Ajahn Sumedo · Theravada Buddhism

“Letting go – what happens with our personality?” – Ajahn Sumedho

Ajhan Sumedo - Teachinghttps://www.facebook.com/groups/1346695428677956/permalink/2225186840828806/

“ When we hear of the Buddhist teaching of letting go, people might think, ‘If I let go of my personality what will be left? Will I be just a zombie? If I don’t have any personality, how am I going to relate to anybody? I’ll just be a blank, a totally empty form that sits there. No matter what happens, there will be no kind of emotion, no kind of language, or reaction.’ It’s very frightening to think of no longer being a real person, a personality of some sort.

We conceive that without a personality we would be nothing, and that’s rather frightening. ..

However, the Buddha’s teaching on anatta, was to point out the reality of non-self in very simple ways. It wasn’t a practice where your personality totally disappears for ever, where you no longer have any emotional feelings whatsoever and where you’re just a total blank forever. Anatta is a practice for ordinary everyday life in which you notice when personality arises and when it ceases.

When you’re really observing it, you’ll notice that personality is a very changeable thing. Are you the same person all the time? You might assume that you are. But in observing the actual nature of personality, you’ll notice that it changes according to who you’re with, the health of the body, and the state of mind. When you’re at home with your parents, when you’re in a Sangha meeting, when you’re chairman of a committee, when you’re just a junior member of the Sangha, when you’re the chores officer or the work officer or the guest officer, what happens? Personality of course adapts itself to those roles, those situations and those conditions.

So then, what is awareness of personality?… To know the personality, I have to abide in awareness, in a state of openness and reflectiveness. There’s discernment operating. It is not a blank kind of vacuous zombie-like mental state. It’s an openness, intelligent and alive, with recognition, discernment and attention in the present…

I would more and more find the refuge in awareness, rather than in the conditions of my personality, in the fears or self-disparagement or megalomania or whatever else happened to be operating in consciousness…

The refuge, however, is in the awareness of this, in trusting our ability to be aware…

What is the self? What is personality? Don’t be afraid of being a personality, but rather, be conscious of it. Personality arises and ceases in consciousness. It changes according to conditions. But awareness is a constant thing, although we might forget it, getting lost in the momentum of emotions and habits…

So trust in this awareness, this openness, this receptivity, attention, listening…

Trust in it, in your awareness in the present. ”

Source: Self-view, Personality and Awareness


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