'Contemplating Not-Self with Understanding and a Kind Attitude' 'Contemplating Not-Self with Understanding and Determination'
Greetings fellow practitioners, The Teachings on the subject of 'Anatta'– or Not-Self are peculiar to Buddhism, and are possibly the most important component to these Wisdom Teachings, as when understood with penetrative Insight – A realisation of Not-Self leads to release from ignorance and delusion and all the ills which stem from these. Understanding the Teachings on Not-Self can be tricky though. When one really 'gets it' as a concept the teachings are actually quite simple and straight forward and form a great foundation for wise reflection and investigation. But one can misunderstand these things and/or approach the subject with an unskilful attitude. This is where we need experienced teachers and practitioners to give some pointers.
With this in mind I am sharing with you two separate talks which are a reading and commentary upon the Anattalakhana Sutta, which Lord Buddha taught in the Deer Park nearly 2600 years ago. So why share two talks on this subject you might wonder?
I remember Ajahn Anan explaining once that in general he would give two types of Dhamma talk. One which is intended to be an encouragement and a blessing, to uplift and inspire people to practice. And another which is more of an admonishment to stop making excuses, stop wasting time and 'get on with it!' Curiously while editing both of these talks recently I found that they each fell very clearly into one of these separate categories. One is very gentle, loving and warm… while the other is emphatic, firm and rousing. This is not so surprising given that the talks were given in very different places and contexts. One on the 6th day of a 9 day retreat when people's minds were very soft and sensitised. And the other on the second day of a 3 week Pilgrimage to the Holy Sites in India, in the place where Lord Buddha made his Lion's Roar and set the Wheel of Dhamma in motion – which no mara or demon or deva or Brahman could stop! Evidently there's something in the air there!
So I sincerely hope that in sharing both of these talks that you will come understand this central teaching with more clarity, be inspired to practice more diligently, while motivated by the correct compassionate attitude.