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.