It is easy to do that which is harmful to ourselves.
That which is helpful and good is much more difficult.
Dhammapada: verse 163
I am not your problem,
The Dhamma life is a life of love, compassion, wisdom and self responsibility.
Although not usually very well understood, self responsibility is a key principle for reflection.
The world we experience is the one that we create for ourselves moment after moment. This world is unique and completely personal to us, and in this world we are not only alone, but also the sole creator of the quality of our experiences, pleasant or unpleasant.
In truth, no-one can hurt us, no-one can make us angry, no-one can make us happy, no-one can break our heart! Only we can do this. And this is done by an unaware but habitual empowerment of our arising mind states.
No-one can enter this world either.
As much as we may want to share certain beautiful qualities, thoughts and ideas with others, we cannot make them experience what we experience. They cannot enter our world. Nor can we experience what they experience. We cannot enter their world. Aloneness is a fact of life.
I was born alone. I will die alone.
And between the two I am alone day and night.
When we truly understand the profound teaching of self responsibility, we are able to smile at life, knowing that we, and we alone, are the cause of the experience of the moment, and that we are never, nor can be ever be, the victim of someone else! It is so easy to blame others for the way we feel when we are unhappy, or to credit others as the cause of our happiness when we feel good, but neither is true. Happiness and unhappiness come only from you. It is true that everything conditions everything else and nothing exists in isolation, but to blame others for our feelings or reactions is to be blind to the truth of Dhamma.
'I am not your problem', is the reality of the situation. No matter what I do, the world that you experience will always be your world, and in that world you are alone. However unpleasant I may be in different moments, I never have the power to make you suffer, only you can do that.
'Nor am I the solution to your problem'. If I am not able to make you suffer, I am not able to make you happy either, as always, only you can do that.
So, the teaching of Dhamma is always the same. Live with love and be aware. Only you can end your suffering, only you can change your world. Wake up to the reality that is life and experience the freedom of liberation.
Mind and body
The theme for the last seminar in Oldenburg in April was the Panca Khandas, or the Five Aggregates. This subject is so important to understand that I offer here a reminder of some of the principal parts of the seminar for your continued reflection.
Simply put, and we can say that as human beings we are divided into two distinct parts. The mind and body. Body is our gross presence on the planet. This is what we see we look in in the mirror and because of that it is what we most easily identify with as being ourselves. However, as big and as demanding as body is, it is not the most important part of our being. That distinction belongs to the mind.
We are what we think.
All that we are arises with our mind,
and with our mind we create our world.
Dhammapada: verse 1
It is, in actual fact, the mind that conditions the body moment after moment, and what we really see when we look into the mirror is not just our physical manifestation, but a reflection of our mind state in that moment.If we examine the mind from the meditators perspective, we can divide it into four parts. The first part being consciousness.
Notice how we look we are angry. Notice how we look we are calm. These mental states affect our physical appearance, and although these are simple examples, they are enough to demonstrate the importance of mind.
Although mind and body are interlinked and dependent upon each other, the mind is always superior. Masters understand this relationship beautifully as:
Not one, not two
Even modern Western medicine is taking this attitude with regard to certain illnesses. By treating the mind we also treat the body. Vipassana meditators have always in this.
It is consciousness that knows object. For example when the eye, through eye consciousness sees an object, what it actually sees is colour. In fact, it doesn't see an object at all. It only sees colour. In the same way, when the ear hears it only hears sound. It doesn't know or identify what type of sound is heard. It just hears sound.
It is the same for all our senses.
From this initial contact with an object through sensory consciousness, comes perception, the identifying and grouping process. The collection of colours seen by the eye is then classified into shapes and patterns until recognised as familiar objects. These are then further grouped and named as 'tree', 'house', 'person', 'husband', 'wife' etc.
Hearing (and all the senses) respond in exactly the same way.
After an object has been contacted, identified and categorised comes the spontaneous arising of liking and disliking.
Based on our personal experiences and memories certain objects are seen to be the bringer of either pleasant or unpleasant sensations, what we loosely call happiness and unhappiness. These are therefore eagerly grasped at all pushed away.
Because of the liking and disliking process, we take action. If the object that has been contacted and identified is seen to be the bringer of happiness our next action then, is to make an effort for it to stay.
If however, the opposite occurs and the object is seen to bring with it the feelings of unhappiness, the action we take is based on our aversion. We actively seek to push it away or annihilate it.
This process applies not only to contact with the five senses of sight, sound, touch, taste and smell, but also to all the areas of the mind. The ideas, the thoughts, the feelings and emotions and all mental states, are treated in the same way. Known through the arising of sensory consciousness, identified and classified, reacted to through liking for disliking and finally, action taken.
This whole process occurs a 'million times' a second without us being aware of it and is completely impersonal. When the first contact to a sense object occurs, there is a spontaneous arising of all the other processes. It cannot be avoided. There is no personal control involved. It is not 'us' or some guiding force within 'us' that seeks the initial object of consciousness, is only conditions. When the conditions are right, consciousness arises.
For the eye to see, there must first be eye consciousness and an object that can be seen. Other external conditions such as daylight or lack of obstructions are also necessary for making it possible for the contact to occur.
When these conditions are right, we say that we see something. Actually, even that is incorrect. Seeing occurs, but there is no-one that sees. Do you understand?
There is no person who sees, only a process that spontaneously occurs when the conditions are right.
It is the same with all our senses including our mental states. Only a spontaneous process and the awareness of it. Through not understanding this there is cultivated and maintained the great delusion of 'self'.
Spiritual training is to know this profound truth intuitively. To recognise that these things happen without control or permission. There is nothing or no-one at the heart of our being, directing our consciousness from one object to the next, and nothing or no-one that perceives for us and then tells us if we like it or not, and nothing that controls and organises our thinking. Nothing.
This then, is the great liberating truth. At the very core of our being there is nothing. Only a beautiful emptiness, but no 'self' that separately exists from the experience of the moment. There is only the experience. Only the process. Nothing more. This is the beautiful and liberating truth of emptiness.
The Buddha said:
There is suffering, but no-one who suffers.
There is re-birth, but no-one who is re-born.
And the beautiful Vipassana teaching for the realisation of this highest truth of Emptiness?
Let go, let go, let go.
Let go and be happy. Let go and be free.
To receive our free quarterly e-newsletter,
please go to 'Contact us' page.