific journal, as it does, the article above may be a slightly skewed view of Buddhist thought. There is an immutable essence inherent in all things - what Buddhist's would call the 'Buddha Nature', and Hindus would call 'Brahman' - but there are no individual owners of this essence.
Ownership is the salient issue.

Tuesday, June 05, 2007


Scottish Philosopher David Hume (1711-1776)

"Hume argues that we aren't the owners of our thoughts or sensations. Not only is there nothing standing over our experiences, having them while being conscious of itself, unchanging while our thoughts and sensations change, we are the ever-changing thoughts and sensations - what Hume calls a mere 'bundle of perceptions'. It follows that every time we have a new experience, our bundle changes and we are no longer the same person."
- Times Literary Suplement, December 04

The question remains - who is the one arguing that there is no self standing over experiences,
that there is no experiencer?

Magic Carpet

Magic Carpet was a pioneering Anglo-Indian UK band of musicians that first appeared in the early 1970s. The band members were Clem Alford, sitar, Alisha Sufit, voice and guitar, Jim Moyes, guitar, and Keshav Sathe, Indian tabla percussion. In 1972 the band released an eponymous album, Magic Carpet, on the Mushroom (UK) label that has since become a sought-after item in the international collectors' vinyl market.

The Prophet Muhammad is said to have been lying on a carpet when He experienced the Miraj, the mystical journey, borne by Al Buraq (horse-like creature with the face of a maiden) through the Seven Heavens. Perhaps this is the origin of the legends about magical flying carpets. Al Buraq is a manifestation of the feminine aspect of the Divine which is poorly understood and acknowledged in the patriarchal religions. She is the Rukh (the Breath of Allah), in Judaism She is the Shekhina, in Gnostic Christianity She is Sophia (Divine Wisdom), In the Yoga tradition She is the Kundalini Shakti (The Pure Desire of the Primordial Being). The maiden countenance of Al Buraq is symbolic of chastity and purity; however, the Kundalini has been wrongly associated with certain tantric sects who have deludedly sought union with the Supreme through gratification of impure desires. The unicorn, famed for its purity and associated with chaste maidens, is also a symbol of the Kundalini. It was said to be able to purify water with a touch of its horn.


Lady with Unicorn,


Anamorph of a classical column

Anamorphic images are distortions that appear normal when a correcting mirror distorts the distortion.

The meditative mind - free of the irregularities and accretions of thought and centred in the Perceiver - is like a polished, perfectly cylindrical mirror at the centre point of a distorted image. The world only appears to be a meaningless distortion of the Self, in fact, in the meditative mind, it is a true reflection of the Self.
How an anamorph is constructed


There is no universally accepted theory as to what the word "existence" means. This has to be borne in mind when we speculate about whether or not individual selves exist. Better still - don't speculate about it at all, but find the Speculator through meditation.

Monday, June 04, 2007

Making the Thief the Policeman

Still from Hitchcock's 'To Catch a Thief'
"To ask the mind to kill the mind is like making the thief the policeman. He will go with you and pretend to catch the thief, but nothing will be gained. So you must turn inward and see from where the mind rises and then it will cease to exist."
-Sri Ramana Maharshi

Saturday, June 02, 2007

The Chariot

When the Buddha said that the five factors of personal experience were not the self and that the self was not found within them; He meant that on analysis, this name "I" did not correspond to any essence or entity. The Buddha has used the example of the chariot and the forest to explain the relation between the term "I" and the components of personal experience. The Buddha has explained that the term chariot, is simply a convenient name for a collection of parts that is assembled in a particular way. The wheels are not the chariot. Neither is the axle and neither is the carriage and so forth.Similarly, an individual tree is not a forest. Neither is a number of individual trees a forest. There is no forest apart from the individual trees. The term forest is just a convenient name for an assembly of individual trees. This is the thrust of the Buddha's rejection of the belief in a real, independent, permanent entity that is represented by the term "I". Such a permanent entity would have to be independent, would have to be sovereign in the way that a King is master of those around him. It would have to be permanent, immutable and impervious to change and such a permanent entity, such a self is nowhere to be found. The Buddha has applied the following analysis to the body and mind to indicate that the self is nowhere to be found either in the body or mind. The body is not the self. For if the body were the self, the self would be impermanent, would be subject to change, decay, destruction and death. So the body cannot be the self. The self does not possess the body, in the sense that I possess a cart or a television, because the self cannot control the body. The body falls ill, gets tired and old against our wishes. The body has a shape which often does not agree with our wishes. So in no way does the self possess the body. The self is not in the body. If we search our body from the top of our head to the tip of our toes, we can nowhere locate the self. The self is not in the bone, nor in the blood, nor in the marrow, nor in the hair, nor in the spittle. The self is nowhere to be found in the body. Similarly, the mind is not the self. The mind is subject to constant change. The mind is forever jumping like a monkey. The mind is happy at one moment and unhappy at the next. So the mind cannot be the self for the mind is constantly changing. The self does not possess the mind because the mind becomes excited and depressed against our wishes. Although we know certain thoughts are wholesome, and certain thoughts are unwholesome, the mind pursues unwholesome thoughts and is indifferent towards wholesome thoughts. So the self does not possess the mind because the mind acts independently of the self. The self is not in the mind. No matter how carefully we search the contents of our mind, no matter how carefully we search our thoughts, our feelings and ideas, we can nowhere find the self. There is a very simple exercise anyone of us can perform. We can all sit quietly for a brief period of time and look within our body and mind and without exception we will find that we cannot locate the self anywhere within the body nor the mind. The conclusion remains that the self is just a convenient name for a collection of factors. There is no self, no soul, no essence, no core of personal experience apart from the ever-changing, interdependent, impermanent physical and mental factors of personal experience such as our feelings, ideas, thoughts, habits and attitudes.
-Universal characteristics in Buddhism by J. P. Pathirana

Here the word 'self' refers to the individual ego self, not to the 'Universal Self' or Buddha Nature.
The Buddha did not deny the existence of the Universal Self.