Re: How Much of Life is About Yourself?
- "The Buddha's vision is this: Even our sense of self is the result of action. It's a strategy for happiness. Every time we act on a craving, we create at least two selves: the sense of self that identifies with whatever powers we can muster to satisfy that craving, and the self that identifies with the act of consuming the pleasures and gratifications we hope to achieve. Having created these producing and consuming selves, we then forget that they're creations and that they're multiple. We assume that our self is unitary, a primal "given" in our life, and we wonder what it's for. Is life simply for the pursuit of pleasure and gratification of this self? If so, it's a miserable life, for this self doesn't last very long. So we start looking for a larger meaning to the whole enterprise, and most religions and philosophies are designed to answer that question of meaning.
But instead of trying to answer that question, the Buddha decided to take it apart at the root. What happens if, instead of continuing to produce a sense of self, you learn how to stop? That's the purpose of the teaching on not-self: learning how to uproot attachment to the process of producing a self. And the Buddha found, as a result, that when the mind stops fabricating a self, everything opens to a happiness totally independent of conditions the one happiness that doesn't depend on actions, doesn't have a price, one so total that no questions have to be asked."
From: The Karma of Happiness: A Buddhist Monk Looks at Positive Psychology by Thanissaro Bhikkhu
Also see: "Strategies for Happiness" by Thanissaro Bhikkhu:
With metta / Antony.
--- On November 10th 2011, "antony272b2" wrote:
> It is universally held that it is selfish to think about yourself all the time. The Buddha recommended that the monks spend most of their time in seclusion, but as I quoted in Post #4319, many Buddhist meditations are about other people. The monks were taught to reflect on their total dependence on the laity for the requisites of food, clothing, shelter and medicine.
> Many Buddhists would say that life has nothing to do with yourself because there is no self. The Buddha never said there was no self, nor did he say there was a self, but recommended that the question be put aside and instead to ask oneself "What's the most skillful thing to do right now?"
> According to Theravada Buddhism, one's experience of life consists of three things: the results of past intentions, present intentions and the results of present intentions. Again the question of whether the agent who performed an act of kamma was the same as the person experiencing the result, someone else, both, or neither is put aside. But this teaching does say that the prime cause of one's experience of life is actions and intentions, rather than a creator God or enemy images.
> The purpose of metta meditation is to attain metta-jhana. Jhana is usually translated as concentration or mental absorption in one's own mind, but I think it means an enlarged awareness including other beings, that they are conscious and they feel in the same way we do. If a meditator can maintain metta-jhana as they die they get reborn as a Brahma, like Brahma Sahampati who wholeheartedly requested the Buddha to look for beings with little dust in their eyes to open the doors to the Deathless by deciding to teach the Dhamma.
> So how much of life is about yourself? I think that it reduces as one progresses on the path. It was said about Cambodia's spiritual leader Ven Maha Ghosananda that he seemed to have his interior life so sorted out that he could give the whole of his mind to compassion for the person in front of him. And of course there is the example of the Buddha Himself, who once said "Truly seeing Dhamma, one sees me; seeing me one sees Dhamma." So as I wrote in my recent "Actions of Goodness" post #4284, the inspiration for practice lies with valuing the gestures of love and goodwill and appreciating the wish for happiness expressed by all beings, even the tiniest insect, rather than within one's own separate ego.
> With metta / Antony.
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