At one time the Blessed One was living in the deer park of Isipatana near Benares. There, indeed, the Blessed One addressed the group of five monks. Is form permanent or impermanent? Is feeling permanent or impermanent? Is perception permanent or impermanent?
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The following is an excerpt from my book Becoming Buddha. Were form self, then this form would not lead to suffering, and one could have it be any form desired, and stress free. Since form is not-self it leads to suffering and none can have it be any form desired and stress free.
Fabrications are not-self. Consciousness is not-self. If these aggregates were self they would not lead to suffering and one could direct these aggregates as one wished. Since these are not-self they can only lead to suffering and no one can have these aggregates be as they wish.
Is perception permanent or impermanent? Are fabrications permanent or impermanent? Is consciousness permanent or impermanent? With the fading of passion, they are liberated. When liberated, there is knowledge that they are liberated. End of Sutta As a result of whole-hearted engagement with the Eightfold Path disenchantment with the ego-self, with Anatta, with the Five Clinging-Aggregates is developed. From disenchantment with the Five Clinging-Aggregates comes the cessation of the compulsive need to continually establish an ego-personality.
Once disenchantment is established the process of unbinding begins. The cessation of delusion, confusion, and continued unsatisfactoriness is now possible. The futility of creating self-identity by clinging to impermanent objects, events, views, and ideas becomes apparent.
Following this initial Right View the Right Intention is generated to recognize and abandon craving and clinging rooted in ignorance. Still another way to see this is by definition and association. The self is defined by attachments. Association is another word for attachments. It does show the importance of being mindful of all associations and to not attempt to make what is impermanent permanent.
Do associations support developing understanding within the framework of The Eightfold Path? Do associations confusion and suffering through validation of unskillful actions? The Eightfold Path provides a highly effective framework for guiding associations and focus for practice.
As clinging to an ego-personality ceases, self-identification through associations also ceases. It is within Dhamma practice — when developing the Eightfold Path — that wise associations are most important. Once clinging is recognized and abandoned, one no longer clings to others.
This brings the ability to be mindfully present in the world and with others with no expectations or insistence that life, or the people in our lives, including ourselves, be any different from what is occurring.
All aspects of self are impermanent and any conditioned thought or thought construct that attempts to distract from this truth is also clinging, specifically clinging to views and ideas. Clinging to views and ideas maintains the distraction of stress and generates karma. Anatta, not-self, continually seeks to establish itself in impermanent objects, events, views, and ideas. This is the purpose of the phenomenal world and why the ego-self is so enamored with the world.
As long as anatta continues this quest, confusion and suffering will prevail. As long as anatta continues this quest, karma will continue. Due to unquenched desire for existence, the ego-personality creates karma. Karma unfolds moment-by-moment as the distraction of stress and unhappiness. Though physical form will change according to impermanence, karma continues the experience of stress and unhappiness.
This is an important example of impermanence as impermanence relates to anatta. Continuity is not permanence although continuity obscures impermanence and the not-self characteristic.
Continuity is reoccurrence due to repeatedly recreating the conditions leading to an experience. Continued re-establishment of an ego-self obscures impermanence resulting in a wrong view of a permanently sustainable self. Reoccurring life situations and intellectual or emotional reactions are simply an impermanent, but repetitive, and discursive, product of discriminating consciousness, or conditioned mind.
Conditioned thinking and conditioned mind is formed due to ignorance of impermanence, maintained by the distraction of stress, and given validity by an ego-personality. Continuity caused by clinging conditioned mind is ongoing Dukkha. Once the pain associated with clinging to impermanent objects, events, views, and ideas is recognized and abandoned further becoming rooted in ignorance comes to cessation. What is perceived as a permanent self is, in reality, in a constant process of becoming.
Each moment holds the potential for future becoming. A mind rooted in ignorance can only become further ignorant. A mind framed by the Eightfold Path has the potential to become awakened, to Become Buddha.