Ven: The same is true for our “self” or “I”. Recall a time when you were very angry. how did the “I” appear then? It seemed very solid- as if there was a real me that someone was insulting. That “I” felt real, as if it were independent, somewhere inside our body and mind. We get angry in order to defend that “I” which seems so real. If that solid, independent “I” exists it appears to us, we should be able to find it, either among our body and mind or separate them. there is no other place such an “I” could be. Let’s see. Are you your body?

Aud: Yes.

Ven: Which part of your body are you? Are you your arm?  Your chest?  Your little toe?  Your brain? It’s clear that we aren’t any of the parts of the body. Let’s try again. Are you your mind?

Aud: I must be.

Ven: Which mind are you? Are you your visual consciousness? Your auditory consciousness? Your mental consciousness? Are you one particular characteristic? If you were your angry self, you would always be angry!

Aud: “I” am what goes from one life to the next.

Ven: But what goes from life to the next is constantly changing. Can you point to one moment of your mind that always have been and always will be you? Are you yesterdays mind? Today’s mind? Tomorrows mind?

Aud: I’m all of them together.

Ven: But that’s a collection of parts, none is “I”. To say that collection is “I” is like saying a group of grasshopper is a butterfly. Maybe you’re completely separate from your body and mind. That is, can you take away your body and mind, and can you (“I”) still remain independently? If the “I” is separate from the body and mind, my body and mind could be here and “I” could be across the room. Is that possible?

The “I” or self doesn’t exists independently of the body and mind. It is not the body and it is not the mind. Neither is it the body and mind together. In other words, the solid “I” that we feel when we’re angry doesn’t exists at all. this is what is meant by selflessness- there is no ultimate existent or independent self. That doesn’t mean the “I” doesn’t exists at all.  What we are negating is its independent or inherent existence. There is a conventionally existent “I” that is angry and that “I” does not exists independently.

The “I” depends on causes and conditions- the coming together of the sperm and egg of your parents, our consciousness from a previous life and so on. The “I” also depends on the parts which compose it- our body and mind. The “I”also depends on concepts and labels. That is, on the basis of our body and mind being together, we conceive of a person a label it “I”. “I” exist by being merely labelled on a suitable basis- as body and/or mind.

Aud: How does understanding dependent origination and Emptiness help us?

Ven: When we realize Emptiness, we see that there is no solid person who is angry. There is no real person whose reputation needs to be defended. There is no independently beautiful person or object that we have to possess, By realizing Emptiness, our attachment, anger, jealousy, pride and other disturbing attitudes vanish, because there is no real person that has to be protected, and there is no real object to be grasped.

That doesn’t mean we become inert and unambiguous like vegetables, thinking, “There’s no real me, no real goal. So why do anything?” Realising selflessness (Emptiness) give us tremendous space for action. Rather than our energy consumed by craving, aversion and ignorance, we are free to use our tremendous wisdom and compassion in many ways to benefit others and ourselves.

From the Teachings : Be a Lamp Upon Yourself – Dependent Origination




Love is Love,


Fire (1 of 1)-4
Young Novice Prayers

One thought on “WHERE IS THE SELF?

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