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?; pages 94 – 109
Sections to be read out loud:
5.17 Ud 4.1, 5.18 Ud 2.1, 5.19 Ud 3.10, 5.22 M 22.20, 5.23 A 6.101, 5.30 Iti 49
If delighting in sense experience and conceiving of oneself in terms of one’s experience is the cause of suffering, what do we know of freedom from this suffering? Have we experienced a release from suffering through the non-delighting in sense experience and the non-conceiving of oneself in terms of one’s experience? On pages 100 – 103 there is a discussion about how common it was and is for practitioners to hear the teachings of the Buddha and imagine that the experience of nibbana will be unpleasant or unsatisfying. Remember if this has been true for you.
Let’s use this month to explore the actual experience engaging these teachings. We should consider that there might be a world of difference between how these teachings, ‘feel’ when thinking about them and the actual effect on the heart from training the mind to view experience through this Dharma lens. Perhaps it is understandable that at times we are left as Bhikkhu Arittha was, “silent, dismayed with shoulders drooping and head down, glum and with nothing to say,” upon hearing the Buddha’s teachings that everything is impermanent, unsatisfying and not self. Instead of taking the teachings as some metaphysical truth to believe in, let’s do what we are being asked to do and see for ourselves the effect of training the mind to see in this way.
Having seen fear in every mode of being and in seeking for non-being, I did not affirm any mode of being nor did I cling to any delight therein.”
– M 49.27 page 108