Perception of Selflessness Part II

Meditation on Perception (pp. 55-57)

The Healing Process with Perception of Selflessness

Purifying the perception of self to the perception of selflessness can reduce stress and anxiety. This stress comes from our believing that we are a slave to our self.

Rupert Spira in the Transparency of Thingsexternal_link asks us to imagine that we have spent our whole life living in a large house serving a demanding old man who lives in a room on the top floor. Although you have never seen this old man, you spend day after day doing his chores which include trying to be successful, seeking pleasure, maintaining a good reputation, and seeking praise while avoiding loss, pain, disrepute and criticism. One day, you complain to a friend about the burden of these chores and she urges you to speak to the old man.

When you finally get up the courage to seek him out, you go upstairs to find him. At first you can only peep around the door and you don’t see him. When you tell your friend this, she urges you to look more thoroughly. You make several visits to the room each time searching more diligently but you never can find him.

At last you understand that the old man does not exist and you gradually cease doing the chores that you thought were for him. This takes some time but eventually the obligation to do these chores dwindles away

In this story, the old man is the perceived self and the friend is the teacher who urges you to investigate. The chores are part of the eight winds when we strive for gain, pleasure, reputation, praise and avoid loss, pain, disrepute and criticism.

As you discover and truly know that there is no old man, stress and anxiety are reduced.

“When we relax the mind and let go of this tension and pressure, we give tremendous relief to the mind and body.” –Bhante G, p. 57

This is the healing of nature of the perception of selflessness.

Don’t be concerned with the self. This concern can only lead to attachment and suffering. Without out the self, there is freedom.

“Once there’s the experience of such total freedom, where would there be any concern about what’s experiencing it, or whether or not it’s a self?” –Thanissaro Bhikkhu


  • Reread this talk and reflect on it every day.  Are you serving the old man?  Have you tried looking for him?  Can you find him?  What do you feel when you know that he does not exist?


  • As you meditate, keep aware of the selfless nature of all phenomena to keep your perception of selflessness pure.

Next: Perception of Impurities Part I
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