Showing posts with label Ajahn Amaro. Show all posts
Showing posts with label Ajahn Amaro. Show all posts

I just sent some excerpts to John Tan and he said

“Wow this is a damn good book

Who wrote that?

But I think need to be very careful not to assume that non-dual of subject/object naturally implies freedom from intellectual obscurations of internal/external, mind/matter.”

"Yes I think it is a very good book"

Download link:

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.
Related: The Breakthrough

(The following is written by Ajahn Amaro on the teachings of Non-Duality, Anatta and Emptiness by Buddha. Also see: Thusness/PasserBy's Seven Stages of Enlightenment)

Ancient Teachings on Nonabiding

This principle of nonabiding is also contained within the ancient
Theravada teachings. It wasn’t just Ajahn Chah’s personal insight
or the legacy of some stray Nyingmapa lama who wandered
over the mountains and fetched up in northeast Thailand 100
years ago. Right in the Pali Canon, the Buddha points directly
to this. In the Udana (the collection of “Inspired Utterances”
of the Buddha), he says:

There is that sphere of being where there is no earth,
no water, no fire, nor wind; no experience of infinity
of space, of infinity of consciousness, of no-thingness,
or even of neither-perception-nor-non-perception; here
there is neither this world nor another world, neither
moon nor sun; this sphere of being I call neither a coming
nor a going nor a staying still, neither a dying nor
a reappearance; it has no basis, no evolution, and no
support: it is the end of dukkha. (ud. 8.1)

Rigpa, nondual awareness, is the direct knowing of this. It’s
the quality of mind that knows, while abiding nowhere.

Another teaching from the same collection recounts the story
of a wanderer named Bahiya. He stopped the Buddha on the
street in Savatthi and said, “Venerable Sir, you are the Samana
Gotama. Your Dharma is famous throughout the land. Please
teach me that I may understand the truth.”

The Buddha replied, “We’re on our almsround, Bahiya. This is
not the right time.”

“Life is uncertain, Venerable Sir. We never know when we are
going to die; please teach me the Dharma.”

This dialogue repeats itself three times. Three times over, the
Buddha says the same thing, and Bahiya responds in the same
way. Finally, the Buddha says, “When a Tathagata is pressed
three times, he has to answer. Listen carefully, Bahiya, and
attend to what I 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.
Thus you should see that
indeed there is no thing here;
this, Bahiya, is how you should train yourself.
Since, Bahiya, there is for you
in the seen, only the seen,
in the heard, only the heard,
in the sensed, only the sensed,
in the cognized, only the cognized,
and you see that there is no thing here,
you will therefore see that
indeed there is no thing there.
As you see that there is no thing there,
you will see that
you are therefore located neither in the world of this,
nor in the world of that,
nor in any place
betwixt the two.
This alone is the end of suffering.” (ud. 1.10)

Upon hearing these words, Bahiya was immediately enlightened.
Moments later he was killed by a runaway cow. So he was
right: life is uncertain. Later Bahiya was awarded the title of
“The Disciple Who Understood the Teaching Most Quickly.”

“Where” Does Not Apply

What does it mean to say, “There is no thing there”? It is talking
about the realm of the object; it implies that we recognize that
“the seen is merely the seen.” That’s it. There are forms, shapes,
colors, and so forth, but there is no thing there. There is no real
substance, no solidity, and no self-existent reality. All there is,
is the quality of experience itself. No more, no less. There is just
seeing, hearing, feeling, sensing, cognizing. And the mind naming
it all is also just another experience: “the space of the
Dharma hall,” “Ajahn Amaro’s voice,” “here is the thought,
‘Am I understanding this?’ Now another thought, ‘Am I not
understanding this?’”

There is what is seen, heard, tasted, and so on, but there is no
thing-ness, no solid, independent entity that this experience
refers to.

As this insight matures, not only do we realize that there is
no thing “out there,” but we also realize there is no solid thing
“in here,” no independent and fixed entity that is the experiencer.
This is talking about the realm of the subject.

The practice of nonabiding is a process of emptying out the
objective and subjective domains, truly seeing that both the
object and subject are intrinsically empty. If we can see that both
the subjective and objective are empty, if there’s no real “in
here” or “out there,” where could the feeling of I-ness and meness
and my-ness locate itself? As the Buddha said to Bahiya,
“You will not be able to find your self either in the world of this
[subject] or in the world of that [object] or anywhere between
the two.”

There is a similar and much lengthier exchange between the
Buddha and Ânanda in the Shurangama Sutra, which is a text
much referred to in the Ch’an school of the Chinese tradition.
For pages and pages the Buddha asks Ânanda, in multifarious
ways, if he can define exactly where his mind is. No matter how
hard he tries, Ânanda cannot establish it precisely. Eventually
he is forced to the conclusion that “I cannot find my mind anywhere.”

But the Buddha says, “Your mind does exist, though,
doesn’t it?”

Ânanda is finally drawn to the conclusion that “where” does
not apply.


This is the point that these teachings on nonabiding are trying
to draw us to. The whole concept and construct of where-ness,
the act of conceiving ourselves as this individual entity living
at this spot in space and time, is a presumption. And it’s only by
frustrating our habitual judgments in this way that we’re forced
into loosening our grip.

This view of things pulls the plug, takes the props away, and,
above all, shakes up our standard frames of reference. This is
exactly what Ajahn Chah did with people when he asked, “If you
can’t go forward and you can’t go back and you can’t stand still,
where can you go?” He was pointing to the place of nonabiding:
the timeless, selfless quality that is independent of location.

Interestingly enough, some current scientific research has
also reached a comparable conclusion about the fundamental
nature of matter. In the world of quantum physics, scientists
now use such terms as “the well of being” or “the sea of potential”
to refer to the primordial level of physical reality from
which all particles and energies crystallize and into which they
subsequently dissolve. The principle of non-locality in this realm
means that the “place where something happens” cannot truly
be defined, and that a single event can have exactly simultaneous
effects in (apparently) widely separated places. Particles can
accurately be described as being smeared out over the entirety of
time and space.

Terms like “single place” and “separate places” are seen to
apply only as convenient fictions at certain levels of scale; at the
level of the ultimate field, the sea of quantum foam, “place” has
no real meaning. When you get down into the fine, subatomic
realm, where-ness simply does not apply. There is no there there.
Whether this principle is called nonabiding or non-locality, it’s
both interesting and noteworthy that the same principle applies
in both the physical and mental realms. For the intellectuals and
rationalists among us, this parallel is probably very comforting.

I first started to investigate this type of contemplation when I
was on a long retreat in our monastery and doing a lot of solitary
practice. It suddenly occurred to me that even though I might
have let go of the feeling of self—the feeling of this and that
and so on—whatever the experience of reality was, it was still
“here.” There was still here-ness. For several weeks I contemplated
the question, “Where is here?” Not using the question to
get a verbal answer, more just to illuminate and aid the abandonment
of the clinging that was present.

Recognizing this kind of conditioning is half the job—
recognizing that, as soon as there is a here-ness, there is a subtle
presence of a there-ness. Similarly, establishing a “this,” brings
up a “that.” As soon as we define “inside,” up pops “outside.”
It’s crucial to acknowledge such subtle feelings of grasping; it
happens so fast and at so many different layers and levels.

This simple act of apprehending the experience is shining the
light of wisdom onto what the heart is grasping. Once the defilements
are in the spotlight, they get a little nervous and uncomfortable.
clinging is the focus of our awareness, it can’t function properly.
In short, clinging can’t cling if there is too much wisdom around.
Clinging operates best when we are not looking. When
clinging is the focus of our awareness, it can’t function properly.
In short, clinging can’t cling if there is too much wisdom around.