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Buddhadharma : Winter 2018
THANISSARO BHIKKHU 71 level of skill at which you no longer need to cling. At the same time, in the Bhikkhuni Sutta, he recommends overcoming I-making and my-making by first developing—again, provisionally—a healthy sense of self capable of following the path. Only when these senses of the world and of the self have served their purpose do you put them aside. Note, in both cases, that he’s recommending just a sense of self and a sense of world, not a full-blown view about either. This path requires just a small body of assumptions, enough to act as work- ing hypotheses that point you in the right direction. In terms of the self, in the Sabbasava Sutta, the Buddha discouraged his monks from trying to answer such questions as “What am I?” “Do I exist?” “Do I not exist?” Similarly, in terms of the world, he discouraged his followers from speculating about such things as its origin and size, saying that such speculation would lead to “madness and vexation” (Acintita Sutta). In fact, he never gave a complete picture of a “Bud- dhist cosmology”; the maps detailing the many levels of the Buddhist cosmos were later extrapolations from comments scattered in the early discourses. All he offered was a “handful of leaves” (Simsapa Sutta). A prominent leaf in that handful is a view of the world in which the mind’s acts of fabrication—the mind’s ways of putting thoughts together—play an important role. That’s because the path to the end of suffering requires a view of the world in which suffering is real; the mind’s fabrications, under the power of ignorance, are the cause of suffering; and those same fabrications, when treated with knowl- edge, have the power to bring suffering to an end. This means the Buddha’s provisional worldview could not be purely materialistic. He established this point with the first line of