Thread: "The awake, knowing mind is always here; this is the refuge."

  1. #1

    "The awake, knowing mind is always here; this is the refuge."

    I was looking at a reflection offered by Ajahn Amaro at Amaravati Monastery, with the title "Mindfulness is the Path to the Deathless" and thought I'd post an excerpt from it here:



    The path of insight, the path of investigation, helps us to examine the nature of experience. What seems to be ‘me being born, moving around in that world out there, and who will die one day,’ when it is examined closely it’s recognized that the world is happening here, in our field of experience. As the Buddha said: ‘That whereby one is a perceiver of the world, and a conceiver of the world, that is called “the world” in this Dhamma and discipline. And what is that whereby one is a perceiver of the world, and a conceiver of the world? The eye, the ear, the nose, the tongue, the body, the mind …’[SN 35.116]

    The world is the world of our experience. It’s our mind’s construction of the world. That is what is experienced. And that is born, takes shape and dissolves, moment by moment. The sounds of these words, the feelings of the body, moods of irritation, enthusiasm, alertness, sleepiness, comfort, discomfort, these are patterns of consciousness, organic patterns of change, arising, taking shape, dissolving. That is the world. There is no other world we can meaningfully speak about. We can only talk about the world of our own experience. Even if we use machines and devices to measure them, those patterns will still all appear only within the sphere of our perceptions.

    When we take a statement like: ‘There is nobody born, there is nobody who dies, only conditions of mind that change,’ it is not to be believed or rejected, but to be picked up and explored. There is hearing the sound of my voice, hearing the sound of a plane flying overhead, hearing the sound of a bird… hearing. We say the sensation is ‘in my body, in me’; the sound of the plane is ‘outside me’. But they are both experienced in the same place. The bird is in the tree. The plane is high in the sky. But they are both known here in the mind.

    The world is in the mind, the world we experience is woven by our mind; it is woven into being – arising, passing away – moment by moment. But that which knows the world, that which is the lokavidū – the knower of the world – what is that? Where is that? It is the most real thing there is, this quality of knowing, yet it has no shape, no form. It is not a person, it does not begin or end, it is not here or there. It is totally real but completely intangible. How mysterious. But when the heart is allowed to embody that quality of knowing, awakened awareness, then that is the realization of the Deathless, the Unborn and Undying itself. That which knows the born and dying is not the born and dying. That which knows inspiration is not inspired. That which knows regret and pain is not pained. That which knows suffering is not suffering. This is why liberation is possible.

    When the Buddha said that ‘… the mindful do not die’, he did not mean that the body of a mindful person is never going to stop breathing and rot away. No. The Buddha’s body died, just like anyone else’s. When he said that the mindful never die, it meant that when the mind is awake it is not identified with the born and the dying. It is akāliko, timeless, ajāta, unborn, amara, undying. It is outside of the realm of time, individuality and space; not definable in terms of time, personality, location: ‘There is neither a coming nor a going, nor a standing still. Neither progress, nor degeneration. Neither this world, nor the other world.’[Ud 8.1]

    It boggles the mind: our familiar perceptions are formed in terms of here and there, inside and outside, mine and yours, progress, degeneration. But this quality of Dhamma itself – of which this awareness, this knowing faculty is the primary attribute – it is indefinable, unlocatable. As Luang Por Chah would ask: ‘If you can’t go forward and you can’t go back and you can’t stand still, where can you go?’ All that can be done is to let go of those habits of identifying with being a person who is here in this place and passing through time. When the mind lets go of time, individuality, location, then that puzzle is solved.

    ‘The heedless are as if dead already’ – as if dead, even if their bodies are still breathing, moving around, talking, feeling, seeing, tasting, touching. This is because the mind is attached to the born and the dying. Therefore the Deathless, the Unborn, the Undying, the Timeless, is invisible, intangible, and doesn’t seem like any thing.

    ‘The heedless are as if dead already’ – as if dead, despite having the appearances of life. It is a startling image that the Buddha uses here; just because the body is breathing, that doesn’t mean anything. When the mind breaks through the shell of ignorance it is breaking through the customary perceptions of: ‘Me being a person who has come from somewhere, who has got to do something to become something else in the future.’ As Luang Por Sumedho used to say over and over again: ‘To think “I’m an unenlightened person who’s got to do something now to become enlightened in the future,” is to begin in the wrong place.’ It’s starting from where you are not.

    Instead, we change the paradigm to: ‘Here is the awake mind knowing the Dhamma, knowing the way things are – knowing this sound, this feeling, this mood, knowing hope and regret, dullness, aloneness, conflict, discomfort. Knowing this.’ And in that gesture of knowing, awakened awareness – the Unborn, the Undying – is realized, is manifest, is embodied. But as soon as the thinking mind jumps in and says, ‘Aha, I am the Unborn, I am the Deathless! That’s what I am!’ That’s just the conceiving mind creating an ‘I am’ and short-circuiting the realization. The way of relinquishment, of non-owning, non-possession, non-identification, is atammayatā – not creating a ‘this’ to be or a ‘that’ to identify with.

    The simple gesture of non-identification, non-grasping moment by moment, is how immortality is achieved. Not ‘me’ going on forever, but ‘me’ being seen as transparent, the ‘me’ being seen as not-self. The awake, knowing mind is always here; this is the refuge. It is up to us to take this refuge, to abide here, to embody it; the challenge is to not be fooled by the compelling qualities of the sense world and our life story, but rather to break through the shell, to wake up. Then there is freedom, independence, life and light.

    http://www.amaravati.org/dhamma-arti...ath-deathless/


    Any comments?

  2. #2
    Forums Member CedarTree's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Aloka View Post
    I was looking at a reflection offered by Ajahn Amaro at Amaravati Monastery, with the title "Mindfulness is the Path to the Deathless" and thought I'd post an excerpt from it here:





    Any comments?
    Right on track although in Burma and Sri Lanka due to the heavy emphasis on "Consciousness" ceasing they may not except the "Knower" identity even though it is used I think in a non-personal way here.

    The depth of Mahayana helps a bit here maybe in the saying "Samsara and Nirvana are the same".

  3. #3
    Quote Originally Posted by CedarTree
    The depth of Mahayana helps a bit here maybe in the saying "Samsara and Nirvana are the same"
    How would you explain that, when in Theravada Buddhism Samsara is known as " the conditioned" - and Nibbana as "the unconditioned" ?

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    Forums Member CedarTree's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Aloka View Post
    How would you explain that, when in Theravada Buddhism Samsara is known as " the conditioned" - and Nibbana as "the unconditioned" ?
    I am gonna preface this with saying that I think the Pali Canon is right on point and draws a stark contrast between Samsara and Nibbana.

    I will add that I think once the realization of Emptiness is achieved how we perceive of Samsara and Nibbana radically changes and then maybe the wording I used has some relevance.

    (Aloka I know this is not well written but I struggled on how to write about something that is inherently non-conceptual and beyond language)

  5. #5
    Quote Originally Posted by CedarTree
    I will add that I think once the realization of Emptiness is achieved how we perceive of Samsara and Nibbana radically changes and then maybe the wording I used has some relevance.

    (Aloka I know this is not well written but I struggled on how to write about something that is inherently non-conceptual and beyond language)
    So are you saying that you have the realisation of emptiness yourself, CedarTree ?

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    Forums Member CedarTree's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Aloka View Post
    So are you saying that you have the realisation of emptiness yourself, CedarTree ?
    I don't want to go into my personal practice but I haven't had an unadultered, full awakening to the full profoundness of emptiness and an utter awakening to Nibbana.

    Maybe in the next lives you can guide me when you achieve Buddhahood. :) I feel I would be a good Ananda.

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    Forums Member CedarTree's Avatar
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    Keep my resume on file

  8. #8
    Forums Member CedarTree's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by CedarTree View Post
    Right on track although in Burma and Sri Lanka due to the heavy emphasis on "Consciousness" ceasing they may not except the "Knower" identity even though it is used I think in a non-personal way here.

    The depth of Mahayana helps a bit here maybe in the saying "Samsara and Nirvana are the same".
    A member pm'd me and wanted me to post this clarification on my comment as he thought it may help other members. :)

    "I meant "accept".

    In the Burma and Sri Lankan tradition the cessation of Consciousness is stressed. Ajahn Amaro has actually noted this in one of his writings.

    Though you really find a wide divergence in the teachings. Ajahn Dtun in his famous work talks about the "Knower" being empty of Self and were the root of ignorance lies yet he could just mean the defilements and associate "Awareness" with the unconditioned like many in the Thai Forest Tradition.

    There is a passage though in the Pali canon that talks about Consciousness without surface. And uses this term and the imagery associated with it in reference to Nibbana so I think everyone is a little bit right.

    Just different emphasis in different places."

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