In this seven-week course, we will investigate the Buddha’s teachings on anatta, the impersonal nature of experience. Insight into the changing and conditioned nature of phenomena weakens themind’s habit of taking things personally. We often live our lives through the lens of self-centered fear and longing. We are so busy pursuing our attachments that we miss how much stress is involved when the mind identifies with thoughts and emotions. When the mind understands the impersonal nature, then it is possible to live without being confused by the habits of the mind.
Readings and Resources for Anatta
- Busy Life, No-Self: Everyday Practices to Realize Anatta, Recent thoughts from Joseph Goldstein Taken from Insight Newsletter, Fall/Winter 2011/2012
- Excerpt from Stepping Out of Self Deception, by Rodney Smith
- Concepts and Reality, from The Experience of Insight, by Joseph Goldstein
- Anatta and the Four Noble Truths, by Gil Fronsdal
- The Buddha’s Discourse on the Not-self Characteristic, translated by Thanissaro Bhikkhu
- Meditating on No-Self: A Dhamma Talk Edited for Bodhi Leaves, by Sister Khema
- No-self or Not-self?, by Thanissaro Bhikkhu
- The Not-self Strategy, by Thanissaro Bhikkhu
- The Limits of Description – NOT-SELF REVISITED, by Thanissaro Bhikkhu
- Anatta as Strategy and Ontology – A response to “The Not-self Strategy by Thanissaro”, by Bhikkhu Bodhi
- NIBBANA FOR EVERYONE: A Truth Message from Suan Mokkh, by Buddhadasa Bhikkhu (adapted and translated by Santikaro Bhikkhu)
- We Are Constructed Through Metaphor, by Arnold Kozak
- The Not-Self Strategy, by Thanissaro Bhikkhu
- The Limits of Description – Not-Self Revisited, by Thanissaro Bhikkhu
- Sutta Study Discussion Forum
- Self as Verb: Unraveling the Buddha’s teachings on how we construct ourselves, by Andrew Olendzki, Tricycle, Summer 2005
- The Scale of the Universe
Additional Study Materials
- Introduction to the Integral Anatomy Series, Volume 1, Skin and Superficial Fascia, by Gil Hedley
- Hang on to Your Ego, by Ajahn Thanissaro
- Muccalinda Sutta, Udana 2.1, translated from the Pali by Thanissaro Bhikkhu
- AN 3.32; Ananda
- Using non-self to let go, by Ajahn Brahmavamso
- ANATTA (NON-SELF), by Ajahn Brahmavamso
- Free of “I”- making, AN 3.32, trans lated by Ven. Bhikkhu Bodhi and Ven. Nyanaponika Thera
Here are some themes for reflection for the upcoming weeks:
1. Notice the connection between moments of stress and the arising of a strong sense of self. Notice that even when we recognize that our mind is caught and stressing, the pain in the body and mind continues to trigger mental proliferation and thus the arising of more stress.
2. Notice how it is that happiness, lightness, and ease arise/are present when self centered dramas are abandoned or not present.
3. Spend time reflecting on experience in terms of the five aggregates (body, feelings, perceptions, mental formations, and consciousness) or six sense gates. This reflection will gradually undermine identification with self view. You might want to use a meditation phrase such as, “Sensations are like this” or “Sensation are being known”. “This is not self, this is just sensation arising and passing away, it is just sensation being known.” And then of course continue through all of the aggregates or the six sense gates. Remember the “body” aggregate includes the five physical senses.