Questions of Becoming

Ṭhānissaro Bhikkhu

Questions of Becoming

Becoming is a sense of identity in a particular world of experience. Becomings of this sort can last for whole lifetimes or, within the mind, for fleeting moments of time. In every case of becoming, both the identity and the sense of the world coalesce around a particular desire. The identity relates to the desire in two ways: both as the self that wants to experience the object of the desire, and as the self that wants to develop (or already has) the powers that will bring that object about. Other aspects of yourself are irrelevant to that particular becoming.

The sense of the world related to the desire is also composed of two things: those aspects of the world that will help fulfill the desire and those that threaten to stand in the way of its fulfillment. Anything irrelevant to the desire won’t count in that particular sense of the world.

For instance, suppose you want a drink of water. The self in the becoming that coalesces around that desire is composed of the mental acts that hope to quench a thirst and the parts of your body and mind that will be involved in finding the water you want. Other aspects of yourself—such as your looks or you musical abilities—will be irrelevant to that particular becoming. The world of this becoming will be composed of the parts of the world that will either provide you with water or stand in the way of your obtaining it. If you’re in a desert far from water, the desert will play a huge role in that particular becoming. If you’re near a stream in the mountains, the desert—even though it still exists in this human world—won’t count in the world of that becoming at all.

This reflection by Ajahn Geoff is from the book, Beyond all Directions, p. 81.