Sutta Study Reflection Theme 11-2-13

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

By Ajahn Pasanno and Ajahn Amaro

Chapter Six, “Atammayata: ‘Not Made of That’”; pages 110 – 122

Sections to be read out loud:

6.2, 6.8, 6.9

Discussion Theme:

This chapter concerns itself with the term Atammayata which technically means, “Not made of that” or “the state of not being made up by/from that thing or condition”. In terms of our subjective experience it might mean a “non identification”. In terms of the objects of our experience, it might be understood as an “unconcoctability”, that fundamentally nothing satisfactory can be made out of the objects of experience. The authors state, “Either way, it refers primarily to the quality of experience prior to, or without, a subject/object duality arising.” page 110

We might have recognized an experience of the mind being clear and not dependent on or entangled by the experiences being known. On the other hand, surely we have many experiences of the mind getting caught up in, dependent on, and entangled with sense objects. The relevant question is how does the mind transform the later experience into the former?

Many of our relatively wholesome states of mind arise because the experience of love, compassion, joy, or equanimity are dependent on some experience. On the one hand we are experiencing an expanded pleasant state of mind, on the other hand, this beautiful state is dependent on a particular object being known. The Buddha’s teaching on non identification, non dependency is pointing to a peace, freedom and happiness that arises precisely because the mind is abandoning or going beyond all dependencies even relatively wholesome ones.

This month let’s begin to explore the underlying experience of restlessness of mind (uddhacca) that can be discerned in the most subtle of ways as the mind that “goes out in order to satisfy its moods”. Notice how the mind can feel vulnerable and resists the times when experience seems unformed, undefined, not in terms of the meaning we are giving to the moment. As we begin to recognize this movement of mind we will also see that it most often results in the mind becoming more dependent, for example, attached to some point of view. With practice, we can see the conditional nature of this movement. The impulse is of course impersonal – it is the conditional interdependent movement of nature. The relative mind practices seeing this over and over until something sinks in and the mind realizes a way of non clinging.

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