Mindfulness Matters

Mindfulness Matters


Is the Self a Metaphor? Come to the Barre Center for Buddhist Studies and Find Out

posted by Dr. Arnie Kozak

I will be conducting my annual workshop at the Barre Center for Buddhist Studies the weekend of 17-19 February 2012. I’ll be teaching the Buddha’s dharma through metaphors.

This summer I wrote an article for the BCBS online publication Full Moon Insight Journal where I explored the bold statement that what we regard as self cannot be understood on its own without metaphor. You can read that here.

Metaphor was important to the Buddha’s teaching of the dharma. The sutras of the Pali Canon contain one thousand different teaching metaphors from elephants to water. Metaphor was a way of connecting with his audience to make the teachings accessible, alive, and memorable.

Here is a description of the workshop:

It’s impossible to understand the self without resorting to metaphor. A more radical proposition is that what we consider to be “me” is, itself, a metaphor. Metaphors are often thought of as colorful augmenting features of language. However, a large body of scholarship shows that ordinary “literal” language is infused with metaphors. It is impossible to think, feel, or act without the use of metaphors. In fact, the evolution of the human mind may have depended on the use of metaphors. The words we use are not “dead” and the concepts they point to can contribute to stress, mental anguish, and unhappiness. If we are not familiar with the metaphor of “me” we will suffer. The Buddha used metaphors as upaya, (“skillful means”) and we will continue that practice. To be aware of the metaphors we use can facilitate our creativity and growth. This workshop integrates the use of metaphors with mindfulness practice to deepen our understanding  and experience of the Dharma, enabling us to live with more freedom in the here and now. The source text for the program will be Arnie Kozak’s book, Wild Chickens and Petty Tyrants: 108 Metaphors for Mindfulness

I hope that you’ll join me at the special setting that is the Barre Center for Buddhist Studies for a weekend of learning, practicing, and sharing.BCBS is a beautiful place that exudes peace in every stone on the property, and there are many, many stones on its 80 plus acres.

Continuing education credits (12) are available. You can register for the course here. The Barre Center for Buddhist Studies is devoted to preserving the Theravadan Buddhist traditions through scholarship and practice. I am honored to part of the faculty and to have this opportunity to teach, facilitate, and, hopefully, inspire your realization of the Buddha’s teachings.



  • http://louellabryant.com Ellie

    I’d like to try to attend the course if I can get away that weekend. And I’ll be ordering another copy of Wild Chickens because I gave away my last copy to someone who needs your wisdom as much as I do.

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