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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?