A basic tenet of the insight (vipisanna) meditation I have been doing, and Buddhism in general, is that our sense of a “me” separate from the rest of the universe “arises from conditions” – as I understand it, that our physical senses and thoughts create an illusion that we are here, inside our bodies, and separate.  Meditation allows us to notice these sensations (Buddhism considers thoughts to be a sixth sense, and thoughts to be sensations just like taste, touch, smell, sound, and sight) and eventually see how we construct “reality” from them.

Here is a Scientific American article that discusses the science of the way we construct a sense of self from physical sensations, the basis of out-of-body experiences, and how we can perceive not only our body as not our own, but others’ bodies as ours.  Our brains are built to feel pain when we see someone else hurt, and pleasure when someone else is pleased.

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