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A Warning About Asking "Who Am I"

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  • medit8ionsociety
    This is an excerpt from: Mindfulness Defined , by Thanissaro Bhikkhu. Access to Insight , June 5, 2010,
    Message 1 of 1 , Dec 7, 2011
      This is an excerpt from:
      "Mindfulness Defined", by Thanissaro Bhikkhu.
      Access to Insight , June 5, 2010,

      The Buddha discovered that the way you attend to
      things is determined by what you see as important:
      the questions you bring to the practice, the
      problems you want the practice to solve. No act
      of attention is ever bare. If there were no problems
      in life you could open yourself up choicelessly to
      whatever came along. But the fact is there is a big
      problem smack dab in the middle of everything you do:
      the suffering that comes from acting in ignorance.
      This is why the Buddha doesn't tell you to view each
      moment with a beginner's eyes. You've got to keep
      the issue of suffering and its end always in mind.

      Otherwise inappropriate attention will get in the
      way, focusing on questions like "Who am I?"
      "Do I have a self?"—questions that deal in terms
      of being and identity. Those questions, the Buddha
      said, lead you into a thicket of views and leave
      you stuck on the thorns. The questions that lead
      to freedom focus on comprehending suffering, letting
      go of the cause of suffering, and developing the
      path to the end of suffering. Your desire for
      answers to these questions is what makes you alert
      to your actions—your thoughts, words, and deeds—and
      ardent to perform them skillfully.

      Mindfulness is what keeps the perspective of appropriate
      attention in mind. Modern psychological research has
      shown that attention comes in discrete moments. You
      can be attentive to something for only a very short
      period of time and then you have to remind yourself,
      moment after moment, to return to it if you want to
      keep on being attentive. In other words, continuous
      attention—the type that can observe things over
      time—has to be stitched together from short intervals.
      This is what mindfulness is for. It keeps the object
      of your attention and the purpose of your attention
      in mind.
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