yeah I'm not sure that "the self is illusory" is the best way to put what I've heard thus far about the subject in buddhism and in any case I'm absolutely uninterested in positing any sort of "this world is illusion" point of view. for me, "self" is kind of a shorthand for acquisitive ego and/or masterful subject, which I'm interested in subverting to the greatest extent possible--the question of the envelope of exposed flesh which the self can also be said to be becomes complicated somewhat by this subversion, but it doesn't have to become a deceptive appearance that must be transcended. in fact I don't want it to.
as for the world, well, it seems safe to me to assume it really exists and that it doesn't point to some higher, greater reality. in fact it seems to me almost imperative to act as though the world is all that exists and all that we're going to get. regardless of whether you believe in heaven and afterlives and such, it only seems ethical to me to treat this world as though it were irreplaceable.
when I talk about desire I am not always certain what I am talking about insofar as I'm not certain what the buddhist view of desire is exactly. from a western psychoanalytic sort of view, grossly simplified, desire would be a hankering for an object that makes up for a lack in the ego, and, yeah, I think the indiscriminate satisfaction of this desire could manifest in uncompassionate acts. in fact I'm something of a radical who suspects that the acquisitive ego is almost always violent in its attempts to cast the world around in it in a shape that will satisfy it, and this goes even as far as considering the kind of recognition that some schools of ethics rely upon for the moment of non-violent conciliation between the self and the other as in itself violent.
it makes sense to me that the egoistic expectation that one's desires could be fulfilled by this world would lead to personal suffering, but so far and as far as I can tell, I want to diverge somewhat from a buddhist emphasis on desire as something to unlearn and instead imagine relearning it, in terms of a non-acquisitive, non-profit-seeking non/subjectivity. that is, I'm interested in preserving passion and desire but reimagining desire as as not seeking an object--which would always be lacking and thus always lead to frustration--and not being nostalgic about the object which it no longer seeks. this would be different from a simple negation or renunciation of the object, but a complete reorientation of desire such that it is not, strictly speaking, oriented at all, and not sad about the fact.
anyway I'm interested to see if the buddhist texts I'm reading can accomodate such a desire.
that single-pointed arrow of zen consciousness would be for me that very desire and it would be the desire that animates compassion while expecting nothing and, really, desiring nothing.
anyway. I can't not think about this stuff because it is what I do. I mean I suspect in meditation I wouldn't be thinking about it so much as dwelling in it as potential but this sort of "metaphysics"--or, really, ontology of the subject--is for me both necessary and how I get my rocks off. that and I think that I have some wish to muddy the purity of absolute potential with a tremendous number of little linguistic acts.