This Is My Post

It has become fashionable in dhamma circles to try to avoid saying things like ““my mind” or “my body”. You end up saying things like, “The body is tired, but the mind is still clear.” It’s awkward and not very useful. The Buddha never used language like that, I think think much of it comes from a slightly confused understanding of the term anatta.

First things first. For the Buddha, there was no messing about with concepts like “the physical world doesn’t really exist.” He may have thought that in his heart of hearts, but he never wasted any time with philosophizing of that kind. He just took it for granted that the world really exists. Why? Well, the Buddha mostly taught from the perspective of our perceptions of the real world. It’s neat to know that the universe is expanding and that mass is derived from a subatomic particle, but it doesn’t have much to do with suffering and the end of suffering.

Furthermore, the khandas (formations) really exist. The khandas as the objects that we normally mistake for our true selves: our physical body, physical sensations, perceptions, thoughts, and consciousness. Now, here is where the language problem crops up. These things are not our “true” self in some deep way. Consciousness and other mental factors arise based on the physical body in a physical world. But none of them is my essential essence. Why? Because we don’t have an essential essence. So at least in this sense, none of these things in “mine”.

But hey, in that sense my car isn’t mine. My toenail isn’t mine. My children aren’t mine. All of them arise and pass away. All of them are in a constant state of flux. All of them bring suffering. None are worth identifying with. None are worth clinging to.

But you know what? All this really does is point to the limitations of language. Language can never adequately express anything important. Indeed, it’s incredibly limited in really expressing the mundane. Still, it’s all we’ve got. Falling all over oneself to avoid language like “my body” or “my mind” just gets in the way without really getting at anything very deep. Let’s just make life easier and drop it.


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