Letting Go

From the Sutra on Knowing the Better Way to Catch a Snake, translated by Thich Nhat Hanh:

The Buddha asked, “Bhikshus [monks], do you think the Five Aggregates and self are permanent, changeless, and not subject to destruction?”

“No, reverend teacher.”

“Is there anything you can hold onto with attachment that will not cause anxiety, and exhaustion, sorrow, suffering, and despair?”

“No, reverend teacher.”

“Is there any view of self in the which you can take refuge that is will not cause anxiety, exhaustion, sorrow, suffering and despair?”

“No, reverend teacher.”

“Bhikshus, you are quite correct.” (Pg. 11)

This kind of teaching is hard to grasp, but it’s one of those things that slowly sinks in during the course of one’s life.  Also, for reference the Five Aggregates is a Buddhist concept that explains what makes a living being.  They include:

  • Physical form (brain, guts, etc)
  • Feelings (the feeling of something cold)
  • Perceptions (the perception you touched something cold)
  • Mental formations (the initial reaction you touched something cold)
  • Consciousness (the thought “yikes, that’s cold”)

The idea is that there is no static, lasting self in your or any living being.  The Five Aggregates constantly arise and depend on one another, but have no lasting substance themselves.  Even the body shifts and changes (cell division, aging, etc) albeit more slowly.

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Author: Doug

A fellow who dwells upon the Pale Blue Dot who spends his days obsessing over things like Buddhism, KPop music, foreign languages, BSD UNIX and science fiction.

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