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April 17 , 2009

Stepping Out of Self-Deception: The Buddha's Liberating Teaching of No-Self


Anatta is the Buddhist teaching on the nonexistence of a permanent, independent self. It’s a notoriously puzzling and elusive concept, usually leading to such questions as, “If I don’t have a self, who’s reading this sentence?” It’s not that there’s no self there, says Rodney Smith. It’s just that the self that is reading this sentence is a configuration of elements that at one time did not exist and which at some point in the future will disperse. Even in its present existence, it’s more a temporary arrangement of components rather than something solid. Anatta is a truth the Buddha considered to be absolutely essential to his teaching. Smith shows that understanding this truth can change the way you relate to the world, and that the perspective of selflessness is critically important for anyone involved in spiritual practice. Seeing it can be the key to getting past the idea that spirituality has something to do with self-improvement, and to accessing the joy of deep insight into reality.

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