Udabindu yathāpi pokkhare
And like a drop of moisture on a water lily,
padume vāri yathā na limpati
Like water on a lotus does not stick,
evaṁ muni nopalippati
Even so the sage is not mired
yadidaṁ diṭṭhasutaṁ mutesu vā.
With what is seen, heard, or felt.
Here is a link to a high quality bilingual edition of the Aṭṭhakavagga, which is the fourth chapter of the Suttanipāta. It has been translated into English by Ven. Paññobhāsa.Read More
Passāmi naṁ manasā cakkhunā va,
I see him in my mind as though with the eye,
rattindivaṁ brāhmaṇa appamatto.
(as I dwell) heedful night and day, brahmin.
Namassamāno vivasemi rattiṁ,
revering him I make the night pass by,
ten’ eva maññāmi avippavāsaṁ.
for that reason I think there is no (real) dwelling apart.
Here is a link to a high quality bilingual edition of the Pārāyanavagga, which is the fifth chapter of the Suttanipāta. It has been edited and translated into English by Ven. Ānandajoti.Read More
The four noble truths are the foundational structure of the Pāḷi dhamma. They serve as the comprehensive orientation for us as practitioners. Within this framework, unsatisfactoriness is to be fully understood. Craving, which is the origin of unsatisfactoriness, is to be abandoned. The elimination of craving, which is the cessation of unsatisfactoriness, is to be realized. And the middle way of practice leading to this liberation from craving is to be developed.
As we become more and more adept in our ability to understand the four noble truths and apply this understanding in all of our daily experiences, we’ll find that our practice becomes simpler and that all aspects of our life become increasingly aligned with the noble eightfold path. This represents the comprehensive engagement of living an authentic and meaningful life. This alignment — the ability to embody the path — is a developmental process, which unfolds as our practice matures. This comprehensive development culminates in complete awakening.
This relationship between (i) the four noble truths as our comprehensive orientation, (ii) the noble eightfold path as the factors of comprehensive engagement, and (iii) the skillful qualities which arise sequentially as this path unfolds and develops, are presented in the following table.
|origin of unsatisfactoriness
|cessation of unsatisfactoriness
|middle way of practice
|gnosis & vision of things as they are
|gnosis of elimination
In our everyday life there are numerous things which captivate each of us and capture our attention. But because these things are temporary and difficult to sustain according to our wishes, they are incapable of providing lasting happiness. This is the case for almost all of the things which fascinate us and consume much of our time, whether it’s the propagation of creature comforts, habitual emotions, or self-confirming thought patterns. Thus, we find ourselves caught in never-ending cycles struggling to create and re-create desirable situations and moods so as to be happy and satiate our wants, even as the objects of our desire are slipping through our fingers. We are being held captive by our infatuation with the very things that captivate us.
This ongoing struggle is unsatisfactory (dukkha). Craving is what propels and motivates the struggle. We are confined by our own mistaken pursuit of happiness by pursuing things that will never satisfy. Our current situation is one of captivity.
But if we can begin to see both the allure as well as the drawbacks and shortcomings of the things which captivate us and capture our attention, it’s possible that this understanding will allow us to change our focus. With this new orientation we can choose to focus on and develop skillful qualities and living situations which are more easily sustainable. We can learn to apply all of our energies in ways that promote long term happiness and benefit.
From the perspective of gnosis and vision of liberation all path structures are generalized approximations at best. They have been developed from the rudimentary instructions outlined in the discourses by scholastic ābhidhammikas who were interested in building systems. But none of them speak for the silent clarity of awareness which is so utterly simply as to be beyond designation. No reference point can remain within this effortless clarity: no past, no future, no personal storyline, no Buddha word.
But because of its sheer unelaborated simplicity, it’s virtually impossible for anyone to just realize this freedom and remain with this non-localized recognition. Thus we have paths. However, these path structures are merely provisional expedients. The canonical discourses employ nominal designations to point the way towards utterly non-referential dispassion. This dispassion is said to be the best of all dhammas. It sides with neither attachment nor aversion. Fully integrated into every moment of experience it is freedom itself.
The few exceptional persons who have spoken directly of gnosis and vision of liberation in recent times include some of the Thai forest Ajahns, such as Ajahn Chah. In A Still Forest Pool he says:
The Buddha saw that whatever the mind gives rise to are just transitory, conditioned phenomena, which are really empty. When this dawned on him, he let go, gave up, and found an end to suffering. You too must understand these matters according to the truth. When you know things as they are, you will see that these elements of mind are a deception, in keeping with the Buddha’s teaching that this mind has nothing, does not arise, is not born, and does not die with anyone. It is free, shining, resplendent, with nothing to occupy it. The mind becomes occupied only because it misunderstands and is deluded by these conditioned phenomena, this false sense of self.
Therefore, the Buddha had us look at our minds. What exists in the beginning? Truly, not anything. This emptiness does not arise and die with phenomena. When it contacts something good, it does not become good; when it contacts something bad, it does not become bad. The pure mind knows these objects clearly, knows that they are not substantial.
When the mind of the meditator abides like this, no doubt exists. Is there becoming? Is there birth? We need not ask anyone. Having examined the elements of mind, the Buddha let them go and became merely one who was aware of them. He just watched with equanimity. Conditions leading to birth did not exist for him. With his complete knowledge, he called them all impermanent, unsatisfactory, empty of self. Therefore, he became the one who knows with certainty. The one who knows sees according to this truth and does not become happy or sad according to changing conditions. This is true peace, free of birth, aging, sickness, and death, not dependent on causes, results, or conditions, beyond happiness and suffering, above good and evil. Nothing can be spoken about it. No conditions promote it any longer.
Therefore, develop samādhi, calm and insight; learn to make them arise in your mind and really use them. Otherwise, you will know only the words of Buddhism and with the best intentions, go around merely describing the characteristics of existence. You may be clever, but when things arise in your mind, will you follow them?
Buddho is to be individually known (paccatta veditabba).
Buddho is great compassion (mahākaruṇā).
Buddho is non-indicative (anidassana).
Buddho is objectless (anārammaṇa).
Buddho is unestablished (appatiṭṭha).
Buddho is measureless (appamāṇa).