Wednesday 18 Jul 2018
Sanity, Reality & Peace lives here ---- where the past and the future unify.
The Buddha confirmed that our Life and the Universe are mental constructs. He invited us to come and see! He had realised that our minds are deluded such we have become dissociated from the Present Moment and this brings about what he called Dukkha. This dissociation from the moment allows “will” to prevail so we attempt to influence the world by grasping onto our desires while rejecting what we are averse to. He encourages us to see that this delusion creates a mixed blessing that eventually allows us to see the unsatisfactory nature of our lives and the inherent suffering in it. It is this Dukkha that eventually propels us to seek enlightenment --- to understand the paradox of “Me” and the “World” and to let it all go!
Dukkha is the first of the Buddha’s “Four Noble Truths” and I think he set his teachings up this way because he saw that, the Universe and our role in it is essentially in a state of perfection. Nature’s mediation of the conditions that come into existence around the truth of the present moment is an exercise in balance. The duality that nature constructs in our mind around the Present Moment is always perfectly balanced! However our evolution to the point of self-reflection allows us to see and experience the Dukkha (suffering) as we grasp it with desire or reject it with aversion. Our energy then becomes unbalanced with restlessness and the need for sleep. All of this plays out in our consciousness in a nested way until we become totally dissociated from the present moment --- we believe wholeheartedly in our experience, but at the same time we are full of doubt. This paragraph is effectively a summary of the Buddha’s Five Hindrances to Peace.
Birth and Death is one of nature’s obvious dualities. We see easily that everything that is born must eventually die, but our dissociation and delusion precludes us from easily seeing rebirth as a consequence of death. We have constructed the paradox of “Me” as separate from the “World”. We do this because we are not familiar with the still consciousness that is present at all times in our minds and the Universe. The Buddha taught us to be mindful of this still consciousness --- to ground ourselves in its purity. His teachings train us how to decouple the still consciousness from consciousness that moves to create. When this happens the stillness can be used as a datum to see very easily the beginning of conditions and the ending of conditions. This is in fact the Buddha’s Second and Third Noble Truth --- the arising of conditions and the passing away of conditions. The Fourth and final Noble Truth is the Eightfold Path describing the way the Buddha taught us to recognise and realise this still consciousness and the fact that it too has the propensity to finish. I will come back to this in a moment.
The scales of the worlds conditioning go from the vastness of universal cycles measured with what physicist call deep time and space, all the way to the quantum scale of consciousness itself where the Buddha said that it arises and passes away “countless times in the wink of an eye”. From our human perspective we can see the arising and finishing of a breath, the arising and finishing of a day, a year or indeed a life; however for most of us rebirth only becomes apparent when still consciousness is there to show us the transcendental. Our death can be simulated in meditation by developing stillness in our minds, especially in what is called a Jhana. This is a state were the Five Hindrances finish temporarily allowing the still consciousness of our mind to be present by itself. We can then realise with insight that we are in fact looking at the matrix of the Universe. Then we can practice to see our apparent life finish, embedded as a stream in our consciousness that goes on to be reborn. It is the still consciousness that contains all of the nested Universal conditions which also contains our personal stream of conditions. The Buddha said that these conditions arise dependently on what went before and he categorised all that I have said here, including any insight into stillness, as being in the “Mundane” realm.
Still consciousness contains all of the conditions of the world including the consciousness of our senses which are nested into the stillness and will finish with our sense organs at death. We can see this stillness feeding back to bring the entire universe with it, “countless times in the wink of an eye”. When we can become aware of this phenomenon, we can practice to establish it with mindfulness, so it is always present; acting as a datum for the conditions of our life. Now however, because we have objectified still consciousness, we can start to investigate and to penetrate into the stillness itself. “Knowing” has this remarkable ability to scrutinise and notice. Eventually, the beauty and contentment of this presence will allow purity and truth to prevail and generally, at a time not expected, we can notice that this feedback of consciousness has finished. The Buddha described this as Cessation and called this state “Supra Mundane”. We can notice as we become aware of this that the universe has unified inside of us. It will remain in this state dependent on the momentum that was brought to bear into the penetration of it. Contemplation of this truth will allow us to know that if and when death happens to coincide with this state of being, there will be no rebirth. Mindfulness has brought us home to the “Present Moment”.
At this stage it is worth reminding ourselves that our lives and the world are in reality, always in a state of perfection. There is nothing wrong with the Universe.
Nature works to balance it all so it can never be out of balance. The issue for us here is our own desires, discontent and the delusion this brings. In the Buddha’s time some misunderstood him and accused him of being a demigod and speaking with hubris. When he heard of this, the Buddha called his Monks together and made the statement. “I teach nothing more than the arising of Dukkha and the passing away of Dukkha”. When the Buddha set out his eightfold path of practice, he set out a pathway for us to realise the truth of the Present Moment, he made it possible for us all to be free from delusion and to find the pathway to Peace. The Present Moment is where Sanity, Reality and Peace live! This is where where the past and the future unify. This is where the paradox of “Me & the Universe” is resolved.
I will finish by setting out again what has become, my favourite verse spoken by the Buddha.
Heedfulness is the Deathless path,
Heedlessness is the path to death.
Those who are heedful do not die,
Heedless are like the dead.
Dhammapada Verse 21