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Retreat Dharma Talks

Exploring Anatta (online series)

That there is a self has been taught,
And the doctrine of no-self,
By the buddhas, as well as
the Doctrine of neither self nor nonself.

- Nagarjuna, Mulamadhyamakakarika XVIII. 6.

The emptiness of self is one of the central aspects of the emptiness teachings at the heart of the dharma. The self is understood to be a dependently originated fabrication lacking inherent existence. At the same time in the midst of our daily lives the experience of self may feel unquestionably real. Our whole life is wrapped around this important and at times complex sense of self.

On this course we focus on two meditative practices which will support the deepening of an experiential understanding of how the self is fabricated - and explore how our life can be a movement between different ways of seeing and conceiving the self.

In practicing the anatta way of looking we become more familiar with the mind’s intuitive tendency to identify with the objects of experience; we habitually conceive of the bodily sensations, thoughts, mindstates, emotions and moments of consciousness as either belonging to ourselves or as parts of our selves. In this meditation practice we learn to compassionately let go of this habitual identification and to see all experience as neither self nor belonging to self.

In addition to the anatta practice we explore Chandrakirti’s seven fold analytical reasoning, an intricate practice in which the concept of self is deconstructed through meditative reflection. These two meditative approaches support the deepening of an experiential understanding of the fabricated and empty nature of the self.

2021-10-18 (43 days) Gaia House

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