Print Friendly, PDF & Email

Three questions about the self

02 Samsara, Nirvana, and Buddha Nature

Part of an ongoing series of teachings (retreat and Friday) based on the book Samsara, Nirvana, and Buddha Nature, the third volume in The Library of Wisdom and Compassion series by His Holiness the Dalai Lama and Venerable Thubten Chodron.

  • Is there a self?
  • Different religions and their views
  • Having a sense of an enduring self
  • No permanent, unitary, independent self
  • Merely designated in dependence on body and mind
  • Is there a beginning to the self?
  • Body, mind and universe have their own substantial cause
  • An effect comes from a cause and cooperative conditions
  • The cause has to cease for an effect to occur
  • Effect is concordant with the cause

Samsara, Nirvana, and Buddha Nature 02: Three Questions about the Self (download)

Contemplation points

  1. Every faith has a version of the four truths. Walk through alternate versions of the four truths with which you have familiarity. How does the Buddhist version compare? What are similarities? Differences?
  2. Examine your sense of I from when in kindergarten and today. How does that self appear?
  3. As Buddhists, what is the reasoning behind respecting other religions even if we don’t believe in the same philosophies or tenants?
  4. How might a Buddhist practitioner answer the question, “Is there a beginning to the Self?” Use the different aspects of dependent arising in your answer.
  5. Do you feel like you are a caused phenomena? Why or why not? Be aware of the fact that your body and mind exist due to causes and conditions. What observation do you make in your mind from this awareness?
Venerable Thubten Chodron

Venerable Chodron emphasizes the practical application of Buddha’s teachings in our daily lives and is especially skilled at explaining them in ways easily understood and practiced by Westerners. She is well known for her warm, humorous, and lucid teachings. She was ordained as a Buddhist nun in 1977 by Kyabje Ling Rinpoche in Dharamsala, India, and in 1986 she received bhikshuni (full) ordination in Taiwan. Read her full bio.