The Journey Towards Awakening By Asuramuni Karunasena Published by Asuramuni Karunasena at Smashwords Copyright 2012 Asuramuni Karunasena Smashwords Edition, License Notes Thank you for downloading this free ebook. Although this is a free book, it remains the copyrighted property of the author, and may not be reproduced, copied and distributed for commercial or non-commercial purposes. If you enjoyed this book, please encourage your friends to download their own copy at Smashwords.com. Thank you for your support. To my loving grandchildren Emaya and Kaynen Table of contents Foreword Acknowledgements Preface 1. Introduction 2. The mind process 2.1 Investigation of the mind 2.2 Beginning of a process 2.3 Conditioning 2.4 A drift begins 2.5 Contacts lead to stimulations 2.6 Delusion 2.7 Different phases 3. Impediments: craving in different forms 3.1 Ignorance 3.2 Identification of impediments 3.3 Self 3.4 Self-appraisal 3.5 Knowledge 4. The way forward 4.1 Conventional truth 4.2 Sources of information 4.3 Discourses of the enlightened 5. The guidelines 5.1 Mind 5.2 Knowledge 5.3 Self 5.4 Timelessness 5.5 Impermanence 5.6 Present moment 5.7 Meditation 5.8 Look within 5.9 The Middle Path 5.10 Upstream 6. Conclusion 6.1 Availability of Information 6.2 Meditation 6.3 Four foundations of mindfulness 6.4 Deep sleep 6.5 Pure mind Notes Recommended reading About the author Foreword Mr Karunasena’s new book is a scholarly exposition of the Buddhist ideas of “awakening” and a masterly guide to its personal realisation. Awakening, arguably the most fundamental concept in Buddhism, the Buddha himself being referred to as “the awakened one.” Bodhi in Sanskrit translates into awakening or enlightenment. Not only does the author present the basic tenets of Buddhism more succinctly than I have seen elsewhere, but he exhorts and guides his reader to personally experience awakening. Awakening to a level of one’s choice is accessible to everyone. The author helps the reader to understand and overcome impediments that lie in the way of achieving such a goal without blindly following the advice of sages and pundits. One is exhorted to recognise the value as well as the limitations of traditionally accepted paths towards enlightenment, in particular meditation. We are reminded that Siddhartha Gautama attained enlightenment (nibbana) after rejecting accepted practices including meditation. Nibbana is ostensibly beyond the mind process, while all forms of meditation lie firmly within it. The practical route to enlightenment must of necessity depend on following an empirically tested and highly personalised approach. The author calls attention to two areas that are often ignored: deep sleep to understand the qualities of kamma vatta; and nature of the infant’s mind where identification and self are absent—both of which have a profound relevance and an overlap with some qualities of nibbana. By emulating the properties of deep sleep or of an infant’s mind we can free ourselves from the shackles of self and selfishness and thus reach a more profound understanding of the nature of things. Once we come to realise that a permanent self/ego is an illusion we would begin to gain true knowledge of the world—we become enlightened. By sublimating a personal ego we are told that the timelessness of an infinite eternal universe will be realised. I am not surprised that many ancient Buddhist texts written thousands of years ago have described a Universe of stars, planets and galaxies that is amazingly post-modern. And such knowledge was not acquired using telescopes but through the still unexplored powers of selfless introspection. The truth about the world lies deep within us, waiting to be unravelled. Professor Chandra Wickramasinghe Cardiff University, UK, and Director, Buckingham Centre for Astrobiology, University of Buckingham, UK Acknowledgements My first footstep in the direction of the teaching was taken in the autumn of 1999, when I first met Dr. Kumar Senanayeka. He was in England doing his post-graduate studies at the time. After I had shared several discussions with him, my perceptions of the Buddha’s teachings began to change. I was impelled to understand the teaching and to move forward in search of the Truth. Dr. Senanayeka’s message was simple, but forceful enough that it led me to critically examine my own understanding of the dhamma. It was the most beautiful feeling that I have ever experienced. With the awakening of this new interest in the subject, I was keen to lay a proper foundation. I invited Mrs. Swarna Silva, to England in the spring of 2000. This was on the recommendation of Dr. Senanayeka. Mrs Silva has retired from her teaching profession and was a regular participant of Mr Siriwardena’s dhamma discussion at the time. Mrs. Silva’s visit was of the greatest benefit to me, and many others in England. Her discussions helped me to clear some of my misunderstandings of the teaching. It was a great, unforgettable beginning and I am thankful to both, Dr. Senanayeka and Mrs. Silva for initiating such a wonderful change in me. Dr Senanayeka and Mrs Silva were also responsible for directing me to study the teachings of Mr. Lokuge Siriwardena, a popular Sri Lankan teacher of dhamma. I was told that both of them had greatly benefited from Mr. Lokuge Siriwardena’s dhamma discussions. I first began listening to these talks in the winter of 2000, in Galle, Sri Lanka. This resulted in a major change, a radical transformation of my thinking. After listening to Mr. Siriwardena, I developed an avid appetite for serious investigations into the teachings. Since then I have attended or listened to Mr. Siriwardena’s talks at every available opportunity. For the first time in my life, the proper meaning of the Buddha’s words “pubbe ananussutesu dhammesu” (dhamma unheard of before) seemed to be revealed. After returning to England, I arranged for Mr. Siriwardena to visit England and meet with many Buddhists there. I have had many precious opportunities to meet with him during these visits. The most recent meeting with Mr. Siriwardena was in the summer of 2011 in England. I have no words to explain the benefits I gained from these discussions. I am ever so grateful to Mr. Siriwardena for showing me the right path. I have also been fortunate to enjoy discussions with Mr. Kularathne Nakkawatte, Dr. (Mrs.) Sheila Subasingha, Mrs. Sumana Wijayatunga, and Mr. Jayasiri Wijayasinghe during the past few years. With their help and guidance, I was able to focus intensely on the deep meanings of the teachings and thereby able to escape from my blindness to problems in the traditional teachings of Buddhism. I am very grateful to them for having pointed out many irregularities, inaccuracies, and inconsistencies of our accepted traditional interpretations of the dhamma. They too have helped me to set myself on the right path. This book would not have been possible if not for the above-named persons and their invaluable discussions, and therefore, I would like to gratefully acknowledge my spiritual lineage. However, the contents of this book are only a reflection of my personal understanding of the profound teaching of the Buddha. If you find mistakes or misunderstandings in my book, please attribute them to my own faulty understanding of the dhamma, and not to my patient and wise teachers. I would like to acknowledge with gratitude Professor Chandra Wickramasinghe for writing the foreword to the book. I would like to thank Ms Karen Lofstrom for editing the book amidst her busy schedule. Most of all, I would like to acknowledge, my wife Indra, son Asanka, daughter Shelani and daughter-in-law Kavudini for their tolerance, unimpeded support and positive encouragement to proceed with this difficult task. Preface The teachings of the Awakened help us understand that our experience of the phenomenal world, the world that the senses manifest to us, is an illusion. The illusion is only an impermanent result of a process that begins with involuntary sensory stimulations. The teachings help us to see through the clever manipulations of craving (tanha), manipulations which create our ignorance-driven mind process. Involuntary sensory stimulations cause thought; there is no need to assume a creator of thought. However, the operation of cause and effect leads us to believe that a thought must have a thinker. A ‘self’ is born. Our ignorance leads us to believe that this mind creation is a permanent self. It is the illusion of “I”, “Me,” and “Mine” that is established through this process. Many of us are intelligent enough to understand that “I” and “Me” are illusions. But this intellectual capability—the capability to reject the notion of a permanent entity called a self—is not sufficient for us to awake from the illusion of self. The emotional feeling of identity—the feeling of “I” as a person or “self”—continues. This illusion will continue until we become fully conscious of the arising of the experience of a self. The notion of identity leads to emotional responses, which are responses to thoughts. These emotional responses manifest in many different ways: happiness, unhappiness, anger, sorrow, pain, grief, etc. These are the experiences arising from the illusion of a self, as we ignorantly personalise all responses resulting from involuntary sensory stimulations. This personalisation, the clinging to mental constructions, is the cause of our suffering and our continuance in the cycle of birth and death. The energy that perpetuates this cycle of birth and death, the samsaric cycle, comes from our emotions. Thus our emotional responses to involuntary sensory stimulations can only keep us trapped in this samsaric cycle forever. The teachings guide and assist us in calming our emotions. They help us start our journey on the Middle Path to move towards the Noble Eightfold Path and attain the ultimate experience of Enlightenment. But only a wise seeker of TRUTH, a rational thinker with an open mind, can gain a clear comprehension of the teachings and use them for this purpose. As human beings, we are endowed with the capacity of reason, which helps us understand the teachings, identify hidden impediments, discard what is not relevant, and free the investigative mind within for direct experience of the un-manifest. The priceless inner richness, the ‘wisdom’ that rests within us is ‘here’ to be explored and experienced now, not in a better or a future life. 1. Introduction In its most common use, the word “awakening” refers to the transition from sleep to wakefulness, from unconsciousness to consciousness, from thoughtlessness to an incessant stream of thoughts, from the unknown to the known. Wakefulness is the state in which consciousness, awareness, attentiveness, and all behaviours necessary for survival are conducted. Awakening also refers to a revival or renewal of interest in a particular topic or subject. In both situations, the underlying essential criteria are the functioning of the time-dependent mind and the sense faculties. Thus it is the experiencing of the phenomenal world, the world that the senses manifest to us. In Buddhism, awakening, the subject matter of this book, refers to something more profound, independent of the activation or the functioning of the sense faculties, independent of time and space, beyond the confines of ordinary consciousness. It is the experiencing of the world's true nature, reality in its absolute timelessness and spacelessness. It is the awakening from unconsciousness or ignorance . It is the experiencing of the un-manifest. Awakening in the context of Buddhism refers to the experiencing of the un-manifest, an experience which has been called Bodhi    (the same word is used in Pali and Sanskrit). The ‘one who has achieved bodhi’ is called the Buddha. The word Bodhi was traditionally translated into English as Enlightenment or awakening. This is referred to as Nibbana  or Nirvana in Buddhism. The ultimate goal of many Buddhists is this awakening. They believe that awakening brings an end to the cycle of births and deaths, and the suffering associated with this cycle. The experiencing of the un-manifest, of Enlightenment is beyond our object-related  consciousness or awareness. It cannot be experienced by the time-dependent, mind-controlled thought process. It is the experiencing of our hidden inner richness, the wisdom with which we are originally endowed. It is the awakening of the real ‘I’ as opposed to the mind-made, conventional, illusory ‘I’. At one time, when we were infants, we experienced it , but at the time we were unaware of the experience. As adults, we realise that we have not gained any benefit from our early experience. However, Buddhism teaches us that this inherent quality of priceless inner richness is with us every moment, waiting to be explored and experienced. Some are aware of this aspect, but many are ignorant. Some mistakenly believe that the development or improvement of this object-related consciousness or awareness is the path to unfold our hidden true richness, the luminous gem, the true wisdom. However, object- related consciousness may point us towards awakening, but it can never unfold the true inner richness. Consciousness is a thought, but the Truth, the inner richness, is not. We are aware that our object-related consciousness, our everyday consciousness, is the ruler of our mundane life. It is our success, happiness, and pride-and also our failure, frustration, and unhappiness. It is the creation of the illusion of permanence from involuntary sensory stimulations. It is the basis for the creation of our conventional world. It is the essential ingredient for our day-to-day life. It is a process that functions within finite boundaries, confined only to the reach of our senses. It is basically the thought process of the conditioned, ego- bound mind. Referring to the mind as conditioned or personalised conveys a misleading message to some individuals; it implies that the mind belongs to a self. Does the mind belong to a self? Can anyone claim ownership of the mind? On the conventional level, there is existence, and hence, the mind belongs to a self, but in reality, in the absence of a self there is no ownership for the mind. This is the conflict between convention and reality. A wise seeker of reality knows that ownership exists only in thought. Hence, while respecting the convention for the sake of social harmony, he or she repudiates the ownership and moves on the right path to experience the un-experienced, the un-manifested. Of course, proper explanations of the un-manifest are best left to those who have actually experienced it. For that reason, I do not speak about this experience at any great length; I do not want to mislead my readers. However, I believe that I have gained invaluable benefits from the discussions I had with my teachers. I have moved away from darkness into the light. I am now beginning to understand the Buddha’s teaching more clearly. This is the understanding I wish to share with my readers. I am confident that it will benefit many readers who are in search of Truth. What my teachers tell me is that the experiencing of the un-manifest is basically the awakening into the timeless present . It is the shining forth of the un-personalised mind , without limits or boundaries. It is the experience of the inner richness, the dawn of the wisdom . It is to become free of identification with form. It is the realisation of ‘who I really am,’ beyond ego. Some refer to this awakening as awakened awareness, awakened consciousness, or awareness without objects— consciousness or awareness free of identification with forms. The words used to explain or identify the concept do not matter, provided we are not limited by the conventional meanings of such words. Words are just signposts to communicate a message. They are only symbols, representations that cannot fully describe anything. For example, the word ‘apple’ is not an apple. It is just a label. The Enlightened have no use for words except to explain things to those who still think words are important. Words serve a purpose only until it is realised that they do not serve a purpose. They are useful for the sake of explaining to others that they are useless. When they occur spontaneously by themselves, in the moment, for the sake of others, in the form of writing or speaking, they serve a purpose, a conventional need. The Truth is beyond all words; it must be experienced, not merely talked about. But we do not really ‘experience’ it because there is no self experiencing ‘that.’ To many the path or the journey towards awakening is not clear. The path is cluttered with contradictory traditional interpretations and obscured by punditry. Otherwise simple explanations are often complicated by obscure Pali   words. Implicit in these explanations is the belief that Enlightenment is something beyond the reach and capabilities of normal human beings. This myth is accepted by many as the norm and accordingly Enlightenment is postponed to a distant future, subject to fulfilment of certain requisites. Some have even postponed it to another life, in the future, which contradicts the basic teachings of the Buddha. The Buddha taught that Enlightenment is here and now. Unfortunately, due to our ignorance, we do not experience this unique phenomenon, one that is available to us every moment. Instead, we allow the illusory ego to dominate and the thought process to continue. But awakening is possible! To awaken is to experience the reality that underlies illusion. It is the experience of inner peace beyond thought. Moreover, awakening is a possibility for every human being, irrespective of religion. We should not make the egotistical mistake of claiming that awakening is limited to those of our own religion or faith. The teachings of the Buddha, popularly known as Buddhism, can be classified many ways: as a religion, a philosophy, a way of life, etc. These classifications are opinions, based on the need to categorise or identify. They are nothing more than purely subjective concepts. They are the results of thought processes. There is no need to view the teachings as confined by the rigid boundaries of any of these categories. If we accept the boundaries, we lose sight of the Truth. Our categorisation would simply exemplify the functioning of the ego—that we are right and others are wrong. That does not mean the answer is to reject all categorisation. That is also the functioning of the ego, and no better than the other. Perhaps it is possible to adopt a more flexible, open- minded approach. When one looks at the basic concepts of the teachings with an open mind, the boundaries and the secondary nature of these categorisations and concepts would become very clear. Once one realises their limitations, one is better prepared for the journey ahead. People are attracted to Buddhism for many different reasons, as these different descriptions of Buddhism would indicate. For many, the attraction may be the beneficial social effects of Buddhism as a religion: non-violence, compassion, tolerance, and social harmony. The increased level of violence in today’s world may encourage some to seek solace in Buddhism. Others seek the benefits of meditation. Certain meditation techniques can bring peace of mind to individuals. Meditation helps to control anger and selfishness, and fosters good qualities such as kindness, helpfulness, etc. These characteristics not only increase social harmony, but are the prerequisites for such happiness as we can enjoy as individual selves. Many consider this fleeting happiness to be the most important aspect of life. Meditation improves health, and many people desire to live in good health until death. For yet others, Buddhism is a way of life. They are Buddhists because they were raised as Buddhists. They take comfort in familiar rites and rituals. This is how Buddhism is practised in many places. These rituals have crept into the teachings with the passage of time and still play a dominant part in the practices of many traditionalists. Sadly, many religious institutions that are supposed to be the guardians of the teachings encourage these practices, which are believed to grant protection and prosperity to the illusory self. Rather than helping practitioners reach Nibbana, they strengthen the ego. It is interesting that there is increased interest in Buddhism in many countries that are not traditionally Buddhist. The newcomers are not attracted to the traditionalist version of Buddhism; often they are genuinely interested in the principles of the teachings. Buddhism is now considered a major world religion. It has won international awards. In 2009, the Geneva-based International Coalition for the Advancement of Religious and Spirituality (ICARUS ) gave their Best Religion of the World award to the Buddhist community. It is estimated that there are around 375 million followers worldwide; according to a recent article , Buddhism is the fourth-largest religion in the world, behind Christianity, Islam, and Hinduism. It is disappointing to note that, despite the ever-increasing interest in the great teaching of the Buddha, many are left without clear guidance and direction and cannot attain the purpose for which the teaching was intended, i.e., to be awakened from ignorance. My first book, The Teachings of the Awakened , was written with the hope that it could help provide guidance and direction to genuine seekers of the Truth. It presented two simple, but very important, messages. First, it asked readers to consider the concepts set forth there with an open mind—that is, to consider the concepts without pre-judgement or prejudice, even if the approach described differed from traditional interpretations of the teaching. Second, it asked readers to adopt a rational approach in order to understand the teaching in its proper perspective. The aim of the first few chapters of this first book was to provide a basic framework that would guide readers away from the rigidity of traditional thinking. These chapters aimed to clear away restricted and narrow views of the teachings. They also presented the teachings in simple language, without the specialised, esoteric terminology used by many monks and scholars. They encouraged readers to take an open-minded approach to understanding the teachings. Other chapters in my first book contained analytical examinations of various basic concepts, conducted in simple language. ‘Self,’ ‘five aggregates,’ ‘dependent origination,’ and ’timelessness’ were thoroughly examined in these chapters. These discussions were illustrated with simple examples, which were designed to help readers move towards the experience of reality. They stressed the importance of the present moment, where dhamma  is revealed. This moment, this instant where the self is born, is explained in detail. This moment is the only moment in which we can experience the Truth, but we look away from it, towards the past and the future. The Teachings of the Awakened was my first effort to make a contribution towards meeting the needs of seekers of Truth. Following the publication of this book, I was humbly grateful to receive positive and encouraging responses from some of my readers, and to read positive reviews in newspapers and journals. It is wonderful that my simple message has reached so many corners of the world. Contemplating these responses, I ventured to believe that a second book might be of some use to seekers. The aim of this second book is twofold: first, to help readers understand the beliefs that create barriers to a proper understanding of the Buddha’s teaching, and second, to discuss some aspects of the teachings which have been distorted by such beliefs. These aspects will be critically examined, unconfined by traditional interpretations. The reader will be encouraged to keep an open mind in order to approach these teachings in a scientific, logical, and rational manner. Before I take you any further, perhaps I should say something about myself. I was born to a Buddhist family in Sri Lanka and brought up in a Buddhist environment. I am a Chartered Surveyor and not a Buddhist scholar. I have no formal qualification in Buddhism nor have I any monastic training. However, I have been fortunate to encounter teachers whom I sincerely believe to be awakened. Their discussions helped me to clear many of my doubts and improve my understanding of the teaching. The journey may be long, but I will persist: listening to my teachers, exploring the Buddha’s teachings, hoping to progress on the path. My ignorance may have prevented me from fully understanding the teaching. However, I hope that such understanding as I can share with you will be of some help. If there are faults in this book, they are not the faults of my teachers—the faults are due to my failure to understand the teachers’ discourses. When you read this book, you may begin to compare it with what you know, or think you know, about Buddhism. It may differ from the versions of the teachings with which you are familiar. When this occurs, you may be inclined to agree or disagree. Be open-minded and analyse rationally. Do not let yourself be carried away by the words; they are just signposts to be left behind. Read as if everything here were something new. Test the contents with rational thinking and assess the validity of the interpretations. I do not ask you to accept because I am an authority; I ask you to convince yourself of the truth or falsity of my words. Many of us are so engrossed in daily life that we cannot find time to consider the teachings. We remember them only when we need to seek solace in difficult situations. Engrossed in the illusion of the permanent self, anxious to protect this self, we put the teachings last on our list of priorities. Until and unless we realise that it should become the number one item on the list, we cannot proceed in the right direction. I hope that this book will help remind you to put the teaching first. Remember that Enlightenment is not confined to one religion nor it is necessarily to be experienced via religious practices. There are no religious or any other boundaries. It is within everyone’s capabilities to attain the experience of the un-manifest, irrespective of religion, caste, nationality, etc. Moreover, it is an experience that can be attained now, in this life, not in the next. Many Buddhists observe five or ten precepts   of ethical behaviour. They do so in the belief that they will gain merit. They engage in charity to accrue merit; they carry out rituals to gain merit; they believe that they can transfer merit to the deceased, so that the deceased will gain some benefit in the next life. They do all this and much more, in the hope of attaining prosperity and happiness in this life and the next. If they think of Nibbana, of Enlightenment, at all, they think of it as something to be attained in a distant future life. This is clearly a misunderstanding of the teaching. Is this what the awakened teachers of the past have taught? Is this what the few awakened ones now in the world are saying? Are the popular beliefs mentioned in the previous paragraph what the Buddha intended? No. Such popular beliefs are all self-centred, whereas the Buddha’s teaching is clearly about non-self. The Buddha taught us to understand the illusion of self as the result of the mind process: sensory stimulation, the arising of thought and the acceptance of time, ignorance of the mind process facilitated by craving (tanha ), the creation of mental constructs  and the self, clinging to self leading to misery. If we can understand and observe this process, we can liberate ourselves from it and so conquer the recurrent cycle of birth and death. Therefore, understanding the thinking mind, the mind process, is the starting point of our journey towards the intended goal of Enlightenment. This mind process is discussed in Chapter Two, which also introduces the concepts of the five aggregates  and dependent origination —concepts that are essential to the Buddha’s critical analysis of this complex process. As mentioned above, the first task of this book is to help readers understand the impediments to a proper grasp of the teachings. They can best be described as cravings. They, impediments are discussed in detail in Chapter Three, which concerns craving in different forms. Everyone knows that the teachings point to Nibbana as the final destination. But many are wandering without clear guidance as to the best way forward. True, there are traditional practices that claim to help the seeker, but, unfortunately, many contradict the very basics of the teachings. Hence, it is questionable whether they help practitioners to gain any benefit. Chapter Four is intended to help readers to improve their abilities to listen, read, and reason, to move beyond the boundaries of tradition, and to grasp the teachings in a manner that helps them to move forward. Much of the information easily available to seeker is tainted with impurities resulting from time, language, custom, tradition, etc. These are hurdles that must be cleared if we are to gain a clear understanding of the teachings. The methods for dealing with these challenges are discussed in Chapter Five. In the final chapter, many important concepts are summarised and repeated; readers are invited to check their own understanding as to the best way forward. May you all experience the reality and be enlightened in this life. 2. The mind process The ordinary human mind is not a thing, but a process. This process creates our thoughts and thus, consciousness; from this consciousness arise concepts of self, objects, world, and the divine. It is this consciousness-related mind that we generally refer to as ‘mind’. Our very existence depends on the functioning of this ordinary mind, which allows us to consider the past and prepare for the future. The mind process is so complex that it cannot be duplicated even by the most advanced computers. It is the source of man’s superiority over the animal kingdom. It helps men to ponder problems and create solutions. It is of immense service to mankind, but has also created many problems in the world. There are many theories of the mind and its function. The earliest recorded works on the mind are by ancient Indian and Greek philosophers. Some theories concentrated on the relationship between the mind and a supernatural, individual soul. Modern theories, based on scientific understanding of the brain, propose that the mind is a phenomenon of the brain and is synonymous with consciousness. Modern science and Buddhism both teach that the mind processes information about our environment that we receive through specialised receptors such as the five sense organs: the eye for sight, ear for hearing, tongue for taste, nose for smell, and body for feeling. Information resulting from external stimuli travels in the form of nerve impulses to and from the brain. Nerve impulses are electrical signals, which the mind processes into internal representations, or thoughts. Thought is an effect of the basic mechanics of the human ‘mind,’ the consequence of a process of pattern matching or recognition. At every waking moment, signals are analysed and judged against recalled ones through this process of pattern-matching or recognition; judgments are made in the form of thoughts. 2.1 Investigation of the mind By virtue of the mind’s importance for our own existence and also of its exceptional complexity, the nature of the mind has long been an interesting and challenging topic for scientists and intellectuals. They have been trying to understand this complex mind process for centuries. The Buddha was the first to present a detailed analysis of this very complex mind process, more than 2,550 years  ago. He presented a thorough analysis of the whole mind process: its origination, mechanism, continuity, and the effects of its continuity. But his reasoning was more than a mere scientific analysis; it pointed to a realm that is beyond the comprehension of the ordinary human mind. His analysis provides a clear understanding of our existence, of our self, and the world. But it also helps us to understand the mind process that gives rise to the notion of identity, of “I” and “me”. This notion of identity is an illusion, a veil that blinds us to reality. Many of Buddha’s discourses provide detailed explanations of this point. This is a process veiled by ignorance, hard to understand. But it is this analysis of the mind process that helps us find answers to fundamental questions. * The concept of “soul”—is the concept true or have we mistaken the mind process for the soul? * Rebirth—is there a rebirth or is it the continuation of a process that results another birth? * Birth of a self—is there a birth of a real being or is it only a birth of the notion of identity, of an “I” or “me” by means of the thought process known as punarbhava ? * The concept of permanency—is it really true or is it only an illusion of the mind process? * Emotion and suffering—how do they occur? Are they the result of the personalisation of mind constructs? The Buddha’s teachings on these matters help us gain a clear understanding of ourselves, an insight to our own existence. They help us understand the usefulness as well as the limitations of this mind process. What are the limitations? This process is dependent on our senses and as such the boundaries of the sensory faculties become the inbuilt boundaries for the process as well. In whatever direction we look, we seldom go beyond the world of senses, and our senses are confined to the world of objects (forms, sounds, odours, tastes, tangible objects, and mental phenomena). All the manifold objects collectively called the world are just those things we could feel or know by our senses, within the boundaries of the framework created by an involuntary process, the thought process. We cannot know by our senses what is beyond the perception of our senses. Our senses can make contact only within certain limits. For example, our ability to hear sound is limited to the vibration ranges that the ear is equipped to receive. Sound waves with higher or lower frequencies than these limits will pass into the ear, but we hear nothing at all. We are also unable to see certain colours, due to the limitations of our eyes. We act as though such sounds and colours did not exist, even though they are perceived by other creatures, or through the instruments of science. All of the six senses can thus arouse delusion as to the nature of world. Reality is not at all what we feel or know through our senses. It is our own unconsciousness (ignorance, or avijja) that blinds us to reality beyond the senses and this compels us to judge all truth by the norms and standards set by the senses. The senses urge us to believe in the existence of a permanent world in front of us, even though science, and Buddhism, tell us that everything is in a constant state of flux. The five vital functions—seeing, hearing, smelling, tasting, and touching—seem to confirm beyond doubt that this conventional world exists and therefore, it is difficult for us to believe anything to the contrary. A simple example will perhaps give some insight into the limitations of the mind process. Let us consider the deep ocean, the wind, and the waves near the shore. Wind acts upon the ocean to make waves. However, these waves are localised, confined to a finite space and time, and are relatively insignificant in comparison to the vastness of the ocean. The waves are changing all the time, while the ocean as a whole appears to be calm in comparison. Our mind process is like the waves: it is finite, confined by the limitations of the senses, constantly changing in response to input from the senses. Our whole world, everything we experience as a self, is created by this limited mind process. However, there is an infinite base that we do not ordinarily experience, like the vast ocean that supports the waves. Is there such a base for our consciousness, a base without boundaries or limitations, independent of the confines of the senses? Could there be anything beyond the boundaries of the sensory spheres? A base in which there would no self, no time, and no language? The teachings say that there is such a base, which is essential for the mind process (thought process) to function. Most of us are ignorant of this vast and infinite base, beyond our senses, beyond self, time, and language. However, a few humans have experienced this infinite base and can help and guide the rest of us. These are the Enlightened. However, as there are no words to explain what they have experienced, they must use conventional words to hint at these qualities. We use terms such as ‘universal mind’ or ‘un-personalised mind’ to refer to the infinite base, but the base is not defined or bounded by these words. A simple example may help us understand this concept. When we look at the moon as reflected in containers filled with water, we see an image of the moon. Our minds are like those containers, reflecting images of the moon. But in reality there is only one moon in the sky. This is what is happening with the mind. We are conscious only of the mind that has been created by the mind process, which moves from sensation to thought to self. We ignore the basis of the mind, the un- personalised aspect—mind without ownership, where unlimited potential exists. (The use of the word ‘mind’ may be confusing, but it is used only to hint at the existence of vast intelligence beyond the ordinary mind process.) If we are to experience reality, we need to be aware of this unknown side of the mind, where unlimited potential exists. It is the luminous, un- manifested, unconditioned mind, the powerful timeless present. This is the wisdom referred to in the teachings. This is the Buddha nature or the infinite intelligence beyond the time-constrained mind. It has been buried by ignorance (avijja) and craving (tanha). But this limitless and boundless Buddha nature is within us, waiting to be awakened. When it is awakened, we will no longer be deceived by the illusions created by the mind process. When the mind is awakened from unconsciousness (ignorance, or avijja) and defilements (kilesa), we will understand that the self is an illusion. This is the dawn of wisdom, a state of perfect peace free from emotional urges  (craving, or tanha). It is the revelation of the Buddha or Buddha nature . It is the cessation of the mind constructed illusionary world (loka nirodha). Our mind process automatically creates many barriers that prevent us from experiencing anything beyond the sensory spheres. These will be discussed in detail in Chapter Three. It is sufficient here to mention self, ego, mental creations (identification with form) and personalisation of mental creations as barriers. We have been conditioned since infancy to function within these barriers. This aspect will be discussed later in this chapter. It must also be noted that the way to escape from this compulsory conditioning is by means of understanding, or seeing through, the conditioning process. The teachings of the Buddha are primarily about this intangible mind and its functions—a complex process beyond ordinary comprehension. The teachings provide clear guidance for those of us seeking to see for ourselves who we are and why we suffer so. They assist us to liberate ourselves from conditioned mind, to function beyond sensory spheres and time. The Dhammapada , an ancient text which is very popular with Buddhist monks and laypersons, is one of the most succinct expressions of the Buddha’s teachings. The first and the second verses  start thus: “Mind precedes all mental states. Mind is their chief; they are all mind- wrought.” This is one of the foundations of the teachings: mind is the base or root from which self is born. These two occur together, creating and conditioning each other. Self is born with the arising of the mind. We wake from our sleep and the mind takes ownership of all activities. All the natural phenomena that we would consider as mere natural activities   during sleep, become deeds (kamma) of the waking self. Breathing, circulation of blood, sound waves touching ear drums, and all other natural phenomena, which are just activities in our deep sleep, become deeds (kamma) of the waking self. The Buddha’s discourses also point to a much wider aspect of the mind, an area which is not accessible to our conditioned or time-constrained mind. This aspect is far beyond our ordinary perceptions, outside any scientific explanations. It cannot be tested by any scientific process designed by the conditioned mind. It is the realm of mind uncontaminated by ignorance (avijja), craving (tanha), defilements (kilesa), and emotional urges. The discourses provide the guidance we need if we are to truly experience that mind, to grasp the present moment in this life, to experience reality and become enlightened. 2.2 Beginning of a process How does the mind process start? It may be easier to understand, if we go back to the beginning of our life, the physical birth. What happened at birth? We became independent of the mother for our survival with the removal of a connection, the severing of the umbilical cord . Our eyes received light reflected from objects; our eardrums heard external sound and so on. We begin to synthesise images from external contacts, just as we do now from the contacts that we make with our external environment. But in the beginning, as infants, our minds were pure  and uncontaminated. We had no concepts with which to identify and organise these sensory contacts. We had no manifest consciousness. The thought process was absent. In the absence of consciousness, our mind functioned independent of time. That is to say we were experiencing the present moment—a rare luxury that yielded no benefit to us at that stage. But even though we have forgotten this stage, our journey should be to go upstream to experience the present as we once experienced it as an infant: without identification and discrimination of forms. The unusual qualities of our infant minds are worthy of contemplation. The self was absent. The thought process was not active, hence there was no consciousness. Identification with form, separation or division from the world did not occur. Personalisation did not take place. Mind did not function outside the present moment; the past and future were absent. Many of these qualities resemble the qualities of Nibbana, but it has not been realised at that stage. As adults, we continue to make contacts with the external environment, but these contacts are now different. What is the difference? We feel that our contacts occur to a self; as infants, we simply experienced, without a self. This is the main difference: the absence of a self. Infant or adult, we experience the incessant inflow from contacts of the sense organs; however, as adults we take ownership of the contacts. For us, self is at the centre of everything. This is reflected in the knowledge we accumulate: ‘I see’, ‘I hear’, ‘my mother’, etc. We are unhappy if something bad happens and happy when we have good news. We are vulnerable to our emotions, which are driven here and there by events. But the infants do not feel emotions as we do. Infants cry at birth, but it is not for unhappiness. The cry is a reflex that pulls oxygen into the body. Infants cry when their stomachs are empty, but this is just an instinctive response, not an emotional response. An emotion is the body’s response to a thought. The thought process has not yet begun for the infant and hence the infant does not have a self that can be happy or unhappy. This is nature; this is how it functions. Even as adults, we function in ways that we do not ‘own’ as selves. The digestion of food and the circulation of the blood are not thought processes; they continue even in deep sleep. Breathing is not normally thought related, though practitioners of meditation can control this process when awake. The self does not take ownership or control of these functions. They reflect the intelligence of nature. According to the teachings, the infant’s mind is not activated by unconsciousness (ignorance) at this stage and therefore, such functions do not lead to the creation of a self. Natural, reflex actions without any consciousness of self are the norm for infants up to about three months. During this period of infancy, without the activation of the thought process, infants are unable to acquire the knowledge necessary for interpretation. The contacts simply occur and cease. It is only a short story. It is just the operation of law of cause and effect, i.e., the operation of pure dhamma. The infant’s eyes receive light reflected from objects, its eardrums vibrate when touched by sound, and so on. However, the infant’s mind is not contaminated by these external contacts and has yet to produce an output, a thought. These persistent contacts, however, will result in acquisition of knowledge with the passage of time. The infant begins to form concepts of objects, and to reason, even before learning a language. Later, infants learn a language with the help of their parents, and learn to associate names with concepts. The infant learns to associate, for example, an image falling on the eye with the words that the parents say when they feed him or her. This same process occurs with sound, smell, taste and touch. This is the beginning of the learning process; it is referred to as the conditioning of the mind. It is the unconscious mind beginning to become a part of the collective consciousness. The above phenomenon is common to any human being. (Note that some children are deeply retarded, and never learn a language; they do, however, acquire some pre-verbal knowledge of objects.) This is the very first stage in the acquisition of knowledge; it begins with an impersonal process and ends in the creation of self. Stimulation leads to interpretations—consciousness is activated—emotional responses arise in consequence of input from the five sense organs. This process, once set in motion within a self, will continue until the physical death of that self, or until the self is lost to dementia, as sometimes happens to the aged. Note that emotional response occurs only when we are awake, not when we are in deep sleep. For example, eardrums make contact with external sounds in deep sleep, but no emotional responses occur. (One could argue that a mother hears her baby cry and wakes from a deep sleep. Isn’t that an emotional response? Similarly we wake up when we hear alarm bells. These are instinctive responses, like an infant’s responses, and they result in the awakening of the senses from sleep. Actual recognition of the stimulus and the emotional response to it come only after one is awake, and not before.) This implies that contact with the physical sense organs does not necessarily result in an instantaneous emotional response; that requires an input from the mind. The moment we are awake, mind and senses arise together and respond emotionally to sensory stimulation. Even if the stimulus ceases, the self arising from this process will continue with the process of interpretation and reflection. This is basically how we live within the time-frame of past, present, and future. We make contacts with the external environment via our sense organs. These contacts (sound, light, smell and so on) are known as form (rupa ), which is the first of the five aggregates discussed in the teachings. For ease of understanding, we may consider that this process instantaneously leads to sensation/feeling (vedana ), or the activation of the second of the five aggregates. In reality, sensation/feeling does not occur after the occurrence of form; both arise simultaneously. They lead instantaneously to the activation of the time- bound thought process. The end product is a thought within the time-frame of past, present, and future. Who creates this thought? No one creates it. This is an impersonal process over which we have no control. But we take ownership of the thought and personalise it—“I see,” ”I hear,” ”I feel,” etc. According to the teachings, this process is the activation of dependent origination. The bhava cycle  is in motion to link a thought to a self. A self is born and the rest of the world becomes not- self. A separation of subject and object arises. An impersonal process thus produces a thinker and a thought, a self and a world. 2.3 Conditioning After birth, the sense organs of the infant are subjected to constant contacts with the external world. These inevitable, unstoppable contacts lead to the surfacing of dormant craving (tanha) and defilements (kilesa)—inbuilt desire to make some sense of the disturbances or continuous contacts when the infant is awake. The dormant craving (tanha) and defilements (kilesa) then begin to activate in order to understand the processes occurring within. This is a natural involuntary process and is similar to the surfacing of sediments that lie at the bottom of a glass of water when it is disturbed. With the activation of dormant craving (tanha) and defilements (kilesa), a self is beginning to emerge. A thought process gradually activates. The involuntary mind process thus produces a self. This natural phenomenon is common to every infant. It is the beginning of conditioning. As this conditioning progresses, the infant begins to understand or interpret stimulations or disturbances and begins to populate the world of non-self with objects. In this initial stage, the infant usually gets help from his or her parents, as previously discussed. That is the starting point or base line from which infants develop their knowledge. However, the parent’s minds are conditioned or time-constrained and are subject to the collective consciousness. Infants naturally tend to follow in the footsteps of their parents, imitation being the only avenue available to them. As a result, the infant’s mind is conditioned just as the parents’ minds are conditioned. The thought process is activated and the infant begins to be conscious of the existence of a self and of the external world. It starts to separate self and the rest, starts to distinguish between objects, and so on. The output of infant’s mind process—the thoughts—thus begins to reflect the collective consciousness. The self is born. The notion of identity, of “I” and “me”, is established by this process. The infant begins to accept the constraints of past- present-future time. This conditioning is completely unconscious. Hence, all the information that the infant gathers is tainted by this conditioning. He or she stores this information in memory to be retrieved when needed. We refer to this as knowledge. During this natural process, the infant begins to create a bigger picture of the world in his or her mind. He or she accepts the existence of a permanent world that is not-self. The infant does not realise that the world and all the objects in it are just creations of the mind. The separation of thinker and thought, self and others, observer and observed, actor and action, etc., all this is accepted as normal and real. Even though the information gathered in this process is tainted, it is still useful for the purposes of living. Moreover, it allows us to begin to reason critically, so that we can understand the teachings of the Buddha. How sad that most people only utilise their knowledge to attempt a fleeting happiness in this brief life! 2.4 A drift begins We are aware that natural phenomenon such as light and sound make contact with the sense organs. But we may not be aware of the impermanent nature of these involuntary contacts. These contacts cease the moment they occur. The teaching describes these contacts as ‘simultaneous arising and ceasing’ or ‘ceasing within the arising.’ These contacts do not trigger any form of emotional response in an infant up to the age of about two or three months. The infant’s responses are instinctive rather than emotional. In the absence of any emotional response, the infant does not experience happiness or unhappiness from such involuntary contacts. This is identified in the teachings as the experiencing of the unconditioned mind or the pure mind, pure from contaminants. However, although it is the experiencing of the present moment, it is not the experiencing of reality. For this reason, the infant is unable to derive any benefits from this experiencing of the present. Inherited craving (tanha) is dormant at this stage of infancy. It has yet to be activated. Without the activated craving, these contacts are just appearances and disappearances for an infant younger than two or three months. They do not lead to any kind of interpretation. The mind process and the accumulation of information have not begun. However, this changes as the child grows. The process that leads to conditioning is activated with craving. The conditioning brings a permanent change to the process. It is the start of a drift away from the infant’s initial experiencing of the present moment. This drift is a natural process, and happens to all but a few profoundly retarded human beings during their infancy. It is the beginning of acceptance of time: past, present and future. As we begin to learn how to identify and discriminate between objects, we lose the ability to experience the present. The mind begins to function with time. The infant has no control over this process. This is the contamination of the pure mind of the infant by external contaminants. The infant’s pure mind, unconditioned mind, is exposed to the influence of the conditioned minds of the parents, who accept self, time, and object-permanency as the norm. The infant’s responses to the input from the senses are no longer instinctive. They are emotional responses that result from the illusion of self. Images of objects disappear as soon as they appear on the retina of the eye; sound waves vanish as soon as they make contact with the eardrums; so it is with the other sensory organs. These processes are continuous and occur in rapid succession. That is the nature of reality. The momentary image that resulted from reflected light rays that fell on the eye a moment ago has vanished without a trace. The eye is already receiving new light rays and the mind is creating new images. The infant mind learns, with the aid of its parents’ conditioned minds, to collate these flickering, vanishing images and label them as an enduring object: a ball, a hand. But these objects do not endure. Permanence is a delusion. It is only when we accept past-present-future time, and imagine objects as located in this time, that we can believe in the reality of these collated sense impressions. This is the beginning of ignorance, as we become unconscious of reality. Our minds capture only one part of the process of simultaneous arising and ceasing (the arising) and collate these impressions. We become blind to the ceasing, and blind to conditioned mind processes. We become blind to reality. This is the result of craving (tanha). Once the mind has been conditioned in the above manner, it will be extremely difficult to experience reality. Mind on its own will never fall back to the original pure state to experience reality. Our ignorance and blindness are strengthened every moment because of emotional urges (craving, or tanha). Only by following the Buddha’s path and understanding the conditioned mind can we experience the true reality. 2.5 Contacts lead to stimulations When the outside world affects the physical sense organs, it makes momentary contacts. Light reaches the eye and disappears; sound makes contact with the eardrums and ceases; smell formed by chemicals in the air makes contact with nerve fibres and ceases; and so on. No one is responsible for these contacts. They are continuous, impersonal occurrences of appearances and disappearances. These contacts are our only means of connection to the external world. These connections are not of permanent nature, because light, sound, smell, and so on are impermanent entities. They are subject to constant change, and change much quickly than we can imagine or the conditioned mind could experience. The light that reflected off the object a moment ago is not the light that reaches the eye. It has changed on its way to the eye. Similarly, the sound originating from a certain object has changed by the time it reaches the eardrum. It is like this with all the sensory inputs. The objects from which the light is reflected or the sound is generated are not permanent entities either. They too are subject to constant change . By the time reflected light reaches the eye, the object has changed from its original composition. This change is not noticeable to our conditioned mind, but that is the nature of any object made of sub- atomic particles. Even our sense organs are subject to this constant change. The sense organs, the objects, and the mediums that connect the two are all impermanent entities. They are changing constantly; they exist in a state of flux. By the time reflected light reaches the eye; the object, the light, and the eye have all changed. Furthermore, the moment light reaches the eye, it disappears. New light particles or waves reach the eye in the next moment and they also disappear instantly. This is true of all sensory inputs. We cannot perceive this flux. We collate these momentary impressions so that our conditioned mind can grasp them as permanent objects. We assume unchanged mediums of communication and permanent physical sense organs. 2.6 Delusion When we wake up from our sleep, thoughts start to flow continuously as a result of the impersonal contacts that occur in sense organs. This mental commentary is a function of our conditioned mind, arising from its own ignorance. The thoughts produced by the process create permanency from impermanency. The conditioned mind is basically a process that accepts past-present- future time to produce the illusion of permanency. The process is based on an unconscious acceptance of a past that is dead and gone, a present that the mind is unable to experience, and a future yet to come. This process distracts us from the present; we are pulled into the past and the future. The mind brings up memories from the past and tries to use them to envisage and manipulate the future. Hence the mind is unable to experience the real present. The mind occupies itself instead with illusory, mind-made constructs. In order to construct these illusions, the mind assumes a separate self. The process creates illusory objects and an illusory self. In summary, ignorance-based conditioning due to craving (tanha) is the root cause of the continuous creation of this illusory self and illusory world. All this arises from our unconsciousness, our ignorance. 2.7 Different phases Most of us would say that our mind alternates between two different states daily: deep sleep and wakefulness (which we might say includes being half-awake). Is this really the case? Or is it just another illusion? Can we even answer this question with our conditioned mind? That is possible to a certain extent. We are not aware of mind when we are in a deep sleep, but we are aware of it when awake. In deep sleep, mind appears to be still. There is no thought process, so there is no personalisation and no self. Without the self, without the thought process, happiness, unhappiness, loss, gain, anger jealousy, pride, distance, and time are absent in deep sleep. Unfortunately, we are unable to experience the absence of these distractions and illusions, so we derive no spiritual benefit from the stilling of the mind in sleep. Could these qualities be experienced when we are awake and conscious? This is what we need to understand. When we awake from deep sleep, our senses begin to receive inputs and our conditioned mind starts to produce thoughts. Every single thought thus produced is grasped as belonging to a self. Buddhist teachers have categorised thoughts into ten categories: stimulation of the five sense organs by the external world (five types of contacts) and internal stimulations from memories (another five types). The scriptures refer to these thoughts as the ten demons (maras) that the Buddha has defeated. Even if half-asleep or half-awake, we are receiving internal stimulation, producing thoughts, and falling into the illusion of self. From this thought process, self is born. This self then experiences happiness, unhappiness, loss, gain, anger jealousy, pride, etc. Have we ever really pondered this amazing change, from no-self in deep sleep to a self when we are awake? How is this possible? How is it that a self that was not in existence is born the moment senses start to function? The answer is that when we awake from deep sleep, the mind process (the mind process created by ignorance) revives. This is the only difference between deep sleep and wakefulness. Therefore it is this process, the mind process activated by ignorance that leads to the birth of the self, the creation of the world that is not-self, and the experience of happiness, unhappiness, stress, relaxation, loss, gain, anger, jealousy, pride, etc. When we wake up from deep sleep, we start to think of many things: planning the day’s work and planning for the future; thinking of happy or unhappy moments, thinking of parents, children, etc. We recognise and accept time, space, and objects. We accept separation: self from other beings, self from other objects, etc. We accept ownership as it relates to a self: I own a car; he is my father, etc. We accept that there is a permanent self and a permanent world. We fall into the world of maya, illusion. Throughout the waking day, thoughts continue to occur one after the other. For most of us, this process is unavoidable and unstoppable. These thoughts motivate a struggle to achieve happiness by way of work, leisure, and various other means. This struggle continues until we are tired, tired of processing information and producing thoughts. Nature takes over and we fall into a sleep. As we fall into sleep, or rouse from it momentarily during the night, we may pass through a transitory state of half sleep, in which we experience dreams. That is the mind functioning, but without external stimulations. As we fall into a deeper sleep, the mind becomes still. The thought process stops and personalisation does not take place. What a weary cycle this is, when we see it clearly! How wonderful it is that there is a means of escaping it! 3. Impediments: craving in different forms For many of us, the real difficulty of understanding the Truth or taking a step in the right direction seems to be the existence of unidentified impediments. What are they? They are the unforeseen, unnoticed, unobserved, and unexamined obstacles that exist within us. Every moment, they operate within us, hidden from our consciousness. Even if we are aware of them, we may not consider them impediments. However, they do exist and cleverly obstruct the path towards deliverance. Once we see through them, they are no longer impediments. Hence it is not the impediments per se that create difficulties for us, but our ignorance that such impediments exist. These impediments create barriers that prevent us from taking corrective measures and also lead us away from deliverance. They thrive comfortably within us with the help of our egoistic mind, which is always trying to reach the illusory goal of selfish happiness. At every moment and with every single thought these impediments are strengthened. Many of us have no control over this process. The outcome of this process is that we go down the stream, drifting further and further away from deliverance, binding ourselves to the cycle of birth and death—the samsaric cycle . Impediments are not external to the self. They exist within the self. They are here with us in every single moment. They are an intrinsic part of the mind process that produces thoughts and thus the illusion that world is divided into self and not-self, subject and object. The impediments considered in this book have both positive and negative impacts on our daily life. They are useful yet dangerous. It is beyond the purview of this book to consider this aspect and therefore left untouched. However, they pose a real danger to seekers of the Truth, as these obstacles tend to obscure thinking and hamper proper understanding of the teachings. Hence, these could take us on a tangent away from the straight path, away from the goal  that we intend to achieve. Therefore we have to be constantly mindful of these obstacles in order to take corrective action and steer in the right direction—just like taking aversive or corrective action to avoid a danger in a real life situation. What are these obstacles that we have to be conscious of? In Buddha’s language they are simply the surfacing of craving (tanha) in many different forms—greed (loba), aversion (dosa), and delusion (moha)—the demons (maras) of defilements (kilesa). We labour under the burden of these demons. These three poisons are the roots of recurrent birth and death (samsaric existence). In short, impediments are the clever manipulation of craving, of which many of us are unaware. 3.1 Ignorance The mother of craving (tanha), greed (loba), aversion (dosa), and delusion (moha) is ignorance (avijja). Ignorance is generally understood as lack of knowledge, education, or awareness. However, the term ‘ignorance’ is used in a different context in the teachings. It has a much wider and deeper meaning. Ignorance simply means not being acquainted with our own mind. This definition however, implies a separation of self from the mind, i.e., an existence of a permanent self and a mind that belongs to that self. Although this is not really the truth, it is however a good vantage point from which we may contemplate the mind and its functions. This contemplation may help us to understand that both the self and the mind arise together, conditioning each other. This is a single process, a process activated by ignorance. If we realise this, we may start to understand the delusion of separation created by that process. The mind process leads to the illusion of the separate existence of objects relative to a permanent self as well as to the illusion of space and time. The ignorance referred to in the teachings is the ignorance of the mind as to its own process. It is not the ignorance of a self. It is also referred to as unconsciousness in this book. Ignorance activates in infancy, as has been discussed in Chapter Two. Mind is not truly aware of how it functions. Mind is blind to reality, to the timeless dynamism of constant change, and is therefore forced to view the world through a veil of ignorance. Mind functions from a conditioned base. This conditioning is a form of contamination facilitated by ignorance. As we read in Chapter Two, the mind was pure and free of contamination at birth. Craving (tanha), although present, was dormant at that time. This dormant craving is activated during infancy by the continuous sensory stimulation from the sensory organs. This activation of craving paves the way for contamination. External contaminants find their way into the mind thanks to this activation. We learn how to identify and classify objects, dividing the world into self and not-self. This begins a process that we experience as the accumulation of knowledge, knowledge of an outer world on the basis of the information that the mind is continuously fed from outside. This is our learning process. Knowledge is gathered purely from the outside, while the process inside—the conditioning of the mind from activation of craving due to ignorance—is ignored. We learn to be unconscious of the full reality. The mind of a newborn baby is considered to be pure in the sense that it is not conditioned by time and hence not tainted by external contaminants. The infant’s mind cannot label or identify objects. No complex thought process is operating. The infant’s body is subject to the laws of nature, of cause and effect; the mind is also subject to a similar process, that of arising and ceasing. The infant’s mind functions in the present moment. Time is not a function for the infant’s mind, and hence there is no past or future for the infant. The infant’s mind is not conditioned but it is not free from craving (tanha). That has yet to be activated. But with conditioning, the mind starts to accept time as the primary factor for its function and survival. At this moment, the present is clouded by the past or the future; it is no longer possible for the infant to live in the present. When this happens, the infant loses the ability to experience the true present. The present event is the operation of the law of cause and effect, that is, simultaneous arising and ceasing. This impersonal process is veiled from the conditioned mind, which focuses instead on the arising and ceasing of thought. This is the inevitable result of the mind’s inability to experience the present. The present is clouded by time and the mind recognises only the moments of arising from the whole process of simultaneous arising and ceasing. The mind is conditioned to detect continuous arising but not ceasing. The mind collates these memories and forms a thought of a permanent object; it begins to believe in the existence of permanent objects and beings. When this continuous arising is confirmed by name and form  (that is, the identification with form) the conditioned mind ceases to experience the other part of the event, the ceasing. It identifies an object as existing within past-present-future time and sees it as having name and form. The mind unconsciously becomes content with this outcome. It identifies the forms and clings to them as real. Mind has thus become deluded. This is the essence of ignorance: the mind being ignorant of its own process. It recognises the arising and not the ceasing, even though both occur simultaneously. This inability of the mind to experience its own process is ignorance in the Buddhist sense. This is quite different from the conventional understanding of ignorance. This characteristic of the mind is also referred to as unconsciousness. Once the conditioning starts, it will continue until death, unless one is fortunate enough to learn of the Path and take steps for un-conditioning. The conditioning is a natural process. As the mind is deluded from the start, it will continue to function on the same path, to process information. Defilements and cravings (kilesa and tanha) dominate this conditioning process. The root of the process is ignorance; ignorance is rooted and strengthened as the conditioning continues. What is acquired from outside is not the whole Truth. It is slanted, partial, and distorted. The process begins with the information received from parents. As the minds of the parents are conditioned, so they shape their children. Once conditioned, mind always functions in ignorance and creates delusions. It is ignorance, mother of craving (tanha), that is in charge of the thought process. We must be aware of this if we are to do anything about it. We must simply be mindful, observing how the thought process operates and seeing through it to the reality behind all the illusions. It then becomes clear that we have been viewing the world through the window of this delusion. Our observations are nothing more than mind-made constructions. Everything comes out of ignorance: goodness comes from ignorance. Evil comes from ignorance. To call things by their proper names, ignorance is the requisite condition for fabrications (sankhara). As long as we are trapped in this cycle, we will never be able to experience reality. We need to come out of this ignorance and illusion if we are to experience the Truth. In summary, forms (fabrications or sankhara) are conditioned and transient. Mind arises with form and consciousness is a reflection of the conditioned mind. 3.2 Identification of impediments How do we realise that impediments exist within us? Let us look at this basic question. It has two main components, us and impediments. Now let us try to examine the question further. The question implies that impediments exist to a self—self exists and self is faced with impediments. Where does self exist and what are these impediments? These are the two basic questions. Are they really two? Or are they two sides of the same coin? Both of these—self and impediments—result from the thought process. That is what we need to understand. Both are inherent in thought. They do not exist in the absence of thought. More accurately, everything we know and analyse exists in a thought. Self exists in relation to the world of objects in space and past-present-future time. This is basically the physical existence or permanency with which we are familiar, the world that our experience confirms—all existing within a thought. When the self exists, objects, space, and time exist. The experience of self arises in thought. Thus the self, world, time, space, and experience exist in thought. This leads to another question: what is thought? How does thought arise? It is the mind process that produces thoughts; they are the only outputs of the mind process. Where does the mind exist? How does the mind process activate and function? These are some of the basic questions to which we need to find answers. This is the starting point. Let us go back to the basic questions: what are self and impediments? Self is recognised only with the arising of a thought. Thus the self is unaware of its own existence when it is in deep sleep and thought ceases. There is no observer or experiencer or thinker in deep sleep, hence the absence of the feeling of a self. With the thought process suspended in deep sleep, impediments are also suspended. Self and impediments arise together, in a thought, due to the operation of the mind process. Subject and object, the thinker and the thought, the experiencer and the experience, the observer and the observed, the actor and the action, the viewer and what is seen, the taster and the taste, etc., are the operation of thoughts resulting from the mind process. Subject and object occur simultaneously and cannot be separated. Only thoughts make us believe in the existence of a permanent self, a self in which the impediments are embedded. In reality, the self and impediments cannot exist independently; they are basically the two sides of the same coin. They arise together and cease together. 3.3 Self In daily life everything operates from self-centeredness, which is universally accepted as the norm of worldly life. We do not consider self as an impediment in our normal daily life. It is only an impediment to those who are in search of the Truth. This self-centeredness arises from our acceptance of the illusory self, and our belief that the self exists in an external world. We are trapped in a static concept. We fail to see self and other as components of a dynamic process, which is reality. They are dependent on each other for their illusory existences. However, these existences, which seem so real to us, are just mental constructs formed by uniting the past, present and future of a transitory process. To call them by their proper name, they are formations or fabrications (sankhara) resulting from ignorance. These mental constructs, these identifications and forms, are our life. But they are just illusions arising from the mind process. Non-self is the fundamental theme of the teachings. This differentiates them from the teachings of other religions, which assume a permanent atma or soul. Most people find this concept puzzling and very hard to accept. They cannot believe that self is just an illusion, and that this illusory self exists only in thought. When we act or think with the belief that the self exists, any action or effort on our part gives strength to the self. All our actions are directed towards achieving results for a self. This is our unconsciousness of reality in operation. In our ignorance, we always separate self and results. This is the way we are conditioned, this is the way we attempt to experience reality. That is our main problem. This separation is the greatest hurdle to proper understanding of the teaching. Unfortunately, all too many Buddhist teachers encourage just this concept. They encourage people to accumulate good deeds in order to have a better life in future births; eventually, they promise, we can become enlightened after physically seeing the Maithree Buddha in a future life. This is nothing more than strengthening of the self. It is the self that is to do good deeds, to accumulate merit, to be born again, to attain Nibbana after seeing the Buddha (which in this view is just another self). Are we on the right path? We need to question our thinking and actions. What is therefore required is a good self-appraisal, an appraisal to understand these impediments. What is thinking? It is just the thought process. That is to say it is within the operation of our mind process. What about our knowledge? That is also within this thought process? Functioning of this thought process is essential to express our knowledge. It is the only way that we can gain and express knowledge. This knowledge is however, nothing more than the retrieval of our memory. It is the known that is retrieved from memory as knowledge. How useful is this knowledge of the known to experience reality, which is the unknown? In other words, can we understand the unknown by means of known? We always go from the known to the known; that is all we can do as a self. But as seekers of the Truth our aim has to be different. It is to experience something different, which is the unknown. But is the unknown possible from the known? This is the question we need to ask ourselves. The known is created by and imprisoned within the thought process; the unknown is beyond the time-constrained thought process. Whatever we do is within the known. Is it therefore possible to experience the unknown from the known? Unknown is beyond time; it is the timeless present. Experiencing the timeless present, the unknown, is Enlightenment or Nibbana. The main obstacle to this experience is our attachment to self-view (“I”, “me” and “mine”). When we see through the self-view, when we let go of that, then we will understand the rest. We do not have to utilise complex techniques; all we need to do is let go of the ignorant views of ‘I am.’ 3.4 Self-appraisal Self-appraisal and the methodology that it implies are rarely utilised, even though they are essential to a proper understanding of religion. This is especially true with regard to Buddhism. We Buddhists tend not to pay attention to this methodology. Many of us are content with the existing beliefs, practices and customs. We do not think to look beyond this traditional framework. We are conditioned by customs and tradition. The methodology of self-appraisal is essential if we are to understand our attitudes, prejudices, beliefs, and customs. What we believe, accept, and practise may not accord with the teachings of the Buddha. They may be contradictory to the basics. We must thoroughly examine whether or not they accord with the teachings. It is the only way to test our own understanding; it is a starting point from which we can move forward in the right direction. Why do we try to accrue merits to become enlightened in a future life? Is it the correct approach? Is it because we are encouraged in that direction by custom and tradition? Why do we try to experience reality through the development of the mind? Is it really possible to do so if we remain mired within the mind process that produces thoughts? The reality that we hope to experience is beyond the mind process, i.e., beyond thoughts. Why do we carry out many rituals? Is it because that they provide us some sort of happiness or relief when we are in need of assistance? Do we even realise that we engage in many rituals? Why do we offer flowers or even food to a statue of the Buddha? What do we hope to gain or achieve from such actions? Many believe that these help us in accumulating merits to become enlightened in a future life. Are there any truth in those beliefs and actions? Are there any proofs to justify such actions confer any benefits? Do they form a part of the teachings of the Buddha? First thing we must realise is that whatever we do as a self can only strengthen the self. How can strengthening of the self be of any assistance if we wish to truly experience reality? The reality or the unknown is beyond thought and cannot be experienced as a self. Many current practices, carried out because they are traditional, can only help us achieve a fleeting sense of satisfaction. We believe that we are accumulating merit that will take our self to Nibbana in a future life. The practices are like medicine, used to restore some equilibrium, some happiness to a troubled mind. Apart from this function, how can they help us move towards an experience of the un-manifest, as described by the Buddha? How do we feel about explanations of the teachings that appear to be new, that are different from the traditional understandings that we were taught in our youth? Do we have the right attitude when we listen to sermons by the enlightened, monks, and other knowledgeable persons? Do we adopt a similar attitude when we read Buddhist scriptures? What is the right attitude? It is basically, to examine ourselves for flexibility. How flexible are we when we listen and read? How open-minded are we? Can we listen to sermons or read books written by knowledgeable persons without comparison and pre-judgment? We need to examine our own attitudes thoroughly and make adjustments if necessary. If we are not flexible and open-minded, if we make comparisons and pre-judgments, very often we fail to hear what is actually being said. This is the main problem with many of us. Sometimes we think we know more than the Buddha. Sometimes we may have the knowledge, in the abstract, but not the right attitude. Sometimes the knowledge that we think we possess about the teachings is flawed and inaccurate. We need to be more flexible and unbiased in our attitudes. We need to be open-minded and listen or read without pre-judgment. We need to train ourselves to consider facts rationally, to abandon prejudice and bias, and strive for sensible conclusions. The Buddha emphasised the importance of this striving in his sermon to the Kalamas   more than 2,550 years ago. Do our actions and practices reflect the inbuilt assumption of an existence of a self? Do such actions aim at protecting and achieving benefits for that self in this life or a future life? Have we stopped, even for a moment, to consider that there is no self? Have we understood the importance of the concept of no-self (anatta in Pali or anatman in Sanskrit) in Buddha’s teachings? The futility of many of our actions would become evident if we had ever reflected seriously on this concept. Most of us have spent a lifetime embracing misguided views of who we are and practicing self-serving rituals, believing that we did so within the umbrella of Buddhism. Let the reading of this book mark the start of a reconsideration of our existing beliefs and practices. It is an opportunity to check whether or not they fall within the teachings of the Buddha. If they do not, let us make the adjustments or corrections that are required in order to move towards the intended goal. 3.5 Knowledge We may have learned many things; we may be broadening the horizon of our knowledge every moment. We may have a vast knowledge of many subjects. This helps us to consider facts intelligently and rationally in order to master any subject matter thoroughly. This knowledge, however, is but the stocking and retrieval of memory; our memories are only of the past. Our knowledge and rational thinking are bound within past-present-future time. There are inherent limitations in our knowledge and rational thinking, limitations that must be escaped if we are to reach Nibbana or Enlightenment, which is an experience of reality outside past-present- future time. Due to the above-mentioned limitations, our knowledge may very well become an impediment if we attempt to experience true reality. The experience of reality is beyond the thought process and hence, beyond our limited ordinary knowledge. In Buddha’s words, this experience is a state of deliverance of mind (ceto vimutti). It is the unshakable deliverance of the mind (akuppa-ceto vimutti . While ordinary knowledge is useful in daily life, we must let go of it if we are to reach realisation of the Truth. This realisation must happen without any effort by the illusory self, as any such effort is bound by the thought process and strengthens the self. Reality is simultaneous arising and ceasing. Within this reality there exist no self or objects. Hence we must learn to observe without an observer and experience without an experiencer. This is the path to follow, the path that abandons the mistaken belief in the permanency of self and objects. If we make an attempt to understand the teachings in this way, self would not become an impediment. This is a very subtle point, but it must be clearly comprehended if we are to experience reality. For these reasons, we need to re-examine our knowledge about the teachings. Do we possess accurate knowledge? Do we understand the teaching in its proper perspective? How carefully can we differentiate between the teachings and the requirements of normal living? How can we proceed in the right direction without becoming a slave to what we think we know, or growing proud of our extensive knowledge? How far can we go with the knowledge that we possess? Many do not see traditional beliefs and practices, or traditional understanding of the teaching, as obstacles. But close examination of them will confirm they can be obstacles. We need to look into all these aspects intelligently and with an open mind. We cannot be biased or prejudiced; we must be ready to look beyond our rigid traditional boundaries. Unless and until we are ready to take this approach, the path towards the Truth will be far away. We need ingenuity, courage and dedication. The Buddha reached Nibbana only with great difficulty. He had no teachers to guide him on the path of Enlightenment. We, however, have his teaching to guide us, so we do not have to face such difficulties. We only have to be intelligent enough to use of the teachings in the correct way. The Buddha has said that dhamma is your teacher. The dhamma is senses and their functions. Thus, understanding of dhamma is the only way to follow the teachings. 4. The way forward At some point in our lives, most of us become aware that we experience not only birth, growth, success, good health, pleasure, happiness, and winning, but also loss, unhappiness, failure, sickness, old age, decay, pain, and death. These are the two sides to our life, the good and bad that exist side by side. This is what we experience from birth to death. We feel happy, when we experience the good side of our life, but feel pain when it turns to the bad. Enjoyment can change to suffering the very next moment; a healthy person can become sick overnight. Sometimes we find it hard to tolerate the unpleasant emotions that arise when we experience the bad side. We begin to wonder why. Why me? Why now? Where is the good side and what happened to it? The mental commentary proliferates, causing more emotional disturbance, stress, unhappiness, and pain. The so-called self is helpless and the thought process seems out of control. There is no space within to experience peace, that is, a state without the clutter of thoughts. Even if we experience the good side, the clutter of thoughts denies us the space we need if we are to experience absolute inner peace. Whether it is enjoyment or pain that we experience, both are responses to thoughts resulting from involuntary sensory stimulations, and they are transient in nature. They are impermanent, passing away as they arise. But the self tends to cling to them as they were real. They are just impermanent thoughts, form-based and time-related, and experienced by an impermanent subject—the illusory self, the “I”, the ego. Most people are completely engrossed by these thoughts, the mental commentary, the voice in the head—the incessant flow of involuntary and compulsive thinking and the emotions that accompany it. They are enslaved to their conditioned mind. They are unable to see beyond the veil that the conditioned mind throws over the mind process. They are trapped in self-view, or ego. Most of us fail to realise that this ego is the result of selective perception and distorted interpretation. These selective perceptions and distorted interpretations dominate our daily life. Only through awakened awareness are we able to differentiate between selective perceptions and reality, distorted interpretations and truth. Only through awakened awareness, or Buddha nature, can we see the Truth. We will never be able to find absolute truth if we look for it where it cannot be found: in books, in sermons, in scriptures, in doctrines, ideologies, sets of rules, or stories. What do all of these have in common? They are made up of thoughts. The thoughts can at best point to Truth, but they never are the Truth. “The finger pointing to the apple is not the apple.” If we do not properly understand religious teachings, we are tempted to use them for purposes that contradict religion’s true objective. Religion can be used either for the strengthening of the self, the ego, or for the realisation of the Truth. We need not go far to understand these deviations. If we believe that only our religion advocates the Truth or is the Truth, we are in the wrong path. If, on the other hand, we understand that religious teachings represent signposts or maps left behind by enlightened humans to assist us in awakening from unconsciousness (ignorance), then we can move beyond the signposts to the experience of the un-manifest. In simple terms, what we are trying to experience is real inner peace, a transcendent inner peace unaffected by external/internal sensory stimulations. This is the peace that arises from non-identification with form. Identification with form is the result of our object-related, sense-based and time-related consciousness and in fact it is the result of unconsciousness or ignorance. This object-related consciousness, a result of inherent emotional urge (tanha), is the greatest obstacle to freedom from identification with form. This consciousness, the basis of the self, will never allow us to experience inner peace. Only the Truth, the awakening from unconsciousness (ignorance), can lead us to inner peace. When we become aware or conscious of our unconsciousness, we become aware of the need to awake from unconsciousness. One cannot become free of identification with form starting from our ordinary consciousness. This consciousness is not based on wisdom; it is based on unconsciousness (ignorance). Wisdom blossoms within us only when we experience the present that is beyond the thought process. This experience is what we called “awakening”—awakening into reality, awakening from unconsciousness (ignorance), awakening to the here and now. It is the experiencing of the impermanence of mental creations; it is seeing through the unconsciousness we have taken for granted to the true consciousness, or wisdom. It has been called ‘Enlightenment’ or ‘Nibbana’. Anyone who achieves this state is called the Buddha , so it is the attainment of Buddhahood. How do we experience this phenomenon? This is the question before us. It is believed that Siddhartha Gautama experienced reality and awakened from unconsciousness (ignorance) more than 2,550 years ago. According to the legend, this has occurred on the night of the first full moon of the fifth lunar month, when he was in deep meditation under a pipal tree (now known as bodhi tree or bo-tree) on the banks of the river Niranjana, in the village of Uruvella , in India. Many believe that he was the first human to experience such a phenomenon. Do we know that he truly did experience reality? Do we know how he did so? All what we know or hear are stories, later interpretations of what might have happened. Many believe that it is essential to know what he did, because knowing this would help us to progress towards Enlightenment. No doubt it would help us to know. But is it really possible? The simple answer is no. We cannot go back into the past to verify the stories. Fortunately, we do not need to verify the stories. What we now have is his teaching. That is our guide. It is more important than the stories of what he tried to achieve or what he did on that night. Buddhists hold contrasting views as to what the Buddha did and what methods he adopted. This is what one would expect after the passage of more than 2,550 years. However, most followers of the teachings of the Buddha believe that it was the technique of insight meditation that helped him to experience reality. This book does not intend to examine this methodology, to discuss meditation techniques in detail, or to argue for or against this method. This book does, on the other hand, intend to examine the teachings in depth. This, it is hoped, will facilitate a proper understanding, one that will allow the reader to make his/her own judgment as to the best way forward. If we take this position, our intelligence should guide us to only one conclusion, i.e., one cannot know until one reaches the state of Enlightenment exactly what Siddhartha Gautama did in order to experience reality. This suggests that it would be a waste of time to ponder it now. What we need to do is to take a more realistic and positive approach. Does it really matter what methodology he adopted, if any? Is it not possible for us to make use of his teachings in order to find the correct path? The teachings he left behind are the signpost and the map, there for us to use and find the path towards awakening. If we recall the Buddha’s words—“one must find deliverance within and not from outside”—the path we need to follow becomes clearer. There is only one way. It is up to us to find the way forward. It is not readily available outside the self, as one must find deliverance within. However, much guidance is available if we have the ability to interpret the teachings of the Buddha correctly. This book is intended to help readers bridge this important gap. How could one identify the right requisites for this arduous journey? How to go from the known to the unknown, time-based knowledge to realisation of wisdom beyond time, form-based consciousness to awakening? This chapter discusses various considerations that should help the reader to develop his or her own techniques in order to move forward in the right direction. 4.1 Conventional truth Civilized people live in a way that promotes good social order; they follow the practices and behaviour that conform to established social norms. These established concepts of right and wrong are beneficial to society at large. However, when we embark on a journey to experience reality, we should realise that these concepts exist only in association with subject (self) and objects. They assume identification with form and permanence within space and time; they assume a permanent self as well as the permanence of other beings and objects. These visible or tangible objects, these beings, as well as the social ethics that assume them, are merely conventional truth. ‘I’, ‘me’, ‘mine’, ‘us’, ‘we’, etc., exist, therefore, only within the framework of this conventional truth. Birth, decay, illness, death, etc., are also associated with conventional truth. These are the characteristics of form-based collective consciousness. Conventional truth is a concept that has evolved in the collective consciousness; it allows us to lead an everyday life, in which permanence is considered the norm. The teachings of the awakened, however, point to a completely different concept, a concept of impermanence. It is therefore difficult for us to understand the teachings. Conventional self is trying to understand impermanence—self is trying to comprehend the non-existence of self, beings, and objects. In short, while living in the conventional world, one has to try and understand that the self and the world around self are just illusions—an incessant flow of form-based consciousness arising from emotional urges. In order to avoid confusion, one has to keep a proper balance between the two concepts: convention and reality. This is expected from the seeker of the Truth. We need to be wise, sensible, and practical to do this with an open mind. This is the way forward to understand the teaching while living harmoniously in the conventional world. Many of us are intelligent enough to understand the concept of non-self— self is an illusion and it is only a creation of the mind process. But this intellectual capability—disappearance of intellectual notion of a permanent entity called self—is only a start and nothing more. It will not suffice for a full awakening from unconsciousness. The emotional feeling of identity, the feeling of “I”, of self, continues. This feeling will continue until we become fully conscious of unconsciousness, of the experiencing of self. 4.2 Sources of information Information on Buddhism is abundant. There are many avenues that we can pursue to gather information about the teachings. These avenues include temples, monasteries, books, and the Internet; existing customs, beliefs, and rituals; learned people, such as monks and scholars. But even though so many sources are available, many of them do not provide information that is compatible with the teachings. In fact, some contradict the teachings. This is not surprising; one could have anticipated such a result, as much of the available information is likely to have been tainted with impurities introduced over the many years that separate us from the time of the Buddha, or by the difficulty of translating from one language to another. We should realise that an accurate interpretation of an ancient religious text is based on a good understanding of the cultural context within which it was written. This understanding is eroded by time. Language changes with changes in culture and habits; it is heavily influenced by the assimilation of other cultures and religions. The interpretation of language is therefore dependent on custom and extremely subjective. The information available to us is therefore likely to be tainted by the customs, habits, and beliefs of past and current time, as well as by the punditry of scholars and established traditional interpretations. In most instances, the traditional interpretation is unlikely to reveal the true interpretation of the teachings. Even if it does occasionally reveal the Truth, our own resistance to change may hinder us in grasping the message. No doubt many of us have developed our basic understanding of the teachings from the aforementioned avenues. The traditional interpretations may have raised questions that the tradition could not answer; this may have created doubts in the minds of many who would otherwise have been keen to proceed further. As one would expect, these doubts will have led to various problems—problems resulting from not having a clear understanding of the subject. Some might adopt various erroneous views as to the appropriate course of action and consequently undertake many practices that are alien to the pure teachings. Doubt is one outcome of the ignorance underlying our mental processes. This doubt, coupled with ignorance, could lead us to resist the teachings. Our resistance could take us further into the land of ignorance, thereby creating more doubts. This can lead to a never-ending cycle of resistance, ignorance, and doubt. Many Buddhists seem to have doubts; many do not seem to have a very clear understanding of the teachings. Many have questions for which they have found no satisfactory answers. All Buddhists know of the final destination of the teachings, i.e., to become enlightened or achieve Nibbana. But, unfortunately, the path to this destination is hidden from many. Hence there is a diversity of views and practices. Many different techniques are proposed, some of them promising only that the desired end can be achieved in a future life. This is where many of us stand today: lost in a wilderness of punditry, unable to move in the right direction and benefit from the teachings. The only way forward is therefore, to see clearly our own ignorance and doubts and thus to gain a proper understanding of the teachings. 4.3 Discourses of the enlightened It is of the greatest benefit to listen to the discourses of the Awakened who live among us. Unfortunately, many are unaware of this source. Many do not believe that there are enlightened beings in the world today, whether from scepticism or simple ignorance. This is not uncommon. Even during Buddha’s time, there were those who failed to recognise the Buddha. If we expect to see any special features in today’s Awakened, or demand that they be scholars with many academic qualifications, we are mistaken and we will never recognise them. Their physical appearance does not distinguish them from the ordinary person. They are not necessarily monks; they may be lay people. They may not possess high academic excellence. Indeed, academic qualifications could be a hindrance, derived as they are from time-based knowledge. However, some seekers of the Truth have recognised these noble ones, and are privileged to have direct access to them and derive benefits from their discourses. How then shall we find these noble ones? The problem is with us and not with the enlightened or awakened. Perhaps we resist because we do not wish to abandon our cherished selves. Perhaps we are hindered by the rigidity of our traditional framework of thought. This is where we need to take a step backwards and think clearly. We need to identify skills that we would need to recognise the enlightened. What are these skills? The basic skills required are listening and reading skills. These skills need to be improved as it is only through listening to their preaching or reading what they have written that we can recognise them. Listening and reading are the only avenues available, so we must make the best use of our opportunities. If possible it is better to use both of these avenues: listening to the enlightened and reading what they have written. But our listening and reading may be defective if we form judgment on the basis of tradition, punditry, culture, habits, etc. If we are biased, prejudiced, not open- minded, we may not be able to consider the discourses rationally and will fail to derive any benefit. Open-mindedness and rational thinking are required both to recognise the enlightened and also to understand their teachings. It would be wise, therefore, to follow the guidance provided by the Buddha in the Kalama Sutta , that is, to follow reason rather than tradition in judging the truth of the teachings. We may receive information from various sources, but it is left to us to make our own decisions as to the right way to move forward. What is right may differ from person to person, but this does not matter. The first step, the beginning of this process, is to learn and understand the teachings. How do we know that we are making the right decisions? A few basic guidelines will keep a check on our understanding and ensure that we are moving in the right direction. If we are intelligent enough to develop proper guidelines, learning will be less difficult. We will be able to identify the enlightened, without confusion. We will be able to rationally consider the information they present. We will discuss possible guidelines in the next chapter. 5. The guidelines Information on Buddhism is abundant. But much of it—apart from the dissemination of information by the enlightened—is to a certain extent tainted with impurities. These impurities, of time, language, custom, tradition, were discussed in previous chapters. These impurities are some of the main hurdles we must clear if we are to gain a clear understanding of the teachings and move in the right direction. The first question is how to gain a clear understanding of the teachings. The key is to select and use the appropriate guidelines in order to improve our understanding as we proceed. We must engage in a continuous process of refinement. We must engage in such activities out of interest yet not with intention, and must do so until we reach the destination. Activities undertaken with intention imply an effort that proceeds from the self and builds up self; such activities lose their innocence. We must focus our attention on the journey, not the destination. Then, if we are on the right path, it may be possible to reach the destination—to directly experience reality. The second question is how to select the appropriate guidelines. As we increase our understanding of the teachings, it becomes less difficult to find our way. The proper guidelines become self-evident. However, in order to choose the right guidelines at the start, we do not have to go far. We do not need advice from scholars; we can use a common sense approach to the basics of the Buddha’s teachings. We might be surprised how many useful guidelines we can identify if we look carefully. 5.1 Mind By now, readers realise that our ordinary existence depends on the functioning of the intangible mind. This is the mind that arises on waking from deep sleep. This is the mind with which we are familiar. It is the mind that functions within past-present-future time. These functions of the mind result in consciousness, awareness, and knowledge. This mind is ultimately based on craving (tanha) and ignorance (avijja). Is it really possible to use this mind to experience reality? How can a mind based on craving and ignorance be used to experience reality, which is in fact beyond time, lacking in self, free of craving and ignorance? We must understand that the mind can be useful, even though bounded and limited. The main problem is our identification with the mind; it is this identification that allows thought to become compulsive. If we can escape this identification, we can experience a reality that exists only in the present, outside time. It is an experience without identification with objects or self. The natural tendency of the conditioned mind is always to move away from the present. It resists the present and turns toward the past in order to plan for the future. This is evident from the fact that the conditioned mind constantly relies on memory. Knowledge is based on memory; it is not the present, it is only collated images of the past. What do we know about our mind and how it functions? Are we trying to experience the pure mind we experienced as infants, or are we using the conditioned mind, based on craving and ignorance, to experience reality? The path would become clearer if we could see this distinction clearly. What is the conditioned mind? Let us use a simple example. When we look at the image of the moon as reflected in bowls filled with water, we see an image of the moon, not the moon itself. There can be many bowls, like many minds with images of the moon, but there is only one moon in the sky. So it is with our conditioned minds. We see only limited images, not the reality. However, we can use this conditioned mind not only to manage daily life, but also to transcend daily life and deliver ourselves from delusion. The mind can deliver us as well as delude us. We are trying to balance two conflicting objectives using the limited capabilities of the conditioned mind. It may be difficult to comprehend that the mind is subject to impermanency. Mind arises and ceases subject to the law of nature. This occurs whether we are awake, half asleep, or in deep sleep. Normally, we do not see the mind’s natural activity in deep-sleep as mind. However, this is only an artefact of language and nothing more. What we may not realise is that we are always using the conditioned mind whether we are awake or half asleep. Mind is conditioned by form; form is conditioned and transient. We mistakenly assume a permanent mind within past-present- future time. Can we allow our inner richness to shine with its unbounded wisdom, even for a moment? We may consider this complex issue from another angle. Is the self one or two? If there are two beings, who are they? One is the self with which we are familiar, the illusory self resulting from the mind process. The other is the true being, the Buddha nature, the Buddha. This is the experience of the mind without self, the inner richness. Once we understand the conditioned mind and how it functions, it is not difficult to comprehend its limitations. It can create and accumulate knowledge that is useful in our daily existence, but is unable to directly experience reality. Therefore, any religious explanations that encourage development of this conditioned mind will not help us to experience reality. That is an experience beyond the mind process. Hence, we need to guide the mind to experience ignorance in order to free it from ignorance. 5.2 Knowledge The usefulness of knowledge for daily living cannot be underestimated. Hence, we attach a great importance to our knowledge; we believe that everything can be achieved by means of this knowledge. The Buddha’s emphasis on the usefulness of knowledge for lay people can be found in Buddhist writings, the scriptures   of Theravada Buddhism. However, he taught that knowledge must be tempered with discipline. Knowledge is the solidification of impermanent thoughts, as are consciousness and awareness. Therefore, knowledge, consciousness, and awareness are nothing more than illusions. They are creations of our memory. Memory is limited to what we have acquired from outside. This is the past. It will not allow the present moment to shine. It will never take us towards reality. Knowledge , consciousness, and awareness are products of the conditioned mind. They are all illusions created by the thought process. They are bound to the illusions of a permanent self and permanent objects outside the self. All mental perceptions (feelings, tastes, physical objects, world, universe, etc.) are mind-made constructs. We must realise that a vast realm of intelligence (wisdom) lies outside this limited mind. The knowledge derived from the thought process is only a tiny speck when compared to the wisdom beyond the conditioned mind. The wisdom  referred to here is not at all the same thing as knowledge. Some have called this awakened awareness or infinite consciousness without objects. Wisdom is the vast, boundless ocean and knowledge is just a tiny wave near the seashore. Hence, we need to understand the usefulness as well as the limitation of this knowledge when we embark on our journey towards deliverance. Knowledge is useful for understanding the teachings but not for deliverance . It is clear from available Buddhist writings that many dhamma teachers have cautioned their students that knowledge of dhamma can pose obstacles for the journey ahead. At some point one has to put away the knowledge before it becomes a hindrance. Knowledge of the teachings can become memory (sanna, or perception) and interpretation, leading one into speculation and pointless theory. The seeker may stray from the path and become a person with no foundation. 5.3 Self The teachings concern the non-self. They point out that the self is an illusion created by the mind process. This should be the starting point. This must be one of our most important guidelines in the learning process. Any explanation that appears to deviate from this concept must be disregarded as irrelevant. We must realise that many of our beliefs are destructive, leading only to the persistence of the illusory self. How can we safeguard a non-existent self? If self does not exist in reality, what is the purpose of seeking help from the teachings for this purpose, when we embark on the journey of learning? Any action taken with the intention of safeguarding a self will not help us experience the Truth. Any explanations or interpretations that strengthen the self should be disregarded. Some common religious practices that appear to strengthen the self are: Striving to accumulate enough merits to see the Maithree Buddha  in a future life; one would then become enlightened after listening to him. Self, existence of another self (Maithree Buddha) and a concept of atman  (a soul that can expect many future lives) are all implicit in this example. However, according to the teachings there cannot be a self- subsistent self or human soul. The teachings advocate anatta (Pali, Sanskrit-anatman) . Striving to accumulate merits (good or wholesome karma) by charity and religious donations (dana), morality and discipline (sila), and meditation (bhavana) to be happy in this life and the lives beyond, and finally to attain Enlightenment. Many religious teachers advise that these actions are to be carried out mindfully, that is, the actor should carefully consider before acting in order to find happiness and merit. But these would then be actions done with intention to safeguard and strengthen the self. This raises an important question: such actions would result in happiness to whom? Charity (dana) is a good quality, to be sure, but ideally it should mean giving without any attachment or expectation. Even an expectation of a ‘thank you’ will strengthen the self. Hence, expecting a better future life as a result of our actions is only to live for self. Morality and discipline (sila)  are essential in everyday life. The mind must be controlled if we are to earn our livelihood and study the teachings. Certain types of meditation (bhavana) help us develop our powers of concentration. However, many practise charity, morality and meditation to find happiness to a self. This is the problem. Performance of rituals, such as offerings to statues, trees, etc., in order to gain worldly, selfish happiness and prosperity. Many Buddhists go to temples and chant, enumerating and praising the many good qualities of the Buddha. What do we intend to achieve by performing such rituals? Are we expecting to accrue merits for a better future life? Is it happiness that we are after? In short, are we not trying to do something for the self? Seeking solace from the Triple Gems  in difficult situations. This is again an expectation of benefit to a self. Practise of a popular traditional meditation, loving-kindness (metta). Loving-kindness is a good quality and well worth encouraging, but the practice encourages focus on the self and has limited power to help us to deliverance. There is no doubt that some of the above practices, such as charity, morality, meditation, and loving-kindness are essential at the beginning of the journey. They may serve a useful purpose in helping calm and tame the conditioned mind. However, they are not sufficient to proceed further. We must rely on our intelligence to realise the limitations of these practices. If we properly analyse the practices listed above, as well as many other traditional practices, we find that they are mainly aimed at bringing happiness to the self. This is what the conditioned mind is craving, a constant state of happiness. We may be seeking this happiness in the satisfaction of giving something to a needy person, or the satisfaction of accruing merits, or the satisfaction of cultivation of calmness, etc. However, none of this will be of use to the seeker who is trying to learn about non-self. True, there must be a self with a certain level of commitment to this process in order for that self to persist in the study of the teachings. Self has to do it—yet at the same time we must be intelligent enough to understand that this self is just an illusion. It is what we might call a “Catch-22.” The self must persist in realising that it is itself an illusion and that this illusory self cannot become enlightened. There is Enlightenment, but no one realises it. The self is nothing more than a creation of a selfless mind process. This self clings to fleeting thoughts without realising that they have already ceased. The self of which we speak is created by thought; thought arises, but not to a self. 5.4 Timelessness The teaching of the awakened is about timelessness (akalika). Almost all of Buddha’s discourses mention this concept. Many traditionalists, however, fail to grasp the proper meaning of timelessness and explicate the teachings as if they concerned past-present-future time. Therefore it is always prudent to thoroughly examine such traditional explanations. Any explanations that do not properly reference timelessness will be of less use to us. Some common beliefs that misunderstand timelessness are: The belief that we can achieve Enlightenment at a future date or in a future life: This implies a self with a goal to be achieved within a definite time period. It assumes a unitary self, an atma (atman), that is reincarnated. Enlightenment is here and now, not at a future date or in a future life. It can be experienced only in the present. The illusory self cannot experience it, either now or in the future. Both self and future are mind-made, time-bound concepts. The traditional explanation of dependent origination. This interpretation sees arising and cessation as applying to an individual life, as a process occurring over a very long period of time, comprising many lifetimes. This is the commonly accepted interpretation. This explanation assumes the birth, existence and death of a being. It invokes the triad of arising, existing and ceasing (uppada thiti banga), as found in Vedic teachings. A better understand of dependent origination would be to see it as one moment in the mind process: thoughts arising, existing, and ceasing. This moment is timeless. The traditional explanation is time-bound; it does not comply with the concept of timelessness, non self, and impermanence that are so prominent in the Buddha’s teachings The traditional explanation of the five aggregates . They traditionally categorised into two main groups: name and form. Mental aggregates or mental components are comprised in name (nama), physical aggregates as form (rupa). Beings are thus seen as a compound of two components, name and form. Name includes four aggregates: sensation/feeling, perception, mental formation, and knowledge. Form is the time-bound physical aggregate, the body. The traditional interpretation is that on physical death of a person, form, the physical body, disintegrates and becomes part of nature; name is responsible for re-birth. This explanation assumes past-present-future time and a permanent self, or atma (atman), all of which we have learned to be illusory. The belief that the dhamma is to be found in books, not in close observation of our mind process. It is thought that reading scriptures, listening to traditional sermons, chanting, and performance of rituals will lead us to Nibbana. But these practices do not reflect the timeless nature of the dhamma. The dhamma is timeless, vanishing within the arising. This is referred to as uppada vaya dhammino in the teachings. In another text the Buddha is recorded as saying, ‘constructs of the mind cease the moment they are created’ (vaya dhamma sankhara). This underlines the importance of timelessness, of the impermanence of constructs (sankhara). The Buddha set forth the most fundamental principle of dhamma in his admonition to Vakkali, who was attempting to see the Buddha by looking at his physical form. The Buddha said, “he who sees the dhamma within sees the Buddha” (yo dhammam passati, so mam passati). This is a clear and open invitation—come to the enlightened vision by seeing the timeless dhamma within. 5.5 Impermanence Impermanence (anicca) is one of the three characteristics (trilakkhana) of existence (bhava or samsara or self). The other two characteristics are suffering (dukkha) and non-self (anatta). They are all characteristics of one-mind moment. Impermanence simply refers to an activity in the present, not activity in past-present-future time. However, in everyday language impermanence refers to the impermanent nature of the physical world. Physical objects appear to be permanent, but are subject to decay over time. Things are created or made to exist and decay over a period of time. Beings are not immortal. Beings are born, live and die. This is impermanence in everyday language. This is the perception of many, who see the world with the framework of past, present and future. This resembles the widely accepted Vedic concept of arising, existing and ceasing , which existed in India even prior to the Buddha. This common understanding, however, has meaning only relative to time. It fails when tested with the concept of timelessness. What we need to understand is that impermanence refers to an impermanent process. It is a phenomenon of the mind, a phenomenon of simultaneous arising and ceasing beyond time, a phenomenon, which has no permanency. It is the impermanent nature of the mind process. The entire mind process is timeless. Cessation (nirodha) occurs within arising (samuda), and everything linked to this process is subject to the same phenomenon of impermanence. This is the impermanence that we ought to comprehend. The process starts with sensory stimulation, which gives rise to memory, thought, and the illusions of self and object. Sensory stimulation is usually explained as the result of the five aggregates (form, sensation, perception, mental formation, and knowledge), all of which are impermanent. The five aggregates arise and cease beyond time and are therefore impermanent. Hence everything resulting from this mind process is impermanent. This is the impermanence implied by the concept of timelessness as found in the teachings. Any interpretation of the teachings that considers impermanence within the framework of past-present-future time, that argues that everything decays over a period of time, is therefore a distortion of the teachings. 5.6 Present moment The teaching concerns a timeless process operating at the present moment. Right here in this very moment! It concerns a process (dhamma) beyond time. Enlightenment or Nibbana is in the present, but unfortunately we miss it every moment. Every single moment, our conditioned mind takes over and moves away from the present towards the illusion of permanence within past-present-future time. Our aim is to understand this process. We need, therefore, to develop a self-less mindfulness of the present in order to experience the timeless present, true reality, Enlightenment, or Nibbana—and do so here and now. It is important to understand that we do not live in the present moment. The present is clouded by a dead-and-gone past and an anticipated future. Instead of living in the present, at every moment we create an illusory world in our mind through the conditioning arising from the thought process. We also tend to cling on to these creations and this clinging, the personalisation  is the danger. This process results from the contacts of the sense organs with the external environment, which gives rise to thoughts, memory, and subject and object. By means of this process we create the world and also become a part of the created world. This mind process obscures the present moment with memories of the past and anticipation of the future. This denial of the present moment is happening at every moment. This is the effect of the conditioning of mind. We must examine any interpretation of the teachings to see whether or not it helps us to live in the present moment. If it does not, we should set the interpretation aside as not relevant. 5.7 Meditation Meditation means the cultivation and development of mind. It brings concentration and joy to the mind. It fosters mindfulness and a clear understanding of natural phenomena. Many assert that it can help us realise that the three universal characteristics of existence, impermanence, suffering and non-self, are present in every moment. The techniques of meditation are classified into two groups: tranquillity meditation (samatha) and insight meditation (vipassana). One difference between tranquillity and insight meditation is that the former is applied on a fixed object of meditation, while the latter contemplates ever- changing objects. In tranquillity meditation (samatha), it is the self that concentrates on a fixed object. Therefore, the self and the object exist within past-present-future time. Hence samatha can only be an initial step. Many assert that tranquillity meditation is best used as a preparation for insight meditation. Samatha pacifies the mind and strengthens the concentration in order to allow the work of insight later. It is said that while tranquillity meditation (samatha) can calm the mind, only insight meditation (vipassana) can reveal how the mind was disturbed in the beginning. This will lead to wisdom, which can shield the mind from further disturbance. It is also said that in insight meditation practitioners concentrate on four main objects: body, feelings, consciousness, and mental objects. These are the ever-changing aspects of reality. Vipassana is an investigation of the mind and body processes at every moment. It is traditionally analysed as the contemplation of the four foundations of mindfulness (catu satipatthana ). These are: Mindfulness of body (kayanu passana) Mindfulness of sensations (vedananu passana) Mindfulness of mind (cittanu passana) Mindfulness of mental objects (dhammanu passana) The four foundations of mindfulness (catu satipatthana) will be discussed briefly in the next chapter. However, for the purposes of this section, it may be useful to discuss some of the historical influences on the teaching and practice of meditation in the current day. As we have noted in connection with other aspects of the teachings, the interpretation and hence the practice of the four foundations may have been warped due to the passage of time. This is very likely. If we are to accept or reject the several meditation techniques, we must examine them closely, using our own understanding and rational thinking. We must understand the fundamentals of meditation if we are to derive any benefits from practising it. The big question is: are we trying to achieve a goal, something outside the self, by the self, by means of the conditioned mind? Although the practice of insight meditation may vary between individuals, many believe it involves the contemplation of the arising and dissolving of mind and body processes. Will this technique guide us in the right direction? It is not easy to say yes or no at first. However, let us look into the techniques in more detail and we may see more clearly. In vipassana practice, is it the self that observes the four aspects as separate entities? Are we trying to separate self and objects? Are we trying to achieve a goal that will benefit and strengthen the self? Are we trying to use the mind to move away from the mind process? Will the implicit separation of mind and object confine us to past-present-future time and trap us in duality? If we practise in this manner, meditation may not assist us to attain the timeless present. If we are to derive any fundamental benefits from our meditation, we need to practise proper mindfulness, or appropriate attention (yoniso manasikara ). This term was frequently used by the Buddha when he was pointing out the path to Nibbana. This means attention to the arising of sensation, mind, objects, body, and self as they arise together and cease within arising. This means attention to the arising of thought. It implies a contemplation that is one of selfless interest, of complete absorption, not an intention of the illusory self. When we understand the correct mindfulness and how to practise it appropriately, the usefulness and also the limitations of the several types of meditation will become clearer. It is most important to realise that meditation should not be an exercise intended to benefit the self. 5.8 Look within The importance of the concept ‘look within’ in the teachings cannot be underestimated. The self and the world, happiness and unhappiness, everything is created by the mind process. Nothing exists outside this mind process. Therefore, it is futile to look outside for our deliverance. It has to be realised by seeing through the mind process rather than being captured by it. The Buddha's words on this subject are very clear: the world and the cessation of the world are within. The Buddha has said, “seek refuge in yourself and do not seek refuge outside of yourself” (Atta deepa viharatha, atta sarana ananna sarana). It is human nature to seek deliverance with the aid of outside assistance. Seeking solace from the Triple Gems (Buddha, Dhamma, Sangha) is one such effort. It is possible to understand this as a resolution to persevere on the path, but as it is commonly practised, this seeking of solace, this taking refuge, is contrary to the spirit of the teachings. Many take refuge as a way to seek benefits for the self. * They ask for help from the Buddha, the physical man who lived in India more than 2,550 years ago. * They ask for help from the Dhamma, the actual books containing the Scriptures. * They ask for help from the Sangha, the community of monks  wearing the yellow robe. They are taking refuge in entities seen as outside the self. This implies that self, others, space, time, etc., exist. This is looking outside, rather than looking within. Such practices are unlikely to bring any benefits to the seekers of the Truth. It is possible that some traditionalists may misinterpret this view as a lack of respect for the Buddha, Dhamma and Sangha. It is not lack of respect, but a different interpretation of what Buddha, Dhamma, and Sangha mean in this context. Different views are possible because we can interpret the same words differently. Most of us are familiar only with the meaning of these terms in common or everyday language. In ordinary language, Buddha is a man, Dhamma refers to books containing scriptures, and Sangha refers to community of monks. However, the Enlightened, having perceived the true dhamma, speak in terms appropriate to their experience using the existing language of the time. We can call their speech dhamma language. If we are to understand what they are trying to convey, we need to understand the meanings of their words in dhamma language . In dhamma language, the word ‘Buddha’ refers to the wisdom, the awakened awareness that the historical Buddha realised. It is an extraordinary quality; it does not refer to a person, nor belong to a self. This quality, Buddha–nature, is within all of us, waiting to be awakened, realisable by anyone. In dhamma language, “I take refuge in Buddha” clearly implies that I am taking refuge in my capacity to be awakened. The dhamma does not refer to books containing Scriptures or the spoken words of the preacher. The true meaning is much more profound. It refers to something non-physical, non-tangible. The dhamma refers to the six senses and the activity that they arouse in the mind. Dhamma is a process of simultaneous arising and ceasing, the operation of the law of cause and effect . However, the mind is ignorant of this basic law. Ignorance and desire lead to thoughts, etc. This is the eternal cycle of dependent origination  as expounded by the Buddha. If we see this process (cause and effect) in operation we have seen the dhamma and are enlightened. “I take refuge in the dhamma” should therefore be understood as taking refuge in one’s own capacity to be awakened. Similarly, we need to seek the sangha within and not outside. If the sangha is to be found within, it cannot refer to any external, material sangha. It will be of a non-physical nature, an extraordinary quality to be realised on Enlightenment. In dhamma language, therefore, sangha must refer to an extraordinary quality, which is the non-construction of mental forms for discrimination or differentiation. The labelling and identification of mental constructs, which are the natural outcomes of the thought process, disappear on Enlightenment. The mind is no longer activated by craving and ignorance and therefore does not construct forms. Every one is the same, not in the conventional sense, but in having realised the Buddha nature. Taking refuge in the sangha therefore means taking refuge in one’s capacity to be awakened. 5.9 The Middle Path Siddhartha Gautama is said to have lived for seven years as an ascetic, starving himself, perhaps torturing his body, as was the custom for ascetics in India at that time. When he was so weak as to be near death, he realised that the path towards realisation of the Truth does not lie in self-mortification. He had of course long since realised that the path does not lie in the other direction, in the gratification of one’s sensual desires. He saw that the path to liberation lies neither in sensual indulgence nor in self-mortification . He saw that the proper path lay in the avoidance of the two extremes and the adoption of a path of moderation. This is called the Middle Path. The term is familiar to every Buddhist and student of Buddhism. The human tendency to go to extreme is not and has never been limited to any particular period or religion. Many religions had and still have their penitents. We also witness other types of extremes: excessive love and hate, praise and condemnation. Sadness and happiness, stress and relaxation are also extremes. The list is limitless. Often the same person indulges by turn in many such extremes. This is perhaps the nature of things—arising from a single source (oneness), they manifest a world of diversity. These diversities are our life and everyone experiences them to a certain degree. When it comes to defining the Middle Path, however, we set the boundaries as the extremes of sensual indulgence and self-mortification, leaving aside the other kinds of extremes. But is it correct to see the Middle Path as lying only within those two narrow boundaries? Perhaps it is wiser to view the extremes of self- mortification and sensual indulgence as only the beginning of the Path. We need to find the deeper meaning of the Path if we are to gain the full benefit. Surely there cannot be a fundamental difference between the extremes of sensual indulgence and self-mortification and the other types of extremes. All of them result from the same thought process, differing only in degree. These diversities, whether minor or extreme, are thought-related and thought-dependent, and hence time-dependent. Basically, they are all moments in our thought process. Whether it is self-mortification and sensual indulgence, love and hate, appreciation and condemnation, etc., they are actions, intentions, and attitudes that reflect our thought patterns. The basis of these diversities, whether they are extremes or not, is the mind process, a single source. We could not experience these extremes without the operation of our thought process. Avoidance of any extreme simply means that it helps to bring one’s attention to the centre. This is a neutral position for the self, one in which it is possible to be more content. It is a place of rest, not an oscillation from one extreme to the other, not imprisonment in one extreme. In a broader sense, the Middle Path is a guide to controlling the flow of thoughts in either direction, a way to gain control of our incessant mental commentary. It is guide to letting go of thoughts and focussing on the present moment. It is a way to experience the present moment free of thoughts and thus realise the Truth. The Middle Path is a move away from enslavement by thought and time. Hence, it is the Noble Eightfold Path  , not the time- and thought-related Eightfold Path as usually understood. 5.10 Upstream The teachings explain that our mind is like a river. Thought always goes downstream and never goes upstream by its own force. The mind co-exists with thoughts and hence flows with the stream of thought in the wrong direction. That is why the Buddha has said the real practice of dhamma is like going upstream. In the Buddhist scriptures, this concept has been illustrated by the story of the bowl going upstream   in the Neranjana river. What is this upstream? How do we go there? Let us return to the earlier discussion of the mind of a new-born baby, the mind that is free of thoughts, free of time, free of self. When we were infants, we could not derive any benefit from this stage. Now let us visualise this stage, using as our instrument the conditioned mind, which is always trying to go downstream. The Buddha described the infant’s mind as pure  and free of external contaminants. There, images appear and disappear without identification and discrimination. The infant’s mind is in a timeless, pristine, pure state. It experiences only the present moment. The adult thought process is absent; the infant experiences none of the emotional responses that cause suffering. Our aim is therefore to move towards in this direction, to experience this pristine and pure mind. This is going upstream. 6. Conclusion There is a vast difference between knowing that we have an untapped, un- experienced, inner richness and actually experiencing that richness. Still it is useful to know that this richness exists, because we can then focus our attention and attitudes in the right direction. If we understand the qualities of that richness, we may begin to skilfully approach the goal. We will have guidelines as to what should or should not be done in a given situation. We will be able to understand what techniques are available and how best to use them. For example; understanding that the basis of this richness is timelessness helps us to work with techniques which involve timelessness. Understanding that the thought process results from ignorance helps us to combat ignorance. Understanding that the thought process is an outcome of the conditioned mind helps us to understand the limitations of techniques that merely improve the conditioned mind. Similarly, understanding the development of self or ego helps us to understand what practices might strengthen the self and thus helps us to avoid such strengthening. Let us remember, always, that there is an inner richness yet to be experienced; let us strive for a full understanding of how best to utilise the teachings of the Awakened for this purpose. Their teaching is only for this purpose. The teaching guides us to experience our inner richness now. It guides us towards liberation from ignorance, self, and the conditioned mind. It helps us experience the timeless present, the true reality. This experience is the attainment of Enlightenment or Nibbana. It must be experienced here and now, in the present. It is non- dualistic; there is no here and there. Most importantly it is not an experience of self, but of non-self. It is experience without self, time, and space. It is freedom from the mind process and compulsive thought. It is the eradication of ignorance and emotional urges or cravings (tanha). It is the realisation that self is only an illusion created by the mind process. It is an experiencing of impermanence—simultaneous arising and ceasing. It is the realisation of the vast realm of intelligence, the true richness that lies beneath the sands of time. It is the unfolding of the wisdom. Above all, it is the conquest of birth and death, the end of suffering and the samsaric cycle. We can liken this mind process to the projection of pictures on a movie screen; just so, sensory stimulations are projected on the mind screen. They are viewed through a veil of ignorance by the conditioned mind. These impersonal stimulations are ultimately interpreted by the thought process, which recreates the world at every instant. This process occurs continuously and, for the most part, uncontrollably. (The Awakened have escaped these bonds.) The entire universe is thus created at each moment: time, space, self and objects. All of this exists within us, created by our mind process. Hence, it is here that we need to find the solution. The aim of the teaching is thus twofold: first guiding human beings to understand this mind process and second to allow them to escape it and experience the hidden richness, the reality, the Buddha nature within. To experience this richness is see clearly, to be enlightened. Wisdom dawns and the recurrence of births and deaths is ended. The samsaric cycle and its associated suffering are no more. We now know that our everyday world is created here and now, but within past-present-future time. We also know that Enlightenment is here and now, but outside time. The two states are separated by time and space . If there are no time and space in Enlightenment, it is therefore futile to prepare for Enlightenment in a future life. Yet traditional views encourage us to lay aside seeking Enlightenment in this life, because we hope to see the Maithree Buddha in a future life. The prudent seeker of Truth will be able to form a correct opinion on such views. 6.1 Availability of Information We now live in a time when we have many opportunities to read and hear correct interpretations of the teachings. We have the rare opportunity to listen to the enlightened. Let us not waste this opportunity. Let us dedicate ourselves to understanding the teachings, doing so with a clear mind, without blindly following tradition. We need to free ourselves of our blindness and wrong attitudes. Let us commit ourselves to learning and in so doing, move away from the untruth towards the right path. We should be developing our rational thinking, to free ourselves of the rigid traditional framework. When we learn to think clearly, when we develop useful guidelines, we can then move forward with a better understanding of the teachings. When this understanding develops, we begin to realise the futility of many traditional practices. It is then easy to let go of our blind practices. We begin to see through the veils thrown up by the functioning of the mind, which creates all illusions. In short, what is necessary for our forward journey, as well as what is to be disregarded, will become clear. Siddhartha Gautama found the way and attained Nibbana without any assistance whatsoever. We are very fortunate that all the necessary tools required for our assistance have been made available to guide us in the correct path. How sad that they are so rarely utilised. The self needs assistance only for the journey. The final exit is without assistance or effort—assistance and effort imply a self and a goal. The techniques examined in this book are intended to help readers to gain a right understanding of the teachings. They are directed towards an understanding of the complex mind process that creates all illusion. They also facilitate the essential component of the learning process, i.e., allowing mind to understand its own process. When we really understand the mind process, i.e., what is happening here within us, we may not need much guidance from outside. As we learn, we move away from the labelling of mind constructions. The mind process no longer tempts as strongly. The mind’s resistance to the present moment is weakened. Mind itself may guide us in the right direction, away from the dead past and the imaginary future, beyond past-present-future time towards the present, where reality, simultaneous arising and ceasing, the impermanence, and non-self can only be experienced. Once we acquire a proper understanding of the teachings and develop the essential skills and discipline, we can move forward in the right direction. We do not need to look outside ourselves to consider the boundaries and limitations of many existing practices, such as meditation. Everything becomes more or less self-explanatory. We need to focus our attention on the journey and not the destination. The journey is necessary for the self, but the destination is not. The journey starts with the true understanding that we are unhappy because we do not live in the present. We carry the heavy baggage   of the dead past and hopes and fears for the future. Past and future obscure the present, not allowing the mind  to shine in the present moment. We usually think of the present within the context of a time period. Our present is bounded and constrained by past memories and plans for the future. We identify everything we sense, feel, or think in the present on the basis of thought, which is based on past-present-future time. By means of these thoughts, we identify objects, giving them name and form in the conventional present. Name is retrieved from memory; form is only a mental construct of attributes such as colour, smell, taste, texture, etc. All this takes place within past-present-future time. This is how the thought process functions in the conventional present. The real present is clouded by memory, the past, and an imaginary future, created by our desires, hopes, and fears, compulsively projected into the future. Past memories bring happiness or sorrow and urge us to plan better for the future. This brings anxiety and stress, as the anticipated future could be better or worse. In the real present, mind-made time is absent and there is no identification with name and form. Here there are no past memories or future plans. As the self is absent, mind is free and radiant. This is the shining of the hidden luminous gem, the priceless richness within. This is the pristine, pure, timeless state  of wisdom. We think that we are using our mind, but it is the conditioned mind that uses us. This normal mind process denies and resists the present moment. It views the involuntary activities of the senses through the window of ignorance to create illusion. To live in the present is to be liberated from the mind process that produces thoughts. It is to be outside mind- made time. Let us look at this situation from a different angle. We spend a great deal of time and energy in the continuous production of thought. Sometimes we are absorbed, sometimes we are tired or bored. What a wearisome cycle! If we could only save the energy that we spend in this futile rumination, if we could only find a space without thought and worry, what peace this would be! It is a clear unbound vision not limited to conditioning. The starting point of the journey is therefore to direct the conditioned mind to live in the present. This requires un-conditioning of the mind, not allowing it to follow the usual patterns. We must educate the mind to move away from its conditioned denial or resistance to the present. We must direct the mind away from identification and separation, bounded time and the bounded self. We must train the mind to observe sensory input without identification. This is usually a gradual process, as the un-conditioning is extremely difficult to achieve. The best way forward is to develop an interest rather than making an effort as an individual, as any effort by an individual strengthens the self. We must attempt to move out of the time dimension as far as possible. We must not indulge in past and future dreams whenever they are not strictly required for daily needs. Whatever we do has to be done in this way, with the mind as an observer and not a participant. We must try to avoid entanglement in thoughts. Any relaxation of such efforts would facilitate the mind’s denial of the present and drag us back towards to conventional thinking. This is the daily, hourly, constant practice of mindfulness. When we see, we should only be seeing, when we hear, we should only be hearing, and so on . The practice of mindfulness need not be constrained to a formal meditation session. It is an activity that can be done at any time; it does not require sitting, or even focusing on the breath, but rather is done by bringing the mind to observe on what is happening at the present moment, the conventional present. For example, when washing our face, we should concentrate only on that activity. However, the mind resists this focus and wanders, multiplying thoughts of anything other than the right here now. We should be watchful of this resistance and always return to our mindfulness as soon as we realise that we have strayed. Let us consider a simple example … say, writing a letter of the alphabet. This is a simple process, one that takes very little time to complete from start to finish. Yet even within this process, the start of the pen stroke is already in the past and what is yet to be written is still in the future. We can thus narrow down the present to a very short moment, the moment that pen touches the paper. This is only enough time to make a dot of ink. But if we concentrate on that moment, and all the moments that follow, the letter will be written beautifully. This is mindfulness, narrowing our thoughts to one moment of one activity in the present. We know that if we do any activity without full attention that the result will be of poor quality. Whether it is work, driving, eating, or anything else we do, we must be mindful of what we are doing if the activity is to be carried out effectively and efficiently. If our thoughts take us away from the activity, the work will be affected. Mindfulness is the focusing of our attention on the present moment. However, it should be noted that even if this is living in the present, it is the conventional present; thought, self, world, and time still exist. Hence it is important to realise the limitations of this technique, as it is constrained by the conventional thought process. Does that mean it is useless? No, it is extremely useful, for the journey if not the goal. Seekers are advised to adopt this technique for everything they do. 6.2 Meditation In tranquillity meditation (samatha), the mind is focused on a fixed object. This calms the mind and improves concentration. With continued practice, the mind learns to recognise the loss of concentration when it occurs and brings attention back to the object. In this way the mind’s natural wandering capabilities are tamed. The thought process continues to create the illusion of a self, but in a more controlled manner. Breathing  and walking  meditation are the most common kinds of samatha practice; they are used world-wide. They calm the mind and develop inner peace. The thought process is controlled, the power of concentration is improved, and the mind becomes more peaceful and alert. When we do samatha, there is a tendency to use the conditioned mind, the thinking mind. In order to move forward we need to move away from the thinking mind. We must not dwell on thoughts. We should concentrate only on the present moment, maintaining alertness without labelling the input from the senses. Proper mindfulness is that when we see, there should only be seeing, when we hear, there should only be hearing, and so on. The conditioned mind wants to label these contacts, even though they appear and disappear in quick succession, without any permanence. Thoughts arise, a consequence of the conditioned mind’s urge to create an illusion of permanency. When we realise that thoughts are just thoughts and not reality, we are better able to release the thoughts (“let it go”). The thoughts cannot then contribute to the illusion of self. The intensity of the illusion is decreased when we let the thoughts go. Thus one is able to observe and release thoughts without getting caught in mental commentary. When letting go is practised with a full understanding of the impermanency of mental creations, we will be less apt to cling to such creations. Now, the mind is still recognising the cumulative effects of the arising of sense perceptions, without realising that the sense perceptions cease even as they rise. The mind is still trapped in past-present-future time. But the mind’s natural tendency to go with the flow of thoughts is restricted and therefore, the evils of anger, resentment, etc., are gradually smoothed away. The moment we awake from sleep, the conditioned mind arises. A self is born; thought arises; mental constructs are created and named. It is a single process. Names do not arise after the self is born and vice versa. All arise together, conditioning each other. We can try to focus our attention on to the moment that self and thoughts are born, not on the thoughts and comments that have arisen. This is difficult, almost impossible. The self is born with the conditioned mind the moment we awake from sleep. The transition from non-self to self becomes almost instantaneous. If our meditation is directed by this self, it will not bring the benefits we expect. The only way forward is to become mindful as a non-self. It should be the mind that observes the mind-process and not the self. We must practise without an effort, as any effort comes from the self and strengthens the self. This is ever-present mindfulness, heedfulness in the present moment. A being can be heedful only where the being exists. So where does being exists? Being does not exist in the past or the future. It cannot exist in the moment before the present moment or in the moment after the present moment. However, this present moment is fleeting. The existence of being is also momentary. A being exists only in the present moment and dies or vanishes even as it arises. The being that existed in the previous moment has been completely destroyed. This being will not exist in the next moment either, because it is not yet born. 6.3 Four foundations of mindfulness It is commonly believed that the development and maintenance of moment- by-moment mindfulness is necessary for awakening. What is moment-by- moment mindfulness? It is usually explained as the contemplation of the four foundations of mindfulness (catu satipatthana): Mindfulness of the body (kayanu passana) Mindfulness of the sensations (vedananu passana) Mindfulness of the mind (cittanu passana) Mindfulness of mental objects (dhammanu passana) Different Buddhists have different views on the four foundations of mindfulness. Many practise what we might call the mundane mindfulness. This mundane practice puts the self at the centre. The practice, it is said, is only a beginning. The goal we intend to reach is far away, only to be experienced as a non-self. We should be careful in accepting traditional views. Our search for the Truth should be an investigation and not an acceptance of punditry or tradition. If we accept that awakening can be achieved in this life, then our practice of mindfulness will be different. The practice of moment-by-moment mindfulness relates to four components: body, sensation, mind and mind objects. They exist only insofar that being exists. In other words, being, body, sensation, mind and mind objects exist all at once, in a fleeting moment—or, to put it more correctly, they arise together, conditioning each other, and vanish even as they arise. The past or the future therefore has no relevance to mindfulness. That is why we must be mindful of the present moment, where illusory being arises and ceases. A self is not born in isolation, without mind, body, sensation and mental objects. Similarly the mind will not arise without the self, body, sensation and mental objects. If we consider this for a moment, we will be reminded of our earlier discussion of deep sleep, and waking from deep sleep. If sensation does not arise, mind, body, mental objects, and self do not arise. If the body is not experienced, sensation, mind, mental objects, and self do not arise. All of them arise together and cease within arising. If we can truly experience this, we can experience impermanence and attain Enlightenment. Our aim should therefore be to develop the necessary skills to move in this direction. We must cultivate mindfulness in the present, as a non-self, in order to experience the vanishing of the self as it is born, experience the cessation of mental creations within the arising. We must experience without attachment, without a self, a doer and actor. The appropriate mindfulness  is developed by allowing the mind to move in the right direction rather than intentionally trying to achieve a goal by the self through the thought process. Once this is achieved, realisation occurs unexpectedly. The inner richness blossoms as the mind becomes free from conditioning, from imprisonment in past-present-future time, from a thought process activated by ignorance. It is a state free from the process of the conditioned mind. This is the experience of impermanence, of the simultaneous arising (samuda) and ceasing (nirodha). This is freedom from the conditioned mind, from (avijja). This is existing in the present, here and now, which is Enlightenment. At this moment, the cessation of perception and ending of the conditioned mind are experienced. The deliverance of mind (ceto vimutti ) is realised, non-existence of self is realised, the Four Noble Truths are realised, and we enter into the Noble Eightfold Path . This is the dawn of Buddhahood, which does not die. We are free from self, thought, and time for that precious moment. When in the next moment cause and effect activate as before, the mind process activates with wisdom and the self is not reborn. The Awakened One lives in the conventional world, but with wisdom, until the physical body decays and dies. Because the self was given up completely upon Awakening, there is no identification of the self with the physical body and there is no self to grow old, fall sick, and die. 6.4 Deep sleep It is interesting to note the many characteristics of deep sleep which resemble the state of Nibbana. (This is resemblance, affinity, rather than identity.) In deep sleep, self is absent and hence ego does not exist. Time, space, and thought do not exist. Duality of subject and object, judgment and discrimination do not exist. There is neither a doer of kamma nor a person reaping the effects of kamma; birth and death do not occur. In the absence of a self, there is no suffering: we do not experience happiness or sorrow, we feel no pain, we hear no words, we sense no smell, we experience no taste. There is no interaction between the physical sense organs and the five aggregates, (form, feeling, perception, formation, and knowledge) and therefore the chain that links us to samsara via dependent origination does not exist. However, we experience all these states without any knowledge, in total darkness or ignorance. Deep sleep is the repository of ignorance (avijja). It is useful for us to remember that there is another side of our life, one in which we spend many hours each day, a side of which we are completely ignorant. It cannot be accessed through our mind process, which has very limited capabilities. It is a state that provides much-needed rest to the physical body and the wandering mind. The self cannot ever experience this state, which is without conventional consciousness. It is a state away from the realm of the senses. It is a state where good or bad deeds do not occur . Hence it could be called a repository where our real richness, Buddha nature, awakened awareness exists, but is not experienced. Thus it is reasonable to think that in an ordinary person, ignorance and Buddha- nature co exist in deep sleep. This situation, however, changes completely on awakening from deep sleep. We go from ignorance to consciousness . We wake to sensory input, ignorance, and the activation of the mind process. We go from timelessness to past-present- future time. The self arises and experiences suffering. These are two contrasting situations that exist side by side. It is always a transition from one state to another, but we cannot experience the timelessness in deep sleep, as the senses are inactive. Possibly it is worth probing into deep sleep to understand the qualities of Enlightenment. Yet, however hard we try, it may not be possible for us to experience the transition from deep sleep to wakefulness or vice versa. We think we are awake when our senses are functioning. But in one sense we are still in deep sleep, as we have not properly awakened from ignorance. We experience the illusions created by ignorance as real. As discussed in Section 2.1 of Chapter Two, we are forever revolving within the three rounds known as the bhava cycle: actions (kamma vatta), defilements (kilesa vatta), and results (vipaka vatta). This is happening at a very high speed when we are awake. We are always moving from ignorance (round of actions) to consciousness (round of defilements)— avijja paccaya sankhara—as our Buddha nature has not blossomed. Our aim is therefore to free ourselves from this bhava cycle—bhava nirodha  and to experience Enlightenment. 6.5 Pure mind As infants, we experienced the round of actions (kamma vatta) , but without deriving any benefit. At that time, our mind was pure, in a state of pure dhamma only. The thought process did not operate, self did not exist, the conditioned mind did not function, and identification and discrimination did not take place. Only images appeared and disappeared. Our destination is therefore clear: we must experience this pure mind , here and now. We need to move in this direction—to go upstream —in order to experience the qualities of the pure mind and reflect the qualities of actions (kamma vatta). This experience is the realisation of the unlimited power of the present when self and mental fabrications (sankhara) do not exist. It is the dawn of wisdom, of Enlightenment. How do we go upstream when the qualities of the pure mind cannot be experienced by the self? It is not a goal to be achieved by the self. A goal is a concept and therefore is a product of the conditioned mind. It is the process within that has to go upstream. We need to develop an interest in being in the present all the time. It should be an interest only and not an effort as an individual. Any effort by an individual is aimed at benefiting a self. We may be forced to start this process by means of thought, but we should soon to be move away from the thought process, as the journey is not thought-related. Once we understand the basics, this may not be as difficult as we might expect. In this book, I have begun by discussing the mind process, as we must first understand this if we are to grasp the profound teachings of the Buddha. In Chapter Three, I have attempted to identify the main obstacles that stop us from proceeding further in the right direction. Chapter Four was intended to improve listening, reading, and reasoning abilities, so that we might move beyond the boundaries of tradition. Chapter Five provided useful advice on finding our own way of understanding the teachings and taking the path. Chapter Six suggested some guidelines that might facilitate our journey. In this, the concluding chapter, we are reviewing the previous analyses and advice, in an attempt to point the reader towards the right path. Now, throughout this book, I have urged the prudent reader to exert his or her own judgment, to cultivate an investigative mind that does not accept beliefs or practices on mere authority. I trust that readers have read this little book with the same rational mind. I hope that you will have found my discussions relevant and useful. They are offered with deep humility, as a gift that may be of assistance to those who are in search of Truth. May you all be awakened in this life! Notes 1. Unconsciousness: as used in this book, refers to our everyday ‘consciousness’ or stream of perceptions and thoughts. This unconsciousness is object-related and time-dependent; it is really unconsciousness or ignorance (avijja). Avijja is often misinterpreted. It does not refer to a lack of understanding or knowledge. It is the ignorance or the blindness of the mind to its own process, which is the operation of the law of cause and effect. I take this use of ‘unconsciousness’ from the Venerable Madawela Punnaji, who used this English word to translate avijja in his book on Awakening Meditation. Return to chapter 2. After the death (parinibbana) of the Buddha , his followers separated into different traditions. This separation may have been due to the inroads made by Vedic (Hindu) principles, or the cultural differences between regions, or simply due to differences of opinion regarding the teachings. The most notable traditions are: a) Theravada or Southern Buddhism, also known as Southeast Asian Buddhism. This is practised mainly in Sri Lanka, Thailand, Cambodia and parts of Malaysia, Vietnam and China. This branch of Buddhism emerged at the time of the Third Buddhist Council (circa 250 C.E.), during the reign of Emperor Asoka in India. b) Mahayana or Eastern Buddhism, also known as East Asian Buddhism. This is practised in China, Japan, Korea and Vietnam. This version originated in the Indian subcontinent, in what is today northern Pakistan, and spread throughout East Asia during the first century C.E. c) Vajrayana or Northern Buddhism, also known as Tibetan Buddhism. This is practised in Tibet, Mongolia, Bhutan and parts of Nepal, India, China, and Russia. Vajrayana is a variant of Mahayana Buddhism. It has adopted some practices (skilful means or upaya) not used in other traditions. Return to chapter 3. In Mahayana Buddhism, Nibbana was taken to mean only the extinction of greed and hate, implying that delusion was still present in one who attained Nibbana, and that one needed to attain Bodhi to eradicate delusion. Therefore, according to Mahayana Buddhism, the Arhat (Sanskrit; in Pali this is Arahant ; see note 5. below) has attained only Nibbana, thus still being subject to delusion, while the Buddha (one who has attained Bodhi) not only achieves Nibbana but full liberation from delusion as well. However, in Theravada Buddhism, Bodhi and Nibbana have the same meaning, that of being freed from greed, hate and delusion. It should also be noted that in the Mahayana Mahaparinirvana Sutta, parinirvana (Sanskrit: parinirvana; Pali: parinibbana) is equal in all respects to Bodhi and indeed is the state of perfect Buddhahood. Parinirvana is the final Nibbana, which occurs upon the death of the body of someone who has attained complete awakening (bodhi). It implies a release from bhavachakra, samsara, kamma, and rebirth. Return to chapter 4. The four stages of Enlightenment in Buddhism are the four degrees of approach to full Enlightenment as an arahant , which a person can attain in this life. The four stages are sotapanna, sakadagami, anagami, and arahant. Return to chapter 5. Nibbana (Nirvana): Enlightenment. The extinction of greed (loba), aversion (dosa), and delusion (moha). This unique experience has been explained in many ways: experiencing of the timeless present or reality; blowing out of the fires of greed, aversion and delusion; liberation from craving -driven mind process; the ‘end of the illusory world,’ in which no identity is left and the mind has no boundaries; the power of the present moment. The subject is at peace with the world, has compassion for all, and gives up obsessions and fixations. This peace is achieved when the existing volitional formations are pacified, and the conditions for the production of new ones are eradicated. The root causes of craving have been extinguished, so that one is no longer subject to human suffering (dukkha) or further rebirth in Samsara. Return to chapter 6. Object-related consciousness: this is the everyday consciousness, which attributes mental formations (sankhara) to a self. These mental formations are also referred to as arammana—identification with form. Return to chapter 7. Pure uncontaminated mind: this refers to the infant’s mind . This is mind without any external knowledge; it is mind experiencing arising and ceasing without identification, judgment, discrimination, and comparison. The images stimulated by all five senses occur and disappear without identification. The Buddha referred to this state as phabassara mind (pure mind) and his words were “Phabassara midam bikkhave chittam, Agantukehi sankilitthena sankilttham”—“The infant’s mind is pure but is contaminated by external contaminants.” Contamination is the beginning of consciousness and the thought process. Return to chapter 8. Timeless present: the Pali word for ‘timeless’ is akalika. Timeless means not within the time that is experienced in the context of past and future. It is the present state, the now where true reality can be experienced. It is this very moment where duality, subjectivity, comparison, and judgement do not exist and self is absent. It does not refer to the conventional present. Return to chapter 9. Un-personalised mind: the Buddha -nature within. Perhaps the word is somewhat misleading, as Enlightenment is beyond the mind process. Return to chapter 10. Wisdom: the Pali term panna (Sanskrit prajna) has a deeper, wider meaning than the English term ‘wisdom.’ It is the vast realm of intelligence beyond the time-constrained thought process. It is not mind -related and hence cannot be realised by the development of mind or the improvement of the powers of concentration. It is the unfolding of ‘inner richness,’ the Buddha nature. Return to chapter 11. Pali: A Middle Indo-Aryan language (or Prakrit) of India. It is best known as the language of many of the earliest extant Buddhist scriptures, as collected in the Pali Canon or Tipitaka (see note 13 below). It is a liturgical language (a language that is cultivated for religious reasons by people who speak another language in their daily life) of Theravada Buddhism. Return to chapter 12. Pali Tipitaka: the Tipitaka (Three baskets), or Pali canon, is a collection of primary Pali language texts that forms the doctrinal foundation of Theravada Buddhism. Theravada Buddhists believe that it contains the very essence of the teachings voiced by the Buddha himself, more than 2,550 years ago. The basket of discipline (Vinaya Pitaka) consists of the guidelines and disciplines to be followed by the monks, the basket of discourses (Sutta Pitaka) contains the sayings of the Buddha, and the basket of philosophy (Abhi Dhamma Pitaka) contains Buddhist philosophy. Return to chapter 13. ICARUS: International Coalition for the Advancement of Religious and Spirituality. A Geneva-based International Coalition founded by spiritual and religious people to spread non-violence. Return to chapter 14. Perry Garfunkel, “Buddha Rising.” National Geographic Magazine (December 2005): 88–109. Return to chapter 15. The Teachings of the Awakened. Colombo, Sri Lanka: The Associated Newspapers of Ceylon Ltd., 2009. Return to chapter 16. Dhamma (dharma in Sanskrit): operation of ‘cause and effect’ in the mind process. It is the nature or operation of impersonal activities leading to the birth of a self due to ignorance. In short, dhamma refers to the sense faculties and their activities. Pure dhamma is also known as Sathdhamma, which is the teaching of the awakened. A fuller explanation of dhamma can be found in Chapter Two of The Teachings of the Awakened. [return to chapter 17. Five Precepts: 1) refrain from killing living beings; 2) refrain from stealing; 3) refrain from sexual irresponsibility; 4) refrain from lying; and 5) refrain from taking intoxicants. Return to chapter 18. Ten Precepts: The Five Precepts , as above, and in addition: 6) refrain from taking food at inappropriate times; 7) refrain from singing, dancing, playing music, or attending entertainment programs; 8) refrain from wearing perfume, cosmetics and decorative accessories; 9) refrain from sitting on high chairs and sleeping on luxurious, soft beds; and 10) refrain from accepting money. Keeping the precepts constrains the thought process, but does not extinguish it; Enlightenment is beyond rules. Hence, it is up to the prudent seeker of the Truth to understand the usefulness and limitations of these and other precepts. Return to chapter 19. Craving (kilesa/tanha): greed (loba), aversion (dosa) and delusion (moha). The reader will find a more extensive discussion in Chapter Three of this book. Return to chapter 20. Mental constructs: mental formations (sankhara). Deep sleep is the repository of ignorance; awakening to the senses from sleep is termed avijja paccaya sankhara. This is also the process that occurs every moment when we are awake—it is the activation of the five aggregates and dependent origination. See notes 21 and 22, below. Return to chapter 21. Five aggregates: the five heaps (skandha) are form (rupa), sensation feeling (vedana), perception (sanna), mental formation (sankhara), and knowledge (vinnana). A more detailed discussion can be found in Chapter Six of The Teachings of the Awakened. Return to chapter 22. Dependent origination: The principle of dependent origination is a profound teaching. It is variously rendered into English as "dependent arising," "conditioned genesis." "dependent co-arising," "interdependent arising,", "co-dependent origination," "causal interdependence," etc. It is conditionality, the cause and effect relation, which is fundamental to the principle of dependent origination. When there is a cause there is an effect. Effect arises with the arising of the cause. When the cause is not present there is no effect. Effect ceases with the ceasing of the cause. The concept of dependent origination explains the interdependency of impersonal processes. It provides the basic framework to understand the mind process leading to the birth of a self and the origin of suffering. A more detailed discussion can be found in Chapter Seven of The Teachings of the Awakened. Return to chapter 23. The dates of the Buddha ’s birth and death are uncertain. In Theravada countries, it has been traditionally accepted that his death would have occurred in 544 BCE or 543 BCE. Return to chapter 24. Punarbhava: renewed becoming, the arising and ceasing of self-view that occur every moment in thought. This becoming can only be ended by attaining Nibbana, Enlightenment. However, it is often mistakenly taken to mean the process of rebirth, or what is commonly called reincarnation. Return to chapter 25. Emotional urge: refers to craving (tanha). It is a more appropriate term for craving because, after the mind has been conditioned, it occurs as the response to a thought. Return to chapter 26. Birth of Buddha nature: the day on which the Buddha experienced Nibbana or Enlightenment. Buddhists all over the world celebrate this day as Vesak or Wesak (Vesakha in Pali). It marks the birth, enlightenment (Nibbana), and passing away (Parinibbana) of Gautama Buddha. The Vesak of May 2011 was celebrated in Sri Lanka as the 2,600th anniversary of Sambuddhattva Jayanthi (the Buddha’s experience of the bliss of Nibbana). It is generally believed that the Buddha was born, enlightened, and died on this day. It is better to understand this day as the birth of Buddha nature and not the birth of a baby. It was also the day of Enlightenment (Nibbana), and the day on which Buddha was liberated from kilesa, or defilements (kilesa parinibbana), not the day on which he died. Return to chapter 27. Dhammapada: a collection of Pali ethical verses that is one of the most widely known of early Buddhist texts. The Pali Dhammapada contains 423 verses in 26 chapters. The title, Dhammapada, is a compound word composed of dhamma and pada. Each of these two words has several meanings. In this case, dhamma refers to the teachings of the Buddha and pada means path. Return to chapter 28. Verse 1: Manopubbangama dhamma manoseṭṭha manomaya Manasa ce padutthena bhasati va karoti va Tato nam dukkhamanveti cakkam'va vahato padam Mind is the forerunner of (all evil) states. Mind is chief; mind-made are they. If one speaks or acts with wicked mind, suffering follows one, even as the wheel follows the hoof of the draught-ox. Verse 2: Manopubbangama dhamma manosettha manomaya Manasa ce pasannena bhasati va karoti va Tato nam sukhamanveti chaya'va anapayini. Mind is the forerunner of (all good) states. Mind is chief; mind-made are they. If one speaks or acts with pure mind, affection follows one, even as one's shadow that never leaves. Return to chapter 29. Natural activities: deeds (kamma) do not occur in deep sleep, in the absence of a self. Deep sleep in some ways resembles kamma vatta. This often quoted stanza describes the state of kamma vatta: Kammassa karako Natthi, Vipakassa ca Vedako Suddha Dhamma bhavissanti, Evametam Sammadassanam. There is no doer, neither is there a person reaping the effects of kamma. There is only pure dhamma and therein I declare that Enlightened Vision. See note 30 below. Return to chapter 30. Realm of existence: Realm of existence: this consists of actions (kamma vatta), defilements (kilesa vatta), and results (vipaka vatta). Our existence within time cycles through these three round. We go from deep sleep (kamma vatta) to wakefulness (kilesa vatta); from wakefulness (kilesa vatta) to half sleep (vipaka vatta); from half sleep to deep sleep. This is our life. In a broader sense, it is the cycle of samsara. In deep sleep, there is no doer and only nature operates. In the absence of a doer, no one reaps any effects. As one awakes, as a being is born, actions become deeds (kamma). In half sleep, memories reappear as images. The non-existence of time is apparent at this stage, as we sometimes dream of dead persons. The above realms of existence are easy to visualise and comprehend. However, it is important to take a step further and try to understand the occurrence of these three rounds (vatta) in every moment. We may be unaware of it, but we are revolving again and again forever within these three rounds, which known as the bhava cycle. We do this at great speed, unconsciously. This happens every moment that we are awake: cycling from actions without a doer (kamma vatta) to actions with an ownership (kilesa vatta) and then to their reappearance in memory as images (vipaka vatta). This bhava cycle can also be called bhava-chakra or punarbhava. Return to chapter 31. Deeds: the transition from deep sleep to wakefulness is the transition from kamma vatta to kilesa vatta. The following stanza describes the state of kilesa vatta: Kammassakomhi, kammadayado, kammayoni, kammabandhu, kammapatisarano, yam kammam karissami kalyanam va papakam va tassa dayado bhavissamiti. I am the owner of my kamma, heir to my kamma, born of my kamma, related to my kamma, abide supported by my kamma, whatever kamma I shall do, for good or for evil, of that I will be the heir.” See note 30 above. Return to chapter 32. Umbilical cord: the cord that connects the developing embryo or fetus to the placenta. Return to chapter 33. Pure state of infant’s mind: see note 5 in Chapter One. Return to chapter 34. Form (rupa): the first effect of the contact between the sensory organs and sensory input (light, sound, smell, taste and touch). The waking mind grasps this contact as form. Form is the first of the Five Aggregates resulting from such sensory contacts. Form is conditioned and transient. Form in itself is not noticeable, but one becomes aware of the cumulative effect of this process, thought. The Buddha has explained forms as something like foam or froth. They appear and disappear continuously, without any permanency. This impermanency is characteristic of all of the five forms arising from the five senses. Return to chapter 35. Vedana: sensation or feeling. Form is the cause and sensation is the effect. Both arise and cease simultaneously, conditioning each other. Sensation is the second of the five aggregates. Return to chapter 36. Bhava cycle: the bhava-chakra (wheel of becoming); it is also called the wheel of samsara. Self is born every moment with the arising of a thought and dies with the cessation of that thought. This cycle of continuity is the bhava cycle. Our conditioned mind is a natural victim of this cycle. Return to chapter 37. Change: everything is made up of sub-atomic particles, which are in constant motion. Return to chapter 38. Samsaric cycle: samsara is generally taken to mean the cycle of birth, death, and rebirth by traditional Buddhism, Hinduism, Jainism, and other Indian religions. It is viewed as a cycle of birth (jati), decay (jara), and death (marana). This view reinforces the concept of atma, the soul or self. A better understanding might be that a being (self) is born of thought every moment and dies at the same moment. This has been termed punarbhava. It is the result of the continuous movement within the bhava cycle, which revolves again and again, at a rapid speed, between actions (kamma vatta), defilements (kilesa vatta), and results (vipaka vatta). This is an understanding that differs from the usual ideas of rebirth or reincarnation. See note 30 above. Return to chapter 39. Goal: something to be achieved in the future. This implies the existence of the self and a goal, two separate things. If the experiencing of reality now is our goal, we cannot reach it by aiming at it. Return to chapter 40. Nama-rupa: nama is name, rupa is form. Name and form arise together, as the mind process constructs an object and gives it a name. Return to chapter 41. Kalama Sutta: the Kalamas were citizens of the town of Kesaputta in India. They had been visited by many religious teachers of divergent views. Each one would advocate his own teachings and condemn the teachings of those who had preceded him. This left the Kalamas confused. When the Buddha arrived in their township, they approached him in the hope that he might dispel their confusion. This Sutta is a summary of the Buddha’s advice to the Kalamas. It is therefore, prudent to consider the contents of the Kalama Sutta in light of the context in which the Buddha spoke. The Sutta calls for rational investigation. See note 42 below. Return to chapter 42. The Kalama Sutta says: “Do not believe in anything Simply because you have heard it; Do not believe in anything Simply because it is spoken and rumoured by many; Do not believe in anything Simply because it is found written in your religious books; Do not believe in anything Merely on the authority of your teachers and elders; Do not believe in traditions because They have been handed down by many generations; Do not believe in anything Simply because it was said by the Buddha. But after observation and analysis When you find that anything agrees with reason Then accept it.” Return to chapter 43. Ceto vimutti: deliverance of mind, freedom from illusions; liberation from the time-constrained thought process. It is also called ‘unshakable deliverance of mind’ (akuppa cetto vimutti) as it will never change. It is unbounded by the conditions of existence, and free from greed, hatred, and ignorance. Return to chapter 44. Buddha: refers to the wisdom or awakened awareness that the historical Buddha realised. It is beyond the six senses and the thought process. It is an extraordinary quality. It does not refer to a person; it does not belong to a self. This quality, the Buddha nature or the awakened awareness, is within us and it is waiting to be awakened. It is realisable by anyone. Return to chapter 45. Uruvela: It is believed that the place where Buddha was Enlightened was on the outskirts of a small village called Uruvela, which nestled on the banks of the sandy Neranjara River. This area is now known as Bodh Gaya or Bodhgaya, a city in Gaya district in the Indian state of Bihar. The present-day Mahabodhi Temple is built on this site. For Buddhists, Bodh Gaya is the most important of the main four pilgrimage sites related to the life of Gautama Buddha. The other three sites are Kushinagar, Lumbini, and Saranath. Return to chapter 46. Kalama Sutta: See notes 41 and 42 above. Return to chapter 47. Scriptures: the Mahamangala Sutta in Sutta Nipata (Sn 2.4). See stanza IV, which emphasises broad knowledge and well-mastered discipline. See note 48 below for more details. Return to chapter 48. Mahamangala Sutta: Sutta Nipata (Sn 2.4), Stanza IV reads: “Bahu saccanca sippanca Vinayo ca susikkhito Subhasita ca ya vaca— Etam mangala muttamam.” “A good education, accomplished in many skills, Well disciplined, Pleasant speech— This is the Supreme Blessing.” Return to chapter 49. Knowledge: the English term used for the Pali vinnana. The term consciousness can also be used to translate vinnana. Return to chapter 50. Wisdom: the Pali term panna (Sanskrit prajna) has a deeper, wider meaning than the English term ‘wisdom.’ It is the vast realm of intelligence beyond the time-constrained thought process. It is not mind -related and hence cannot be realised by the development of mind or the improvement of the powers of concentration. It is the unfolding of ‘inner richness,’ the Buddha nature. (As previously stated in note 10.) Return to chapter 51. Vinnanan anidassanam: Pali term which expresses the insight that vision, Enlightenment, cannot be achieved by means of knowledge. Return to chapter 52. Maithree Buddha: Maitreya (Sanskrit) or Metteyya (Pali) is a future Buddha of this world. According to traditional interpretations of the teachings, Maithree Buddha will be a successor of the historic Sakyamuni Buddha. One can only be enlightened after physically seeing him and being exposed to his teachings. Many believe that this life should be spent in accruing sufficient merits to ensure this fortunate rebirth. It is true that one must see the Buddha in order to attain Enlightenment. However, it would be better to understand this not as seeing a physical Buddha, but as a vision of the Buddha within. One must experience the Buddha nature within, which can be done in this life. Return to chapter 53. Atman: a permanent soul which is reborn, again and again. This is a Vedic concept. The Buddha taught anatman, the non-existence of the self, for which see note 54 below. Return to chapter 54. Anatta or anatman: the doctrine of the non-existence of a permanent self. It is this understanding which differentiates Buddhism from other religions. All other religions of the West and the East believe in a permanent immaterial entity, a soul or ego. Return to chapter 55. Noble morality: a state without views (right or wrong) is required for the vision of the here and now. The Buddha ’s words were, “dittinca anupagamma silava dassanena sampanno …” Return to chapter 56. Triple Gems: the Buddha, Dhamma, and Sangha . They are also called the Three Jewels, Three Treasures, or Three Refuges. For further explanation, see Section 5.8 of Chapter 5.” Return to chapter 57. Five aggregates: form, sensation, perception, mental formulations, and consciousness. Also called the five khandas (Pali) or skandhas (Sanskrit). A detailed discussion of the five aggregates can be found in Chapter Six of The Teachings of the Awakened. The Buddha discussed the aggregates in his second discourse, the Anatta-lakkhana Sutta (also known as Pancavaggiya Sutta) which can be found in Samyutta Nikaya of the Suttapitaka (SN 22.59). The five aggregates arise and cease endlessly, conditioning each other, and are therefore impermanent. Return to chapter 58. Arising, existing and vanishing: uppada (arising), thiti (existing), and banga (vanishing) are terms from Vedanta philosophy. Return to chapter 59. Personalisation: refers to the clinging and grasping (upadana) of mental formations, or, more accurately, to the grasping of the five aggregates. This is called pancaupadaankkandha in the teachings. The term pancaupadanakkhandha dukhka asserts that clinging to the five aggregates is the cause of suffering. Return to chapter 60. Catu satipatthana: four-fold mindfulness. This is discussed in the Maha-satipatthana Sutta, Sutta Pitaka, Digha Nikaya 22. Return to chapter 61. Yoniso manasikara: proper or wise attention; attention to the point at which the mind arises. Return to chapter 62. Community of monks: monks wearing the yellow robe and living in monasteries, temples, or places of worship. They form the spiritual community that supports the spiritual growth of the laypeople. In its broadest sense, this community extends into the past and includes all the monks since the time of the Buddha. Return to chapter 63. Dhamma language: ordinary language as used by the Awakened to teach the Dhamma. Ordinary words may be used metaphorically or allusively to convey a truth that is otherwise beyond words. Return to chapter 64. Law of cause and effect: the operation of natural order within the mind process. Hetu pala in Pali. Return to chapter 65. Dependent origination: this is discussed in detail in the Samyutha Nikaya, in the Sutta Pitaka. However, it is also mentioned in many of the discourses in the Pali Canon. Return to chapter 66. After Prince Siddhartha Gautama left his parents’ palace, he visited the hermit Bhagava and learned his ascetic practices. Afterward he visited Alara Kalama and Uddaka Ramaputta to learn their meditative practices. He attained the highest level of meditative consciousness, but he was not satisfied, as he had not attained a state without birth and death. Siddhartha then joined a group of five companions (Kondanna, Vappa, Baddiya, Mahanama and Assaji) who practised extreme austerities. They tried to find Enlightenment through self-mortification. Despite such intense efforts, Siddhartha was unable to experience the true peace. He ultimately gave up the practice of asceticism, realising that it was not the path to liberation. In the first sermon he delivered, he was very clear; his followers were not to imitate his previous, useless, practices. This implies that everything he had done was useless, including his meditative practices. Return to chapter 67. Noble Eightfold Path: Many believe that they are treading this path. In fact, what they practise is the mundane Eightfold Path, a thought- related, time-dependent, and self-centred version of the Noble Eightfold Path. See note 68 below. Return to chapter 68. Noble Eightfold Path: 1. Right View; 2. Right Intention; 3. Right Speech; 4. Right Action; 5. Right Livelihood; 6. Right Effort; 7. Right Mindfulness; 8. Right Concentration. The path is usually described as a way to the end of suffering. The stages of the path are conventionally divided into three categories: Wisdom (panna), stages 1 and 2; Ethical conduct (sila), stages 3, 4, and 5; Concentration (samadhi), stages 6, 7, and 8. The common conception of the Noble Eightfold Path is that it stresses dana (charity, sharing and giving), sila (morality and self-discipline), and bhavana (meditation). This is to practise the mundane (lokiya) Eightfold Path, which is not at all the same as the true Noble Eightfold Path. A person cannot say that he or she is on the path without having stepped onto the path. This first step is the vision of Enlightenment. Noble Eightfold Path is supra-mundane (lokuttara), and only opens up with the vision. If you or I were to say that we were following the Noble Eightfold Path, that would be the ego talking. We are still identified with the mind. We are still in thrall to the thinking process. Only the Enlightened can say that they are on the Noble Eightfold Path. They are free from the ignorance -driven thought process. They use it only as a tool, useful for communication, without being enslaved by it. They follow the path that is beyond the thought process, hence, not thought-related, self-centred, or time-dependent. Return to chapter 69. Upstream: see note 70 below for the story. Return to chapter 70. After seven years of asceticism with no results, Siddhartha Gautama decided to rest under a banyan tree near the Neranjara river. On that day, Sujatha brought milk-rice (rice porridge) to fulfil her vow to the tree-god. When she saw someone under the tree, she thought it was the tree-god, to whom she had been praying for a husband and a son. Sujatha offered milk-rice to Siddhartha Gautama and he accepted it, breaking his vows of asceticism. When the five ascetics (Kondanna, Bhaddiya, Vappa, Mahanama, and Assaji) saw him partaking of nourishment they grew disgusted with their companion and hurriedly distanced themselves from him. They thought he was returning to the life he had lived before and was leaving the life of a holy seeker. When he finished the food, he took the bowl and threw it in the river, saying, "If I am to succeed in becoming a Buddha today, let this bowl go upstream , but if not, let it go downstream." The bowl went upstream, all the while keeping in the middle of the river. Return to chapter 71. Pure mind: Pure uncontaminated mind: this refers to the infant’s mind . This is mind without any external knowledge; it is mind experiencing arising and ceasing without identification, judgment, discrimination, and comparison. The images stimulated by all five senses occur and disappear without identification. The Buddha referred to this state as phabassara mind (pure mind) and his words were “Phabassara midam bikkhave chittam, Agantukehi sankilitthena sankilttham”—“The infant’s mind is pure but is contaminated by external contaminants.” Contamination is the beginning of consciousness and the thought process. (As previous stated in note 7.) Return to chapter 72. Time and space dimensions: there are conventionally three dimensions of space and a fourth dimension, time. Return to chapter 73. Baggage: memories or knowledge that reinforce the illusion of permanency of mental creations. They create barriers to experiencing reality in the present. They can bring happiness as well as unhappiness to the self. Such baggage is discussed in relation to the stories of Kisagotami and Patacara. See Note 74 below for details. Return to chapter 74. Kisagotami was distraught with grief on the death of her dearest child. She came to see the Buddha seeking medicine for the dead child. Similarly, Patacara, who had lost her husband, two children, brother, and parents overnight, was also grieving and came to hear the teachings of the Buddha. After listening to the Buddha, both were able to realise a) the impermanency of mental creations and b) that suffering is caused by personalisation of such creations. These stories are recorded in many places in the Pali Canon, most notably in the Therigatha, a compilation of verses uttered by the Theris when they saw the clear light of the Dhamma. This compilation is part of the Khuddaka Nikaya of the Sutta Pitaka. The stories of Kisagotami and Patacara are two of the best-known stories of early Buddhism. Return to chapter 75. Mind: the word ‘mind ’ is learned during conditioning and often refers to the conditioned mind. As such, it is just a perception (sanna), like any other word. But it can also be used to refer to the Buddha- nature. Other terms used in this book are ‘awakened awareness,’ ‘consciousness without objects,’ ‘un-manifested infinite awareness,’ ‘infinite or boundless consciousness,’ etc. This mind is un-personalised but also wise, unlike the infant mind. Return to chapter 76. Pristine pure timeless state: un-personalised mind, selfless mind, Buddha-nature. Return to chapter 77. Seeing is only the seeing: deep meaning can be found in the following words of the Buddha to Bahiya (Bahiya Sutta: Tipitaka , Sutta Pitaka , Khuddaka Nikaya, Udana 1.10). Return to chapter 78. Breathing meditation: meditation on the breath, and the sensations as it enters and leaves the nostrils. One focuses on the breath to the exclusion of everything else. Return to chapter 79. Walking meditation: meditation on movement and the component parts of the steps. A mindfulness practice (see note 80 below). Return to chapter 80. Mindfulness: activity without dwelling on thoughts, which allows us to see through the illusion of self. Return to chapter 81. Ceto vimutti: deliverance of mind, freedom from illusions; liberation from the time-constrained thought process. It is also called ‘unshakable deliverance of mind’ (akuppa cetto vimutti) as it will never change. It is unbounded by the conditions of existence, and free from greed, hatred, and ignorance. (As previously stated in note 42.) Return to chapter 82. Noble Eightfold Path: for previous discussion, see Section 5.9. Return to chapter 83. Deeds: for an explanation of the absence of deeds in deep sleep, see note 30 above. Return to chapter 84. Awakening of the senses (avijja paccaya sankhara): the activation of the five aggregates and dependent origination. Return to chapter 85. Bhava nirodha: to be free of the bhava-cycle forever. Return to chapter 86. Round of actions (kamma vatta): see notes 30 and 31 above. Return to chapter 87. Pure mind: see note 7 above. Return to chapter 88. Upstream: see Section 5.10 in Chapter Five for further details. Return to chapter Recommended reading 1949-1950 Sri Lanka Talks, by J. Krishnamurti Colombo, Sri Lanka: Krishnamurti Centre, 1994 1957 Sri Lanka Talks, by J. Krishnamurti Colombo, Sri Lanka: Krishnamurti Centre, 1998 Awakening Meditation, by the Venerable Madawela Punnaji Edmonton, Canada: Puremind Publishers, 2001 The Universal Truth, by Kularathne Nakkawatte Colombo, Sri Lanka: Godage International Publishers (PVT) Ltd, 2008 The Power of Now, by Eckhart Tolle USA: New World Library, 1999 Stillness Speaks, by Eckhart Tolle London: Hodder and Stoughton, 2003 A New Earth, by Eckhart Tolle London: Hodder and Stoughton, 2005 The Teachings of the Awakened, by A. Karunasena Colombo, Sri Lanka: The Associated Newspapers of Ceylon Ltd, 2009 About the author A. Karunasena is a double degree holder, a member of the Royal Institution of Chartered Surveyors, UK and a Fellow member of the Institute of Valuers, Sri Lanka. He is currently attached to the Valuation Office Agency of the UK Civil Service. He was a lecturer in Valuation at Sri Jayawardenapura University, Sri Lanka from 1976 to 1984. He served as the Chief Municipal Assessor of the Colombo Municipal Council, Sri Lanka, from 1985 to 1990. Mr. Karunasena was born and raised a Buddhist, but only began to look deeply into the teachings of the Buddha late in life. In 2009, he published a book about Buddhism, The Teachings of the Awakened. This book is his second publication. He can be contacted by email at awake.1711 at gmail dot com.