Sunday, December 31, 2017

Time to Progress

I've read a few Buddhist books in my time, and I think it's time to shift from reading to action. Or perhaps inaction. Sometimes it's difficult to tell, because once I begin questioning in the way such books encourage, it's easy to become unmoored from my usual Western concern with ego, personal growth, and things like, you know, new year's resolutions.

No Self, No Problem is clearer than most on the idea that there's no there, there. As near as I can come to summarizing Anam Thubten's teaching, meditation is key to understanding. Once you begin to sit and breathe and observe your thoughts (as opposed to identifying with them and letting them drag you around as they usually do), it becomes obvious that much of the trouble of daily life is occasioned by our insistence on our own importance and on having things go our way.

Once we let go, we connect to what is essential and eternal -- which is not the small, individual ego that customarily runs our life (the one that buys all those self-help books, hoping to improve and strengthen itself) but the disappearance of that small, individual ego into the great flow of life.

Letting go is key. Losing our grasping selves is key. Losing our habit energy that supports that grasping selfhood is key. All that comes from sitting and breathing and resting in the spaces between thoughts.Then we take what we learn from that experience and apply it to everyday life, with its endless opportunities for compassion, kindness, and acceptance of what is. It's a kind of surrender to reality.

Thubten, for obvious reasons, says it far better than I do, and in clearer, simpler terms. I found this book particularly accessible. He has a way of making complex ideas seem straightforward. Of course, the proof is in the doing.

On this particular subject, it's time to stop reading, hush my ego that resists by saying I don't have enough time for sitting, and just sit.


The heart of spiritual practice is letting go of everything inwardly. It requires a very special understanding because it can be tricky. You can have everything but you cannot get attached to anything. You can eat ice cream but you can't get attached to it. Who can do that? Strawberry ice cream, we eat it and we get attached to it. We want more. When we are attached, we crave more and it's not healthy because it could be the last time we ever have strawberry ice cream. When we are attached to something we feel that we must have more. We just can't function without having more of that strawberry ice cream. We remember how delicious it was and also sometimes we use it as a kind of anti-depression device. So this can be very challenging. We can have everything. We don't have to give up anything and at the same time we can't get attached to anything.

Note: This book counts for the Color Coded Reading Challenge and the 52 Books in 52 Weeks challenge.    

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