Sutta Study Reflection Theme 9-5-13

The Island: An Anthology of the Buddha’s Teachings on Nibbana

By Ajahn Pasanno and Ajahn Amaro

Chapter Five, “To Be Or Not To Be” – Is That the Question?; Ist half of chapter, pages 85 – 93

Sections to be read out loud:

M 140.31 p. 86: A 3.32 p. 91; Ud 6.6 p. 91-92; and S 44.10 p. 93

Discussion Theme:

On page 9, Ajahn’s Passano and Amaro state that the three phrases found in the suttas, “This is mine, this is what I am, this is my self,” are known as the gaha, “Obsessions (the word is derived from the image of being seized and carried off by a demon) – and they correspond to three principle defilements: tanha, mana and ditthi – craving, conceit and views. The first is built around the delusion of ownership and possessiveness, the second around the subtle conceit of identity, and the third around the concretization of the body and personality.”

This month let’s observe over and over how often the conceptions, conceivings and constructions of the mind are stressful and involve a sense of self. Let’s also notice that this is a natural and impersonal arising, and that this is true for even seemingly wholesome conceptions. In the deepest sense, there is no one who is constructing a sense of self, yet selfing continues to occur in the mind due to the force of conditioning. Of course, whenever the mind associates mental pain with selfing, conceiving and conceit; aversion is likely to arise and we then we will want to fix the mind. Let’s remember that this path of liberation depends on deepening understanding, it is not about feeling personally responsible for the conditioned patterns that express themselves in our personalities.

Mindfulness of mind can provide the relaxed open space of practice where these conditioned patterns can unfold and express themselves. Insight depends on the mind leaving everything alone so that it can more clearly understand the underlying empty (selfless) nature of mental activity. Wishing us all great patience and interest in understanding the ways of the mind.

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