A Question the Buddha Refused to Answer

…From Culadasa ( John Yates )

…Most people at the time of the Buddha believed in reincarnation, or were at least concerned about it as a possibility, [but] the Buddha refused to answer questions about where we come from and where we go after death.

He categorized such things as useless speculation and a waste of time, because it has nothing to do with liberation from suffering in this life.

A dear friend of mine, who grew up in a Chinese family believing in reincarnation, has been troubled by these issues lately. He wrote:

I think the “not self” teaching is a very skillful practice.

I continue to fabricate the ideas of selves skillfully,
and in the process observe and understand that each version is not self,
and each component is not self.

The motivation is not self.

The planning of being this person is not self.

The execution of being this person is not self.

The body and the brain that carry out this fabrication are not self.

The feelings and sensations during the process are made of conditions and free of permanent selves.

But “I” need to skillfully fabricate and observe these processes as a necessary step to realize the truths that lie at the end of the path.

Dukkha is very real, and I want liberation from it.

It is the reason I am on this path.

I alone need to find a way to free myself from this unnecessary misery.

The entire process requires many “I”s until we have been freed.

This is a very insightful statement…. let’s work skillfully with the “selves” we think we are. Let’s try to become the best “self” we can possibly be, while carefully observing that none of these fabrications is more “real” than any other.

And let the realization of the truth of no-self come on its own, when the time is right.

John Yates

This except came from the July Edition of the Dharma Treasure Newsletter, found here:


Thanks to John Yates for this excerpt from the Dharma Treasure [July ed. ] Newsletter.

Photo of John Yates from here: http://ih.constantcontact.com/fs161/1101981123294/img/786.jpg?a=1112181496808

The Dharma Treasure home page is here: http://dharmatreasure.com/

About dominic724

A former seeker starts blogging.
This entry was posted in Guest Post, No self and tagged , , , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

2 Responses to A Question the Buddha Refused to Answer

  1. aalif says:

    Hi Dominic, a few months ago, if you recall we had a conversation with regarding the difficulty in finding good literature with a spiritual core? Just wanted to share with you that Ruth Ozeki’s “A Tale For The Time Being” which has been longlisted for the Booker, is just that kind of book! Very skillfully layered story which at its soul is a Buddhist meditation on the cycles of time. So happy to see such books written and being recognised! 🙂

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