When You Reach Pure Awareness You Will Have No Problems

My name is Brad and I subscribe to Deepak Chopra’s Twitter feed.

Hi Brad!

I don’t even really “get” Twitter. I’m not sure just what you’re supposed to do with it. The best stuff I’ve seen there has been funny one-liners like Shit My Dad Says or my friend Precious Veal.  She’s a hoot!

A lot of “spiritual” type guys are on Twitter these days throwing out little sound bytes of spirituality. But I doubt there’s anything truly worthwhile in the realm of spiritual practice that can be reduced to 140 characters.

Of course, having said that I also have to mention that there is a tradition in Zen of so-called “turning words.” These are short phrases that, when heard by just the right person at just the right time, have a profound effect. One such phrase that often gets quoted is, “From birth to death it’s just like this.” A lot of the koans end with “turning words.” For me, hearing the phrase “form is emptiness, emptiness is form” really blew my head right off when I was about 18 years old.

But I seriously doubt that a Twitter feed is the best way to disseminate “turning words.” It’s not like those ancient Zen guys subscribed to a service that would sling random “turning words” at them from multiple sources of varying quality at a rate of four to six an hour popping up on their cell phones among fart jokes from drive time DJs and news about Paris Hilton’s latest Brazilian wax job. It was a different sort of thing altogether.

I’ve responded to a couple of Deepak’s tweets already. But one came up last night that I think really needs to be addressed in detail.

Right at the outset I want to emphasize that this is not about the man Mr. Deepak Chopra himself. It’s about what he tweeted. It’s not even about everything he tweets. It’s about this one specific tweet. I don’t know enough about Mr. Chopra to criticize him as a human being or even as a brand. I know he’s got a comic book series and a bunch of TV shows and even a video game. As dubious as the spiritual applications of these things seem to me, I’m not even all that fussed about them. If someone wanted to make a graphic novel or a video game out of Hardcore Zen, I’d probably do it. So this isn’t about that.

It’s about what Mr. Chopra says in his tweet. And what he says is this:

When you reach pure awareness you will have no problems, therefore there will be no need for solutions.

Let’s analyze that for a minute.

When (in the future, not now) you (who exist now and will continue to exist in the future) reach (whatever you imagine to be) pure awareness you (who exist now and will continue to exist in the future) will have (in the future) no problems (for your self), therefore there will be (in the future, not now) no need for (you to have) solutions (and won’t that be wonderful, over there, past that hill, just out of sight, let me sell you a way to get there).

If it were only Deepak Chopra who believed this, it wouldn’t really matter much. But this is how pretty much everyone approaches meditation practice and it’s why meditation practice seems to fail those people. It is certainly how I myself thought of practice for a very long time. I wanted something for myself. I might have even thought of what I wanted to get in terms of “pure awareness.” I read enough shitty books that used shitty phrases like that.

There is no pure awareness for you.

That might sound harsh. But really it’s not. What you are can never enter that place. Because you are the subject that sees things in terms of objects. Joshu Sasaki put it like this in his book Buddha is the Center of Gravity; “The God that is standing in front of you as an object says, ‘I am your God.’ But he is not. Even if that God has great power, he is not the real God.”

Pure awareness, whatever that is, or God (my preferred term), cannot be the object of you, cannot be the possession of you, it isn’t in your future, it isn’t something you can ever possibly reach. It will not solve all of your problems. It couldn’t even if it wanted to. It’s a fantastic dream that can never come true.

This doesn’t mean everything is bleak and horrible and hopeless. It just means that approaching it in terms of you and the things you want to get cannot possibly work. It can’t work precisely because thinking of things in terms of you and what you want to get is exactly the thing that blocks it.

The attitude expressed in Mr. Chopra’s tweet sits right at the very epicenter of where things have gone wrong for mankind. It is the source of all of our troubles. The solution to what’s wrong in the world is not some distant dream of pure awareness. It’s the understanding that what exists right now is pure awareness, is God, whether you know it or not. We, who seek to know it and possess it, are the very thing that makes it so hard to understand that.

A couple of blogs ago Broken Yogi made a comment that, “Brad is mixing categories. I can’t pole vault 18 feet like a top Olympic athlete, but I doubt that athlete would call me physically ill because I can’t do that… Likewise, I’m not enlightened, but I’m not spiritually lame either.”

In response I said something like, “Enlightenment (I hate that word) isn’t like pole vaulting 18 feet. It’s more like walking to the bathroom, if we were to continue that analogy. Most people, instead of walking to the bathroom, which (let’s say) just happens to be 18 feet away instead try to pole vault to the bathroom. And they can’t do it because the ceiling is too low. Yet they try anyway and keep injuring themselves. The pole keeps breaking, they keep hitting their heads, they keep beating themselves up over not being able to do it, and they still have to pee. The only thing an enlightened person (I hate that term) does differently is that she walks straight to the bathroom, does her business and then goes back to bed.”

Enlightenment or pure awareness or God or whatever isn’t some complicated thing we have to chase after far, far away. It’s the chasing itself that gets in our way. We wear ourselves out running in circles to try to arrive at the place we already are.

291 Responses

  1. Mark Foote
    Mark Foote May 14, 2012 at 8:26 am | |

    One of the idiosyncracies of the Gautamid's teachings would be that a described practice could be used to realize given relationships in personal experience:

    "Whoever… should thus develop these four applications of mindfulness for seven days, one of two fruits is to be expected for (them): either profound knowledge here-now, or, if there is any residuum remaining, the state of non-returning.

    What has been spoken in this way has been spoken in reference to this: There is the one way… for the purification of beings, for the overcoming of sorrows and griefs, for the going down of sufferings and miseries, for winning the right path, for realizing nibbana, that is to say, the four applications of mindfulness." (MN I 63, PTS pg 82)

    Dogen appears to have agreed that a
    described practice could be used to realize given relationships in personal experience:

    "When we let go of our minds and cast aside our views and understandings the Way will be actualized. One sage clarified True Mind (Reality) when he saw peach blossoms and another realized the Way when he heard the sound of tile hitting a bamboo. They attained the way through their bodies. Therefore, when we completely cast aside our thoughts and views and practice shikantaza, we will become intimate with the way… This is why I encourage you to practice zazen wholeheartedly."

    (“Shobogenzo-zuimonki”, sayings recorded by Koun Ejo, translated by Shohaku Okumura, 2-26, pg 107-108, ©2004 Sotoshu Shumucho)

    What Dogen describes as shikantaza, the Gautamid described as:

    "knowing and seeing eye as it really is, knowing and seeing material shapes… visual consciousness… impact on the eye as it really is, and knowing, seeing as it really is the experience, whether pleasant, painful, or neither painful nor pleasant, that arises conditioned by impact on the eye, is not attached to the eye nor to material shapes nor to visual consciousness nor to impact on the eye; and that experience, whether pleasant, painful, or neither painful nor pleasant, that arises conditioned by impact on the eye—neither to that is (such a one) attached." (repeated for the other five senses- MN III 287, PTS volume 3 pg 337-338)

    These relationships can only be witnessed in the state between waking and sleeping; is life a dream, do we stretch only when we wake or when we fall asleep too? I'm not crazy, I'm not going to answer!

  2. Uku
    Uku May 14, 2012 at 9:30 am | |

    Hi Roman

    you wrote:
    Do you Uku have doubts about Dogen recognizing the truth?

    Hell yeah I have! A) No one of us knew Dogen. He is dead, you know B) Buddhism is not about believing who has recognized the truth or not. But I KNOW that Dogen's words are pointing to something that we all can recognize by ourselves and it doesn't matter a shit if Brad or Dogen ever recognized the truth because in the end, we have to test it by ourselves. You have to wipe your own ass, like Antaiji's Muho wrote.

  3. Jibber Jabber
    Jibber Jabber May 14, 2012 at 9:56 am | |

    Gibberish.

  4. Anonymous
    Anonymous May 14, 2012 at 9:56 am | |

    Brad,

    Here's a movie idea for your new thing… I dare you…

    "Waiting for Gudo"
    (Harry gets a title credit)

    Documentary on Dogen Zen beginning with Gudo and Lineage and then moving on to interview Gudo's dharma peeps… you, Mike Cross, Jundo Cohen primarily. It's about turning the camera on yourselves and simply documenting everything that's happened over the past 20 some odd years.

    I think it would be awesome and very popular at Sundance. Granted, it would also come off very close to 'Spinal Tap' of Zen but I know you guys could take it and some would lap it up :)

    COME ON BRAD!!!! DO IT!!!! It would be AWESOME!!!

    "Waiting for Gudo – The Story of Dogen Sangha International"

  5. Anonymous
    Anonymous May 14, 2012 at 9:59 am | |

    Holy shite! I step away for a few hours and come back to see that there has been quite a bit of activity.

    I remain on Team Harry, as always. As I read back over what I've missed, I see that Harry, as usual, has revealed the Truth.

    Roman is still full of it. Hey, Roman, pointing out that you've practiced for 20 years is basically pointing out that you have nothing of substance to say. Go groom your sideburns and leave this place. Never come back. That is EXPRESSLY what the regular posters here have emailed me that they would like to see happen.

    Don't post anything else. Just go. WE want it that way. Brad wants it that way too.

  6. Harry's Acolyte
    Harry's Acolyte May 14, 2012 at 10:04 am | |

    Ha! I'm anonymous no more!

    Respect me, people. Respect me as your superior overlord.

  7. Anonymous
    Anonymous May 14, 2012 at 10:33 am | |

    NO WAY

    I LIKE IT BETTER WITH ROMAN (AND UKU) HERE

    That way we can watch Harry in action!!

  8. Harry's Acolyte
    Harry's Acolyte May 14, 2012 at 10:34 am | |

    "Damn, Harry! I think we should mark this day as the day I agree with you wholeheartedly. Well said, you crazy Irish! :) "

    You have finally opened your mind to the fact that Harry offers more wisdom here than any three others combined. Your acknowledgement of his greatness is refreshing, Uku.

  9. Uku
    Uku May 14, 2012 at 10:45 am | |

    Harry's Acolyte, thank you. You may now bite my Dharma wire.

  10. roman
    roman May 14, 2012 at 10:45 am | |

    Uku wrote: "Hell yeah I have! A) No one of us knew Dogen. He is dead, you know B) Buddhism is not about believing who has recognized the truth or not. But I KNOW that Dogen's words are pointing to something that we all can recognize by ourselves and it doesn't matter a shit if Brad or Dogen ever recognized the truth because in the end, we have to test it by ourselves. You have to wipe your own ass, like Antaiji's Muho wrote."

    Uku, of course we have to wipe our own asses. But that doesnt mean that recognizing the truth is not an important thing in Buddhism. dogen says that somebody recognized the truth or attained the truth about zillion times in Shobogenzo, it is dealt with in Shobogenzo Zuimonki, too. All those koans are after all about recognizing the truth. After all , the truth is just reality here and now so it is not so difficult to realize, but it takes some willpower to drop your garbage that we all carry in our heads.

  11. roman
    roman May 14, 2012 at 10:47 am | |

    Also, Buddha Shakyamuni turned a flower and Mahakasyapa smiled. The truth was transmitted. Recognition of the truth is important, but it is not something we should worry about all the time.

  12. Harry's Acolyte
    Harry's Acolyte May 14, 2012 at 10:49 am | |

    That's an old tale signifying nothing, Roman.

    Bye-bye now.

  13. Anonymous
    Anonymous May 14, 2012 at 11:26 am | |

    Sit more post less…read the original blog Brad wrote…that shouldn't spawn 95% of these comments. It's like most people comment because they want to comment but don't really have anything in particular to say. Which is cool since it's entertaining to read. Maybe i should sit more and read blogs less.

    I do laugh my as$ off at posts like this "Mysterion will make more than 4 comments on this post."

    Check out Spiritual Materilism…it will serioulsy help you zip these sometimes pointless point of views we all have.

  14. roman
    roman May 14, 2012 at 11:33 am | |

    It would be absurd to imagine that it is not sure whether a Buddhist teacher like Dogen or Sawaki recognized the truth. Buddha is the one who woke up, in other words recognized the truth and the whole Buddhist philosophy is a system that should help one recognize the same truth that Buddha recognized. But I am happy that I came across this scepticism of Buddhist students here as it explains a lot of strange thigns I heard them say in the past. When Brad says Question everything, he says so that you don't believe any thing, but that means any concepts or words as final facts, so that is a way open to the final truth. If Brad had such doubts he would not write about Buddhism and his experience. There are ways how to wake up, Buddhism is a way how to find the reality.

  15. Harry's Acolyte
    Harry's Acolyte May 14, 2012 at 1:55 pm | |

    I'm not even convinced there was an actual historical Buddha, Roman, and it actually does not matter to me in the slightest.

  16. Harry's Acolyte
    Harry's Acolyte May 14, 2012 at 1:56 pm | |

    PS – I have received even MORE emails from the regular posters here and they all, TO A PERSON, have reiterated their wishes that you LEAVE and NEVER come back.

  17. roman
    roman May 14, 2012 at 2:27 pm | |

    Harry's Acolyte, I am grateful that you made me such an important person, but in fact, your dust collecting on your shelves is more important than myself. I am of no importance really. But something in me likes to do things that are opposite of what people tell me to do. Try asking me to write more and I will almost surely stop writing. This way or that way, your interest in my person made me very happy. So thank you.

  18. SAM ADHI
    SAM ADHI May 14, 2012 at 3:48 pm | |

    In "The Essentials Of Buddhist Philosophy," dhyana is defined by Junjiro Takakusu as "pure intuitionalism." p. 19

    ****************************

    Zen or Ch'an Buddhism is a movement within the Buddhist religion that stresses the practice of meditation as the means to Enlightenment. Zen and Ch'an are, respectively, Japanese and Chinese attempts to render the Sanskrit term for meditation: Zen or Ch'an Buddhism is a movement within the Buddhist religion that stresses the practice of meditation as the means to Enlightenment. Zen and Ch'an are, respectively, Japanese and Chinese attempts to render the Sanskrit term for meditation: Dhyana." Dhyana.

  19. Anonymous
    Anonymous May 14, 2012 at 3:55 pm | |

    Is it not true that the Buddha stresses the practice of meditation as the means to Enlightenment?

  20. Broken Yogi
    Broken Yogi May 14, 2012 at 3:55 pm | |

    Brad, even accepting that enlightenment is really only about accepting ourselves exactly the way we are, rather than trying to get somewhere else, that is still a very rare skill that few people seem to have mastered. So it really is like being a great athlete of "non-pole-vaulting" rather than of "pole-vaulting". The insight required to see the situation as it is, and the discipline to refrain from vaulting, is a very difficult thing to develop, much less get any good at.

    So we are left in the same position as before, with a very difficult task to do. For example, try not thinking, not craving, not seeking, not pole-vaulting to enlightenment, etc. I bet you can't do it. Or not do it. And you know about these things, and have for years, and yet you still can't do (or not do) this simple thing. Why?

    I'm not getting down on you, mind you. Hardly anyone can do this, so it's no big deal that you can't either. But you also can't pretend how simple and easy it is, and yet not do it yourself. If it really were simple and easy, you'd have been done with all those dumb ass pole-vaulting moves long ago, and just lived your natural enlightenment, like Buddha and numerous others have.

    So what's the problem? Vasanas and samskaras are the problem. We have ingrained habits of mind and life that are very hard to release and be done with. There is no such thing as genuine enlightenment without the total release of these. Sure, you can get a glimpse of pure awareness as Deepak says, but until you are free from your own vasanas and samskaras, you aren't going to be enlightened, and you will continue to have problems. Because that's what problems are – vasanas and samskaras.

    ANd that's what this "I" sense is – a whole lot of vasanas and samskaras creating the personal illusion of a self, when no such animal actually exists. And that's why "I" can't get enlightened. If these vasanas and samskaras are released, there's no "I" left to refer to as free or liberated or to solve a problem. So yes, no problems remain then, and only then.

    Everything about actual practice is not about attaining pure awareness, but about releasing these vasanas and samskaras. As you say, pure awareness is already the case, and nothing but this exists. Even vasanas and samskaras are just illusions. But one must be released of their illusion nonetheless, and for real, not just by thinking really hard about these concepts.

    And that's where the great spiritual "athletes" come from, from doing that very difficult and arduous sadhana that actually releases these vasanas and samskaras from our pure awareness. The hard part is not in coming to pure awareness, the hard part is in releasing our cravings and not living by those anymore.

    Guys like Deepak and Genpo are guys who just want pure awareness, but without releasing their cravings, their vasanas and samskaras. So all they do is intensify their cravings for money and power and sex and fame and so on, by talking about pure awareness, as if that's what the big deal is about. But it's not. The big deal is about releasing all these cravings, all these vasanas and samskaras, and that's an entirely different kind of discipline than they are even aware exists, much less being capable of teaching it.

    Which leaves a simply question for you, Brad. Do you know how to teach the release of cravings, vasanas, and samskaras? Not trying to put you on the spot, but it would be worth hearing about that from you, or if you even agree with my take on these essentials.

  21. John Baker
    John Baker May 14, 2012 at 4:13 pm | |

    Badly taught Buddhists or just raw beginners seem to believe that the Buddha taught that all creatures are Buddhas. To borrow from the Mahaparinirvana Sutra this is like believing fresh milk from a cow is already butter. Well, it is not and neither are sentient beings anuttara-samyak-sambuddhas.

    It is one thing to have the potential to become a Buddha and quite another matter to actuallize the state of Buddha or buddhata. If the potential were identical with the actual state, as some Buddhists seem wont to believe, we might sell an acorn for the price of a cord of wood!

    On the same thread, if we imagine the seed from a Bodhi-tree to be extremely rare, it isn’t going to be easy to search for it it even though we are not lacking the ability to find it. And even if we do find such a seed, it will take a huge effort on our part to insure that it matures and becomes fully grown.

    Yes, all this is a dauting task. Furthermore, we have to exhaust every last one of our preconceived ideas about buddhata which even includes the belief that zazen is sufficient; that somehow if I manage to sit on my butt for thrity years this is enlightenment.

    I can’t help but saying this: Buddhism involves realizing something so profoundly subtle that when it is realized, absolutely nothing ‘determinate’ is realized. On this note, if we were already Buddhas this subtlety would not be so subtle—it would be obvious and our confidence would flow from it with a lion’s roar. This is why we are not already Buddhas. We are totally clueless as to what buddhata is. Even overcoming layer upon layer of cluelessness is just part of the daunting task of working our way to Buddhaness (buddhatva) or buddhata.

  22. Anonymous
    Anonymous May 14, 2012 at 4:14 pm | |

    the buddhist truth is:
    1. life is suffering
    2. there's a false way out of suffering
    3. the false way is meditation etc
    4. you will not get rid of suffering, because meditation is a way to stay with suffering, and people have the false thought that is defeating suffering with practices
    5. EVERYONE EVEN BUDDHIST TEACHERS WILL DENY OR DISTORT THIS 4 TRUTHS

    WAKE UP! There's no way out of suffering!!!!

  23. any three others combined
    any three others combined May 14, 2012 at 6:08 pm | |

    no short haired-yellow bellied
    son of tricky dicky
    is gonna mother hubbard
    soft soap me
    with just a pocketful of hope

  24. Mysterion
    Mysterion May 14, 2012 at 6:10 pm | |

    Konobaka (no way out):

    "Looking for the tabernacle [body] maker,
    through the many cycles of birth.
    And in not finding him,
    painful are the cycles of birth.

    No more, maker of tabernacles [embodiments],
    for you [Mara] have been seen.
    You shall make my tabernacle [body] no more.

    The rafters [ribs] are broken
    the ridge-pole [spine] is sundered
    the mind [understanding] approaches the Eternal.

    [For] I [now] understand peace is the extinction of desire."
    Dhammapada – verses 153 & 154

    suffering is caused by desire (e.g. 'I want to live, again!')

  25. Jinzang
    Jinzang May 14, 2012 at 6:20 pm | |

    So much talk, so much I would like to say.

    Mahayana Buddhism talks about two truths, ultimate and relative. Ultimate truth is beyond words, relative is not. We need the relative to see the ultimate. To use the old analogy, ultimate truth is the moon, relative, the finger.

    We need dualism to see the non-dual. If you try to explain the non-dual to beginners, all that happens is that they add a layer of pretense on top of ego. "Oh, I am beyond ego." Until you cross them. Before recognition, the instruction is practice hard so you can see your true nature. After recognition the instruction is true nature is only ordinary mind, and chasing after it is a fault.

    On "Tibetan Magic." There really isn't anything in Tibetan Buddhism that isn't also in traditional Zen, just more of it. More bodhisattvas, more prostrations, more study and talk about the sutras. It's a difference of emphasis, not a difference in kind.

  26. Misterfit
    Misterfit May 14, 2012 at 9:12 pm | |

    I think the endless controversy that seems to gather around Brad's blog posts is a perfect example of why I like him: Brad, sometimes I disagree with you (not in this case, but sometimes) and sometimes I think you are kind of a dick. And that is exactly why I know you are legitimate. No one who stands around with a holy grin on his face and presents himself as being all peaceful light and secret wisdom could ever be a real Zen teacher. Zen is about life….about how things really are. Zen is about "suchness," and suchness isn't really all that pretty. When I'm tired as hell from a long day at work and all I want to do is grab a beer and veg in front of the t.v., that's real karmic weight right there. And when I choose to just sit in zazen, there is enlightenment, right there in its suchness. Zen is the ultimate expression of "keeping it real", and I'm glad that you're around Brad, to do that in your own way….even if I or anyone else disagrees with you at times. All that being said, I have to add, Harry really needs to pull the stick out of his ass. I mean, good god, what a fuckin' goober that guy comes across as.

  27. roman
    roman May 15, 2012 at 1:15 am | |

    Misterfit, well said, and Broken Yogi forgot that nirvana is samsara and vice versa.

  28. Harry
    Harry May 15, 2012 at 2:30 am | |

    Hi Jinz,

    I see your two truths and raise you three!

    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Five_Ranks

    The doctrine of the two truths has long been observed in zen, but the emphasis therein has been on our direct experience-practice of them (as can be opposed to 'truths' as remote principles that exist elsewhere i.e. in the 'sphere of the head'). This explains efforts like this (above) to contextualise them.

    Regards,

    Harry.

  29. Dany
    Dany May 15, 2012 at 4:26 am | |

    Well Brad…looks like you never experienced the state of "PURE AWARENESS ™" then! ;)

  30. anon #108
    anon #108 May 15, 2012 at 6:50 am | |

    John Cage was once asked what he was trying to say with his music. He said:

    'I've got nothing to say…And I'm saying it.'

  31. Fred
    Fred May 15, 2012 at 8:46 am | |

    On the path past the Buddha there
    is no such thing as suffering.

    Everything is just is what it is.
    The cancer growing in your belly is
    not suffering. It is what is suppose to happen.

    Truth is a rigid position in the
    everchanging flux of reality.

  32. Broken Yogi
    Broken Yogi May 15, 2012 at 9:43 am | |

    "Broken Yogi forgot that nirvana is samsara and vice versa"

    Didn't forget it, because they aren't the same. That's another pop-Buddhist misconception. What Nagarjuna taught was that both are empty, and in that sense both are equally empty, since emptiness is the same no matter what. But he did not teach that they are literally the same in any other respect. One is the vision of reality that comes about when one is obsessed with craving, and the other is what remains when all craving has ceased. His point was that even so, enlightenment, nirvana, was not a "state" or a thing realized, but perfect emptiness continuous with all form. You don't realize that when you are filled with craving and living that kind of life. Even so, craving and its life are also empty, just as nirvana is. One just doesn't notice this when the mind is obsessed with craving.

  33. roman
    roman May 15, 2012 at 11:11 am | |

    Broken Yogi, or, you can just go to the toilet and stop worrying about the amount of craving in your head.

    It is interestin how in the history of Buddhism masters didn't check how good their students were when it comes to stopping craving, rather they checked how authentic they were when it came to realizing the truth. Reality is for everyone, both the craving folks and those who stopped craving. Ther is no discrimination in that respect, the moon is the same moon, no matter what. The truth is available here and now, pure and unconditioned, whether you have your penis in your hand or not.

  34. Mark Foote
    Mark Foote May 15, 2012 at 12:06 pm | |

    "When you reach pure awareness you will have no problems, therefore there will be no need for solutions."

    "And again, Ananda, (a person), not attending to the perception of the plane of no-thing, not attending to the perception of the plane of neither-perception-nor-non-perception, attends to the solitude grounded on the concentration of mind that is signless. (That person's) mind is satisfied with, pleased with, set on and freed in the concentration of mind that is signless. (That person) comprehends thus, 'This concentration of mind that is signless is effected and thought out. But whatever is effected and thought out, that is impermanent, it is liable to stopping.' When (that person) knows thus, sees this thus, (their) mind is freed from the canker of sense-pleasures and (their) mind is freed from the canker of becoming and (their) mind is freed from the canker of ignorance. In freedom is the knowledge that (they are) freed and (they) comprehend: 'Destroyed is birth, brought to a close the Brahma-faring, done is what was to be done, there is no more of being such or so'. (Such a one) comprehends thus: 'The disturbances there might be resulting from the canker of sense-pleasures do not exist here; the disturbances there might be resulting from the canker of becoming do not exist here; the disturbances there might be resulting from the canker of ignorance do not exist here. And there is only this degree of disturbance, that is to say, the six sensory fields that, conditioned by life, are grounded on this body itself.' (Such a one) comprehends: 'This perceiving is empty of the canker of sense-pleasures.' (Such a one) comprehends: 'This perceiving is empty of the canker of becoming.' (Such a one) comprehends: 'This perceiving is empty of the canker of ignorance. And there is only this that is not emptiness, that is to say the six sensory fields that, conditioned by life, are grounded on this body itself.' (Such a one) regards that which is not there as empty of it. But in regard to what remains, (such a one) comprehends: 'That being, this is.' (MN III 109, PTS pg 151).

    The Gautamid did not see a moment wherein a person was without the six sensory fields- so long as life existed. If what he saw based on his experience was correct, then there is never a moment of "pure awareness", if by pure awareness we mean an awareness unsullied by experience in the six sense fields. Neither did the Gautamid see a moment when the mind would cease to know "that being, this is".

    There is a moment, as broken yogi pointed out, where experience occurs that is empty of some things. Not much to go for, is it, the lack of some things.

  35. Harry
    Harry May 15, 2012 at 1:37 pm | |

    This [the first] rank describes the Absolute, insight into the empty nature or not-"thing"-ness of everything… According to Hakuin, this rank is only the beginning of Zen insight, but it can become a trapping for people who take the absolute to be the end-station: "Although inside and out may be perfectly clear as long as you are hidden away in an unfrequented place where there is absolute quiet and nothing to do, yet you are powerless as soon as perception touches upon different worldly situations, with all their clamor and emotion, and you are beset by a plethora of miseries".

    Good old Hakuin. Now there was one interesting human being (by all accounts).

    Regards,

    Harry.

  36. Mysterion
    Mysterion May 15, 2012 at 1:50 pm | |

    everything is the same.

    and nothing is different.

  37. Anonymous
    Anonymous May 15, 2012 at 2:11 pm | |

    You can't always get what you want.

  38. Harry's Acolyte
    Harry's Acolyte May 15, 2012 at 2:16 pm | |

    Your new picture sucks, Roman

  39. Anonymous
    Anonymous May 15, 2012 at 2:24 pm | |

    I like it. I was wondering if Roman did the painting. All of my ideas about Roman & his country come from the movie 'The Unbearable Lightness of Being', which may not have anything to do with that country. I can't remember. (Im American of course).

  40. Harry
    Harry May 15, 2012 at 2:40 pm | |

    Here's an interesting (and not too long) article on a 'Five Ranks' take on Dogen's famous 'To study Buddhism is to study the self…' statement.

    As stated therein, Dogen was wary of such schematic approaches to Buddhist teaching, but the article makes a good observation on how Dogen may have been influenced by and used this earlier, traditional Soto Zen model of the play between the 'relative' and 'absolute'.

    http://www.firethroatpress.com/wp-content/files_mf/dogenandthefiveranks63.pdf

    Regards,

    Harry.

  41. Anonymous
    Anonymous May 15, 2012 at 3:08 pm | |
  42. Anonymous
    Anonymous May 15, 2012 at 4:22 pm | |

    242 2 2 2 2 2 2 2

  43. Khru
    Khru May 15, 2012 at 4:24 pm | |

    Brad,

    Please hurry up and write something else so that we can make some more snarky comments.

    Thanks, bud.

  44. Anonymous
    Anonymous May 15, 2012 at 4:58 pm | |

    Khru is correct.

    If you don't put up another blog, I'll be forced to pose as "Khru Jr." again and post sexually explicit message involving Mysterion.

  45. Anonymous
    Anonymous May 15, 2012 at 4:58 pm | |

    On the path past the Buddha there is no such thing as suffering.

    All of us are dying. because we are alive, we are dying. Can you deny this?

    Well, it's possible we deny suffering for the rest of our miserable life. Or not.

    But, we are complete as we are. And we are filled with sadness, filled with despair, filled with fear…

    Brad, why you are 50 and don't have grey hair? Impermanence doesn't apply to you?

  46. Anonymous
    Anonymous May 15, 2012 at 5:03 pm | |

    Brad is on a strict kale-only diet, Anonymous. It's a way of eating that guarantees healthy passage into your 50s but is a certain death sentence that kicks in at about 64 or so.

    R.I.P. Brad. :(

  47. Mark Foote
    Mark Foote May 15, 2012 at 5:31 pm | |

    Harry, I'll take Gudo's "zazen is action"- if we cannot move beyond doubt, where are we?

  48. Broken Yogi
    Broken Yogi May 15, 2012 at 5:34 pm | |

    Roman, you need to acquaint yourself with the Four Noble Truths. The cessation of craving is the means by which Buddhists realize, so a Buddhist teacher who doesn't show his students how to cease craving is incapable of showing them how to realize truth.

    Of course truth is for everyone, but unless we cease craving, we cannot see the truth or live it. The Buddhist life is about living free of the bondage created by our cravings. It isn't about claiming to know the truth, and then indulging our cravings as if they don't matter. That's where the frauds come in an take over. Maybe that includes you?

  49. Anonymous
    Anonymous May 15, 2012 at 5:43 pm | |

    I like to suffer. Suffering is cool. Fuck Buddhism.

  50. Anonymous
    Anonymous May 15, 2012 at 5:56 pm | |

    Instead of "Let it Be" I wish the Beatles had recorded "Let it Suck".

    (please no M porn!!!)

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