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August 08, 2013

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Eidolon: Sitting might be useful for some types. Zen master Hsu-yun writes:

"Ch'an [Zen] does not mean sitting (in meditation). The so-called Ch'an hall and the so-called Ch'an sitting are only provided for people (who encounter) insurmountable obstructions (of their own) and who are of shallow wisdom in this period of decadence (of the Dharma)."

Watch out, Mr. Primosch, that talk about "time better spent on a cushion" is exactly the other notion that makes this guy start to foam at the mouth like a rabid animal.

Gregory Primosch:

The German Buddhist scholar Erich Frauwallner sums up the matter quite nicely with this:

"He [the Buddha] does not say that we should know the true self, but that we must not regard as the self (âtmâ, P. attâ) that which is not the self. For otherwise craving clings to this false self, and thus brings about an entanglement in the cycle of beings."

It is much easier to know what is not our self. I am not this aging psychophysical body, for example, insofar as it is impermanent and suffering.

There is certainly a bent towards "Buddha said there is no self" in those influenced by Abidhamma tradition, but they are not the only Therevadan voices (thus Ven Thannisarro). I, personally, have a hard time even thinking about an eternal self existing outside the aggregates, but I concede I could be missing something.

I do feel strongly that time spent spinning in my head about how I have this or that kind of self is time probably better spent on a cushion. I don't doubt the Buddha would suggest that clinging to either dogma is unhelpful.

Gregory Primosch:

Yes, the goal is to end suffering but not by hanging on to what is not the self or anattâ. Theravadins are wrong when they equate any belief in self with eternalism. Eternalism is the belief that an aggregate is the self and the world and then describe this as "eternal and permanent."

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