A Sense of Self

Luang Por Pasanno • July 2011

Student: I’m trying to overcome a sense of self, but my spiritual quest seems to revolve around me trying to attain something. The thought of dropping my self seems like a snake swallowing its tail.

Luang Por Pasanno: That’s the way it is in the beginning. It’s a process of feeling it out. You have to play with it and work it out over time as you get better and better at it. It’s important in the beginning to be in the right container and have good spiritual friends. These serve as supports. In the beginning you flail around a lot, but it’s not in vain.

Student: Before the first stage of awakening, the stream-entry experience, are there places where a practitioner can experience the dropping away of the sense of self?

Luang Por Pasanno: Sure, wherever it arises! Just like any other conditioned phenomenon, the sense of self arises and passes away. It’s just that we’re so focused on the next thing that we don’t notice the cessation.

Student: During the stream-entry experience, are the three lower fetters—personality view, attachment to practices and precepts, and skeptical doubt—all dropped at once, or in stages?

Luang Por Pasanno: All at once.

Student: Do the results of kamma speed up when you are practicing?

Luang Por Pasanno: Not necessarily. Kamma has its own way of playing itself out. There’s a saying that kamma is going to do what kamma is going to do.

Student: The Buddha said that kamma can’t be understood by a normal mind. Are there practitioners who have good enough concentration that they can understand parts of it?

Luang Por Pasanno: Oh, sure. There are meditators with good concentration who can see parts of it. But only the Buddha could understand it completely.