Sunday, July 3, 2011

What is Buddhism? (6)

The Illusion Of A Permanent Self Or Soul

The Buddha taught that there is no essential or permanent core to a living being that could be
considered one's true self or soul. What appears to be an individual person is actually a changing
process of mental and physical qualities combining temporarily in a particular way. Through
possessive attachment, the mind identifies with part or all of this process, and this gives rise to the
sense of self, 'me' and 'mine'. In fact, all phenomena,animate or inanimate,are dependently arisen
from causes and conditions. In a constant state of flux, all things are empty of independent inherent
existence and the entirety of reality is a continuous flow of interconnected, causally conditioned
events arising and passing away in the present moment
Rebirth however, still occurs without a soul. Consider the simile of a candle burning low and about
to go out.A new candle is then lit from the old one.Though the old candle goes out, the new candle
now burns brightly. What went across from the old candle to the new? There was a causal link,but
no 'thing' went across Similarly, there was a causal link between one's past and present life, but no
soul went across.
The Buddha taught that it is precisely this deep misunderstanding, the illusion of a self, that is the root
cause of all human suffering. The illusion of self manifests as the ego, and the natural unstoppable
function of the ego is to control. Big egos want to control the world, average egos attempt to control
their immediate surroundings of home, family and workplace, and all egos strive to control what they
assume to be their own bodies and minds. This attempt to control leads to attraction and aversion
which consequently proliferates to acquire possessions,manipulate others and exploit the environment.
Although the sense of self seeks its own happiness, its insatiable craving repeatedly produces
discontent. As long as one identifies with somethings as oneself, the inevitable result is a lack of outer
harmony or inner fulfillment. Only through sharp insight based on profound meditation can this mirage
be clearly seen for what it truly is. Only then can one know perfect happiness.
(to be continued.....)

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