Budho! Budho! Budho!
The contacts of the body and the senses with this sensorial world, the spontaneous emotions which follow the experience of contact, the memories and impressions which such contact stirs in the mind, the spontaneous thoughts and imagination which arise on the basis of all that, and finally the fluent, loud, and torrential flow of the will in action, conditioned by all of the preceding, even though we will still call it ‘free will’ – all this is to be viewed just as a dream, and as the contents of a dream, that is, virtual, unsubstantial, lacking true essence or existence.
“Buddha”, one who has “awakened”, even though He was still in this same dream-world of rupa, kāma, moha, and dukkha. But He is no longer fast asleep, thinking or feeling it is real where it is not, acting as if it is Himself that is in there, and others too, their selves, where there is nothing but images, sounds, tastes, smells, bodily sensations, and ideas, along with all the thoughts, feelings, memories, emotions, and will, which these induce and condition. He has awakened from this dream state even though he is still in this dream world. That is the miracle of Dhamma and of Nibbāna. He goes around knowing that this world and this body and this self, is just a fleeting, passing-by dream, and that all these experiences of contact, of emotion, of thoughts and imagination, of memories, and of the will, are likewise just an inherent part of this same dream world, dream state.
In this dream world, there is nothing to lose! It is just a great amalgam of elements which are all at constant play and interplay. Nothing goes missing, nothing is lost, the whole remains intact even though nothing remains the same. Except for the arahant, for he successfully liberates the will and the consciousness from this morbid web of becoming and dissolution, he departs for good leaving behind the cruelty and sorrow of this world. Adoration to all arahants.
Budho! Budho! Budho!
The question “what is happiness?”, despite of its serious significance, has only rarely been taken seriously enough. I think this is the case because, despite of the manifold definitions that are being proposed of happiness, no substantial and practical formulae are being provided as to the actual path of life through which to attain such happiness here and now, which renders “happiness” as something which exists merely in the imagination or thought, an abstract, unreal experience. But even in the case of those who do provide such formulae, many are those who place great significance on external factors and conditions as being the conditioner for the attainment of happiness as they understand and define it; external conditions such as those which guarantee or bring-forth love, wealth, power, comfort, safety, freedom, dignity, and so on.
I believe that this question is clearly and surely settled in Buddhist terms. Four facts about happiness will suffice:
Firstly, what happiness is must be an experienced reality, that is, a mental experience, not an idea or thought. Down-to-Earth: the pursuit after happiness arises only because we do not naturally find ourselves happy, but rather we find ourselves suffering, very much like other animals, we are mostly confused, scared and lonely – under attack and in dire need for defence and safety. Hence arises the pursuit after happiness, which is the reversal of our original and natural condition of life. Dukkha!
Secondly, should happiness be externally conditioned, then what we will get is precisely the absence of happiness, the opposite of happiness: obsession with the conditions or objects which we believe bring about happiness, fear that they may change or become lost, and finally aversion when they do change or become lost. Our very mental attitudes and understandings of life, even of happiness in life, are themselves the cause of our suffering! In a certain sense, our misunderstanding of what happiness is is itself the cause of our suffering, and what we get out of our profound desire for an erroneous happiness, is the exact opposite of happiness! Tanha!
Thirdly, and consequently, we may safely and confidently define happiness as the very freedom from “conditionality”, freedom from precisely the obsession, fear, and aversion, which is associated with an understanding of happiness as externally conditioned. Thus, in Buddhist terms, happiness is the contentment and peace which arises conditioned merely by the absence of conditions, freedom from conditions, and the absence and freedom from obsession, fear, and aversion. Thus, in Buddhist terms, happiness is not the attainment of something external, but rather the withdrawal from, or cessation of, this attachment and relativeness to things external. It is the undoing of this habitual (karmic) capacity and tremendous tendency to identify and associate our ultimate potential happiness with things that are conditioned and controlled outside of our own mental will. So it is not bringing about something out of life, or conjuring it from the imagination, but only that very withdrawal, renunciation, undoing, and cessation, is itself what constitutes happiness in the Buddha’s Teaching. So what is happiness?! It is the unshakable contentment, rest, and peace, which arises spontaneously as a result of successfully renouncing and bringing to a final end one’s own obsessions, fears, and aversions. Nirodha!
Fourthly and lastly, the formula proposed by the Buddha for the attainment of such unconditioned state, is the Sublime Eightfold Path, a practical experiential path which emphasises the cultivation of the conscience, attention, and intuition, in specific ways. But what matters here is to realise, that based on the preceding, the formula is that of renunciation, seclusion, estrangement, and dispassion (nekkhama, viveka, nibbida, virāga); a formula which allows one to become increasingly proficient in renouncing and becoming estranged and dispassionate with regard to habitual obsessions, fears, and aversions – thus one becomes truly free from conditions. This happiness, even if not fully realised in whole, is at the very least, through devotion to it, through proper understanding of it, and through applying the consciousness and the will with effort and dedication to bring it about, is realisable here and now. Magga!
Adoration to the Triple Gem.
With view to the actuality of suffering and eventuality of death, the only meaning of life has to be found in the belief that some liberation from suffering and death, is possible. Yet our belief in that very “possibility” of liberation from suffering and death is conditioned by the way we understand and experience that very liberation; that is why this belief itself, in that reality and path of liberation, develops in a gradual and spasmodic manner!
By changing the social and physical environments in which we abide, the triggers of kamma and dukkha change, and as a result, the activity of attachment, through both craving and aversion to the elements of environment, changes also. In other words, by changing the social and physical environments our preferences and prejudices in relation to the new environments transform accordingly. The reason this is very useful for practice, is because it is as if the “self” which we endeavour to completely transcend, shows us yet another layer or facet of its karmic, grasping, and delusional makeup.
“All men are born free” they say! The truth? All that is born is conditioned, all that is conditioned is unfree!
It is not true that all men are born free, rather, all men are born slaves, to their kamma. The Dhamma is needed to make free that which is unfree, pure that which is impure, steady that which is in frenzy, serene that which is feverish, unattached that which is fettered, discerning that which is blind, unconditioned that which is entirely conditioned; freedom here is a totally acquired quality. And that is why the first spark of Dhamma in the heart, the very first moments of awakening to Dhamma, is a miraculous event, because it proves that something exists inherently in the human being, that is of the nature of Nibbāna, inclined towards Nibbāna, just by itself and according to its own nature, so that when the Dhamma is heard, it is understood, and so that when it is understood, one ginally gains access to true freedom and refuge, and the Path becomes acquired.
So all men are born with that, that miraculous capacity, to awaken to Truth. And Sīla _the awakened conscience_ is an aspect of just that same capacity; a necessary foundation and support for the transcendental intuition (Pañña) that understands the Truth and, thereafter, saturates the consciousness and the will with it. And this Sīla exists inherently, also, at the very least in a potential form, as an inexhaustible capacity, resource, possibility, in all human beings; and it serves as the most vivid “proof” _if you will_ that materiality, in its entirety, is encompassable by a human being; and that it is only due to desire, emotional attachment, and imagination, that the fantom-like and hollow force of kamma, succeeds in holding-back a human being from breaking through, wholly transcending conditioned existence, unto Nibbāna.
“Dhamma” as an independent Truth and as a relative teaching
“Saddhā cepi bhāradvāja, purisassa hoti, ‘evaŋ me saddhā’ti iti vadaŋ saccamanurakkhati, na tveva tāva ekaŋsena niṭṭhaŋ gacchati: ‘idameva saccaŋ moghamañña’nti. Ettāvatā kho bhāradvāja saccānurakkhanā hoti. Ettāvatā saccamanurakkhati. Ettāvatā ca mayaŋ saccānurakkhanaŋ paññāpema.” _MN 95 Cankīsutta.
The Dhamma is not that of the Buddha, it does not belong to Him, it is not in itself His! This Dhamma is transcendental, and many a human aspiration to discover or unravel the transcendent truth, will reach, by various degrees of success, certitude, truthfulness, and clarity, this same Dhamma. The excellence which we attribute to Venerable Gotama arises from His efforts primarily as a teacher, as a clarifier, a revealer, as one who explains the Dhamma, conveys it successfully to our still conditioned minds, and provides training methods or principles through which we too can become liberated in the same way He was. Had He just been liberated and remained silent, we would not have even known Him _ and even if we did, we would not have found in ourselves the ability to be “convinced” by His enlightenment and the Truth to which He had awakened. This same condition applies to every other human being who has ever uttered a word about the transcendental reality as it was revealed and experienced by them, only, these two excellences are not completely separate, the excellence of the Dhamma as independent transcendental reality, and that of the Dhamma as revealed truth, appropriated to the conditioned and conventional mind and language of the unenlightened. For it is just through the conventional, that the wholly transcendent is reached, and is being made intelligible in such a way as to be deserving of our faith and effort. The reason for which we consider the Buddha-Dhamma to be our guide in life is not really that it is in itself superior to other Dhammas -[for essentially the transcendent truth must be identical, and again, essentially, our very ‘sekha’ understanding of the transcendental truth which we already follow and place faith in, remains considerably incomplete and developing!]- but rather that the manner with which Venerable Gotama had expressed and taught it proved to be more excellent in providing “for us” that very life-guidance. Had another Dhamma or Teaching succeeded even better in affording us with such life-guidance, we would have adhered to it. But this very excellence which we find for ourselves, through our own experience, in the Venerable Gotama’s teachings, necessarily speaks directly of the excellence of his enlightenment as well, at least in so far as we ourselves can tell. Whether a proclaimed Dhamma and Teaching are transcendental and true is something that does not appear to us through unexamined faith, whimsy or emotional inclination, social consensus or tradition, or sceptical opinions and reasoning (saddhā, ruci, anussava, ākāraparivitakka, ditthi-nijjhānakkhanti – MN 95), but only through the experiential path itself which we already have to take in order to realise the transcendental truth for ourselves, that is, through applying the teachings, through examining and observing how well the Dhamma is expressed, taught, practised, and lived. That these are our criteria is what makes us Buddhists in the first place!
MN 47 Vimaŋsaka
MN 76 Sandaka 21-33.
MN 95 Cankī.
MN 100 Sangārava 7.
The Buddha taught that this human consciousness ‘can be transcended’, at least in so far as we are concerned with the end of suffering. But this is the principle: the fish does not understand what water is, a frog does! We cannot understand our own consciousnessness without transcending it! That’s the paradox, for we must use our consciousness also in order to transcend our cosciousness! It is now a fish that must seek to get out of the water by using its fins to fly rather than swim, its gills to breath in air rather than in water, and to use its eyes to look at the water, rather than through the water!
Nature has provided the system of evolution so that the organisms of life may find themselves doing just that sort of thing, but we are no mere life organisms, we have not come to terms with life as the living organisms did, we have not come to terms with anything, and that is so precisely because we are self-conscious! We are self-conscious and we do not know how, why we are self-conscious, for what end, for what function. Yet we are all still alive, just like all the other living organisms, and as the quest of survival applies to them it applies to us. So that is what we at least have found ourselves doing; surviving, just surviving! And for that end sometimes we make peace, sometimes war; sometimes we destroy and defile, sometimes we invent and beautify – just like any other living organism that seeks to live and survive by being sometimes aggressive, sometimes gentle enough for companionship and mating. That is the general picture since the beginning, and since the beginning also, there has always been those who recognized dukkha in the life of that conditioned, lost human, directing all their interest and focus on how to live with it, find meaning and purpose of life ‘despite’ of it. Numbered on this earth are those transcendental doctrines which proclaim a practical path that leads to the total transcendence of the animalistic and egoistic substratum of our mind, and to finding home in our naturally existing self-awareness. This would be as if enabling the fish to finally emerge beyond the great ocean of Saŋsāra.
One man called “Siddhattha Gotama” had claimed to have found such path, leading to the ending of all suffering in this very life. And in the process of finding and experiencing that Path, He had grown so much filled with compassion, kindness and benevolence toward all beings, that He subsequently saught nothing other than to explain that Path in the simplest and clearest possible way, so that every human being on this earth can follow it and become free from suffering. I am very curios to hear every single word this man has to say, and should it make sense to me, I am very motivated to try that path.