not the only one

A discussion on all aspects of Theravāda Buddhism

not the only one

Postby echalon » Tue Dec 21, 2010 4:44 am

I have a question on one particular repetition within the Upajjhatthana Sutta. Translated by Thanissaro Bhikkhu, it reads as follows:
Now, a disciple of the noble ones considers this: 'I am not the only one subject to aging, who has not gone beyond aging. To the extent that there are beings — past and future, passing away and re-arising — all beings are subject to aging, have not gone beyond aging.' When he/she often reflects on this, the [factors of the] path take birth. He/she sticks with that path, develops it, cultivates it. As he/she sticks with that path, develops it and cultivates it, the fetters are abandoned, the obsessions destroyed.

The reflection of "I am not the only one subject to..." is repeated for the other 4 reflections. My question is, how is it helpful to know that "I am not the only one" subject to these conditions? How is it of benefit to think about all beings being subject to aging, etc., rather than just oneself? I'm not sure I understand why the reflections on one's own condition were expanded in this way in this sutta. Can anyone shed some light on this?

For reference, I believe the Pali text can be found at http://studies.worldtipitaka.org/tipitaka/16A5/2/2.1/2.1.7.
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Re: not the only one

Postby Cloud » Tue Dec 21, 2010 7:15 am

The nature of one is the nature of all. If you only think of yourself, you are not seeing the Dhamma in all things, and so will not see with discernment that all worldly phenomena are impermanent, bound with suffering and not self. Our particular mess is one of duality, of separation. We should see ourselves as no different in nature than a tree; and so at least no different in nature than other humans or sentient beings. All phenomena are empty and interdependent, but we must break down our barriers to see this as truth.

from the teachings of Ajahn Chah:
To put it simply, impermanence is the Buddha. If we truly see an impermanent condition we’ll see that it’s permanent. It’s permanent in the sense that its subjection to change is unchanging. This is the permanence that living beings possess. There is continual transformation, from childhood through to old age, and that very impermanence, that propensity to change, is permanent and fixed. If you look at it like this your heart will be at ease. It’s not just you who has to go through this, it’s everyone.
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Re: not the only one

Postby Individual » Tue Dec 21, 2010 10:59 am

echalon wrote:I have a question on one particular repetition within the Upajjhatthana Sutta. Translated by Thanissaro Bhikkhu, it reads as follows:
Now, a disciple of the noble ones considers this: 'I am not the only one subject to aging, who has not gone beyond aging. To the extent that there are beings — past and future, passing away and re-arising — all beings are subject to aging, have not gone beyond aging.' When he/she often reflects on this, the [factors of the] path take birth. He/she sticks with that path, develops it, cultivates it. As he/she sticks with that path, develops it and cultivates it, the fetters are abandoned, the obsessions destroyed.

The reflection of "I am not the only one subject to..." is repeated for the other 4 reflections. My question is, how is it helpful to know that "I am not the only one" subject to these conditions? How is it of benefit to think about all beings being subject to aging, etc., rather than just oneself?

Because otherwise you're a selfish solipsist. Recognizing that there are other people is a basis to feel compassion for them.

Notself is something people should use for sake of happiness and freedom. But it can also be used for the dehumanization of oneself and others; treating ourselves and others like objects or machines because we believe they aren't real people.

Notself does not mean that there are currently no beings subject to birth and death; it means that contemplating, "I am not subject to birth and death," is the basis for its cessation.
The best things in life aren't things.

The Diamond Sutra
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