At its core, the book reveals an uncomfortable truth most of us are unaware of – our false ‘notion of self.’ The Buddha stated clearly, and precisely that the ‘self’ is the primary source of mental and physical suffering – our anxieties, fears, worries, and insecurities. The Buddha saw the ‘self’ as a burden that we carry throughout life. Freedom is found by letting go of the ‘self’ and is called ‘laying down the burden’ in Buddhism. The Buddha and his Awakened disciples let go of the ‘self’-identity, and it is what all Buddhists attempt to do in their practice. It involves sacrificing what one cherishes most, the feeling of ‘being.’
The author shows us the mental processes that create this ‘self-identity’ and gradually letting go of it. He explains how we can turn our lives into a joyful existence by gaining freedom from the ‘notion of self.’ Those who feel their ‘self’-identity crushed or rejected struggle the most with letting go; they can be defensive and anchored to their ‘notion of self.’ Yet freedom lies only in letting go of one’s false ‘self.’
Letting Go of ‘Self’: Lessons in Buddhist Psychology comprises ten lectures by the author on Buddhist Psychology at the Washington Buddhist Vihara. It is written in simple spoken English,within reach of anyone who seeks to understand the Buddha’s profound psychology. Wherever new terminology is introduced, it is explained in the text with further clarification in a glossary. After each lecture, question and answer sessions expand on lecture concepts, dispel myths, and challenge the audience to examine how their western culture and beliefs influence their thinking. An expanded, user-friendly, and intuitive index provides a roadmap for readers. The book relays the author’s sense of humor and his flair for enriching his lectures with stories. It also contains some of the author’s insights revealed for the first time in print. Martin A. Barroll, Ph.D., professor of sociology and anthropology (retired), wrote the introduction to the book. He was a friend and student of the author and has used the author’s ideas in his classrooms over a four-decade period.
Venerable Mahathera Madawela Punnaji was a Theravada Buddhist monk from Sri Lanka who served as a teacher of Buddhism and meditation for 45 years in the US, Canada, Malaysia, and Sri Lanka. An exemplary Buddhist scholar, the author devoted a lifetime of research to discover the Buddha’s original teachings. He also studied western science, medicine, philosophy, psychology, and comparative religion, which enabled him to understand the Buddha’s profoundly deep wisdom. His lectures were a brilliant demonstration of his intellectual depth, wise reasoning, and unique insights into Buddhism’s deeper aspects. He excelled in presenting the facts to western audiences in a compelling and easy-to-understand format. He wrote many books and articles, and his numerous talks are on YouTube. His teachings are still sought after by many present-day seekers searching for a clear understanding of Buddhism.
Students and seekers of all backgrounds will find this simple, logical presentation indispensable.
Mahathera Maharagama Dhammasiri
The Chief Prelate of the Buddhist Vihara Society, Inc.
Washington D.C., U.S.A.
Introduction: Martin A. Barroll, Ph.D., Professor of Sociology and Anthropology (retired).
Bhante Saranapala, The Urban Buddhist Monk. Founder of “Canada: A Mindful and Kind
Shirley Johannesen, Coordinator of Buddhist Discussion & Meditation Group, Calgary, Alberta, Canada.
David N. Snyder, Ph.D. Author of Buddha’s Lists and administrator of Dhamma Wiki, the largest Buddhist encyclopedia and Dhamma Wheel discussion forum on the Internet.
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“The Gift of Dhamma Excels All Other Gifts!”
Mahendra Wijayasinghe, PhD