Wednesday, February 13, 2008

who we really are

When we are contemplating the Dhamma, the teaching of the Buddha, it is very skilful to question what a personality really is: the sense of our own separateness, individuality, the perception of ourselves as a person that's separate from the rest. Nowadays people are beginning to understand more and more about the nature of consciousness, but although it is an experience that we all have, it is probably the least understood. Scientists are studying consciousness, trying to find a physical base for it. Is it in the brain? What is it?... but it's like trying to find our real self. The more we try to find out who we really are, the more we seem to be going in circles or chasing after shadows; we can't really get hold of anything for very long and it vanishes.
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Who We Really Are
From Forest Sangha Newsletter, October 1996, Number 38
Ajahn Sumedho

Abhayagiri Monastery

Picture by: Vikalpa@Flickr


Gary said...

This is a great quote by Ajahn Sumedho, Solitaire. He's been a big influence on my own practice over the past dozen years or so, and features heavily on my blog 'Forest Wisdom' (see the label 'Ajahn Sumedho').

We can gain insight into "who we really are" - who we really aren't, from the anatta perspective - if we take the time to actually look without too many preconceptions.

If we observe sights, we can see that they arise in nothingness, if we turn attention around 180 degrees. Similarly, if we attend to sound, we can hear that it occurs in a spacious silence. Even thoughts and other mental phenomena can be known to exist in the awareness that plays host to them, but is not them, and has no particular or permanent characteristics.

At the core of all our experiences is an empty awareness that's spaciousness for things to be in. It's impersonal and it's not a self. It simply is.

Great post!
Gary at 'Forest Wisdom'.

solitaire said...

Thank you, Gary, for sharing your insights. Well-said. Indeed, sometimes it feels like a great relief not to have to carry a big 'me' around ourselves all the time. :-) And to realize that all phenomena is simply part of this big dance of life. Having said that, anatta is difficult to grasp and it is often mistaken for nihilism.