Chasing the self

Like a dog, chasing its tail, I think that most of us cling dearly to the idea of self. And while many of us may be familiar with the Buddha’s teaching about anatta (no-self), I’m not sure how many of us truly understand it deeply and clearly. Perhaps it is even difficult to understand why we should care to understand “no-self”.

In my practice, I have learned to begin my loving kindness (metta) meditation by sending well, happy and peaceful to the david (intentional absence of capitalization). In other words, I no longer am thinking “May I” be well, happy and peaceful. I am only being as aware as possible, that there is this living being which I perceive and label as David. And this is not some lofty or spiritual exercise, but a completely fact based observation.
I can easily ask the question, “what is David?”. It is not my nose, my hair, my feet, nor is it any words that I speak. Those things, just like the breath, is ever-changing and impermanent (anicca). And perhaps this is where the analogy of a dog chasing his tail becomes evident.

The moment that any of us attempt to cling to an idea of who we are or what we think, we begin suffering. We are trying to cling to something that cannot be clung to. Just look in the mirror, have you been able to cling to your youth?
Our thoughts are exactly the same, in that we cannot hold on to any of them without feeling frustrated and even helpless sometimes.

Living our lives without clinging, desire or aversion, is the path to a peaceful existence. We drop the attachments, which includes the one we have to the self.
And just like the weather, perhaps we can see the joy from each day – be it hot, cold, windy or stormy (mentally, physically or emotionally). Our only attention need be on the present moment, with acceptance and gratitude.

May you be well, happy and peaceful.

6 comments for “Chasing the self

  1. j123
    Thursday, June 21, 2012 at 11:48 am

    We had a great dhamma talk about this on Monday! You bring up another aspect of annata. I’m going to have to think more about this.

  2. WHPDave
    Thursday, June 21, 2012 at 12:53 pm

    j123 I wish I could have heard it Jeff! Can you share some of what was discussed?

  3. j123
    Thursday, June 21, 2012 at 1:13 pm

    Hi David,

    I’ll try my best to sum it up succinctly. There was a question about why
    we send loving kindness to ourself and others when there is no self.
    Bhante San and Bhikhuni Vimala said that there is a self, but it’s
    always changing, there is no consistent self. They talked about how we
    get attached to the ego and that is the false self. Anyway, that was the gist of it.

  4. WHPDave
    Thursday, June 21, 2012 at 1:18 pm

    j123 Thank you Jeff!

  5. Facebook Page
    Thursday, June 21, 2012 at 3:33 pm

    Please try out the new Beta version of the Livefyre comment system we just added, and let me know what you think!

  6. j123
    Thursday, June 21, 2012 at 6:38 pm

    WHPDave You’re welcome David! 

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *