Good afternoon, and welcome to the Curious Bodhi Podcast!
On our show, we are talk about one of the most mysterious and misunderstood terms in Buddhism. This is the notion of “not-self” or Anatta.
The Buddha taught the Middle Way between eternalism and nihilism. In Zen, they say: “if your mind is leaning [to the left or right], then you have lost the Way”. We often forget this as our mind leans towards either philosophising/intellectualising or clinging to our notion of self (in the false way).
So, how do we explain what not-self is, if it’s not mere intellectual and not completely personal?
Firstly, the Buddha taught there are five aggregates which compose our everyday experience. They are:
All of these make up each moment for us. However, when we don’t have enough distance from them (non-duality) or cling to them as definitely “me” and “my experience, as opposed to anything or anyone else” (duality), then our mind is leaning.
When we understand the Middle Way, composed of duality and non-duality simultaneously, then we can make light of our experience and stay in the moment.
Have a listen to our podcast for an in-depth explanation. Here is Sri Acharya’s video on Sanatana Dharma & Buddhism which I reference in our show:
*Please send your questions and comments to firstname.lastname@example.org and I will answer them on our next show.
It is quite a bold statement to utter that Dharma is “the best path” in any capacity! Dharma is more like a best path for those who want to explore it. Dharma is offered via the Buddha’s teachings within a vast network of writings, which began with the Three Baskets.
The best part of the Buddha’s message is, in my opinion, that it is up to each individual to experiment with the teachings and find out for oneself. The Dharma can seem like a minefield based on the fact that the teachings are so nuanced and very much subtle. If you are curious about the nature of your true nature, true Self, and are willing to look within (otherwise known as ‘withdrawing the senses’) and are a bit introspective – then the Dharma is a wide open door for you.
Though Siddhartha famously debated with Brahmins about the use of ritual and magical/wishful thinking to solve life’s problems, the Dharma is actually a Vedic word that has slightly different connotations for those who follow Sanatana Dharma. In a future episode, we will explore the similarities between Vedic and Buddha-Dharma.
If practiced with the methods Siddhartha recommends, which also can be chosen out of the collection of literature and practiced, then doors will open for you into your true nature. The bottom line is: don’t just obtain knowledge… practice!
Om Shanti – thank you to all beings who have been following, reading, and listening to our podcast. Send in your questions and comments to email@example.com, and I am happy to answer them on air.
Shambhavi is the spiritual director of Jaya Kula: a non-profit community with spots in both Oregon and California. Shambhavi is a long-time practitioner of Trika (or Kashmiri) Shaivism. What is this ancient and beautiful tradition?
Similar to other direct realisation paths, like the Tibetan Dzogchen, and even Advaita Vedanta, this path takes everyday experience and sees the divine. Nothing is created nor destroyed, because it is already here. However, the tradition is super spontaneous and “messy” as Shambhavi likes to say, because it often attracts those with higher emotional and artistic leanings.
In her Satsangs, questions are always pummeled at her, and she doesn’t miss a beat, because she has been there before in her 30+ years of practice. Her podcast called “Satsang with Shambhavi” explores everything from loneliness to the nature of Reality to puja and the natural waves and troughs of waking up. Oh – and she teaches me once again how to relax!
Visit Jayakula.org to learn more about Trika Shaivism and join Shambhavi in your spiritual quest!
Alan Gordon is the creator of the Cycle of Mind “system” which looks at the subconscious mind as a gateway to change thoughts and behaviour. He explains in our interview how the subconscious, as opposed to the unconscious and conscious (which really have invisible boundaries), holds our most basic beliefs on what’s possible for us as human beings. It is mind-boggling that notions picked up at by the tender age of three years old still run our adult lives — and they are well below our conscious awareness, so we have to take extra care to be able to change them.
Human beings are now driven more by thoughts and the internal world than ever before to be able to navigate, and this is likely due to both evolution and culture. Since we are small, we are taught that we are “a person” with a specific set of unique characteristics, unlike anybody else. This creates a separation between self and other and creates the internal monologue — which is not wrong but natural, but the next stage is to go beyond this limited perspective.
The Buddha always mentioned that we can change our world by changing our minds. Alan has the same idea. He draws on ancient wisdom for the realisation that we are able to expand out of our limited ideas about our thoughts to create
“a palace… instead of a prison.”
Without further adieu, I present Alan Gordon and his Cycle of Mind in our episode above!
Rob Cobbold is the founder of a global mind-heart-spirit movement called Conscious Evolution. Rob’s work focuses on the higher evolution of human beings and as a global conscious structure — indeed, as the entire human family we are. His upcoming podcast will bring in guests who talk about this greater perspective and what it means for us. Catch him on his Twitter at conscious_evo.
Humans and the entire cosmos seem to be evolving into endlessly more complex systems. Think about when you were ten years old and what you knew; now you can see that with each year, more complexity on your worldview has become accumulated based on a vast number of personal experiences, education, and social interactions. Of course, some peoples’ worldviews do not necessarily change that much over a lifetime. However, it has become easier to communicate across the globe with enhanced technology and travel, so open-mindedness is coming to a peak. (We’re not there yet, but my feeling is good that we are co-reaching this stage of development).
This is where spiral dynamics comes in. Spiral dynamics is an observational “theory” that Ken Wilbur and others have created to explain how humans evolve beyond biology. The stages are ordered by colour:
Beige for survival: Babies are in this phase along with some animals. Those in poverty and war-torn areas can be here. Also, when extreme conditions arise requiring sacrifice of moral boundaries in order to stay alive push otherwise comfortable people into this phase.
Purple for security: Tribalism is at the root, where survival is taken care of but the needs of the tribe have to be kept sancrosanct. Ritual, magic, and patterned behaviour make sure the tribe is safe and grounded. Organised religions fall here.
Red for relentless power: The red phase comes in when purple gets cocky. Red societies realise their security is met but they still see a threat from somewhere out there, including other tribs. Red will do whatever it takes to gain more control, including murder. Powerful and ruthless dictators are here along with government officials who care only about their own interests and not their brethren.
Blue for nationalism and rule: Blue is more civilised than red, because it has learned it can use the power of the mind and subtle tactics to keep order and control. Rather than rule by sword, it can also rule by manipulation and word. Blue societies are highly ordered so that members keep their belief. Laws, regulations, religious sectarianism, absolute right and wrong / black and white thinking fall here.
Orange for individualism and success: Individuals are seen as key players who rely on themselves for success. Egocentrism, self-image, and mental strategising to gain prestige, fame, or wealth lie here. Goals, achievement, and planning rule orange. This is the current phase the western world is in on the whole.
Green for cohesive community and environmental concerns: When orange begins to notice there’s not much to get ahead of, it will seek the green phase to worry about other people and the natural world. Individuals organise themselves into communities and express themselves freely and compromise on what the other wants and needs. Egocentric behaviour still governs green, as it does not yet see the larger picture of the whole; it still relies on small tribal behaviours within an in-group, such as political liberals or a specific charity organisation.
Yellow for holistic integration: Yellow is the phase we want to see in our lifetime. We realise that human beings are not the centre of the universe but a cohesive part of the universe. Strategies for picking up the pieces from the other phases will be thought-through (such as un-doing the damge from the industrial revolution) with the power of intelligence, working together, extreme open-mindedness, and taking all sides into account. It is like holographic or diamond-thinking, looking at all angles and stepping in one anothers’ shoes. Creativity and invention and innovation without profit rule. When yellow makes a mistake, they admit it wholeheartedly and move on to a better way of behaving.
Turquoise for compassion and harmony: Turquoise is the highest level we can imagine thus far. It is the total integration of all it has learned from the other stages and is the embodiment of peace and harmony on earth and universal systems. When body, speech, mind, spirit, and all the factors that make a person come together in perfect synchronicity, then we have this stage. It’s likely the garden of Eden but nobody knows yet!
Spiral dynamics takes a step back and looks at how complex humans and their conceptual creations have been and can be in the future. This is one way of looking at human evolution in the new sense of the word. As complexity increases, so does novelty. When novelty gets boring, then peace and harmony will be the outcome.
Did you ever get that sinking feeling that this is the true purpose of life?