When you’re persistent in contemplating to see your inconstancy, stress and not- selfness, the mind feels ease because you’ve loosened your attachments. This is the marvel of the Dhamma: an ease of body and mind completely free from entanglement in the defilements. It’s truly special.
Before, the ignorance obscuring the mind caused you wander about spellbound by sights, sounds, and so forth, so that defilement, craving, and attachment had you under their power. But now, mindfulness and discernment break the spell by seeing that there’s no self to these things, nothing real to them at all. They simply arise and pass away with every moment. There’s not the least little bit of “me” or “mine” to them at all.
Once we really know with mindfulness and discernment, we sweep everything clean, leaving nothing but pure Dhamma with no sense of self at all. We see nothing but inconstancy, stress, and not-selfness, with no pleasure or pain.
The Lord Buddha taught, “Sabbe dhammā anattā—All phenomena are not-self.” Both the compounded and the uncompounded—which is nibbāna, the transcendent—are not-self. There’s just Dhamma. This is very important. There’s no sense of self there, but what is there is Dhamma.
This isn’t the extinction taught by the wrong view of annihilationism; it’s the extinction of all attachment to “me” and “mine.” All that remains is Deathlessness—the undying Dhamma, the undying property—free from birth, aging, illness, and death. Everything still remains as it was; it hasn’t been annihilated anywhere.
The only things annihilated are the defilements together with all suffering and stress. It’s called “suñño“—empty—because it’s empty of the label of self. This Deathlessness is the true marvel the Buddha discovered and taught to awaken us.
This is why it’s so worth looking in to penetrate clear through the inconstancy, stress, and not-selfness of the five aggregates, for what then remains is the natural Dhamma free from birth, aging, illness and death.
It’s called Unbinding, Emptiness, the Unconditioned: These names all mean the same thing. They’re simply conventional designations that also have to be let go so that you can dwell in the aspect of mind devoid of any sense of self.
This reflection by Upāsikā Kee Nanayon is from the Thai Forest Ajaans Section book, An Unentangled Knowing–The Teachings of a Thai Buddhist Lay Woman, “Simply Stop Right Here, November 28, 1970,” translated from Thai by Ṭhānissaro Bhikkhu.