Health Food for the Mind
– Thanissaro Bhikku
We know that the Buddha often talked about not-self, but he also talked positively about self. He said that the self should be its own mainstay, that it should observe itself and reprimand itself when it’s gone astray, and that there’s a need to learn not to harm oneself. Here is a passage from the Dhammapada that speak positively of the role of self on the path.
“Purity and impurity are one’s own doing.
No one purifies another.
No other purifies one.”
— Dhp 165
These passages show that a sense of self is an important part of the practice — especially a sense of self that encourages responsibility, heedfulness, and care. The question is: Why would it be necessary to create this skillful sense of self? If ultimately you’re going to develop the perception of not-self…
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