Review Of Anatta

Anatta is typically translated as Non-Self; during this talk, Peter provides an alternative meaning: The absence of an enduring and autonomous self.  Another of the basic concepts of Buddhism, Anicca, the ever-changing nature of subjective experience, counters the illusion of an ongoing self (This topic is reviewed during the talk on May 5, 2021).  Even though a superficial view of experience strongly suggests that there is a separate self, close analysis reveals that self-experience is deeply conditioned by largely unaware memories from earlier in one’s life.  During the talk, Peter reviews contemporary psychological research, Attachment Theory, which strongly suggests that human personality dynamics emerge from the countless social exchanges we all experience from our earliest life experiences–this view suggests we are all “co-creating” each other throughout life, which counters the belief that we are autonomous beings.  The talk further reviews various ways that mindfulness meditation can “deconstruct” the illusion of an enduring, autonomous self (For more support, go to the archived “Guided Anatta Meditation”, recorded and posted the same day as this talk).  The presentation was followed by discussion among those participating in the Zoom meeting regarding this topic.

Here are the notes prepared for this talk:  Buddhist Characteristics

Next week’s talk will begin a comprehensive review of the Satipatthana Sutta, using Analayo’s authoritative text “Satipatthana–The Direct Path To Realization” as a primary source.  His research finds the translation of Satipatthana to be “attending with mindfulness” rather than “the four foundations of mindfulness”.  The review will selectively emphasize those parts of the discourse that seem most relevant to contemporary practices, supplemented with current psychological and neurological research which is supportive of the discourse.


Working With Selflessness January 22 2020

This is the second talk in a series investigating some key characteristics of Buddhist practice, focusing on Anatta, (Ah-nah-tah), the absence of an enduring and autonomous self.  During the talk, Peter read excerpts from various Suttas that described the Buddha’s approach to teaching this liberating insight to others.  The Buddha refused to speculate on whether […]


Opening To Stillness

During this talk, Peter described his intentions for his upcoming annual two-week self-retreat, organized around applying the concept and practices derived from reading (multiple times) “Stepping Out Of Self Deception-The Buddha’s Liberating Teaching Of No-Self” and “Awakening-A Paradigm Shift Of The  Heart”, by Rodney Smith.  The books develop a concept of two relationships to the universe, the horizontal (time-bound, afflicted by craving and clinging) and the vertical (timeless, limitless, unbound by craving and clinging).  The vertical dimension is the eternal Now, the only moment of reality that is not inherently affected by craving and clinging, and can be realized through awareness of “stillness”, a quality of attention undisturbed by narrative, experienced holistically as “suchness”, an awareness described by and manifested by the Buddha.  Peter’s intention is to cultivate samadhi/passadhi (stable attention/tranquility) including full sensational awareness of body sensations, sound, light, etc. and abide in that flow to investigate and understand the experience of stillness.  This was followed by comments from those attending the meeting.

Here are the notes prepared for this talk:OPENING TO STILLNESS

Here is the handout provided for those attending, illustrating an excerpt from the Numerical Discourses, Udana 8.1, and an adapted graphic illustrating the horizontal and vertical concepts from the book “Stepping Out Of Self Deception-The Buddha’s Liberating Teaching Of No-Self”:  Opening To Stillness handout

The next posted talk will not be available until early January as a result of Peter’s retreat, during which there will be no dharma talks.  It is hoped that all reading this posting will enjoy a safe and happy holiday season!



The Selfing Story

During this talk, A Buddhist understanding of anatta, the absence of an enduring, autonomous self was described.  The Western term “ego” was presented as a process that winnows through all the sensations stimulating the 5 sense doors, creating a dynamic flow of experience that, through inattentiveness and ignorance, is misperceived as something substantial, a separate self.  This was related to the Buddhist concept of the Five Aggregates: form (physical sensation), feeling, perception, fabrication and consciousness.  Due to the Buddhist understanding of anicca, impermanence

Peter then described the current perspective of “the narrative self”, that is, the primary importance of the internal narrative that is self-creating in the context of relating to others in the world of subjective experience.  This description was followed by a lively discussion by those attending of the implications of this approach to life.

Here are the notes prepared for this talk, including a diagram describing the Five Aggregates:  MINDFUL SELFING

Next week’s talk will be focused on “deconstructing and reconstructing the self”, to describe how mindfulness practices promote self-state liberation from distress and confusion.

Stages Of Awakening

During this talk, Peter described satta visuddhi, the stages of awakening developed to provide “markers” of spiritual attainment after the time of the historical Buddha.  Beginning with fulfilling the precepts and setting aside the effects of the hindrances, the cultivation of the seven factors of awakening and vipassana reveals the three characteristics of impermanence, unsatisfactoriness and non-self at deeper and deeper levels of awareness.  The realization of these different stages develops gradually and progressively, eventually leading to the experience of nibbana (nirvana).

Here are the accompanying notes:   STAGES OF AWAKENING

Next week’s discussion will focus on the various understandings of the unconditioned from the Buddhist perspective.