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The Buddha's Lesser Discourse on Emptiness

Phiroz Mehta, Middle Way (Volume 68:4 p. 189) February 1994

The Oak Room Talks, given at the Buddhist Society Summer School 23rd August 1975

We will start with what is called the Culasunnatasutta, "The Lesser Discourse on Sunyata" (the Void). [Middle Length Sayings No. 121 (M iii, 104-9)]. This takes place in Savatthi in the Eastern monastery in the palace of Migara's mother. It is important to note that the Buddha is talking with Ananda, his beloved disciple, his own cousin. And this starts off in the usual way: Then the Venerable Ananda, emerging from solitary meditation towards evening, approached the Lord; having sat down at a respectful distance, (and so forth). Ananda spoke thus to the Lord:

"At one time, revered sir, the Lord was staying among the Sakyans (Nagaraka is the name of a market town of the Sakyans). And while I was there, revered sir, face to face with the Lord I heard (and of course, he is repeating the words of the Buddha to the Buddha): 'I, Ananda, through abiding in emptiness, am now abiding in the fullness thereof.' And then Ananda says, "I hope that I heard this properly, revered sir, learnt it properly, attended to it properly and understood it properly?"

And the Buddha answers, "Certainly, Ananda, you heard this properly, learnt it properly, attended to it properly and understood it properly. (And he repeats the words which he spoke to Ananda sometime previously). Formerly I, Ananda, as well as now, through abiding in emptiness, abide in the fullness thereof." (It is a strange thing!)

And he goes on to say, "As this palace of Migara's mother is empty of elephants, cows, horses and mares, empty of gold and silver, of assemblages of men and women, and there is only this that is not emptiness, that is to say the solitude grounded on the Order of monks; (grounded on, in this context, means dependent upon, contingent upon the Order of monks) even so, Ananda, a monk, not attending to the perception of village, of human beings, attends to solitude grounded on the perception of forest, (the perception of forest means the awareness of forest; means the monk is in the forest, there are other people around him and there is a village nearby. Not attending to those but being aware of the forest as a whole. His solitude is dependent upon the perception of forest only). His mind is satisfied with, pleased with, set on and freed in the perception of forest. (This does not mean that he is undergoing a wonderful pleasure, or any such thing. His mind is pleased, satisfied with, this awareness of forest as such). He comprehends thus: "The disturbances there might be resulting from the perception of village do not exist here; nor from the perception of' human beings. Those disturbances do not exist here."

Let us take an analogy out of our own experience. When we are all together in the dining room, 150 of us, or however many there are, we are all talking away! There is the clatter of knives and forks, and so on. Loud laughter! And these are all the disturbances that one feels, if one is aware of the people, knives and so on. But if one is aware only in terms of the dining room as a whole, or of the meal, as such, then there are no disturbances). So the monk comprehends, 'This perceiving is empty of the perception of village, is empty of the perception of human beings and there is only this that is not emptiness, namely the solitude dependent upon the perception of forest.' (Do you get the idea? Awareness; clear awareness, full attention upon the whole - in which the parts are included - renders the separate parts as empty in relation to his consciousness; this is Void! These parts are Void with respect to his awareness). "He regards that which is not there as empty of it ' But in regard to what remains (that is, in this case, the forest as such) he comprehends, 'That being, this is." (Now the reference here, there is no further explanation, that being, the forest being, there is only this degree of disturbance, namely the perception of the forest as a whole).

"Thus, Ananda, this comes to be for him a true, not a mistaken, utterly purified realisation of emptiness." (There is a true, purified realisation of emptiness with respect to the village, with respect to human beings. Thus far, it is a true realisation).

"And again, Ananda, a monk, not attending to the perception of human beings, not attending to the perception of forest, attends to solitude grounded on (that is dependent upon) the perception of earth." (Now he takes the earth, in which there is the forest, the village, the human beings. The village and the human beings are out and the forest was there, and that was the disturbance. Now, he maintains his awareness in terms of the earth itself which contains all this. A still larger wholeness, so to say. A curious phrase 'still larger wholeness' but nevertheless you know what I mean: perception of earth). "Even so, Ananda, a monk, not attending to anything on this earth: dry land and swamps, rivers and marshes, hills and plains, attends to solitude grounded on the perception of earth (as a whole) - we can extend it to the whole earth. To the whole world, this planet on which we live. We have, on past occasions, done what I have named 'the earth meditations', many of you might remember that in which one viewed the whole world. And in this awareness, just awareness, not a silent chatter in the brain about the earth as a whole, but just aware: here is the planet as a whole. (Then all the separate parts cease to be forces of disturbance). His mind is satisfied with, pleased with, set on and freed (he always says that 'and freed') in the perception of earth. (and then, the same formula is repeated: the disturbances of such and such). But in so far as he does not attend to all those but attends only to the earth as a whole, the only disturbance is that which is consequent upon being aware of the earth as a whole. To that extent there is not emptiness. (Where all the other things are concerned there is a state of emptiness, a Void). "And, with respect to the earth then, he comprehends, 'That being, this is.' (That is to say, that perception of earth as a whole, being present, there is this disturbance with respect to that perception). Thus, Ananda, there comes to be for him a true and utterly purified realisation of (the concept of) emptiness."

Now, the word which is used for solitude is ekatta; which also means aloneness, unity, oneness. It is important to bear this in mind. Unity, aloneness, is also the same as voidness. Is it not true that it is only in terms of being conscious of otherness: another person, another thing, that there is not the state of perfect unity. The unity of the Universe is an extraordinarily comprehensive reality. The Universe, the One, is the many, in complete relationship with each other and with the whole. Therefore there is an aloneness, a oneness. The Universe is the absolute fact as regards our existence. When emerges the break in that unity, the thunder speaks. (And the 'thunder state' is the state of sin, remember; the word sin, its original meaning is that which breaks the unity or that which separates out and loses complete relationship; that is the meaning of the word sin).

Now, whence emerges this state in the mind in consciousness? Vinnana kkhandha (you know the fifth aspect of the Buddhist analysis of the individual), the fifth is discriminative consciousness, the separating consciousness, the analysing consciousness. And this analysing consciousness is with us as we perceive something. As we react to any particular feeling or sensation or stimulus. So you see this process of so-called abstraction is, in reality, not an escape from all that there is but that process of unification, restoring the unity by realising emptiness of the particular part of which we are discriminatively conscious.

When that discriminative consciousness gives place to this state of total awareness, it is quite different, remember, from discriminative consciousness. Then, because you abide in that emptiness, you are abiding in the fullness thereof; the Unknown, the Mysterious, the Unspeakable Fullness. Nothing to do with vacuity! It is nothing to do with any idea of absolute knowledge/wisdom. This is something to experience, to realise, make real (that is what the word realise means, actually).

So you see, this process of abstraction (I am using the word which scholars' ordinarily use) is not abstraction in the sense in which the analytical, intellectualist uses it. It is a dissolution of that mode of awareness, discriminative consciousness, as we have it; the dissolution of that discriminative consciousness, which releases this state of total awareness. Which, in actual fact, frees us from the disturbances caused because of discriminative consciousness and so oneself is in complete accord with the total reality. To put it as close to the truth as I possibly can: it is the totality which comes to self-realisation through the particular - you -yourself! And, it is only man who can do that! That is to say, it is only man who can allow that to happen through meditation, which is based (and must necessarily be based) upon complete purification. When the purification is there the meditation becomes possible. Not that stage one is purification, having done all that you go off into the next class or into the office upstairs where you have much greater responsibility and stage two starts. It is not like that, it all happens simultaneously. The universal process is simultaneous; no part of the universe stops; no part of your body ever stops functioning, it is perpetually functioning. So you see, this Wholeness, Holiness, comes to fruition gradually.

And so the Buddha goes on: "And the next step, after earth, is the solitude, the oneness, or unity, grounded on the plane of infinite akasa." (I am deliberately using the Pali word, which is also the Sanskrit word). What is akasa.? It is translated as space. That is not an incorrect translation at all in the 'common or garden' sense. It is also translated as sky (the sky which we see outside there, like that, is akasa.). But the word akasa, used in this context has a far profounder and a far deeper meaning than the ordinary one. The root of the word akasa, is kash, meaning to shine. Now, the extraordinary thing in connection with this word akasa is this: that it represents that which is self-shining; it is one of the strange things in old Indian philosophical systems, as well as the philosophy of religion, that akasa is presented as an absolute! Just as complementing it, or purporting to complement it, Nirvana is an absolute in Buddhist teachings. An absolute in the sense that it is not dependent upon anything at all. It is not dependent, not contingent, which makes it the Absolute. You know how in the theistic theologies of the world, the Universe, the world, is contingent upon God, the Ultimate. The word existence means actually to stand out of, 'act out of' exsistere: to stand. And that which stands out of is that which has been created (if you like to use that word), or emerges out of the Unknown, the Indescribable, the Absolute. The self-subsistent, you see, in that sense Absolute. The Nirvana in Buddhism, Brahman in the Hindu teachings, Eckhart's Gottheit, Godhead (as contrasted with God), the presented, personalised God, and so forth. They are absolutes, the terms for the Absolute. But they are terms which are thought of if you try to develop any ideas out of them in personalistic terms; so you get your personal Being, who is a Supreme, Ultimate Being. If you do not want to personalise it, you are left with the Absolute of the philosopher, or to use the phrase which that Scottish philosopher Hamilton used 'the unconditioned'.

Now, those old people asked the questions, but what does this physical universe emerge out of? Because we see that the universe we experience through our senses and through our intellectual perceptions is something which begins to recede, dies; and yet it never ceases to be! It is always there! What does it emerge out of ? They postulated akasa as the origin of it, this self-sustaining, self-subsistent Absolute, which is the origin of the manifested universe as such. They were in a fix! Up until the end of the 19th century matter was different for ever and ever from mind. And although in the Upanishads Brahman is presented as being the Total Totality, if I may use such a phrase, nevertheless, they could not really square, intellectually, this separation between what was absolute spirit, on the one hand, and matter on the other hand. So they postulated akasa, which, of course, is a bit absurd! You cannot have two absolutes because then you totally deny the meaning of the word absolute; you cannot have two absolutes.

So now, this plane of infinite akasa is a phrase which refers to akasa. that self-shining, self-subsisting reality, out of which all visible, audible, tangible, of the tangible universe, emerges. It is the root of matter, the root of Nature. Remember that in those days, matter was something which was only solid/ liquid/ gaseous for them, they knew no different. We know something quite different now. Modern science has quite dematerialised matter! I am just putting these ideas in order that one may appreciate how and why those old people thought in terms of these planes of akasa. Nowadays the same process goes on, you know, the emptiness, and only this that is not emptiness. Now we come to akasa as not emptiness.

And the next stage presented is that not attending to the plane of infinite akasa, the monk attends to infinite Vinnana, to infinite discriminative consciousness. And, as a matter of fact, in Buddhist teachings, infinite akasa and infinite Vinnana go together (they are always in actuality associated together). But what do you mean by infinite discriminative consciousness? Can we conceive it? Can we imagine it? You see, this is right beyond conception and imagination, isn't it? What has happened is that all the sense functions have stopped. That is to say, they are no longer functioning as separate self-functions, their receptivity is there, actually, in the body. Remember this, this is important! Because when we come to the end you will see why it is important. Their receptivity is there, but there is no reactivity to them from within oneself and therefore there is no bondage to them, the mind is freed. "His mind is freed of it, set free"; the words the Buddha uses.

Now, infinite Vinnana, infinite discriminating consciousness, therefore, does not mean consciousness in our sense of the term. It is this Universal, All-Mind; you may call it No-Mind, if you like, it does not matter which you call it. Yes-Mind or No-Mind, the words make no difference in actual fact. Think of Nagarjuna, of those days, and what he presented; you know, the basic idea is therefore to any single proposition, as also to the opposite proposition, you have to give two answers: Yes as well as No to each. So you see the meaning of that. Actually, the brain has to completely shut-up! NO TALKING! This is extremely important to understand: no talking at all! Which means no conceptualising, no forming of limited images or attempting to form limited images of the totality, the total reality. See if we can just get the feel of it, don't try to get it into rigid thought just get the feel of it. And then something of the reality of this sunyata, this emptiness, this Void, will emerge and permeate oneself. Because in that Voidness is utter freedom, liberation and utter purity. Purity in the sense of complete transparency. When there are no clouds at all in the sky, during the daytime, the sunlight is there flooding everything around, isn't it? It is a transparency, it is not an emptiness! Because we know now that all this so-called space, which used to be called empty space is just full of innumerable energies, functioning through the Universe; they are invisible, inaudible, intangible, and so forth. It is only when there is a material nucleus available that those energies can become known to us; whether they be electrical or heat or light or anything else.

Now, it is the same in terms of the different states of consciousness which we experience in the deeper and deeper states of meditation. And this is what the Buddha also says, it is the Mind. All the great religious teachers are fundamentally healers of the Mind. So, infinite Vinnana, the All-Mind; the All-Mind becomes a postulate with us, a conceptual postulate. And, in so far as the monk pays attention to it, he is tying it up with the grades of mind, the functioning of mind, which is a bind which is not freedom.

From there, he says, not paying attention to infinite Vinnana he pays attention to the no-thing. We usually say nothing; but the word nothing is misleading and gives the wrong impression. The no-thing! The word 'thing' of course is invariably associated with that which is limited, Particular, finite; comes into being therefore is born, proceeds, dies and therefore is associated with suffering, pain, lamentation, misery and all the rest of it. No-thing!

He gets rid of no-thing; everything previous to that, with regard to everything previous to no-thing, the Buddha says (it is very repetitive, so I am just going through the steps quickly) with respect to everything previous to that stage, there is a true realisation of emptiness, abiding in the fullness thereof. But with regard to the no-thing itself there is not yet emptiness.

Putting that aside, neither perception nor non-perception. What is the meaning of neither perception nor non-perception? Don't try to imagine; don't pursue the corridors of memory of knowledge of study in order to get at it. You get at it by not getting at it! Don't move towards it to get at it because there is no direction in which you can move! The state of neither perception nor non-perception, these are grades of attentiveness; that is to say, they are intensities of attentiveness. As the intensity of attentiveness becomes greater and greater, more and more intense (you see the intensity becomes more intense) all particularity, limitations, finitude, which is responsible for our ordinary modes of perception, disappears! You are not attending to any-thing, you are already past the plane of things when you go to the plane of no-thing. These are extraordinary states of awareness. So now there is that state where there is neither perception nor non-perception.

Now, you know that in the ordinary way, the Buddha ends up when he lifts these states by saying that after neither perception nor non-perception there is the complete cessation of all perception and feeling; the cessation! And when the monk enters the cessation, the body does not perish during that period; the metabolism is such, the whole life process is such, that time as such stands still, in terms of awareness and in terms of his particular bodily functions, but it will do so only for a certain number of days, because Nature is the All-Powerful Fact. There comes a time when he must emerge out of that state and the ordinary metabolic processes start up again and the body grows older and older and decays.

Instead of going to that stage, the Buddha now proceeds to say that not attending to the state of neither perception nor non perception, he attends to the solitude dependent upon the concentration of mind that is signless. Vipassanacittasamadhi, that state which is signless. What are the signs? The signs which characterise everything manifested, anicca, anatta, dukkha. We translate Anicca as impermanent, but perhaps a more satisfactory translation would be the relative. Whatsoever is relative appears, proceeds, dies; impermanent as we call it. So, if we use the word impermanent we will have an opposite to it, which is permanent - a direct opposite. What is a direct opposite to relative? There is no direct opposite; we sometimes say the absolute is the opposite of relative. It is but it is an apparent opposite only. The relative is that which is particular, defined and so forth, and there are countless million relative manifestations throughout the Universe. But everyone of these is subsumed within the One Totality, the Wholeness, which is the Absolute. The indefinable, unperceivable Essence, which is Wholeness, manifesting as the particulars. So, the Absolute is not the opposite of any particular relative. It is the Origin, the Source, and that which re-absorbs the relative into it. So anicca really means that which is not us, not Nitya (Sanskrit) and Nitya really means that which is eternal (not eternal in the sense of continuity in time and space but which completely transcends the conceptual time/space continuity. That's Nitya, a meaning which I think you will not find easily anywhere. So that, I feel, is something like the reality of nicca and nitya, and anicca is that which is relative, which is constrained within the sphere over which death exercises lordship. So you see, the solitude grounded on the concentration of mind that is signless. There is no sign visible there; Anicca is one of those signs that is not there.

Anatta; now, of course, I am paddling in dangerous waters with Anatta. Atta, the Pali equivalent of the Sanskrit atman, represents that Ultimate which is totally beyond conception and description; it is nondescript! And yet the Buddha himself unequivocally makes the supreme affirmation that all the great teachers made, "Monks, there is a plane (and he mentions) beyond fire, air, earth, water, this, that and the other, everything! And there is that Unborn, Unmade, Unbecome. For if there were not that there would be no Release out of this that is born, that is made, that is become; which is limited, which is confined" [Udana viii, 1 (p. 80)].

Do remember, the Release is not a release in bodily terms, of course, obviously not! The Buddha himself died like any other decent human being! All the Buddhas lived and died physically, but, in terms of awareness of this Total Reality this transcendent fact, the absolute fact which is a Void, an emptiness, as far as this limited person here, oneself, is concerned. This is the Great Liberation and it is only in true man where that phenomenon can show itself. It is the transcendent reality which comes to this kind of self-fruition and self-liberation, through the instrument of a human being, you yourself! And this is a manifestation of Nirvana, not that 'you' have attained Nirvana, it is that Unborn, Unbecome, Unmade, the Absolute; the Sunyata itself.

So, Anatta, therefore means that all these other states of awareness just come into being, they live their little life and they dissolve away. What happens with us in the world, in the ordinary way? We just go through all kinds of confused, distorted states of mind, due to ignorance and a passion for sentient existence, tanha. We are confused, we are afraid, we cling to self, we cling to this that and the other. Let that be out of the way, then the foundation is laid in the finite and the particular for the infinite, the totality, the transcendent, to come to full self-realisation, through you.

After that, when you return to ordinary consciousness, the impress made upon your brain, upon your whole psycho-physical being by that transcendent experience (this is the meaning of transfiguration, the real meaning) is so powerful that if by nature, by constitution, you are a person whose intellect is very bright, clear-seeing and can form concepts which are the least misleading concepts that can be presented, and you have the gift of verbalising them, properly, then you can talk about it. And warn everybody that what you are saying is but a veil of the reality.

That is so much for Anatta. So all these other things are Anatta in that sense. The Atta the Buddha never talks of, but the word Atman fills the pages of the Upanishads. And if you look at the older Upanishads, the pre-Buddhistic Upanishads, it is stated unequivocally in just precisely so many words, That which is Birthless, Ageless, Deathless, Stainless, Sorrowless, that is the Atman. What does the Buddha say in the Ariyapariyesanasutta, his autobiographical discourse: "So monks, seeking the Unborn, the Unageing, the Undecaying, the Undying, the Unsorrowing, ,the Unstained," precisely those things he mentions in there. Well, I leave it to you; what does a Buddha seek? So, Anatta, that is one of the signs of being (and being means specific being, that means meditation, death).

And the third, Dukkha. What is Dukkha? It is merely Jati, translated as birth, (which is quite a correct translation). But don't forget the other connotations of Jati, which are far more significant. The conditioned state, that is Jati.

The word Jati, used to this day in India, refers to the particular social group you belong to; the socio-economic group you belong to, is your Jati. And everybody knows that you are conditioned within that socio-economic group, it is a conditioned state. You want to get into another Jati, a better one you think; bigger and BIGGER, like the mother frog who finally burst!

The succession of Jati fundamentally means the succession of conditioned states of your mind and awareness; your consciousness; that is the real Samsara. It is openly taught in the Upanishads, for instance, that Samsara is just one's own thought; that is, your own thought process. In your lifetime, from the time you are born (well, not really from the time you are born, most people would not be born if they could think at that moment!), once you start thinking, expressing your awareness of existence in conceptual death, your thought-process is always a conditioned state of mind. And how is it conditioned? By things; by larger things, by akasa, by Vinnana, by nothing, etc, etc; these are all conditioned things. And all these are far from - they are a twisting, a distorting, of - that absolute reality which is the Inconceivable, the Unthinkable, the Unborn, the Unbecome, the Unmade, the Unbecoming. And this is the fundamental meaning of Dukkho, which is the origin of the word Dukkha. The kkha is the infinite or the absolute; that is its real spiritual meaning. And Duk means that which is bad, spoiled, ill. This is the fundamental, the ultimate, ill state; and it is out of this ill state that the Buddha, like all the great spiritual teachers, tried to help man free himself.

So these are the Signs of Being, the signs of limited existence, Jati, the conditioned state (birth, if you like); a state of mind is born, it perceives, it comes to its end - another state of mind emerges. That is your next birth because you, having the concept 'I am I', associated with the actual body whilst it is alive. Your 'I am I' consciousness, awareness with these misconcepts is the reincarnating thing in your lifetime; this is a reality! This is a fact beyond doubting, you can perceive it here and now.

So, he enters upon the state which is called the finest. He comprehends disturbance due to the perception of all those planes (right up to neither perception nor non perception) has ceased because he does not pay attention to them any more, as such; there is only this degree of disturbance. And I know just exactly where the Buddha refers to from this profound depth of neither perception nor non-perception; he goes on, "There is only this degree of disturbance." That is to say, the six sensory fields which, conditioned by life, are grounded on this body itself This awareness only is not absolute.

Now, the six sensory fields (Why six? We all know about the five senses which we talk of' in the western world; in India they have always talked of the mind, that is to say the discursive mind, the mental processes which are associated with each living human being, each living human body, that is the sixth! They call that a sense; the sensory field. And these six, sight, hearing, etc, including this discursive mind process, constitute the Salayatana, the six sensory fields.) which conditioned by life (remember, whilst you are alive only they are all there, at death there is a complete dissolution of all of that, nothing remains over) are grounded, are dependent, on this body alone; this awareness only is not emptiness.

Now, the Buddha goes on and he repeats this previous statement, "solitude grounded on the concentration of mind that is signless" and then he goes on to say," "This concentration of mind that is signless is effected and thought out, because the perception of it necessarily means that you are right back into the body and the body just confusing terms of putting together the different impressions, synthesising what impression: the sense impressions. So this is the only not emptiness that remains with you as long as there is a body; a living body.

The Buddha puts it in clearer terms and in a much better psychological analysis than the Upanishads do. The Upanishads talk of what they call the Jivanmukti and the Vedattamukti, the liberations whilst alive in the body and after the death of the body; the dissolution of the body. But the Upanishads, as they stand, are slightly misleading in the actual verbal formulations, the Buddha's formulation is much clearer.

"So," he says, "this concentration of mind that is signless is effected and thought out" Abhisankhatam sankatta means put together. It is not an integration, it is a mechanical synthesis; not a live integration, the mechanical synthesis. And it is thought out, Abhisankhatam; those are the words he uses. Hence, this concentration of mind is also anicca, anatta, dukkha, and therefore liable to nirodha, to dissolution, to passing away.

Now we come to the really important part! The crux of the whole thing! "Knowing and seeing this thus (that is the whole question of the Sunya, the emptiness and to what extent emptiness can be realised, realised in mind and consciousness, and not just chattered about and writing mighty tomes about it) his mind is freed from the asravas," (the asravas are translated as cankers, not a legitimate translation perhaps). But how do we think of cankers? If we think of some other thing which is eating us, or biting into us, we use a word like cancer, for instance, something which really eats; we think of cankers as something other which causes us pain, disease and so forth, that is a canker. Or, another human being who is such a nuisance that you say, "Oh, he is such a canker!" Now, the literal meaning of asravas, I feel, will take us closer to the reality, and asrava is an exudation, an overflow, an outflow. You know how we get rubber from a rubber tree. We just make an incision and lo and behold the latex flows out! That is an asrava, that flowing out of the latex.

The Buddha was a Healer of the Mind; what are the things that are the sources of bondage? Kama, sense pleasures (the pursuit of sense pleasures, sense lust), bhavana (the passion to become), I am going to be the foreman! I am going to be the town clerk! I am going to be the king of the castle! These are the outflows which we all suffer from. I am going to be an Arhat! I am going to be a Buddha! I am going to realise Nirvana! You never will do anything of the sort! Cut that clean out of your mind. If you become -pure in your life, understand self and see what are the illusions and delusions with which we are beset. Really see them when they just naturally dissolve. You do not cast them off, as if they were some foreign matter in your psychical system; the psyche itself undergoes that transformation by which it is light and no longer dark. So you will never become these things, but if there is this purification and if there is the attentiveness, then this mysterious Unknown, Unknowable, process, which is a universal process; this Absolute if you like to call it so; or if you are theistically-minded God, if you like, if you name it; or Buddha Nature, if you so like to name it. Name it what you will! It comes to fruition through you, without being obstructed by your mind in personalistic terms, "Oh, 'I' have done this!"

Unfortunately, in all the texts in the Pali Canon the impression is that the monk knows and it says, "Destroyed is birth. Destroyed is becoming so and so, for the person himself." For the person himself the 'I', that is the little error that has crept in by implication in the text. There is no 'I'. What has happened is that there will be no succession of conditioned states in your own mind and consciousness; just naturally there will be no conditioned states arising. No association of this misconcept of 'I' am I, with any particular state that comes into being. And when there is no association like that the mind is free, it is no longer pounced upon, it is not bitten at, but it is non-attached it is awake to the truth of the becoming process if thought must be there whilst you are alive. But, being unattached, this wonderful thing, which is freedom, inward poise and peace, has come to fruition in your own being. This is the thing that one has to realise. And so bhava asrava, the exudation is out; and the exudation which is called avidya.

Exudation, why do I use the word exudation? If your awareness has, in deep meditation, gone into this supreme state, you come out of it in the ordinary way and you react to external stimuli in terms of the uprising of passion for any sort of sense pleasure or sense indulgence. Happiness will be there through the senses. How can you prevent yourself from being happy with a lovely sunset, or a rose, or meeting a friend, or anything like that; you cannot prevent happiness! And that is the real happiness, you do not cling to it! But when you say to yourself, "Oh, I want to enjoy this, that and the other," particular things, then the devil has got you! You see, it is that thought. Your consciousness does not overflow into this ill state; mistaking the ill state for the eternal reality of happiness. Happiness is an essential of your being! It has not got to be thought! You have got a nose haven't you., you don't seek a nose; you do not pursue a nose; you have got it! If you get proud of it, oh! 'Then we will experience Dukkha, far from the infinite, the infinite thought. So, these exudations, these asravas, are the overflows of consciousness, due to the state which is conditioned; which is not the Ultimate Truth, the Absolute Reality and which is therefore Dukkha.

Finally, the state of Avidya. That state of consciousness in which you are liable to delusion and you experience illusion, because you build up all kinds of imaginary pictures. So this is the real meaning of the word asrava. And when he sees that even the ultimate signless concentration is effected and thought out, all clinging is gone. All clinging is gone, but complete sensitivity and the Awakened State is there, present; and therefore he knows Khina jati, translated as destroyed is Jati, translated this way, done away with is entanglement in the conditioned state. And you will get a much clearer understanding of what it means: not destroyed is birth; you have got quite the wrong concept about it. Destruction of birth and rebirth, Bah!! Vusitam Brahmacaryam: Lived is the Holy Life (not lived in the sense of 'I' have finished this and I have got my Degree now; not in that sense). Fulfilled, but fulfilled not in the past tense but as a continuous present; it is a continuous present state. Continuously lived, is the Holy Life, the Brahmacarya; the walking in Brahma, to Brahma, through Brahma. This is only an Indian form of saying what we have in Christian teachings: in Him we live and move and have our being. Katam Karaniyam: Done what there has to be done. Naparam itthatayati pajanah: And he knows that now there is no more of being caught up in this, that and the other state. Past/present/future they have all become one great timeless reality in this condition of Liberation. And this condition of Liberation is a condition in which the Reality, the Truth of the Sunya has come to perfect manifestation through you, who are not void, not empty. Thank you.

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