Related: The Buddha on Non-Duality

From new book by Ajahn Amaro, “The Breakthrough”. Source:

Ajahn Amaro:

They went back and forth three times, and after a third time a Tathāgata has to respond, so the Buddha said:
‘Listen carefully to what I have to say. In the seen there is only the seen. In the heard there is only the heard. In the sensed there is only the sensed. In the cognized there is only the cognized. When you, Bāhiya, can see that in the seen there is only the seen, and in the heard there is only the heard, and so forth, then you will indeed recognize that there is no thing there; there is no substance in the world of the object. And when you see that there is, indeed, no thing ‘there’, you will also recognize that there is no thing ‘here’; there is no being or person, no real ‘I’ in the realm of the subject. You will recognize the
object is empty, the subject is empty. When you see that there is no thing there and no thing here, you will not be able to find yourself either in the world of this or in the world of that, or any place between the two. This, Bāhiya, is the end of suffering.’ And Bāhiya instantly became an arahant.
‘You will not be able to find a self in the world of this or in the world of that, or in any place between the two...’ Bāhiya obviously had some spiritual potential, since he became an arahant right then and there. He then said, ‘Please, Venerable Sir, may I be your disciple, and will you give me ordination as a monk?’ The Buddha asked him, ‘Have you a robe and a bowl?’ Bāhiya was an ascetic who wore clothing made of tree bark, so he didn’t have a robe or a bowl. The Buddha said, ‘If you can find a bowl and robe, I will give you the ordination. Bāhiya went off to try and find a robe and a bowl. And as he had correctly feared, his life was indeed short and uncertain; a runaway cow hit him as it was charging through the street, and he died from his wounds. But he died an arahant, so he was right to press the Buddha to give him that teaching.
‘In the heard there is only the heard. In the sensed there is only the sensed. In the cognized there is only the cognized...’ So as we hear a sound, as we feel a sensation in the body, as we smell, taste or touch something, as we have a thought or a mood – if there is just hearing, just seeing, just smelling, just tasting, just touching, just thinking, just remembering, just feeling – if they are known as just what they are, events in consciousness, then as the Buddha said to Bāhiya, ‘You will recognize that there is no ‘thing’ there.’
When we hear a sound, we might think, ‘That’s the sound of Ajahn Amaro talking’, or ‘That’s the sound of a plane going to Luton Airport.’ And we think that the sound is ‘out there’, the plane is ‘out there’. But if we know it clearly and directly, we recognize that the experience of hearing is not ‘there’; it’s happening in this awareness. The plane is in your mind. The experience of hearing is a pattern of experience in the mind. It’s happening here. The mind’s representation of that thing is experienced here and now in this field of awareness. And just as you see there is no thing there, that the object is empty, so the feeling of a ‘me’ here who is the experiencer can be seen to be empty too. There’s no person who’s the experiencer. There’s just knowing. There’s just the awareness of this moment, the unentangled participating in this pattern of experience.
The Buddha said that when you can see there is no thing there and no thing here, when you can see that the object and subject are both empty, at that point there is just subjectless awareness. You will not be able to find a self. You will not be able to find yourself in either the world of objects or the world of the subject, or any place between the two. Just this is the end of suffering.
This teaching is extraordinarily helpful, because we often fill up the world, making a ‘me’ here who is experiencing a world out there. We create a ‘me’ here watching a ‘mine’ out there: ‘Me watching my mind; me dealing with my thoughts; me and my practice.’ When that happens we are not attending in the most skilful and complete way. We are creating a subject here and an object
there, both laden with ‘I’ and ‘mine’. So if we bear in mind this simple teaching, it helps us to undermine that I-making and mine-making habit. It dissolves the ahaṃkara/mamaṃkara programme. It dissolves the causes of self-view. And the more we are able to let there be just seeing, hearing, smelling, tasting, touching; the more we let things take shape, do their thing, without creating a ‘me’ here who’s experiencing a world out there, or patterns of thought and feeling and memory inside, the more we recognize our experience as being just patterns of nature coming and going and changing.


After a while, though, there was a strange feeling of being cramped, a quality of containment or limitation. I thought, ‘What is this about?’ There was clear seeing that things are anicca, dukkha, anattā, not self, empty of substance; but there was also this strange limitation, a strange kind of tension in the system. And it suddenly dawned on me and became clear, ‘Ah! It’s all happening here.’ I realized that it was the mind creating the feeling of locatedness, that everything was happening in ‘my’ mind, even though the usual crystallizations of the ‘I’ feeling were absent. I realized my mind was attached to the notion that it was happening ‘here’, at this spot.
At the risk of being too abstruse, I feel this is a helpful thing to look at. It was clear to me that until that point I hadn’t actually seen the attachment to the feeling of place or the feeling of location that the mind creates – the sense of ‘here-ness’, in this spot, this geographical centre where things are felt.
I don’t know if any of you have intuited or felt this but it was very striking to me at that time. I suddenly realized there was an attachment to the idea that awareness was happening in this place, this location. So I began to look at that very feeling of locatedness and the sense of things happening here. I used a very simple and straightforward reflection: bringing to mind the word ‘here’ or saying to myself, ‘It’s all happening here.’ By bringing the attention to it, the word ‘here’ began to seem absurd. Then a whole extra layer of letting go was able to happen.
Awakened awareness, knowing, is free from bondage to the realm of time and space as well. It is timeless and unlocated.
Shortly after that, I came across a sentence in a Dhamma talk by Ajahn Mahā- Boowa. He talked how this very insight had played a radical role in his own spiritual development. It was just after the time when his teacher Venerable Ajahn Mun had passed away. Ajahn Maha-Boowa was doing walking meditation, and out of nowhere this thought appeared in his mind: ‘If there is a point or a centre to the knower anywhere, then that is the essence of birth in some level of being.’
If ‘the knower’ considers itself to have a location or a centre, then that is the essence of birth in some level of being. This means that this is where the mind gets caught. Avijjā happens right there. Until that false locatedness is recognized as a quality of grasping, the heart cannot truly be free.
So along with things being impermanent, unsatisfactory and not-self, I find it is also helpful to recollect that Dhamma is essentially unlocated in the world of three-dimensional space. Location is a useful tool in the physical world, but in the world of mind location, place does not apply. Three-dimensional space only refers to the physical world, to the rūpa-khandha. Mind, the nāma-khandhā, does not have any relationship to three-dimensional space, because mind has no material substance. Mind has no physical form; therefore three-dimensional space has no fundamental relationship to the mind.
So where is the mind? This is another helpful reflection and we can use this kind of inquiry to explore the issue as well. Ask the question: ‘Where is the mind?’ This illuminates the presumption: ‘It is here’. For in the clear light of awakened awareness, the wisdom faculty recognizes that even any kind of ‘hereness’ is not it either. So again, at the risk that this may sound abstruse or unhelpful, this is raised because it is important to look all the different habits of attachment and identification, even if they are very, very subtle.
Though we may have no sense of self, it can be that that ‘no sense of self’ is being experienced here. And that ‘hereness’ is also to be let go of in the practice of liberation. Dhamma is absolutely real, but it’s completely unlocated. You cannot say that the Dhamma is any ‘where’. You might say, ‘But it’s everywhere!’ But by looking at that whole dimension of experience it can be recognized that ‘whereness’ does not apply. Allow that recognition to have its effect upon the citta.
0 Responses