Wednesday, February 24, 2016


The following is Thay's Self-Inquiry method.

(Contemplation on interdependence)
Find a photo of yourself as a child. Sit in the full or half lotus. Begin to follow your breath. After 20 breaths, begin to focus your attention on the photo in front of you. Recreate and live again the five aggregates of which you were made up at the time the photo was taken: the physical characteristics of your body, your feelings, perceptions, mind functionings, and consciousness at that age. Continue to follow your breath. Do not let your memories lure you away or overcome you. Maintain this meditation for 15 minutes. Maintain the half smile. Turn your mindfulness to your present self. Be conscious of your body, feelings, perceptions, mind functionings, and consciousness in the present moment. See the five aggregates which make up yourself. Ask the question, "Who am I?" The question should be deeply rooted in you, like a new seed nestled deep in the soft earth and damp with water. The question "Who am I?" should not be an abstract question to consider with your discursive intellect. The question "Who am I?" will not be confined to your intellect, but to the care of the whole of the five aggregates. Don't try to seek an intellectual answer. Contemplate for 10 minutes, maintaining light but deep breath to prevent being pulled away by philosophical reflection.

Sit in a dark room by yourself, or alone by a river at night, or anywhere else where there is solitude. Begin to take hold of your breath. Give rise to the thought, "I will use my finger to point at myself," and then instead of pointing at your body, point away in the opposite direction. Contemplate seeing yourself outside of your bodily form. Contemplate seeing your bodily form present before you-in the trees, the grass and leaves, the river. Be mindful that you are in the universe and the universe is in you: if the universe is, you are; if you are, the universe is. There is no birth. There is no death. There is no coming. There is no going. Maintain the half smile. Take hold of your breath. Contemplate for 10 to 20 minutes.

(Your skeleton)
Lie on a bed, or on a mat or on the grass in a position in which you are comfortable. Don't use a pillow. Begin to take hold of your breath. Imagine all that is left of your body is a white skeleton lying on the face of the earth. Maintain the half smile and continue to follow your breath. Imagine that all your flesh has decomposed and is gone, that your skeleton is now lying in the earth 80 years after burial. See clearly the bones of your head, back, your ribs, your hip bones, leg and arm bones, finger bones. Maintain the half smile, breathe very lightly, your heart and mind serene. See that your skeleton is not you. Your bodily form is not you. Be at one with life. Live eternally in the trees and grass, in other people, in the birds and other beasts, in the sky, in the ocean waves. Your skeleton is only one part of you. You are present everywhere and in every moment. You are not only a bodily form, or even feelings, thoughts, actions, and knowledge. Continue for 20 to 30 minutes.
 (Excerpted from Thich Nhat Hanh’s “The Miracle of Mindfulness”)

(My commentary)
The following material is the summary of my Self-Inquiry.
There are three kinds of state in humans, only ego, ego and temporary awareness (true self), ego and full-time awareness. Ego thinks that body is me. Awareness understands that the five aggregates (body, feelings, perceptions, mental formations, consciousness) are me. When awareness is there, mindfulness is there. So, the non-duality is there. But when temporary awareness disappears and only ego is there, forgetfulness is there. And the duality is there.


Thích Nhất Hạnh