Introduction To The Four Afflictions Of Self

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Discussing afflictions of the mind where the self appears, as an opportunity to explore consciousness. The ignorance of the view that the self is operating the situation.

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I was thinking about talking to you about the four afflictions that accompany the belief in a self. Or I should say, that accompany the appearance of a self. But I was overtaken by other things this morning, in this morning's talk, and was not able to talk to you about it. but I just wanted to briefly mention what they are and hope that in the future sometime I could use this teaching of the four afflictions of the mind where the self appears as an opportunity to explore our consciousness and the afflictions of our consciousness.


So, In consciousness there is, the way I use the word consciousness is it's a mind, it's an awareness that wherein there appears to be a sense of self, or there appears to be some image of a self, an image, a concept, a story of a self. I would say there are other forms of consciousness besides, there are other forms of mind besides this type, and I call this type consciousness. The mind where there's a sense of self, or an image of a self, or a concept of a self, and where there seems to be some kind of, such a thing present in the awareness, I call that consciousness.


And there are other forms of cognition where that sense of self is not present. For example, in the unconscious cognitive process, there's not a sense of me, or I, or I'm here. but that's a very important mind too. The unconscious is a very important mind, but it doesn't have this sense of self in it. It's not like, I'm not there right now. I'm speaking, or right now there is talking in this consciousness, and there is a sense of self in this consciousness. And in this consciousness which has a sense of self, there is the words to say that there's other forms of awareness where I'm not, or where there's not a me.


And in this consciousness there is a me, there is an I. So there is speaking from this consciousness where there is an I. Now I can change to say there is a sense of self in this consciousness and I am talking. But really I would say, or rather, really it could be said that in this consciousness there is an awareness of speech and there is an awareness of a tendency to think that I'm doing the speaking. However, there's also the presence of a teaching which says that around this sense of self is four afflictions. And one of the afflictions is called self-view. Another affliction is called self-confusion, or self-ignorance.


Another affliction is self-pride, And the fourth one is self-love. Coming with these four afflictions is, each one of them has stress and anxiety around it. They're all uncomfortable. Looking at the one of self-view, there's an affliction that we have the consciousness and we have this sense of self, and then there's an affliction with that sense of self, which is that it seems like the consciousness is being viewed from the self. And also there's a view that there is a self. But the view that there is a self is also a view that the self is doing the looking.


And that there can be activity in this consciousness, which is actually the definition of the karma of that consciousness. There can be activity, but the consciousness is afflicted by the view that the self is doing the activity. Whereas actually, there's a sense of self and there's an activity, but the self isn't actually doing the activity, but it seems like the self is doing the activity. So there's an I here, and there's talking here, and there's a confusion in relationship to I'm doing the talking, or I'm saying this, or I'm not saying this. I'm making these hand gestures rather than, hand gestures are appearing in this consciousness, and there's a sense of self here, that's more accurate. However, the affliction is that it seems like I'm, that the I or me, the me is doing these hand gestures.


Or, along with it, there's an I and there's a mind. There's a me and there's mind. And the mind can be my house, my actions. That's actually the two afflictions. One is confusion about what the self is and isn't, and also the affliction of seeing things sort of as though through the sense of self. So, for example, earlier today, I turned around what Sonja said, she said, I turned around what Sonja said. There was a turning around of what Sonja, there was a turning around of the voice, of the voice of Sonja. The words of Sonja were turned around, and the turning around was the words were originally, I changed my mind, and they got turned to the mind changed.


So this consciousness is constantly changing, constantly changing, constantly changing, and there's a sense of self in this constantly changing consciousness, and there's a sense that the self is changing the consciousness. Whereas the consciousness arises, with various kinds of activities, and a sense of self, and then it ceases, and then it arises again with different content, and also a sense of self, and then there's the thought that the change from this consciousness to the other consciousness was operated by the self. That's self-confusion, that's self-ignorance, and that's self-view. Seeing self-centered, right? Seeing everything through the self, even though the self is just one of the things in the consciousness, the affliction associated with that sense of self is that the self is operating the situation, which is not true.


But putting that responsibility or that ability on the self, again, creates lots of stress. So my mind's changing, the mind is changing, my mind is changing, I'm changing my mind. And it's my mind, and it's my thoughts, and it's my actions. Or it's not my thoughts, those are somebody else's thoughts. And I'm deciding also what they are. So I was gonna talk to you about that. But to get into it in depth, I think we need more space, but I find these four afflictions are very helpful to see what's going on in consciousness and see where the stress and the fear and the shame and all the lots of negative emotions are all tied in with this sense of self there.


and how to bring compassion into that situation so that we can study it. I'd like to talk to you about that. Well, I could say a little bit that there's also a pride in the sense that this wonderful, this sense of self which somehow the universe has made come up in consciousness, or has made consciousness come up with a self, okay? The evolution of life on this planet is such that these consciousnesses have arisen with a self, or that mind somehow has arisen with a self and become consciousness. It's really a wonderful thing that this sense of self, consciousness is wonderful and the sense of self is a miraculous feat of the universe.


A lot of things, a lot of biological events conspired to make this appearance, this concept, this idea, this image of the self appear in a mind. And before it appeared, there was other minds which are still present. And now we have this new mind which comes up with the sense of self. So it really is a wonderful thing. So being proud of it is, in some sense, what do you call it, as we say, you come by it honestly. It comes with the miracle of the formation of this type of mind. And so it's something to be proud of, and it's something that there can be a pride associated with. But then again, you can turn around. It, what? The self is something that the self can be proud of. And the self is something the self can own.


All that stressful kinds of thoughts can arise. And part of the pride is, part of pride is to be a little bit arrogant, or a little puffed up. And arrogant is related to the word aggregate or aggregate. aggrandize, right? To gather things, to aggregate things. So this self thinks that it can aggrandize or aggregate what's going on there. In other words, it starts slipping into thinking it can control what's happening in this consciousness, which is arrogant and also kind of like I wouldn't call it, it's dangerous because then I can feel like I'm responsible for it.


I'm responsible for what's going on in the consciousness, which I am. Although I made it all by myself, which I didn't. The self is not in control of what arises with it. Like twins in the womb, you know? Or when there's two babies and fertilizer on the same time. They didn't cause each other, they just were fertilized around the same time. So, it isn't that consciousness causes the self, or self causes consciousness. A mind with a self is consciousness, and a self with a mind is a self. They rise together. There's not one before the other. It's not that the self makes the consciousness. The whole biological process has made a mind with a self in it. But the mind doesn't think, I made the self. The conscious doesn't think, I made this sense of self here.


Check it out. When I look in, when there's contemplation of this consciousness, there's not the thought, this consciousness made the self. I cannot speak for the consciousness, really, even though I could say that. But that's the self speaking, the self saying the consciousness made it. Is it? Or does the consciousness say I made the self? I don't think the consciousness says that. But there can be saying that in the consciousness. There can be the statement, I made the self. And then there can be a statement, when I say I, I mean I the consciousness. I the consciousness made the self, but it also could be I the self made the consciousness. I the self made the self. All these sentences can appear in consciousness. And we are, I think I would say there's a sense that I, I made this stuff and I own this stuff.


And the consciousness harbors that attitude, but the consciousness doesn't think I made and I own this. And you might say, well, actually, consciousness could equally claim that, but it doesn't. It's the self. It's the owner. There's a sense of an owner in there. But the consciousness doesn't think it's an owner. The way the consciousness thinks it's an owner is the self. The self in the consciousness is the proud, arrogant facet. The proud, arrogant phenomena in the consciousness is the owner, which is the self. So the consciousness comes with this arrogant owner, who then also thinks that it, he, she, they, own what's going on and are in control. And then the self-love is attachment to the self and protection of the self is so precious.


It is precious. But that doesn't mean you have to be attached to it to take care of it. But this type of love is an attachment to the self. So you have self-love attachment, self-pride, arrogance, controller, self-ownership, self-confusion, and self-centered, and self-seeing everything through the self. All that's going around the self. So you could say, there's a thought, I don't know where it came from, but there's a thought, this is quite a challenging situation. But there's hope that it could be illuminated and see how it works, and see how silly a lot of it is, and contradictory, and not believe in it, and see that things could be reversed. And we could say that the thinking owns the self.


And that's the usual definition of self. But why can't it reverse? Well, because the thinking isn't the self. It's the self's thinking. And so if you study this, and if you consider reversing things, that will help you, or help the mind be illuminated. That's what I wanted to talk to you about. Yes? would be the view that self is at the center of everything. Yeah, that's one of the afflictions. That's one of the afflictions, is that it doesn't just, it isn't just that there's a sense of self, it comes with these afflictions. So it's very powerful and useful, and it has these afflictions, which you could also say, in a way, are facilities. But they're very stressful because they're They're arbitrary, they don't hold up to analysis, but they're useful.


It's like that story of that Woody Allen story. And Woody Allen is another thing that's, he's another facility that has drawbacks. You know, he's a very funny guy, but we paid a price for Woody Allen. Anyway, he tells the story, the man comes to the psychiatrist and said, my brother thinks he's a chicken. And the psychiatrist says, why don't you tell him he's not? He said, because I need the eggs. So, this self situation comes with these ridiculous afflictions. Why don't we just sort of call them afflictions and not fall for them? Because we need the eggs. They perform a function these afflictions come from things that perform functions. So it's not to get rid of it, it's to study it with compassion. That's why we need to bring compassion to the situation, so we can watch it.


So we can watch it, so we can watch it, so we can listen to it, so we can taste it, so we can touch it, so we can smell it, and learn how to do that in such a way that we become free of believing the way it appears, which is not the way it is, but the way it appears, without getting rid of it. And then we have a human consciousness that has been illuminated, but the way to illuminate it, to start with, is to let it be, and witness it, and witness it, and let it be witnessed, and let itself be witnessed. just like we would do between humans, do the same thing with what's going on in the mind. Have conversations with this mess. So, as long as this is reversing, changing, then there must be


But you could also say, if there's reversing, there must be another. Another self? No, another. For there to be a self, there has to be an other. So if it's reversing, then there's a self and another. And that's right, there is a self and another. And this process would help you realize that what's going on here is a self and another. And we're caught on the self, we're not caught on the other. the other will be a big factor in teaching and liberating the self. So the pivoting is between self and other, because we are a self and we are also otherwise. And that's what's going on there. But the other is not very well illuminated without a lot of work. And the work is what? Compassion. And what else? Conversation, compassionate conversation is the work of integrating self and other.


We will continue to be trapped in this self-centered consciousness. until a conversation between the self and other is enacted in the consciousness. Which also, if we enact it in the consciousness, we can also then check out to see if other consciousnesses are also enacting it in their consciousness. So we can have conversations in the consciousness and with other consciousnesses to see if they're doing their work too. In fact, we do need other, not only others in the consciousness, but we need other beings participating in the conversation, which is what we're doing. And that's what I wanted to talk to you about, but now it's five o'clock, so... I will try, unless I get hit by another truck. another compassion truck as I'm walking into the Dharma talk hall.


Yes? Pam? I was wondering if you could say something about all of the arms and hands that Avalokiteshvara has. It seems to suggest that it's not just eyes and ears. doing, like there's action. And there's things in the hands. And I was wondering if those things in the hands are useful to think about in terms of having the action. I don't know what are in the hands. Well, one way to understand it is that the many hands mean that there's not a fixed response to different individuals, that this compassion can do whatever is appropriate for an individual person. And there's infinite possible appropriate responses. And those different hands represent that we don't have just one thing that apply to everybody, but each interaction has a unique response.


What are the things that are in the hands? Do they have significance? Yeah, I suppose, but, you know, if you had, I don't know how many arms are on that one up there, but... 16. 16. So those would be 16 things that would have significance, but that's just a small sample. So everything, all the different responses we give to each other could potentially be one of those hands. And of course, there's infinite number of responses, but the point is, it's saying that the way the universe comes together to make us, and the way the universe comes together to make another person, and the way these two people come together to create each other, that creates one of those hands. And, you know, yeah, and so this person's


presenting you with this suffering, you're feeling it in your way, you taking care of your suffering in relationship to that person, takes care of that person in relationship to you. And that unique example is one hand among infinite. Marie? I was thinking what ego had to do with the self and are they if you're, let's say, example. I think ego's basically that you believe. Ego's like, you've got the sense of self, and ego is, this actually is believing it and being stuck on it. Just a sense of self is an idea, like other people's sense of self is just an idea to me, maybe. But the idea that this self is the center of the universe, more so than my feelings or my emotions.


So the sense that this thing is more the center than those things, that's the ego. But actually in the consciousness, each thing in the consciousness is equally the center of the consciousness. the feeling in the consciousness, the emotion in the consciousness, the perceptions in the consciousness, and the sense of self in the consciousness, they're all the center of the universe. But the feeling doesn't think, I'm the center of the universe. Most people don't have that problem of thinking that their pain is the center of the universe. They think the self is the center of the universe and has a pain. or the self has an anger. But we don't think that anger is the center of the universe, but it is. But the anger somehow doesn't have the idea, I'm the center of the universe. The idea I'm the center of the universe comes with the self, not with the anger. But it would be good to reverse it, try to reverse it.


Let your anger be the center of the universe, and let the self be sort of on the sidelines watching that. Or let the self, let there be this the anger at the center of the universe, let there be watching that, and let there be watching the self being willing to be on the sidelines. Why not? That's possible, if the self's pivoting, which it is. But the anger is, too. So the anger's not stuck over there in not being the self, except in relationship to the self. And the self's not stuck over in being not anger, except being stuck in the self. And it can't be stuck in itself without the anger. So it could say, I'm not the anger. All that's part of the confusion. And the centering on the self, rather than the centering on an emotion, that's where we see the center. But it's not really true that the self is the center, but it is true that there is the thought the self is the center of the consciousness.


He could say, there is the thought, the self is like the neatest thing in the consciousness. Anger is pretty neat, fear is pretty neat, greed is pretty neat, or maybe they're not so neat, but the self, this is like, this is amazing. Let's put it in the center. Well, it is in the center, but so is everything else. But the other thing, we don't think everything else is in the center. And We're not worried about our anger disappearing. A lot of the time, we'd be okay for the anger going away for a while. But not the self. That ain't going no place. We gotta keep that one here, because if that goes away, we don't have consciousness. But you can have consciousness for a while without anger. It's okay. You'll be all right. You'll be all right. It'll be all right. It'll still be consciousness if there's no anger. but it won't be if there's no self. So self is kind of like, like I said, it comes by its arrogance.


Honestly. Honestly, the self is really the best thing in consciousness. Right? Not right. But we're afflicted by that thought because it's what we think, it's like the necessary thing. But whenever there's a consciousness, the other things are necessary too. It's just that they're not always there. Some of them are, actually. There's always feeling, but it doesn't get to be the center. We don't say feeling-centered consciousness. Usually, we say egocentric. We don't center the universe on the feelings, but as part of the exercise of liberation, you might just give it a try, make your feeling the center of the universe, and let the self be sort of over on the side. Or maybe way over on the side. No, no, no, just how about a little, a little, okay. And we don't, and also our, you know, our, whatever emotion we don't, and you put it in the center, even though it could be in the center,


Like, sometimes if you're angry, it's like, maybe that's almost like you can't feel the self, but still you do, it's like, I own the anger, it's still there. So check it out. It's there to be studied, and it's a mess. And compassion will help us study it. Okay? Thank you so much.