Is realizing the nature of the self the most important thing

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Is realizing the nature of the self the most important thing

Postby TheNaturalMind » Thu Feb 10, 2011 1:59 pm

It seems that once you see through the false I, everything else would naturally fall into place. The Four Noble Truths, compassion, impermanence, dukkha, clinging - the realization of all of these things seem to be obstructed by ignorance that gives rise to the false self. Once one realizes the true nature of self, what else is there to be done?
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Re: Is realizing the nature of the self the most important thing

Postby PeterB » Thu Feb 10, 2011 2:04 pm

Please ex[plain the "true nature of self..." Preferably with a reference to the Suttas...
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Re: Is realizing the nature of the self the most important thing

Postby TheNaturalMind » Thu Feb 10, 2011 2:06 pm

I apologize, I do not have any sutras on hand. By the true nature of the self I just mean seeing clearly the false footholds of personal identity, namely, the 5 aggregates.
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Re: Is realizing the nature of the self the most important thing

Postby PeterB » Thu Feb 10, 2011 2:07 pm

Surely you are describing the absence of a true self ?
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Re: Is realizing the nature of the self the most important thing

Postby TheNaturalMind » Thu Feb 10, 2011 2:10 pm

Yes, but I want to go beyond these concepts.

When one sees with bare sensate experience that there is no "I" to suffer, wouldn't full comprehension of the Dhamma follow naturally in its wake?
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Re: Is realizing the nature of the self the most important thing

Postby PeterB » Thu Feb 10, 2011 2:12 pm

When.
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Re: Is realizing the nature of the self the most important thing

Postby TheNaturalMind » Thu Feb 10, 2011 2:14 pm

PeterB wrote:When.

So why isn't more emphasis put on "self-enquiry" in Buddhism? Why all of this practice which can confuse someone into thinking there is an "I" that has to get from here to there?
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Re: Is realizing the nature of the self the most important thing

Postby PeterB » Thu Feb 10, 2011 2:38 pm

Because "When" is at the end of a prolonged process involving great effort and determination, not at its beginning. There are no short cuts.
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Re: Is realizing the nature of the self the most important thing

Postby TheNaturalMind » Thu Feb 10, 2011 2:43 pm

PeterB wrote:Because "When" is at the end of a prolonged process involving great effort and determination, not at its beginning. There are no short cuts.
What is the nature of this transformation? Who is making the effort? What is changing?
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Re: Is realizing the nature of the self the most important thing

Postby Bhikkhu Pesala » Thu Feb 10, 2011 2:52 pm

TheNaturalMind wrote:Yes, but I want to go beyond these concepts.

When one sees with bare sensate experience that there is no "I" to suffer, wouldn't full comprehension of the Dhamma follow naturally in its wake?
The first realisations that the five aggregates are empty and devoid of self will occur during the early stages of insight such as Analytical Knowledge of Body and Mind, or Knowledge by Comprehension, but that is still a long way from the full comprehension of the Dhamma.

It is by no means guaranteed that the meditator will automatically progress to the higher stages of insight, and to the fruition of a Stream-winner. The Stream-winner has still not fully comprehended the Dhamma, but inevitably, full comprehension would follow in the wake of Stream-entry — either in the very same life or at least within seven more rebirths.

The first insights into the truth of not-self are certainly very valuable. They should suffice to convince the meditator that they are on the right path. Someone born into a Buddhist family who lacks this insight might convert to another religion, but someone who gains direct and empirical evidence of the truth of the Buddha's teaching through practice is less likely to waver. They will take refuge with confidence based on knowledge (saddhā). They will not be content with just performing Buddhist rituals, but will be keen meditators.
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Re: Is realizing the nature of the self the most important thing

Postby chownah » Thu Feb 10, 2011 3:20 pm

TheNaturalMind wrote:
PeterB wrote:When.

So why isn't more emphasis put on "self-enquiry" in Buddhism? Why all of this practice which can confuse someone into thinking there is an "I" that has to get from here to there?

I'm not sure if this answers your question or not but you might consider that the Buddha taught that it is best if we have no doctrine of self whatever....this means that we should neither have a doctrine that we have a self nor that we do not have a self....and....placing emphasis on "self-enquiry" might have the effect of subtly drawing us into having a doctrine of self.
My view is that focusing on the delusion is not what will lead to its demise....I guess....
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Re: Is realizing the nature of the self the most important thing

Postby m0rl0ck » Thu Feb 10, 2011 4:34 pm

TheNaturalMind wrote:
PeterB wrote:When.

So why isn't more emphasis put on "self-enquiry" in Buddhism? Why all of this practice which can confuse someone into thinking there is an "I" that has to get from here to there?


There is a lot of emphasis on self inquiry in buddhism. Its about seeing through the false to things as they actually are. What practice methods are you talking about specifically? Most practice methods that come to mind for me are either about seeing reality as it truly is (non-self) or about direct self inquiry. The methods that arent specifically directed at inquiry, like jhana and metta result in a weakening of the delusive ego and are usually used as a platform for some kind of insight inquiry.
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we define salvation through suffering.
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Re: Is realizing the nature of the self the most important thing

Postby TheNaturalMind » Thu Feb 10, 2011 4:40 pm

m0rl0ck wrote:
TheNaturalMind wrote:
PeterB wrote:When.

So why isn't more emphasis put on "self-enquiry" in Buddhism? Why all of this practice which can confuse someone into thinking there is an "I" that has to get from here to there?


There is a lot of emphasis on self inquiry in buddhism. Its about seeing through the false to things as they actually are. What practice methods are you talking about specifically? Most practice methods that come to mind for me are either about seeing reality as it truly is (non-self) or about direct self inquiry. The methods that arent specifically directed at inquiry, like jhana and metta result in a weakening of the delusive ego and are usually used as a platform for some kind of insight inquiry.
I meant self-enquiry as it is emphasized in the Advaita Vedanta tradition. I see that Buddhism does encourage self-inquiry but not as blatantly as Advaita.
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Re: Is realizing the nature of the self the most important thing

Postby PeterB » Thu Feb 10, 2011 4:43 pm

If I am wrong then I apologise in advance, but I rather suspect that TheNaturalMind given his nick, is a advocate of the kind of Zen view that plays well on ZFI, where we " are all already Buddhas" but plays rather less well on a Theravadin site.
I might be entirely wrong.
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Re: Is realizing the nature of the self the most important thing

Postby TheNaturalMind » Thu Feb 10, 2011 4:46 pm

PeterB wrote:If I am wrong then I apologise in advance, but I rather suspect that TheNaturalMind given his nick, is a advocate of the kind of Zen view that plays well on ZFI, where we " are all already Buddhas" but plays rather less well on a Theravadin site.
I might be entirely wrong.
I have been studying Theravada for about 8 months now, so maybe I should attribute my diminishing sense of personal self to it, but at this stage I have a strange sensation that there is a more direct way. Though I am very interested in the opinions of more experienced practitioners.
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Re: Is realizing the nature of the self the most important thing

Postby PeterB » Thu Feb 10, 2011 4:50 pm

In the opinion of one more experienced practitioner....there isnt. But good luck.
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Re: Is realizing the nature of the self the most important thing

Postby Akuma » Thu Feb 10, 2011 4:56 pm

I meant self-enquiry as it is emphasized in the Advaita Vedanta tradition. I see that Buddhism does encourage self-inquiry but not as blatantly as Advaita.


Since Advaita was created quite a long time after the Buddhas passing he had no opinion about it specifically; it is clear tho from the suttas that he found it important to begin with the correct questions. In the sense of "Who am I" for example you are already presupposing an "I" and therefore distorting your meditation through a slight expectation to find that "I".

What is the nature of this transformation? Who is making the effort? What is changing?


The nature of this transformation is the cleaning of the mental stream to make it ready for insight.
Who is again nonapplicable - you could say that living moments of cognition together with their accompanying mental states are doing that which will sound pretty weird and will prolly only start to become clearer once one has read a bit about the idea. The nature and subtleness of these dharmas is also one of the reasons why the Theravada approach is usually gradual and calls for very refined states of mind in meditation.
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Re: Is realizing the nature of the self the most important thing

Postby m0rl0ck » Thu Feb 10, 2011 5:20 pm

TheNaturalMind wrote:
PeterB wrote:If I am wrong then I apologise in advance, but I rather suspect that TheNaturalMind given his nick, is a advocate of the kind of Zen view that plays well on ZFI, where we " are all already Buddhas" but plays rather less well on a Theravadin site.
I might be entirely wrong.
I have been studying Theravada for about 8 months now, so maybe I should attribute my diminishing sense of personal self to it, but at this stage I have a strange sensation that there is a more direct way. Though I am very interested in the opinions of more experienced practitioners.


Zen and chan have some quite direct methods that use self inquiry. Huatou and koan practice for instance. I do chan huatou practice myself, and of the practice methods i have tried over the past few years, it seems for me to be the most rewarding. I wouldnt take up koan or huatou practice on my own, its the kind of thing you will probably need guidance with. You can get some fairly quick results, but at times the practice can be, what i can only describe as, harrowing. So it would be best for you to find a teacher. He or she may not immediately give you a koan or huatou to practice, so a little patience may be required :)
There is no comfort without pain; thus
we define salvation through suffering.
-- Cato
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Re: Is realizing the nature of the self the most important thing

Postby m0rl0ck » Thu Feb 10, 2011 5:26 pm

Since Advaita was created quite a long time after the Buddhas passing he had no opinion about it specifically; it is clear tho from the suttas that he found it important to begin with the correct questions. In the sense of "Who am I" for example you are already presupposing an "I" and therefore distorting your meditation through a slight expectation to find that "I".




Everyday existence already presumes an "I" The point of this kind of practice is to focus on this illusion to expose it for what it is. The first thing you find out when doing this kind of self inquiry practice is that this "I" you have been taking for granted all your life is nowhere to be found.
There is no comfort without pain; thus
we define salvation through suffering.
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Re: Is realizing the nature of the self the most important thing

Postby Akuma » Thu Feb 10, 2011 6:38 pm

Everyday existence already presumes an "I" The point of this kind of practice is to focus on this illusion to expose it for what it is. The first thing you find out when doing this kind of self inquiry practice is that this "I" you have been taking for granted all your life is nowhere to be found.


The meditation is colored by expectation and has different aims. In Advaita you expect "who" to be the true self and look for this. When you talk of huatou your expectation on the other hand side is already colored by you reading about it and expecting the opposite, namely not to find a self at all, which also explains why its the "first thing" you notice, while f.e. in the Buddhas times ppl (possibly way more skilled in meditation than we are) took all sorts of realisations for the true thing while only the Buddha realized No-Self.
If you dont have expectation then in my opinion if you ask "who" you expect a "who". More applicable would probably to ask "where", but youd probably still expect a positive answer slightly more because of that way of asking. In Theravada at least I dont know of a technique like this being applied tho.
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