May 11, 2011

Selflessness vs. Impermanence: Week 2 of Rodney Smith's "Selfless Practice"

In Week 2 of his Tricycle Retreat, "Selfless Practice," Rodney Smith asks: "Who wants to deal with anatta [selflessness] when they could deal with impermanence?"

It's a fair question. Most of us, Smith contends, are much more comfortable coming to terms with impermanence. Why is this? Well, first of all, we know what it is. If you're a living human being the truth of impermanence isn't difficult to understand (even if we don't always act in accordance with this knowledge). According to Smith, the wisdom of understanding impermanence often manifests in an attitude of "This too shall pass." This attitude, however, doesn't really get to the depths of the Buddha's teachings. Anatta does. But what is anatta? Even if we translate it into a more familiar English term—selflessness—the concept of anatta remains difficult to embody. And this is what Smith's retreat is really all about: practicing in order to experience the truth of anatta so that you can live truly selflessly.

Want to start dealing with anatta? To participate in this retreat you must be a Tricycle Community Sustaining or Supporting Member. View a preview of "The Principle of Selflessness" below.

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.

Image: From the Flickr photostream of JetSetWilly.

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