Mental Constructions

“[Brahmans] would talk about the human life being like a chariot. Consciousness was the driver. There was a charioteer, and that was your inner essential soul. The Buddha said, no, there is not that one driver, there’s only a chariot, made of different parts. We put it together. We think there’s a charioteer, but that doesn’t really serve us. In fact, it becomes destructive; it causes pain.” Wheels of Fire: The Buddha’s Radical Teaching on Process, By Kate Lila Wheeler, March 27, 2013, Insight Journal

One of the things I love about Buddhism is how it deconstructs everything. It breaks apart everything into its constituent pieces and looks at the pieces in terms of wholesome and unwholesome bits. It views even consciousness itself as arising and vanishing continuously, not as a continuing stream.

What that means is that we are continually creating every moment of our lives. This is radical personal responsibility. The narrative? We are making it all up as we go along. All of it. That continuing sense of self is a mind construct. Nothing more. To me, that seems honest.

Imagine being able to turn your attention to or from anything you wish. That’s a result of meditation. One learns how to turn off the unending mental diarrhea, which is called papanca. Papanca can mean “conceptual proliferation” (among other things, all being negative). What is the Buddhist solution? The Buddhist solution to all things negative is the same: abandon it. Don’t invest one more moment of energy or effort into something that has proven to be unwholesome. Make up something new and better.

 

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About cdhoagpurple

I live in Michigan. I was Greek Orthodox (and previously Protestant), but now am more Buddhist than anything. I am single now (through the till-death-do-you-part clause of the marriage contract). My husband Barry was a good man and celebrated 30 years in AA. I am overly educated, with an MBA. My life felt terminally in-limbo while caring for a sick husband, but I am free now. I see all things as being in transition. Impermanence is the ultimate fact of life. Nothing remains the same, good or bad.

One response to “Mental Constructions”

  1. Chico says :

    Reblogged this on A Way in the Woods and commented:
    A good comparison of the difference between Hinduism and Buddhism.

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