Jack Kornfield tells a story where he was quizzed by someone about what the essence of Buddhist teachings is. His answer was “the root of suffering is the self”, to which his interlocutor replied “That’s right. No self, No Problem.”
Here’s a small insight that occurred to me at a morning’s sitting at Norman Feldman’s retreat this week: “Greed, Hatred and Delusion” – the three poisons which cause suffering – in fact all have a common cause: the sense that there is an enduring and separate self. Freedom from self-view means freedom from greed (wanting), hatred (aversion) and delusion (false belief about the nature of things.) Clear seeing from a posture of non-duality, non-separateness means being able to see clearly “what is real, what is true.” Pure awareness is also neither wanting nor averse.
So “No Self, No Problem” seems to be right, doesn’t it?
Ajahn Sumedho explains the formula:
Yesterday is a memory.
Tomorrow is the unknown.
Now is the knowing.
in his book in Now is the Knowing.
At the first sitting of Norman Feldman’s in-city retreat today, I felt this tremendous sense of loss for all things past – my (long) deceased parents, missed opportunities, mistakes of youth. I yearned for a refuge from these thoughts and feelings about the past, which seemed to be reverberating so strongly in the present – perhaps because I just had a birthday, I don’t know. I really wanted to be focused in the present, to take refuge in the knowing, to be free of the sadness that emanated from these memories.
This refuge came as the day went on, but it was also, in some way, an escape from the past, which does have an impact on the present. And I think we do need to be able to see the history of ones life and reflect on it without fear or anxiety. Memories affect how and what we know in the present too.
I think that reflecting on regrets – having remorse – can inform and edify one actions, speech and thought in the present.