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Personal identity as suffering, or support? - Dhamma Wheel

Personal identity as suffering, or support?

A discussion on all aspects of Theravāda Buddhism
phil
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Personal identity as suffering, or support?

Postby phil » Sun Dec 26, 2010 8:51 am

Hi all

I was interested to come across a Bhikkhu Bodhi footnote to an Anguttara Nikaya sutta in which he said that since the First Noble Truth is ultimately defined as the clinging aggregates, we could extend that to saying personality (as an expression of the aggregates) could be said to be the first noble truth. Interesting. I can see that said about personal identity. But whether personality or personal identity, I feel these days that a personality or personal identity that is more and more associated with wholesome behaviour can be a support on the path. I was writing that about self-esteem the other day. If we have self esteem, if our personal identity is rooted in a deepening connection to Dhamma, doesn't it help to support Sila, and therefore, in the long run, liberation? Is that dangerous thinking, or a healthy, pragrmatic approach to the inevitability for us to cling to personality and personal identity for now? Since we're likelyto do so in this lifetime, let's strive to make it a good one, kind of thing, and right theoretical understanding can help remind us that our personal identity is a fabrication....

I am not proposing the ultimate existence of self, of course, just saying that unlike some Dhamma friends I know, I don't see why playing with a sense of self is so dangerous, I think it can help us. THen again, there is a sutta that says we should strive to get rid of self-view with the same urgency we would strive to deal with a turban on fire, so maybe I am playing with fire here...

p.s I'll add as an edit that some of us do not have the conditions for intensive meditation practice, or have very, very powerful and thick hindrances that make such practice in this lifetime very unlikely. I think if I had conditions for intensive meditation practice, I would not be thinking like the above, I would go after the roots of personal identity more aggressively...
Kammalakkhano , bhikkhave, bālo, kammalakkhano pandito, apadānasobhanī paññāti
(The fool is characterized by his/her actions/the wise one is characterized by his/her actions/Wisdom shines forth in behaviour.)
(AN 3.2 Lakkhana Sutta)

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ground
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Re: Personal identity as suffering, or support?

Postby ground » Sun Dec 26, 2010 9:17 am

I think here a (subtle?) borderline between the psychological and the buddhist approach may be detected.

Kind regards

phil
Posts: 788
Joined: Tue Mar 03, 2009 5:08 am
Location: Tokyo

Re: Personal identity as suffering, or support?

Postby phil » Sun Dec 26, 2010 9:29 am

Kammalakkhano , bhikkhave, bālo, kammalakkhano pandito, apadānasobhanī paññāti
(The fool is characterized by his/her actions/the wise one is characterized by his/her actions/Wisdom shines forth in behaviour.)
(AN 3.2 Lakkhana Sutta)

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ground
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Re: Personal identity as suffering, or support?

Postby ground » Sun Dec 26, 2010 9:52 am

Last edited by ground on Sun Dec 26, 2010 9:53 am, edited 1 time in total.

Kenshou
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Re: Personal identity as suffering, or support?

Postby Kenshou » Sun Dec 26, 2010 9:53 am


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kirk5a
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Re: Personal identity as suffering, or support?

Postby kirk5a » Sun Dec 26, 2010 4:04 pm

Ever get hooked by a cat's claws? You can't pull back, because the claws dig in deeper. So your hand gets drawn right into its mouth hehehe The Dhamma is like that in my experience.
"When one thing is practiced & pursued, ignorance is abandoned, clear knowing arises, the conceit 'I am' is abandoned, latent tendencies are uprooted, fetters are abandoned. Which one thing? Mindfulness immersed in the body." -AN 1.230

phil
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Location: Tokyo

Re: Personal identity as suffering, or support?

Postby phil » Mon Dec 27, 2010 12:35 am

Thanks for your comments, everyone. I think posting this helped push the issue to the forefront of my attention, what will it take for an earnest aspiration for liberation from samsara to arise? I think of some people I know, here and elsewhere, who truly seem to have it. I, on the other hand, seem content with life and use Dhamma as a kind of sweetener. At least I'm addicted to the sweetener and get my hands on it every day. But will it take some kind of miserable event for a real aspiration to arise, and would that be a wholseome aspiration, or a desire to escape rooted in aversion. That's another topic, interesting.

Back to the topic. I found this in my notes today, a verse from Dhammapada: attanam ce piyam janna/rakkheya nan surakhitam, which I think is something like "treat your self as dear, protect it like a treasure." It's in the Dhammapada chapter entitled "Atto vago"、"The Self." Again, I'm not proposing that the Buddha did *not* teach that there is no self, I know that is a debate point sometimes but I'm not intending to go there, I'm just always wondering in which ways he knew that treasuring a self image could help us early on the path. As Kenshou said, the raft metaphor, maybe that's all it comes down to. But the raft metaphor is usually used for the teachings, right. Playing with self image could be getting more firmly attached to a raft that would be harder to drop....
Kammalakkhano , bhikkhave, bālo, kammalakkhano pandito, apadānasobhanī paññāti
(The fool is characterized by his/her actions/the wise one is characterized by his/her actions/Wisdom shines forth in behaviour.)
(AN 3.2 Lakkhana Sutta)

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ground
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Re: Personal identity as suffering, or support?

Postby ground » Mon Dec 27, 2010 5:46 am


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tiltbillings
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Re: Personal identity as suffering, or support?

Postby tiltbillings » Mon Dec 27, 2010 6:38 am


phil
Posts: 788
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Location: Tokyo

Re: Personal identity as suffering, or support?

Postby phil » Mon Dec 27, 2010 11:38 am

Kammalakkhano , bhikkhave, bālo, kammalakkhano pandito, apadānasobhanī paññāti
(The fool is characterized by his/her actions/the wise one is characterized by his/her actions/Wisdom shines forth in behaviour.)
(AN 3.2 Lakkhana Sutta)


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