Nonduality: The Varieties of Expression


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Issue #1366 - Monday, March 3, 2003 - Editor: Gloria

There is no generation;
There is no destruction;
There is no continuation;
There is no interruption;
There is no unity;
There is no plurality;
There is no arriving;
There is no departing.

Madhyamika Sastra - Nagarjuna

Thanks to Orphea on TheUnbornMind



"Threads" photo by Sam Pasciencier
I added some photos to album 'The world' -Sam

http://community.webshots.com/album/58786651KlNiNs



"Broken Window" photo by Sam Pasciencier

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Sunday's Washington Post

In a December 2001 study, the Pew Research Center found that 28
million Americans had used the Internet for religion-related
activities. The center noted that more people "have gotten
religious or spiritual information online than have gambled online,
used Web auction sites, traded stocks online, placed phone calls on
the Internet, done online banking or used Internet-based dating
services." Prayer was only one reason that people cited for
visiting religious Web sites -- others included getting information
about faith traditions and swapping advice, Pew reported. But 44
percent of the "religion surfers" said the Internet provided easier
access to prayer than other resources. About 27 percent said the
Internet had contributed to "at least some improvement in their
faith lives."

http://www.washingtonpost.com/wp-dyn/articles/A24284-2003Mar1.html

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Nibbana by Thanissaro Bhikkhu Copyright 1996 Thanissaro Bhikkhu
For free distribution only.

You may reprint this work for free distribution. You may re-format
and redistribute this work for use on computers and computer
networks provided that you charge no fees for its distribution or
use. Otherwise, all rights reserved.

--------------------------------------------------------------------------------

We all know what happens when a fire goes out. The flames die down
and the fire is gone for good. So when we first learn that the name
for the goal of Buddhist practice, nibbana (nirvana), literally
means the extinguishing of a fire, it's hard to imagine a deadlier
image for a spiritual goal: utter annihilation. It turns out,
though, that this reading of the concept is a mistake in
translation, not so much of a word as of an image. What did an
extinguished fire represent to the Indians of the Buddha's day?
Anything but annihilation.

According to the ancient Brahmans, when a fire was extinguished it
went into a state of latency. Rather than ceasing to exist, it
became dormant and in that state -- unbound from any particular
fuel -- it became diffused throughout the cosmos. When the Buddha
used the image to explain nibbana to the Indian Brahmans of his
day, he bypassed the question of whether an extinguished fire
continues to exist or not, and focused instead on the impossibility
of defining a fire that doesn't burn: thus his statement that the
person who has gone totally "out" can't be described.

However, when teaching his own disciples, the Buddha used nibbana
more as an image of freedom. Apparently, all Indians at the time
saw burning fire as agitated, dependent, and trapped, both clinging
and being stuck to its fuel as it burned. To ignite a fire, one had
to "seize" it. When fire let go of its fuel, it was "freed,"
released from its agitation, dependence, and entrapment -- calm and
unconfined. This is why Pali poetry repeatedly uses the image of
extinguished fire as a metaphor for freedom. In fact, this metaphor
is part of a pattern of fire imagery that involves two other
related terms as well. Upadana, or clinging, also refers to the
sustenance a fire takes from its fuel. Khandha means not only one
of the five "heaps" (form, feeling, perception, thought processes,
and consciousness) that define all conditioned experience, but also
the trunk of a tree. Just as fire goes out when it stops clinging
and taking sustenance from wood, so the mind is freed when it stops
clinging to the khandhas.

Thus the image underlying nibbana is one of freedom. The Pali
commentaries support this point by tracing the word nibbana to its
verbal root, which means "unbinding." What kind of unbinding? The
texts describe two levels. One is the unbinding in this lifetime,
symbolized by a fire that has gone out but whose embers are still
warm. This stands for the enlightened arahant, who is conscious of
sights and sounds, sensitive to pleasure and pain, but freed from
passion, aversion, and delusion. The second level of unbinding,
symbolized by a fire so totally out that its embers have grown
cold, is what the arahant experiences after this life. All input
from the senses cools away and he/she is totally freed from even
the subtlest stresses and limitations of existence in space and
time.

The Buddha insists that this level is indescribable, even in terms
of existence or nonexistence, because words work only for things
that have limits. All he really says about it -- apart from images
and metaphors -- is that one can have foretastes of the experience
in this lifetime, and that it's the ultimate happiness, something
truly worth knowing.

So the next time you watch a fire going out, see it not as a case
of annihilation, but as a lesson in how freedom is to be found in
letting go.


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"Fate" photo by Jan Barendrecht

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Nonduality: The Varieties of Expression


HOME


SPONSORS


ONE, by Jerry Katz

Photography by Jerry Katz

Dr. Robert Puff

THE NATURAL BLISS OF BEING

       

Rupert Spira

DISSOLVED, Tarun Sardana

HIGH JUMP, Tarun Sardana


Greg Goode -
After Awareness: The End of the Path




Consider joining our Facebook discussion community, Nonduality Salon, going on 20 years of active participation. We were the first online discussion group dedicated to nonduality in a popular sense.