“The Island” Chapter 18: Sotapanna: The Spiritual Turning Point III
First half of chapter, pages 301 311
Discourses to be read out loud:
18.1, 18.2, 18.3, 18.9
This month let’s reflect on what the mind, in moments, actually relinquishes/abandons. Let’s also practice being more and more honest about what remains unrelinquished. Sotapanna is defined as the insights resulting in the falling away of all attachment to identity view, doubt and grasping of rules and vows as an end in themselves. It would be helpful to be able to clearly acknowledge the presence of these attachments in the mind. And to realize that attachments cease when they are understood clearly as dukkha and not self, not because we want them to go away.
Identity view is the most sticky habit of mind and the foundation of all other mental stickiness. The pain that arises from me wanting things to be a certain way seems to prove that my desire is personal, otherwise why would it feel so intense? Ajahn Chah is quoted on p. 302, “Thus it seems that happiness happens to us, suffering happens to us, elation happens to us, depression happens to us. The chain (the weight) of self is constructed, and with this solid feeling that there is a self everything seems to be happening to us.”
Our practice of bringing a wise attention to what comes and goes in our experience allows the mind to realize something profound, attachments naturally cease whenever wisdom is present. This is an insight that should be realized over and over again. All attachments cease naturally when understood for what they are, just a stressful activity of mind being known. Let’s resolve to observe attachments this month. Whenever we find the mind attached, let’s test this hypothesis. What happens if attachment is directly observed as this mental activity that feels like this now, just this being known? Is it possible for attachment to continue? Let’s notice that as attachment begins to wane it is replaced by a confirmed confidence in the rightness of the three refuges and virtue (the five precepts).