May 27, 2011

The Final Week of Rodney Smith's "Selfless Practice"

Rodney Smith's Tricycle Retreat, "Selfless Practice," ends this week. Over the last month, through his videos and discussion comments, Smith has been investigating the Buddha's teaching of anatta, or no-self. Smith has invited us to discover the truth of anatta for ourselves by offering us advice on what to be on the lookout for when dealing with the subtle ways of the ego. Paradoxically, sometimes trying too hard to understand anatta can become an obstacle for understanding.

In Week 4 of the retreat, "Applying the Practice," Smith makes the following statement in the discussion:


When we "force" ourselves to be present, the present moment carries "me" along within it because the effort to wake up was "my" effort. So part of the present moment is then based in ignorance because the sense-of-self is an unconscious tendency. When part of the present is not being seen, then the part unseen will eventually lead the entire present into the past or future, carried away in time. That is why it is necessary for us to make the sense-of-self conscious. When the sense-of-self is unseen, it becomes the focal point of our identity and refuses to allow wakefulness to expand beyond its own control thus inhibiting our growth.


Hopefully during this retreat you've been able to make your sense-of-self more conscious without having to "force" the moment.

To participate in this retreat you must be a Tricycle Community Supporting or Sustaining Member. Below is a preview of Week 4 of the retreat.

Also, when you become a Tricycle Community Member, you can join a Special Community Discussion with Robert Chodo Campbell and Koshin Paley Ellison, the founders and co-executive directors of the New York Zen Center for Contemplative Care.

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Video

alventrini's picture

strive to fully embrace the 4 noble truths and adhere to the 8-fold path...
strive to achieve nirvana...
strive to live in the moment...
strive for a constant state of mindfulness...
strive to immerse yourself in compassionate thoughts and acts...
strive to become a bodhisattva...
strive to achieve the state of ...no fear - no desire..."...

Buddha taught that there is no self; only the illusion of self. the universe is one.
so, what and who is doing all this striving here?
I don't understand how all these goals came into being and continue to exist without a continuing specific desire by a specific someone or some thing to achieve these goals. who was/is the creator and maintainer of these goals? In my particular case, it appears to me that I am the one who created these goals for myself - I am the one who is maintaining focus and striving to reach these goals I created....Is it me? but there is no "me", right???
I am confused. Can someone help me understand and untangle this please?

Dominic Gomez's picture

Hi Alventrini,

"there is no self; only the illusion of self"
More accurately, there is both a lesser self and a greater self. The lesser self is you getting caught up in (and as a result suffering from) life's daily troubles and tribulations. For example, a supervisor at work that you can't stand and as a result makes you not want to put out much effort. The greater self would again be you but, as a result of your daily practice of Buddhism, becoming bigger than your problems. For example, coming to a greater understanding of why your supervisor is the way he is (perhaps because of an unhappy marriage) and showing Buddhist compassion by becoming more of an asset on the job.

"the universe is one"
This would be the Buddhist teaching of dependent origination, wherein everything that exists (and comes into existence) is related to all other phenomena.

"what and who is doing all this striving here?"
The "who" is you. The "what" is the universe (aka buddha nature) which, after all is said and done, is none other than...you.

"I don't understand how all these goals came into being and continue to exist without a continuing specific desire by a specific someone or some thing to achieve these goals. who was/is the creator and maintainer of these goals? In my particular case, it appears to me that I am the one who created these goals for myself - I am the one who is maintaining focus and striving to reach these goals I created....Is it me?"
Yes.

"but there is no "me", right???"
Wrong. There is a "you". And it is none other than...you.