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No Ego

WHAT IS “NO EGO”?


THE theory of “No Ego” is one of the most important and basic doctrines in Buddhism, but also is one of the theories that are very hard to understand and accept. If there is no ego, who is going to get the retribution of karma (cumulations of past or present activities) no matter good or bad, who is going to get the deliverance? And if there is no retribution of karma, the “Cause and effect” (every cause has its effect, as every effect arises from a cause) cannot be existent. If there is no deliverance, then all the religious practice and effort of Buddhist will become nothing.

AS a matter of fact, when we understand the theory of “No Ego”, we will not get confused and will like the idea. Here we try our best to describe the meaning of no ego. Let us try to understand some notions first about no ego.

WHAT is the religious meaning of the theory of No Ego?
The religious meaning of the theory of No Ego is: We must attain the truth of no ego by personal experience, then we can reach the last aim of Buddhist deliverance of nirvana. When we experientially enter into “No Ego”, as a matter of fact means experientially enter in nirvana.

“No ego” belongs to the wisdom of three departments (the other two being discipline and meditation), and is the most important item in the dogma of the path leading to the extinction of passion. All the sufferings are caused by the worries of greed, hate, and ignorance, and all the worries are caused by the root of “holding to the concept of the ego”. If there is no “Ego”, who will do the all the activities of greed, hate, and ignorance? If there is no “Ego”, who will receive the retribution of suffering?

THEREFORE the greed, hate, and ignorance can only be arising through “holding to the concept of the ego”. If there is no “Ego”, then all the worries will be removed. Now we should understand that the Buddhist way of deliverance is to concentrate on all the efforts of how to overcome this “Ego”

IS “No Ego” a philosophical opinion or just a real process of religious practice? As a matter of fact, the “No Ego” is not a philosophical opinion at all, and is a real process of religious practice. There are lots of arguments among Buddhist and non-Buddhist about this issue, the reason of causing this, is they study “No Ego” as a philosophical issue. If they could understand that “No Ego” is just a way of practicing and building wisdom, and has nothing to do with philosophical even thinking or thoughtful issue, then there would not be so many arguments between “Ego” and “No Ego” in Buddhist history.

LET'S try to understand the philosophical issue before we introduce that “No Ego” is originally a expedient way of cultivating oneself in wisdom.

IN ancient time the writing languages usually did not use the punctuation marks, such as Brahma language, Chinese language, Pali language … and so on. And because of no punctuation marks, therefore there is no capital letters and small letters in those writing languages.

IN today’s English, when we see a word beginning with capital letter, we know it should be a special noun, a special term, a special case, a place, a person, a name, such as the letter G of God usually use capital letter.

THE atman (ego) in sutra, the atman with small letter “a” means the ego of material world, we call it “Small ego”, and the Atman with capital letter “a” means the ego of all over and uniting with the universe, we call it “Big ego”.

BECAUSE there is no difference between small letter and capital letter in Brahma language, therefore makes the principle of doctrines not clear, causes lots of philosophical arguments, and even causes the cracking up of schools.

SINCE there is no difference between small and capital letter in Brahma and Pali languages, then it is hard to tell what is the real meaning of “anatman”? it is no small ego or no big ego? Is it the ego of worldly truth we want to destroy or the ego of superior truth we want to destroy? And only thing we can do is to guess by the meaning of whole paragraph in the sutra, but still very hard to make a final decision. This is the key point of the argument for “No Ego” in Buddhist history.

THE closest word to “atman” (ego) is “soul” in English. Usually the concept of soul means the “mind and cognition” of entity, which can carry on, is eternal, cannot be changed, cannot be vanished, can think, can feel, is sensible. From the passive point of view, it (soul) has special ability that can feel all kinds of spiritual experiences. From the active point of view, it can be main body who can do all kinds of spiritual actions.

IN common sense, so called soul, it has meaning of religious judgement. Soul not only means the ego of mind and body joining together visibly (having material form) in material world, but also means eternal mind (not material form) who is never vanished after death, and can be existent without body.

THE meaning of the soul of common sense is very closed to the meaning of jiva of Sarvastivadins. Comparing with the soul of material world and jive, the Atman (Big ego) of Upanishads has further religious and metaphysical meaning. In the thought of “Big ego is Brahman” we can see that big ego and Brahman is eternal entity, is really existent, is spiritual mind which cannot be destroyed, is supreme and limitless happiness, also is the foundation and dependence of all things in the universe.

THE small ego of material world is just part of the big ego, the small ego has all kinds of worries and the foolish passion of clinging to the unreal. Therefore always is suffered in the circle of transmigration, till the small ego melts into the big ego (Brahman) and enter experientially into the heart of universe, then reach the elevation of spirit of deliverance. Therefore the Hindu also negates and refutes the small ego of material world, and gives favorable publicity to, eulogizes, and affirm the big ego or real ego of “myriad things but one body”.

SAME thought we can find in the Old Testament, the Moses was ordered by the God to talk to the Israelite and guide them to the freedom from slavery. The Moses asked the God: “When I get there and tell them that your father send me here, if they ask me: What is His name?, what should I say?” The God said to the Moses: “I am who I am”, the God did not tell the Moses any name or title, just said “I am who I am”, pointed out the pure substance is nameless. The “I am who I am”, “Nameless”, “Exist naturally” … and so on, are the way the Hindu looks at the big ego. Is this big ego that the original Buddhist was trying to destroy? Is there any relation among the original Buddhist, Upanishads, and other Indian scriptures about this big ego? we still don’t know the final conclusion because of lacking of the historical references.

WHEN reaching the later period, the Mahayana Buddhist in one way was trying to destroy the big ego of other Indian religions. In another way the Yogacara School was trying to sponsor the Alaya original mind (it is the root of all things), and the Mahayana scriptures says that the spiritual or true body is always abiding and the Buddha-nature is never vanished. Most of Western Buddhist scholars think that the Mahayana Buddhist scriptures and doctrines of later period and the Hindu is going to united again, because it concentrated on talking about “Being” or “Existence”.

THE “absolute reality” or “supernatural existence” of Mahayana Buddhist and the “true being” or “real existence” of the theory of "view of permanence" are totally different basically. The former is the “Being” of “Formless and with form are not a dualism” (form is emptiness, emptiness is form) that is through the absolute emptiness, and the latter is the “Being” that is forever existent.

PREJUDICE OF ORTHODOX BUDDHIST
The orthodox Buddhist or the Buddhist who have been transformed character by the orthodox Buddhist deeply, do their utmost to give public ideas that the Mahayana Buddhist doctrine is different from Taoism, Hindu, and the other mysticisms totally. This is the prejudice of orthodox Buddhist. If we can enter experientially the elevation of spirit of Hua-Yen that is “Formless and with form are not a dualism”, then everything will be included, all things are not hindered one another, it is not necessary to persist in the difference between Buddhist doctrine and the other religions.

WHAT KIND OF EGO SHOULD BE DESTROYED
Now we understand the main problem of describing the “No Ego” is to make sure “Which ego” or “What kind of ego” that Buddhist wants to destroy. So what kind of ego after all the theory of “No Ego” wants to destroy?

FIRST, this ego definitely is not the so call ego in our daily life. In original Buddhist scripture, Sikyamuni Buddha also always talked about ego (“I” “Me” “My” “Myself”), for example: {Bhiksu (mendicant or almsman, one who has left home, been fully ordained, and depends on alms for a living), let me tell you clearly …., long long time ago, my past life was ….} Buddha was just like the ordinary people, used “I” so many times in his daily life. Of course Buddha knew that the “Buddhist supreme meaning” negate ego, but he still used “I”, otherwise he would become some kind of odd person.

IF we negate the ego of material world, then human cannot make living, cannot think, also cannot communicate. Therefore no matter the ego of common sense is how much illusive, we still have to admit and accept it with some degree. We can affirm that the ego which original Buddhist doctrine wants to destroy definitely is not the one (“I”) we use in our daily life.

SO, what is the theory of “No Ego” wants to destroy after all? In short, the “No Ego” wants to destroy the ego that always persist in the “five skandhas” (the five cumulations, five substances, or five aggregates) of being impermanent, changed, and vanished as a “entity of ego” that is permanent, eternal, and independent.

IN material world and our daily life, if we don’t think and observe our surroundings, we will feel that the entity of ego is real and pretty much real. But if we observe it carefully and deeply, then we will find out that the entity of ego is really just a natural illusion. This ego does not have entity, but a habit of “clinging to things as real” psychologically.

AND this habit of “clinging to things as real” has been existing ever since timelessness, deeply and firmly rooted, is doubly hard to get rid of it. This “holding to the concept of the ego” also is the root of all worries and suffering, therefore if we want to deliver ourselves from material world, we have to cut off totally this natural “holding to the concept of the ego” which is the root of rebirth and redeath.

THE way for cutting off the “holding to the concept of the ego” is to observe thoroughly the truth of “No Ego” through deep meditation, then the wisdom of no ego will begin to cultivate. Therefore the practitioners have to understand the basic reason of no ego first, then study the real methods of contemplation of “No Ego” such as Vipasyana. After this step, matching deep meditation, then will make the wisdom of no ego more effective, only then can reach the deliverance of holy way gradually.

DEFINITION OF EGO
Study the theory of “No Ego”, best of all should try to understand what is ego first. Although there are lots of doctrine talking about no ego in original Buddhist sutra, but no strict definition about ego. In the beginning, people tried to understand the ego from the common sense point of view, which is according to the experiences in daily life. Later on the thinking become more precise and articulated. In short, the definition of ego should be: the entity that is eternal, not changed, alone, and independent.

ETERNAL and unchanged: When talking about ego, we will always think of the unchanging entity first. Ego is always and forever ego, a same person and will not become another, if this ego become another one, then is not the original ego. Therefore the “unchanged” is one of the conditions of ego.

ETERNAL is limitless prolonging of unchanging, prolong the unchanged entity forever, then create a conception of ego or soul that is never dead and vanished.

PEOPLE in this contemporary era, just admit that there is only a ego of present generation, they do not believe in a eternal ego whose soul is never vanished, or are not interested in this kind of thing. The reason for this phenomenon is the fully developing of science and the collapse of religious faith. And this is very recent thing, also a very rare phenomenon in entire human’s history.

BEFORE the eighteen or nineteen century, the people in Europe, Asia, America, and Africa most of them believed in and worshipped their traditional religious faith. The major or minority religion, no matter Judaism, Christianism, Buddhism, Taoism or other religious doctrine all emphasized that the soul is never dead or vanished, and also only there is a creed of “the soul is never dead or vanished” then all the religious dogmas, beliefs, value, and tradition can be established.

IF the death of human means the end of everything, then missionaries of all religions do not have to do the preachment of any kind. Therefore the foundation of religions must be part of them built on the faith of eternal life and soul.

AND because it is doubly hard to get rid of the “holding to the concept of the ego or self” (persist in self), therefore the transmigrations of rebirth and redeath can be existent. In order to get red of the transmigrations of tribulation and misery, the original Buddhist spent a tremendous amount of energy on preaching the knowledge of meditation and wisdom, and the final aim for this effort is to reach another pure and surpassing “Eternal life” or the elevation of spirit of nirvana.

THE doctrine of no ego is to focus on untrue “ego” (untrue self) which is stubborn and flowing and returning eternally. The traditional Buddhist scholars think that the people in the modern world only believe in retribution of present life and do not believe in retribution of three life (past, present, and future), is terribly wrong.

THEREFORE to the people in this contemporary era, the studies of Buddhist scholars is that the first step is to build up the retribution (the chain of cause and effect) of three life and the ego of “the soul is never vanished”, and the second step should be (the real aim of “No Ego”) to point out that the ego of “the soul is never vanished” is a “To cling to things as real”, is a kind of psychological illusion and the root of all sufferings.

HERE, we should understand that if we do not give an effort of special religious practice to this problem, then the unreal ego will be forever existent and continual. In order to reach this goal, the doubly hard practice of discipline, meditation, and wisdom is very necessary. Therefore just like the other religions, the definition of ego in Buddhism should also include the ingredient of eternity.

EXCLUSIVE
So call exclusive means alone entity that cannot be cut up, when talking about “ego”, must be the one and only, this means cannot be more than one. This is the ego of common sense, must be only one entity, and cannot be more than one. And this exclusive entity is the last unit, cannot be compounded, and also cannot be split up.

GREEK word “atom” means uncut or indivisible, is like Indian molecule, one can see therefore, the human’s mind always has a trend that all things in the universe are built from indivisible ingredient or entity. Ant the thought of this unit entity, we call it “atom” or “molecule” visibly, “atman” or “soul” invisibly.

INDEPENDENT
The ego must include the ingredient of independence, human being must have some degree of independence, then can be “Ego” or “Self”.

NOW we can have an idea that the definition of “ego” must be fully furnished with the ingredients (conditions) of “eternal”, “unchanged”, “exclusive”, and “independent”. And when we expand this thought of “exclusive”, “eternal”, “only one”, and “master”, then become the Atman or Brahman (big ego) of Hindu.

ALTHOUGH the small ego of the common sense world or material world and the big ego of cosmology, Atman, or Brahman, are different in higher or lower degree, but are not different in substance of “unchanged, permanent, exclusive, eternal, only one, and “master”.

REFUTION OF EGO
From now on, we are going to talk about “refute ego” and the way of practice.
The way of “refute ego” and “refute being” in Buddhist scriptures, “To divide” is used most of the time. It means using the way of dividing then enter experientially the theory of no ego. Usually we think that ego is a exclusive whole entity, as a matter of fact is a illusion, when we observe it little bit more carefully then we will find out that it is very absurd.
So call “ego”, nothing more than a five cumulations (unreal compound of five kinds of physiological and psychological ingredients, [form, reception, conception, functioning of mind, and mental faculty]) that is changed and vanished any moment, but we image this five cumulations as a permanent and exclusive “Ego”.

OBSERVE FORM
Is form (matter, the physical form related to the five organs of sense) ego or I? Form means all things have material body of a certain shape. Of course our body is also a kind of form. If we look at one of our hands for a while, and observe the palm of hand, center of palm, back of hand, and fingers. Few minutes later a kind of intuition will be arising, we feel that the hand is not “me” (I), but is “Mine” (Its possessions), is a kind of surrounding phenomena that is cognised by the “I” of main body. When we do the same thing to our legs, feet, shoulder and the other part of the body, we will get the same feeling that they are just different “Mine” or “ Phenomena”.

OBSERVE RECEPTION
Is reception (sensation, feeling, the functioning of the mind or senses in connection with affairs and things) ego or I? Reception means all kinds of different feelings. No matter what kind of reception (happy, sad, or neutral: such as sensational), that is some kind of phenomena that is felt by “Me” and is not the “I” of main body that can feel.

LET us use hand again as a sample, when we use two fingers of our left hand to pinch right palm, we feel painful right away, don’t stop and pinch harder, at the same time, try to observe “ Is the feeling of pain so call [I] or [ego]?” for a while we will feel that this is a phenomena and not the I of main body.

WE can use different way to taste different feeling, such as listening to different kind of music, tasting different kind of food, smelling different kind of smell, … and so on. Remember at the same time, don’t be attracted by them totally but concentrate on our intuition to observe them. For a while we will feel these receptions are just “Mine” and is not the “I” of main body.

OBSERVE CONCEPTION
Is conception “I” or “ego”? Conception is different thoughts and notions. When our mind appear of the words such as Culture, Communication, Democracy, Peace, and War, at the same time our mind already understand the meaning of these words, this “understanding” is so call “conception”.

WHEN the conception is arising in our mind, if we observe carefully, then we also will find out these words and notions are thought (passive) by mind, and is not the mind of main body that can think, understand, and decide (active).

IF we can meditate for a while and recite quietly any words, at the same time observe it deeply, later on we will feel that these notions are the projections of our mind. These conceptions are “though by” and not “can think”, is “Mine” and not “I”, is phenomenon and not main body.

OBSERVE FUNCTIONING OF MIND
The functioning of mind is the functions of all kinds of passions and emotions, such as happy or angry. These passions and emotions when we observe it carefully, also are the projections of our mind, is the “felt by me” and not the “I”.

FOR example, “I am happy”, this sentence is just to describe the personal feeling or personal mood of the particular moment. At the same time try to observe the substantial nature and external appearance, we will feel that these passions or emotions are not the real “I”, is just the projections of our mind also.

IN this “I am happy” sentence, obviously, the subject is “I”, and the predicate is happy. The former is main body and the later is some kind of nature or attributes. In Buddhist doctrine term, this is the relation of “I” and “Mine” or Thatness and Whatness. Passions or emotions are the phenomena of projection of “I”, not the self of “I”.

MENTAL FACULTY
In Sanskrit “Vijnana” (Consciousness), “jnana” means knowing and cognition, “Vi” means “compare and see the difference” and “analyze”. “Vijnana” means the consciousness who can compare and see the difference of surroundings. Therefore we can have an idea that so call “consiousness” means something who has the capability of comparing and seeing the difference.

THE definition of “consciousness” should be the awareness who has the capability of evaluating and judging. Therefore “consciousness” is the capability of being aware. The consciousness of eye is the capability of being aware of form, the consciousness of ear is the capability of being aware of sound, the consciousness of nose is the capability of being aware of smell, the consciousness of tongue is the capability of being aware of taste, the consciousness of body is the capability of being aware of touch, the consciousness of mind is the capability of being aware of thing. Therefore consciousness means awareness.

WITH these six functions of awareness, we can proof that consciousness is not a single entity, but a complex of many, therefore we call it the consciousness of combination. There are at least six kinds of consciousness, consciousness of eye, consciousness of ear, consciousness of nose, consciousness of tongue, consciousness of body, and consciousness of mind.

THE function, substance, and phenomena of these six kinds of consciousness are all different, therefore is not a entity definitely. But the habit of human mixes these different kind of functions of awareness together and become a “I”, treat them and see them as a entity. This kind of illusion is produced by the psychological projection, and the erroneous doctrine of the ego is produced at the same time by the illusion.

WE mentioned that the definition of “I” should include the ingredients of “eternal”, “unchanged”, “exclusive”, and “independent”. Since now we proof that the consciousness is not exclusive but complex many things. Therefore the so call “I” of common sense world, as a matter of fact is a kind of illusion, a kind of unreal existence.

USUALLY people who believe in “transmigration in six ways” (the round of existence), no matter Hinduism or Buddhism, think that transmigration or reincarnation is just like the soul moving from this vanished body to that reborn body, or just like changing from this house to that house, or just like moving from this car of train to next car.

NAGASENA (the instructor of the king in the Milindapanha) said that the understanding of transmigration or reincarnation of unchanged “I” is WRONG. He gave us many samples, one of them is oil lamp, the lights of oil lamp in fourth watch in a night as a matter of fact is different from third watch, second watch, and first watch, but just the later one replace the former one (replace from time to time). This is the example of overcoming the unchanged “I”.

THE EXCLUSIVE “I”
The King of Greece asked Nagasena: “What is it that is born into the next existence?”, Nagasena answered: “It is name and form that is born into next existence”.

THE King of Greece was asking what is that “the single entity”, but the answer from Nagasena was “the compound of name and form”. The King thought that there is a single entity who goes to reincarnate, but Nagasena was trying to expose that the reincarnation is not the entity but the name and form.

THE FIVE CUMULATIONS
The consciousness is not a single entity but the compound of many things, also the reception, conception, and functioning of mind are the same, are the compound of many things.

THERE are different kinds of reception, conception, and functioning of mind, and their arising or vanishing is more obvious than consciousness. The consciousness is very different, we always intuit that we have an unchanged conscious body existent, even we are in sleep or unconscious and the conscious body still is existent. Therefore it is more difficult to destroy the cumulation of consciousness, because it is against our believing and direction of our thought.

BUT to destroy the reception, conception, functioning of mind, and no ego are much easier. There are many kinds of conception of sorrow and happiness, arising and vanishing impermanently. It is obviously not permanent, exclusive, and unchanged.
The conception (thoughts) and functioning of mind are also unendingly changed, arising and vanishing any moment. It is also not permanent, exclusive, and unchanged.

THESE cumulations of reception, conception, functioning of mind, and consciousness are cannot existent independently. They must depend on others for existence and survival. The form, reception, conception, functioning of mind, and consciousness are just like a bunch of standing reeds, they have to be together (depending on one another) and become a bunch, then stands up.

THEREFORE the form, reception, conception, functioning of mind, and consciousness only can be existent on mutual depending situation. They are a kind of cumulation and structure, cannot be existent singly with unchanged, exclusive, and independent situation.

ARE RECEPTION, CONCEPTION, FUNCTIONING OF MIND, AND CONSCIOUSNESS REAL AUTONOMOUS?
Reception, conception, functioning of mind, and consciousness have to be dependent mutually, also are controlled and influenced by surroundings and physical conditions, therefore they are not autonomous totally.

BECAUSE of this “Autonomous”, the Buddhistic has been trying their best to deliver themselves from the constraint and control. Cutting off the root of “holding to the concept of the ego” (persisting to the self) to reach the real “autonomous and free” totally.

NOW we should understand the “I” or “Ego” is just the cumulations of form, reception, conception, functioning of mind, and consciousness. When we analyse them we cannot see any “I” of eternal, exclusive, and autonomous. Therefore the so call “I” is just a psychological persisting and illusion.

THE “I” OF BUDDHISM AND MATERIAL WORLD
The Buddhism only accepts the “I” of certain meaning, but not accept the “I” of eternal, unchanged, exclusive, and autonomous absolutely. The Buddhism think that from the material world standpoint of view, there is a “series” of body or mind of changing and vanishing any moment, because this “series” is changed and vanished any moment and is arising depending on others, therefore there is no such exclusive and “eternal entity” “I”. It is just like all the appearances of movie, they are not entities, but illusion of many pictures that are doing the serial activities.

NOW we understand from the Buddhism standpoint of view, the so call “I” of common sense is not unchanged, eternal, exclusive, and absolute entity, but just a serial actions or appearances of changing and vanishing all the time.

IT is also very hard for the scientists to admit that there is an eternal and unchanged “I”, they could only admit the serial actions and some kind of absolutely connected relation between the former and later. Just like we mentioned that the lights of oil lamp in first watch, second watch, third watch, and fourth watch in a night are looked like the same, as a matter of fact they are changed in the twinkling of an eye, but the light of fourth watch is from the third, and second watch, meaning they are all same series.

CAN NO EGO AND RETRIBUTION EXISTENT AT THE SAME TIME?
From the Buddhism point of view, there is no unchanged, eternal, and exclusive “I”, but there is a same serial action or entity that is changed and vanished.

SOMEBODY produces good karma (action, work, or deed) or does all kinds of effort for religious practice, although the result for this effort does not belong to the “Somebody” but will belong to the replacements of same series. Therefore although there is no unchanged and exclusive “I”, but “the power of karma to produce good and bad fruit”, retribution (every cause has its effect, as every effect arises from a cause), and deliverance still can be existent.

FROM the pragmatism standpoint of view, the Buddhism does not reserve “destroy I” totally, but just destroy the small part of “holding to the concept of the ego”. Or we can say that Buddhism admits a cumulation of consciousness of being changed and unchanged. Some people call this cumulation of consciousness “I”, but remember the conception of “I” we are talking about here, is very easy to lead us to some kind of delusion and “to cling to things as real”, then cause all kinds of worries.

THE fact of material world tells us, the circulation (function) of things in this world can be existent, all because of the two contradictive powers which are discarded each other, attracted each other. And the samples of this “Yin and Yang” mutual arising we can see everywhere.

IN physical phenomena, in atom, negative electron group circling round positive atomic nucleus all the time and makes atom stable. In biologic phenomena, male and female match together then make, maintain, and prolong lives.

IN religious phenomena, there are always the never stopped fighting between the pure thoughts and desirous thoughts, when we overcome them then it’s time to reach the deliverance.

IF there is no negative desirous thought, then the positive pure thought can do anything, therefore the effort of deliverance in Buddhism also is propelled by the relations of two contradictive powers.

THEREFORE in the same “I”, should have “changed” and “unchanged” two ingredients, and this is the correct way to see “I”, also is the Buddhist main meaning of “I”. Especially in Mahayana Buddhism, the thought of “relative unification” becomes very important principle, such as “form and emptiness are not two things” and “mercy and wisdom practice at the same time” obviously are the thought of “relative unification”.

THIS “relative unification” or “contradictive unification” has huge flexibility and essential function of containing, because the two things (negative and positive or cathode and anode) all have no original nature and entity. And the thought of “persisting in permanent”, no matter what they do, they just cannot purify the condemnation and limit which are from the persisting in original nature, therefore they are always hindered.


UNCHANGED AND CHANGED “I”
A unchanged “I” will have any improvement and development, and will have no enlightenment or achievement forever. The unchanged “I” although cannot improve self but also cannot spoil self or destroy self. Therefore the retribution for good or evil deeds and the religious behavior will become impossible. In order to remove or destroy these problems, therefore Buddhism promotes the theory of “No Ego”, and only because there is no unchanged “I”, so all the retribution for good or evil deeds, progress and decline become possible.

ALL the retribution for good or evil deeds can be build because of the “No Ego” of Hinayana, and all the things can be build because of the “Emptiness of our original nature” of Mahayana. This is the exclusive feature of Buddhist philosophy.

IDEAS OF NO EGO
There was a boy travel wildly asked Buddha about the “Ego”, and Buddha did not answer the question, Ananda wanted to know the reason, Buddha said to him: “ Anada, when the boy asked me about “Ego” and “No Ego”, if I answered him “There is ego”, then what is the difference between I and The Brahmana who persist in the view that is permanent, and if I answered him “There is no ego”, then what is the difference between I and The Brahmana who persist in the view that death ends life, further more if I answered him “There is ego”, Ananda, is this same as “To know and see the reality of all things as does the Buddha?” ……. if I answered him “There is no ego”, wouldn’t be more confused because of my answer for that already confused boy? wouldn’t he scratch his head and say “Wow! I always have [I] before, how could I don’t have [I] now?”

BECAUSE of the Buddha’s revelation, we can have ideas about “No Ego”:

THE Buddhism does not negate the existence of “Ego” in common sense world and daily life.
THE “Ego” that Buddhist wants to destroy is the entity which is unchanged, eternal, exclusive, and absolutely autonomous.
BECAUSE the Brahman and Pali languages do not have punctuation marks, therefore the “atman” they want to destroy, is just the small ego of common sense world or including the big ego of universe, cannot be sure.
BUDDHIST “No Ego” is not a philosophical thought, but a real way of practice contemplation. Therefore, if we can practice according to the “No Ego”, till we can enter experientially the “Absolute fundamental reality”, then the problem of small and big ego all become meaningless argument.
THE human do not have absolute “autonomous” or “free”, but they have relative “autonomous” or “free”.
“No Ego” can destroy everything except the free will, otherwise, the virtue of religion itself and the religious behavior cannot be built.
THE “No Ego” and the law of cause and effect not only can be kept both, but because of no ego, then everything can be changed, again all the retribution for good or evil deeds and the religious practice can be built.

HOW TO PRACTICE NO EGO
Like we mentioned the no ego is not a philosophy, but a real way of practice, is a kind of therapeutic device for destroying all worries. There are around two kinds of practical way of cultivating meditation for no ego.

FIRST one is to observe the emptiness of ego, and the second one called “smrti-upasthanani” (or vpasthana) is to observe four objects on which memory or the thought should be dwell.

LET us describe the later one first, “smrti” means watch or observe minndfully, “vpasthana” means work, walk, or start working. And the smrti-vpasthana means observing mindfully. Most of this “observing mindfully” has four kinds: “the impurity of the body, that all sensations lead to suffering, that mind is impermanent, and that there is no such thing as an ego.

SMRTI-VPASTHANA
Do you want to know how important is the smrti-vpathana?

IN “Miscellaneous” treatises of Four Agamas, {one day Buddha was thinking: This is the only way (smrti-upasthana) can overcome suffering, irritation, sorrow, … etc. And the only way, can lead all the livings to the purification, correct path, enlightenment, and nirvana is the practice of smrti-upathana ……. the past Buddhas got sambodhi (omniscience of a Buddha) all through the smrti-upasthana, the future Buddhas will get sambodhi also through smrti-upasthana, I got sambodha also because of practicing the smrti-upasthana ……..}

{Bhiksu (one who has left home, been fully ordained, and depends on alms for a living)! What is smrti-upasthana? In your daily life, you have to observe your body any time carefully, zealously, vigilantly, and notice every move of your thought, then you will ward off and remove the greed, desire and sorrow; ……. you have to observe your sensations any time carefully, zealously, vigilantly, and notice every move of your thought, then you will ward off and remove the greed, desire and sorrow; ……. you have to observe your mind any time carefully, zealously, vigilantly, and notice every move of your thought, then you will ward off and remove the greed, desire and sorrow; ……. you have to observe all things any time carefully, zealously, vigilantly, and notice every move of your thought, then you will ward off and remove the greed, desire and sorrow. ……. }

{How to observe the body? When you are in forest, either by tree or a quiet place with no body around, sit with legs crossed and soles upward, concentrate you thought on breath, when you exhale a long breath, your mind has to notice every move of the breath thoroughly; when you inhale a long breath, your mind has to notice every move of the breath thoroughly. When you exhale a short breath, your mind has to notice every move of the breath thoroughly; when you inhale a short breath, your mind has to notice every move of the breath thoroughly. You have to cultivate yourself this way; notice and understand all your exhale and inhale thoroughly, and make them feeble and quiet. Bhiksu, let me give you an example, it is just like an expert potter, when he revolves mud wheel, and when mud wheel has a long revolving, his mind has to notice every move of the long revolving thoroughly, when mud wheel has a short revolving, his mind has to notice every move of the short revolving thoroughly.}

{Bhiksu, it is just same like this, when you exhale a long breath, your mind has to notice every move of the breath thoroughly; when you inhale a long breath, your mind has to notice every move of the breath thoroughly. When you exhale a short breath, your mind has to notice every move of the breath thoroughly; when you inhale a short breath, your mind has to notice every move of the breath thoroughly. You have to cultivate yourself this way; notice and understand all your exhale and inhale thoroughly, and make them feeble and quiet. ……. You have to observe and understand your own body and action, observe the arising and vanishing of your body and action. …….}

{Because of this kind of concentrating on your thought, you will cognise the absolute fundamental reality of your body, then you will reach the “look into body as body” (consider illusion and discern illusion or discern the seeming from the real), “No I and Mine”, then nothing will pollute your mind, you will cling to nothing as real in this world.}

THE point of Buddha’s revelation is that our mind has to notice and understand every move of our body, mind, action, and all things within or without our mind very clearly. In fine, the practice of smrti is a kind of contemplation of mind of awareness directly. There are very little percentages of awareness in ordinary people’s mind of desire, memory, and thinking.

THE mind of desire is the “I” of no independence, worry, and delusion to seek for the “Mine” of “the dream never come true”, this is the mind of chasing future; the mind of memory is the mind of chasing past. These two kinds of minds are indirect, cannot contemplate the present and live mind directly.

THE mind of thinking is the thinking of comparison and inference, is the projection of structure of conception and relation, therefore, also is indirect and abstract. The desire, memory, and thinking occupy most part of function of mind, and they all are greedy, hateful, and ignorant. This is the cause of transmigration.

THE mind of smrti-upasthana is totally different from the mind of desire, memory, and thinking. It contemplates directly the present surroundings without any thinking. When contemplating, do not arise any thought of thinking, do not praise and blame, do not welcome and resist, just bare attention and bare awareness. This mind of contemplating the present surrounding definitely belongs to the present, not the past or the future, therefore can see through deeply the ultimate reality of all things. When expanding this present mind of awareness, then the “persisting in ego or self” will automatically melted, and “the meditating on the unreality of the ego and phenomena” will grow automatically.

BUDDHA described the mind of awareness very clearly, Buddha said: { ……. just like an expert potter, when he revolves mud wheel, and when mud wheel has a long revolving, his mind has to notice every move of the long revolving thoroughly, when mud wheel has a short revolving, his mind has to notice every move of the short revolving thoroughly.} When the potter watch long or short revolving of mud wheel, he contemplates it directly. The potter’s mind in this moment only has whole piece of pure thought of “bare attention and bare awareness”, do not have any other thinking or any critique. And the mind of purely bare attention and bare awareness in this moment also do not have too much atmosphere of “I”, but just contemplate the present objective surroundings in reality.

THE IMPORTANCE OF SATIPATTHANA VIPASSANA
For the things in material world, if we don’t observe them for a long period carefully, we cannot understand that they are all just illusion that is serially changing and vanishing any time, and have no exclusive entity. Like any leave in any tree, if we observe them carefully daily, then we will find out that they are changed very small and slow in form and color. Otherwise, unless something happen to them and cause big change, we won’t see any difference, then we think even a piece of leave always keeps its exclusive entity within certain time. As a matter of fact, if we spend few hours daily on observing carefully any leave, then we will find out that they are changed obviously hourly. Therefore for the categories of reality of “Impermanent” and “No Ego”, if we contemplate it carefully, then we will enter experientially and immediately.

IN our daily life, our mind uses conceptions and general external appearance of things and surroundings for the purpose of convenience and practicality. But also because of the conception of general external appearance, instead the real image or aspect become concealed, at the same time the illusion of entity and real “I” has been produced. In order to destroy the “persisting in real”, the way of Vipassana is to contemplate directly and carefully the body, sensation, mind, and things one by one, then lead us to the elevation of spirit of no ego.

WE did not create the elevation of spirit of no ego or make it like this on purpose, the nature underlying all things is “so” from the beginning. But just accord with contemplating, then we will enter experientially definitely.

IN the “Smrtyupasthana” sutra, tells us how to contemplate our body as the real aspect originally, do not increase and decrease, do not welcome and resist, do not praise and blame, this is so call “contemplate body as body”. And the method for this skill is to contemplate the body with awareness of mind at any time, walking, standing, sitting, sleeping, and waking in every state, then we will reach “contemplate body as body” in reality. If we can reach full comprehension of “contemplate body as body”, means we can contemplate no ego of the body, because the body never has ego.

THE reason we can enter experientially “no ego”, is because of the mind of awareness. From this standpoint of view, we should understand that the ego is from the mind of unawareness. When the mind of awareness expands to the utmost point or the highest degree, we call it “Buddha”.

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