May 04, 2011

Selfless Practice: Has the Self Outlived Its Use?

Vipassana teacher Rodney Smith is leading a Tricycle Retreat called "Selfless Practice." You may know Rodney as the author of the book Stepping Out of Self-Deception: The Buddha's Liberating Teaching of No-Self. Liberating? How is no-self (anatta)—one of the most famously contentious ideas in Buddhism throughout its history—liberating?

In the discussion of the Week 1 teaching, "Is Selflessness True?" which is already generating a vigorous and contentious discussion, Rodney writes:

I am suggesting that we look very seriously at the sense-of-self and see whether it lives up to our expectations. Is it what we believe it to be? We do not have to be afraid of where this inquiry will take us because the sense-of-self is just a thought/image we have believed and will continue on as long as we need it. It is a little like the play about a man who had a fictitious rabbit named Harvey who was his best friend. Although Harvey wasn't really there, the man was not about to give the rabbit up until the imagination no longer served him. Then it just dropped away. The sense-of-self inhibits humankind from advancing beyond its primitive fears and rage. It is time we allowed it to simpl[y] drop away.

Weigh in at "Selfless Practice."

Image: suchitra prints

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