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Buddhadharma : Summer 2005
summer 2005| 48 |buddhadharma Most of us are very committed to ourselves as personalities. The habit of viewing our- selves as a person is deeply ingrained in us. In Pali, that is called sakkaya-dinnhi, which can be translated as “personality-view” or “the ego.” It means that we regard the five khandhas (groups) – body, feelings, perceptions, conceptions, and consciousness – as belonging to this person, as making up our identity. In investigating the person- ality-view, we do not grasp on to the perception of “no person” either. It is possible to take the concept of anatta (no self) and grasp that, and say, “There’s no self because the Buddha said there’s anatta!” But in that case we’re still grasping a per- ception. Grasping a perception of yourself as a nonself gets to be a bit ridiculous. It is so easy for us to conceive the conditions we attach to. Yet with satipanna (discriminating alertness) and sati-sampajanna (awareness), we begin to awaken ourselves to the way it is, rather than being committed to the conventional real- ities. I want to emphasize that this awareness is there before you become something. This point cannot be repeated often enough, because even though cultivating awareness might appear very simple on the face of it, our mindset is definitely geared to believing in the personality-view as our fundamental reality. If you grasp on to the condi- tions you create, you will end up in the same place every time – suffering. But don’t simply believe me; explore it for yourself. Instead of starting with a perception or a con- ception of anything, the Buddha established a way based on awareness, or awakened attention. This is an immanent act in the present. It is sati-sampa- janna, an intuitive awareness that allows the con- sciousness to be with the present moment. With this attention, you begin to explore sakkaya-dinnhi (personality-view) in terms of the perceptions you attach to as yourself. So that one can truly explore the development of sakkaya-dinnhi, I suggest deliberately conceiving of yourself as a certain person: “I’m this person who has got to practice in order to become enlight- ened.” Then consider what you might say to your- self: “I’m an unenlightened person who has come to a center to practice meditation so that I will become an enlightened person in the future.” You AjAhn SuMedho iS Abbot of the AMArAvAti buddhiSt MonAStery in heMel heMpSteAd, englAnd. born in SeAttle, he went to thAilAnd in 1966 to prActice MeditAtion, where he becAMe A Student of the lAte AjAhn chAh. thiS teAching iS AdApted froM hiS book, intuitive AwAreneSS, publiShed by AMArAvAti publicAtionS And AvAilAble online At www.AMArAvAti.org. The Problem of PersonaliTy We believe deeply in ourselves as personalities, says Ajahn Sumedo, each committed to the reality of our own personal history and distinctive traits. He offers a meditation to deliberately bring such thoughts to the fore, and notice the uncreated awareness within which they arise. illustrations by charles cohen