From the BlogMeet Ron


 Dear Friends,

Some people ask about the so-called highest teachings of Buddhism, and it always comes down to the three marks of existence: dissatisfaction, impermanence, and the absence of a fixed, unchanging self. 

There is even a book called “No self, No problem.”

That last of the three marks is always a head-scratcher, so you are not alone!

I am particularly interested in the balance between relinquishing the burdens created by having a fixed, unchanging self and relating healthily and wholesomely to ourselves.

There is this line from the late Leonard Cohen, who was a dedicated Buddhist meditator for most of his adult life:

“I know your burden is heavy as you wield it through the night;
The guru says it’s empty but that doesn’t make it light.”

I am willing to guess that the actual teachings on non-self have caused meditators a great deal of suffering already, just trying to wrap our heads around this!

There is one way to simplify everything though: all these teachings point us back to the present moment. And I think that what we all are looking for is just this pointing back to the here and now.

We also want, I think, to be able to rest in this now, fully content and satisfied – forever.

So in part what we are looking for is a good reason to be fully content and at rest now.

The three marks of existence teachings: on dissatisfaction, impermanence, and non-self, do just that – they point to experiencing this here and now as fully satisfactory and good. 

This is what we are searching for!

When we experience the now as good, satisfactory and enough, beautiful qualities of the heart begin to unfold like lotus petals in the sunlight.

When now feels truly satisfactory, there is nothing left to do but feel and radiate love.

My point is there is no real conflict here: having self-confidence in our ability to experience the here and now as profoundly satisfying is the key to lasting happiness. 

And in truly experiencing the here and now we drop the problematic self!

One quality we can work on developing is what I am calling here self-confidence – and from reading the sutras The Buddha seemed like a very self-confident person!

Knowing impermanence in the here and now makes us fuller human beings. It’s puts us in direct contact with our very human feelings; perhaps loss, or chagrin, or a dropping off of expectation and wanting.

Let’s call this a healthy, free-flowing, non-fixed sense of who and what you are!

This is truly and profoundly a happy place!

We journey into deepening levels of self-transparency, personally and psychologically; an invitation to love all the recesses of our mind and heart!

Let’s look at it this way, what we call a self is just an experience in the here and now. 

What we call non-self is also just an experience in the here and now. We can compare experiences, but they are just experiences- not solid entities. 

An integrated self-confidence in our Dharma practice is not a contradiction, it’s a must!

In one of the suttas on metta, or loving-kindness, the Buddha says:

“That person who holds herself dear will not harm another.”

As we bathe ourselves in loving-kindness, we let go of the past – and this self we are letting go of is rooted in the past. 

I’ll leave you this week with two excerpts. The first is from the American philosopher and writer Daniel Dennett: 

“The self is the center of narrative gravity.” 

And this narrative, as most meditators have already discovered, is about the past.

The second is from the American meditation teacher Gil Fronsdal, who says the essence of the meditative path is to:

“Learn to re-tell the story of our life in light of the Dhamma.”

This is something to which we can all aspire.

Tom, Katina, and the kids

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