Beyond Personal Identity #3

Continuing my series on gate, gate, paragate mantra.  If you are new to this series, look at the two previous blogs for the overall translation into English of this mantra.

Beyond personal identity means that we stop living our life and our motivations through the screen of our personal desire system.  This is corresponding to the Second Noble Truth, which teaches that are suffering is caused by our desires, our cravings and our attachments.  If we live our lives initiating our actions from the three poisons; greed, anger and ignorance, we are constantly turning the wheel of life and death and the wheel of our suffering.

Greed –  Like – attachment
Anger or hate – dislike – aversion
Ignorance – ignoring the truths of life

also can be thought of as
being on automatic
or being in denial

In Zen, we often talk about non-preference.  This is the ability to accept both things we like and things we dislike.  In a phrase – May I be at peace with the ups and downs of life.  Equanimity.  If we always attach and want more of what we like and push away what we don’t like, we are always stuck in the suffering of the view of our own desires.

In order to have this type of equanimity, we have to increase our capacity to hold our negative emotions.  That means we can hold our emotions without acting out or repressing.  We can digest our emotions and act, not from reactivity but from awareness.

From the Trust in Mind Sutra attributed to Seng-ts’an, third ancestor, died in 606:

The way is not difficult for those who do not pick and choose.

This brings to mind Radical Acceptance.  Our practice is to receive each moment as it arises and exactly the way it is.  It also brings to mind Katagiri Roshi often used phrase – You have to see things from a huge perspective, not from your personal telescope.

Katagiri writes:

The most important meaning of emptiness is that we are not obsessed with the results of our actions whether good, evil or neutral. Don’t create attachment — which doesn’t mean to ignore attachment. There is always attachment. The important point is how to use attachment without creating too much trouble. Confine attachment to the minimum. Understand Attachment. Using your knowledge and capacity, consider what to do. Then just do it. Immediately see the results and accept it.


We can’t ignore our historic/karmic storyline.  We need to take care of it by considering carefully and acting in accordance with our principles.  And yet, the more we study and practice, the more our decisions are informed by our practice and understanding, by using a very large universal telescope. To me, this is living and acting beyond our personal identity.  In our ordinary life, we take care of our karmic life but see it in the perspective of a huge universe with set principles exemplified by the precepts and the teachings.

By our understanding of our personal karma and seeing it from our universal mind, we can make decisions that, as Katagiri Roshi says, will create a new life in the future.