Thursday, October 7, 2010

Thoughts, October 6th

On September 28th my post suggested a meditation on your being your own creator, your own Mahavairocana Buddha, and your self as the creation, the one who thirsts, who craves permanence and security, and therefore suffers, experiences dukka. I suggested that you meditate as the creator Buddha on your creation, that you hold it in your awareness, so that the self feels held and can relax into its insubstantiality, into its conditioned nature, and into its awakening.

Preparing for last night's group , I found a passage in Walpola Rahula's "What The Buddha Taught" that struck me as a third person statement of the same shift in perspective from the subjectively experienced self to the objectively seen self that I had suggested.  He puts it well and goes on to speak of the consequence of fully inhabiting at both levels the realization that this shift in perspective brings.  I quote from Rahula here at length. 

"Now, what is the Absolute Truth?  According to Buddhism, the Absolute Truth is that there is nothing absolute in the world, that everything is relative, conditioned and impermanent, and there is no unchanging, everlasting, absolute substance like Self, Soul or Atman within or without.  This is the Absolute Truth. . . .  The realization of this Truth, i.e., to see things as they are without illusion or ignorance, is the extinction of craving, 'thirst', and the cessation of dukka, which is Nirvana.  It is interesting and useful to remember here the Mahayana view of Nirvana [as] not being different from Samsara.  The same thing is Samsara or Nirvana according to the way you look at it--subjectively or objectively. . . ." 

"It is incorrect to think that Nirvana is the natural result of the extinction of craving.  Nirvana is not the result of anything.  If it would be a result, then it would be an effect produced by a cause. . . .  Nirvana is neither cause nor effect.  It is beyond cause and effect.  Truth is not a result nor an effect.  It is not produced like a mystic, spiritual, mental state, such as dhyana or  samadhi.  Truth is.  Nirvana is.  The only thing you can do is to see it, to realize it. There is a path leading to the realization of Nirvana.  But Nirvana is not the result of this path.  You may get to the mountain along a path, but the mountain is not the result, not an effect of the path.  You may see a light, but the light is not the result of your eyesight.

He continues, "When wisdom is developed and cultivated . . . it sees the secret of life, the reality of things as they are.  When the secret is discovered, when the Truth is seen, all the forces which feverishly produce the continuity of samsara in illusion become calm . . . because there is no more illusion, no more 'thirst' for continuity. . . .  He who has realized the Truth, Nirvana, . . . lives fully in the present. . . .  He gains nothing, accumulates nothing, not even anything spiritual, because he is free from the illusion of Self, and the 'thirst' for becoming."

(Id. at 39-40, 43; parenthetical material deleted.)

This is our practice, to see this Truth clearly and to embody that knowing.  



  1. Why do we want to be free from the thirst of becoming?

  2. Dear Shikha:

    The thirst for becoming is a thirst of the separate self, a thirst to be other than separate, to be freed from the existential dilemma. As a source of the desire to awake, the self's sense of separateness and its desire to be liberated from that separateness is bodhicitta. That desire to become liberated is critical to practice. But Sra. Ruhala's treatment of Nirvana suggests, once one really sees and knows that the self is insubstantial, that it is a subjective experience that is objectively seen as simply a one-pointed perspective on an aperspectival reality, a reality that is nothing but impermanent flux, the thirst to "become" fades. There is nothing to "become". There is only "this" and "this" and "this" . . . .

    That does not mean that you don't get up in the morning and choose whether to make coffee or tea, but that you see that having picked tea, your regret at not having had coffee is absurd. But in that moment of regret, you may want to become liberated from that regret in the next moment. So we practice.


  3. Could this thirst actually be a thirst for value (that is not exactly the word- something between value and self-worth, but neither exactly), or joy, or return? Perhaps the only way to become free of that is to let go of judgment of all aspects of the human experience, beginning, of course, with oneself...
    I agree that it is necessary to let go of something like regret, that is, guilt, and shame, and whatnot - (different from healthy remorse), but to shed the desire to become, I would imagine (as I myself have not done so...) - would be to give up our inherent creativity, that is also, our nature as creators (or co-creators), which is also to say, our free will. The process of Creating (Becoming) is one which involves making, moment by moment, a choice, if conscious, a choice to become a more perfect reflection (or something like that - I imagine there are more accurate metaphors, but alas, they are not coming to me, nor am I pursuing them... :) This "thirst" is perhaps a yearning to merge with the Divine... to become like the Divine, more and more, and to get to know Divinity in first person, perhaps to recognize it... but then, to move forward, to create and re-create, in addition to observing.
    (I am not certain if that was coherent. I trust that you can discern a point or more than a point, I imagine - more concisely than myself.)

  4. Dear Shikha:

    It seems likely that one is always going to be motivated to make the next moment more just, more equitable, than the present. Perhaps this is what you mean by "becoming". To act to bring into being equanimity for all things. Dogen Zenji would say that the important thing is not to be attached to the outcome of the effort to bring equanimity into reality. One just acts, and acts, and acts moment to moment with this beneficent intention.


  5. Yes, that makes sense. I suppose my personal motivation leans more toward "beauty" as an outcome, but of course that can be chosen to be experienced in each moment. As can most experiences, I suppose. And still, there is a question which arises. I'm not certain what it is, but my best guess would be, "Why?"