Through being aware that all phenomena are not different, that is, spacelike emptiness and illusionlike dependent origination, one is free from ignorance.
~ Pawo Rimpoche
Labels: Dependent Origination, Emptiness, Pawo Rinpoche
I would like to announce two things: 1) The Awakening to Reality Practice Guide by Nafis Rahman: https://app.box.com/s/zc0suu4dil01xbgirm2r...
What does it mean to live in the world selflessly? It is even possible? Desirable?
In spiritual circles, the term selflessness can mean different things, depending on the context. It can refer to living in service to others, the realization of “no self” similar to what Buddha realized or some other hybrid of those definitions or realizations.
Let’s start with Webster’s dictionary for a simple definition: selfless means “having no regard to self, unselfish.” In that definition, there is a reference to being unselfish. Selfish is defined as “caring supremely or unduly for one’s self, regarding one’s own comfort, advantage, in disregard, or at the expense, of those of others.”
In Buddhism, the Visuddhimagga states:
“Mere suffering exists, no sufferer is found.
The deeds are, but no doer of the deeds is there.
Nibbaana is, but not the man that enters it.
The path is, but no traveler on it is seen.
No doer of the deeds is found,
No being that may reap their fruits.
Empty phenomena roll on!
This is the only right view.”
The eight fold path in Buddhism refers to moral conduct, how one lives and acts in the world. It is not limited to a realization that one has while sitting in meditation, a realization merely of the unfindability or unreality of the self.
This is where modern nondual teachings often divorce themselves from the history of some of the great traditions, which were concerned with more than just a spiritual experience or realization. They focused on selflessness as referring to living in the world in a less selfish way.
Quite often, the reference to unselfishness is stripped away from the modern teachings, perhaps in part because of western culture’s infatuation with the idea of a one time, life-changing transformational fix, where one simply becomes fully enlightened or fully liberated in one fell swoop. In the rush to experience this realization of no self, much of the wisdom of this other meaning of selflessness gets left behind.
This is why we see teachers who claim, explicitly or implicitly, to be fully awakened while still being attached to their own image as a teacher or still attached to how they present themselves to others or even attached to fame, acknowledgment, attention, praise or some other worldly possession.
Head awakening is the term I use to refer to the initial phase of nondual awakening where one experiences an absence of self, either as a sudden experience or gradual realization. The focus is on how the self cannot be found when one looks. In finding the emptiness of that self, there can be a sense of “I’m done, this is it, the final realization.” And yet, because of how the mind and body (especially the body) hold tight to old conditioning, one is not truly done at all, unless one holds a very low standard in mind when it comes to selflessness.
I have personally experienced attachment to self-image, worldly attainment and material possessions both before and after my head awakening. I am not particularly ashamed of this because I find it to be a necessary aspect of “growing up” spiritually. The first true dawning of a head awakening merely revealed that, from within and while looking from awareness, the self is not there. But that is all that a head awakening really shows. It’s in the movement of life, the every day living as an individual on earth, where the rubber meets the road. To live selflessly, meaning to live in an unselfish way, is quite another endeavor completely. A head awakening is merely the door that may or may not lead one towards living such a life – it is by no means a guarantee.
The body has the final say. Even after a head awakening, the body stores everything surrounding selfishness – possession, control, greed, addiction, anxiety, trauma, desire, fear, all of it. To move through and leave behind these aspects of one’s self is a higher calling on the spiritual path. To use an admittedly sexist phrase, it is what separates the men from the boys.
Take, for example, the stomach, which I call the engine of ego. Like any engine, it is a driving force. It carries a pull towards earthly wants and desires, and a pull away from fearful threats. This combination of wants and fears acts as the driving force behind the ego really. This is where selfishness gets its fuel in large part. To have experienced a head awakening, while having a stomach that is clenched like a fist, is to be led around the world in a very awkward and divided way – seeing that there is no self and yet being pulled into the somatic experience of the self’s desires and fears at the same time. This can be terribly painful and confusing.
How does one live truly selflessly while the engine of the stomach is still yearning for the self’s desires and acting on the self’s fears? I submit that it is virtually impossible – a fool’s game.
Many teachings and programs that do not focus on nondual realization (including the 12 step program and many modern therapies) instead focus on cultivating a positive “selfless” self-image. They often fail for an entirely different reason. They are asking of human beings something that is quite impossible. They are suggesting falsely that one can live in the world in a truly selfless way without doing the hard work, the deep looking, the body and trauma work and without seeing that there is no self even as a head awakening. These positive self-help type teachings are proposing something they cannot bring about, because their aim misses the mark entirely. Living selflessly is not a mindset. It is not a switch that we can merely turn on or realize just be acting selflessly. There really is no “fake it until you make it.” The deeper selflessness does not truly come about through positive affirmations or only through selfless service. There has to be an internal transformation on every level of the body and mind, or else the body will pull the individual back into selfish motives. Even acting selflessly in the world can have selfish underpinnings, where one is helping others in order to gain something in return such as a positive self-image, praise, acknowledgement, attention, fame or love.
And so, just as many modern nondual teachings fail to go deep enough because they stop at a head awakening, many other modern spiritual and therapeutic teachings (including life coaching) do not go deep enough for entirely different reasons. They ignore true awakening altogether, in favor of an ego-based mindset or programming.
Where does that leave us? Are we left with half-baked notions of true selflessness as something unattainable, like a dream we are always chasing? I don’t believe so, not if we change how we examine the whole notion of self. There will be some who are not interested in going as deep as they can go. They will be content to stop somewhere along the way, at the stage of a nondual head awakening or within a positive self-help program. That is their right! But the calling to true selflessness will appear for some people. So the question is, “How?”
Here’s an exercise which may help:
Start by getting very quiet. Look from awareness out into the world. Notice that the world is made up of thoughts, emotions and sensations. Then begin to imagine the world without you. Whenever you see a want or fear that is truly ego-based, witness the thoughts and feelings around it. Let them be as they are until they naturally and effortlessly vanish. An ego-based want is any want where you are trying to get something personally in return. An ego-based fear is a fear that is not based on physical survival but rather on survival of a certain image you have of yourself in the mind. Let all of that vanish, each thought and emotion, one at a time. See what is left. Where does your attention go after all those fears and wants have vanished. Do you find yourself wanting to help others without anything in return? Do you find yourself at peace with life? If not, notice what is happening in your stomach. Notice the pull towards worldly things, attention, praise, acknowledgment. Let that pull be felt and let it vanish into space. What is left? When you get to the point where selfish wants and fears have subsided, open your eyes and start your day. Notice where those ego-based wants and fears return. And when they do, love them to death. This means let them come fully into awareness and dissolve naturally without effort. And then just live from that place. See where life takes you. It is likely to take you down a completely different path, with different values, perspectives and priorities. Do this every day of your life! Recognize that the fruits of living selflessly have nothing to do with you. You get nothing in return. This is what makes it selflessness.
I first began this practice when I left the teaching world and opened up the Kiloby Center. Many people come to the Kiloby Center without knowing who I am. They do not come to praise the teacher because they don’t see me as a teacher. In leaving behind the satsang world, I was left to question the remaining attachments to many different worldly possessions and self-images. Then I took a position with a company that works entirely within the addiction treatment field, a company that does not have my name on the front door. In that company, I am working within a team of people who do not recognize me as enlightened or as a teacher. More and more, I feel that I am working within the addiction treatment field without bolstering the name Scott Kiloby, without bolstering “me.” The deeper questions around selflessness naturally arise in this scenario. I encourage every teacher to leave behind the teaching world for a while and ask these important questions – do this important self-investigation. I encourage it for everyone, teacher or not. There is still work for me to do in this area. Selflessness is not a game of being done. It is an ongoing exploration.
Imagine living a life where you do not resign yourself just to some positive affirmations, programmed mindset or selfless service. Imagine a life where you do not consider a head awakening as the final realization. Imagine living a life where true selflessness is your aim. You get to watch yourself fall short of it over and over, which just shows you the ego-based wants and fears. They are all there to examine. But falling short does not have to be a game of fruitlessly seeking some future version of yourself. That would be yet another ego game. There is no seeking in this. There is only the pure creativity of living more and more without self. Doors naturally open in this way of being, doors that you never knew were there. Walls that you didn’t realize were creating division in your life break down. This is what allows your creativity to shine.
This is more than just a seeing also. It is not about having an experience on a meditation mat and then starting a blog or becoming a teacher or having others think that you are enlightened because of a fancy Facebook post. That’s the stuff of head awakening. It is much, much more humble than that. It calls upon you to go deeper into your own life, however that shows up. It is a living, in every sense. Not just a new mental perspective, but a perspective in which your entire body and mind is transformed, in which every relationship feels and looks different. In this living, you do not discard the notion of individuality. Your individuality shines forth even brighter than before. It is your selfishness that is increasingly missing. These are two different things altogether.
In this examination, you are not living in the spotlight. You are not getting anything in return. As your ego-based wants and fears increasingly vanish, you begin to feel more attuned to a deeper calling in life. You finally get to see what it is that you really want to do, how you really want to live, and where life truly pulls you. You finally begin to see what relationship is really like when you no longer desire love, acknowledgement or attention in return. You finally get to see what the world is really like without you. And it turns just perfectly without you – even more beautifully and fluidly then when you saw yourself at the center of it all.
Thanks for your sharing.
His pointing out of 'body selfishness' is very useful ....
The selfish conditioning(automatic reaction of anger,aggression, sexual desires etc..) dats being deeply rooted inside our body-nervous system must be dealt with/dissolved if true freedom is to be attained ....
Perhaps no such one is there in our current modern age ....
Dats why in yr previous article u post of dharmadan abt 'stuff vs realization' i criticized abt his making superficial distinction btween realization and stuff....
i still stand by my view ....full blown complete enlightenment must without doubt dissolve every self(ish) conditioning (stuff) ...
Wat kind of standard is he holding on to if he still think (final) realization is there while 'rubbish/stuff' can still roam free ?
Can't speak for Daniel, but what I can truthfully say is that I hardly have fears or negative emotions anymore, not only in waking but even in sleep (see: https://awakeningtoreality.blogspot.com/2018/08/fearless-samadhi.html ), similar to how Kyle describes years ago:
"...The anatta definitely severed many emotional afflictions, for the most part I don't have negative emotions anymore. And either the anatta or the strict shamatha training has resulted in stable shamatha where thoughts have little effect and are diminished by the force of clarity. I'm also able to control them, stopping them for any amount of desired time etc. but I understand that isn't what is important. Can I fully open to whatever arises I would say yes. I understand that every instance of experience is fully appearing to itself as the radiance of clarity, yet timelessly disjointed and unsubstantiated.."
So focus on realization and insight first. Without the correct realization of anatta, dependent origination and emptiness, one will not be able to actualize these insights in daily life and liberate afflictions. You cannot make it based on meditation training or shamatha alone, those will merely suppress the afflictions but they do not cut the root of afflictions - self-grasping due to ignorance. Once you have genuine insight, it's like clearing the jar of its contents, and what's left are the stench or traces, while upon further practice and insight-discernment can be completely cleansed (Khemaka Sutta).
But both insight and shamatha are necessary.
Vijja-bhagiya Sutta: A Share in Clear Knowing
"These two qualities have a share in clear knowing. Which two? Tranquillity (samatha) & insight (vipassana).
"When tranquillity is developed, what purpose does it serve? The mind is developed. And when the mind is developed, what purpose does it serve? Passion is abandoned.
"When insight is developed, what purpose does it serve? Discernment is developed. And when discernment is developed, what purpose does it serve? Ignorance is abandoned.
"Defiled by passion, the mind is not released. Defiled by ignorance, discernment does not develop. Thus from the fading of passion is there awareness-release. From the fading of ignorance is there discernment-release."
Right now the anatta, intensity of luminosity and dissolution of subject/object or self-transcendence is effortless and ongoing even in daily life. I no longer have a trace of subject/object for many years, almost a decade. Without the correct realization all these will merely be passing peak experiences.
Being clothed in this dense material form,this body-brain-nervous system,ones perception is severely enslaved/limited .....
Obviously,after death,for some period of time,not being subjected to limited body-brain perception/experience,
ones view and perception will b greatly expanded ....Many things which couldnt be seen while in this body,with all its fight-flight response(biochemical ,hormonal caused) will bcome clearer...
And there will be a period of life review,when one sees the life just lived ,and with it comes variety of consciousness(contenment,regret,sorrow etc...) ...
My Q is .. wats yr view(whether theoretical or if even better,personal experiences) of getting this "expanded mind/consciousness" while still in this body ? Its so hard to get in waking state ...How to hypnotize oneself(if possible) to get "out-of -body- consciousness" ?
And no,im not talking abt no-self,nondual or anything like dat..but really abt reaching a "bodiless" (if can put it dat way) expanded perception,where the grip of self-preservation,selfishness,resentment ,worldly desires etc.. is lessen and a better perspective(eg.. dat we r simply a passerby in this temporal earth life etc...) is attained ....And such perception is obviously different frm belief , for belief is blind...but this is 'closer to reality' view....
Out of body experience does not liberate. It is very common, a high percentage of people will experience it some time in their life even if they did not engage in spiritual practices. It does not help other than maybe shift one's perspective a little bit.
Body-mind drop helps. The complete dissolution of body-consciousness can happen by two ways:
1) Deep samadhi
2) Deep realization.
You need to get to Stage 4 and 5 and deconstruct mind-body for the dissolving of body-consciousness to be permanent. This is described by teachers like Rupert Spira and U.G. Krishnamurti (https://awakeningtoreality.blogspot.com/2018/10/ug-krishnamurti-mystique-of.html)
You will not experience it permanently through meditation alone.
Zen Master Dogen and many other teachers, including my Taiwanese Mahayana teacher, often emphasizes "mind body drop". So this is an important phase. You will experience it eventually if you have the correct insights and practice.
One can experience mind-body drop as a stage in samadhi but it will be temporary without deep nondual realization.
I wrote in 2013:
It is true that when no-self is actualized and when the body is deconstructed, a practitioner naturally experiences the mind-body drop. This means any sense or image of a body and a mind completely dissolves along with any senses of 'entrapment' or 'boundaries' at all.
But do note that this is not a stage of meditative achievement. It is the result of wisdom-insight into the delusional constructions the conceives of a substantial body and a mind. In other words it is a form of self-view and view of a physical body being dissolved via prajna wisdom. Our notion of a solid body with fixed shape, boundaries, and substance deconstructs when we examine it and see that there is only flickering sensations without a center or boundary.
After which, mind-body drop becomes natural and effortless, not a stage to be attained in meditation and lost outside meditation.
And because this is so, *mind body drop is an experience in daily life*. It is not separated from your mind, body, and daily life. It does not mean your body and mind ceases - it is your deluded image of an inherently existing self, body and mind is being released, so your daily life is experienced in a liberated manner.
Therefore it is erroneous to think of "mind-body drop" as a stage of achievement separated from this very experience of body-mind-world. It is only that this body-mind-world is seen as empty of anything graspable, transparent, and boundless. Form is emptiness, emptiness is form.
More importantly, by that stage, you realize that "Awareness" itself is an imputation on the entire flow of manifestation - "Awareness" itself does not exist separately apart from each momentary mind moment, whether it is a sense of formless presence in deep sleep, or the shapes and forms of each waking moment. In other words, Awareness is also empty of being an independent, separate self.
Since this is the case, it is seen at this stage that the very notion of "true absolute Awareness" vs "phenomena" is a false, dualistic paradigm in the first place. There is only the one suchness of form and essence - in so far as each experience, each form, is both luminous clarity (Awareness) in essence and empty of self in nature. This is the nature of mind.
Is there truth in pure land , in which the realm is more conducive to end of suffering compare to earth and we should aspire to b born there?
They are bardo experiences.
My view is similar to Lopon Malcolm:
" As physical places one can take rebirth in? Not really.
As wisdom displays of Amitabha, etc. That's different."
"Copper colored mountain and Sukhavati are basically bardo experiences."
" Just what i said. Pure lands are not interesting to me. All of space is a pure land, for those who know how to see."
Session Start: Thu Dec 30 23:09:13 2004
Session Ident: ^john^
[23:18] do u believe in amitabha?
[23:18] <^john^> yes
[23:19] <^john^> not as a form of ultimate liberation.
[23:19] <^john^> :)
[23:19] <^john^> but i believe in amitabha
[23:19] yes... even in pure land they also haven attain buddhahood
[23:19] <^john^> yes. :)
[23:19] but i dun understand... pure land seems to be a material world, yet how come there are no sufferings there?
[23:20] its not samsara?
[23:20] <^john^> how come no suffering :P
[23:20] its called sukhavati
[23:20] a place with no sufferings but only bliss
[23:20] isnt it
[23:20] <^john^> a place means?
[23:21] amitabha's pure land lor
[23:21] i mean they haven attain enlightenment yet (at least some of them)
[23:21] so how come they also no sufferings
[23:21] <^john^> u know about the place described in amitabha pure land?
[23:21] know as in? i've chanted the sutras
[23:21] <^john^> visualise the place as described. :)
[23:22] icic.. u visualise also?
[23:22] <^john^> nope
[23:23] <^john^> i mean u must know what it means. :P
[23:23] oic... if i visualise then i will understand?
[23:23] <^john^> with ur heart. :P
[23:24] <^john^> where is the place that has all the colors...etc
[23:25] so wat can we learn from the visualisation?
[23:26] <^john^> then u know where is the place lor.
[23:26] <^john^> then u tell me lah.
[23:26] <^john^> :P
[23:26] <^john^> did u learn heart sutra?
[23:27] learn? wat u mean laern
[23:27] i jus read only..
[23:28] <^john^> word by word and sentence by sentence. :)
[23:28] <^john^> know first the meaning as a form of knowledge.
[23:28] <^john^> then know it as a form of meditation
[23:28] <^john^> and lastly a a form of wisdom
[23:30] i got another diff question..
[23:31] my master says
[23:33] nian fo is not as good as wu nian (no thought), wu nian is not as good as wu wu nian (no no thought).. nian fo is like putting a rock on the growing weeds... wu nian is like uprooting the weeds, removing the cause of samsara (the way of arhat).. and the bodhisattva way is wu wu nian, even wu nian also dun have
[23:33] but how come bodhisattva and arhat different in that... its a view thats different?
[23:35] <^john^> actually in actual it is not exactly so. :)
[23:35] <^john^> in speech it is so.
[23:35] <^john^> True buddha is always in action.
[23:35] so wat u mean by in speech it is yet its not exactly
[23:36] <^john^> i mean true buddha nature is always in action.
[23:37] <^john^> when the mind is in a state of 'wu nian', it does not mean that there is nothing in it.
[23:37] <^john^> or one is not able to differentiate left from right.
[23:38] <^john^> it is a state where a 'self' is suspended
[23:38] <^john^> whether temporary or permanent
[23:38] <^john^> temporary is samadhi
[23:39] <^john^> permanent requires the attainment of prajna wisdom to penetrate that there is 'no-self' to eliminate
[23:39] <^john^> however whatever it is, buddha's nature is ever presence and moving and condition arising
[23:41] <^john^> but nian is conditioned arising with enlightenment that there is 'no-self'
[23:41] so u mean bodhisattva attains prajna wisdom but arhat doesnt ?
[23:42] <^john^> the state of enlightenment when there is 'no-self' is qi bu wu-nian
[23:42] <^john^> ye bu yu nian
[23:43] <^john^> so arahat is not as described by ur master.
[23:43] <^john^> arahat is not wu-nian or wu-wu nian.
[23:44] if im not wrong, my master also got say arhat is neither-cessation nor non-cessation
[23:44] <^john^> yes.
[23:44] so u mean this is contradictory with the "nian, wu nian, wu wu nian"?
[23:44] <^john^> yes
[23:45] <^john^> wu nian and wu wu nian is not yet arahat.
[23:45] then what is it?
[23:46] <^john^> dunno it depends whenever these ppl reaching wu nian or wu wu nian understand what is middle path or conditioned arising or emptiness.
[23:47] <^john^> otherwise they might reached a very deep state of meditative experience but hasn't attained liberation.
[23:48] <^john^> an arahat moves according to 'yuan' with the insight that there is 'no-self' to eliminate.
[23:48] <^john^> and is therefore not within these two extremes. :)
[23:49] <^john^> not wu-nian and not wu-wu nian.
[23:49] so arhat's nirvana is permanent?
[23:49] <^john^> nirvana is beyond speech.
[23:49] <^john^> whatever that the mind create (including language), is dual.
[23:50] <^john^> and therefore becomes meaningless when attempting to describe what is beyond dual.
[23:51] <^john^> only when there is still a slight sense of 'I', then 'wu nian' and 'wu wu nian' apply.
[23:51] but i've also heard that arhats can one day return to practice mahayana
[23:52] but then,
[23:52] wu nian means there is no "i" to nian, isnt it?
[23:53] <^john^> I just told sangha about the 5 aggregates and 18 dhatus
[23:53] <^john^> what is the diff?
[23:54] u said wu nian and wu wu nian arises when there is "i"
[23:54] but wu nian alreadi means there is no "i"
[23:54] <^john^> wu nian occurs when 'I' is suppended
[23:55] <^john^> when subject and object becomes one
[23:55] <^john^> like in samadhi
[23:55] <^john^> but that does not mean the awakening of prajna wisdom.
[23:56] so arhats have awakened the prajna wisdom
[23:56] <^john^> yes
[23:57] <^john^> so what arahat like?
[23:57] <^john^> :P
[23:57] <^john^> lacks
[23:58] ya so wat does the arhat lack?
[23:59] * Looking up ^john^ user info...
[23:59] <^john^> arahat is ideal of early buddhism, so what it lacks?
Session Time: Fri Dec 31 00:00:00 2004
[00:00] <^john^> :)
[00:01] so u mean it doesnt lack anything?
[00:02] <^john^> nope..what i mean is what it lacks?
[00:02] <^john^> when we say someone is lack of something, what do we mean?
[00:03] <^john^> there must be a pre-determined set of standards first right?
[00:03] <^john^> an arahat has attained the goals in the early buddhism.
[00:03] sorry read wrong line
[00:04] eh brb'
[00:07] <^john^> so what is the diff between arahat and bodhisattva?
[00:09] well i know perfection of paramitas... compassion...
[00:09] and the article i showed u the other day
[00:09] about the emptiness and the wisdom one
[00:10] <^john^> :)
[00:10] <^john^> many ppl misunderstood.
[00:10] <^john^> it is not now.
[00:10] <^john^> during his life time.
[00:10] i remembered i told truthz to ask something about.. whether arhat nirvana is permanent, if im not wrong.... arhat is sustained by samadhi?
[00:11] <^john^> an arahat will also teach and preach and help.
[00:11] that i know
[00:11] <^john^> so what is the diff?
[00:13] <^john^> So know that u r refering to transcendent bodhisattvas. :)
[00:15] <^john^> an arahat has attained perfect understanding. It is not sustained by samadhi. :)
[00:19] <^john^> so know the diff?
[00:21] so u saying... arhat's wisdom is perfect?
[00:22] <^john^> if u ask me, I don't see the diff. :P
[00:22] btw r u saying that arhat's wisdom is perfect?
[00:23] <^john^> perfect understanding of dharma.
[00:23] well u say an arhant has attained perfect understanding
[00:24] <^john^> yes.
[00:24] <^john^> otherwise how to be the ideal of early buddhism.
[00:25] u meaning about the wisdom?
[00:25] <^john^> i mean what is the diff between arahat and bodhisattvas?
[00:27] den how about wisdom? u saying arhat's wisdom is perfect?
[00:28] <^john^> no what i meant is i do not see the diff so far as in accordance to buddha's teaching what they have not attained.
[00:28] <^john^> in terms of liberation.
[00:28] but there is difference in terms of wisdom?
[00:28] <^john^> so at that time, what the arahat lacks?
[00:28] <^john^> wisdom as in what aspect?
[00:29] <^john^> prajna wisdom seeing things as emptiness?
[00:29] <^john^> or what?
[00:29] <^john^> how is one able to go beyond the 6 realms without attaining prajna wisdom.
[00:37] <^john^> do u think there is such thing as half-infinity?
[00:37] <^john^> things having a beginning and no ending?