Sunday, June 27, 2010

The Abhidhamma, Part 1

I am currently living with an amazing book called Abhidhamma Studies: Buddhist Explorations of Consciousness and Time by the Venerable Nyanaponika Thera. Here is an excerpt:
Study of the Abhidhamma will more broadly assist in the slow, difficult change of outlook from the viewpoint of "self" to that of "non-self." Once one has grasped intellectually the doctrine of non-self, one can certainly succeed in applying it to theoretical and practical issues if only one remembers it in time and deliberately directs one's thoughts and volitions accordingly. But except for such deliberate directing of thought, which in most cases will be relatively rare, the mind will continue to move in the old-accustomed ruts of "I" and "mine," "self" and "substance," which are deeply ingrained in our daily language and our modes of thinking; and our actions too will still continue to be frequently governed by our ancient egocentric impulses. An occasional intellectual assent to the true outlook of anatta will not effect great changes in that situation. The only remedy is for bad or wrong habits of action, speech, and thought to be gradually replaced by good and correct habits until the latter become as spontaneous as the former are now. It is therefore necessary that right thinking, that is, thinking in terms of anatta, be made the subject of regular and systematic mental training until the power of wrong habits of thought is reduced and finally broken (pp. 9-10).
After reading this passage while on a plane flight back to L.A. from Kansas City, I sat in meditation (on the plane) for ninety minutes, penetrating the first teachings of the Abhidhamma. It was a profoundly insightful experience that I am not quite able to talk about right now due to exhaustion, but I will follow up in the next few days with more.



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