No Self, No Problem Book Summary - No Self, No Problem Book explained in key points
Listen to the Intro

No Self, No Problem summary

Chris Niebauer

How Neuropsychology is Catching Up to Buddhism

4.7 (423 ratings)
27 mins

Brief summary

'No Self, No Problem' by Chris Niebauer is a thought-provoking book that challenges our conventional views about the nature of self and consciousness. It explores the implications of scientific discoveries on our perception of reality and the sense of self.

Table of Contents

    No Self, No Problem
    Summary of 8 key ideas

    Audio & text in the Blinkist app
    Key idea 1 of 8

    Contemporary neuroscience and Buddhist teachings agree: the self is an illusion.

    When you use the word “I,” to what, exactly, are you referring?

    If you’re like most Westerners, this question probably seems bizarre in the extreme; when you say “I,” you mean you – the thinking consciousness that controls your body and seems to be located in your head, just behind your eyes. This conscious “pilot” is the implied referent of the word “I.” It’s the thing we’re talking about when we talk about our “self.”

    If you live in the West, you probably take this self for granted, vaguely imagining it to be physically situated somewhere in your brain, like a pilot in a plane. But here’s the thing: when you look for the self in the brain, it’s simply not there.

    Neuroscience has succeeded in mapping almost every function of the mind onto the brain. It’s located the physical centers for language, for compassion, for face processing, and for many other mental processes, and yet it hasn’t found a center for the self.

    A Buddhist wouldn’t be surprised to hear this. For millennia, Buddhism and Taoism alike have taught that there isn’t a cohesive, continuous self. In fact, both teach that selfhood is an illusion.

    That’s not to say that this illusion isn’t very convincing. You’re surely experiencing it right now, thinking thoughts such as “interesting” or “I’m not fully convinced yet,” and feeling confident that these thoughts are being generated by you, by that piloting “I” inside your head.

    So what’s the big deal? What’s the practical harm in believing in your extremely convincing, but probably illusory, self?

    Well, the short answer is that believing in the self causes us mental suffering. Before we get into that, however, and before we take a close look at exactly how this illusion of selfhood is created, let’s take a moment to review how the brain works. 

    Want to see all full key ideas from No Self, No Problem?

    Key ideas in No Self, No Problem

    More knowledge in less time
    Read or listen
    Read or listen
    Get the key ideas from nonfiction bestsellers in minutes, not hours.
    Find your next read
    Find your next read
    Get book lists curated by experts and personalized recommendations.
    Shortcasts New
    We’ve teamed up with podcast creators to bring you key insights from podcasts.

    What is No Self, No Problem about?

    No Self, No Problem (2019) offers an array of neuroscientific evidence that supports an age-old Buddhist thesis: that there’s no such thing as a stable, continuous self. Recent research indicates that the self is an illusion, a nonexistent pattern created by the language center of the human brain. 

    No Self, No Problem Review

    No Self, No Problem (2020) explores the concept of no-self and its impact on our perception of reality. This book is definitely worth reading because:

    • It offers a fascinating exploration of the self and its relationship to our thoughts, emotions, and beliefs.
    • With its scientific research and philosophical insights, the book provides a thought-provoking perspective on the nature of consciousness.
    • Combining personal anecdotes with in-depth analysis, it presents complex concepts in a clear and accessible way, keeping readers engaged throughout.

    Best quote from No Self, No Problem

    To think is to think categorically, and there is no way around this.

    —Chris Niebauer
    example alt text

    Who should read No Self, No Problem?

    • Scientifically minded spiritual seekers
    • Skeptics of meditation, yoga and tai chi
    • People who’ve been called “left-brained”

    About the Author

    Chris Niebauer is a professor at Slippery Rock University in Pennsylvania. Specializing in neuropsychology, he offers classes on the differences between the left and right brain, as well as on mindfulness and consciousness. His previous books include The Neurotic’s Guide to Avoiding Enlightenment and Catching up with the Buddha.

    Categories with No Self, No Problem

    Book summaries like No Self, No Problem

    People ❤️ Blinkist 
    Sven O.

    It's highly addictive to get core insights on personally relevant topics without repetition or triviality. Added to that the apps ability to suggest kindred interests opens up a foundation of knowledge.

    Thi Viet Quynh N.

    Great app. Good selection of book summaries you can read or listen to while commuting. Instead of scrolling through your social media news feed, this is a much better way to spend your spare time in my opinion.

    Jonathan A.

    Life changing. The concept of being able to grasp a book's main point in such a short time truly opens multiple opportunities to grow every area of your life at a faster rate.

    Renee D.

    Great app. Addicting. Perfect for wait times, morning coffee, evening before bed. Extremely well written, thorough, easy to use.

    People also liked these summaries

    4.7 Stars
    Average ratings on iOS and Google Play
    31 Million
    Downloads on all platforms
    10+ years
    Experience igniting personal growth
    Powerful ideas from top nonfiction

    Try Blinkist to get the key ideas from 7,000+ bestselling nonfiction titles and podcasts. Listen or read in just 15 minutes.

    Start your free trial

    No Self, No Problem FAQs 

    What is the main message of No Self, No Problem?

    The main message of No Self, No Problem is an exploration of how the concept of self is an illusion and how understanding this can lead to greater peace and freedom.

    How long does it take to read No Self, No Problem?

    The estimated reading time for No Self, No Problem is several hours. However, the Blinkist summary can be read in just 15 minutes.

    Is No Self, No Problem a good book? Is it worth reading?

    No Self, No Problem is definitely worth reading. It provides valuable insights about the nature of self and offers a fresh perspective on how we perceive our reality.

    Who is the author of No Self, No Problem?

    Chris Niebauer is the author of No Self, No Problem.

    What to read after No Self, No Problem?

    If you're wondering what to read next after No Self, No Problem, here are some recommendations we suggest:
    • Thoughts Without a Thinker by Mark Epstein
    • Neurodharma by Rick Hanson
    • Buddha’s Brain by Rick Hanson
    • Don't Believe Everything You Think by Joseph Nguyen
    • Radical Acceptance by Tara Brach
    • 7 Strategies for Wealth & Happiness by Jim Rohn
    • What Is the Bible? by Rob Bell
    • Brain Rules by John Medina
    • The Mindful Body by Ellen J. Langer
    • Influence by Robert B. Cialdini