The Island: An Anthology of the Buddha’s Teachings on Nibbana
By Ajahn Pasanno and Ajahn Amaro
Chapter Fourteen: Practices and Perspectives II, Second half of chapter, pages 254 – 264
Sections to be read out loud: 14.17, 14.20, 14.23, 14.24, 14.25, 14.27,
This month we will take a closer look at the fourth way the Buddha says the mind clings – clinging to doctrines or views of self. Can we become more interested in the ways the mind tends to interpret experience from the point of view of a fixed self? Notice how even this experience of reading the discussion theme seems to be refering back to me. In 14.16 the Buddha reviews the permutations of the wrong view of self that the mind gravitates toward due to its conditioning. All views involving a fixed self are stressful and hinder the skillfulness of action.
On the one hand it is important to recognize the strength of the mind’s tendency to see and understand in this way, and, on the other hand, no matter how strong the momentum for viewing experience from self view, ultimately wrong view can be recognized in any moment as ‘thinking is being known’. Remember, wrong view doesn’t belong to anyone, it is just an expression of nature, the mind’s conditioning. There is no permanent, substantial self that needs to be straightened out. The mind’s conditional unfolding is radically change in any moment when wisdom recognizes the impersonal nature of these unfolding conditions. As Ajahn Pasanno reminds us on page 256, the Buddha’s teachings are not meant to be abstract, rather he is pointing to a direct and immediate putting down of what is heavy and unnecessary. It is our job to become sensitive and interested enough to notice the mental stress that can be put down.
“When we realize that we are clinging to ideas or conceptions that do not accord with reality and that actually intensify our suffering, we can step back, cool the ardour of our delusion and relax our grip in order to put down what really didn’t belong to us in the first place.” Ajahn Pasanno, page 256
Later in the chapter, Ajahn Pasanno states, “…the mind that generates mental formations continues to create the causes for its entanglements, whether they are pleasant or unpleasant. With wisdom as the foundation, the mind can dwell with non-clinging as its base and realize true peace by not generating any volitional formations. This ability is not a void, empty state resembling a vacuum. Instead, it is a dynamic state of equipoise that relies on a balance of faculties and discernment rooted in non-clinging.” page 261.