The permanent, unitary and independent self

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Home Forums Discussion topics In-Depth Meditation Training (EN) The permanent, unitary and independent self

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    • #2376
      Ven. Gendun
      Keymaster

      Many religions and cultures have developed an idea of a soul: something that an unchanging/permanent, that is unitary and independent of causes of conditions. When do you experience this as well? What does this idea do to your life, and how would life feel if you would be free of this obstacle? Discuss how would it improve your life and psychology?

    • #2396
      Sara Caldwell
      Participant

      For some unknown reason yesterday, every angle of light, every sound, every color, shape, smell, etc. brought back memories of all different phases of my life. It was very confusing because intellectually I know that I’m not permanent, unchanging, or unitary, but at the same time, why, then, do I have memories of “me”? Are these memories just regular thoughts, but that I am particularly attached to them (hence the very strong feelings of wistfulness, sadness, loss, etc.)? Can I learn to let them go as easily as I can let go of other thoughts? Is nostalgia just a very tight clinging? Is memory just something that our consciousness needs to have in order to survive (ex.- remembering what danger is and to stay out of its way)? What is the purpose of memory?

      When I think of “me and my life”, that is problematic. It’s not “my” life. I think (but am not sure I’m accurate) that it’s just heaps of inter-related aggregates that behave a certain way due to causes and conditions. But I still wonder what, exactly, is the thread that binds one moment of the experience of these inter-related aggregates to another? I call that thread an “I” or “me”, but what is that continuum, really? Is that continuum not actually a single thread? What about the continuation of the thread into other lives? What is the binding factor of the continuation?

      I guess this idea just raises a lot of questions. I definitely rejoice that there are yogis and yoginis who have found the answers. I aspire to do the same.

    • #2410
      Carol Christopher
      Participant

      When do you experience this as well: more frequently than I would like to. On reflection after the more intensifying moments of the afflictions is when I can notice it the most though. Sometimes during these moment as well. This idea makes things quite difficult for myself and others and it feels icky. To be free there would be more wiggle room, acceptance care and appreciation. Life would flow and psychology wise there would be more knowing of reality, stillness to be skilful.

    • #2415
      Sande R Waybill
      Participant

      When I started studying Buddhism, about 20 years ago, I had left behind a Christian upbringing and had also spent a few years inwardly contemplating reality after finding myself unable to identify with my parental religion. One of the first things I told my late teacher was that I found most parts of Buddhism matched what I myself had found in my investigations, which is why I was interested in learning everything I could about Buddhism. I did however have one problem. Buddhism did not recognise the soul. At that stage, I did not recognise a Western/Christian style soul. To me, ‘soul’ meant the deepest innermost level of my minds – truth/wisdom/knowledge/reality, as opposed to superficial minds dealing with thought, emotion, and sensing. Coming from that viewpoint into Buddhism, I found it easy to accept that there was an ever-changing level of mind that was labeled ‘mental continuum’, as the other levels of mind obviously did change – such as thought, emotion, sensings, etc. My only struggle was working out how come such as reality/truth/wisdom changed because these seemed like rocks as to the waters of other mind levels.

    • #2438
      Rik vanKeulen
      Keymaster

      I am not really raised with the idea of a soul. Nevertheless, the notion of PUI (permanent, unitary and independent) self, although not existing, does appear strongly. I have all kinds of notions about myself, such as ‘not good at meditation’, ‘good at long distance running’, as permanent characteristics which have become part of my identity. Although they are not the PUI self (the non-existing puppet player or controller which seems to be separate from or somewhere ‘behind’ the aggregates), I do see the PUI self notion contributing to such unrealistic identity characteristics which creates more suffering, disappointments, frustrations than necessary.

    • #2439
      Amrita Klop
      Participant

      What makes the teachings of the Buddha special and difference then other religions? All the actions – ethical conduct, concentration, the various actions that come out of meditative absorption, patience, charity and meditation on deities, mantra’s etc, what is special?
      If these actions are all enlisted within the understanding of mutual dependence. If one understands this interdependent nature of things, one is able to go beyond grasping at autonomy or independent existence. Autonomy stands strongly in other religions. If one is able to go beyond that, one is able to perfect whatever action one is doing. We talk about the six perfections or paramitas. This is to go beyond. Whatever it applies to – meditation and so on – that goes beyond. It goes beyond this fundamental misinterpretation, this projection of autonomy and subsequent reification and adherence, grasping thereafter. If these activities- ethical conduct, mediation, whatever – are then engaged with this understanding, thereby one can go beyond. That is what is often termed as great bliss. Great bliss in other religions is only for the God of that religion and not to experience by a human in this life. Great Bliss in Buddhism is a name for completely going beyond the grasping mind and that which it grasps at. When you have the two functioning – what we call duality – so going beyond the duality, one experiences then what is known as the great bliss. Great bliss of going beyond duality through understanding mutually dependent nature of things. This is the extraordinary feature of the teaching of the Buddha. Everything is to be understood within the confines of mutual dependence. This is ‘simple’ the nature of things as it was observed by the Buddha. And when the Buddha observed this, He came familiar with it and He Awoke to it through familiarity with it.
      Awakened, or Buddha is its translation. The Buddha is awakened from the nature of things. That is simply the mutual dependent or empty way things actually abide. And it is this understanding of interdependence that will allow us to achieve the state of Awakening cause we are simply beings awake to that nature.
      On the way to become Buddha, we must reflect upon others, cause we are mutually connected. We are interdependent with others. Other sentient beings have a huge role in this life and in pasts lives. In other religions humans can be used to bring someone to – for example – conversion and if u have done that, you go to the next human. You pray for people to please your God, so humans are then a useful object. In Buddhism sentient beings are innumerable and every sentient being has been our mother. So when we reflect upon this incredible kindness each sentient being has showed us, or in this life: giving us the body that we have, to nurture us, bringing us up and so forth: brings naturally the wish forth to repay it. And how to repay that leads to understanding of Love, Compassion. And the way to that leads to the special thought or intention to awaken. That is the only way to really repay the kindness of sentient beings, by awakening. As to awaken or give each and every one of them methods and wisdom to awaken themselves. Similarly we can reflect upon others and their relationships to us. We can reflect upon equalizing and exchanging oneself with others, recognizing the benefit of doing that, recognize the demerit of avoiding it, etc. It is the above which remarks the Buddha or Buddhism different than other religions. Only the Buddha taught mutual dependence and no other. So when we look at other religions , spiritual traditions, we can see both within in the secular world and also in the spiritual world methods and wisdom to calm the mind, of meditation on deities or colors and shapes and spheres, etc. Meditation on channels, drops and winds in the body. But all of this is done with an understanding that something exists autonomously, truly of itself. Accordingly any result is going to be similarly seen or thought of at least as being independent. And then thereby one is blocking or distorting the reality is mutual dependence and because of this fundamental distortion, there is not the liberation. Liberations in means off leaving this duality that will mark
      our awakening or our thorough cessation of the experience of dukkha.
      Many religions acknowledge that the soul is changeable and you can grow and purify. Also karma in Asian religions or in other religions the law of causes and effects stands strongly. Not the way it is in Buddhism though.

    • #2446
      Mircea Mocanu
      Keymaster

      In a very practical way, something that happened it’s already gone. Our karmic formation, daily habituations gives us a deformed perception: that things abide. Consequentially, what stays the same feels rigid in both extremes of pride. We are doing much better than we think we are. Only gradually, with the right conditions, we can unveil the diamond hiding under the dirt pile.

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