Actual Freedom – Mailing List ‘D’ Correspondence

Richard’s Selected Correspondence

On Buddhism


Re: Enlightenment As An Aid To Enjoyment

RESPONDENT: (...). I was just trying to make a point to everyone else that that doesn’t mean I neatly fit into the category of dogmatic spirituality that Richard’s schematic points to.

RICHARD: Just a simple query if you will: given the identity inhabiting this flesh-and-blood body all those years ago lived that/ was that which “Richard’s schematic points to”, night and day for eleven years (1981-1992), it would be appreciated were you to provide a report/ a description/ an explanation as to what a ...um... a non-dogmatic spirituality is.

Specifically, of course, a non-dogmatic spiritual awakenment/ mystical enlightenment. The reason I ask is because more than just a few of those persons of a ‘Pragmatic Dharma’ persuasion, in general, and those of a ‘DhO/ KFD’ persuasion, in particular, make a really big thing about how that which I thereby have an intimate acquaintance with – an experiential knowledge, a ‘hands-on’ comprehension, a lived understanding – is either dogma, doctrine, or (shudder) a view and, by doing so, seek to dismiss what is on offer on The Actual Freedom Trust website in a quite non-pragmatic manner. I look forward to your considered response.

RESPONDENT: Hi Richard, good to hear from you! I read what you posted carefully once and will do so several more times. For now, these are my thoughts (to the extent I am capable of understanding your words). I would say there is no completely non-dogmatic spirituality, but there are degrees. While it is true that my practice of vipassana, and the ensuing permanent changes, did involve some initial research, some assumptions about the 3 characteristics of perception, and some faith in the existence of nanas, cycles and paths, I would say that the actual practice was nonconceptual. All I did was ...

RICHARD: I will interrupt the flow of your self-report here because you do seem to be missing the point: you publicly accused me of espousing dogma and I am calling you out on it, asking you to put your money where your mouth is, so to speak.

(Ha ... if this were a couple of centuries ago, back when men were quite prickly about such matters, it would be a case of pistols at dawn and all that).

I have made it abundantly clear, on my portion of The Actual Freedom Trust web site, how all of what I have to report/ describe/ explain cannot possibly be dogma and/or doctrine and/or a corpus of principles and/or a code of beliefs/ and etcetera.

For instance:

October 01 2003
RESPONDENT:
Richard, I think you had the bad luck, while you were looking for enlightenment ...
RICHARD: If I may interject? Where have I ever said I was “looking for enlightenment”? And I ask this because, to the contrary of what you may think, I have always made it perfectly clear that it was a four-hour pure consciousness experience (PCE) which set the process in motion and not an altered state of consciousness (ASC).
That I became enlightened along the way to an actual freedom from the human condition does not mean I was “looking for enlightenment” ... indeed I did not even know such a thing existed before it happened. Vis.:

• [Co-Respondent]: “Richard, I’ve been following this discussion with interest and have a couple of questions for you: Which of the 3 ways [Jnani, Bhakti, Yoga] did you use to achieve spiritual enlightenment in 1981”?
• [Richard]: “Well, none of those 3 ways, actually ... I inadvertently ‘discovered’ another way: ignorance. I was aiming for the pure consciousness experience (PCE) and landed short of my goal ... and it took another 11 years to get here.
“To explain: I have never followed anyone; I have never been part of any religious, spiritual, mystical or metaphysical group; I have never done any disciplines, practices or exercises at all; I have never done any meditation, any yoga, any chanting of mantras, any tai chi, any breathing exercises, any praying, any fasting, any flagellations, any ... any of those ‘Tried and True’ inanities; nor did I endlessly analyse my childhood for ever and a day; nor did I do never-ending therapies wherein one expresses oneself again and again ... and again and again. By being born and raised in the West I was not steeped in the mystical religious tradition of the East and was thus able to escape the trap of centuries of eastern spiritual conditioning.
“I had never heard the words ‘Enlightenment’ or ‘Nirvāṇa’ and so on until 1982 when talking to a man about my breakthrough, into what I called an ‘Absolute Freedom’ via the death of ‘myself’, in September 1981. He listened – he questioned me rigorously until well after midnight – and then declared me to be ‘Enlightened’. I had to ask him what that was, such was my ignorance of all things spiritual. He – being a nine-year spiritual seeker fresh from his latest trip to India – gave me a book to read by someone called Mr. Jiddu Krishnamurti. That was to be the beginning of what was to become a long learning curve of all things religious, spiritual, mystical and metaphysical for me. I studied all this because I sought to understand what other peoples had made of such spontaneous experiences and to find out where human endeavour had been going wrong.
“I found out where I had been going wrong for eleven years ... self-aggrandisement is so seductive”. (Richard, Actual Freedom Mailing list, No. 16, 8 January 2001).

I was not even religious before it all started – I did not even know that there was a difference between a Christian monk and a Buddhist monk, for example, other than that one wore brown robes and the other saffron robes – as I had lumped all religion under the category of superstitious clap-trap way back in childhood and lived a totally secular life.
RESPONDENT: [I think you had the bad luck, while you were looking for enlightenment], to meet blind teachers and vagabonds, like Peter and Vineeto, like Osho with his Rolls Royce’s and his orgies.
RICHARD: No, I never met any “teachers” (aka seers, sages, masters, gurus, and so on) at all before I became enlightened – I was entirely ignorant of the whole milieu of spirituality/ mysticism and its attendant master/ disciple phenomenon – and only came across the writings of Mr. Mohan ‘Rajneesh’ Jain 5 years later when I met the woman who was to become my second wife and who was what was called a ‘Rajneeshee’ at the time. As she rapidly became an ex-Rajneeshee, when we started to live together, I learnt a lot from her about what he had to say ... plus I also read many of his books (about 90 all told), watched several videos, and listened to numerous tape recordings, so as to get it straight from the horse’s mouth.
Why do you say he was a “blind” teacher? (Richard, Actual Freedom Mailing list, No. 44d, 1 October 2003).

In other words, what I have to report/ describe/ explain is the fully-lived experience, night and day for eleven years, of spiritual enlightenment/ mystical awakenment *as-it-is in reality* – as in, an autochthonic awakenment/ enlightenment; an indigenous awakening/ enlightening, that is – and not an adopted and/or absorbed dogma/ doctrine/ corpus of principles/ code of beliefs/ and etcetera which, having been internalised, is regurgitated on demand as if original.

Which is why I speak of having an intimate acquaintance – an experiential knowledge, a ‘hands-on’ comprehension, a lived understanding – of that which you dismissively characterised as [quote] “the category of dogmatic spirituality that Richard’s schematic points to” [endquote].

Given that your considered-for-thirty-two-minutes response was to tell me that [quote] “there is no completely non-dogmatic spirituality” [endquote] then, for the sake of emphasis, what follows is the essence of the above passage.

Viz.:

March 30 2000
RESPONDENT:
If I might ask, were you following this teacher at the time, were you part of a group?
RICHARD: You may have missed my answer to your question about having “a teacher or guru” in a previous post wherein I explained how I came to be here where I am today. Just so there is no further misunderstanding I will make my experience crystal clear:

• I have never followed anyone; I have never been part of any religious, spiritual, mystical or metaphysical group; I have never done any disciplines, practices or exercises at all; I have never done any meditation, any yoga, any chanting of mantras, any tai chi, any breathing exercises, any praying, any fasting, any flagellations, any ... any of those ‘Tried and True’ inanities; nor did I endlessly analyse my childhood for ever and a day; nor did I do never-ending therapies wherein one expresses oneself again and again ... and again and again. (Richard, Actual List C, No. 3a, 30 March 2000).

I have also made all of that abundantly clear on this ‘Yahoo Groups’ forum as well: on Nov 22, 2009 (in Message № 7712) and on Jan 10 2013 (in Message № 12828) for instance.

Moreover, I particularly drew attention to that well-known distinction between an Avatar/ a Buddha and all other spiritually awakened /mystically enlightened beings – i.e., of not having been a follower of any dogma/ doctrine/ corpus of principles/ code of beliefs/ and etcetera – in Message № 12928.

Viz.:

RICHARD to No 4: Moreover, because the third alternative to either spiritualism or materialism is literally inconceivable and/or unimaginable and incomprehensible and/or unbelievable – as well as actually non-imputable (i.e. automorphically) in any way other than some variant of the many and various sinner/saint ascriptions – it is not at all surprising how all of the pragmatic/hardcore dharma leaders/ practitioners, for example, spuriously demoted my eleven years intimate experience, night and day, of fully-fledged spiritual enlightenment/ mystical awakenment in order to posit actualism/ actual freedom as being ... um ... ‘ten-fetter’ arahantship.

(Otherwise they would be face-to-face with the (metaphysical) fact that the long-awaited ‘Maitreya’/ ‘Mettaya’/ ‘Jampa’ has been and gone[1] and they all missed-out on that event of the millennia).

Furthermore, because this third alternative to either spiritualism or materialism is literally inconceivable and/or unimaginable and incomprehensible and/or unbelievable – as well as actually non-imputable (i.e. automorphically) in any way other than some variant of the many and various sinner/ saint ascriptions – it is not at all surprising how all but a few of the sane peoples (inclusive of, and particularly so, counsellors, therapists, psychologists and psychiatrists) have no choice but to diagnose both my eleven years of full enlightenment/ awakenment and my twenty-plus years of an actual freedom from the human condition as insanity.

(Hence their demotion of that enlightened/ awakened experiencing of being the ‘Parousia’, the ‘Maitreya’, the ‘Messiah’, etcetera, to that of a patient in a psychiatric ward thinking they be Mr. Napoleon Bonaparte or Ms. Marie Antoinette, or whoever, else they all missed-out on that event of the millennia as well). (Message 12928, Richard, List D, No. 4, 16 January 2013)

•••••••••••••••••••••••••••••••••••••••

[1]the long-awaited “Maitreya”/ “Mettaya”/ “Jampa” has been and gone:

See either Message № 12828, at the section containing the following snippet, or the original text online at The Actual Freedom Trust website. Vis.:

• [Richard]: “I have never followed anyone; I have never been part of any religious, spiritual, mystical or metaphysical group; I have never done any disciplines, practices or exercises at all; I have never done any meditation, any yoga, any chanting of mantras, any tai chi, any breathing exercises, any praying, any fasting, any flagellations, any ... any of those “Tried and True” inanities ...”. (Richard, Actual Freedom Mailing list, No. 16, 8 January 2001).

Perhaps, upon a candid reappraisal, you might be inclined to reconsider your [quote] “there is no completely non-dogmatic spirituality” [endquote] asseveration and address my original question as asked?

Namely: given the identity inhabiting this flesh-and-blood body all those years ago lived that/ was that which “Richard’s schematic points to”, night and day for eleven years (1981-1992), it would be appreciated were you to provide a report/ a description/ an explanation as to what non-dogmatic spirituality is.

Specifically, of course, a non-dogmatic spiritual awakenment/ mystical enlightenment.

And, again I will stress the reason why I ask: it is because more than just a few of those persons of a ‘Pragmatic Dharma’ persuasion, in general, and those of a ‘DhO/ KFD’ persuasion, in particular, make a really big thing about how that which I thereby have an intimate acquaintance with – an experiential knowledge, a ‘hands-on’ comprehension, a lived understanding – is either dogma, doctrine, or a view (i.e., Pāli ‘diṭṭhi’/ Sanskrit ‘dṛṣṭi’) and, by doing so, seek to dismiss what is on offer on The Actual Freedom Trust website in *a quite non-pragmatic manner*.

Again, I look forward to your considered response.

RESPONDENT: Hi Richard, I don't really know if I am capable of answering the question of what a non-dogmatic spirituality might be other than in the descriptions I have already given.

RICHARD: Given how you do not really know if you are capable of providing a description of a non-dogmatic spiritual awakenment/ mystical enlightenment (so as to contrast it with what “Richard’s schematic points to” for the sake of elucidation) then your observation that you do expect certain things out of your vipassanā practice – namely [quote] “a level of mind that can be penetrated” such as to “cause permanent, irreversible change” [endquote] – is kinda left floating nebulously in a vacuum, is it not?

Viz.:

• [Respondent]: “[...], I don’t personally relate to the flowchart you posted [i.e., the 180 degree schematic]. My vipassana practice truly doesn’t necessitate the adoption of any beliefs (such as ontological or ethical assumptions) beforehand other than a basic trust that there is a level of mind that can be penetrated. [...]. Also, I don’t practice vipassana for temporary positive change that requires further meditation to maintain, but rather to cause permanent, irreversible change ...”. ~ (Message № 201xx).

Furthermore, you are quite explicit that the aforementioned permanent, irreversible change is a change to your psyche (and not the extirpation thereof).

Viz.:

• [Respondent]: “The bottom line is that I am trying to change my psyche as opposed to dropping it or escaping it or ending it entirely”. ~ (Message № 201xx).

If I might ask? In what way is that endeavour essentially different to what the flowchart/ the schematic points to (namely, to that which is reported/ described/ explained in the buddhavacana – i.e., the words/ the teachings of the sammāsambuddha, when he was the living embodiment of dhamma/ brahma, and therefore faithfully preserved memoriter, duly certified as being “Thus have I heard” (“evaṃ me sutaṃ”), in sacrosanct scriptures known in Pāli as ‘suttanta’ and in Sanskrit as ‘sūtrānta’ – and reverentially preserved through two and a half millennia or so down unto the present generation)?

RESPONDENT: Good Morning Richard, I now agree that my beliefs about my vipassana practice do not stand up to hard scrutiny in terms of being pragmatic or non-dogmatic.

RICHARD: G’day № 48,

Good ... and do you simultaneously see, albeit conversely, that my reports/ descriptions/ explanations on The Actual Freedom Trust website – regarding how the identity inhabiting this flesh-and-blood body all those years ago lived that/ was that which “Richard’s schematic points to”, night and day, for eleven years (1981-1992) – do indeed “stand up to hard scrutiny in terms of being pragmatic or non-dogmatic”?

The reason why I am looking for a specific answer to this question is because the main purpose in responding to your evidentially ill-considered one-liner (at the top of this page) was to publicly draw attention to the quite non-pragmatic way in which more than just a few of those persons of a ‘Pragmatic/ Hardcore Dharma’ persuasion, in general, and those of a ‘DhO/ KFD’ persuasion, in particular, have sought to dismiss that which I have an intimate acquaintance with – a lived understanding from which to speak; a ‘hands-on’ comprehension thereof spanning nigh-on 35 years (i.e., dating from before many of those pretermitting persons were even born); a pragmatic/ hardcore expertise all of my own, as it were, comprising of experiential knowledge from which to draw forth any requisite expertise-based authority in these matters – in a manner which belies the very basis, the raison d’être itself, of their much-trumpeted ‘Pragmatic/ Hardcore’ stance.

And in failing to recognise (let alone acknowledge) the quintessential eschewer of the traditional – there is simply no-one on this planet, either currently alive or long-ago dead, who has eschewed the traditional, the doctrinal, the dogmatic, more thoroughly, more profoundly, more radically, more completely, more totally, than the identity inhabiting this flesh-and-blood body all those years ago – they nakedly expose themselves, through that hypocritical pretermission of theirs, to be not all that different after all, in effect, to those traditionalists, those dogmatists, of whom they are so critically condemnatory.

RESPONDENT: Meaning, I can see there are beliefs and views in my decision to do it in the first place, in the actual act of doing it, in the results that I expect, and in the results that I achieve; furthermore, these results are actually related to “the absolute”, as it occurs in Buddhism ...

RICHARD: Yes ... although, in regards to no longer having your goal float nebulously in a vacuum, the secret to success lies in determining the nature of that absolute as it occurs in the buddhavacana – rather than “as it occurs in Buddhism” (the “Buddhism” you refer to would be more honestly termed ‘Buddhaghosa-ism’) – because Mr. Gotama the Sakyan experientially rediscovered ‘the ancient way’ (Pāli “purāṇaṃ maggaṃ”) to that absolute whilst seated under an assattha/ pippal tree (a.k.a. “Ficus religiosa”), around two and a half millennia ago, which he metaphorically likened, in the Nagara Sutta, to finding an ancient road leading to a fabulous lost city hidden deep in an antediluvian forest due to it having been immortalised by the Ṛishis of old as leading to the Vedic amṛta-loka (‘the realm of the immortals’).

Thus, as it is “the (alterity) absolute” of the Vedic period being referenced all throughout the buddhavacana, as distinct from “the (immanent) absolute” of the Vedantic period (the word Vedanta = lit. “end of the Veda”) which came into being after the Vedic period, then anyone actively promoting “non-duality” (Sanskrit ‘advaita’) – stemming as it does from the sublative ‘no-genesis’ Vedantic doctrine (i.e., ajātivāda) that Mr. Gauda the anchorite recovered, around one and a half millennia ago at Gowda Desha circa the 6th century CE, from the Māṇḍukya, Bṛhadāraṇyaka and Chāndogya Upaniṣads and which Mr. Adi Sankara of Kaladi (nowadays called Kerala) subsequently consolidated a century or so later – as being the only model of awakening holding up in “the dharma world” without apology, qualification or exception, plus speaking in glowing terms about “ditching the split”, has quite obviously taken no notice whatsoever of what has been sitting there in plain view in the buddhavacana for over two millennia.

Viz.:

• [Daniel]: “In short, the non-duality models are the only models of awakening that hold up without apology, qualification or exception. The rest of the models have serious problems, though each may contain some amount of truth in it, however poorly conveyed. [...]. There is only one thing worse in my mind than students getting caught up in the dogma of the worst of the models, and that is realized teachers getting caught by them. [...] I dream of a day when such things never happen. The dharma world would be so much better off if teachers were honest about what realization is and ain’t, both with their students and also with themselves. Don’t think this sort of dishonesty doesn’t occur. I have seen some of my very best and most realized teachers fall into this trap and have also done so myself more times than I can count. Learn from those who have had to learn the hard way and are willing to admit this.
Ditching our “Stuff” vs. Ditching the Split
While these two models are stated implicitly above, I thought I would summarize them again to make sure that I have made this important point clear. There are models of awakening that involve getting rid of all of our “stuff”, i.e. our issues, flaws, quirks, pains, negative emotions, traumas, personalities, cultural baggage, childhood scars, relationship difficulties, insecurities, fears, strange notions, etc. Such models underlie most of the mainstream visions of spiritual attainment.
What is funny is that lots of people spend so much time working so hard to get rid of all their stuff but think that enlightenment, i.e. ditching the illusion of the dualistic split, is largely unattainable. I have exactly the opposite view, that ditching the split is very attainable but getting rid of all of our stuff is completely impossible. When I hear about those who wish to attain a type of Buddhahood that is defined by not having any stuff, I usually think to myself that the countless eons they usually claim are necessary to accomplish this are a gross underestimation. The real world is about stuff, and enlightenment is about the real world.
What is very nice about ditching the split, aside from the fact that it can be done, is that now we can be friends with our stuff naturally, even if it sucks ...”. ~ (pp. 322-323, “Mastering the Core Teachings of The Buddha Buddhaghosa”; Third Edition Copyright ©April, 2007, by Daniel M. Ingram).

RESPONDENT: ... “the absolute”, as it occurs in Buddhism (namely, in the ambiguous form of the “not this/ not that” that [No. 42] pointed out).

RICHARD: Hmm ... what you refer to there as “the ambiguous form of the ‘not this/ not that’” (i.e., “neti, neti”; lit. ‘not that, not that’), being sourced as it is in the third brahmana of the second chapter of that Bṛhadāraṇyaka Upaniṣad already mentioned, further above, is quite unambiguous, really, as it refers to (the Vedantic) Atman-Brahman which, whilst metempirically existent and inherently blissful, is yet unknowable in the normal way of knowing due to having no qualities, characteristics, attributes, and etcetera, which are regularly recognisable (hence the “neti, neti”, or ‘via negativa’ approach).

It is important to comprehend the distinction between what could be called ‘Vedism’ (the 3-Veda period), where the ṚgVeda was predominant up until at least a millennia before Mr. Gotama the Sakyan seated himself unbudgingly under a certain tree, and what could be called ‘Vedantism’ – the period of Vedanta; lit. ‘end of the Veda’ as already observed – whereafter the Upaniṣads (wherein ‘Atman=Brahman’ features) became the dominant scriptures.

It is pertinent to note that nowhere in the Pāli Canon does that “Atman=Brahman” teaching feature despite the fact the sammāsambuddha has numerous dialogues with many brahmanā (i.e., ‘Brahmans’).

It is also noteworthy that nowhere in the Pāli Canon does he refer to the 4th Veda despite drawing attention to the 3-Veda practice (i.e., rituals, rites, sacraments, and etcetera).

Plus it is undisputable that the absolute of the Vedantic scriptures is an immanent absolute whereas the absolute of the buddhavacana is something else entirely: an acausal, atemporal, aspatial, aphenomenal alterity of an ‘utterly other’ nature.

I drew attention to this salient fact via the second footnote of my first email to you (Message № 20114).

Indeed, a major feature of the buddhavacana – as enunciated upfront and unequivocally throughout the second discourse in the first Khandhaka (chapter) of the Mahāvagga (division) in the Vinaya Piṭaka whereby the pañcavaggiya-bhikkhū (i.e., a group of five brahmana religieux) became arahants – is how the Pāli atta/ the Vedic ātma is not to be found in the phenomenal world (whereas the Vedantic ātman, being an advaita (i.e., non-dual) absolute, is the phenomenal world/ is everything).

NB: in this context the words atta/ attan and ātma/ ātman = the absolute; they do *not* refer to the egoic self (‘I’ as ego) or the personal/ reflexive self (oneself/ myself; himself / herself; yourself; themself/ themselves) except of course, in the latter case, where the personal/ reflexive usage references an avatar/ a buddha (i.e., an embodiment of brahma, an embodiment of dhamma).

Thus in this discourse, which was entitled the “Pañcavaggiya Suttaṃ” (SN 22.59; PTS: SN iii.66) when it was duplicated in the Sinhalese Saṃyutta Nikāya and “Anatta-Lakkhana Suttaṃ” in the Burmese version, where the sammāsambuddha reports/ describes/ explains how the five components of personage (i.e., the “panc’upādāna-kkhandhā”) are anattā – that is, they are not the self (as per, ‘an-’, a privative prefix, + attā, ‘the absolute’) – then what he is saying, in effect, is that (1) rūpaṃ is not the absolute ... and (2); vedanā is not the absolute ... and (3); saññā is not the absolute ... and (4); saṅkāra is not the absolute ... and (5); viññāṇaṃ is not the absolute.

This is so far removed from those “non-duality models” (wherein the panc’upādāna-kkhandhā, the five components of personage, are ātman, are ‘the absolute’) it must be asked just whom it might be who is “ditching the split”.

More to this salient point: in the Mūlaka/ Mula Sutta (AN 10.58; PTS: A v 106) the sammāsambuddha – upon having been specifically asked by some unidentified “bhikkhave” (i.e., mendicant renunciates of his own order) to expound on ten questions which “aññatitthiyā paribbājakā” (i.e., wandering religieux of another faith) might ask them – reveals the illuminative gnostic wisdom (i.e., intuitive/ metempirical wisdom as contrasted to dianoetic/ empirical knowledge) that nibbāna is the complete end (as in, “pariyosānā”) of “sabbe dhammā” [viz.: “nibbāna pariyosānā sabbe dhammā”].

In other words, the complete end of all things, both mental and material, means nothing exists for any such subjective-objective “split” to obtain.

And, by way of clarification as to what “all things” entails, in the Sabba Sutta (SN 35.23; PTS: SN iv 15) the sammāsambuddha details what he is referring to when he uses the Pāli word sabbaṃ (which is the neuter case of the adjective ‘sabba’). The Pali Text Society’s Pali-English Dictionary (a.k.a. PTS-PED) defines ‘sabbaṃ’ as “the (whole) world of sense-experience” and ‘sabba’ as “whole, entire; all, every” (‘sabbe’ is the nominative plural of ‘sabba’). Also, the Pāli ‘sabba’ is identical to the Sanskrit/ Vedic adjective ‘sarva’ which also means, according to the Monier Monier-Williams Sanskrit-English Dictionary (a.k.a. MMW-SED), “whole, entire, all, every”.

Vis.:

• Sāvatthinidānaṃ. “Sabbaṃ vo, bhikkhave, desessāmi. Taṃ suṇātha. Kiñca, bhikkhave, sabbaṃ? Cakkhuñceva rūpā ca, sotañca saddā ca, ghānañca gandhā ca, jivhā ca rasā ca, kāyo ca phoṭṭhabbā ca, mano ca dhammā ca – idaṃ vuccati, bhikkhave, sabbaṃ. Yo, bhikkhave, evaṃ vadeyya: ‘ahametaṃ sabbaṃ paccakkhāya aññaṃ sabbaṃ paññāpessāmī’ti, tassa vācāvatthukamevassa; puṭṭho ca na sampāyeyya, uttariñca vighātaṃ āpajjeyya. Taṃ kissa hetu? Yathā taṃ, bhikkhave, avisayasmin”ti.
[source: http://suttacentral.net/pi/sn35.23].

In the above “Sabba Sutta” the sammāsambuddha specifies that when he uses the term ‘sabbaṃ’ he is referring to the eye [cakkhu] and whatsoever it sees [rūpā]; the ear [sota] and all of its sounds [saddā]; the nose [ghāna] and everything it smells [gandhā]; the tongue [jivhā] and all of its tastes [rasā]; the body [kāyo] and its every aesthesis [phoṭṭhabbā]; plus the mind [mano] and all its mental phenomena [dhammā]; and he accentuates this specification of his by then stating: “This is to be called sabbaṃ” [vis.: “idaṃ vuccati sabbaṃ”].

Furthermore, he emphasises the totally comprehensive and utterly inclusive material-mental nature of the term by then declaring that anyone, having rejected/ disavowed [paccakkhāya] this “sabbaṃ” as he depicts it, could not make known [paññāpessi] another one [aññaṃ sabbaṃ] as any such a one would be beyond scope, range or reach [avisaya].

Thus the term ‘sabbe’ (in that frequently flogged phrase “sabbe dhamme anattā” a.k.a. “sabbe dhammā anattā”), whilst denotational of absolutely everything whichsoever and everybody whomsoever, without exception, of each and every material or mental nature possible – taking place anywhere and everywhere wheresoever in the boundlessness of space and occurring anywhen and everywhen whensoever in the limitlessness of time plus happening anyhow and everyway howsoever in which anything and everything whatsoever can eventuate whencesoever at anyplace and everyplace whithersoever – specifically excludes that which, being beyond the scope, range or reach (of eyes, ears, mind, &c.), is ineffable/ indefinable ... namely: nibbāna.

Obviously, then, what the sammāsambuddha is conveying in the further above Mūlaka/ Mula Sutta is how the attainment of nibbāna is the complete end [pariyosānā] of absolutely all [sabbe] causal-temporal-spatial phenomena [dhammā].

Put differently: nibbāna is the complete end [pariyosānā] of all space, all time, and all matter (both as mass and as energy) both animate and inanimate [viz.: “sabbe dhammā”]. Hence the absolute of the buddhavacana being something else entirely (i.e., an acausal, atemporal, aspatial, aphenomenal alterity of an ‘utterly other’ nature).

Incidentally, if (note ‘if’) the phrase “sabbe dhammā” were to have been inclusive of nibbāna, and given that nibbāna is the complete end of ‘sabbe dhammā’, then it would mean that nibbāna would be the complete end of ... (wait for it) ... the complete end of nibbāna!

(As an aside: it would appear that whatever it takes to qualify for a “PhD.” in Pāli scholarship these days – to qualify as a Pāli scholar, a Pāli translator, that is – it does not include much in the way of critical thinking skills because the above absurdity is quite readily apparent).

Moreover, this revelation that nibbāna is the complete end of ‘sabbe dhammā’ has an earlier advent, by the sammāsambuddha, in the 3rd & 4th pada, of the last stanza in Dialogue 6 of the Pārāyanavagga, in the Suttanipāta, titled “Upasiva-manava-puccha” (Sn 5.6; PTS: Sn 1076).

Vis.:

• “Sabbesu dhammesu samohatesu,
Samūhatā vādapathāpi sabbe”ti.

[source: http://suttacentral.net/pi/snp5.7]

As “sabbesu dhammesu” = ‘sabbe dhammā’ – (and as “samohatesu”, repeated at the beginning of the second line as “samūhata” and, from alternate manuscripts, transcribed as “samuhatesu” elsewhere, being the past participle of ‘samūhanati’ (“to remove, to abolish” ~ PTS-PED), translates as ‘removed, abolished’) – then what the sammāsambuddha is advising there is how, with all phenomena abolished, removed, then all ways of speaking about nibbāna are also removed, abolished (vādapatha means: “way of speech”, i.e.: “signs of recognition, attribute, definition” ~ PTS-PED).

By being thus beyond the scope, range or reach (of eyes, ears, mind, &c.) nibbāna is ineffable/ indefinable.

And because the Pārāyanavagga is amongst the earliest recorded portions of the buddhavacana – if not the earliest – then it is demonstrably evident that any notion about ‘sabbe dhammā’ being inclusive of nibbāna can only be a much later addition (as in, a latter-day Abhidhamma & Commentarial artefact, for instance) to the Pāli Canon.

Besides which, as nowhere in the buddhavacana is it recorded that nibbāna is anattā (i.e. ‘not-self’, ‘not the self’), then the abject craftiness of such a convoluted way of thinking – setting out to conceive of a diṭṭhi/ dṛṣti about the ineffable/ indefinable nature of nibbāna in spite of the silence of the sammāsambuddha on the topic, via sneaking it into “sabbe dhammā” – should in itself trigger-off flashing red-light warnings to both the instigators and the perpetuators.

RESPONDENT: I would not have necessarily seen these things before, as I was so committed to being a true believer in this practice.

RICHARD: In which case, and again in regards to your goal no longer having to float nebulously in a vacuum, this is an apposite place to utilise those URLs, now further above, for confirmation that the nature of the absolute, as it occurs in the buddhavacana, is indeed commensurable with the Vedic amṛta-loka (‘the realm of the immortals’). According to what transpires on page eight, of that 1962 English translation of the first Khandhaka (chapter) of the Mahāvagga (division), the sammāsambuddha, shortly after his awakenment/ enlightenment and while staying at the foot of the “Goatherd’s Banyan Tree” for the nonce, is approached by the otherworldly “Brahmā Sahampati”, fresh from Brahma-Loka, who exhorts him to teach dhamma because those with “little dust in their eyes” will be receptive. Then the following exchange takes place (edited to its essentials, from pp 8-9, with its operative words highlighted).

[Brahmā Sahampati]:
“pāturahosi magadhesu pubbe,
dhammo asuddho samalehi cintito;
avāpuretaṃ *amatassa dvāraṃ*,
suṇantu dhammaṃ vimalenānubuddhaṃ”.
[Sammāsambuddha]:
“apārutā tesaṃ *amatassa dvārā*,
ye sotavante pamuñcantu saddhaṃ”.

[source: https://suttacentral.net/pi/pi-tv-kd1#5-brahmayacanakatha].

Thus, after observing how an impure dhamma, devised by stained minds, had made an appearance before in the region (Magadha), this Great Deva of Brahma-Loka (representing, in the buddhistic metaphysics, the creator god of the brahmanā) then urges the sammāsambuddha to: “open this door [dvāraṃ] to immortality [amatassa]; let them hear dhamma awakened to by the stainless one”; and then that ‘stainless one’ answers: “opened for those who hear are the doors [dvārā] of immortality [amatassa]”.

From this passage, and the overall context of the narrative itself, several pertinent factors emerge:

1. Previous expositions of dhamma, in the Magadha region, were impure [asuddho], unclean, tainted [samalehi] due to having been thought out, invented, devised [cintito] rather than being experiential, a living experience, as in having become dhamma [dhamma-bhūto] as per one of the many epithets ascribed to the sammāsambuddha.

2. The (masculine case) Brahmā is clearly inferior to the sammāsambuddha (as are all the buddhistic deities who, even though they may endure for many kappa (Sanskrit ‘kalpa’) in the unworldly/ unearthly and/or otherworldly/ heavenly realms, are also mortal) thus demonstrating that whatever else “brahma-bhūto” may refer to it cannot possibly mean Mr. Gotama the Sakyan has either *become* the (masculine case) Brahmā – as is claimed, under the head-word “dhamma”, in the Pali Text Society’s Pali-English Dictionary (re-presented, much further below, in the inline ‘dhammavicaya’ footnote) – or is *like* the (masculine case) Brahmā, as is bruited abroad by many a buddhistic translator, scholiast, scholar-practician and, thus, practitioners in general, as doing so reduces the qualities of that highly-prized/ greatly-revered immortal status of his to those qualities attributable to a mortal deity.

3. Attaining immortality is the crux of spiritual enlightenment/ mystical awakenment and the very purpose of the brahmacariya lifestyle (i.e., living an austere and celibate religious/ holy life) – else why, in this instance, the plea from Brahmā Sahampati to open the door to immortality and/or else why the assurance from the sammāsambuddha that the doors to immortality were open – and it is noteworthy that the accented Pāli nibbāna (Vedic/ Sanskrit nirvāṇa) does not feature in this narrative, and other early suttas of similar ilk, unlike the main focus which that now-ubiquitous word takes on in later suttas.

For instance, according to the Sahampatibrahmā Sutta (SN 48.57; PTS: SN v 232), and again whilst residing at the foot of that “Goatherds’ Banyan Tree” [ajapālanigrodhe] shortly after his attainment, the sammāsambuddha meditates upon how five particular controlling principals – namely (1) the faculty of faith [saddhindriya], (2) the faculty of vigour/ exertion [vīriyindriya], (3) the faculty of rememoration [satindriya], (4) the faculty of (introversive) self-absorption/ of mystical trance [samādhindriya] and (5) the faculty of intuitive/ otherworldly reasoning [paññindriya] – when taken-up seriously and cultivated [bhāvitāni bahulīkatāni], had immortality as their fordable footing [amatogadhaṃ], immortality as their principal aim [amataparāyaṇaṃ], and immortality as their ultimate ending [amatapariyosānaṃ].

Vis.:

• “ekaṃ samayaṃ bhagavā uruvelāyaṃ viharati najjā nerañjarāya tīre ajapālanigrodhe paṭhamābhisambuddho. Atha kho bhagavato rahogatassa paṭisallīnassa evaṃ cetaso parivitakko udapādi: “pañcindriyāni bhāvitāni bahulīkatāni amatogadhāni(1) honti amataparāyaṇāni(2) amatapariyosānāni(3). Katamāni pañca? Saddhindriyaṃ bhāvitaṃ bahulīkataṃ amatogadhāni(4) honti amataparāyaṇāni(5) amatapariyosānāni(6). Vīriyindriyaṃ bhāvitaṃ bahulīkataṃ amatogadhāni(7) honti amataparāyaṇāni(8) amatapariyosānāni(9). Satindriyaṃ bhāvitaṃ bahulīkataṃ amatogadhāni(10) honti amataparāyaṇāni(11) amatapariyosānāni(12). Samādhindriyaṃ bhāvitaṃ bahulīkataṃ amatogadhāni(13) honti amataparāyaṇāni(13) amatapariyosānāni(15). Paññindriyaṃ bhāvitaṃ bahulīkataṃ amatogadhāni(16) honti amataparāyaṇāni(17) amatapariyosānāni(18). Imāni pañcindriyāni bhāvitāni bahulīkatāni amatogadhāni(19) honti amataparāyaṇāni(20) amatapariyosānāni(21)”ti. [emphases and numbering added].
[source: http://suttacentral.net/sn48.57/pi].

I have numbered each incidence where the (compounded) word amata appears so as to emphasise how it can impressively embed itself, by its sheer dominance of topic (there are 21 instances in a 71-word paragraph), into the minds of the bhikkhu/ bhikkhuni chanting such a sutta, over and again, all dutifully learnt memoriter as prescribed in the Vinaya Piṭaka (with communal testing, each fortnight, for accuracy).

Furthermore, in the paragraph which follows the above paragraph, the (masculine case) Brahmā, in confirming his agreement with those meditations, repeats all those 21 incidences back to the sammāsambuddha and then, in the last and concluding paragraph (about half the size) yet another 3 times ... making a total of 45 instances in a very short sutta.

Presented below are a couple of regular, online translations of that opening paragraph wherein the first translator has whittled the 21 instances down to 6, and the second translator down to 4, both thereby soundly defeating the main function of the way in which the buddhavacana (i.e., “the words/ teachings of a buddha”) is structured ... to wit: as a memorable impressment into memory, via constant repetition, for those oh-so-essential rememoration-presentiation purposes – in these specialised contexts the Pāli “sati”/ Vedic “smṛ́ti” (often misleadingly translated with a ‘passive-witnessing’ meaning ascribed to ‘mindfulness’ such as “choiceless awareness”, “bare attention”, “lucid awareness”, and etcetera) has an exclusive relationship with the Pāli “suti”/ Vedic “śruti” (i.e., the sacred gnosis/ divine wisdom of immediate/ intuitive and/or unworldly/ otherworldly revelation as epitomised by the ancient Ṛishis of Vedic lore and legend) and nothing else – the fruitfulness of which is prominently demonstrated in the Pāli Canon by those numerous bhikkhū/ bhikkhunī of yore having thereby become arahants.

Viz.:

• [Mr. Jeffery Block:]: “On one occasion the Blessed One was dwelling at Uruvelā on the bank of the river Nerañjarā at the foot of the Goatherd’s Banyan Tree just after he had become fully enlightened. Then, while the Blessed One was alone in seclusion, a reflection arose in his mind thus: ‘The five faculties, when developed and cultivated, have the Deathless as their ground, the Deathless as their destination, the Deathless as their final goal. What five? The faculty of faith, the faculty of energy, the faculty of mindfulness, the faculty of concentration, the faculty of wisdom. These five faculties, when developed and cultivated, have the Deathless as their ground, the Deathless as their destination, the Deathless as their final goal’”. ~ (p.1699; The Great Book (Mahāvagga), V; “The Connected Discourses of the Buddha”; trans. by Bhikkhu Bhodhi; 2000, Wisdom Publications, Somerville MA).

• [Mr. Frank Woodward]: “Thus have I heard: On a certain occasion the Exalted One was staying at Uruvela, on the bank of the river Neranjara, under the Goatherds’ Banyan, just after his attainment of perfect enlightenment. Now in the Exalted One, when he had retired to his solitary communing, there arose this mental reflection: There are five controlling faculties which, cultivated and made much, of, plunge into the Deathless, have their end and goal in the Deathless. What five? The controlling faculty of faith, energy, mindfulness, concentration and insight. These five, if cultivated and made much of, plunge into the Deathless, have their end and goal in the Deathless”. ~ (pp.207-8; The Great Chapter; “The Book of Kindred Sayings”, Vol V; trans. by F. L. Woodward; 1929, Pali Text Society).

This is an apposite juncture, then, to further explain that oh-so-essential rememoration-presentiation process. To rememorate, in the sense which the Pāli “sati/ satimā” conveys itself linguistically, in the Pāli sentences themselves and contextually in the buddhavacana as a whole, is to not only be memorative but is to be so with an instinctual, intuitive apprehension of the exclusive relationship the Pāli ‘sati’ (=Vedic ‘smṛti’) has with the Pāli ‘suti’ (=Vedic ‘śruti’) in its special-usage revelatory sense.

Viz.:

• suti (f.) cf. śruti *revelation* as opp. to smṛti *tradition*. [emphases added]. ~ (PTS-PED).

Thus the Pāli suti (=Vedic śruti) refers to revelation as opposed to the Pāli sati (=Vedic smṛti) which refers to tradition. That comparison can be seen here (bear in mind that the Vedic śruti = the Pāli suti whilst reading):

• śruti (f.): that which has been heard or communicated from the beginning; sacred eternal sounds or words as eternally heard by certain holy sages called Ṛishis, and so differing from smṛ́ti [= Pāli sati] or what is only remembered and handed down in writing by human authors [i.e., tradition]. [square-bracketed insertions added]. ~ (MMW-SED).

And this exclusive relationship also rates a special mention in that Monier Monier-Williams Sanskrit-English Dictionary entry for smṛti (= Pāli sati) where, it may be profitably noted, the word ‘mindful’/ ‘mindfulness’ is quite conspicuous by its absence (the first edition of that dictionary was published in 1872; Mr. Thomas Rhys Davids first translated ‘sati’ as “mindfulness” in 1881).

Viz.:

• smṛ́ti (f.): remembrance, reminiscence, thinking of or upon (loc. or comp.), calling to mind, memory; the whole body of sacred tradition or what is remembered by human teachers, in contradistinction to śruti [= Pāli suti], or what is directly heard or revealed to the Ṛishis; in its widest acceptation this use of the term Smṛti includes the 6 Vedāṅgas, the Sūtras both śrauta, and gṛhya, the law-books of Manu &c.; the whole body of codes of law as handed down memoriter or by tradition (esp. the codes of Manu Yājñavalkya and the 16 succeeding inspired lawgivers, viz. [...]; all these lawgivers being held to be inspired and to have based their precepts on the Veda. [square-bracketed insertion added]. ~ (MWW-SED).

Thus the Pāli sati (=Vedic smṛti) refers, then, to not only “remembrance, reminiscence, thinking of or upon; calling to mind, memory” but to “the whole body of sacred tradition” (e.g., in the buddhistic context, to the entire Suttanta & Vinaya) as well. That is, the term “sati/ satimā” refers to “what is remembered by human teachers, in contradistinction to śruti [= Pāli suti]” which, in the buddhistic context, is in contradistinction to what is directly known or apprehended by the sammāsambuddha (i.e., a ‘Ṛishi’ par excellence, and then some, so to speak).

Put simply, the English word ‘mindful’/ ‘mindfulness’ cannot even begin to convey what the Pāli “sati/ satimā” refers to.

Furthermore, to be rememorative in the sense which the Pāli sati (= Vedic smṛti) conveys its meaning – a meaning conveyed both contextually and linguistically in the Pāli sentences themselves – is to be comprehensive, in a similarly visceral-intuitive manner, of the relationship the revelatory Pāli ‘suti’ (=Vedic śruti) has with the equally-special usage of the Pāli ‘suta’ (= Vedic ‘śruta’) as well.

Viz.:

• śruta (mfn.): heard, listened to, heard about or of, taught, mentioned, orally transmitted or communicated from age to age; śrutam (n.): that which has been heard (esp. from the beginning), knowledge as heard by holy men and transmitted from generation to generation, oral tradition or revelation, sacred knowledge; śrutavat: possessing (sacred) knowledge, learned, pious; śrutavid: knowing sacred revelation; śrutamaya (& śrutamayī): consisting of knowledge; śrutasád: abiding in what is heard (i.e. in transmitted knowledge or tradition). ~ (MMW-SED).
• suta (pp. of suṇāti): heard; in special sense ‘received through inspiration or revelation’; freq. in phrase ‘iti me sutaṃ’: thus have I heard, I have received this on (religious) authority; (nt.) sacred lore, inspired tradition, revelation; learning, religious knowledge; sutadhana: the treasure of revelation; sutadhara: remembering what has been heard (or taught in the Scriptures); sutamaya (& sutamayī): consisting in learning (or resting on sacred tradition), one of the 3 kinds of knowledge (paññā), viz. cintāmayā, sutamayā, bhāvanāmayā paññā; sutādhāra: holding (i.e. keeping in mind, preserving) the sacred learning. ~ (PTS-PED).

Hence, instead of mindlessly continuing to translate the Pāli ‘sati’ with a late-19th century-voguish, western-acculturated and everyday-usage word it is more explanatorily helpful to resurrect an antiquated term (that Shakespearean-Era “rememoration” was already ‘not in use’ in 1828, ‘obsolete’ by 1913 and ‘archaic’ come 2008 according to the various “Webster’s Dictionaries” available), unto which restored word that special-usage meaning of an instinctually-intuitive type of memoration – essentially, then, in this context a rememoration of the gnostic knowledge/ metempirical wisdom itself, revivified feelingly with luminous vibrancy, in the memorative faculty – can thus be readily ascribed and hypostatised.

*

Moving on to page 11 of that 1962 English translation (now much further above): after his exchange with Brahmā Sahampati the sammāsambuddha, having resolved to teach dhamma to the pañcavaggiya-bhikkhū (i.e., that group of five brahmana religieux already mentioned further above), sets out on tour for Isipatana, a deer-park near Benares, and along the way a religieux of the ājivika sect greets him in a complimentary manner, regarding his disposition and demeanour, and enquires as to his mentor or whose dhamma he professes. The last lines of his reply to this religieux, on page 12, are as follows (with the word ‘amata’ highlighted for easy reference).

“dhammacakkaṃ pavattetuṃ,
gacchāmi kāsinaṃ puraṃ;
andhībhūtasmiṃ lokasmiṃ,
āhañchaṃ amatadundubhin”.

[source: https://suttacentral.net/pi/pi-tv-kd1#6-pancavaggiyakatha].

Thus, after having declared there is no teacher [ācariyo] for him – as none like he is exists inasmuch he is unequalled [natthi te paṭipuggala] in the world of humans and gods [sadevakasmiṃ lokasmiṃ], that he alone is the consummately self-awakened one [sammāsambuddho], and how all-conquering [sabbābhibhū]  and all-knowing [sabbavidhūhamasmi] he is – he advises how he is going to [gacchāmi] the main city of the Kāsi County [kāsinaṃ puraṃ] to turn the dhamma-wheel (= the brahma-wheel; i.e., dhammacakkaṃ = brahmacakkaṃ) and beat the drum of immortality [amatadundubhin] in a world become blind [andhībhūtasmiṃ lokasmiṃ].

After arriving at the deer-park, and some discussion about an appropriate name, the following line is worth considering (again with the word ‘amata’ highlighted for easy reference).

• “Arahaṃ, bhikkhave, tathāgato sammāsambuddho, odahatha, bhikkhave,
sotaṃ, amatamadhigataṃ, ahamanusāsāmi, ahaṃ dhammaṃ desemi”.

[source: https://suttacentral.net/pi/pi-tv-kd1#5-brahmayacanakatha].

On page 13, of that 1962 English translation, Ms. Isaline Horner renders that line as follows.

• “A Truthfinder, monks, is a perfect one, a fully awakened one. Give
ear, monks, the deathless has been found; I instruct, I teach dhamma”.
[https://archive.org/stream/bookofdiscipline14hornuoft#page/13/mode/1up].

And on page 92 of the 1881 English translation Mr. Thomas Rhys Davids & Mr. Hermann Oldenberg render it thisaway:

• “Give ear, O Bhikkhus! The immortal (Amata) has been won (by me);
I will teach you, to you I will preach the doctrine”.
[https://archive.org/stream/vinayatexts01davi#page/92/mode/1up].

(This is repeated three more times before the sammāsambuddha begins his first discourse, the celebrated ‘wheel-turning’ discourse, which is venerated as being the advent of the buddhavacana, albeit known as ‘Buddhism’ for the last 150+ years, into the world of humans and gods). What is more than passing strange is how, since the 1880s or thereabouts, there is a noticeable tendency, on the part of translators/ scholars/ etcetera, to dilute or attenuate, rather than duly emphasise, just what certain words denote and/or connote, both etymologically and contextually (contextually, that is, in both a linguistical and environmental manner) despite the vast array of antiquarian scriptural texts and oral tradition from sub-continental India which clearly delineate the age-old quest for immortality – as per the Sanskrit word amṛta and/or the Pāli word amata – as being the sole purpose of the brahmacariya modus vivendi (i.e., living an austere and celibate religious/ holy life), which strictly chaste way of life is scripturally incumbent upon any conscientious ordination as a bhikkhu/ bhikkhuni, as well as being the long-term aim of lay-persons, via an auspicious rebirth enabling committed ordination, per favour virtuous merit-accruing generosity in feeding or otherwise supporting and/or providing for those living that rigorous brahmacariya lifestyle (i.e., “dānamaya puññaṃ” where dāna = alms-giving and puñña = virtue, merit).

By and large the clearly defined/ readily describable goal of the buddhavacana – immortality in the current lifetime – has been obscured by an ineffable/ indefinable and faraway aspiration called nibbāna/ nirvāṇa. Hence “floating nebulously in a vacuum”. Hence, also, modern-day buddhistic aspirations being more of a therapeutic nature than salvational.

And it is more than but passing strange because, just as the English word immortal (‘im-’ + ‘mortal’) means not-mortal so too does the Pāli word amata (‘a-’ + ‘mata’) mean not-mortal. The Pāli “mata” refers to death, as does the Pāli “mara” and “maccu” for that matter, in the same way as the Latin “mort-” does (“mort”, the singular of “mors”, is what the English “mortal” is based upon) and as does the Greek “-brotos” as well (from which the English word ambrosia is derived, via “ambrotos”, the Greek word for immortal). The privative Pāli prefix ‘a-’ negates ‘mata’ just like the prefix ‘im-’ negates ‘mortal’ (thereby conveying not-mortal). Most translators, however, translating “mata” as “death” then negate it with the suffix “-less” (i.e., “deathless”) in the same way that the suffix “-less” of “timeless” means “no time” or “penniless” conveys “without money”. As the English word deathless is defined, for example, as “not subject to death; immortal” ~ (Webster’s College Dictionary) or as “not subject to termination or death; immortal” ~ (American Heritage Dictionary) or as, quite singularly, “immortal” ~ (Oxford English Dictionary), anyway, it is quite odd they would do so.

And particularly so, as amongst the many epithets ascribed to the sammāsambuddha, one in particular stands out: “amatassa dātā dhammassāmī”. Those first two words – amatassa dātā (“dispenser of immortality”) – are the crux of the epithet (the word which follows them, dhammassāmī, as in “master of dhamma”, is quite straightforward) as both the Pāli word amata and the Vedic/ Sanskrit word amṛta refer to precisely what the whole point of becoming mystically awakened/ spiritually enlightened really is.

Namely: to attain immortality [amata-patta], to dwell in the realm of the immortals [amata-pada], to rest in peace, forevermore, in the tranquillity of immortality [amataṃ-santiṃ], to enjoy the fruit of immortality [amata-phala], to be beating the drum of immortality [amata-dundubhi], to be bringing immortality [amatandada] to those with “little dust in their eyes” – having become the dispenser of immortality [amatassa dātā], having opened the doors to immortality [amata-dvārā], having revealed the way going or leading to immortality [amata-gāmin], along the path to immortality [amata-magga], for the benefit of all those seeking the medicine of immortality [amata-osadha] – so that whosoever is sprinkled with the ambrosia of immortality [amatena-abhisitta], who sees immortality [amata-dasa], who is tasting immortality [amata-rasā], is a drinker of immortality’s nectar [amatapo], is drenched by the rain of immortality [amata-vutthi; amṛta-varṣa], will be inclining to immortality [amata-pabbhāra], will be having immortality as their principal aim [amata-parāyaṇa] and, with immortality as their fordable footing [amata-gadha], will be diving into immortality [amata-ogadha], will be ending in immortality [amata-pariyosāna] and dwelling forevermore thereafter in the immortal state [amataṃ dhātuṃ] totally unaffected by death [anāmata].

And this, all of this and more, has been sitting there in plain view (albeit with ‘nibbāna’/ ‘nirvāṇa’ distracting attention away) for more than two millennia.

Speaking from personal experience: in September 1981 when the then-resident identity inhabiting this flesh-and-blood body became awakened/ enlightened ‘he’ was immediately aware – due to its marked absence – that ‘his’ ego/ ego-self (i.e., ‘the thinker’/ ‘the doer’) had most certainly died and ‘he’ would remark to those interested how ironic it was that ‘he’ only knew for sure now (now that it had vanished completely) how there had indeed been an operant ego all the while leading up to that moment. This absence of ego/ ego-self was so remarkably obvious ‘he’ would flesh-out ‘his’ description by pointing both forefingers directly to either temple so as to pinpoint its exact location via where an interior place immediately behind the mid-point of the eyebrows was intersected by that line-of-pointing. And, speaking even more experientially, a distinct vacancy, a clear emptiness, at that precise location was an on-going and compelling experience. So compelling, in fact, and so devoid of having ever even been existent this on-going reality was, then, that upon being asked, on occasion over the following years, as to what would happen at physical death ‘he’ would speak assuredly of being “already-dead” (meaning that only an end to embodiment could occur); of how there was “no such thing as death”; of how being immortal was what being awakened/ enlightened is (as “The Absolute”, as ‘he’ called it, that is); of how anything other than that was but a dream, an illusion, an appearance.

I drew attention to this salient feature in the first footnote of my first email to you (Message № 20114).

RESPONDENT: So where should I go from here, if you don’t mind me asking? What is the next step, assuming I have taken one in a positive direction by realizing these things?

RICHARD: No, I do not mind you asking at all – and I appreciate your courtesy – as spiritual awakenment/ mystical enlightenment is, after all, my forté due to having gone beyond it, to the other side of that institutionalised insanity (in fact to where the entire sanity-insanity spectrum, which encapsulates the human condition, has no footing whatsoever), after having lived that/ been that highly revered and/or greatly venerated state of being night and day for eleven years.

Quite frankly, the first step regarding where to go from here stands out like the proverbial outhouse in a desert ... to wit: utilising that canonical bojjhaṅga known as “dhammavicaya”[*], the second of the seven factors or constituents of buddhistic knowledge or wisdom, so as to investigate and research the provenance of this “vipassanā” practice you are engaged in – (you advised DhO participants, on Jan 03, 2014, how you had “begun Mahasi noting in both formal meditation sittings and daily life” around six months after your first post in which you described having “tried a variety of techniques” but always returning to “the breath counting/ belly breathing of rinzai zen”) – in order to determine whether or not that heterodox practice has both the generative potential for fulfilling your [quote] “basic trust that there is a level of mind that can be penetrated” [endquote], and the transformative capacity to [quote] “cause permanent, irreversible change” [endquote], given that after eighteen months or so of [quote] “trying to change my psyche as opposed to dropping it or escaping it or ending it entirely” [endquote] you still do not really know if you are capable of providing a description of a non-dogmatic spiritual awakenment/ mystical enlightenment inasmuch that very goal of yours is floating nebulously in a vacuum.
[*]Dhammavicaya (m.): investigation of doctrine, religious research; [fr. dhamma + vicaya q.v.]. ~ (PTS-PED).

*

However, in case you do not utilise dhammavicaya in regards to the provenance of this “vipassanā” practice you are engaged in – which is the most likely course of events going by your replies, so far, to all other responses to your requests for assistance – I am nevertheless only too happy to make public knowledge of what has been sitting there in plain view in the buddhavacana, for over two millennia (and thus why there have been no arahants for more than two thousand years), the obtention of which knowledge is a direct result of the unique advantage obtaining from having lived life in three majorly different ways – a normal egocentric feeling-being, an abnormal egoless feeling-being, and an actually selfless and thus literally apathetic human being – and thereby being well-placed to know what nobody else can know.

It is advisable to first read-through Message № 16259 (and especially the footnotes), where I refer to that presently-popular but nevertheless controversial sukkhavipassaka practice – what is known colloquially as the “Dry Burmese Vipassanā”, as in “Mahāsī-style noting” and “Goenka Vipassanā”, for instance – in the body of the text, because what follows hereon will be a ‘joining the dots’ in practical terms so as to have a standalone version available, once and for all, rather than paragraphs scattered here and there throughout many emails.

Viz.:

January 25 2014

Re: Emptiness

JONATHAN: From what I can recall, Richard’s view of the buddha is not in the mainstream. As I understand it, the view that Gautama believed in a universal self is held by a significant minority of scholars. But the mainstream believes that Gautama and the bhagavad gita were on to two different points of views. Because Richard is with the minority, he doesn’t speak of emptiness ever. ( I found a definition of it in the AFT and I found a page referencing Zen but I haven’t found anything on emptiness as the pragmatic dharma crowd speaks of it.) My question is. Is emptiness as the dho and kfd folks talk of it a feeling? When those folks speak of emptiness and r. speaks of Being with a captial B, are they talking of the same thing? (Message 162xx , 19 Jan 2014, Subject: Emptiness)

RICHARD: First and foremost, it is not [quote] ‘Richard’s *view* of the buddha’ [emphasis added] which you recall reading, on my portion of The Actual Freedom Trust website, as I make it unambiguously clear that I lived that/was that, night and day for eleven years, which Mr. Gotama the Sakyan rediscovered whilst sitting under an assattha/ pippal tree (‘Ficus religiosa’) around two and a half millennia ago.

Second, and also because Mr. Gotama the Sakyan lived that/was that which he rediscovered, albeit night and day for 45 years, neither is it recorded anywhere canonical that [quote] ‘Gautama *believed* in a universal self’ [emphasis added] either.

Third, what you are comparing his experiential state to, by referencing [quote] ‘the bhagavad gita’ [endquote], stems from the sublative ‘no-genesis’ vedantic doctrine (i.e., ajativada) which Mr. Gauda the anchorite recovered, at Gowda Desha circa the 6th century CE, from the Upanisads – principally the Mandukya, Brhadaranyaka and Chandogya Upanisads – which was subsequently consolidated by Mr. Adi Sankara of Kaladi (nowadays called Kerala) and which serves to epitomise what is more generally referred to as Hinduism.

Fourth, what you twice characterise as [quote] ‘the mainstream’ [endquote] is, given the context, presumably the *sectarian* Theravadin lineage, of a broader religio-spiritual/ mystico-metaphysical tradition generally referred to as Buddhism (as contrasted to what is generally referred to as Hinduism), and, as such, is comprised of the many and various practitioners, commentators, translators, scholars/ pundits, and so on, who have successively contributed to and/or perpetuated the prevailing ‘ditthi’/ ‘drsti’ (i.e., ‘wrong view; theory, doctrine, system’) about what anatta/ anatma refers to – especially obvious as it is the word niratta/ niratma which means soulless (‘soullessness or unsubstantiality’) – for at least the last two millennia.

(And I say ‘for at least the last two millennia’ advisedly because it is duly recorded, in Pali text in the Mahavamsa (abbrev. Mhv. or Mhvs.), that the last Sinhalese Arahant, Maliya Deva Thero, lived during the time of King Dutugamunu (101-77 BCE), a period which is something like 500 or so years before the reformist pundit Mr. Budhaghosa penned his highly influential ‘Visuddhimagga’ and commentaries).

*

Now, I mention these four points because where you then say [quote] ‘Because Richard is with the minority’ [endquote] – after having just designated that ‘minority’ as being [quote] ‘a significant minority of *scholars*’ [emphasis added] – your conclusion that this is why [quote] ‘he doesn’t speak of emptiness ever’ [endquote] is thus a non sequitur ... and actually erroneous as well.

For example (regarding ‘erroneous’) from the year 2000:

• [Richard]: (...) when you use such a phrase as ‘the empty nature of ...’ it invokes the Buddhist understanding that the physical world, as seen through their ‘sense-doors’, is impermanent, lacking in substance, having no inherent existence ... whereas this actual world of direct sensate experiencing – this infinite and eternal and perpetual universe – is already always here being substantial, enduring, and having nothing but inherent existence.
• [Co-Respondent]:  That simply means that for you, the state of emptiness is just an idea.
• [Richard]: No, *I lived that ‘state of emptiness’ night and day for eleven years* ... I am well aware of what the physical world is seen as when seen through their ‘sense-doors’ (it is seen as impermanent, lacking in substance, having no inherent existence and so on). [emphasis added]. (List B, 12i, 27 December 2000).

Moreover, a computer search through all my publicly-available correspondence – freely available on-line 24/7 for anyone with internet access – for the word emptiness returned 118 hits.

Similarly, the Sanskrit word sunyata (=the Pali sunnata, abstracted from sunna, and said to mean ‘emptiness, void, unsubstantiality’ and so on) returned 42 hits.

For instance (from 1999):

• [Co-Respondent]:  Dualistic approach is effort to bring about a desired result of freedom for me. It starts with belief that I know what is and I know what I want, what should be, so I will work to get there. But that is like a fish trying to become water. Fish or form is the time aspect and water or emptiness is the timeless aspect.
• [Richard]: (...). The word ‘emptiness’ as you use it is the Buddhist ‘Sunyata’ ... which is a ‘timeless and spaceless and formless absolute’. (List B, 12d, 1July 1999).

More specifically, though, I explain that the word empty usually means ‘without self’.

Vis. (from 2001):

• [Richard]: This is an intriguing translation ... usually ‘empty’ means without self (the self is not to be found in the material world) ... (List B, 12o, 14 November 2001).

And again (also from 2001):

• [Richard]: The religio-spiritual meaning of the word ‘emptiness’ is that the material world is empty of ‘self’. (List B, 12o, 21 November 2001).

*

Fifth, the reason why you did not find anything in my portion of The Actual Freedom Trust website on [quote] ‘emptiness as the pragmatic dharma crowd speaks of it’ [endquote] is because what they speak of is the result of the presently-popular but controversial sukkhavipassaka practice (what is known colloquially as the ‘Dry Burmese Vipassana’, as in ‘Noting/ Mahasi Style’ and ‘Goenka Vipassana’, for instance) and which is more akin to the much-diluted modern-day ‘Neo-Advaita’ form of secularised/ westernised nondualism than anything else.

I have written about my degree of interest in that practice on this very forum.

Vis. (emphasis in the original):

#12054
Date: Fri, 21 Dec 2012 10:47:49 -0000
From: Richard
Subject: Re: it is impossible to marry Actualism and Buddhism

• [Richard]: [...snip...].
• [Respondent No. 32]:  This is why I wish there can be a direct dialogue between you and some of the accomplished Buddhist teachers..
• [Richard]: I have no interest whatsoever in a dialogue with accomplished *sectarian* Buddhist teachers – and especially not any such teachers of sukkhavipassaka – as the buddhaghosavacana [‘the word/ teaching of Buddhaghosa’] is too far removed from the buddhavacana [‘the word/ teaching of Buddha’] for any meaningful discussion. [...].

To explain: that sectarian ‘ditthi’/ ‘drsti’ (i.e., ‘wrong view; theory, doctrine, system’) already mentioned – institutionalised by all those unawakened/ unenlightened practitioners, commentators, translators, scholars/ pundits, and so on, as the anatta/ anatma doctrine – has reified (reify = ‘to consider an abstract concept to be real’) and/or hypostatised (hypostatise = ‘to construe as a real existence, of a conceptual entity’) an otherwise simple expression which essentially means what the English word devoid conveys (devoid = without, sans, free from, completely lacking or wanting in, bereft of, empty of, deficient in, denuded of, barren of; destitute or void of) into being an (affectively) subjective ‘thing-in-itself’, so to speak, as in some kind of a metaphysical ‘emptiness’ and/or a timeless-spaceless-formless ‘void’ beyond all reckoning.

*

Having attended to all the points in your preamble your question can now be addressed as-is.

Vis.:

• [Jonathan]: ‘My question is. Is emptiness as the dho and kfd folks talk of it a feeling?’ [endquote].

As all subjective experiences within the human condition – taking place as they do in the human psyche – are essentially affective/ pathematic in nature (including any psychic noumena) it is all-too-easy to just say their emptiness is ‘a feeling’.

(Generally speaking, ‘a feeling’ is an emotion or a passion – love/ hate, anger/ amity, sadness/ gladness, and so on, for instance – whereas a reified/ hypostatised entity such as an ‘emptiness’ and/or a ‘void’ is more a product of the affective faculty’s imaginative/ hallucinatory facility).

Besides which, even a genuine awakenment/ full enlightenment is essentially affective in nature.

*

Lastly, your query as to whether that ‘emptiness’ the pragmatic/ hardcore dharma folk speak of is the same thing as what I refer to when speaking of [quote] ‘Being with a captial B’ [endquote] can be answered quite simply:

Nothing they speak of is the same thing as what I have to report/ describe/ explain, about those eleven years (1981-1992) of awakenment/ enlightenment, as none of them experientially know what it is to be awakened/ enlightened.

(See my Footnote No. 2, for example, where I have deliberately gone into a particularly pertinent aspect of what constitutes awakenment/ enlightenment, in some detail, for this very purpose).

This is all such fun! (Richard, List D, Jonathan, 25 January 2014)

*

First of all, when that “A Long-Awaited Public Announcement”, prominently linked-to on the homepage of The Actual Freedom Trust website, was first published there were two major reactions to that ‘good news’ about how not only had Richard’s condition been replicated, and by a female as well as by a male, but that a ‘direct-route’ to what lies on the other side of insanity had also been established, per favour an epoch-changing opening in human consciousness, thus obviating the need to otherwise make one’s personal contribution to global peace-on-earth dangerously, via spiritual enlightenment/ mystical awakenment, as the trail-blazer had done ... namely:

(1.) a subversive attempt to maintain the status-quo vis-á-vis the human condition via confecting and popularising a much watered-down and bastardised facsimile of actualism (known as ‘affism’ due to its confectioners referring to ‘aff’ when communicating with other ‘affers’), via a meditative detachment-dissociative technique and/or a meditational affective-repression procedure, in which ‘I’ as ego/ ‘me’ as soul survive to wreak ‘my’ malicious-sorrowful and, antidotally, loving-compassionate damage as beforehand (i.e., affectively/ psychically) ... and:

(2.) a seditious attempt to stop the global spread of peace-on-earth dead in its tracks via disseminating all manner of made-up stuff, both clandestinely (surreptitious private emails) and unaccountably (anonymous public emails), about “Richard & Associates” until the outright ridiculousness their salacious fabulations – known to all in the post-modernist world and its ilk (a creative mind-space where ‘truths’ not only trump facts but where facts are ‘truths’ to be dissed at will, or even whim, at times) as “narratives” rather than the ‘lies’, the ‘bull’ or, even, the ‘spin’ they are – brought about its ignominious melt-down.

Needless to add, of course, is how actualism/ actual freedom sailed-on serenely throughout – being actual, unlike materialists’ ego-centric philosophies and spiritualists’ soul-centric religiosities, it is invisible to all and every auto-centric ‘being’ (whose automorphic missiles, being thus of the ‘heat’-seeking variety, can never, ever reach their mark) – completely unscathed, utterly unsullied and totally unaffected.

The reason as to why ‘self’ in its entirety remained intact for the ‘affers’ throws considerable light onto ‘samatha-vipassanā’ practice, in general, and “‘Mahāsī’-style noting”, in particular, because the anatta aspect, of its integral anicca-anatta-dukkha ‘three marks of the phenomenal world’ weltanschauung (Pali: tilakkhaṇa; Sanskrit: trilakṣaṇa), has been blown all out of proportion by the many and various practitioners, commentators, translators, scholiasts/ pundits, and so on, who successively contributed to and/or perpetuated the presently prevailing ‘diṭṭhi’/‘dṛṣṭi’ (i.e., “wrong view; theory, doctrine, system”) about what anatta/ anātma refers to, despite it having been sitting there in plain view in the buddhavacana, all along, that the anatta aspect of attavāda – (i.e., “theory of (a persistent) soul” ~ (PTS-PED) – applies specifically to the phenomenal world.

In other words, through holding fast to that particular ‘diṭṭhi’/‘dṛṣṭi’ – popularly known by one and all as “the no-self doctrine” and/or “the anatta doctrine” (as if some-such term as ‘an-attavāda’ might be tucked-away in the more obscure recesses of either the Suttanta or the Vinaya) – and believing it applicable to both the phenomenal world and the noumenal realm, they fervently maintain no ego-death/ egoic dissolution is required (due to that pre-supposed non-existence of ‘self’, in its entirety, in the first place).

Further compounding this mischief-making doctrine, this daemonic dogma, is its corresponding view that the lower yoke (a.k.a. “fetter”) known in Pāli by the term sakkāyadiṭṭhi – (from sakkāya + diṭṭhi, wherein sakkāya = “lit. ‘the existing body’ [from sat+kāya] or ‘the body in being’” ~ PTS-PED) – can be adequately translated by an anaemic term such as “personality-view” insofar as its eradication can thenceforth be effected via an intellectual/ ideational comprehension and/or a cerebrational/ mentational understanding.

Howsoever, by virtue of one’s goal no longer floating nebulously in a vacuum, per favour having seen for oneself what has been sitting there in plain view for more than two millennia, a truly critical examination of the Pāli Canon’s Suttanta & Vinaya can take place wherein it demonstrably evidences, both coherently and rather consistently for such ages-old and handed-down scriptures, that there is more to what the term sakkāyadiṭṭhi refers to than “personality-view”. In the Cūḷavedalla Sutta (MN 44; PTS: M i 299), for instance, a questioner enquires as to what ‘sakkāya’ is, according to the sammāsambuddha, and is told that sakkāya = panc’upādāna-kkhandhā – that is, the five (i.e., “pañca”) fuelled (i.e., “upādāna”) components (i.e., “khandhā”) constituting personage – namely:

(1.): rūpūpādānakkhandho;
(2.): vedanūpādānakkhandho;
(3.): saññūpādānakkhandho;
(4.): saṅkhārūpādānakkhandho;
(5.): viññāṇūpādānakkhandho.
[Source: https://suttacentral.net/pi/mn44].

I have added those emphases because “upādāna”, which means ‘fuelled’, distinguishes their stark difference to the five components of the awakened/ enlightened being (viz.: panc’anupādāna-kkhandhā) where “anupādāna” means “without fuel”.

Viz.:

• upādāna (nt.): (lit. that (material) substratum by means of which an active process is kept alive or going), fuel, supply, provision; (adj., ‘-upādāna’): supported by, drawing one’s existence from (e.g.: ‘aggikkhandho upādāna-assa pariyādānā’ [S I.69; II.85] = “by means of taking up fuel”); sa-upādāna (adj.): provided with fuel; *anupādāna: without fuel*. [emphasis added]. ~ (PTS-PED).

Just to emphasise this salient point: similar to that definition of anupādāna – i.e., “without fuel” ~ PTS-PED – is anupādā/ anupādāya.

Viz.:

• anupādā (for anupādāya) in meaning “not taking up any more (fuel, so as to keep the fire of rebirth alive)”, not clinging to love of the world, or the kilesas q.v., having no more tendency to becoming; in phrases anupādā parinibbānaṃ, “unsupported emancipation”; anupādā vimokkho, “mental release”; anupādā vimutto. ~ (PTS-PED).

Thus the five unfuelled (i.e., anupādāna) components which constitute a spiritually enlightened/ mystically awakened being – a being in whom all āsavā, or (worldly) intoxications, are extinguished – are known as panc’anupādāna-kkhandhā (as distinct from the five fuelled (i.e., upādāna) components which constitute an unenlightened/ unawakened being ... to wit: panc’upādāna-kkhandhā).

Therefore, contrary to the impression conveyed by a cursory reading of the Cūḷavedalla Sutta the word ‘sakkāya’ does not refer to the five components constituting personage, per se, but refers instead to their fuelled nature (and obviously so, otherwise sakkāya would remain intact, after awakenment/ enlightenment). And, as it is ego-death/ egoic dissolution which distinguishes the awakened/ enlightened one from the unawakened/ unenlightened ones, then what the Pāli word ‘sakkāya’ refers to is none other than the ego/ ego-self.

Hence that lower yoke (a.k.a. “fetter”) known in Pāli by the term sakkāya-diṭṭhi – far from being adequately translated by that anaemic term “personality-view” – is better rendered as “egoistic-diṭṭhi/dṛṣṭi” or “egoity-diṭṭhi/dṛṣṭi” (as in, and staying true to what the buddhavacana conveys, an instinctively-visceral intuition of being present-to-oneself as the egoic locus-of-observation and agent-of-agency; the egoic thinker-of-thoughts and feeler-of-feelings; the egoic willer-of-deeds and initiator-of-actions; the egoic receiver-of-benefit/ deficit and recipient-of-praise/ blame; the egoic seeker-of-pleasure and avoider-of-pain or, in a nutshell, the egoic experiencer-of-experiences) and which egocentric diṭṭhi/dṛṣṭi cannot, of course, be eradicated via intellectual/ ideational comprehension and/or cerebrational/ mentational understanding.

In fact, the only successful eradication of such an egoistical diṭṭhi/dṛṣṭi is an experiential eradication and another critical examination of the Pāli Suttanta & Vinaya evidences how that is indeed the case. Turning again to that 1962 translation, of the first Khandhaka (chapter) of the Mahāvagga (division) in the Vinaya Piṭaka, on page 54 a description can be read as to how the eradication of sakkāyadiṭṭhi takes place.

Moreover, upon doing so it will also become apparent that the Pāli word ‘saddhā’ refers to a distinctive faith, a buddhistic type of faith, that is, which accrues contingent upon sammādiṭṭhika – upon having a consummate epiphanic/ revelatory vision of amata-pada (i.e., the region or place of immortality a.k.a. the “deathless” realm) as depicted on page 54 – whereupon the octadic patrician way [viz.: “ariya aṭṭhangika magga”], albeit popularly known in a rather pedestrian manner as “The Noble Eightfold Path” (wherein the word ‘Noble’ really refers to the French ‘Noblesse’, as in the English ‘Aristocrat’, hence the Latin ‘Patrician’), unfolds of its own accord for the thenceforth faithful wayfarer to traverse unto deliverance.

In other words, sammā-diṭṭhi (as in, this intuitive ‘consummate vision’ as opposed to the cognitive “right view” of popular dissemination), the 1st stage of the 8-stage path, not only opens up the way of the ancient path [viz.: “purāṇaṃ maggaṃ”] – rediscovered by the sammāsambuddha whilst immersed in introspective self-absorption [Pāli: jhāyanasīla; Skt.: dhyānayoga] under a certain assattha/ pippal tree (a.k.a. “Ficus religiosa”) around two and a half millennia ago – it also bestows the requisite buddhistic faith in the “paṭiccasamuppāda dhamma“” (i.e., the truth of ‘contingent-geniture’) as detailed, in extenso, by its illustrious discoverer.

What follows, then, is the original Pāli which contains that critical depiction of the consummate epiphanic/ revelatory vision of amata-pada which not only ensures the eradication of sakkāyadiṭṭhi – (the eradication of the diṭṭhi, that is, not of sakkāya itself (i.e., the ego/ ego-self) as that persists up until the last of the upper yokes (a.k.a. “fetters”) are eradicated) – but also elevates the wayfarer unto the status of a patrician traversing the octadic patrician way (the ancient way, the ancient path, immortalised by the Ṛishis of yore).

Viz.:

• “addasā kho moggallāno paribbājako sāriputtaṃ paribbājakaṃ dūratova āgacchantaṃ, disvāna sāriputtaṃ paribbājakaṃ etadavoca – “vippasannāni kho te, āvuso, indriyāni, parisuddho chavivaṇṇo pariyodāto. Kacci no tvaṃ, āvuso, amataṃ adhigato”ti? “Āmāvuso, amataṃ adhigato”ti. “Yathākathaṃ pana tvaṃ, āvuso, amataṃ adhigato”ti? “Idhāhaṃ, āvuso, addasaṃ assajiṃ bhikkhuṃ rājagahe piṇḍāya ...”. [emphases added].
[source: https://suttacentral.net/pi/pi-tv-kd1#14-sariputtamoggallanapabbajjakatha].

And here is the English translation by Ms. Isaline Horner in 1962:

“Then the wanderer Moggallāna saw the wanderer Sāriputta coming in the distance, and seeing the wanderer Sāriputta he spoke thus: “Friend, your faculties are quite pure, your complexion very bright, very clear. Can it be that you, friend, have attained the deathless [amataṃ]?”
“Yes, friend, I have attained the deathless [amataṃ]”.
“But how did you, friend, attain the deathless [amataṃ]?”
“Now, I, friend, saw the venerable Assaji walking for almsfood in Rājagaha ...”. [square-bracketed insertions added].
[https://archive.org/stream/bookofdiscipline14hornuoft#page/54/mode/1up].

Mr. Thomas Rhys Davids & Mr. Hermann Oldenberg rendered the same text thisaway in 1881:

“And the paribbâgaka Moggallâna saw the paribbâgaka Sâriputta coming from afar; seeing him he said to the paribbâgaka Sâriputta: “Your countenance, friend, is serene; your complexion is pure and bright. Have you then really reached the immortal [amataṃ], friend?”
“Yes, friend I have attained to the immortal [amataṃ]”.
“And how, friend, have you done so?”
“I saw, friend, the Bhikkhu Assaji who went through Râgagaha for alms ...”. [square-bracketed insertions added].
[https://archive.org/stream/vinayatexts01davi#page/147/mode/1up].

Now, having comprehended what needs to ensue in order to (1) eradicate the “egoistic-diṭṭhi/dṛṣṭi” or “egoity-diṭṭhi/dṛṣṭi” and (2) thus set foot on the “ariya aṭṭhangika magga”, the octadic patrician way, as (3) a patrician wayfarer (i.e., one of the “ariya”, one of the buddhistic noblesse, aristocrats or patricians) it will be handy to see how that entree into the buddhistic nobility is usually depicted elsewhere in the text. Again on page 54 of the 1962 translation is the following line (with a square-bracketed insertion of the key Pāli words for the highlighted section).

Viz.:

“When the wanderer Sāriputta had heard this terse expression of dhamma, *there arose dhamma-vision, dustless, stainless* [viz.: ‘virajaṃ vītamalaṃ dhammacakkhuṃ udapādi’] ...”. [emphasis added].
[https://archive.org/stream/bookofdiscipline14hornuoft#page/54/mode/1up].

And on page 146 of the 1881 translation it is rendered thisaway:

“And the paribbâgaka Sâriputta after having heard this text *obtained the pure and spotless Eye of the Truth* [viz.: ‘virajaṃ vītamalaṃ dhammacakkhuṃ udapādi’] ...”. [emphasis added].
[https://archive.org/stream/vinayatexts01davi#page/146/mode/1up].

Returning, now, to pages 17-19 of the 1962 translation the following words will make a lot more sense.

“Moreover, while this discourse was being uttered, *dhamma-vision, dustless, stainless, arose* to the venerable Aññāta Koṇḍañña that “whatever is of the nature to arise, all that is of the nature to stop”. [...]. Then the venerable Aññāta Koṇḍañña, having seen dhamma, attained dhamma, known dhamma, plunged into dhamma, having crossed over doubt, having put away uncertainty, having attained without another’s help to full confidence in the teacher’s instruction, spoke thus to the Lord: “May I, Lord, receive the going forth in the Lord’s presence, may I receive ordination?” “Come, monk”, the Lord said, “well taught is dhamma, fare the Brahma-faring for making an utter end of ill [i.e., dukkha]”. So this came to be this venerable one’s ordination. Then the Lord exhorted, instructed those remaining monks with dhamma-talk. Then while they were being exhorted, instructed by the Lord with dhamma-talk, *dhamma-vision, dustless, stainless, arose* to the venerable Vappa and to the venerable Bhaddiya, that “whatever is of the nature to arise, all that is of the nature to stop”. These, having seen dhamma, attained dhamma, known dhamma, plunged into dhamma [...]. Then the Lord exhorted, instructed those remaining monks with dhamma-talk. Then while they were being exhorted, instructed by the Lord with dhamma-talk, *dhamma-vision, dustless, stainless, arose* to the venerable Mahānāma and to the venerable Assaji [...]. These, having seen dhamma, attained dhamma, known dhamma, plunged into dhamma ...”. [viz.: ‘virajaṃ vītamalaṃ dhammacakkhuṃ udapādi’]. [emphases added].
[https://archive.org/stream/bookofdiscipline14hornuoft#page/18/mode/1up].

As will pages 97-100 of the 1881 translation:

“And when this exposition was propounded, the venerable Kondañña *obtained the the pure and spotless Eye of the Truth* (that is to say the following knowledge): “Whatever is subject to the condition of origination, is subject also to the condition of cessation”. [...]. And the venerable Aññâtakondañña, having seen the Truth, having mastered the Truth, having understood the Truth, having penetrated the Truth, having overcome uncertainty, having dispelled all doubts, having gained full knowledge, dependent on nobody else for knowledge of the doctrine of the Teacher, thus spoke to the Blessed One: “Lord, let me receive the pabbaggâ and upasampadâ ordinations from the Blessed One”. “Come, O Bhikkhu”, said the Blessed One, “well taught is the doctrine; lead a holy life for the sake of the complete extinction of suffering [i.e., dukkha]”. Thus this venerable person received the upasampadâ ordination. And the Blessed One administered to the other Bhikkhus exhortation and instruction by discourses relating to the Dhamma. And the venerable Vappa, and the venerable Bhaddiya, when they received from the Blessed One such exhortation and instruction by discourses relating to the Dhamma, *obtained the the pure and spotless Eye of the Truth* (that is to say the following knowledge): “Whatever is subject to the condition of origination, is subject also to the condition of cessation”. And having seen the Truth, having mastered the Truth, having understood the Truth, having penetrated the Truth [...]. And the venerable Mahânâna and the venerable Assagi, when they received from the Blessed One such exhortation and instruction by discourses relating to the Dhamma, *obtained the pure and spotless Eye of the Truth* [...]. And having seen the Truth, having mastered the Truth, having understood the Truth, having penetrated the Truth ...”. [viz.: ‘virajaṃ vītamalaṃ dhammacakkhuṃ udapādi’]. [emphases added].
[https://archive.org/stream/vinayatexts01davi#page/98/mode/1up].

Plus these words on page 23 of the 1962 translation:

“When the Lord knew that the mind of Yassa, the young man of the family, was ready, malleable, devoid of hindrances, uplifted and pleased, then he explained to him the teaching on dhamma which the awakened ones have themselves discovered: ill [i.e., dukkha], uprising, stopping, the Way. And just as a clean cloth without black specks will take a dye easily, even so (as he was sitting) on that very seat, *dhamma-vision, dustless, stainless, arose* to Yassa ...”. [viz.: ‘virajaṃ vītamalaṃ dhammacakkhuṃ udapādi’]. [emphasis added].
[https://archive.org/stream/bookofdiscipline14hornuoft#page/23/mode/1up].

And the same on pages 104-105 of the 1881 translation:

“When the Blessed One saw that the mind of Yasa, the noble youth, was prepared, impressionable, free from obstacles (to understanding the Truth), elated, and believing, then he preached what is the principle doctrine of the Buddhas, namely, Suffering [i.e., dukkha], the Cause of suffering [dukkha], the Cessation of suffering [dukkha], the Path. Just as a clean cloth free from black specks properly takes the dye, thus Yassa, the noble youth, even while sitting there, *obtained the pure and spotless Eye of Truth* ...”. [viz.: ‘virajaṃ vītamalaṃ dhammacakkhuṃ udapādi’]. [emphasis added].
[https://archive.org/stream/vinayatexts01davi#page/104/mode/1up].

And the same on page 27 and again on page 28 of the 1962 translation (and on page 111 and again on page 112 of the 1881 translation). An internet-based search with the search-string <dhammacakkhuṃ site:suttacentral.net> will bring forth many instances of “virajaṃ vītamalaṃ dhammacakkhuṃ” (i.e., ‘dustless, stainless dhamma-vision’/ ‘pure, spotless Eye-of-Truth’) to examine at leisure.

Speaking personally, soon after I began my Pāli studies a few years ago (in order to suss out how come so many practitioners go astray and why the Pāli-to-English translators render certain key-words the way they do) passages such as the above reminded me of the impactive event which was the turning-point for the identity inhabiting this flesh-and-blood body, all those years ago, inasmuch instead of proceeding felicitously and innocuously towards becoming actually free, via an out-from-control/ different-way-of-being virtual freedom, ‘he’ went on to become mystically awakened/ spiritually enlightened instead. I referred to that impactive ‘stream-entry’ event thisaway about a decade ago (years before commencing my Pali studies):

• [Richard]: “(...). Furthermore, that way of living was so successful, for the first three months or so of that year [1981], that ‘he’ was wont to exclaim, to all and sundry, that ‘he’ had discovered the secret to life (for that is how far beyond normal human expectations the felicitous/ innocuous state which has nowadays become known as being virtually free truly is) and ‘he’ was perplexed as to why, it being such a simple thing to do, no-one had ever done it before.
Then an event occurred of such impact as to be the turning-point, in regards no longer going directly to what numerous PCE’s evidenced (namely that what is now known as an actual freedom from the human condition was possible here on earth, in this lifetime, as this flesh and blood body), and relates back to the initial PCE which set in motion the whole process wherein, unbeknownst to the experiencing due to a total lack of any precedent, it had devolved into an altered state of consciousness (ASC) when a new identity had all-of-a-sudden come into existence ... a grand ‘Me’, a glorious ‘Me’, a fulfilled ‘Me’ who was none other than the long-awaited Saviour Of Humankind!
That impactive event took place whilst keenly watching the sunrise casting its brilliant rays earthward, one otherwise experienced-as-perfect morning in mid-autumn [1981], upon seeing an ornamental bush thus lit, in the garden alongside the ex-farmhouse, luminously aglow, fiercely afire from within as it were, wherefrom it was revealed to ‘Me’ that there was to be a death and a rebirth and, consequently, a catatonic state ensued that resulted in ‘Me’ being carted off to hospital, and kept under intensive care for four hours, until coming out of it in a state of Radiant Bliss (which quite overwhelmed the duty-nurse by the way). ‘He’ was never to be the same again, as Divinity had been working on ‘him’ whilst catatonic, and from that date forward ‘he’ was permanently in a state of human bliss and love ... ‘he’ could do no wrong”. (Richard, Actual Freedom Mailing List, No. 60f, 29 September 2005).

Thus the eradication of sakkāyadiṭṭhi (of that “egoistic-diṭṭhi/dṛṣṭi” or “egoity-diṭṭhi/dṛṣṭi” that is), upon having a consummate epiphanic/ revelatory vision of amata-pada – a dhamma-vision”/ “Eye of Truth” also referred to as ‘sammā-diṭṭhi’ in the Pāli Canon, the 1st stage of the 8-stage path, and yet translated with the cognitive term “right view” by scholars/ pundits and the ilk – is where ‘I’ as ego (i.e., the ego/ ego-self) temporarily transmogrify into a grandiose, vainglorious ‘Me’ as soul/ spirit (‘me’ at the core of ‘my’ being is ‘being’ itself; usually capitalised as ‘Being’ upon awakenment/ enlightenment, when personalised, or as ‘That’ by whatever name, e.g., ‘The Absolute’, ‘The Deathless’, ‘Nibbāṇa’/ ‘Nirvāṇa’, ‘Dhamma’/ ‘Brahma’, and etcetera, when impersonalised) and thus, upon returning to normal, ‘I’, as ego, readily abandon any egoistic/ egotistical functions or pretensions in day-to-day life whilst traversing the ancient way, the ancient path, immortalised by the Ṛishis of yore.

Moreover, around two-and-a-half millennia or so ago, when this “dustless, stainless dhamma-vision”/ “pure and spotless Eye of Truth” occurred as an immediate result of hearing dhamma-talk”/ “discourses relating to the Dhamma” first-hand, any-such ‘I’, as ego, was thus in utter awe of the sammāsambuddha precisely for being the very embodiment of ‘That’ – as in “who sees me sees dhamma; who sees dhamma sees me” [yo kho dhammaṃ passati so mam passati; yo mam passati so dhammaṃ passati] – and which numinous experience leaves ‘me’, as soul/ spirit, in a state of ‘mysterium tremendum et fascinans’ whereby that distinctive faith, that particularly buddhistic type of faith [saddhā], which accrues contingent upon sammādiṭṭhika, is indelibly impressed into the very core of ‘my’ being (which is ‘being’ itself).

Four years later (2009) I wrote about that impactive event on this ‘Yahoo Groups’ forum (Message No. 7731) with some added detail (take particular note of the terms “over-whelmed”, “in awe”, “absorption into” and “an awesomely manifest presence” in parenthesis).

Viz.:

November 22 2009

Subject: Re: Debunking Buddhism and Neo-Buddhism

RESPONDENT No. 37: [...] I guess this [“samadhi suicide”] is what happened with you also.
RICHARD: No, what happened on quite a few occasions during the eleven years of spiritual enlightenment/ mystical awakenment was the very same summum bonum of the buddhistic meditation practice ... to wit: a motorless (no motoric function), senseless (no sensation, insensate), thoughtless (no cognition at all), affectless (no emotion/ passion), unconscious (devoid of consciousness) state best described as cataleptic in western terms.
The first time such catalepsy occurred my then-wife panicked and called an ambulance to take me to an intensive care unit at the nearest hospital; after being examined by the resident doctor for all vital signs then all the whilst that state persisted a duty nurse would test for consciousness (holding open eyelids and shining an intense light for signs of pupil contraction, pinching an earlobe as tightly as possible for any sign of sensation, and so on) every 15 minutes to no avail. (Upon eventually coming out of that state so much bliss was radiating, spilling over into the ICU, that she became over-whelmed, in awe, with ruddy features and shining eyes testifying to her absorption into such an awesomely manifest presence).
One other instance (too many to relate) occurred when sitting cross-legged upon a hillside overlooking the valley below and across to the mountain range opposite; there was incredible blissfulness just prior to that ultimate state roiling waves of almost indescribable bliss – and ecstatic bliss immediately after yet for the event itself there was nothing, zero, zilch (hence ‘ineffable’, ‘unspeakable’, and so on) as the ultimate, the supreme by whatever name, is truly void.
TARIN: [...] for people who didn’t pick up this part, what Richard just described was two experiences of cessation (nibbana), not samatha-jhana (like the 4th jhana, or 5th jhana, etc). That is to say, he was not, as [No. 5] insinuates, being a bliss-junkie. This man hit nibbana, the real deal.
RICHARD: G’day Tarin, A technical point, just in case you were to ever refer to this elsewhere, for the sake of consistency in terminology: as nibbana was the ongoing state night and day for eleven years then, on quite a few occasions, what this man hit (to use your phraseology) was nirodh ... the real deal beyond nibbana.
(The nomenclature depends, of course, upon which form of Buddhism it is and whatever word is apt, other than nibbana/ nirvana, is fine). (Richard, List D, Tarin, 22 November 2009)

All of which brings this exposition back to its starting-point ... to wit: why ‘self’ in its entirety remained intact for the ‘affers’ (and the considerable light it throws onto ‘samatha-vipassanā’ practice, in general, and “‘Mahāsī’-style noting”, in particular, because of the misconstrued/ misrepresented/ misused anatta aspect (i.e., the ‘no-self-at-all’ aspect) of its integral anicca-anatta-dukkha ‘three marks of the phenomenal world’ weltanschauung). The following email exchange between ‘Arahant-Tarin’ and a then-prolific poster to this ‘Yahoo-Groups’ forum, in January 2010, is very informative regarding this aspect insofar as the inner workings of that much-touted noting practice are revealed to be a matter of disidentification stemming from a fundamental realisation when first experiencing “the supramundane”.

For ease of reference I have numbered them, as follows, in the email itself further below:

(1) an identity’s *disidentification* from ‘ego/self’ [quote]: “could be considered ego/self dissolution” [end quote].

(2) that now-disidentified identity’s fundamental *realisation* about the observer and the observed (that they are not separate) is also applied to the subject/ object duality and [quote]: “that’s full enlightenment right there” [end quote].

(3) this now fully-disidentified identity’s *disidentification* from the “coagulating and reifying process” – in which process “the illusory passions” were, however, mistakenly taken by this particular fully-disidentified identity to be “a solid and substantive entity (an ego)” when in reality it is a soul/ spirit they form (and are affectively  felt/ psychically intuited to be solid and substantive) – is evidently such an extreme disidentification that ‘he’ can blindly take it for granted that ‘he’ is [quote]: “now unencumbered by an ego” [end quote].

(4) that fully-disidentified identity’s *disidentification* from “the more subtle and more varied psychic phenomena”, which the above “coagulating and reifying process” throws up, marks not only that fully-disidentified identity’s “end of identification with their forms” (in the same vein as what occurred at № 1 above) but also that fully-disidentified identity’s [quote]: “end of identification with their nature” [end quote] as well.

(5) yet despite all the above *disidentification* and *full-disidentification*, stemming from that fundamental *realisation* upon first experiencing “the supramundane”, there is also “an aspect of what the ego really is” remaining after becoming a ‘Pragmatic Dharma/ Hardcore’ arahant as well ... namely: that fully-disidentified identity’s feeling-being aspect which, this particular fully-disidentified identity myopically asserts, is [quote]: “what the ego really was to begin with” [end quote].

In summary, the reason why ‘self’ in its entirety remained intact for the ‘affers’ stems from the obvious fact that disidentification from the ego/ ego-self does not bring about an end to the ego/ ego-self (i.e., an ego-death/ an egoic dissolution).

And especially so when that disidentification process stems from the realisation that, in the ‘supramundane’ world, subject-and-object are one and the same thing (i.e., the Vedantic Advaita; e.g., the ‘Pragmatic/ Hardcore Dharma’s non-duality).

Viz.:

# 8965
From: Tarin
Date: Wed Jan 20, 2010 10:40 pm
Subject: virtual freedom versus Arahantship deathmatch
To: [Respondent No. 12]

• [Respondent No. 12]: Hi Tarin, [...] I would like to ask this: are you saying the self/ego does not fully disappear in the Zen, Tibetan, Hindu, non-dualist, non Jhana Theravaden Arahants? Or are you saying that Arahantship is something beyound “mere” ego/self dissolution?
• [Tarin]: stream-entry (the 1st path of enlightenment in the theravadan buddhist model) marks the first time someone experiences the supramundane, after
№ 1 { which point *he or she no longer identifies as a ‘little self’; as such, this could be considered ego/self dissolution*.
however, beyond this, there is still more that occurs that, in a nutshell, may be described as a deepening in experience of the ‘true self’. it is only such deepening (as in, going deeper into the enlightened state) that clears up more refined, and previously imperceptible, layers of ego residue (bestowing the capacity to dissociate further and further) and leads the way to further path development (and eventually to access to nirodha, after which the void is apparent in real-time like never before).
№ 2

{
{
{

then, *that something fundamental which was realised, at stream-entry, about the observer and the observed (that they are not separate), also gets applied to what seems to be left of the split (the subject/ object duality – the very sense of split itself – and the split is a split no longer* (‘birth is ended, the holy life fulfilled, the task done, there is nothing further for this world’ – dissociation complete). *that’s full enlightenment right there*.
• [Respondent No. 12]: Ego residue with no ego? While I think I understand what you mean, it also seems like there is *a small aspect of ego left(the residue)* before Arahantship. Though it is *so smashed/exploded that it no longer qualifies as “ego”?* It is a vivid metaphor for sure. So, now that you’re completly dissociated(full enlightenment) you are moving toward an actual freedom, which ends the dissociation.
• [Tarin]: the same coagulating and reifying process in which the illusory passions are taken to be a solid and substantive entity (an ego) is still active post-stream entry, but the nature of the process (by which passions are taken to be solid and substantive) has been seen through once already
№ 3

{
{

and, as such, *there is no longer identification with it* (such identification which buddhists term ‘self-belief’). subsequently, the illusory passions, *now unencumbered by an ego*,
continue to form in a variety of ways, leading to more subtle and more varied psychic phenomena (than the phenomenon of the thinker), all of which, in continuing on the path of enlightenment, get seen through as well. when the last of these gets thrown up, and when these last ones thrown up are seen through,
№ 4

{
{

then there is *the end of identification with them*, which marks not only *the end of identification with their forms* (in the same vein as what occurred at stream-entry) but also *the end of identification with their nature* (the end of what is termed ‘conceit’).
what then remains is the view of the passions as they are (or 'being’ as it is), which view reflects one’s ‘original face’ ... and this is where the path is regarded to end, as all that can be done more in this way is to die (and in doing so, freeing the soul from its mortal bond/re-uniting what remains of oneself with the cosmos/ vanishing into the peace of oblivion - what is purported to result varies on the doctrinal perspective/belief).
№ 5

{
{

i should add that there is, practically speaking, also *an aspect of what the ego really is* that remains after arahatship as well.. that is, the feeling being aspect (as *that is what the ego really was* to begin with). [...]. [emphases and numbering added].
(https://groups.yahoo.com/neo/groups/actualfreedom/conversations/messages/8965).

So as to situate those particular events in a readily recognisable time-line: although the above was written on Jan 06, 2010, it was not posted on the ‘Yahoo Groups’ forum until Jan 20, 2010, eight days before ‘Arahant-Tarin’ arrived in Australia (and thus twelve days before declaring himself actually free, on Feb 01, 2010, whereupon ‘Arahant-Tarin’ transmogrified into ‘Affer-Tarin’). Thus I knew before he even arrived that ‘Pragmatic/ Hardcore Dharma’ arahants – not to mention those among them who declare themselves a sotāpatti, a sakadāgāmi, or an anāgāmi – were all befooling themselves mightily (and subsequent verbal conversations with ‘Arahant-Tarin’ and, later, with ‘Affer-Tarin’ served only to confirm this to be the case).

Incidentally, it stands to reason those befooling themselves when claiming a spiritual freedom are likely to be befooling themselves, thereafter, when claiming an actual freedom.

Needless is it to add that the same detachment-disidentification-dissociation process which served those detached-disidentified-dissociated identities ill in regards the ego/ ego-self (‘I’ as ego) served them equally unwell, when applied to the affective feelings (‘me’ as soul/ spirit), because an identity – essentially a feeling-being at root – fully-detached and/or disidentified and/or dissociated, from both its egoic aspect and its affections, is a pathematic ‘being’ in clinical denial of its own affective-cognitive existence.

*

What remains now is to establish the provenance of that particular aspect of modern-day ‘samatha-vipassanā’ practice known in ‘Pragmatic Dharma/ Hardcore’ circles as “‘Mahāsī’-style noting” (due to the technique first gaining its popularity when made available to lay peoples at the Mahāsī Monastery, at Seikkhun, in Upper Burma) so as to determine whether or not that heterodox practice has both the generative potential for fulfilling your [quote] “basic trust that there is a level of mind that can be penetrated” [endquote] and the transformative capacity to [quote] “cause permanent, irreversible change” [endquote].

According to Mr. Siegmund Feniger (1901-1994), in his 1954 handbook breathlessly entitled “The Heart of Buddhist Meditation”, it has its origins in the Satipaṭṭhāna Sutta. An online article explains that handbook’s genesis quite succinctly:

• “Ven. Nyanaponika Thera stayed in Burma {1952-1954} for a period of training in Insight Meditation (Vipassanā) under the renowned meditation teacher Ven. Mahasi Sayadaw Thera. The experience he gathered motivated him to write his best known work, ‘The Heart of Buddhist Meditation’ published by Buddhist Publication Society with many editions and translated into more than seven languages. This is a prescribed text in universities in the Study of Buddhism”.
[https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Nyanaponika_Thera].

And here is how he depicts the origin, of what has become known as “‘Mahāsī’-style noting”, in that best-known handbook/ that university text-book of his:

• “It was at the beginning of this century that a Burmese monk, U Nārada by name, bent on actual realization of the teachings he had learnt, was eagerly searching for a system of meditation offering a direct access to the Highest Goal, without encumbrance by accessories. [...]. Studying again the [satipaṭṭhāna] text and its *traditional exposition*, reflecting deeply on it, and entering energetically upon its practice, he finally came to understand its salient features. The results achieved in his own practice convinced him that he had found what he was searching for: a clear-cut and effective method of training the mind for highest realization. From *his own experience* he developed *the principles* and *the details* of the practice which formed the basis for those who followed him as his direct or indirect disciples. In order to give a name to the Venerable U Narada’s method of training in which the principles of Satipaṭṭhāna are applied in such a definite and *radical* way, we propose to call it here the Burmese Satipaṭṭhāna Method ...”. [emphases added]. ~ (pp. 95-96, “The Heart of Buddhist Meditation” by Nyanaponika Thera; 1962, Buddhist Publication Society; Kandy, Sri Lanka).
[https://books.google.com.au/books?id=UaIuXnKzCrUC&q=%22salient+features].

As nothing other than a few scanty allusions, as above, are to be found regarding the originator of “‘Mahāsī’-style noting” then the import of Mr. Siegmund Feniger’s depiction is that both “the principles” and “the details” of “‘Mahāsī’-style noting” were the “radical” brain-child of an unawakened/ unenlightened 19th-20th century bhikkhu – still in his early-to-mid-thirties and of a cultural lineage (Burmese) notorious for its abject absence of any tradition of sammā-samādhi (the 8th, and final stage of the octadic patrician way, epitomised by introversive self-absorption/ mystical trance-states) – and not “dhamma virtuous in its beginning, in its middle and in its ending” [viz.: “dhammaṃ deseti ādikalyāṇaṃ majjhekalyāṇaṃ pariyosānakalyāṇaṃ”], in “both its spirit and its letter” [viz.: sātthaṃ savyañjanaṃ], as expounded by the sammāsambuddha of yore. (source: https://suttacentral.net/pi/pi-tv-kd1#8-marakatha).

Therefore, as the word “principles” refers to a fundamental or general truth or law (as in, “first principles”, for instance) and the word “radical” (which stems from the Latin rādīx, rādīc-, meaning ‘root’) indicates a primary modification, a root change, to the “traditional exposition” – that is, as expounded by the sammāsambuddha (i.e., the “master of dhamma”, the “dispenser of immortality”; viz.: “amatassa dātā dhammassāmī”) – then that is petty well the end of the matter, there and then, regarding its provenance (and, thereby, the likelihood of both its generative and transformative capacity being anything other than null and void in regards the complete and utter end of dukkha, in any lifetime let alone the current one, and thus the attainment of amata, a.k.a. nibbāna).

Thus, whatever else which follows hereafter is but a cobbling-together of a few scattered details as a matter of related interest. For example: in an article published last year in the “Tricycle Magazine” (Spring Edition, 2014; Vol. 23, No. 3), Mr. Erik Braun sketches out a basic historical timeline for this pseudo-buddhistic scandal-of-a-century.

Viz.:

• “These days many assume that Buddhism and meditation go hand in hand – sometimes they are even considered to be one and the same. But even counting Theravadins, progenitors of the massively popular insight meditation (Vipassanā) movement, relatively few Buddhists historically have ever understood meditation to be essential. On the contrary, instead of meditating, the majority of Theravadins and dedicated Buddhists of other traditions, including monks and nuns, have focused on cultivating moral behaviour, preserving the Buddha’s teachings (dharma), and acquiring the good karma that comes from generous giving. [...]. One must look instead to Burma to account for the ascendance of meditation to a popular practice – specifically, that of insight meditation. The Vipassanā view understood meditation as the logical and even necessary application of a Buddhist perspective to one’s life, whether lay or monastic. The rise of this practice, however, was not strictly an indigenous development. It came into being specifically through colonial influence. (In fact, *no current tradition of insight practice can reliably trace its history back further than the late 19th or early 20th century*). Though now a global movement, insight practice had its start in a moment of interaction between a Western empire and an Eastern dynasty. Indeed, one could go so far as to pinpoint its origins to a particular day: November 28, 1885, when the British Imperial Army conquered the Buddhist kingdom of Burma. [...]. Key figures harnessed the volatile energy of laypeople’s worry, empowerment, and knowledge – all sparked and shaped by colonial policy and missionary attacks – to drive them towards practice.
“Foremost among these teachers was a monk named Ledi Sayadaw (1846-1923), the earliest among those calling for a revamped life that included meditative practice. In the first years of the 20th-century, he explained meditation in simple terms that could be incorporated into a busy life in the mundane world. Famous for his “fan-down” teaching {i.e., lowering the fans which had traditionally covered monks’ faces during dhamma talks}, Ledi Sayadaw was perhaps even more renowned for the many accessible yet sophisticated works he wrote on Buddhist doctrine; as one Burmese writer put it, he was able to *“spread the Abhidhamma like falling rain”*. Furthermore, he *linked Abhidhamma study to meditative practice*, making one’s learning the basis for an everyday observation of the world that could lead to liberative insight. Although he urged advanced study, he also stressed that even the layperson who only studied the ceaselessly changing natures of the four seasons (dhatus) of earth, wind, fire, and water reaps great spiritual benefit. As Ledi Sayadaw put it, “To those whose knowledge is developed, everything within and without oneself, within and without one’s house, and within and without one’s village and town, is an object at the sight of which the insight of impermanence may spring up and develop”.
“Prior to this time, the common belief was that anyone who wanted to practice insight meditation had to first enter into the deep states of concentration (samadhi) called the jhanas. But attaining those sublime modes of concentration required long periods spent removed from the world in intensive meditation, deep in the proverbial jungle or mountain cave. Now, however, Ledi Sayadaw argued that *one did not need to enter into such states* in order to gain the mental stability for insight practice. It was excellent if they could (and Ledi Sayadaw claimed that he himself had done so), but really all one required was a minimal level of concentration that would enable the meditator to continually return, moment after moment, to the subject of contemplation.
“This state of mind was thus called “momentary concentration” (khanika-samadhi), and it formed the basis of “pure” or “dry” insight meditation (suddha-vipassana or sukkha-vipassana), which did not include deep concentration. While this approach to practice was discussed in authoritative texts {i.e., the “Visuddhimagga” & “Abhidhamma”}, never before had anyone promoted it on a widespread basis: Ledi Sayadaw was the first to put it at the centre of his teachings. The message spread far and wide: forget the jungle or the cave. Meditation is possible in the city.
Some years after Ledi Sayadaw had become popular, another monastic teacher, Mingun Sayadaw {a.k.a. “U Nārada”; 1868-1955}, also promoted insight meditation on the basis of momentary concentration, probably to some degree in debt to Ledi Sayadaw’s teachings. Mingun Sayadaw taught meditators *to inventory every moment of perception as it arose at a sense door, in order to break down all experience into an ever-changing flow of impressions*. This emphasis on *noting sensory impressions* would lead, much later, to an understanding of mindfulness (sati) as what the German-born monk Nyanaponika {a.k.a. Mr. Siegmund Feniger; 1901-1994} would famously call “bare attention”. (Eventually, focus on the process of experience would lend itself to *a secular interpretation* of sati in the West that *removed it from its Buddhist context*). Mingun Sayadaw is notable, too, as the first teacher to hold group meditation for laypeople in 1911. Almost all lineages of practice that have emerged from Burma trace themselves back to either him {i.e., “U Nārada”} or Ledi Sayadaw.
Actual practice among laypeople began to spread throughout Burma thanks to the effort of these teachers. But *they did not consider their techniques to be innovations*. Like most modern-day meditators, they looked to the Buddha as their model and to some of the earliest Buddhist texts as their guides. Compiled in the centuries after the Buddha’s death, Pali language suttas like the Satipatthana Sutta (“Discourse on the Foundations of Mindfulness of Breathing”) and the Anapanasati Sutta (“Discourse on the Mindfulness of Breathing”) were crucial to their formulations of practice, just as they are today. But these texts had not been used widely in lay life before this time, and, as current meditation teachers in America and Asia readily admit, the *interpretation of these texts can vary* widely. Some Sri Lankan monks, for instance, have criticised the method of Mingun Sayadaw (as taught by his student Mahasi Sayadaw (1904-1982) as *without canonical sanction* – in other words, *to be a fabrication* ... ”. [emphases added]. ~ (pp. 56-60, “Meditation En Masse” by Erik Braun; 2014, Tricycle; Spring Edition, Vol. 23, No. 3). [http://cheetahhouse.org/wp-content/uploads/2014/03/Meditation-En-Masse_Erik-Braun.pdf].

To summarise thus far: what has become known as “‘Mahāsī’-style noting” is an arguably non-canonical technique devised (circa 1900) to inventory all sensibilia presenting in the sentiency-field at every moment of percipience – in order for it all to instead be apprehended, by the affective-cognitive identity within a flesh-and-blood body, as an ever-changing flow of sensorial impressions – which later became categorised as “bare attention” by Mr. Siegmund Feniger.

Viz.:

• “Bare attention is the clear and single-minded awareness of what actually happens to us and in us, at the successive moments of perception. It is called ‘bare’ because it attends just to the bare facts of a perception as presented either through the five physical senses or through the mind which, for Buddhist thought, constitutes the sixth sense. When attending to that sixfold sense impression, attention or mindfulness is kept to *a bare registering of the facts observed, without reacting to them by deed, speech, or by mental comment, which may be one of self-reference (like, dislike, etc.), judgement or reflection*. If during the time, short or long, given to the practice of Bare Attention, any such comments arise in one’s mind, they themselves are made objects of bare attention, and are neither repudiated nor pursued, but are dismissed, after a brief mental note has been made of them. This may suffice here for indicating the general principle underlying the practice of Bare Attention. Detailed information on the methodical practice will be given in Chapters Four and Five...”. [emphasis added]. ~ (pp. 32-33, “The Heart of Buddhist Meditation” by Nyanaponika Thera; 1962, Buddhist Publication Society; Kandy, Sri Lanka).
[https://books.google.com.au/books?id=UaIuXnKzCrUC&q=%22bare+registering].

‘Tis just as well he explains the technique known as “‘Mahāsī’-style noting” as being, basically, a passive witnessing of all sensibilia presenting in the sentiency-field at every moment of percipience, via a bare registering of all such sensorial impressions, because the distinction being drawn betwixt the regular experiencing of all sensibilia and this (supposedly) liberative experiencing of all sensibilia as “an ever-changing flow of sensorial impressions” simply by means of conducting an inventory of the regular experiencing of all sensibilia rather eluded me at first sight.

Essentially, then, “‘Mahāsī’-style noting” is predicated on the affective-cognitive identity within not being at all responsive – let alone reactive – to each and every instance of visual-aesthesis, audile-aesthesis, olfactorial-aesthesis, gustatorial-aesthesis, somataesthesis, and mentational-aesthesis.

I am reminded of an auspicious moment in my mid-twenties when attending an end-of-semester faculty-party, in my art-college days, whilst mooching around amongst the milling crowds of college-students and having my attention drawn to a particularly raucous conversation over in one corner wherein the quite-inebriated participants were discussing the pros and cons of decision-making. The general consensus of opinion was that having to be responsible all the time – i.e., making decisions and being accountable for same – sucked big-time (I was what was called a “mature-age student” and the vast majority of the art-students, being in their late teens and having never left school before entering tertiary-level education, were having to fend for themselves for the first time in their lives).

I had happened to stroll on by just as the oldest of the group, a lad of twenty years or thereabouts, was recounting an episode where he and his equally-intoxicated friends had resolved, late one Saturday night at a particularly dissolute party, to declare the next day – a Sunday and thus an obligation-free day – to be a decision-free day as well (and this resolution was to be binding upon all the resolvers). The humorous part of the tale he was recounting – and that auspicious moment signalled earlier – was when, upon awakening nigh-on noontime the next morning, and lazily luxuriating in lying abed at that late hour, it soon became obvious to him that if he were to get up, to get out of bed to answer the ‘calls of nature’ even, it would require a decision being made. So, he lay back abed once more, luxuriating again in lazing the day away (all the while trying to ignore the mounting pressure in his bladder from the indulgences of the night before) until it dawned upon him that he had, albeit inadvertently, just made a decision!

Yes, indeed, by virtue of staying abed, instead of getting up, he had broken the basic rule of their decision-free day inasmuch he had *decided* not to get up and, in fact when looked at more closely, had *decided* to lay back upon the pillows again. And with that he got up in the regular way, and went about his normal daily affairs, along with the sobering realisation that being alive, being here on this planet, meant decisions were, necessarily, part-and-parcel of life itself.

*

There has been many an occasion, throughout my life, wherein I have recalled overhearing that snippet of a raucous conversation as it is a fact of life that, each moment again, there is a mostly-automatic appraisal of the situation and circumstances such as to determine beneficial outcomes to the current course-of-events whether at leisure or when active. And, as the very word ‘appraisal’ implies judgement, it is actually impossible to be “without ... judgement“ .

Here are Mr. Siegmund Feniger’s  words-of-wisdom once again:

• “(...) attention or mindfulness is kept to a bare registering of the facts observed, *without* reacting to them by deed, speech, or by mental comment, which may be one of self-reference (like, dislike, etc.), *judgement* or reflection...”. [emphases added].

The adage “full of pith and wind” cometh to mind, eh?

RESPONDENT: Also, I don’t know how this comes into play, but the results of the vipassana, really are helping me deal with bipolar-nos symptoms (in a remarkably better way than other types of meditation, positive thinking, self-help methods, psychotherapy, medication-regimens, etc).

RICHARD: As the criteria for “Bipolar Disorder-Not Otherwise Specified” (BP-NOS), as classified in DSM-IV (Text-Revision Edition), was readjusted in DSM-V so as to classify a large percentage of the sub-threshold cases under a different disorder, called Disruptive Mood Dysregulation Disorder (DMDD), it may very well be that, however it is you are experiencing yourself on a day-to-day basis, it need not necessarily be a clinical disorder.

(Then again, of course, it may very well be that it is indeed a clinical disorder, after all, once a revised edition of ‘DSM-V’ is foist upon an unwitting public).

You are aware, are you not, that the world-wide therapeutical business is a multi-trillion dollar industry?

If not, then a brief article published online in May, 2014, entitled “Which Mindfulness?” – in which authors Mr. Robert Buswell and Mr. Donald Lopez. make the point that “the modern understanding of mindfulness differs significantly from what the term has historically meant in Buddhism” – may very well be elucidative in this regard.

Viz.:

• “(...). Mindfulness mania is sweeping the land, with mindfulness being prescribed for high blood pressure, obesity, substance abuse, relationship problems, and depression, to name just a few examples. While some mindfulness teachers maintain that what they are teaching is a distinctly secular pursuit, many others claim it is the very essence of Buddhist practice. Regardless, in the current media, mindfulness is strongly associated with Buddhism. “Moment-to-moment, non-judgmental awareness”, however, is not what mindfulness has historically meant in Buddhism. Indeed, whatever relationship this interpretation of mindfulness has to Buddhist thought can be traced back no earlier than the last century. The Sanskrit term smṛti (Pali, sati) was first translated as “mindfulness” in 1881 by Thomas W. Rhys Davids (1843-1922), a former British colonial officer in Sri Lanka who went on to become the most celebrated Victorian scholar of Buddhism. [...].
“Mindfulness of the body is intended to result in the understanding that the body is a collection of impure elements that incessantly arise and cease, utterly lacking any semblance of a permanent self. That is, the body, like all conditioned things, is marked by three characteristics (trilakṣaṇa): impermanence, suffering, and non-self. Clearly, mindfulness here is hardly “non-judgmental awareness”. The story of how the popular understanding of mindfulness derived from modern Vipassanā meditation and how Vipassanā first came to be taught to laypeople in Burma in the early decades of the 20th century is told in Erik Braun’s article “Meditation en Masse” in the Spring 2014 issue of Tricycle. There is thus no need to retell that story here. Armed with this knowledge, Buddhists of the world can unite in the fight against high blood pressure, but need not concede that the mindfulness taught by various medical professionals today was somehow taught by the Buddha”.
(www.tricycle.com/blog/which-mindfulness).

That last line of theirs could be paraphrased as – “Armed with this knowledge, Buddhists of the world can unite in the fight against either ‘Bipolar Disorder-Not Otherwise Specified (BP-NOS)’ or ‘Disruptive Mood Dysregulation Disorder (DMDD)’ but need not concede that the mindfulness taught by various medical professionals today was somehow taught by the Buddha” – without even missing a beat.

RESPONDENT: This would be okay/ acceptable to me, even if the results were completely explainable as placebo or scripting. Does this sort of, legitimize my beliefs, in any way?
Thanks again, Richard.

RICHARD: As the very definition of the placebo-effect specifically excludes the subject knowing it to be a placebo (an inert substance or form of therapy which nevertheless psychosomatically generates beneficial outcomes) – as is the case for the nocebo-effect to work its detrimental outcomes as well – then what you are saying, in effect, is you are gunna keep on believing in it no matter what facts you might be presented with (such as all of the above).

Now, I doubt that there be a official disorder of that nature, tucked-away somewhere in the ever-voluminous DSM (‘twas notebook-sized in the 1950s before pharmaceutical companies began to seriously grease the palms of some of its highly-influential authors), as it would mean something like 99% of the population could be diagnosable under the DSM’s multitudinous categories – instead of the current 50% (half the population) being classifiable – but perhaps you might be inclined to lobby for its inclusion as you do come across as being intent on receiving some kind of pay-off for all the effort you expend on ...um... on disorder maintenance.

Whatever you do, though, one thing is for sure: actualism practice is contraindicated in your case.

Viz.:

January 21 2006
RICHARD:
(...) I distinctly recall the identity in residence all those years ago informing ‘his’ wife at the time that ‘he’ had been doing it the following-the-herd way for 30+ years, but to no avail, and that it was high-time ‘he’ set about doing it ‘his’ way (and when she asked what way that was ‘he’ said ‘he’ did not know but it would become progressively apparent, provided ‘he’ took the first step, with each successive step ‘he’ took). So ‘he’ set about imitating the actual – as evidenced in a pure consciousness experience (PCE) in late July 1980 – on the first of January 1981 simply by each moment again being relentlessly attentive to, and *scrupulously honest* about, how that only moment of ever being alive was experienced so as to feel as happy and as harmless (as free of malice and sorrow) as was humanly possible inasmuch any deviation from such felicity/ innocuity was attended to with the utmost dispatch in order to live as peacefully and as harmoniously as ‘he’ could with ‘his’ wife and children, in particular, and with anyone and everyone, in general, who came into ‘his’ presence. And that way of living was so successful, compared to the norm, that in a very short time ‘he’ was wont to exclaim to all and sundry that ‘he’ had discovered the secret to life (for that is how far beyond normal human expectations the felicitous/ innocuous state which has nowadays become known as a virtual freedom truly is) and ‘he’ was perplexed as to why, it being such a simple thing to do, no-one had ever done it before. [emphasis added]. (Richard, List D, Rick-a, 21 January 2006).

*

March 23 2006
CO-RESPONDENT:
In other words how do you avoid self deception?
RICHARD: By being *scrupulously honest with oneself*. [emphasis added]. (Richard, Actual Freedom Mailing List, No. 105a, 23 March 2006).

*

September 08 2005
CO-RESPONDENT:
Well, I guess it’s impossible to avoid.
RICHARD: Your guess is, not all that surprisingly by now, grossly incorrect; hypocrisy is remarkably easy to avoid (provided there be pure intent of course).
CO-RESPONDENT: Caveat emptor.
RICHARD: As the honesty referred to on The Actual Freedom Trust web site is self-honesty (being *scrupulously honest with oneself*) perhaps ‘caveat venditor’ might have been a more applicable finale to your dismissive summary of what you have made of actualism and actualists during your 25-day perusal. And I mention this because, in the final analysis, the only person one ever ends up fooling is oneself. [emphasis added]. (Richard, Actual Freedom Mailing List, No. 97c, 8 September 2005).

*

November 09 1998
CO-RESPONDENT:
Please let me know if I’m being uncooperative. (Ha. Ha. As if you wouldn’t).
RICHARD: Au contraire ... it is your life you are living and it is you who reaps the rewards or pays the consequences for any action or inaction you may or may not do. One has to be *scrupulously honest with oneself* if one is to go all the way. I have arrived at my destiny and am already always here so I have nothing to prove and nothing to achieve. I am retired and on a pension and instead of pottering around the garden I am currently pottering around the Internet. I only write as the whim takes me and easily sit with my feet up on the coffee table watching television. I eliminated any necessity for having a conscience and I am not about to take on being a probity policeman for anyone. I may be a lot of things ... but I am not silly. [emphasis added]. (Richard, List B, No. 26, 9 November 1998).

What you may be right at home with, however, is affism practice as to be a successful affer is to have turned ‘self’-deceit into a high art-form.

Viz.:

June 1 2013
RICHARD:
(...) it would not be possible, surely, to consistently fake a total absence of ego-centricity/ self-centricity/ auto-centricity (i.e.: no ego/no self; no soul/no spirit; no guardian/no social identity) – let alone a total absence of affective feelings (no emotions/ passions/ affections at all), a total absence of pathetic temperament (no moods/ humors/ sentiments whatsoever), a total absence of hedonic-tone (no hedonistic pleasure or displeasure) and a total absence of flattened affect even – and yet also present complete contentment/ absolute fulfilment/ total satisfaction along with an utterly intimate disposition showing a generally cheerful character readily displaying a keen sense of humour, about life itself, twenty-four hours a day, day in and day out, for the remainder of one’s life.
(No need to mention being purity personified, of course, as all of the aforementioned are already of sufficient impossibility for a feeling-being to fake). (Richard, List D, No. 15, 1 June 2013).

‘Tis only a suggestion, though, as most DhO/ KFD practitioners appear to more at home with the level of ‘self’-deceit required to be a ‘Pragmatic/ Hardcore Dharma’ arahant.

Regards,
Richard.


SELECTED CORRESPONDENCE ON BUDDHISM (Part Two)

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