Homework Better Late Than Never
Written by Enough-For-Today-A-Nobody Dharani Student
Nothing that exists in time and space is permanent. Understanding of this concept is the basis of Buddhist theory, and acceptance of this is crucial to a happy and fulfilling life.
The idea that whatever happens whether termed “good” or “bad”, can have no effect on the self, since the self exists in a state of impermanence we can assume that “this too will pass”. In such a state, existence can be seen as a play of never ending changes acted out by a series of archetypes. In one facet, this seems like a continuum of recycled souls but in another facet of Buddhist thought it is understood as the dropping away of ego into the acceptance that the embodied self is only here for a short while and therefore to attempt to hold onto anything is futile. The self being impermanent and the stuff that makes up the universe is also in the same state of flux.
Even thoughts on the nature and laws of existence are impermanent, and therefore cannot be held onto. For example it was once considered heresy to state that the Earth was anything but flat, so as human understanding came to realise that the Earth was indeed a globe, and that the planets revolved around the Sun our understanding of the building blocks of existence have altered. With each new discovery, accepted wisdom is also altered. So whatever belief system we now hold has also to be viewed as impermanent.
So in effect the wise person witnesses the changes occurring around and attaches no importance to any physical thing, any thought, any theory, any happening, and sees all as an illusion of time and space. The wise person even views his own suffering as a passing occurrence.
Suffering although a temporary phenomenon, has the essence of being all consuming to the person experiencing it. However if one applies the correct thought to the suffering it can diminish as one steps out of the place of suffering into the witness position. In Buddhist theory suffering is brought on by the actions of past deeds or karma, and can only be undone by attaining great merit or atoning for the Karma by creating a better existence for others with no thought for the self.
To develop a high level of compassion for another person’s suffering, is at the root of Gautama Buddha’s teaching. But equally vital to his teachings was the understanding that suffering is brought about by attachment to desire, or the attachment to that which is impermanent. After the Four Nobel truths nothing more needs to be said on the subject of suffering, except to say that in my limited experience of being around Enlightened Beings, their attitude to the suffering of those around them seems to be one of overwhelming compassion but also of confusion as to why anyone would want to hold onto the suffering when it could so easily be dropped.
The danger of writing a few sentences about suffering and Buddhist theory, is that it may be misunderstood as being flippant about the very real problem of suffering. That is why Gautama Buddha’s Four Nobel truths begin with the words “Suffering exists”, quickly followed up by the reasoning that suffering exists because we are attached to that which is impermanent. He then gives hope by next stating that it is possible to overcome our suffering, and the fourth truth is the way of cessation of suffering through right action and the act of self perfecting, or the realisation of “No Self”.
No self can be attained by training the mind to accept the impermanence of the self. In “No Self” state there is no ego to attach to things and thoughts, it is a way rather than a theory it is a state of “No Mind”. “No Self” cannot be attained via Nihilism or a denyal of the self. No Self is better explained as “No Individual” a mutual convergence of existence in a moment of time, a growing and evolving together as part of the universal dance.
To the Bodhisattva there is no defilement, because there can be no good nor evil, no left no right, and therefore no purity either. But for those on the path of the Bodhisattva, still living in the dualistic existence, of continuous co-creation and interdependent growth, a level of purity is required to achieve Sunyata or emptiness.
Defilement and purity are thought of as being opposing ends say of a stick, but the stick remains a stick. If you chop off the defiled end, the stick is shorter, but there is still the opposite end of the stick to purity. Therefore it is not about removing the defilement but understanding it, seeking to integrate it as a base from which purity grows.
Another analogy could be made that defilement is like the mud in the bottom of the pond, which although disgusting to see and smell, is totally necessary for the growth of a beautiful scented lotus flower to receive its nutrition. Everything that grows will come to an end, will die and wither and stink. Today’s rose bloom, is tomorrow’s slimy mess, which will form compost and therefore food for the rose to bloom again. It makes no sense for us to judge the slimy mess as defilement. However, should we attach ourselves to the defilement that makes no sense either, because we have to strive for the light to attain the bloom of the Lotus on the surface of the water. Someone wise once said, “Be from it but not of it” No rags to riches slum dweller, once their millions were made would prefer to dwell amongst the sewers, likewise, nobody once their realisation of defilement, would seek to remain there in the squalor of the pond floor. Once the flowering has occurred, seeds of enlightenment may well be dropped within the muddy depths to initiate the next wave of enlightenment and the cycle continues.
Sunyata is defined as “emptiness” but the human mind cannot rationalise emptiness, emptiness is not a vacuum, emptiness is nothingness but that cannot either be understood by the thought process of a human. There can be no emptiness when there is thought, where there is consciousness, so therefore wherever there is thought, wherever there is consciousness, then everything must also exist. So true emptiness, must be full of everything and nothing.
To be more precise it is everything that exists, but without any permanence, or any thought or ego attachment, or judgement upon it. In essence it is Zen state.
”Who am I?” the first question; the only really relevant query. As the answers come, they can all be refuted. “I am the body” but the body will decay and die….so what then? And so on and so forth until there is no more answering, just silence, and no need to look for answers, there are no longer any questions. There Is not even the vibration of the question, no more energy of questioning. At that point there is nothing more to be said. In fact this is the point where there is no more dialogue, and why it is so difficult to follow the enlightened teachers, because they cannot guide you into this space, it has to arise from your own questioning. Once this point of Sunyata has been reached the enlightened one becomes impotent, there are no more words or guidance possible.
Only the student’s own wisdom, or flowering will allow for the realisation that there is nothing and no difference between him/herself and the ultimate flowering of Buddhahood. That they themselves are the very jewel in the lotus that they have been seeking, the true perfection. And the true perfection is silent, invisible and indivisible from the whole.
This student sent in the homework one year ago in February 2013. Pandit waited one year to post the homework. Pandit gives this student A+ for effort. What grade would you give for content? And why? Just email to ask(at)esotericschool.net
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