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Aasha
28 Jun 11, 15:50
Hi,

Does this basically just mean that everything in existence, including ourselves, are constantly in the process of change and therefore nothing remains fixed from one moment to the next? Is this what the term 'non-self' means?

I've always struggled to understand the meaning of this word. Is it that we don't have a 'fixed', permanent self or identity? :confused:

Esho
28 Jun 11, 15:57
Is it that we don't have a 'fixed', permanent self or identity?

Yes, goes around that. Try to contemplate how things are impermanent by nature... and of those "things" ours is too. So to get attached, to cling to an identity or to crave for it... sooner or later will lead to Dukkha. Things are at the end, all, unsatisfactory. Discerning about that will prevent us from painful and useless attachments.

At least this is my actual understanding... ;)

Aasha
28 Jun 11, 16:23
Things are at the end, all, unsatisfactory.

Thanks, you're cheery!! ;)

Yes, that is much as I thought Kaarine...thank you.

Saw this paragraph on page 26 of the 'Handbook for Mankind' by Buddhadasa Bhikku and liked it:

‘Things are more dangerous than fire because we can at least see a fire blazing away and so don’t go too close to it, whereas all 'things' are a fire we can’t see. Consequently we go about voluntarily picking up handfuls of fire which is invariably painful‘.

:hands:

Aloka
28 Jun 11, 16:28
Hi Aasha this might be helpful:

"Three Universal Characteristics"

http://www.buddhanet.net/budasa6.htm


and this :

"Anatta and Rebirth"

http://das-buddhistische-haus.de/pages/images/stories/dokumente-englisch/Ajahn-Buddhadasa/Ajahn_Buddhadasa--Anatta_and_Rebirth.pdf

Aasha
28 Jun 11, 16:42
Thanks Aloka-D for the links...:hands:

Element
28 Jun 11, 16:43
Does this basically just mean that everything in [conditioned] existence, including ourselves, are constantly in the process of change and therefore nothing remains fixed from one moment to the next? Is this what the term 'non-self' means?

I've always struggled to understand the meaning of this word. Is it that we don't have a 'fixed', permanent self or identity? :confused:
Yes and yes.

"Non-self" means no (permanent) self can be found because all conditioned things, including any "self" thoughts & identity, are constantly in the process of change.

"Non-self" also means, because conditioned things are constantly in the process of change, we can never claim them to be "ours" because the process of change will inevitably take those things away from us; dispossess us.

We can ask the questions: "Do I have a permanent identity?" "Is my identity today the same as my identity when I was five years old?"

But permanent peace can be found, namely, Nirvana (the end of greed, hatred and delusion).

Kind regards

Element ;D

Esho
28 Jun 11, 17:12
Thanks, you're cheery!!

I am enthusiastic about having found the teachings of Buddha... sometimes, I know, over enthusiastic... :P

Aasha
28 Jun 11, 18:40
Thanks Element...;D

srivijaya
29 Jun 11, 11:56
Hi,

Does this basically just mean that everything in existence, including ourselves, are constantly in the process of change and therefore nothing remains fixed from one moment to the next? Is this what the term 'non-self' means?
Hi Aasha,
Good question. Essentially you are asking about two different things, hence the confusion perhaps.

If we investigate phenomena in order to establish whether they exist in a particular way, then this will result in an opinion, as any conclusions we reach are intellectually generated - even if we think that we are 100% correct in our conclusions. I don't take issue with this, as we need to make assumptions of all kinds to make sense of our lives and function.

Anatta, or not-self is (in truth) not a statement of 'ultimate reality' in an intellectual way. It is a direct realisation and there is a vast difference between the two, even if it seems that they are pointing at exactly the same thing. Thinking "all is not-self" won't have any real effect on the defilements. 'Seeing' it however helps eradicate them, as we no longer take ownership of them or nurture them as 'ours'.

Within the Mahayana system we can run into the same problem. When people claim that everything is "empty of inherent existence", it is mainly seen as an ontological statement of how things "in reality" exist. Then we can conclude that everything is empty and feel good about it. Same problem though, it won't lessen greed, anger or ignorance.

If you look with more care at what some teachers are trying to convey, you will also see that it describes a process, not an ontology. Self-grasping mind habitually imputes self or other onto raw sense data. It's an innate process, as even animals do this. It's clear that this process is a function of our mind and nothing else.

This is the real meaning of this "emptiness". Not a statement of "being", rather a discovery that the attributes we impute are all from our own side, not from the object itself. Thus, self and other are empty of possessing the attributes we impute onto them. They are not empty in an ontological sense, as to claim such is paradoxically to impute another attribute! Understanding this lessens the habitual function of the self-grasping mind.

I hope this helps clear some confusion. Perhaps it's just made it worse;)

Namaste
Kris

Esho
29 Jun 11, 14:51
Following Kris post...

I can't hold a hard intellectual demonstration of this because it goes much more about personal experience, also, personal realization and I do not have still the skills needed to transmit this experiences.

Before coming to BWB I really was stagnant with the popular books that are at hand in bookstores and where the "empty of inherent existence" is a kind of Christian "creed" that can lead to mental amusement and endless elaborations about things, which has never been the purpose, at least, of the teachings of the historical Buddha.

Later on, when I started Zazen and, after that, being encouraged to give a sincere look at the teachings of the historical Buddha, aided with the comments of the Thai Forest Teachers where Not Self is the cornerstone of contemplation, something started to become a little bit clear.

Lets say that doing philosophies, having views and meshing with ontologies is not my best strength. Maybe I have a kind of brain deficiency in that cognitive area. Not Self has been a very revealing experience because, IMO, of its directedness to explore this in our person. Contrary to what one may assume this experience gives the real taste of what the Buddha is really asking about cessation of Dukkha: understanding that there is no real ownership. That at the end we can not own anything because of its impermanent nature and thus its final unsatisfactoriness.

I think that "empty of inherent existence" is a more sided, gentle, kind and too chatted way to the experience not self and not self is the direct way once and for all.

Just a few ideas that come to mind... ;D

Traveller
29 Jun 11, 15:16
Like a lot of ideas in Buddhism, this is something I can quite easily grasp intellectually, however I don't understand them at a more deeper, one could say, intuitive level, when I do I suppose I will have made a breakthrough.

Aasha
01 Jul 11, 10:42
Hi Kris and Kaarine,

Sorry for not commenting on your postings earlier….have had a few technical problems!! Hopefully all sorted out now though.

Yes, I understand about this concept of ‘non-self’ being an experiential one, rather than just purely understanding the words and their meaning, because as you say, knowledge in itself won’t help us overcome the mental defilements of ignorance, greed and hatred - it’s a change of heart and real insight that is required - and not so easy to achieve!! :hands:

I want to be able to understand, at a deep level, the basic central meaning of the Buddha’s main teachings - The Three Characteristics of Conditioned Existence and The Four Noble Truths - to enable me to put these things into practice in my daily life without reading an endless list of books, if possible, because I want to concentrate on improving my meditation technique and also have the time to really enjoy being mindful and living in the present moment. I think that is what you were saying about the Thai Forest Tradition Kaarine, in that they focus more on the practice and on the Buddha’s real message.


Lets say that doing philosophies, having views and meshing with ontologies is not my best strength. Maybe I have a kind of brain deficiency in that cognitive area. Not Self has been a very revealing experience because, IMO, of its directedness to explore this in our person.

And yes, what you experience is very difficult, if not impossible, to put into words, no matter how hard you try - I agree.

I think to begin with, maybe I should just concentrate on reading through these course notes I was given from the Buddhist Centre I used to go along to. I started reading them a few years ago, but didn’t really persist with it. They are just a basic outline of the main teachings. They were handed out to people who attended their evening classes in Introductory Buddhism, as an accompaniment to the actual class content given by the teachers there, so they are pretty sketchy. They are quite good though, but I’m hoping you can help me fill in the blanks and expand on them. They cover the essentials of Buddhism and meditation, and then go on to the four noble truths and the noble eightfold path; the wheel of life; the spiral path and the mandala of enlightenment; and finally the way of the Bodhisattva.

The ‘Handbook for Mankind’ is an excellent book for a beginner like myself - nice and simple!! ;)

I enjoy asking questions of everyone here because its interesting and good fun, and it motivates me to find out more and also to do the practice. If I didn’t have this I would just give up, because I think you need the encouragement and support of like-minded people who share your goals. I know the questions I’m asking are very straightforward and simple at the moment, but its more to do with the interaction and the encouragement this gives me, rather than not being able to understand anything I’m reading. Some of the topics however that are discussed on these boards, are like EG says, degree level French, and which go right over my head regardless of how many times I read and re-read them!! - but one day hopefully I’ll know what you are all talking about and be able to join in! :P

srivijaya
01 Jul 11, 10:48
I enjoy asking questions of everyone here because its interesting and good fun, and it motivates me to find out more and also to do the practice.
Hi Aasha,
I'm glad it's helping. There are two ways to find out more; read books etc, and meditate. Meditation is the real way to find out more because Buddha's wisdom arose from within his meditation. It's a radically different way to 'find out more' as it means going inside to look - a landscape most people are unfamiliar with.
:hands:

Aasha
01 Jul 11, 13:56
it means going inside to look - a landscape most people are unfamiliar with.

:hands:

Esho
01 Jul 11, 14:31
Hi Aasha,

Welcome back again! :wave:


without reading an endless list of books,

There is no need for that... the Pali is deep, extensive, wide, lengthy and vast enough. The teachings of the Thai Forest Teachers are just as aids so to make clearer the path. In some way, when I read this teachers I feel I am being accompanied in a very gentle way. I never experienced that. In most of them there is some sort of natural and easy understanding and a kind true honest and humble tone I have never felt with other books or teachings. If you see, they never mesh with philosophies to explain their achievements.



I think that is what you were saying about the Thai Forest Tradition Kaarine, in that they focus more on the practice and on the Buddha’s real message.

Those guys are really amazing. IMO, they reflect a very honest practice very close to what the Buddha ask for Bikkhus and Bikkhunis. Their teachings make easy the understanding of the ones of the historical Buddha. They do not mess with views, do not seem worried about them but in the direct resolve of what the Buddha taught. But it is just an impression because I have never met one of them, unfortunately... and seems I will never.


And yes, what you experience is very difficult, if not impossible, to put into words, no matter how hard you try - I agree.


Sure... the only words that come to my mind are to contemplate anicca, dukkha and anatta. The careful contemplation of those.


I enjoy asking questions of everyone here because its interesting and good fun, and it motivates me to find out more and also to do the practice.

And I enjoy your enthusiasm Aasha. ;)

mudra
06 Jul 11, 10:04
Different people have different needs, and at different times in their lives. Meditation is definitely important, but so is knowledge as an initial guideline, something to reflect on. But it is even better to have a good guide in real life, someone experienced and accomplished. These internet forums can be helpful but nothing beats an experienced and accomplished teacher.

Coming back to the title of your thread, all it really means (in terms of it being relevant to your practice) is that it isn't a fixed, kind of eternal thing which exists independently. It arises dependently upon our kleshas (2nd Arya/Noble truth), and can be overcome for that reason too if we overcome the causes (3rd Arya/Noble truth).

Aasha
06 Jul 11, 14:39
But it is even better to have a good guide in real life, someone experienced and accomplished.

Unfortuntately I don't have access to a Buddhist Centre or a good teacher at the moment, but I'm getting lots of good tips here with regard to what to read to start me off. ;D


It arises dependently upon our kleshas (2nd Arya/Noble truth)

Sorry, what does kleshas mean? :confused:

Aloka
06 Jul 11, 14:53
Sorry, what does kleshas mean?

Hi Aasha, in Tibetan Buddhism 'kleshas' means emotional obscurations. ;D

Esho
06 Jul 11, 15:04
Unfortuntately I don't have access to a Buddhist Centre or a good teacher at the moment, but I'm getting lots of good tips here with regard to what to read to start me off. ;D

Don't worry Aasha. Try to keep in touch with the Thai Forest Tradition writings. IMO, they do not demand obedience to a Guru or an attachment toward a Tradition or to be stressed about being into a Sangha, as others do in their books. And that is good if, as many people on earth, do not have a "good" tradition to practice with. Also here, you can get some good guidance from some skilled forum members.

;D

Aasha
06 Jul 11, 17:54
Hi Aasha, in Tibetan Buddhism 'kleshas' means emotional obscurations. ;D

Thanks Aloka-D. ;D

Aasha
06 Jul 11, 17:59
Try to keep in touch with the Thai Forest Tradition writings.

What are these Kaarine? Is that Theravada Buddhism?


Also here, you can get some good guidance from some skilled forum members.

Thank you :hands:

Esho
06 Jul 11, 18:14
What are these Kaarine? Is that Theravada Buddhism?

Yes. I think it is a very healthy tradition because its closeness and loyalty to the teachings of the historical Buddha and the plain language they use so to keep us in practice. Indeed I really feel that what they do is just to make understandable and accessible the teachings of Buddha more than a regular "tradition" in itself to be subscribed at. They are not arround philosophical struggling so mind do not tend to wander into intelecutal realms and hidden meanings binging us away from what the Buddha taught.

Buddhadasa Bhikkhu's "Handbook for Mankind" is an example of those kind of teachings and teachers.

"What the Buddha Taught" (http://http://www.what-buddha-taught.net/) is a good place to meet them. Highly recommendable is Ajahn Chah.

;D

Aasha
06 Jul 11, 18:24
Buddhadasa Bhikkhu's "Handbook for Mankind" is an example of those kind of teachings and teachers.

Yes, I'm reading this book at the moment and its very good. I like the way its written..very easy to understand.


What the Buddha Taught

I've got this one listed to look at as well. Thanks Kaarine. ;D

stuka
06 Jul 11, 20:06
But it is even better to have a good guide in real life, someone experienced and accomplished. These internet forums can be helpful but nothing beats an experienced and accomplished teacher.


That sentiment tends to be bantied about a lot and taken for granted in certain sects and cults, but it is not necessarily true or accurate at all.

Many folks push the idea of needing a "qualified" teacher, but many times when one examines the things these teachers are teaching, they have little or nothing at all to do with the Buddha's teachings.

The Buddha suggested that his teachings suffice as the teacher.

srivijaya
06 Jul 11, 20:36
Meditation is definitely important,
I'd say that without it you only have a bunch of opinions.


But it is even better to have a good guide in real life, someone experienced and accomplished.
All well and good but most newbies have no idea (and no way of knowing) whether the "good guide" they have just ran across is good at all. Having a large, enthusiastic retinue is no guarantee of anything. I would caution anyone to keep a good skeptical distance for a very long time before declaring loyalty. Better still, find out what Buddha taught then you can measure the claims of any devotees you encounter.
:hands:

mudra
06 Jul 11, 21:09
Interesting that the immediate reaction to my comment that it is important to have a good experienced guide is met with

That sentiment tends to be bantied about a lot and taken for granted in certain sects and cults, but it is not necessarily true or accurate at all.
as if I was promoting a particular sect. I'm not. I'm just saying that whatever school of buddhism you are interested it is better to have a real life guide. A forest monk, or someone who has good experience, etc.
The irony is of course that while a few people on this thread have dissed this, they are actively giving guidance to someone who has never met them, and who has no idea what they are really like, and are expecting the poster to trust them over meeting and assessing a person in real life. interesting.
Sure you should do your own research, and you are responsible for your own actions. But try for example to learn to read on your own.

stuka
06 Jul 11, 21:31
Interesting that the immediate reaction to my comment that it is important to have a good experienced guide is met with

as if I was promoting a particular sect. I'm not.

No one has said that you were.


The irony is of course that while a few people on this thread have dissed this, they are actively giving guidance to someone who has never met them, and who has no idea what they are really like, and are expecting the poster to trust them over meeting and assessing a person in real life. interesting.

Caveat Emptor applies here as anywhere else one might go on the internet.

No one has claimed to be a teacher here.

The Buddha suggested that one associate with kalyana mitta, friends in the Dhamma.

The folks who answer the OP's inquiry are uniquely qualified to answer the OP according to our experience, by virtue of the fact that we are are the ones who were asked.

stuka
06 Jul 11, 21:46
There are folks here in this forum who have seen and experienced firsthand the abuses and indulgences of one hailed by many the world over as "qualified", "experienced", "accomplished", "enlightened" Great Teacher.

One learns to read by reading. One learns the Dhamma by paying attention to the liberative, Noble teachings of the Buddha.

mudra
07 Jul 11, 00:31
stuka -

Nor did I say that anyone here was claiming to be a teacher, but they are giving guidance. Nothing wrong with that as far as an internet experience goes. But in real life we do benefit from having dharma friends and more experienced people help us. It's very simple. I was intrigued to see the knee jerk reaction, that's all.
Your next post clarifies that a bit, but I have no idea who this Great Teacher is.
As to the OP's question, I thought this was an open forum. If the OP directed this specifically to those people then I apologize. Perhaps then it should have been specifically stated.

mudra
07 Jul 11, 00:34
Hi Aasha, in Tibetan Buddhism 'kleshas' means emotional obscurations. ;D

This is not only a Tibetan Buddhist definition. It is a basic Buddhist notion that goes back to the Buddha. In Pali it is "kilesa", sanskrit "klesha", in Tibetan "nyonmong".

stuka
07 Jul 11, 04:04
stuka -

Nor did I say that anyone here was claiming to be a teacher, but they are giving guidance.

Your statement and the replies were specifically about teachers. Teachers "give guidance". It is not a great stretch to see that your inference is that we think of ourselves as some kind of "teachers", especially in conjunction with the mind-reading that appears below:


they are actively giving guidance to someone who has never met them, and who has no idea what they are really like, and are expecting the poster to trust them over meeting and assessing a person in real life. interesting.

I have my doubts that you are really able to assess my motives and Sri's motives from your chair as you claim.



Nothing wrong with that as far as an internet experience goes. But in real life we do benefit from having dharma friends and more experienced people help us.

That is true. But you were speaking specifically about "accomplished teachers".


It's very simple. I was intrigued to see the knee jerk reaction, that's all.

Some of us are not entirely impressed with the idea of submitting oneself to "a qualified teacher", "an accomplished teacher", "an enlightened guru", etc. Charlatans abound.



Your next post clarifies that a bit, but I have no idea who this Great Teacher is.

Do you think it matters who? Pick one or several. There have been plenty.



As to the OP's question, I thought this was an open forum.

It is. And that means that folks are free to challenge assumptions.

Aloka
07 Jul 11, 05:23
Hi Mudra,

When newcomers join the community they have the option of asking questions to the existing group members. This, I think is the procedure on most interent Buddhist forums. We do in fact have members who are experienced offline practitioners amongst us but nobody sets themselves up as teachers. You are, I think, making assumptions if you think none of us are capable of offering any basic suggestions to others. Also, we are from different traditions and its an open forum, so there will be a range of views.

Another thing to consider is that some of our members around the world don't live anywhere near a Buddhist centre and have family and work commitments, so that meeting offline Buddhists isn't an option for them right now.

Personally I would advise people who seek a teacher to investigate teachers very carefully and not get too carried away by charismatic gurus and their adoring students - and take plenty of time in doing so. I also think its wise to have a basic grounding in the teachings of the Buddha first rather than plunging into an offline group situation where they know nothing about the activities of the group or about Buddhism in general.

What's my own experience? More than 20 years of offline involvement and practice with Vajrayana, and more recent offline investigations and enjoyment of Theravada. I have interacted on a personal practice advice level with Vajrayana teachers and also with a Theravada teacher.

My suggestion is still investigate carefully, do some basic studies and don't be in a hurry to commit to an organisation anywhere. Teachers are just human beings, and if we get too attached to them there's always the danger that we'll never jump out of the nest and fly for ourselves .


with kind wishes,

Aloka-D ;D

mudra
07 Jul 11, 05:38
Hi Stuka and Aloka-D,

Actually it seems more like you are making assumptions. I stated that people here are giving guidance too. I didn't say anything about motivation, nor do I have any assumptions about each individuals motivations. I also didn't make recommendations about any great gurus. On what basis would I do that? All I was pointing out was that it helps to have someone with some experience to help out, just as you are doing.

You don't even know my position on a serious guru-disciple relationship. They have existed since the time of the Buddha. Just to make it clear where I stand: I am actually quite conservative on it and always feel people should investigate very very carefully.

I am not investigating anyone of the posters' credentials, as you both seem to imply I am doing. There is a lot of jumping to conclusions is what there is.

In any case I don't think I have anything of much value to offer this forum.

My apologies if I have inadvertently ruffled feathers during my short stay.

Be well

M

Aloka
07 Jul 11, 05:51
.

In any case I don't think I have anything of much value to offer this forum.

My apologies if I have inadvertently ruffled feathers during my short stay.

Be well

M

No problem Mudra, and I hadn't noticed any feathers being ruffled. My apologies also if you feel I was jumping to conclusions .

I'm sorry you've left so hurriedly and it was nice to see you briefly. I hope you'll be happier back in the comfort zone of posting in a one-tradition group.

Be well and at ease.

:hands:


Note

This thread has gone way off topic now - so it may be a good point at which to close it. New topics always welcome in this or any of our other forums.

Thanks to all who contributed.