Posted by: Soh
Finally, now that my dukkha of examinations has ceased, at least for a while, I've some time to type out something I wanted to share for a long time. Bernie Glassman is a real bodhisattva. I actually have this book 'Infinite Circle' with me for many years but it is only now that the book resonates. I'm starting to read it.

Ah wait as I'm typing this I found that it's already typed online, so it saves me from the trouble of typing.

Bernie Glassman:





Chapter One


No Yellow Brick Road


The Heart of the Perfection of Great Wisdom Sutra
Maha Prajnaparamita Hrdaya Sutra


The Wisdom literature, or the Prajnaparamita sutras, exists in many different lengths. There are versions of one hundred thousand, twenty-five thousand, eight thousand, one hundred, and fifty lines. The version I'm discussing here is twenty-four lines and represents the heart (hrdaya), or essence, of the Prajnaparamita.
    Some people say it's not necessary to read the Heart Sutra in its English translation, that the essence of this Wisdom literature can be achieved by just chanting it in the original Sanskrit. Before I review the meaning of the title, let me say that when you truly just chant the Heart Sutra, all of it is contained in the act of just chanting. When we chant in such a way that nothing else is happening, that all our concentration, all our mental and physical energies are condensed into just being the sound A (the first syllable of the original text, from "Avalokitesvara"), that is all that exists. Just A! Just the elimination of any trace of separation between subject and object, which is nothing but our zazen itself. If we put all our energy into just chanting in this manner, there is no separation, and that state of no separation is the state of sunyata, or "emptiness," or what I also call not-knowing. That is the state of 100 percent action; everything is fully concentrated in this very moment. This is the heart of our practice, to be totally in this moment, moment after moment. It doesn't matter what words are being chanted; when you are totally A, it is not even A anymore; it is the whole universe, it is everything.
    This is the essence of the first word of the Sanskrit title of the Heart Sutra: Maha. The entire title in Sanskrit is Maha Prajnaparamita Hrdaya Sutra, or in English, The Heart of the Perfection of Great Wisdom Sutra. In a way, the whole text—as well as all of Zen teaching—is summed up in this title.
    Maha is commonly translated as "great" in both a quantitative and qualitative sense—in fact in a very special sense. Maha is so great that there is no outside. An analogy from mathematics may help. If you draw a circle, that circle includes certain things and excludes certain things. If you make a larger circle, there are still going to be things outside the circle. In mathematics, one way of defining a circle or determining its size is by trying to find something outside it. You ask of any given object, "Is this inside or outside?" If it's outside, then you know the object is exterior to the circle.
    Let's look at ourselves. I draw a circle representing who I think I am. In a way, we all do that. When I say that maha means there's no outside, then any object I name is inside the circle of myself, of who I think I am. Everything is nothing but me. If I look at anger, that's me; it's not outside me. If I look at the trees and the river, they're me, too; they're not outside me. Everybody reading this book is me. Moreover, the stars and moon are me; they're not outside. If this is true, then each one of us is this maha. If we are all within the same circle, then all of this is One Body; there is no outside. Since there is no outside, there is no inside either. This is one of the major teachings of Buddhism and one of the fundamental teachings of Zen.
    When we introduce the term outside, that automatically introduces the correlative term inside and creates a boundary, a circle. If there is no outside—for the circle is infinite—then not only is there no inside, there is also no circle anymore. What remains is a single entity, just one thing. This is what is meant by One Body, which is the fundamental meaning of maha.
    Maha is all-inclusive, nothing is left out. In this sense maha also describes what's known as the Way (Tao). Since maha is no-outside-and-no-inside, it is therefore the Way. By contrast, people tend to think that the Way is some kind of path, or that it refers to the way of doing things or some sort of direction that we take. But the Tao is everything. Each of us is the Way; each of us is walking the Way.
    You remember Dorothy from The Wizard of Oz? Someone sets her on the yellow brick road so that she will finally get to the Wizard of Oz. But there is no yellow brick road! We are already on it. Wherever we are, that is the yellow brick road, that's the Tao, that's maha. And maha declares that there is no outside or inside to the path. Everything is the path; we are all on the Way. Where? It doesn't go anywhere! It's the pulsating of life everywhere.
    The second word in the title is Prajna, which is usually translated in English as "wisdom," but in a special sense. In some meditation halls, a monitor hits the shoulders of the meditators with an encouraging stick known as the sword of wisdom, or Manjusri's sword, to help cut off their delusions during meditation, to cut away all their ideas and notions. So this prajna is not wisdom in the sense of knowledge or a gathering of information, nor does it refer to an omniscient sage who knows all the answers. It's not even the wisdom implied in understanding the essence of life. We speak of prajna as the wisdom of emptiness.
    Prajna is empty in the sense that it has no content of its own. It's nothing but the functioning of maha, which is the One Body, or everything as it is. It's the functioning of reality at this very moment, of nothing but this very moment. Being hot, we sweat; the very act is prajna. Sweating is the wisdom of being hot because it's the functioning of this moment as being hot. You light a candle and the light itself is prajna. When we walk in the rain, we get wet—that's prajna. We step on a dog turd and our shoe stinks—that's prajna, the functioning of what is.
    A Nazi putting a young child into the Auschwitz gas chamber is also prajna, so we can't look at prajna in terms of right and wrong, good and bad. The sword of Manjusri, the sword of wisdom, cuts away all dualisms, leaving only what is. The functioning of that state is prajna. It's so vast that most of the time we don't realize we're even experiencing it. For example, you are experiencing a leaf falling from a tree somewhere in Connecticut right now, even though you don't realize it. That's prajna. It's the sounds that we hear, the rain, the sunlight, the smell of flowers, the airplane overhead—directly experienced as not being separate from us. When our ideas or concepts drop away, so does the separation from what is, and the very functioning of this nonseparation is what we mean by prajna. Because prajna is the functioning of maha and maha is nothing but us, prajna is our functioning and we are nothing but prajna.
    The first half of the Heart Sutra explains what this prajna is. The second half explains the functioning of the bodhisattvas, those who realize this prajna. We all manifest prajna, but bodhisattvas have a realization of what it is. It turns out that we are bodhisattvas too, as we shall soon see.


The next word in the title is paramita, which is often translated as "perfection." However, param literally means "to go to the other shore." Paramita is the present perfect tense ("having gone to the other shore"), so it means "at the other shore." Do you know where the other shore is? Some people call the other shore nirvana. Being at the other shore thus means that nirvana is already here. It signifies that we have already gotten to the place where we are this One Body. Instead of thinking of going from the state of delusion to the state of enlightenment, what paramita means is that we are already there. This is the other shore; this is the state of enlightenment.
    We talk about six paramitas, of which prajnaparamita is only one. But the Heart Sutra deals with prajna as the vehicle that takes us where we already are—this is it! Now obviously, if everything is nothing but the One Body, how could there be another shore? On the other hand, if this was so clear to us we'd have no need for Manjusri's sword cutting off the delusion of duality. But we do! For although there is no other shore, it is neither obvious nor acceptable to us. We are always searching for that other shore, for something extra, something outside ourselves, thinking it is some wonderful place we are going to find. We refuse to accept the fact that this is it.
    We don't go to the other shore; the other shore comes to us. Something happens, and we awaken to the realization that under our feet lies the shoreline. This very body is the Buddha, and all the sounds of the world—everything that happens as is—are the Buddha's teachings.
    Everything in Zen is present perfect tense. There is no future, no past—it's all now. There's nowhere to go, nowhere to reach, it's all here, all One Body, one thing. Since we are already here, we are already at the end of the path and we are also at the beginning. We don't practice to become enlightened, we don't practice to realize something; we practice because we are enlightened. We don't eat to live; because we are alive, we eat. We usually think it's the other way around, that we eat and breathe so we'll be or remain alive. But no because we're alive, we breathe, we eat, we do.
    To say that we practice to realize the Way misses the point, because it implies that through practice we're going to attain something, maybe enlightenment. That same logic implies that because we breathe, we're going to be alive, as if being alive results from breathing. No, both are happening at the same time. They're not linear; cause and effect are one.
    We generally tend to look at life from a linear perspective: We do something and that causes something else to happen later. But in fact it's all happening at this very moment. There seems to be a linear sequence, but it's not real. Looking at a movie, we think it's continuous, but in fact it's composed of separate frames. Reality—everything—is here right now. Our minds think that what happens this moment is going to create the next moment, and in a way it does, but this way of seeing things is misleading. Both what happens now and what happens later are all here right now, this very moment.
    If we stop breathing, of course, we won't live very long. Because breathing is the very function of life, one can't not breathe. But breathing doesn't cause life, it's inseparable from it. Breathing is life. It can no more be separated from life than wetness from water. The oneness of cause and effect is this complete inseparability.
    Dogen Zenji says that firewood does not become ash. From our linear viewpoint, we think that the burning of firewood causes the firewood to become ash. But there is no such thing as becoming! Firewood is firewood and functions as firewood; ash is ash and functions as ash. Breathing is life, life is breathing; they're not related as cause and effect. Just as firewood does not become ash, so life does not become death. Life is life and functions completely as life. Death is death and functions completely as death.
    To say there is no such thing as becoming follows from the fact that this is all One Body, all one thing. It does not mean that things don't change. Shakyamuni Buddha said that everything is change. This is it—and it's changing. This is the enlightened state and it's changing. If we can really see that, if we can really let it soak in, there is no way to be upset about ourselves, no way to feel dissatisfied or guilty about not doing things right. It's all going to change, whatever it is. Instead of being tormented by guilt and bad feeling, we simply say, "Well, let's do it better." Whatever it is, is the enlightened state.
    Since this is the enlightened state, it is the best that could happen at this very moment—but best in the special sense that it's happening and there is no choice. It is in this sense that we say everything is perfect just as it is, in the sense of being complete. Take an incense bowl. It's perfect as it is. If I drop it and it breaks into a lot of pieces, each piece is perfect as it is—because that's what it is. We may have the notion that all those pieces should be returned to their original condition as parts of a whole incense bowl so they can be perfect again, but that's just a notion.
    Another synonym for perfect is absolute. The pieces are just what they are. If we add anything to the incense bowl, we don't make it more perfect, we change it to something different. We are perfect as we are. If we add another head on top of our own, we create something else, another kind of creature. If we add anything to who we are, we're something different. Therefore, whatever happens at any given moment is the best that could happen at that moment. Any other conclusion is the result of our ideas about how things should be or are supposed to be, and these too are just notions.
    Sometimes it helps to think of perfect, or complete, or absolute in mathematical terms, meaning that nothing is left out. Again, take an incense bowl. Is there anything left out? We can say, "Well, it should have a top, the top is missing." At that moment we're pointing to something not there that we want to be there. We're coming out of our notions of what an incense bowl should look like.
    There is a wonderful little story from the Surangama Sutra that illustrates the point I am making. Once upon a time there was a prince who, upon waking up, would look at himself in the mirror and exclaim, "Ah! Beautiful!" He was very handsome and he loved himself. One day he woke up and picked up the mirror the wrong way. Because the back of the mirror was not polished, he could not see his face in it and he panicked. "My head is gone! My head is gone! It's missing! It's missing!" He went completely berserk. Running into the streets yelling in this manner, he searched everywhere to find his missing head.
    Eventually some friends saw him and grabbed him, saying, "You have your head. Why are you running around like this?" "No, my head is gone!" the prince insisted. They took him back to the palace but were unable to calm him down. They did not have straitjackets in those days, so they tied him to a pillar. He screamed so loudly they had to gag him. So there he was, bound and gagged, struggling to break loose so he could continue searching for his missing head. Finally, he got tired. (You can only struggle for so long.) When he had calmed down somewhat, one of his friends hit him in the face, and the prince shouted, "My head! It's there after all!"
    For a few days he was beside himself with joy, telling everyone he'd found his head. His head was there, how wonderful! But when all his friends just looked at him in disbelief, he finally stopped being so exuberant about having found his head. It had always been there.
    We have a notion that something is missing or not here, and one day we awaken to the fact that it is here, if only we could see it. And what is here? Just what we are, as we are. Our preconceptions and ideas block our acceptance and realization of this simple truth.
    Because perfect means neither good nor bad, just what is as it is, even the murder of a child is perfect in this sense. It is just what it is. Good and bad are the judgments we add to what is—they're extra. Rain is what is. If we are farmers, we tend to say rain is wonderful; if we're planning a picnic, we think rain is terrible. But rain is rain. People say rain is wet, but a fish wouldn't. Water is the very essence of life to the fish, neither wet nor dry. The fish attaches no notions or dichotomies to it. When we say that something is perfect, we're pointing to this absence of dichotomy or dualism. Within the One Body, there is just one thing happening.
    The brain functions in a dualistic way, breaking things up into this and that. It judges everything we do as good or bad, right or wrong. But good and bad, including the notion of evil, are extra. This does not mean that evil does not exist or that good and bad do not exist. It simply means that they're judgments that exist in the realm of the relative, colors we add to the thing itself. They're as the woof is to the warp, which brings me to the last word of the title, Sutra.
    Sutra has several meanings. We have the English word suture, a joining or sewing of two together into one. Sutra also means warp, the threads that run through everything, the foundation threads of a weaving, or the interweaving of all things. The threads that run through everything are everything. So the sutra is the plane we hear flying outside. Breathing in and out is the sutra. All the discourses of this One Body are the sutra.

In weaving, the warp is the vertical threads, the woof the horizontal threads. For the warp, one chooses strings that are strong, unvariegated, simple, plain, without knots so they can tolerate lots of movement in any direction very easily. What the warp does is support the pattern give it its basic tone. The threads of the woof don't have to be straight, usually they represent the pattern, so any threads can be used: splinters of wood, feathers, even horsehairs! The more complicated the weave, the more effect the color has on the tone. Together, the warp corresponds to the absolute, the woof to the relative, the weaving itself is their oneness. So the sutras are the strings or threads that run through everything, that allow all motion, all forms of life. But what is it that runs through everything and allows everything and anything to manifest?

Let's look at the word Heart in the title. As we have seen, the heart or essence of the Enlightened Way is not-knowing which makes it possible for everything and anything to manifest. As soon as we know something, we prevent anything else from manifesting, from just popping up. As soon as we know something, we limit the thing we think we know. The state of not-knowing is everyone, everything, and anything, constantly manifesting, constantly popping up in accord with changes in time and situation. But if we live out of knowing, this endless manifestation of things, one after another, can't be experienced directly. We're blocked by our notions of what should be happening and get upset because our expectations don't match the way things really are. When we let go of our expectations, we are with things as they are, and we realize the essence or heart of the Perfection of Great Wisdom Sutra.

Maha Prajnaparamita Hrdaya Sutra:
The whole message is right here. If we could really see this word maha, see this One Body, see this one garden that is us, the world would look different. Instead of seeing trees, soil, manure, and flowers as different, separate things, we'd see them as One Body with different qualities, features, and characteristics. We'd see that when we cultivate the soil, we cultivate all the rest. Taking care of the tree affects the flowers; taking care of a flower affects the soil.

In the same way, we usually see the body as a limited, bound thing, yet we know that it has many features -- hands, toes, numerous hairs and pores (all different), skin, bones, blood, guts, an assortment of organs, many feet of intestines. But they're all just one body with many, many features and characteristics. Hit one part and the whole feels it; the entire body is affected. Eat some food and what part is not affected? Breathe, what part is not affected?

Using the human body as a model of the One Body is a little misleading because the One Body has no outside or inside. We have to see this, we have to see maha. How do we see maha? We wake up!
Posted by: Soh

Piotr quoted something nice by Chogyam Trungpa Rinpoche:

"Nonduality does not mean that you dissolve into the world or that the world becomes you. It is not a question of oneness, but of zero-ness. No synchronization of the sense perceptions is necessary. Everything is reduced into zero, and the whole thing becomes one-pointedness—or zero-pointedness. That is moksha, or “freedom.” You do not have any hassles and no synchronization is necessary. Things just unfold by themselves."


Thusness also wrote:

The tendency to unify is the cause of reification. Consciousness always subsume into Oneness because the idea is so beautiful to the mind and fits so well to the inherent intellect. The very act of unification into oneness prevents the seeing of liberation at spot. Instant liberation at spot is realized by recognizing the very nature of appearances/phenomena and self is non-arising and empty, it is not resting in/as Awareness or space. The former is liberation via wisdom, the later is just Awareness teaching.

Posted by: Soh

Thusness was deeply impressed by the degree of clarity of this article by S.N. Goenka-ji when I shared it with him today. It describes something he wanted to point out about the energy level. He is describing an experiential state of anatta when the subject and object constructions dissolve as well as the sense of ownership and personality, into the vibrational patterns of energy.

http://www.vridhamma.org/en1995-04


The following has been condensed from a public talk given by S. N. Goenka in Bangkok, Thailand in September, 1989.

Most Venerable Bhikkhu Saṅgha, friends, devotees of Lord Buddha:

You have all assembled here to understand what Vipassana is and how it helps us in our day-to-day lives; how it helps us to come out of our misery, the misery of life and death. Everyone wants to come out of misery, to live a life of peace and harmony. We simply do not know how to do this. It was Siddhattha Gotama's enlightenment that made him realize the truth: where misery lies, how it starts, and how it can be eradicated.

There were many techniques of meditation prevailing in those days, as there are today. The Bodhisatta Gotama tried them all, but he was not satisfied because he found that he was not fully liberated from misery. Then he started to do his own research. Through his personal experience he discovered this technique of Vipassana, which eradicated misery from his life and made him a fully enlightened person.

There are many techniques that give temporary relief. When you become miserable you divert your attention to something else. Then you feel that you have come out of your misery, but you are not totally relieved.

If something undesirable has happened in life, you become agitated. You cannot bear this misery and want to run away from it. You may go to a cinema or a theatre, or you may indulge in other sensual entertainments. You may go out drinking, and so on. All this is running away from misery. Escape is no solution to the problemĀ indeed the misery is multiplying.

In Buddha's enlightenment he realized that one must face reality. Instead of running away from the problem, one must face it. He found that all the types of meditation existing in his day consisted of merely diverting the mind from the prevailing misery to another object. He found that practising this, actually only a small part of the mind gets diverted. Deep inside one keeps reacting, one keeps generating saṅkhāras (reactions) of craving, aversion or delusion, and one keeps suffering at a deep level of the mind. The object of meditation should not be an imaginary object, it should be reality—reality as it is. One has to work with whatever reality has manifested itself now, whatever one experiences within the framework of one's own body.

In the practice of Vipassana one has to explore the reality within oneself—the material structure and the mental structure, the combination of which one keeps calling "I, me, mine." One generates a tremendous amount of attachment to this material and mental structure, and as a result becomes miserable. To practise Buddha's path we must observe the truth of mind and matter. Their basic characteristics should be directly experienced by the meditator. This results in wisdom.

Wisdom can be of three types: wisdom gained by listening to others, that which is gained by intellectual analysis, and wisdom developed from direct, personal experience. Before Buddha, and even at the time of Buddha, there were teachers who were teaching morality, were teaching concentration, and who were also talking about wisdom. But this wisdom was only received or intellectualized wisdom. It was not wisdom gained by personal experience. Buddha found that one may play any number of intellectual or devotional games, but unless he experiences the truth himself, and develops wisdom from his personal experience, he will not be liberated. Vipassana is personally experienced wisdom. One may listen to discourses or read scriptures. Or one may use the intellect and try to understand: "Yes, Buddha's teaching is wonderful! This wisdom is wonderful!" But that is not direct experience of wisdom.

The entire field of mind and matter - the six senses and their respective objects - have the basic characteristics of anicca (impermanence), dukkha (suffering) and anattā (egolessness). Buddha wanted us to experience this reality within ourselves. To explore the truth within the framework of the body, he designated two fields. One is the material structure: the corporeal structure, the physical structure. The other is the mental structure with four factors: consciousness; perception; the part of the mind that feels sensation; and the part of the mind that reacts. So to explore both fields he gave us kāyānupassanā (observation of the body) and cittānupassanā (observation of the mind).

How can you observe the body with direct experience unless you can feel it? There must be something happening in the body which you feel, which you realize. Then you can say, "Yes, I have practised kāyānupassanā." One must feel the sensations on the body: this is vedanānupassanā (observation of body sensations).

The same is true for cittānupassanā. Unless something arises in the mind, you cannot directly experience it. Whatever arises in the mind is dhamma (mental content). Therefore dhammānupassanā (observation of the contents of the mind) is necessary for cittānupassanā.

This is how the Buddha divided these practices. Kāyānupassanā and vedanānupassanā pertain to the physical structure. Cittānupassanā and dhammānupassanā pertain to the mental structure. See from your personal experience how this mind and matter are related to each other. To believe that one understands mind and matter, without having directly experienced it, is delusion. It is only direct experience that will make us understand the reality about mind and matter. This is where Vipassana starts helping us.

In brief, understand how we practise Vipassana. We start with Anapana, awareness of respiration—natural respiration. We don't make it a breathing exercise or regulate the breath as they do in prāṇāyāma. We observe respiration at the entrance of the nostrils. If a meditator works continuously in a congenial atmosphere without any disturbance, within two or three days some subtle reality on this part of the body will start manifesting itself: some sensations—natural, normal bodily sensations. Maybe heat or cold, throbbing or pulsing or some other sensations. When one reaches the fourth or fifth day of practice, he or she will find that there are sensations throughout the body, from head to feet. One feels those sensations, and is asked not to react to them. Just observe; observe objectively, without identifying yourself with the sensations.

When you work as Buddha wanted you to work, by the time you reach the seventh day or the eighth day, you will move towards subtler and subtler reality. The Dhamma (natural law) will start helping you. You observe this structure that initially appears to be so solid, the entire physical structure at the level of sensation. Observing, observing you will reach the stage when you experience that the entire physical structure is nothing but subatomic particles: throughout the body, nothing but kalāpas (subatomic particles). And even these tiniest subatomic particles are not solid. They are mere vibration, just wavelets. The Buddha's words become clear by experience:

Sabbo pajjalito loko, sabbo loko pakampito.
The entire universe is nothing but combustion and vibration.

As you experience it yourself, your kāyānupassanā, your vedanānupassanā, will take you to the stage where you experience that the entire material world is nothing but vibration. Then it becomes very easy for you to practise cittānupassanā and dhammānupassanā.

Buddha's teaching is to move from the gross, apparent truth to the subtlest, ultimate truth, from oḷārika to sukhuma. The apparent truth always creates illusion and confusion in the mind. By dividing and dissecting apparent reality, you will come to the ultimate reality. As you experience the reality of matter to be vibration, you also start experiencing the reality of the mind: viññāṇa (consciousness), saññā (perception), vedanā (sensation) and saṅkhāra (reaction). If you experience them properly with Vipassana, it will become clear how they work.

Suppose you have reached the stage where you are experiencing that the entire physical structure is just vibration. If a sound has come in contact with the ears you will notice that this sound is nothing but vibration. The first part of the mind, consciousness, has done its job: ear consciousness has recognized that something has happened at the ear sense door. Like a gong which, having been struck at one point, begins vibrating throughout its structure, so a contact with any of the senses begins a vibration which spreads throughout the body. At first this is merely a neutral vibration, neither pleasant nor unpleasant.

The perception recognizes and evaluates the sound, "It is a word—what word? Praise! Oh, wonderful, very good!" The resulting sensation, the vibration, will become very pleasant. In the same way, if the words are words of abuse the vibration will become very unpleasant. The vibration changes according to the evaluation given by the perception part of the mind. Next the third part of the mind starts feeling the sensation: pleasant or unpleasant.

Then the fourth part of the mind will start working. This is reaction; its job is to react. If a pleasant sensation arises, it will react with craving. If an unpleasant sensation arises, it will react with aversion. Pleasant sensation: "I like it. Very good! I want more, I want more!" Similarly, unpleasant sensation: "I dislike it. I don't want it." Generating craving and aversion is the part played by the fourth factor of the mind—reaction.

Understand that this process is going on constantly at one sense door or another. Every moment something or the other is happening at one of the sense doors. Every moment the respective consciousness cognizes; the perception recognizes; the feeling part of the mind feels; and the reacting part of the mind reacts, with either craving or aversion. This happens continuously in one's life.

At the apparent, surface level, it seems that I am reacting with either craving or aversion to the external stimulus. Actually this is not so. Buddha found that we are reacting to our sensations. This discovery was the enlightenment of Buddha. He said:

Saḷāyatana-paccayā phasso
phassa-paccayā vedanā
vedanā-paccayā taṇhā.

With the base of the six senses, contact arises
with the base of contact, sensation arises
with the base of sensation, craving arises.

It became so clear to him: the six sense organs come in contact with objects outside. Because of the contact, a sensation starts in the body that, most of the time, is either pleasant or unpleasant. Then after a pleasant or unpleasant sensation arises, craving or aversion start—not before that. This realization was possible because Buddha went deep inside and experienced it himself. He went to the root of the problem and discovered how to eradicate the cause of suffering at the root level.

Working at the intellectual level of the mind, we try to suppress craving and aversion, but deep inside, craving and aversion continue. We are constantly rolling in craving or aversion. We are not coming out of misery through suppression.

Buddha discovered the way: whenever you experience any sensation, due to any reason, you simply observe it:

Samudaya dhammānupassī vā kāyasmiṃ viharati
vaya dhammānupassī vā kāyasmiṃ viharati
samudaya-vaya-dhammānupassī vā kāyasmiṃ viharati.

He dwells observing the phenomenon of arising in the body.
He dwells observing the phenomenon of passing away in the body.
He dwells observing the phenomenon of simultaneous arising and passing away in the body.

Every sensation arises and passes away. Nothing is eternal. When you practise Vipassana you start experiencing this. However unpleasant a sensation may be—look, it arises only to pass away. However pleasant a sensation may be, it is just a vibration—arising and passing. Pleasant, unpleasant or neutral, the characteristic of impermanence remains the same. You are now experiencing the reality of anicca. You are not believing it because Buddha said so, or some scripture or tradition says so, or even because your intellect says so. You accept the truth of anicca because you directly experience it. This is how your received wisdom and intellectual understanding turn into personally experienced wisdom.

Only this experience of anicca will change the habit pattern of the mind. Feeling sensation in the body and understanding that everything is impermanent, you don't react with craving or aversion; you are equanimous. Practising this continually changes the habit of reacting at the deepest level. When you don't generate any new conditioning of craving and aversion, old conditioning comes on the surface and passes away. By observing reality as it is, you become free from all your conditioning of craving and aversion.

Western psychologists refer to the "conscious mind" Buddha called this part of the mind the paritta citta (a very small part of the mind). There is a big barrier between the paritta citta and the rest of the mind at deeper levels. The conscious mind does not know what is happening in the unconscious or half-conscious. Vipassana breaks this barrier, taking you from the surface level of the mind to the deepest level of the mind. The practice exposes the anusaya kilesa (latent mental defilements) that are lying at the deepest level of the mind.

The so-called "unconscious" mind is not unconscious. It is always conscious of body sensations, and it keeps reacting to them. If they are unpleasant, it reacts with aversion. If they are pleasant, it reacts with craving. This is the habit pattern, the behaviour pattern, of the so-called unconscious at the depth of the mind.

Here is an example to explain how the so-called unconscious mind is reacting with craving and aversion. You are in deep sleep. A mosquito bites you and there is an unpleasant sensation. Your conscious mind does not know what has happened. The unconscious knows immediately that there is an unpleasant sensation, and it reacts with aversion. It drives away or kills the mosquito. But still there is an unpleasant sensation, so you scratch, though your conscious mind is in deep sleep. When you wake up, if somebody asks you how many mosquito bites you got during the night, you won't know. Your conscious mind was unaware but the unconcious knew, and it reacted.

Another example: Sitting for about half an hour, some pressure starts somewhere and the unconscious mind reacts: "There is a pressure. I don't like it!" You change your position. The unconscious mind is always in contact with the body sensations. You make a little movement, and then after some time you move again. Just watch somebody sitting for fifteen to twenty minutes. You will find that this person is fidgeting, shifting a little here, a little there. Of course, consciously he does not know what he is doing. This is because he is not aware of the sensations. He does not know that he is reacting with aversion to these sensations. This barrier is ignorance.

Vipassana breaks this ignorance. Then one starts understanding how sensations arise and how they give rise to craving or aversion. When there is a pleasant sensation, there is craving. When there is an unpleasant sensation, there is aversion, and whenever there is craving or aversion, there is misery.

If one does not break this behaviour pattern, there will be continual craving or aversion. At the surface level you may say that you are practising what Buddha taught, but in fact, you are not practising what Buddha taught! You are practising what the other teachers at the time of Buddha taught. Budd
ha taught how to go to the deepest level where suffering arises. Suffering arises because of one's reaction of craving or aversion. The source of craving and aversion must be found, and one must change one's behaviour pattern at that level.

Buddha taught us to observe suffering and the arising of suffering. Without observing these two we can never know the cessation of misery. Suffering arises with the sensations. If we react to sensations, then suffering arises. If we do not react we do not suffer from them. However unpleasant a sensation may be, if you don't react with aversion, you can smile with equanimity. You understand that this is all anicca, impermanence. The whole habit pattern of the mind changes at the deepest level.

Through the practice of Vipassana, people start to come out of all kinds of impurities of the mind—anger, passion, fear, ego, and so on. Within a few months or a few years the change in people becomes very evident. This is the benefit of Vipassana, here and now. In this very life you will get the benefit.

This is the land of Dhamma, a land of the teaching of Buddha, a land where you have such a large Sangha. Make use of the teaching of Buddha at the deepest level. Don't just remain at the surface level of the teaching of Buddha. Go to the deepest level where your craving arises:

Vedanā paccayā taṇhā;
vedanā-nirodhā taṇhā-nirodho;
taṇhā-nirodhā dukkha-nirodho.

Sensations give rise to craving.
If sensations cease, craving ceases.
When craving ceases, suffering ceases.

When one experiences the truth of nibbāna—a stage beyond the entire sensorium—all the six sense organs stop working. There can't be any contact with objects outside, so sensation ceases. At this stage there is freedom from all suffering.

First you must reach the stage where you can feel sensations. Only then can you change the habit pattern of your mind. Work on this technique, this process, at the very deepest level. If you work on the surface level of the mind you are only changing the conscious part of the mind, your intellect. You are not going to the root cause, the most unconscious level of the mind; you are not removing the anusaya kilesa—deep-rooted defilements of craving and aversion. They are like sleeping volcanoes that may erupt at any time. You continue to roll from birth to death; you are not coming out of misery.

Make use of this wonderful technique and come out of your misery, come out of the bondages and enjoy real peace, real harmony, real happiness.

May all of you enjoy real peace,real harmony, real happiness.


......

Also, an excerpt from another article
http://www.vridhamma.org/Discourses-on-Satipatthana-Sutta


...Then working with both you reach the stage of feeling sensation throughout the body—sabba-kāya. Initially it is very gross, solidified, intensified, but as you keep practising patiently, persistently, remaining equanimous with every experience, the whole body dissolves into subtle vibrations, and you reach the stage of bhaṅga, total dissolution. Having started with natural breath, you learn to reach the important station of feeling sensations in the whole body in one breath: from top to bottom as you breathe out, from bottom to top as you breathe in....

...A meditator must understand this and the next stage of bhaṅga well.

…‘atthi kāyo’ti vā panassa sati paccupaṭṭhitā hoti.

Now his awareness is established: "This is body" (‘atthi kāyo’ ti). This is the stage in which the body is experienced as "not I," "not mine," but just body, just a mass of vibrations, bubbles, wavelets. It is merely a collection of kalāpas, subatomic particles, arising and passing. There is nothing good or bad, beautiful or ugly, white or brown about it. Initially the acceptance of anattā, "not I," is intellectual or devotional, based on the words of someone else. The actual experience starts with anicca, because every pleasant sensation turns into an unpleasant one. The danger of attachment is realised. It is dukkha because of its inherent nature of change. Then anattā is understood: the body is felt as just subatomic particles arising and passing, and automatically the attachment to body goes away. It is a high stage when the awareness, sati, gets established, paccupaṭṭhitā hoti, in this truth from moment to moment.

Proceeding further:

Yāvadeva ñāṇamattāya paṭissatimattāya…

Matta means "mere." There is mere wisdom, mere knowledge, mere observation. This is to the extent (yāvadeva) that there is no wise person, no-one to know or experience. In another Indian tradition it is called kevala-ñāṇa kevala-dassana, "only knowing, only seeing."

In the Buddha’s time a very old hermit lived at a place called Supārapattaṃ, near present-day Bombay. Having practised the eight jhānas, deep mental absorptions, he thought himself fully enlightened. A well-wisher corrected him, telling him that a Buddha was now present at Sāvatthi, who could teach him the real practice for becoming enlightened. He was so excited to hear this he went all the way to Sāvatthi in northern India. Reaching the monastery, he found that the Buddha had gone out for alms, so he went directly to the city. He found the Buddha walking down a street and immediately understood that this was the Buddha. He asked him then and there for the technique to become an arahant. The Buddha told him to wait for an hour or so, to be taught in the monastery, but he insisted: he might die within the hour, or the Buddha might die, or he might lose his present great faith in the Buddha. Now was the time when all these three were present. The Buddha looked and realised that very soon this man would die, and indeed should be given Dhamma now. So he spoke just a few words to this developed old hermit, there on the side of the road: Diṭṭhe diṭṭhamattaṃ bhavissati… "In seeing there is mere seeing, in hearing mere hearing, in smelling mere smelling, in tasting mere tasting, in touching mere touching, and in cognising only cognising"…viññāte viññātamattaṃ bhavissati.

This was sufficient. At the stage of mere knowing, what is being cognised or the identity of who cognises is irrelevant. There is mere understanding. The dip in nibbāna follows, where there is nothing to hold, no base to stand on (anissito).

…anissito ca viharati, na ca kiñci loke upādiyati

The entire field of mind and matter (loka) is transcended, and there is no world or universe to grasp (upādiyati).

Whether it is for a few minutes or few hours depends on the capacity and previous work of the person. A person in nibbāna is as if dead: none of the senses function, although inside the person is very aware, very alert, very awakened. After that the person returns and again starts functioning in the sensory field, but a fully liberated person has no attachment, no clinging, because there is no craving. Such a person will cling to nothing in the entire universe and nothing clings to them. This is the stage described.

So a meditator practises. Those who practise these sentences will understand the meaning of every word given, but mere intellectualisation won’t help. Real understanding comes with experience.

Iriyāpathapabbaṃ—Postures of the Body

Iriyāpatha are postures of the body.

gacchanto vā ‘gacchāmī’ti pajānāti, ṭhito vā ‘ṭhitomhī’ ti pajānāti, nisinno vā ‘nisinnomhī’ti pajānāti, sayāno vā ‘sayānomhī’ti pajānāti.

When walking (gacchanto), a meditator knows well ‘I am walking’ (‘gacchāmi’). Similarly, whether standing (ṭhito), sitting (nisinno), or lying down (sayāno) a meditator knows this well. This is just the beginning. In the sentence that follows, not "I", but just "body" is known well in whatever posture (yathā yathā paṇihito).

Yathā yathā vā panassa kāyo paṇihito hoti, tathā tathā naṃ pajānāti.

etc (see URL)
Posted by: Soh

Sam said...
"What interests me nowadays is the complete and total termination of the taints, clinging, karmic propensities, the complete and total termination of suffering."

I totally agree. I hope to see your future posts regarding this and how the experiences and realizations so far have been or will be useful for this.


This post is written to address the blog comment above in the topic My Thoughts on The Four Noble Truths. Readers should look into that post first to get the context for this posting.

First of all we have to understand that taints, clinging, karmic propensities are empty. But it is not empty in the sense of being non-existent, rather, it is empty of inherent existence due to dependent origination. For example we may think that craving exists somewhere in our 'minds' that we must somehow 'get rid of it'. This is having an inherent view. This is like looking into the mirror and trying to destroy the person appearing in the mirror by punching the mirror and cracking the mirror in order to "destroy the person inside the mirror" (as if there is a person living inherently inside the mirror, where in reality what's reflected is a dependently originating, non-arising appearance). That would be totally silly, and likewise trying to destroy afflictive emotions conceived as inherently existing somewhere "in us" without discerning its causes and conditions would be totally silly. If you want to remove the reflection, you have to discern the whole chain of dependencies which leads to that, and those afflictive causes are to be remedied. To have insight into the emptiness and dependent origination of our afflictive condition is to realize the Total Exertion of Karmic Tendencies

Likewise, thankfully our suffering is not inherently existing but arises due to dependent origination, and what is arising is fundamentally non-arising and free from extremes. Precisely because of this, we can discern the whole chain of dependent origination whereby ignorance depends on taints, taints depends on ignorance, setting the whole chain of suffering. If we understand this, we don't focus our efforts on the wrong place. Things don't exist inherently - they manifest due to dependent origination, and when the causes and conditions are present, no effort or will can prevent them from arising, that is the nature of manifestation. If we fail to understand emptiness in the context of dependent origination, we will fall into a non-Buddhist or nihilistic version of emptiness, and it will not liberate us.

In the path of Buddhadharma, since we understand dependencies, we do not attempt to get rid of afflictive emotions by hard will, or by dissociation (which strengthens the fundamental delusion of an inherently existing subject and an inherently existing object), or other ways based on the view of inherent existence - which is akin to punching the mirror to get rid of the reflection. At the same time, we are not saying "they are purely an illusion, nothing to work on" (let's try that tactic when your clothes catch fire!). What we're saying is that by directly penetrating the dependent origination and emptiness of taints, precisely because they are illusory and not inherently existing, we can understand the necessity to apply the right remedy which cuts the basis for suffering (the 12 links from ignorance... to death). What path? The engagement in right view and right practice, in which integral conduct allows the arising of integral samadhi which allows the arising of integral wisdom, which results in the cessation of ignorance and the chains. With the arising of wisdom, the chain of afflictive dependent origination is released.

As Nagarjuna pointed out, it is precisely because of emptiness that the soteriological values of Buddhadharma can work at all. This is nicely explained in http://ccbs.ntu.edu.tw/FULLTEXT/JR-PHIL/ew103934.htm :

(Excerpt)

Nagarjuna's Critique of the Dharma

In chapter XXIV of the Karikas, NAgarjuna continues his attack on the Abhidharma philosophers by analyzing the Four Noble Truths, and argues that-like causality, impermanence, suffering, and bondage-they, too, are "empty." The problem of this chapter needs to be seen against the background of the preceding section. If the Abhidharma views of causality are "empty," as Nagarjuna says they are, and if causality is a central feature of Buddhist praxis, then Nagarjuna seems to undermine everything that is vital to Buddhism. He begins chapter XXIV by expressing the Abhidharma position in the following way:

If all of this is empty,
Neither arising nor ceasing,
Then for you, it follows that
The Four Noble Truths do ont exist.

If the Four Noble Truths do not exist,
Then knowledge, abandonment,
Meditation and manifestation
Will be completely impossible.

p.571

If these things do not exist,
The four fruits will not arise.
Without the four fruits, there will be no attainers of the fruits.
Nor will there be the faithful.

If so, the spiritual community will not exist.
Nor will the eight kinds of person.
If the Four Noble Truths do not exists,
There will be no true Dharma.

If there is no doctrine and spiritual community,
How can there be a Buddha?
If emptiness is conceived in this way,
The three jewels are contradicted.
(Garfield 1995, p.67)

In the passages above, the Abhidharma opponent is saying that if Nagarjuna is right about "emptiness," then the very practices that make Buddhism soteriologically efficacious will be destroyed. That is, if it is true that the Four Noble Truths are "empty," then there is no such thing as the Buddha, the Dharma, and the Sangha, no such thing as impermanence, "non-self," and nirvana, and the practices that supposedly lead to liberation will be destroyed. Nagarjuna responds to the opponent by saying that he has misunderstood "emptiness":

We say that this understanding of yours
Of emptiness and purpose of emptiness
And of the significance of emptiness is incorrect.
As a consequence you are harmed by it.
(Garfield 1995, p.68)

Because the opponent has taken "emptiness" to signify the nonexistence of the Four Noble Truths, he is "harmed by it"-in other words, he sees "emptiness" as destructive. But his reason for thinking of "emptiness" in this way is that he thinks that a "correct" meditation on causality, the aggregates, and the Four Noble Truths is necessary for liberation.

Nagarjuna responds to this assumption by reversing the tables and saying, in effect, that it is not "emptiness" that destroys practice, but the very idea that such things as causality, the aggregates, and the Four Noble Truths are "inherent," essential, or necessary:

If you perceive the existence of all things
In terms of svabhava,
Then this perception of all things
Will be without the perception of causes and conditions.

Effects and causes
And agent and action
And conditions and arising and ceasing
And effects will be rendered impossible.
(Garfield 1995, p.69)

p.572

Nagarjuna goes on to say that the reason essences militate against causal conditions, arising, ceasing, agency, and so forth is that the idea of essence entails independence, and if things are by nature independent then it is impossible for them to interact causally. If this is true then there is no "dependent arising," and without "dependent arising" it is impossible to make sense of the ability to cultivate a virtuous life. In other words, without the process of change the whole idea of cultivating the "fruits" of a Buddhist life is rendered nonsensical. Nagarjuna responds by saying that Buddhist praxis must be "empty" if we are to make any sense of the Four Noble Truths:

If dependent arising is denied,
Emptiness itself is rejected.
This would contradict
All of the worldly conventions.

If emptiness is rejected,
No action will be appropriate.
There would be action which did not begin,
And there would be agent without action.

If there is svabhava, the whole world
Will be unarising, unceasing,
And static. The entire phenomenal world
Would be immutable.

If it (the world) were not empty,
Then action would be without profit.
The act of ending suffering and
Abandoning misery and defilement would not exist.
(Garfield 1995, p.72)

Nagarjuna has thus shifted the debate. Whereas the Abhidharma thinker begins with the assumption that a "correct" meditation on the Dharma is a necessary prerequisite for liberation, Nagarjuna undercuts this by saying that if one takes the Dharma as essential, that is, as necessary, then the very essence of Buddhism is undermined. Like the first chapter on causation, Nagarjuna is reminding the Abhidharma philosophers here about nonattachment. The Four Noble Truths are supposed to be medicinal "rafts" that help specific sentient beings overcome their attachments, but if one becomes attached to the practices of nonattachment then one has missed the entire point of Buddhism. Thus, Nagarjuna says that the Dharma-which includes causation, impermanence, suffering, bondage, and liberation-is "empty."


Now, after the awakening of twofold emptiness, we simply engage and meet conditions to allow the latent tendencies to self-liberate without modification. Practice becomes practice-enlightenment, where every engagement in daily activities becomes an opportunity to release our deeply held clinging - I, me, mine, inherent existence. (Practice-enlightenment is a term in Soto Zen to denote the path as the actualization of one's wisdom, so one's practice is no longer 'for' enlightenment but an 'actualization' of enlightenment in every mundane activities from sitting to walking to talking.. etc)

For example when I talk with people, there is no I, no others, only the situation and activity that is totally exerted... no clinging to center, self, mine... this allows the afflictions to dissolve. This is only possible after anatta and emptiness, if we merely rest in clarity of 'Awareness', it would not be sufficient to dissolve the bonds.

To understand why insights into anatta and emptiness help we have to understand that all our afflictions are rooted in the view of an inherently existing I, me, mine, in inherently existing self and things and ownership. For example if someone's child is lost or dies, you may not feel mentally afflicted, but when it comes to your sons and daughters, you may feel afflicted, because there is ownership, I and mine making involved, which results in holding onto someone as 'dear to me'.

To address this question more thoroughly let me just quote some people including myself here:

"We cannot get rid of suffering by saying, "I will not suffer." We cannot eliminate attachment by saying, "I will not be attached to anything," nor eliminate aggression by saying, "I will never become angry." Yet, we do want to get rid of suffering and the disturbing emotions that are the immediate cause of suffering.
The Buddha taught that to eliminate these states, which are really the results of the primary confusion of our belief in a personal self, we must get rid of the fundamental cause.
But we cannot simply say, "I will not believe in the personal self." The only way to eliminate suffering is to actually recognize the experience of a self as a misconception, which we do by proving directly to ourselves that there is no such personal self. We must actually realise this. Once we do, then automatically the misconception of a self and our fixation on that "self" will disappear.
Only by directly experiencing selflessness can we end the process of confused projection. This is why the Buddha emphasized meditation on selflessness or egolessness. However, to meditate on egolessness, we must undertake a process that begins with a conceptual understanding of egolessness; then, based on that understanding, there can be meditation, and finally realization."


- Khenchen Thrangu Rinpoche, Pointing Out the Dharmakaya

"Though worldly beings cultivate meditative stabilization,
They do not destroy the discrimination of self.
They are greatly disturbed by the return of afflictive emotions,
As was the case of the cultivation of meditative stabilization by Udraka.

If phenomena are individually analyzed as selfless
And what has been analyzed is meditated upon,
That is the cause for attaining the fruit, nirvana.
Through any other cause one does not go to peace..."
 

- King of Meditative Stabilizations Sutra

"Monks, when a monk’s mind frequently remains acquainted with the recognition of selflessness in what is unsatisfactory, his mind is rid of “I-making” and “mine-making” with regard to this conscious body and externally with regard to all representations, and has transcended conceit, is at peace, and is well liberated."

-
AN 7.49 Dutiyasaññā Sutta

"When our own self is involved, we emphasize that connection: now it is "my body," "my stuff," "my friends," or "my car." We exaggerate the object's attractiveness, obscuring its faults and disadvantages, and become attached to it as helpful in acquiring pleasure, whereby we are forcibly led into lust, as if by a ring in our nose. We might also exaggerate the object's attractiveness, making something minor into a big defect, ignoring its better qualities, and now we view the object as interference with our pleasure, being led into hatred, again as if by a ring in our nose. Even if the object does not seem to be either agreeable or disagreeable but just an ordinary thing in the middle, ignorance continues to pervail, although in this case it does not generate desire or hatred. As the Indian scholar-yogi Nagarjuna says in his Sixty Stanza Reasoning:

How could great poisonous afflictive emotions not arise

In those whose minds are based on inherent existence?
Even when an object is ordinary, their minds
Are grasped by the snake of destructive emotions.
Cruder conceptions of "I" and "mine" evoke grosser destructive emotions, such as arrogance and belligerance, making trouble for yourself, your community, and even your nation. These misconceptions need to be identified by watching your own mind.

As the Indian thinker and yogi Dharmakirti says in his exposition of Buddhist thinking:

In one who exaggerates self
There is always adherence to "I."
Through that adherence there is attachment to pleasure.
Through attachment disadvantages are obscured.
And advantages seen, whereby there is strong attachment,
And objects that are "mine" are taken up as means
of achieving pleasure.
Hence, as long as there is attraction to self,
So long do you revolve in cyclic existence."


- H.H. Dalai Lama, "How to See Yourself as You Really Are"
Also in 2009:

(10:17 PM) Thusness: though anatta is a seal, it also requires one to arise the insight to feel liberated.

(10:18 PM) Thusness: when a practitioner realizes the anatta nature of manifestation, at that moment without the sense of observer, there is no negative emotions.
(10:19 PM) Thusness: there is only vivid sensation of the all arising as presence

(10:27 PM) Thusness: when u r angry, it is a split
(10:28 PM) Thusness: when u realized its anatta nature, there is just vivid clarity of all the bodily sensations
even when there is an arising thought of something bad, it dissolves with no involvement in the content
(10:29 PM) Thusness: to be angry, a 'someone' must come into the content
(10:29 PM) Thusness: when there is no involvement of the extra agent, there is only recoiling and self liberations
(10:33 PM) Thusness: one should differentiate arising thought from the active involvement of the content
(10:34 PM) Thusness: a practitioner that realizes anatta is only involved fully in the vivid presence of the action, phenomena but not getting lost in content


Kyle also informed me last year:

"...
The anatta definitely severed many emotional afflictions, for the most part I don't have negative emotions anymore. And either the anatta or the strict shamatha training has resulted in stable shamatha where thoughts have little effect and are diminished by the force of clarity. I'm also able to control them, stopping them for any amount of desired time etc. but I understand that isn't what is important.
Can I fully open to whatever arises I would say yes. I understand that every instance of experience is fully appearing to itself as the radiance of clarity, yet timelessly disjointed and unsubstantiated.."

And I wrote last year:


"I remember Kyle telling me how since the realization of anatta it has severed many emotional afflictions, for the most part he doesn't have negative emotions anymore. In my experience this has also been the case. It wasn't always the case as I used to be capable of anger, throwing temper, and so on. This just doesn't happen nowadays... since anatta I've noticed large chunks of emotional afflictions not just anger has sort of disappeared.


It's like the habitual way of seeing and relating with the world through dualistic and inherent view as independent, separate beings interacting with independent, separate others along with its stories have disappeared. There is just impersonal and totally exerted actions and experiences experienced in vivid clarity, without needing to leave traces.

So perhaps the most ultimate advice for overcoming afflictions is: work hard contemplating and practicing insight and calm-abiding in tandem, those can really make permanent changes to your patterns of emotional afflictions that are not meagre."
Posted by: Soh
Pure clarity has a strict no-face - the face of non-conceptuality.
Empty clarity has a thousand faces, every face is brilliance and new.

- Thusness
Posted by: Soh
(Picture: Buddha teaching a discourse on the four noble truths, turning the wheel of dharma for the first time after his awakening to his five ex-ascetic companions, who later became Arahants who put an end to suffering)

Also related topic: Early Buddhism's Model of Awakening


Buddha:


25 (5) The Destruction of the Taints
“Bhikkhus, I say that the destruction of the taints is for one who knows and sees, not for one who does not know and does not see. For one who knows what, for one who sees what, does the destruction of the taints come about? The destruction of the taints comes about for one who knows and sees: ‘This is suffering’; for one who knows and sees: ‘This is the origin of suffering’; for one who knows and sees: ‘This is the cessation of suffering’; for one who knows and sees: ‘This is the way leading to the cessation of suffering.’ It is for one who knows thus, for one who sees thus, that the destruction of the taints comes about.
“Therefore, bhikkhus, an exertion should be made to understand: ‘This is suffering.’… An exertion should be made to understand: ‘This is the way leading to the cessation of suffering.’”

- http://www.wisdompubs.org/book/connected-discourses-buddha/selections/connected-discourses-part-v-kotigama


....

"The Noble Truth of Suffering (dukkha), monks, is this: Birth is suffering, aging is suffering, sickness is suffering, death is suffering, association with the unpleasant is suffering, dissociation from the pleasant is suffering, not to receive what one desires is suffering — in brief the five aggregates subject to grasping are suffering.

"The Noble Truth of the Origin (cause) of Suffering is this: It is this craving (thirst) which produces re-becoming (rebirth) accompanied by passionate greed, and finding fresh delight now here, and now there, namely craving for sense pleasure, craving for existence and craving for non-existence (self-annihilation).

"The Noble Truth of the Cessation of Suffering is this: It is the complete cessation of that very craving, giving it up, relinquishing it, liberating oneself from it, and detaching oneself from it.

"The Noble Truth of the Path Leading to the Cessation of Suffering is this: It is the Noble Eightfold Path, and nothing else, namely: right understanding, right thought, right speech, right action, right livelihood, right effort, right mindfulness and right concentration.[2]


- Partial excerpt from
http://www.accesstoinsight.org/.../sn56/sn56.011.piya.html


What interests me nowadays is not free will/no free will, effort/effortless, sudden/gradual, atman, The Absolute, etc. I am not interested in them anymore. What interests me nowadays is the complete and total termination of the taints, clinging, karmic propensities, the complete and total termination of suffering. And talking about the illusoriness of burning fire on an intellectual level when you are on fire isn't going to work. Neither is denying it. The point is to put out the fire. (I'd be very surprised if someone whose clothes catches fire would continue ranting on and on about how the fire is not real or how there is actually no clothes and no fire and just sit around.. haha)


Fire burn, ouch, pours water on it. That is direct path and actualization. Noble eightfold path. That is true spontaneous activity of awakening. Not denying and being deluded about one's condition (the truth and cause of suffering)... or ranting on about spontaneity or how fires are naturally happening. That only goes on due to our complete ignorance of our afflictions. And it is precisely because we are literally aflame, that we should practice with utter urgency to put an end to suffering, like our heads are on fire. If we even truly have an inkling, or even a glimpse, into our true predicament, into the four noble truths, our entire approach to our path will become totally different.

In fact, given this urgency and predicament, all the side-issues are naturally cast aside (just like when your clothes are on fire you have no time to think about whether there is free will to put out the fire etc, or whether putting out the flame is a sudden or gradual thing, or whether we should put out the flame when its illusory, or whether putting out fire should be an effortless happening or effortful - as these are quite irrelevant, or about residing as a background unaffected Absolute which is ultimately an illusion), instead, there is just total exertion and engagement in actualization of right view and right practice, that's all. Otherwise we are like what the Buddha gave in an analogy - someone struck with a poisoned arrow trying to inquire all sorts of things about the shooter, arrow, etc, while slowly dying due to not seeking treatment.

This might put off many readers but I'm going to say it anyway: screw all neo-Advaitish 'no-practice' talk, screw all FB debates that have nothing to do with putting out fire. No wonder Buddha preferred to maintain noble silence many times. Lets just practice like our heads are on fire.
Longchenpa says, "To reject practice by saying 'it is conceptual!' is the path of fools. A tendency of the inexperienced & something to be avoided."

.......

SN 35.28
PTS: S iv 19
CDB ii 1143
Adittapariyaya Sutta: The Fire Sermon
translated from the Pali by
Thanissaro Bhikkhu
© 1993
Alternate translation: Ñanamoli
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I have heard that on one occasion the Blessed One was staying in Gaya, at Gaya Head, with 1,000 monks. There he addressed the monks:

"Monks, the All is aflame. What All is aflame? The eye is aflame. Forms are aflame. Consciousness at the eye is aflame. Contact at the eye is aflame. And whatever there is that arises in dependence on contact at the eye — experienced as pleasure, pain or neither-pleasure-nor-pain — that too is aflame. Aflame with what? Aflame with the fire of passion, the fire of aversion, the fire of delusion. Aflame, I tell you, with birth, aging & death, with sorrows, lamentations, pains, distresses, & despairs.

"The ear is aflame. Sounds are aflame...

"The nose is aflame. Aromas are aflame...

"The tongue is aflame. Flavors are aflame...

"The body is aflame. Tactile sensations are aflame...

"The intellect is aflame. Ideas are aflame. Consciousness at the intellect is aflame. Contact at the intellect is aflame. And whatever there is that arises in dependence on contact at the intellect — experienced as pleasure, pain or neither-pleasure-nor-pain — that too is aflame. Aflame with what? Aflame with the fire of passion, the fire of aversion, the fire of delusion. Aflame, I say, with birth, aging & death, with sorrows, lamentations, pains, distresses, & despairs.

"Seeing thus, the well-instructed disciple of the noble ones grows disenchanted with the eye, disenchanted with forms, disenchanted with consciousness at the eye, disenchanted with contact at the eye. And whatever there is that arises in dependence on contact at the eye, experienced as pleasure, pain or neither-pleasure-nor-pain: With that, too, he grows disenchanted.

"He grows disenchanted with the ear...

"He grows disenchanted with the nose...

"He grows disenchanted with the tongue...

"He grows disenchanted with the body...

"He grows disenchanted with the intellect, disenchanted with ideas, disenchanted with consciousness at the intellect, disenchanted with contact at the intellect. And whatever there is that arises in dependence on contact at the intellect, experienced as pleasure, pain or neither-pleasure-nor-pain: He grows disenchanted with that too. Disenchanted, he becomes dispassionate. Through dispassion, he is fully released. With full release, there is the knowledge, 'Fully released.' He discerns that 'Birth is ended, the holy life fulfilled, the task done. There is nothing further for this world.'"

That is what the Blessed One said. Gratified, the monks delighted at his words. And while this explanation was being given, the hearts of the 1,000 monks, through no clinging (not being sustained), were fully released from fermentation/effluents.