“I” am the person “I” am today because of all of the circumstances in which “I” have found “myself” along the way. Everything that has ever happened to “me” has influenced how “I” think, how “I” feel, and how “I” behave. Everything about “me” is shaped by “my” environment. Every time “I” have ever made a decision in “my” life has been a step on the path to where “I” am right now.
If even one tiny thing were changed in some subtle way, “I” would not be who “I” am. “I” would be different, and therefore someone else.
Therefore, “I” do not exist.
Pali is the language spoken by the Buddha. I’ve been doing some research into the language, and tonight a concept became clear to me.
The Pali word for Nirvana (Nibbana) is “extinction” or “quenching,” as in the extinction of a fire. It is alternatively interpreted as “blowing out.”
The Pali word for grasping (upadana), which is one of the causes of suffering in the world, is “fuel.”
So, when the fire runs out of fuel, it is extinguished. When we stop grasping, there is Nirvana.
I’m reading An Introduction to Buddhism: Teachings, History and Practices by Peter Harvey. He talks about the three roots of unskillful means: greed, hatred, and delusion. Lama Tsultrim teaches a practice of Nine Purification Breaths at the beginning of Prajna Paramita practice. The poisons being purified are attachment, anger, and ignorance. It’s the same principle! I’ve been working on purifying my unskillful means for the past 11 months without realizing it. 🙂
Greed Hatred Delusion
Attachment Aversion Ignorance
(BTW, should Mara attack you by making your pen run out of ink as you’re trying to note an important insight, just get a new pen. I found that works remarkably well.)