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#1404 - Thursday, April 17, 2003 - Editor: Jerry


 

Brian Boyce
"State of the Union"
Video, 2001, 2 min.

In this brief video, Brian Boyce combines unauthorized CNN footage of George W. Bush with clips from The Teletubbies

 



Perhaps the World Ends Here

The world begins at a kitchen table. 

No matter what, we must eat to live.  

The gifts of earth are brought and prepared, set on the table so it has been since creation, and it will go on.  

We chase chickens or dogs away from it. 

Babies teethe at the corners.  They scrape their knees under it.  

It is here that children are given instructions on what it means to be human. 

We make men at it, we make women.  

At this table we gossip, recall enemies and the ghosts of lovers.  

Our dreams drink coffee with us as they put their arms around our children. 

They laugh with us at our poor falling-down selves and as we put ourselves back together once again at the table.  

This table has been a house in the rain, an umbrella in the sun.  

Wars have begun and ended at this table. 

It is a place to hide in the shadow of terror. 

A place to celebrate the terrible victory.  

We have given birth on this table, and have prepared our parents for burial here.  

At this table we sing with joy, with sorrow. We pray of suffering and remorse. We give thanks.   Perhaps the world will end at the kitchen table, while we are laughing and crying, eating of the last sweet bite.

  ~ Joy Harjo ~      
(from Reinventing the Enemy's Language)
 
Panhala list  

Painting by Carol Aust www.carolaust.com  


  True story written by another

A true story that happened in Japan.

In order to renovate his house, a man in Japan tore open the wall.

Japanese houses normally have a hollow space between the wooden walls. When
tearing down the walls, he found that there was a lizard stuck there
because a nail from outside got stuck into one of its feet.

The man sees this, feels pity and at the same time curious, as when he
checks the nail, it was nailed 10 years ago when the house was first built.

What happened?

The lizard has survived in such position for 10 years! In a dark wall
partition for 10 years without moving, it is not an easy task. Then he
remembered, how this lizard survived for 10
years without moving a single step - the foot was nailed!

So he stopped work and observed the lizard, what is it eating?

Later, he doesn't know from where, there appeared another lizard with food
in its mouth...

AHHH! He is stunned. What kind of love is this?

Another lizard has been feeding the lizard trapped by the nail for the past
10 years ...

I was touched when I heard this story. And wondered about the relationship
between them: were they family, friends, lovers, brothers, sisters......?

As the technology advances, our access to information became faster and
faster. But the distance between human beings, is it getting closer as well?
 


Vicki and Michael
NDS  

Hi, Mikey. Haven't heard from you in a while. Your big warm heart
is a-thumpin'. You, usually up to somepin'.....Happy Easter.
--Vicki
 

Hi Vicki, right now it's breakfast. Then there about a million
things to do. But they will all have to just get in line 'cause
they are going to get done (or not) one at a time.
 

Actually, I am in the process of moving into town (Taos). The last
two weeks I did volunteer work for the Taos Talking Picture
festival.
  As for posting, well, I haven't much to say these days. I just want
you to know that 'Making Room for Enlightenment' has many parallels
to my own life experience. Eight years ago (when she was 14) I
almost lost my daughter to the gangs. It was a situation where,
though I did everything I could, I really had no control.
Fortunately she survived all that (as did I). It took the death of
my Mother several years ago to re-inspire me to resume the quest
for enlightenment.
 

Like you, I had to throw out everything I thought I knew about God,
enlightenment and the so-called spiritual path. Yup, I had to toss
out everything and start all over again. All those comforting
beliefs, concepts and so on were obscuring the truth that we all
already are. Nobody is left out.
 

Well, those million things are waiting...<grin>  

with love and gratitude,  

michael  


Hello all,  

I participated in an Indian sweat lodge ceremony for the first time
last weekend in Arizona. The following is a message I received
while "sweating." I pass it on to anyone else who may be
experiencing any level of chaos in their own lives.
 

Find absolute peace within the chaos, the eye of the storm.  

From the place of peace and all-is-well shall the truth be revealed
in patience and time.
 

Fear not that which you know not. Instead trust that all things are
in perfect order, even if it is a higher order that you do not yet
comprehend.
 

In time you may will see the wisdom of this approach.  

Demand nothing. Accept what is without judgement and all things
necessary for the moment shall abundantly flow through you like a
mighty raging river.
 

And you shall never lack for anything.  

Peace and love, ken  

Another story of Peace within Chaos  

"In the year 1582, the abbot of Yerin-ji, Kwaisen, refused to hand
over soldiers who were seeking refuge at his temple. He and his
monks were locked in a tower that was then set ablaze. In their
usual manner, they sat in zazen, and the abbot gave his last
sermon: 'We are surrounded by flames. How would you revolve your
Wheel of Dharma at this critical moment?' Each then expressed his
understanding. When all were finished, the abbot gave his view:
'For peaceful meditation, we need not go to the mountains and
streams. When thoughts are quiet, fire itself is cool and
refreshing.' They perished without a sound." ~Sushila Blackman
 

From the book, "Graceful Exits, How Great Beings Die, Death Stories
of Tibetan, Hindu and Zen Masters," published by Weatherhill.
 

From Talking Stick Wisdom  


  Sent by Rich to NDS...

HOLDING ON TO EMPTINESS

The flawless jewel was back in the palm of my hand. I was looking at it and vowed never to take my eyes from it again.

How do you hold on to emptiness? Believe me you can - if it is important to you. You hold on by continually looking at it.

How do you look at emptiness? You close your eyes and look at the darkness on the back of the eyelids experiencing its stillness, its balm. (This is best done in bright sunlight) That which sees this velvet darkness is who you really are!

It is not the perfect selfless state but it is a reference point, a standpoint from which you resist the subtle wiles of doubt.The simple passage of time is a great ally in this fight.It builds confidence as the hours and days pass and still the jewel is in your sight.

http://www.geocities.com/brianperkins77/index5.htm


Kailasa
NDS

A man identifies himself with the body which is insentient and does
not itself say: 'I am the body'. Someone else says so.  A
spurious 'I' arises between Pure Consciousness and the insentient
body and imagines itself to be limited to the body.  Seek this and it
will vanish like a phantom.  The phantom is the ego or mind or
individuality.  All the scriptures are based on the rise of this
phantom, whose elimination is their purpose.  Your present state is
mere illusion.  Its dissolution is the goal and nothing else.

                                   Bhagavan Ramana Maharshi
                             -"In his own words"  Arthur Osbourne


Al Larus
NDS



THE ENDING OF THINGS A DISCOURSE ON "NON-SELF"

Ajahn Brahmavamso

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

An edited version of the last talk of the 1999 Rains Retreat at
Bodhinyana Monastery, Western Australia.

Whatever arises passes away.

This is the last talk of the rains retreat for 1999. It seems just a few
days ago that I gave the first talk of this rains retreat. Now it's
almost over. That is the nature of things: to rise and fall. To some
people that creates a great deal of fear as if they've got no place to
hold onto, as if even the ground beneath them is moving, is
disintegrating, so there's no place to sit. And that indeed is the nature
of our lives. At first we fear impermanence or Anicca but, after a while,
when we understand the Lord Buddha's teachings (Dhamma), Anicca becomes a
great comfort to us and a tool which we can use to accommodate the moods
of life. There are times when we are confused. There are times when we
are healthy. There are times when we are sad. And there are times when we
are sick. This rise and fall is the very nature of life.

Once a person understands the rise and fall of all phenomena,
experiencing the worst that human life can give does not make one
tremble. You know that it's something passing just like the wind passes
your face. You don't know where that wind comes from, and you can't tell
where that wind is going. All you know is that wind is blowing. You don't
know when that wind is going to end, nor if it will get stronger or
weaker. Like the weather, the forecast for moods is "changeable".

All feelings that arise in the mind and all feelings which impinge upon
the body, all of these, arise and pass away. Even though you try as best
as you can in your life to control these feelings, to try only to get the
pleasant ones and to ward off the painful ones, you never know where they
are coming from or when they will go.

All Is On Fire

You're all old enough now, and you all have had sufficient
experience, to have discovered that you cannot control these feelings
(Vedana). They're beyond you. They just come when they want to, and they
disappear when they want to. They're subject to laws of nature rather
than our control. That's the message contained in the Adittapariyaya
Sutta ("The Discourse on Fire" - SN,35,42). Essentially all experience is
on fire, like flames raging higher and then receding to become small,
going out and then flaring up again. That is the nature of our
experience. If you have any sickness, then you know the nature of
sickness is to die down and then flare up again.

It's like that with the sickness of the mind. There are times when your
mind is healthy and everything looks so wonderful, and there are times
when it is depressed and fed up, and you want to go somewhere else. This
is just the nature of the mind, that's all - just the worldly winds
blowing through it. All the Thai Meditation Masters say not to follow
those moods, but to stand your ground and to be just like an unshakeable
rock, where the winds can blow as hard as they can but you don't even
quiver at all. This is the sign of someone who understands the Dhamma
[1], someone who doesn't tremble or get blown around. A person who hasn't
got a foundation in the Dhamma gets blown all over the place. When you
have your roots stuck in the Dhamma then you don't get moved by the
rising and falling of different phenomena in the world.

To be able to see those rising and falling phenomena is just seeing that
things come and go. We have to look at this thing which we call
experience. But not just experience, we have to look at the experiencer
as well. I've used the analogy before of experience being like a
television program on a television set. Often human beings, Buddhists
included, want only to observe the content of the screen rather than the
screen itself. All they want to look at is something out there rather
than looking inside. This tendency is recognized by all philosophies and
religions that have a mystical introspective inclination. People don't
seem to go inside enough. They stop short of the goal. The whole idea of
this investigation is to go deeper, and to go to the very core of that
which we call the phenomena of "world", "self", "God", "existence" or
whatever.

Penetrating Beneath the Surface of Things

Instead of going inside, human
beings tend to go outside. They go outside of "this" and on to something
else in the future. They step ahead of themselves rather than step inside
of themselves, and this is why human beings - even meditators - very
often don't get the pure wisdom of the Dhamma. That Dhamma 2 lies right
in the very moment, in the heart, in the center of all this.

As I've said, we often just stop at the surface of things and think
that's all there is. We don't go deeper into the very core and see that
there's nothing there! It's so important to be able to liberate oneself
from the illusion of something permanent that knows the passing and
fading away of phenomena, to liberate oneself from the illusion of a
permanent solid screen, from the illusion that "you" are always there
watching all these things come and go, but "you" don't come and go,
"you're" always there. That is the illusion which creates suffering in
that world which you inhabit. This is why I've been teaching throughout
this rains retreat to develop the mind in Samadhi to such powerful states
of sustained attention that you can let the mind rest on one thing
courageously, firmly, without shaking or without wavering, long enough to
penetrate its empty nature.

What you want to see is this thing we call experience itself, and to be
able to get deep into that you do need the ability to sustain your
attention on something very, very subtle. The ordinary experience of life
goes so fast that we cannot really discern its nature. It's like going
through life in a fast car. We look out of the window and all we can see
are just flashes of scenery as we go past. We may go through a town, but
we cannot really read the sign posts or read the names of the shops
because we are going too fast. As we slow down we can get more
information. If we travel on a bicycle we can see much more. If we walk
we can see even greater detail. If we stand still as we watch the scenery
around us, then we find that we see the most.

Being Still and "Seeing" the Jewel in the Heart of the Thousand-Petal
Lotus

If you can sustain your attention on any part of nature long
enough, nature opens up to you and reveals its secrets, whether it's
watching a leaf on a tree or it's watching the moon in the sky or even
watching the finger on your hand. Whatever it is, if you can sustain your
attention unmoving and without comment, silent and still, you'll find the
object in front of the mind will open up its secrets to you. And you'll
see much more in there than you've ever seen before.

It's like the simile that I've used before of the thousand-petal lotus. A
thousandpetal lotus closes up at night-time. When the sun's rays hit that
lotus at dawn it starts to open, one petal at a time. As long as the sun
is heating that petal it will start to open up. Can you imagine how long
the sun has to sustain its attention on the lotus to start the inner
petals opening up? The sun stands for Samadhi. The lotus can stand for
whatever phenomena we are placing our attention on. If we sustain our
attention on this lotus, this phenomena, the outermost petals open up
revealing the inner petals.

You'll notice as you contemplate in this way, silently holding your
attention without moving, that all the old labels disappear. All the old
ideas which you had about that thing in front of you, are the "outer
petals". They start to disappear when you get to the petals underneath.
You start to see things you've never seen before, experiences for which
you don't have labels and which are beyond your learned perceptions. Most
of our perceptions are just repeating what we already know from when we
were told it at school. "Cow", "Dog", "Policeman", "Money", "Car"; all
these are just labels which we are taught to attach to the objects in the
world. Also, there are labels which we are taught to attach to the
objects of the mind: "thought", "feeling", "consciousness" and "self".
All these are just that much - learned perceptions.

As we sustain our attention on the mind, we see that all those labels are
the outer petals of the lotus. When they open, we know that there is more
to this, that there's a deeper reality which is certainly beyond words.
If we can keep on sustaining our attention on this thing which we call
"the mind", "experience", "the moment", or whatever we wish to call it,
without moving, the innermost petals start to manifest and then finally
the last, the thousandth petal, the innermost-of-the-innermost, opens up
and reveals what is called "the jewel in the heart of the lotus" The
beautiful jewel of Dhamma which is emptiness - nothing there! This will
not be what you expect in the heart of a lotus, but that's what's there -
the emptiness of all phenomena. Once you see that, it gives you a great
shock that wakes you from the deep slumber of illusion.

Emptiness to the Core

In the centre of all things is a great space of
nothingness, of emptiness. All around are these fabrications (Sankharas),
and it's only these fabrications which surround this empty core of
nothingness. It's these fabrications that we take to be real, which we
take to be "me", which we take to be "mine", and which we take to be a
"self". All of these things are what delude us. It's hard to go that deep
inside the mind. There comes a time when we almost get to the innermost
petal - but not the very innermost - and we think that's good enough. As
we go deeper into that lotus, the petals are more and more golden,
beautiful and brilliant. They are delightful, those innermost petals.
Sometimes we come to the most beautiful petal, and we think, "That's it.
This must be it! It's so beautiful, so wonderful, so inspiring. This must
be the Dhamma!"

However, it's only in the emptiness, in the nothingness, that there can
be an end. Ajahn Chah, my teacher, always liked to find the end of
things, not things which create more problems and more things to do, but
that which stops everything, which finishes the work, and which ends the
burden. This is when a person becomes enlightened. Birth is destroyed
(Khina Jati). The Holy Life has been lived (Vusitam Brahmacariyam). No
more of all this (Naparamitthattayati).

Haven't you had enough of all this yet? Those of you who have had lots of
suffering in the rains retreat, join the club. This is suffering. All we
are trying to do is to find out that which ends all that suffering and
finishes this Holy Life business. We want to end it and to see that the
core of nothingness is where it is ended. Imagine what that might be like
when you know, because you've seen to the very depth of all things, that
there's nothing there. That which you've taken to be consciousness, that
which knows, you find that it's completely empty.

The Buddha called the appearance of something solid a magician's trick.
The "magician" makes you think that there is something solid in this
consciousness [SN,22,95]. But it is just things arising and passing away.
That's all there is! That which knows is an empty process. Because it is
empty it can stop. If there were something there, knowing would be
endless. There is a basic law of physics called the "law of the
conservation of energy". Energy can mutate from one type to another as it
passes through the whole of Samsara. But if there is nothing there, if
consciousness is empty of substance, only then can it stop.

To see that core of consciousness to be empty is liberating. It means
that whether you know happiness or you know suffering, whether you know
confusion or you know clarity, you realize that this is just empty
consciousness playing a game with you, making you think that this is
real. When you've actually seen the emptiness of consciousness, it's like
finally seeing the television set disappear on which all of this drama of
life is carried out.

As I mentioned earlier, I like to use the simile of televisions. Imagine
six television sets in line - one is called "sight", one is called
"hearing", one is called "smell", one is called "taste", one is called
"touch", and the last is called "mind". Only one of these televisions is
on at a time - just one, then another and another, flicking into
existence and then out. It's easy to see the content on the screens and
see the content rise and fall, but the way to become Enlightened is not
only to see the content on the screen rise and fall, but to see the whole
television set come into existence and then completely disappear.

One of the great advantages of attaining Jhanas is that as soon as you've
got into a Jhana five "television sets" have completely vanished - not
just popped out of existence for a moment, but popped out of existence
for many hours. It's not as if there's nothing on the screen; there's no
screen any more! There is no sight. There is no sound. There's not even
any hearing. There's no smell. There's no taste. There's no touch. This
is because there's no body when you're in Jhana. It is pure mental
consciousness. That's why you can sit for long periods of time. The knees
don't ache; the back doesn't ache; the nose doesn't itch because it's got
hayfever. You've completely left the world.

Five "television sets" disappear, and you've just got this mind left. Be
aware though that you can get stuck there. Some people with weak wisdom
will think, "That's it - the mind is the ultimate 'television set' that
doesn't disappear." However you can either use inference, or you can take
those Jhanas deeper, and you can see parts of that last "television set"
get hacked away. From First Jhana to Second Jhana you hack away at half
the "television set", initial and sustained application of mind (Vitakka
and Vicara). From Second to Third to Fourth Jhana you hack away a heap
more of that "television set". You hack away at more of the "television
set" and you get into the Immaterial Absorptions (Arupa Jhanas). You keep
hacking away until you get to cessation (Nirodha Samapatti), when the
whole of that last "television set" is gone. Consciousness has
disappeared. That which knows has vanished. You come out of that
experience, and there is no way that you can miss the meaning. That which
we thought to be real, pervasive and stable, that which knows is a
mirage!

Sometimes people get afraid when I talk like this, and that's to be
expected because I'm challenging the very heart of who they think they
are. Challenging it to its very roots. But imagine for a while what it
would be like to have no self. To have no self means that all of this
happiness and suffering, this pain and pleasure, this delight and
frustration which arises in the mind will not worry you any more. Why
would it concern us when there is no one there who owns this pain in the
body or pleasure in the body? All the frustration, the success or the
failure, why would we worry about it? You know these are just things
which rise and fall. They're not yours. There's no one to blame, and
there's no one to praise. Praise and blame are worldly phenomena
(Dhammas). The Buddha said they don't belong to anybody. They just belong
to nature.

Praise and blame are great to contemplate. When I was young I always
tried to avoid blame like the plague, and I'd only seek praise. If I got
blamed I would think there was something wrong with me, and I was quite
skillful in trying to please others. But even though I tried my very
best, I still got blamed for things which I didn't do. I also noticed
that I got praised for things I didn't do as well, but I never complained
about that. I would get fed up if someone blamed me unfairly. I really
noticed how much of my early life was spent trying to please somebody. I
was trying to please my parents, please my teachers at school, please my
friends or please my girlfriend. Later on I spent so much time trying to
please Ajahn Chah, please Ajahn Sumedho, please the Buddhist Society of
Western Australia's management committee, or please the monks who were
staying with me. Now I don't care if I please anyone or not. If you've
had a rotten rains retreat, I don't care. Ha! Ha! Its just worldly
Dhammas; its got nothing to do with me. I take no responsibility if you
got it right either. It's praise and blame, that's all. Isn't it
wonderful when you see this is not Ajahn Brahm giving the talk? You don't
have to worry about what is said, and you don't have to worry about
trying to inspire people. It's just the play of Dhammas, that's all it
is.

Freedom From Suffering

What I'm trying to say is that when one realizes
non-self or anatta, there's a great freedom which comes from letting go
of all that concern which caused you suffering. The Lord Buddha said that
when there's a self, there are things that belong to it (MN,22). There's
my reputation and what people think of me. There's my possessions;
there's my body; there's my thoughts, my ideas, my views and there's my
meditation. All of these things which begin with "my" happen when we have
a self.

Imagine that there is no self. When there's no self, there's no core;
there is no me, and there is no mine. Imagine what it's like to have no
possessions. I don't just mean physical possessions. I don't just mean
that you've got no hut, you've got no robes, you've got no money, you've
got no honey or sugar. I mean you've got no body, no arms, no head, no
teeth; and you have no thoughts! Thoughts are there but they are not
yours. You have no happiness, and you have no suffering. Happiness and
suffering come and go, but they are nothing to do with you. There is no
one in here. Imagine what it's like to have nothing, truly to be without
possessions and to have followed the path of renunciation far deeper than
you first thought was possible. You don't just renounce worldly things,
you renounce unworldly things too -- all things, any thing! Throw
everything away until there's literally nothing left.

Imagine when you have absolutely nothing: no body, no mind, no
consciousness. It all just belongs to nature. You give back the deeds of
your life to its rightful owner. Nature owns all this, not you. If you
could do that, imagine how free you would be. You would have absolutely
no worries and no concerns. Whatever happens in the world, nature looks
after it. Happiness, suffering, clarity, confusion, whatever occurs is
just the play of nature. That's why the Lord Buddha said, when there is
not a self then there is nothing belonging to a self. If there is no
"mine", there is no craving any more.

Why do you want to grab onto things? To grab onto happiness is to grab
onto suffering as well. People are crazy. They grab onto both praise and
blame. When someone tells you off and tells you how stupid you are, you
grab onto that, "I'm stupid! Why do they call me stupid? I'm not really
stupid". You're just holding onto that. When there is pain in the body
you think, "I hurt. This is painful". Why are you holding onto that?
You're just making yourself suffer.

Craving is not just for pleasant things. Stupid people will crave for
suffering! They just crave for anything because they're into craving.
It's like someone going into a shop; they decide they are going to buy
something whether they like it or not. They'll even buy rubbish. That's
what craving is like. You'll eat anything when you're hungry, and attach
to anything when you're stupid and craving - even suffering. This is all
because deep inside of us we still think we are there. Therefore we want
to do something; we want to get something, and we want to own something.
The whole function of having a self, of having an ego, is to do, to
possess and to have power over our possessions. Big egos in the world
like to be prime ministers, presidents, kings and queens. They like to
own so much and to have so much power over everything. The extent of your
ego is your desire for power over others. Someone who has got no ego
doesn't exert power over others.

I remember some of the great monks that I have known, Enlightened Ones
(Arahants) of the Forest Tradition. Sometimes people thought they were
fearsome because they would always tell you what to do. But according to
my memory they were just so soft and kind. They were freeing you, not
controlling you. They gave to you; they never tried to take possession of
you. One can even say that the whole purpose of a teacher is to get rid
of disciples, not to get more. That's why I try to get rid of each one of
you, to make you enlightened and free. That's the purpose of a teacher,
not to possess you but to liberate you. The purpose of the Teaching (the
Dhamma) is to liberate.

The Driverless Bus

Often when you start to delve into non-self, there
comes a time when you don't want to go any further because you're afraid.
I'm not talking about ordinary fear; I'm talking about fear that goes to
what you take to be your very "core". You're challenging all you ever
thought about yourself, and you're undermining your whole essence of
existence. Your whole reason to be is being challenged by imagining what
it would be like if there were nothing there. If you have the courage and
the faith to go through that fear and find that what you were afraid of
was nothing, you will receive the most beautiful gift - the gift of
freedom. The gift of the ending of things, of the work being finished.

Years ago I gave the simile of "the driverless bus". It's like you're
driving through life in a bus, and you get pleasant experiences and
unpleasant experiences. You think it's your fault; or you think that it's
the driver's fault. "Why is it that the driver doesn't drive into
pleasant country and stay there for a long time? Why does he always drive
into unpleasant territory and stay there a long time?" You want to find
out who is controlling this journey called "my life". Why is it that you
experience so much pain and suffering? You want to find out where the
driver is, the driver of these five aggregates (Khandhas): body, feeling,
perception, mentality and consciousness - the driver of you. After doing
a lot of meditation and listening to the Dhamma, you finally go up to
where the driver's seat is in the bus, and you find it's empty!

It shocks you at first, but it gives you so much relief to know there's
no one to blame. How many people blame somebody when there is suffering?
They either blame God, or they blame their parents, or they blame the
government, or they blame the weather, or they blame some sickness they
have, and in the last resort if they can't find anyone else to blame,
they blame themselves. It's stupidity. There is no one to blame! Look
inside and see it's empty, "a driverless bus". When you see non-self
(Anatta), you see there is no one to blame; it's Anatta. The result is
that you go back into your seat and just enjoy the journey. If it's a
driverless bus, what else can you do? You sit there when you go through
pleasant experiences, "just pleasant experiences that's all". You go
through painful experiences, "just painful experiences, that's all". It's
just a driverless bus.

You think that you have driven a course through these three months of the
Rains Retreat, that your success or failure, your happiness or suffering
is due to you. It's not, it's just nature. You've got no one to blame,
and you've got no one to praise. Whatever has happened is just that; so
stop shouting at the driver. Stop cursing the driver. There's no one
there; you're wasting your breath. Just sit in your seat and "cop it
sweet" [2]. When there are nice times, have fun. When there are
unpleasant times, have fun. When you've got no one to blame, you might as
well enjoy the journey. This is the simile of the driverless bus.

"The Answer is 'There Is Nothing"

I remember one of the teachings Ajahn
Chah gave me personally. He used to come to our monastery at Wat Pah
Nanachat every week because we had built a sauna for him there. He found
the sauna beneficial as his health was failing by this stage. When he
came it was great because he would give us a talk as well. That day he'd
come to give a talk. We had fired up the sauna, and as soon as it was
ready a few monks went to help him. I would help him sometimes; other
times I let other people help.

This time, after giving a very inspiring talk to all the Western monks,
he went off to the sauna, and I let some other monks look after him. I
went to the back of the hall, sat outside, and had a deep, peaceful
meditation. After coming out of my meditation I thought I would check out
how Ajahn Chah was, to see if I could help him. Walking from the hall to
the sauna, I saw he was already finished and was walking in the opposite
direction with a couple of Thai lay people.

Ajahn Chah took one look at me, saw that I'd been in a deep meditation,
and he said, "Brahmavamso, Why?"

I was completely surprised and confused, and replied, "I don't know".

Afterwards he said, "If anyone ever asks you that question again, the
correct answer is, 'There is nothing'".

"Do you understand?" Ajahn Chah asked me.

"Yes," I said.

"No you don't," he replied.

So if you've been asking that question, Why? Why? Why?, I've given you
the answer now. It's straight from a great meditation master, Ajahn Chah.
The answer to the question "Why?" is, "There is nothing".

He was really great, Ajahn Chah, and he was correct. That will always
remain with me, "There is nothing". This is emptiness. There is no doer.
There is no knower, it's completely empty! To be able to get to that
emptiness, encourage yourself by knowing that if you do find that
emptiness, it's wonderful! All the Enlightened Ones that I have known
have always been happy; they haven't regretted finding out that there's
nothing there. No one has said to me, "I wish I hadn't found this out".
It's liberating when you see there is nothing there. There is nothing to
hold onto, and when you don't hold onto anything, there's no suffering
any more.

All of the craving, all of the attachment, and all of the pain that
arises because of those cravings and attachments, all have their origin
in the illusion of self. That illusion of self creates a sense of "me"
and a sense of "mine", all that I want, all the praise and blame, the "I
am" conceit (Asmimana): "I am as good as the next person"; "I am better";
"I am worse". How many of you are still suffering because of comparing
yourselves to someone else? You don't have to compare yourself to
anybody. You're not there!

There is no more comparison anymore once you can give the "self" away.
You don't even need to worry about what people think about you: because
there is no one there to think about. How much suffering comes from
worrying about what you think other people think about you, especially
what I think about you because I'm the teacher here? What do I think
about you? I don't think anything about you, because you are just not
there!

Letting Go of Everything!

Another simile that I like to use is that as
long as there is a hand you will go on picking up things. That's what a
hand does. If you've got a hand and a nose, you'll pick your nose from
time to time when no one is looking. When there is no hand, when you have
cut the hand off, then you won't pick things up which create suffering
for you and which create the burden of ownership.

Those of you who have started renouncing can understand that the more you
give up, the freer you feel. You give up your house; you give up your
car; you give up your possessions; you give up sex; you give up
entertainment; you give up all these things, and you find the more you
give up, the more liberated you are. It's like a person with a big
rucksack on their back, carrying all these rocks, who has come to realize
that they don't have to carry all these things. So on the journey up the
mountain to Nibbana they keep throwing things out: throwing out all their
possessions, throwing out their body, throwing out their thoughts,
throwing out their worries and throwing out their illusion of self. On
the last few steps up the mountain, they throw out the "doer", next they
throw away the "knower". Then there is nothing left. When there is
nothing left then they are free. When we say this is the path of
renunciation, we really mean renouncing. When we say it's the path of
letting go, it's really letting go of everything. Don't keep even a small
thing left over.

The End

Have you the courage to do it? It's really worthwhile becoming
Enlightened. It's to be recommended. Don't you want to become
Enlightened? Don't you want to be free of all this? Haven't you had
enough of samsara? Haven't you had enough of going to work? Haven't you
had enough of this body, and pain, and going to the doctors, and having
kids, and worrying about whether you're happy or sad, and all these
thoughts which run through your mind and create problems and
difficulties? One minute happy, the next minute sad. Haven't you had
enough of all that?

Meditate! Make the mind still! Look at this thing we call the mind, let
the lotus open up and see the most beautiful jewel there could ever be -
nothingness. There's nothing better than nothingness, and there's no
jewel greater than the Dhamma.

Ajahn Brahmavamso Perth, Western Australia

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

[1]. The Polymorphous Pali term Dhamma is used in three contexts in this
paper, with a capital "D" to denote both the Teachings of the Lord Buddha
and the Reality to which these teachings point and with a small "d" to
denote "phenomena".

[2]. To "cop it sweet" is an Australian prison term which means roughly
to do one's time gracefully without struggle, as opposed to "doing hard
time".

-ooOoo-

Source: Buddhist Society of Western Australia,
http://www.dhammaloka.org.au

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