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Deconstructing the Self

Module 10 of An Introduction to Buddhism

We use the sword of wisdom to cut our stubborn attachment to who and what we think we are.

Photo by Gary Todd

Readings

What the Buddha Taught – Walpola Rahula (.pdf)

Chapter 6 introduces the Buddhist concept of anatta or “Non-Self”

Fundamentals of Buddhism – Peter D. Santina (.pdf)

Chapter 11 explains the “Three Characterists” (of which anatta is the third)

Being Nobody, Going Nowhere: Meditations on the Buddhist Path – Ayya Khema (.pdf)

Chapter 10 covers “The Five Aggregates” which are, in brief, the body and mind which we cling to as if they were “us”

Biography of Shakyamuni Buddha – Ven Master Hsing Yun (.pdf) (.epub) (.pdf) (.epub)

Chapters 27–31 cover the Buddha winning over several wealthy and powerful patrons, despite his “world-renouncing” teachings

SN 35.238: The Simile of the Vipers (.pdf)

The Buddha gives a vivid simile which illustrates the Buddhist outlook on life in this memorable sutta.

Buddhist Art

Art can be a powerful way to convey religious feeling. How would you depict the above sutta?

Lecture

The Buddhist Idea of the Self – Bhikkhu Bodhi (.m4a)

Bhikkhu Bodhi discusses the Five Aggregates and what Buddhists mean by “Emptiness.”

Further Reading

The best book for understanding Dependent Origination and Emptiness is The Heart of Understanding by Thich Nhat Hanh. Unfortunately, this book is under copyright so you’ll have to find a copy wherever you normally get books.

Homework

You can, however, get this module’s homework questions for free, right here!

If you’re brave enough to keep going after this lesson, click below to…