5-11-20: Non-Delusion about Self and Not-Self
4:26AM May 12, 2020
Nice to be here with you again. I find it delightful. This opportunity to be connected this way even though you know I've said this a number of times, I think three months ago, I would have thought someone was crazy. If they said that this format would be delightful, and there'd be 25 people, and right in front of me and little thumb tile with another 25 people behind them or to the side of them or wherever those other people on the other page are. Where are you have to push the little blue arrow and then I see you. I do it periodically and try to go back and forth a little bit and it's kind of it's fun. It's nice. Thank you. Thank you for being part of it. And I loved what Andrea said this morning about the meditative mind is simple and I don't know if she set me up to give a simple talk. Or if you set me up to to make it all too complicated, since I'm going to supposed to be talking about not self. And so, is that simple is that complicated? I think it's supposed to be simple. may sometimes this whole not self teaching is a complicated teaching to let you know you can have a simple meditative mind. So, the, so the topic is clear comprehension of non delusion. And you might ask, why not clear comprehension of wisdom. My interpretation and my delight around this idea of Clear comprehension of non delusion is that as Andrea said, we understand what delusion is. And we learn to see through it or, or to shed it, abandon it, not be fooled by it. But then we don't make up something else as being the thing. If you think wisdom is the point, then you might think there's some particular kernel of great ideas of profound statements some something that's why some like something that represents that wisdom that you could carry with you or refer to like, it's a thing like it's a real understanding Lexus, little aphorism, or something. But non delusion, doesn't leave you with anything. doesn't leave you with wisdom, they just leave Gives you with freedom from delusion. And I think that's great. It's great not to be left with anything. If what we want is a simple mind is not a simplistic mind. I spent a little bit of time with with Indra Ji to be passionate teacher in India. I made a little bit of a mistake in India one day. And I went back to tell him what I done. And he said Gil, mindfulness is to be simple, but don't be as simple. So that's how we like chastised. And so here we are. To have to have clear comprehension of not the non illusion around the whole idea of self. So I wanted to begin a little bit where Andrea left off for, you know, follow up on what she did yesterday. I like her, I really love the Bahia suta. And there's a number of other texts in the suit does the teachings where the Buddha gives the same teaching, but the context is a little bit different. So it might be nice to share with you this other story. And then they hear the same teaching but then I want to emphasize a piece of it as a segue into this idea of not self. So it has to do with a monk. This time it's a one of the Buddha's disciples who is Apparently ardent and resolute
and quite old. And he goes to visit the Buddha. And he paces respects. And he tells the Buddha very much like but he did. Could you tell me the Dharma in brief? So, you know, if you don't have much time and you get to hang out with the Buddha, that's a good, you know, can we get it in brief? Can I get them in a nutshell? And with Bahia, the Buddha said, you know, not now, I'm about to go on my arms, but he asked three times, and then he got it. But with this mess with a monk, the Buddha didn't require him to ask three times, but according to bigger body, he did kind of little bit admonishing. And I think bigger bodies commentary is or maybe from the commentaries, is that this monk, Milan, Milan chiappetta. Maybe had waited too long. You really start practicing? He's an old person already. So, the Buddha said to him, here now, along with that, what should I be saying to young monks, when you aged old elderly along and yours come at the last stage of life, to ask for the teachings in brief. So, not quite understand, but he clearly you know, emphasizes your ancient and, you know, what can I say? And then clunky put the replies even though I am aged, old, elderly along in years, come to the last stage of life. May they bless it one teach me the Dhamma In brief, may they well gone one, teach me the Dhamma In brief, it may well be They don't understand that blessing one two words, it may well be that I'll become an heir to the blessing of one's words. To become an heir to his words means to, you know, become enlightened. And then the next piece of it is very nice. The Buddha does something that in other traditions they call a pointing out instruction. In other words, he's going to point to a state of mind that is going to give Olympia put a kind of a maybe a visceral, immediate sense, feeling, experience, reference point to hear the Bahai instructions. So the Buddha says what do you think when they're things that you can see With your eyes. However, you have never seen them. Not only have you never seen them before,
you don't even know what they are. So there are things in the world out there to be seen. But you've never seen them. And you don't have no idea what those are. No one's told you even what the objects are so unseen and unknown things out there. Do you in that case? Do you have any desire, lust or love for those objects? And Milan says no. So it kind of makes a little bit of sense that you know, someone says, you know, There's something out there. There's a lot of things out there in the world. There's something really out there in the world that you don't know you don't even know what it is, and you never seen it. And I guess it's possible to fall in love rabbits for anything. But the idea of this this blank this not knowing there's no associations, no associations of pleasure or beauty or something that you want to possess. And this idea that, no, in that case, there is this feeling this experience of no desire, no lusting, no loving or delighting in it. And then the Buddha goes through kind of like a guided meditation for each of the senses. it somewhere out there in the world, there's a sound that you've never heard you've never heard about, and you've never you know, you don't know what it is? Would you then have any desire or lust or craving or love for that? So I'm alone keep with this has no. And what about anything that you smell? This is a smell out there but you've never smelled it. Never heard of it. Don't have no idea what it is. Would you have a craving for that? No. And I can imagine that as Spelunky put up this hearing this is kind of, after all the Buddhist talking about this, giving him the instructions in brief. So these are, this is probably like, you know, this is the end of his life and he's really paying attention. And these questions really hit him. And he's really feeling his way into the answer. He's trying to understand what you're saying and what where's the answer? How can I be truthful to this man, the Buddha He says no, there would be no desire, no lust, no craving. And maybe each time the Buddha goes through this, there's a fuller kind of sense, intuition, experienced recognition of a mind that has none of this kinds of craving. And what about if it was tastes, a taste you never tasted? You've never heard about before. You don't have no idea what it is, with their big desire or craving. What about sensations of the body, some kind of bodily sensation that you've never felt? I don't even know what it is and never No idea. Would you crave it? No. And what about ideas that your mind can know. Things cognized recognizable by the mind. But you've never cognized it before. You've never had these ideas or thoughts and you have no idea what in the world they are. Would you have craving for something like that? No.
Then the Buddha continues along kiya put them remember if I remember for the Buddha to go through the six senses. He's going through all the ways that we can have a direct experience of life. Everything we experienced that is through those filters of those six things. Mostly people live in next talking in cognitive world of ideas and stories and associations and projections. But those also begin in the six senses. Everything has to start there. So to point back to the beginning of it all the essence of direct experience is very powerful thing if you're able to write be there. And in each of those sense doors look you put to has the experience of what it's like to not have any craving in relationship to them. In reference to them. So then the Buddha continues, then Blanca put. This is a different translation that Andrea use yesterday in reference to the scene, that there only be the scene. In the reference to the heard, that there only be the heard, in reference to the sense that there only be the sense in reference to the cognized, that there only be the cognized that is how you should train yourself. So, the experience that monkey put has just had is a pointing to his being present live aware with what it's like not to have any craving in relationship to something that's seen or heard, or cognized or sense than the other census. And, and then when the Buddha says, In the herd in the scene, just a scene, he has a clear reference point, what does means one way it means is that to let it just be there, the scene And have no desire in relationship to it. No craving in relationship to it just allow it to exist as the scene in the cognize just cognized without wanting desires or fantasies or relationship to what we're fantasizing about thinking about when you when for you, there is only the scene in reference to the scene on either heard in reference to the herd only the sense in reference to the sense only the cognized in reference to the cognized then there is no you in connection to that. When there is no you in connection to that, there is no you there when there is no you there You are neither here, nor yonder, nor between the two. This just this is the end of suffering. So maybe a monk you put in this when the Buddha said, if you're if there's a site object and thing in the world you've never seen and never heard about don't even know what it is. What's What's your relationship to that? Probably no desire, no aversion, but probably also not making any self into that. Me here the object there. I want it. I don't want it. This is going to be mine. This will define me forever because I have this wonderful thing. There's no making of itself. There's no assuming yourself in relationship to that object. Because when doesn't know it, And so that's supposed to give maybe the point is appointing for a monkey monkey I put when he says when there's no you there no you in relationship to it. There's no you there no you here and there's nothing in between.
This has this is kind of the essence of this experience. So this pointing to not self. He's saying he doesn't he's not saying there's nothing out there. He's saying in relationship to all these things we can experience in the senses. There's not this extra construction, an extra desire that's related to the self operating. I remember when I was 17 I was kind of a little bit of a hippie traveling around Europe and folks biking bus in a very it had only the front seats so the backseat I know what we were doing was sitting like on the tire wheel or something or on the hard drive on the metal floor or something but it was hot and and I remember a number of times I was just looking out the window in the back. And then I was seeing for sure. But I suddenly kind of realized an extent of sudden moment that I wasn't there. And this idea that I could see and I wasn't there. was kind of like, what was that I was kind of just kind of lost is the right word, but absorbed, involved and just seeing the scenery and but it wasn't doing anything or making anything out of it or judging it or wanting any of it or making yourself out of it and, and I was just kind of like just being pulled in absorbed into the scenery into this ride through the countryside. And then suddenly, like Oh, so rather than waking up and being enlightened, it was more like I woke up and realized I was back I was diluted or I was, you know, Gil had returned. I didn't know much about anything about Buddhism. So but it's this idea of of that this idea of the construction of self and placing ourselves in relationship to the experience is just an it's an Operation function of the minds activity of the mind. The mind constructs self ideas of me in relationship to that. And we grow up doing that it's a necessary part of growing up, to place ourselves in the world in relationship to other people and things and find our way and we don't bump into things because we know that we're here and the objects are there and, and, but it becomes kind of a habit, more than a habit, it becomes a deeply ingrained phenomena. Certainly useful. But often it becomes a magnet for all kinds of suffering. And a very high percentage of people suffering is in relationship to this functional concept, functional construct of self that's helped us To get around, helps us to be safe. It's not a problem to have this kind of self, in and of itself. But it happens to be that there's a magnet for all kinds of problems, all kinds of sufferings and needing to be a certain person, being a good person, good kid, good child, for your parents, needing to prove yourself and get good grades, need to get good grades in order to be loved, or to be shamed for something you did. And then well, I can't be that kind of person and publicly and so that goes under ground because you have to be a certain kind of person or not the certain kind of person. And it just builds and goes on there. And probably each of us can write our autobiography. That's that would describe the construction of certain kind of self. That was formed as we kind of went through life, my seventh grade teacher looked over my shoulder and the art teacher looked over my shoulder as I was drawing. And I was drawing, pencil drawing of my hand. And I was struck by all the little, not wrinkles, exactly, but all these little cracks in the close up in the skin.
So I was drawing them all in as part of my drawing. And she looked over my shoulder in the most ordinary, easy kind of way. This person of authority, said something to someone who had no self in relationship to what she was going to say to what I was doing. And she just said calmly, you have no artistic ability. And I didn't have any self around needing to have artistic ability. I was in seventh grade. So I had no emotional impact on me whatsoever. However, she was the authority so it must be true. So then I just added that to the collection of what's true about me and I for the next probably six years or so that was part of that little you know those index cards of who I am that I stored away and you know just kept there's, you know that Okay, that's that's who I am she helped me construct this idea certain idea around the self and I don't think I ever suffered because of it. But it can't you could easily imagine someone could or would. And then I had my roommate my first year in college, he was a something like a born again artist. And within months he had me drawing. By the second quarter I was taking art class. So it turned out I had some talents little bit of ability. So then that got shed that index card got shed. Anyway, that's, you know, with all this power you have, I can go on I can go on and on with stories about how this growing up all these things happened to me and more index cards and some of them were painful and really heavy and some of them, you know, took Buddhist practice to finally put down but this idea of not creating yourself not having a reference of self all the time, to have the experience of life being alive. Just being alive is enough. Just being settled, just being Allowing the mind to be simple and content and happy for just how we are no need to apologize for ourselves prove ourselves. No need to make great Buddhist attainments so we can get the we know that we good person, a successful person. Clear comprehension of non delusion, clear comprehension that I don't have to create a self I don't have to live in this self construct. I can allow the unfolding of life just as it is. So this idea of the non constructed not being caught by the constructions of self the ideas of self. This seems to be in much closer to what the Buddha was teaching when he taught not self And you see here the two by two, this link you put, he's saying, when you are not in that you're not there, you're not here you're not in between. He's not saying you do not exist. But it's nothing in your experience and any of the six senses, anything you can touch, see, smell, taste here. And then this more difficult thing to understand. Nothing that you can think nothing that you could internal landscape can bring into the mind. None of that. You that can exist there without you. being constructed in relationship to it. There's no need for A self to be attributed to those things. Those things are not self.
And the teachings are not self is always teachings about specifically, what is not self. The experience of not self. That is part of the personal practice is the recognition, the clear recognition, clear comprehension that whatever arises moment by moment and experience, the immediacy of it, in and of itself is not the self and it's possible to watch how we make a self out of it, how we construct yourself out of it, how we can how we how it triggers itself. I can sit in meditation. And I could have constricted breathing. I'm just going along nicely, my breath is going nicely and then suddenly I discover my breathing is constricted. And then that just the breathing is constricted. So okay, great. And then I can watch the self getting formed around that. Well, I've been a Buddhist meditator for over 40 years. It's not supposed to be that way. And really, I must be a meditation failure. And I'm a teacher. So this is rather embarrassing. People probably expect me to always have a relaxed and easy breathing and never constricted and I should never tell anyone publicly because that, you know, I'll just be You know and then the mind goes on right? I just made this huge edifice of self out of it that just made the more and more complicated as I go on and on and on and, and then I inflict other people on my love You might you know, the kind of least imaginary conversations like I have myself. So, so you can so to, to be so simple, simple enough and experience settled enough quiet enough. So, you can see the difference between a sound arising and a self being made in relationship to it with that's a nice sound of a bell. I would like that bell smell occurring. A tactile experience occurring in some kind of somehow It begins entering into the world of our preferences, my preferences, my beliefs, my pleasure, my versions my safety my this all this me myself in my up world comes into play. Not necessarily a wrong to do these things. However, freedom there's a freedom and a really deep release that's possible when we can stay simple to stay close or stay resting state ease with how things actually arise and pass and flow through in the moment. Not dramatically don't have a high standard. just good enough, just enough. So you can watch the self being formed in relationship to it. Takes kind of being relaxed the ease and don't make a self out of trying to see yourself. Just kind of just be there and just see Oh, there it is that arose. And so this this principle, this idea of the simplicity of just to see just to see and so forth, even the principle of it, when the mind is relaxed enough, it can help highlight the construction of self. And one of the things which we don't have to take as being the self who are really what defines me. What my true identity is, is those things we watch the constructions we watch what we see arising in the mind, the ideas and thoughts that we have. Some of those ideas and thoughts might be accurate enough. But what happens when the mind is quiet enough We see that often these thoughts, these ideas are not innocent.
They come along with baggage. We come along with stress with construct striction. With tightness with, sometimes with shame, sometimes with delight sometimes with conceit. It just goes on and on. It's very rare. We have a very, you know, innocent idea of, you know, just some idea of self, but we do have them and some are appropriate to have, but it's how we relate to those ideas. how tight do we construct and make that self around ourselves? So it you know, it's accurate enough that the thought that I am, as, you know, a 65 year old man, that's, you know, that's accurate enough. Am I constructing itself around that? I can say that's what I am. I might be, or I might not be, I could care less about my age. And what that says me in the age, there's an I don't construct yourself. Just, you know, it's you know, it's like the wind outside or something just an age and this is how it is. So, what this is pointing to also is that this teachings of not self are not are not a teaching that there is no self. It's not a denial of self. For over 100 years, Western scholars of Buddhism have argued sometimes in whole books dedicated to this purpose. But whether the Buddha said there is no self or whether there is a self. And I think that the general consensus now I think amongst God Buddha scholars is that the Buddha was not interested in either possibility. He wasn't interested in the philosophy or proving or disproving that there is a self or there is not the self. What he's interested in is how the construction of self leads to suffering and how the construction of self can be put down, could be put to arrest and thereby finding some peace.
He's in a whether there is a self or not a self is just simply not that interesting for him. But that certain things are not the self certain experiences are not self that he's willing to say. And that's something that in Vipassana practice, at some point as we go along, it becomes obvious that something before that you saw itself, now you don't see us You didn't This doesn't tie it to anything at all.
If you know that there can be a thought that arises in the mind, there could be an emotion that arise that in the past you would have seen like you would have wrapped your whole self around it to your identity, your ideas and your your, you know, you would have reflected back on yourself. But it's possible to watch a thought arise. And it's You say, Well, that's interesting. I didn't will that I Didn't want that and I didn't plan for that thought it just this thought bubbled up, like, you know, like, like a leaf blowing in the wind. I cloud in the sky moving through the sky. And the person says, Well, that's interesting thought, but that's not my thought. It's just a thought. I don't need to take it as mine or an emotion. I've had anger arise during walking bad Titian on retreat. And I didn't. It was kind of amazing the first time it happened, where I wasn't the mind made no effort to define the anger in relationship to myself to make any kind of claim or association with me and myself in mind. There was a sensations and feeling anger that arose because someone was It entered into my walking meditation path. That was my path. Maybe I'd made a set myself there. But the anger arose. And it was like it just went. It's like I kind of felt it move up and out of my head and disappear all within about a second. Maybe because I didn't stick to it or didn't do anything with it or react to it or use it to define myself with or feel justified to have just anger. And so in a sense, that anger experience, there was no self and that anger was just anger. So seeing it as not itself in the anger, does that mean there is no self? I don't have to answer that question. But I did want it to end a little bit with just so that In case some of you are troubled by this idea that the Buddha might have thought there is no self, but I'm myself and how am I supposed to find my way with all this? The Buddha does use the word self artha Atman in positive ways. It's not only about negating the self for the auto. But perhaps when he talks about it in positive ways, we have to kind of little bit to maybe appreciate that he's certainly not using it in the way that the religious traditions of his time are using it. And this is he was really kind of presenting a very different path to freedom than the path to freedom that some of the other spiritual seekers of his time were emphasizing when they emphasized, there is a there is in fact, a permanent, static in active, true self and liberation is found through knowing this inactive, static, never changing self thing to there's a knowledge is supposed to have and then then freedom comes for the Buddha he did not point to something like this. He pointed to the practice psychological processes that operate within us. And then knowledge in Buddhism is knowledge to understand how our inner processes work to notice How we cling, how we pull away, how we lean forward, how we get weighed down by our thoughts and ideas, how we create a self. How we get trapped in desire and anger and conceit and resentments. How we cling and how we relax the clinging, how we have ease, how we have joy,
how joy is born and comes how happiness comes, how wholesome states come arise. These psychological processes are processes which are dynamic, they're not static. They're and that's why we can shape them and move them and free ourselves in the middle of them. And so to sit quietly and start being mindful where I actually tried to be mindful of the process, nature, the dynamic nature of our life. And we're becoming the caretakers of our inner life. And I think that when the Buddha uses the word otha in a positive terms, I don't think he has using it in the sense of this metaphysical sense of the punishments. He's just I think he's using it just as a kind of a nice metaphor for our inner life, the quality of our inner life. Bhikkhu Bodhi says sometimes when the Buddha uses the kind of positive terms, it's used as a synonym for the Chitta for the mind, which is maybe saying the same thing I'm saying I'm calling it the inner life and it says inner life. that we have, that we are really is kind of the that's really the domain, the pasture, the refuge for our well being, to cultivate a deep sense of inner well being, to cultivate a chi quality, inner life to be the caretakers of this inner life. So I wouldn't be surprised that the Buddha who was so, so willing to use the words of his time, and re define them use them in new ways. So he uses the word ATA, sometimes, in his own meaning of it, not the earlier meanings of some static, eternal thing. I wouldn't be surprised if the Buddha lived today that he be quite content to use the word so If you use the word soul, he probably would not have any of the current religious ideas of what a soul is. But he would say it's just the, your, your it's your mind, it's your inner the quality of your inner life. And we want to care for and recognize it's not a fixed thing. It's not some absolute thing, but it's something we care for in this practice. So I wanted to read to you a few ways in which the Buddha uses the word self in very positive terms. If one knows one's self is dear, the sage would card one's self with care. I kind of added Once in it, it literally that passages if one knows the self is dear, this age would guard the self with care. And then he goes on to the next line of the poem from the dhammapada and uses this word which most translators translate as one would watch the mind attend the mind. And those are probably the better translations. But the dictionary one of the dictionary, dictionary definitions is to nourish to tend, When, when, when would tend to self the Buddha Dhamma pot also says, One self is the refuge of oneself. The self is the refuge of oneself. What other refuge can there be remember From a few days ago I talked about the mind being the refuge for all the sense experience and mindfulness, awareness being the refuge for the mind. So here's the self. In the days before the Buddha died, he said, You should live as islands. being your own refuge. being your own refuge,
with no one else as your refuge. So here the self you yourself, you know to be your own refuge for your mind to be a refuge, the self, the mind, insight is a refuge here. There's some good here something valuable here. You should live with a dumb as your islands with a dumb as your refuge. With no at the refuge and how does one do this? Through observing the four foundations of mindfulness, through mindfulness, it's through mindfulness that one becomes one's own refuge. That puts the status of mindfulness in a pretty high. And then there's this wonderful verse. This is some youth who loves the self. The author who loves the self, who wishes for greatness should deeply revere the Dharma, remembering the Buddhist teachings. This is kind of very surprising language because not only it talks about loving the self, when there's not supposed to be a self is what some people say. And certainly you shouldn't be this idea of greatness. who wishes for greatness but maybe there is an okay way to wish for greatness.
This next verse it's also this self is used the atta in here and Bhikkhu Bodhi's translation he uses it translates author as mind. So you don't see that in his translation, the self coming out, having let go of conceit this settled self, the settled self. The good mind is everywhere fried. So it seems like he's treating the subtle self and the good mind maybe as synonymous. Having let go of conceit, the settled self, the good mind is everywhere fried, welding alone in the forest, diligent when can cross beyond the realm of death
so too So, for me how I understand this is that through practice through awareness and through care and love and valuing what's here, or what's in here is dear what's inside here is precious. And then we can love what's here. We can love this soul or can love this inner life that we have. I prefer inner life. The word soul comes out of my mouth, but difficulty, my own conditioning. But we can, we can care for it. We can love, love it, we can tend it, we can be nourished by it, we can nourish it. We have something here. And that the mindfulness, the awareness, a simple awareness practice that begins to help us get out of the way to not have so many constructs and ideas of self, so many selves that we have put on all these index cards we've gathered through our lifetime. Imagine that your mind finally learns that index cards are not really cool anymore. People don't use them very much anymore. It's okay to put it down. You probably don't need this big collection of all the cells that you've been carrying with you. It's okay to breathe easily and it's okay to hear the sounds around you easily. It's okay to just sit, be at ease. It's okay to have awareness, open, present without having to solve anything and fix anything or make anything happen. It's okay to be alive and to be awake. It's okay to hear see smell, taste, touch and cognized without any desire for it, without any self in relationship to it. And if there is desire and self in relationship to it that can be okay too. That's also not self. That's also something not you not to do anything with it, you're not to make more of it. This idea of not making more of things. For me, this is phenomenally respectful. It means that every experience we have, is allowed to be its own.
its own thing. Its own pristine event by itself.
So, I hope that having heard all this that you can be can be an encouragement. To let meditation be simple to let being alive, be simple and you have this opportunity for the next couple of days. To take the risk, take some risks by trying out being simple take some risks in keeping things simple. simply just simple enough that you might notice when you begin making yourself notice when you get caught in desires and aversion they arise not to not have them, but to see them arise and perhaps see them as those two are not so. And maybe you'll wake up if you don't wake up, who would be nice if you're at least amused by what this mind of ours is capable of. So may you enjoy this next days and thank you very much.