Richard’s Selected Correspondence
RICHARD: [...] the vast majority of my on-line writings about Buddhism at that time – being mainly responses to queries and objections from non-Buddhist practitioners – were rather general; quite encyclopaedic in nature, in fact, and thus reflected the remarkably erroneous yet commonly-accepted English translations of key Buddhist words ... key words such as ‘mindful’/ ‘mindfulness’, for sati (instead of ‘rememorative’, ‘rememoration’); ‘heedless’/ ‘negligent’, for pamada (rather than ‘(worldly) intoxication’); ‘feeling’/ ‘sensation’, for vedāna (in lieu of ‘hedonic-tone’); ‘fabrications’/ ‘formations’, for saṅkhāra (instead of ‘(wilful) conations’); ‘defilements’/ ‘taints’/ ‘cankers’, for āsava (rather than ‘(worldly) intoxicants’); ‘sense’/ ‘perception’, for sāñña (in lieu of ‘agnise’, ‘agnition’); ‘suffering’/ ‘stress’/ ‘ill’, for dukkha (instead of ‘asunder, apart or away from ākāsa’); ‘space’/ ‘air’, for ākāsa (rather than ‘aether’, ‘etheric’, ‘ethereal’) and so on.
RESPONDENT: There is nothing new in the idea of using mindfulness as a methodical approach to awakening. If effort at self-mastery makes sense to you right now, so be it. The non-dualistic approach is difficult to penetrate.
RICHARD: I have never advocated ‘using mindfulness as a methodical approach to awakening’ because, first of all, I have explained to you that ‘to awake from a dream is but to be lucidly dreaming’ and that the ‘dreamer’ must become extinct and, secondly, ‘mindfulness’ is a Buddhist term that I never use and it involves a total withdrawal of self from the sensate world so as to realise the ‘timeless’ which is another term I never use and, thirdly, I speak of ‘self-immolation’ and not ‘self mastery’. I have never, ever said anything whatsoever that could possibly persuade you to make such inaccurate and unsubstantiated comments about what Richard is on about ... leaving me no option but to consider you ignorant (as in ignoring what I write) or ignorant (as in stupid).
RESPONDENT: To ask and stay aware of what I am experiencing now is mindfulness.
RICHARD: The word ‘mindfulness’ is an English word that means ‘taking heed or care; being conscious or aware; paying attention to, being heedful of, being watchful of, being regardful of, being cognizant of, being aware of, being conscious of, taking into account, being alert to, being alive to, being sensible of, being careful of, being wary of, being chary of’ and may be used, more or less, the same as ‘watchfulness’, ‘heedfulness’, ‘regardfulness’, ‘attentiveness’, and to a lesser extent ‘carefulness’, ‘sensibleness’, ‘wariness’. However, the word ‘mindfulness’ has taken-on the Buddhist meaning of the word for most seekers (the same as the word ‘meditation’ which used to mean ‘think over; ponder’), and no longer has the every-day meaning as per the dictionary. The Buddhist connotations come from the Pali ‘Bhavana’ (the English translation of the Pali ‘Vipassana Bhavana’ is ‘Insight Meditation’). ‘Bhavana’ comes from the root ‘Bhu’, which means ‘to grow’ or ‘to become’. There fore, ‘Bhavana’ means ‘to cultivate’, and, as the word is always used in reference to the mind, ‘Bhavana’ means ‘mental cultivation’. ‘Vipassana’ is derived from two roots: ‘Passana’, which means ‘seeing’ or ‘perceiving’ and ‘Vi’ (which is a prefix with the complex set of connotations) basically means ‘in a special way’ but there also is the connotation of both ‘into’ and ‘through’. The whole meaning of the word ‘Vipassana’, then, is looking into something with meticulousness discernment, seeing each component as distinct and separate, and piercing all the way through so as to perceive the most fundamental reality of that thing. This process leads to intuition into the basic reality of whatever is being inspected. Put it all together and ‘Vipassana Bhavana’ means the cultivation of the mind, aimed at seeing in a special way that leads to intuitive discernment and to full understanding of Mr. Gotama the Sakyan’s basic precepts. In ‘Vipassana Bhavana’, Buddhists cultivate this special way of seeing life. They train themselves to see reality exactly as it is described by Mr. Gotama the Sakyan, and in the English-speaking world they call this special mode of perception: ‘mindfulness’.
Which is why I have never advocated ‘using mindfulness as a methodical approach to awakening’ because ‘mindfulness’ is clearly a Buddhist term and involves a total withdrawal from the sensate world so as to realise the ‘timeless’ (which is another term I never use), apart from which, to awake from a dream is but to be lucidly dreaming ... the ‘dreamer’ must become extinct. And how to bring about extinction? By asking oneself, each moment again, how one is experiencing this moment of being alive. Given that this is one’s only moment of being alive, if one is not experiencing the peace-on-earth that is already always here now, then one is wasting this moment of being alive by settling for second-best ... it means that the long evolutionary process that produced this flesh and blood human being has come to naught. But, here is another moment, another opportunity, to actually be here now – where one’s destiny is – and how is one experiencing this moment? More often than not one is experiencing this moment through a feeling – standing back and feeling it out like putting a toe into the water – instead of jumping-in boots and all. Thus one can find out what brought about this feeling that is preventing me from being here now and through this ‘hands-on’ examination have it vanish ... and the reward is immediate and direct.
RESPONDENT: By the way can you go slightly deeper into actualist attention and Buddhist mindfulness in detail please. It would be of great assistance to me.
RICHARD: Presumably you are referring to this:
The focus of the buddhistic ‘sati’ – a Pali word referring to mindfulness, self-collectedness, powers of reference and retention – is upon how self is not to be found in the real-world ... as Mr. Gotama the Sakyan makes abundantly clear, for example, to compliant monks in the ‘Anatta-Lakkhana’ Sutta (The Discourse on the Not-Self Characteristic, SN 22.59; PTS: SN iii.66).
RESPONDENT: Is this the main departure point between what you report and what spiritualists (Ramana, Nisargadatta and others) report? Namely Consciousness.
RICHARD: What I report is the absence of the entire affective faculty/identity in toto ... whereas consciousness (the suffix ‘-ness’ forms a noun expressing a state or condition) is nothing other than a flesh and blood body being conscious.
RESPONDENT: You say it’s a result of brain’s neuronal activity, something that the individual flesh and body possesses and it will extirpate upon one’s death. They say it’s primary and everything including universe arises out of that capital Consciousness. Consciousness is infinite and timeless to them and for you it’s the physical universe that is infinite and eternal.
Richard, can you slightly in detail regarding this consciousness. How it operates in you, and how and why does it appear to some as infinite and timeless and primary. How does one avoid the trap of that delusion.
RICHARD: I posted the following, which perhaps summarises the nub of the issues you mention most succinctly, only last month:
To say that consciousness remains forever after physical death is as blatantly ludicrous as proposing that the warmness of the body (the state or condition of a body being warm) continues to subsist evermore even though it be as cold as ice (as in a morgue).
RESPONDENT: [quote]: ‘In 1985 I had the first of many experiences of going beyond spiritual enlightenment (as described in ‘A Brief Personal History’ on my part of The Actual Freedom Trust web site) and it had the character of the ‘Great Beyond’ – which I deliberately put in capitals because that is how it was experienced at the time – and it was of the nature of being ‘That’ which is attained to at physical death when an Enlightened One ‘quits the body’ ... which attainment is known as ‘Mahasamadhi’ (Hinduism) or ‘Parinirvana’ (Buddhism). Thus I knew even before becoming actually free that this condition was entirely new to human experience while still alive ...’. [endquote]. It is your ‘thus’ which I do not grasp.
RICHARD: It is my [quote] ‘while still alive’ [endquote] words which are the key ... I will draw your attention to the following:
For another example (from Mr. Satya Goenka’s accredited master):
Or, in Mr. Gotama the Sakyan’s own words, even:
Do you see ‘the end of suffering’ (editorial note) was indeed previously considered to be only possible after physical death ... in a realm that had nothing to do with the physical whatsoever: ‘neither earth, nor water, nor fire, nor wind’ (no physical world); ‘neither this world nor the next world’ (no more rebirth); ‘neither earth, nor moon, nor sun’ (no solar system)?
RESPONDENT: I see that you are saying that ‘the end of suffering was previously considered to be only possible after physical death’.
RICHARD: So that you do not have to take my word for it I provided three quotes ... therefore, do you also see that Mr. Frank Reynolds (Professor of Buddhist Studies and History of Religions, University of Chicago), in his Encyclopaedia Britannica article, is saying that the awakened one enters ‘the nirvana that is not burdened by any karmic residue at all’ after physical death?
Moreover, do you also see that Mr. Gotama the Sakyan himself is saying that the end of ‘dukkha’ is in a realm [sphere] that has nothing to do with the physical whatsoever?
RESPONDENT: The Buddhism you quote is, I think, one strand of one strand of mysticism. Many other Buddhist interpreters would, as far as I know, claim that liberation is possible before death.
RICHARD: Of course (mystical) liberation is possible before physical death ... the subject in question, however, is ‘the end of suffering’ (editorial note): do you, or do you not, see that Mr. Frank Reynolds (Professor of Buddhist Studies and History of Religions, University of Chicago), in his Encyclopaedia Britannica article, is saying that the awakened one enters ‘the nirvana that is not burdened by any karmic residue at all’ after physical death?
Furthermore do you, or do you not, see that Mr. Ba Khin (Mr. Satya Goenka’s accredited master) is saying that the awakened one reaches ‘the end of suffering’ after physical death?
Moreover do you, or do you not, see that Mr. Gotama the Sakyan himself is saying that the end of ‘dukkha’ is in a realm [sphere] that has nothing to do with the physical whatsoever?
RESPONDENT: But I don’t know that much about Buddhism.
RICHARD: As you have written elsewhere that, at the age of 20 you embarked upon 10 years of spirituality/ mysticism, and that you even created and published a mystic magazine called ‘The Laughing Monkey’, into which you poured considerable time, energy and money, there is no need to all-of-a-sudden become coy.
RESPONDENT: I do know that many other teachers claim that enlightenment is fully possible in this lifetime.
RICHARD: Of course (mystical) enlightenment is fully possible in this lifetime ... the subject in question, however, is ‘the end of suffering’ (editorial note): do you, or do you not, see that Mr. Frank Reynolds (Professor of Buddhist Studies and History of Religions, University of Chicago), in his Encyclopaedia Britannica article, is saying that the awakened one enters ‘the nirvana that is not burdened by any karmic residue at all’ after physical death?
Furthermore do you, or do you not, see that Mr. Ba Khin (Mr. Satya Goenka’s accredited master) is saying that the awakened one reaches ‘the end of suffering’ after physical death?
RESPONDENT: I read this last night and thought to post it here as it might sound vaguely familiar: [quote] ‘It is the immediate experience of seeing essential nature [the actual universe, the universe as it actually is] right now: it is the time when you let go of your self and give up compulsion’. [endquote]. I understand self, in this context, as any notion of an entity (or identity). Since it is a ‘notion’ and has no ‘actual’ (public or shared) existence, as one ceases to believe it has ‘actual’ existence and sees it, as it is, as a notion, the notion either dissipates like a fog in the morning sun or remains like an empty ghost that cannot interfere with life. This is letting go of your self.
RICHARD: It is not at all familiar – not even vaguely so – as the immediate experience of seeing the actual universe, the universe as it actually is, is not the time when [quote] ‘you let go of your self and give up compulsion’ [endquote] but, rather, can only occur where identity in toto is either in abeyance, as in a pure consciousness experience (PCE), or extinct (as in an actual freedom from the human condition).
RESPONDENT: I offered my understanding of the phrase, ‘letting go of your self’ as ceasing to believe in ‘self’, which I defined as ‘any notion of an entity (or identity)’.
RICHARD: Aye, and you also offered your understanding of the buddhistic term ‘essential nature’ as well – albeit as an insertion in squared brackets – in the quote you thought might sound vaguely familiar ... here are some (edited for convenience) highlights of the passage where that sentence came from: [quote] ‘You should simply see your essential nature to attain Buddhahood. (...) you realize your own essential nature by means of your own mind and understand your own life by means of your own insight. If right mindfulness is not continuous and concentration is not pure and single minded, your efforts will be in vain. This right mindfulness means not having any thoughts; concentration means not conceiving any mental images. (...) you see the original state as it was before space and time. ‘Before space and time’ does not mean something remote in space and time; don’t think of it as something ancient. It is the immediate experience of seeing essential nature right now: it is the time when you let go of your self and give up compulsion’. [endquote]. As your essential nature (aka the original state) is not in space and time there is no way it can be equated to the actual universe/ the universe as it actually is. Incidentally, you are not the first to try to marry actualism and spiritualism ... and you will probably not be the last.
RESPONDENT: Yes, as I noted, I (‘actually’) read those pages the other evening.
RICHARD: In which case you would have read the author saying that when you see your essential nature/ the original state you see it as it was before space and time (and that ‘before space and time’ does not mean something remote in space and time/ something ancient).
RESPONDENT: I am not trying ‘to marry actualism and spiritualism’, as I do not consider myself a spiritualist and do not believe in a soul (an eternal, independent entity).
RICHARD: My observation about trying to marry actualism and spiritualism has nothing to do with what you do or do not consider yourself to be and what you do or do not believe in ... I was simply going by the words you wrote in the squared brackets in the quote above.
Howsoever, and for the sake of honesty in communication, I will draw your attention to the following extract from your third post to this mailing list:
RESPONDENT: The meaning you presented of ‘essential nature (aka the original state)’ may well be the generally accepted Buddhist meaning ...
RICHARD: All I did was copy-paste the words ‘your essential nature’ and ‘the original state’ from the quoted text above ... and make the observation that, as it is not in space and time, there is no way it can be equated to the actual universe/ the universe as it actually is.
RESPONDENT: ...but it is not mine and I presented mine to you.
RICHARD: And what you presented was that the spiritualists’ term ‘essential nature’ (aka ‘original state’) equated to the actualists’ term ‘actual universe’ (aka ‘universe as it actually is’) ... yet as your essential nature/ the original state is not in space and time there is no way it can be equated to the actual universe/ the universe as it actually is.
RESPONDENT: Yes, I wrote the following: ‘And I see the world as divine and sacred. Not because it’s perfect and pure, which it ultimately is, but because it exists, it must be divine, it must be sacred. And it doesn’t matter whether what appears to exist is ultimately real or not, it is not apart from the divine and sacred’. The world, the ‘actual’ world, is perfect and pure and because it’s perfect and pure I call it ‘divine and sacred’.
RICHARD: As you equate [quote] ‘the ‘actual’ world’ [endquote] with the buddhistic essential nature (aka the original state) which is not in space and time it is no wonder that you call it divine and sacred.
Moreover, I see you wrote the following only recently:
Yet this is what you unequivocally stated in your previous e-mail to me (from further above):
RESPONDENT: I read these words tonight: [quote] ‘Whatever you are doing, concentrate wholeheartedly on questioning the inner master that perceives, cognizes, and emotes’ [endquote] and thought the practice sounded vaguely familiar: With pure intent: ‘The question to ask yourself, each moment again, is ‘How am I experiencing this moment of being alive?’
RICHARD: It is not at all familiar ... not even vaguely so.
RESPONDENT: I also thought to share this – A friend suggested that when one reads an ancient text, one should not impart a silly or superficial meaning, but one should see the profoundest meaning. I suggest we do that with all writings, modern and contemporary. Richard’s. Yours. Even this.
RICHARD: It makes no difference whether or not you see the profoundest meaning in a spiritualist’s text – be it ancient, modern or contemporary – as there is no way that actualism can be equated to spiritualism.
RESPONDENT: I read these words and thought the practice sounded vaguely familiar: [quote] ‘If you want to quickly attain mastery of all truths and be independent in all events, there is nothing better than concentration in activity. That is why it is said that students of mysticism working on the Way should sit in the midst of the material world.’ – from ‘An Elementary Talk on Zen’ page 86 in Minding Mind, translated by Thomas Cleary.
RESPONDENT: When I said ‘(I) am not looking for anybody’s answer’, it doesn’t mean that I am stifling or discouraging anybody to answer. It is just that I would not depend upon anybody else to give answers to my problems. I will try to sort it out myself. However if somebody’s reply to my mail or any writing for that matter, helps me to understand some concept, it is a bonus.
RICHARD: Ahh ... good. There are several items in your last post that I wished to respond to. Vis.:
It is this simple: the English translation of the Pali ‘Vipassana Bhavana’ is ‘Insight Meditation’. ‘Bhavana’ means ‘to cultivate’, and, as the word is always used in reference to the mind, ‘Bhavana’ means ‘mental cultivation’. ‘Vipassana’ means ‘seeing’ or ‘perceiving’ something with meticulousness discernment, seeing each component as distinct and separate, and piercing all the way through so as to perceive the most fundamental reality of that thing and which leads to intuition into the basic reality of whatever is being inspected. Thus ‘Vipassana Bhavana’ means the cultivation of the mind, aimed at seeing in a special way that leads to intuitive discernment and to full understanding of Mr. Gotama the Sakyan’s basic precepts. In ‘Vipassana Bhavana’ , Buddhists cultivate this special way of seeing life. They train themselves to see reality exactly as it is described by Mr. Gotama the Sakyan, and in the English-speaking world they call this practice ‘Vipassana Meditation’.
Consequently, when a person who ‘doesn’t care about what is the exact philosophy behind it’ blindly practices ‘Vipassana’ it is a further withdrawal from this actual world than what ‘normal’ people currently experience in the illusionary ‘reality’ of their ‘real world’. All Buddhists (just like Mr. Gotama the Sakyan) do not want to be here at this place in space – now at this moment in time – as this flesh and blood form, walking and talking and eating and drinking and urinating and defecating and being the universes’ experience of its own infinitude as a reflective and sensate human being. They put immense effort into bringing ‘samsara’ (the Hindu and/or Buddhist belief in the endless round of birth and death and rebirth) to an end ... if they liked being here now they would welcome their rebirth and delight in being able to be here now again and again as a human being. They just don’t wanna be here (not only not being here now but never, ever again). Is it not so blatantly obvious that Mr. Gotama the Sakyan just did not like being here? Does one wonder why one never saw his anti-life stance before? How on earth can someone who dislikes being here so much ever be interested in bringing about peace-on-earth? In this respect he was just like all the Gurus and God-Men down through the ages ... the whole lot of them were/are anti-life to the core. For example:
It can be seen that he clearly and unambiguously states that he (Mr. Gotama the Sakyan) is ‘the eternally abiding, unchanging, fine and mysterious essential body’ even to the point of repeating it twice (‘the Tathagata is eternally abiding without any change’) and (‘the Tathagata eternally abides without any change’) so as to emphasise that ‘someone who is able to know that the Tathagata is eternally abiding without any change ... shall be born into the Heavens above’. And to drive the point home as to just what he means he emphasises that ‘the body that eats is not the essential body’ ... which ‘essential body’ can only be a dissociated state by any description and by any definition.
Which all brings me to your next point. Vis.:
If you did ‘care about what is the exact philosophy behind it’ you would find that you do indeed have to believe in ‘Vipassana’ ... but do not take my word for it; instead, shall we see what Mr. Ba Khin (Mr. Satya Goenka’s accredited Master) had to say in 1981? Vis.:
This is what Mr. Eric Lerner had to say about Mr. Ba Khin:
Just in case this précis of Mr. Ba Khin’s teaching was too much for you to take in, may I leave you with just one sentence of his (copied from above) to ponder upon? Vis.:
And just in case you miss the point, he is clearly saying that ‘the end of suffering’ lies in ‘Parinirvana’ (an after-death state) and is the sole goal of ‘Vipassana Bhavana’.
RESPONDENT No. 33: At least we are getting somewhere now. Good. So, there are two approaches: (a) mindfulness as a methodical approach to awakening equals effort at self-mastery and (b) the non-dualistic approach. Please tell me (1) what are these approaches for and (2) how is (b) different and/or better than (a).
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: Indeed ... you are, more or less acceptably, describing the Buddhist approach, although the Buddhist Bhikkhu and Bhikkhuni starts with the attitude that they cannot know in advance ‘what is’ (‘Isness’) or ‘what they want’ (‘Nirvana’) or ‘what should be’ (‘Deathless’) really is like, but that Mr. Gotama the Sakyan does. Hence the necessity of ‘taking refuge’ in the Buddha (the awakened one), in the ‘Dhamma’ (the timeless law) and in the ‘Sangha’ (the community of perfected people). I would agree with you that all this is a belief as in faith (and, further, that the word ‘refuge’ is but a code-word for ‘surrender’) but Buddhists will shake their heads knowingly and tell me that I just do not understand.
RICHARD: I have only the recorded scriptures to go by. Those multitudinous scriptures consistently point to a total withdrawal from this sensate physical world. Mr. Gotama the Sakyan’s advice is for a total disassociation of self from the world of people, things and events. Mr. Gotama the Sakyan expressly states that the self is not to be found anywhere in phenomenal existence ... as he so clearly enunciates to compliant monks in the ‘Anatta-Lakkhana’ Sutta (The Discourse on the Not-self Characteristic, SN 22.59; PTS: SN iii.66). Vis.:
RESPONDENT: No, that is a misunderstanding. If there is no self in phenomenal existence there is no self to disassociate from it either.
RICHARD: Upon closer examination, methinks you will find that it is not a ‘misunderstanding’ at all. Just look at the discourse quoted (above):
Note well it says ‘if form were the self, this form would not lend itself to dis-ease’ (and so on through feelings, perceptions, thoughts and consciousness), meaning that, as the self is not prone to dis-ease, then anything impermanent (this body and that body and the mountains and streams and stars and planets) cannot be the self.
Then the discourse makes this point even clearer:
Note well it says ‘This is not mine. This is not my self. This is not what I am’ regarding anything in or of the phenomenal world of the senses. Thus ‘What is mine. What is my self. What is what I am’ is to be found in ‘The Deathless’, accessible only upon ‘Parinirvana’, to an ‘Awakened One’ who has attained ‘Nirvana’ in this lifetime. If one does not achieve ‘Unbinding’ in this lifetime, one is going to be re-born again and again and again until one does. And to say that who is being re-born, as a personality again and again, is a ‘bundle of memories and desires’ and not a ‘self’ is to be disingenuous to say the least.
Lastly, the discourse drives the point home by explaining that the instructed disciple is
Note well it says ‘there is nothing further for this world’ ... if that is not a clear indication of a withdrawal from this sensate material world I would like to know what is.
I have already posted Mr. Gotama the Sakyan’s discourses, that are the basis for the mental absorption practices and disciplines that the term ‘Insight Tranquillity’ (‘Samatha Vipassana’) refers to and will not post them again. A summary of these discourses is this simple: ‘Body, sensations, feelings, perception, and consciousness are not the self. Self does not have body, sensations, feelings, perception, and consciousness. Body, sensations, feelings, perception, and consciousness are not in the Self. The Self is not in the body, sensations, feelings, perception, and consciousness’.
Fundamentally, Buddhism does not deny the existence of self (nowhere in the Pali Canon is it denied) but what Buddhism does deny is everything else. Buddhism says: ‘absolute changeless permanent reality alone is’ and everything else has always been, is and always will be just make-believe fiction, a state of delusion worn like a costume with multiple fabricated points of view, and all that is created is impermanent, without essence and inherently a state of ill-being. But with perfect intuitive wisdom, it is realized that that which is ill it is not fitting to say that: ‘this is mine, this am I, this is my self’ because all sentient beings (and all worlds) are fiction and are without self, selfless. Thus, who ‘realises Nirvana’ is Nirvana itself realising itself. ‘Nirvana’, ‘Perfect Wisdom’, ‘The Deathless’, ‘The Unborn’, ‘The Uncreated’, ‘The Real’, ‘The Permanent’, ‘The Absolute Changeless Permanent Reality’ and ‘Self’ are all the same for Buddhists: that which is unfathomable, inconceivable, immutable, inscrutable, deep, boundless, unmeasurable, undefinable, incomprehensible and so on and so on.
RICHARD: I have already posted Mr. Gotama the Sakyan’s discourses, that are the basis for the mental absorption practices and disciplines that the term ‘Insight Tranquillity’ (‘Samatha Vipassana’) refers to and will not post them again. A summary of these discourses is this simple: ‘Body, sensations, feelings, perception, and consciousness are not the self. Self does not have body, sensations, feelings, perception, and consciousness. Body, sensations, feelings, perception, and consciousness are not in the Self. The Self is not in the body, sensations, feelings, perception, and consciousness’. Fundamentally, Buddhism does not deny the existence of self (nowhere in the Pali Canon is it denied) but what Buddhism does deny is everything else. Buddhism says: ‘absolute changeless permanent reality alone is’ and everything else has always been, is and always will be just make-believe fiction, a state of delusion worn like a costume with multiple fabricated points of view, and all that is created is impermanent, without essence and inherently a state of ill-being. But with perfect intuitive wisdom, it is realized that that which is ill it is not fitting to say that: ‘this is mine, this am I, this is my self’ because all sentient beings (and all worlds) are fiction and are without self, selfless. Thus, who ‘realises Nirvana’ is Nirvana itself realising itself. ‘Nirvana’, ‘Perfect Wisdom’, ‘The Deathless’, ‘The Unborn’, ‘The Uncreated’, ‘The Real’, ‘The Permanent’, ‘The Absolute Changeless Permanent Reality’ and ‘Self’ are all the same for Buddhists: that which is unfathomable, inconceivable, immutable, inscrutable, deep, boundless, unmeasurable, undefinable, incomprehensible and so on and so on. You really are flogging a dead horse with this one.
RESPONDENT: Method has meaning for a shift from guest within guest (inattentiveness) to host within guest (mindfulness).
RICHARD: What you say may very well be true for mysticism ... but there is no ‘shift from guest within guest to host within guest’ in actualism. And it is for reasons such as you give here that I never advocate ‘using mindfulness as a methodical approach to awakening’ because ‘mindfulness’ (in Buddhist terminology) involves not only ‘a shift from (whatever name) in (whatever name) to (whatever name) within (whatever name)’ but a total withdrawal from the sensate world so as to realise the ‘timeless’ and ‘spaceless’ and ‘formless’ state. And because to but awake from a dream is to be lucidly dreaming (dreaming that one is ‘deathless’), the self, the ‘dreamer’ must become extinct. One can bring about this extinction by asking oneself, each moment again, how one is experiencing this moment of being alive. Given that this is one’s only moment of being alive, if one is not experiencing the peace-on-earth that is already always here now, then one is wasting this moment of being alive by settling for second-best ... it means that the long evolutionary process that produced this flesh and blood human being has come to naught. But, here is another moment, another opportunity, to actually be here now – where one’s destiny is – and how is one experiencing this moment? More often than not one is experiencing this moment through a feeling – standing back and feeling it out like putting a toe into the water – instead of jumping-in boots and all. Thus one can find out what brought about this feeling that is preventing me from being here now and through this ‘hands-on’ examination have it vanish ... and the reward is immediate and direct.
This actualist method is a far cry from the Buddhist carefully cultivated ‘mindfulness’ ... the practice of ‘mindfulness’ is a further withdrawal from this actual world than what ‘normal’ people currently experience in the illusionary ‘reality’ of their ‘real world’. All Buddhists (just like Mr. Gotama the Sakyan) do not want to be here – now – as this flesh and blood form, walking and talking and eating and drinking and urinating and defecating and being the universes’ experience of its own infinitude as a reflective and sensate human being. They put immense effort into bringing ‘samsara’ (the endless round of birth and death and rebirth) to an end ... if they liked being here now they would welcome rebirth and delight in being able to be here now again and again as a human being. They just don’t wanna be here (not only not be here now but never, ever again) ... is it not so blatantly obvious (that Mr. Gotama the Sakyan just did not like being here) that you wonder why you never saw his anti-life stance before? How on earth can someone who hates being here so much ever be interested in bringing about peace-on-earth?
In this respect he was just like all the Gurus and God-Men down through the ages ... the whole lot of them were/are anti-life to the core.
RESPONDENT: Methods arise from guest (being in time) not host. No method can bring about a shift from guest to host.
RICHARD: You are digging yourself deeper and deeper into the mire of your own making ... what is the name of the ‘host’ that ‘no method’ can ‘bring about a shift from guest to’, eh?
Is it ‘that which is the sacred’ (as in ‘the otherness is when thought is not’) ... which is known by the less coy mystics as ‘God or Truth’? (Mystics such as Mr. Jiddu Krishnamurti, who said: ‘To discover God or truth – and I say such a thing does exist, I have realised it – to recognise that, to realise that, mind must be free of all the hindrances which have been created throughout the ages’).
RESPONDENT: I’d also respectfully suggest omitting HTML and file attachments in mailing list dialogues.
RICHARD: I am not a Luddite so I will continue using HTML.
To be a conscientious objector is to stick one’s head in the sand; it is to rely upon others to do one’s dirty work of protecting the national interest when it is threatened. What if everyone in the country was so stupefied as adopt this stance? It would be like hanging out a sign at the border saying: ‘Please feel free to invade ... we will not fight back’. The Tibetan situation is a particular case in point. And not only external threats to security, it also applies internally ... what if the police force adopted ‘ahimsa? Who would protect you and yours from banditry?
RESPONDENT: The Dharma’s fundamental Dharma has no Dharma; the Dharma of no Dharma is Dharma too; now that the Dharma of no Dharma is understood has there ever been a Dharma?
RICHARD: No, there has not ‘ever been a Dharma’ ... the ‘Dharma’ has only ever existed in passionate human imagination (fuelled by the instinctually-driven desire for a specious ‘after-life’ immortality). As for the rest of that verse ... it is nothing but intellectual masturbation. The next verse reads: The Dharma’s fundamental Dharma which is Dharma too has no Dharma; The Dharma of no Dharma which is Dharma too has no Dharma too; now that the Dharma of no Dharma which is Dharma too is understood has there ever been a Dharma? It is all designed to stop thought’s dualistic logic (for those who do not understand infinite regress) and propel one into the affective realm’s ‘Isness’.
RESPONDENT: If so, then that is karma in action and is my just due.
RICHARD: Okay ... speaking personally, I have no need for that hypothesis.
RESPONDENT: No, Karma is not a hypothesis.
RICHARD: I beg to differ ... or if it be not a hypothesis then it is a metaphysical belief that the force generated by a person’s actions perpetuate transmigration and its ethical consequences determine the nature of the person’s next existence. Karma is the influence of an individual’s past actions on their future lives, or reincarnations and thus what one does in this present life will have its effect in the next life. The doctrine of karma reflects the Hindu conviction that this life is but one in a chain of lives (samsara) and that it is determined by a human’s actions in a previous life. This is accepted as a law of nature and is not open to further discussion. The moral energy of a particular act is preserved and fructifies automatically in the next life, where it shows up in one’s class, nature, disposition, and character. The process is mechanical, and no interference by a god and/or goddess or gods and/or goddesses is admitted, except by some of the later and more extreme theists. Thus the law of karma seeks to explain the inequalities that are observed among creatures. In Hinduism, in the course of the chain of lives, an individual can perfect themselves, until they reach the eminence of the god Brahma himself, or they can degrade themself in such an evil way that they are reborn as an animal. Not only do past acts influence the circumstances of the next life, they also determine one’s happiness or unhappiness in the hereafter between lives, where one will spend a time in either one of the heavens or one of the hells until the fruits of one’s karma have been all but consumed and the remainder creates a new life for one. Buddhism and Jainism incorporated doctrines of karma as part of their common Indian legacy: the Buddhists interpret it strictly in terms of ethical cause and effect and in Jainism, karma is regarded not as a process but as a fine particulate substance that produces the universal chain of cause and effect ... of birth and death and rebirth.
Rebirth – also called transmigration or metempsychosis – in both religion and philosophy refers to the rebirth of the soul in one or more successive existences, which may be human, animal, or, in some instances, vegetable. While belief in reincarnation is most characteristic of Asian religions and philosophies, it also appears in the religious and philosophical thought of primitive religions, in some ancient Middle Eastern religions (Orphism, Manichaeism, and Gnosticism) as well as in such modern religious movements as Theosophy. In primitive religions, belief in multiple souls is common. The soul is frequently viewed as capable of leaving the body through the mouth or nostrils and of being reborn, for example, as a bird, butterfly, or insect. The Venda of Southern Africa, for example, believe that when a person dies the soul stays near the grave for a short time and then seeks a new resting place or another body ... be it human, mammalian, or reptilian. Among the ancient Greeks, Orphism held that a pre-existent soul survives bodily death and is later reincarnated in a human or other mammalian body, eventually receiving release from the cycle of birth and death and regaining its former pure state. Mr. Plato believed in an immortal soul that participates in frequent incarnations.
The major religions that hold a belief in reincarnation – Hinduism, Jainism, Buddhism, and Sikhism – all hold in common the doctrine of karma. In Hinduism the process of birth and rebirth – transmigration of souls – is endless until one achieves Moksha (salvation) by realising the truth that liberates ... that the individual soul (Atman) and the absolute soul (Brahman) are one. Thus, one can escape from the wheel of birth and rebirth (samsara). Jainism, reflecting a belief in an absolute soul (‘Siddha’), holds that karma is affected in its density by the deeds that a person does. Thus, the burden of the old karma is added to the new karma that is acquired during the next existence until the soul frees itself by religious disciplines, especially by ahimsa (‘non-violence’), and rises to the place of liberated souls at the top of the universe (‘Siddha-Shila’). Although Buddhism denies the existence of an unchanging, substantial soul, it holds to a belief in the transmigration of the karma of what can only be described as souls. A complex of psycho-physical elements and states changing from moment to moment with its five skandhas (‘groups of elements’ as in body, sensations, perceptions, impulses, and consciousness) ceases to exist; but the karma of the deceased survives (the soul by another name) and becomes a vijnana (‘germ of consciousness’) in the womb of a mother. This vijnana is that aspect of the soul reincarnated in a new individual. By gaining a state of complete passiveness through discipline and meditation, one can leave the wheel of birth and rebirth and achieve Nirvana, the state of the extinction of desires.
Central to the belief in reincarnation is Punna (‘merit’) which is a primary attribute sought by Buddhists, both monks and laymen, in order to build up a better karma (the cumulative consequences of deeds) and thus to achieve a more favourable future rebirth. The concept is particularly stressed in Theravada tradition of South East Asia. Punna can be acquired through dana (‘giving’) such as offering food and robes to monks or donating a temple or monastery; sila (the keeping of the moral precepts); and bhavana (the practice of meditation). Merit can also be transferred from one being to another. This is a central feature of the Mahayana schools, in which the ideal Buddhist is the bodhisattva (‘the Buddha-to-be’), who dedicates himself to the service of others and transfers merit from his own inexhaustible store to benefit others.
RICHARD: All mysticism denies any ultimate reality to the material world.
RESPONDENT: Not so Richard. The fruition of all mysticism is the realisation of the ultimate (the basic fundamental fact, the final point, the conclusive result, the conclusion) reality of the material world.
RICHARD: Aye ... and that ‘Ultimate Reality’ shows the mystic that the material world – all this physical universe – is but an illusion.
RESPONDENT: Let us look at this statement as an example of the Buddhist metaphysical approach: ‘A form seen in the distance becomes clearer the closer we get to it. If a mirage were water, why would it vanish when we draw near? The farther we are from the world, the more real it appears to us; the nearer we draw to it, the less visible it becomes, and like a mirage, becomes sign-less’. The Dalai Lama: ‘Other traditions, such a Christian Mysticism use a more affirming methodology. The Christians do not tarry with breaking down work a day apprehension to reveal the ultimate, they rather sweep clean normal apprehension through declaration of the ultimate. As an example, Paul declared: ‘One God and Father of all, who is above all, and through all, and in you all’. The flexibility of the Buddhist approach can be demonstrated here with a quote from Soygal Rinpoche, a Buddhist mystic of the Tibetan tradition, that very closely mirrors Paul: ‘We and all sentient beings fundamentally have the Buddha nature as our innermost essence’. The Jewish mystical traditions also follow this methodology of by passing the destruction of normal perception, evident in the Dalai Lama’s Buddhist method, and simply declaring the ultimate, for example, from the Essential Cabbala: ‘The divine emanates existence’, or, ‘Ein Sof has no will, no intention, no desire, no thought, no speech, no action – yet there is nothing outside of it’. The Hindu texts contain a flowery combination of destruction and declaration, an example from Abhinavagupta is: ‘The Ultimate, formed of consciousness, is always present everywhere, and is devoid of spatial or temporal dimensions, of prior and subsequent; it is undeniable and unconcealed. What then can be said of it?’ An interesting addition is this quote from the Muslim Sufi tradition: ‘According to this testimony, God is distinct from all things and nothing can be compared to Him. Now perfect incomparability requires that nothing can be set face to face with the incomparable and have any relationship whatever with it; this amounts to saying that nothing exists in face of the Divine Reality so that, in It, all things are annihilated. ‘God was and nothing with Him and He is now such as He was’’. It demonstrates a destructive methodology, but in reverse – it is rather a paradoxical use of Aristotelian logic. ‘God is beyond comparison, therefore there can exist no-thing to compare to God’. Mysticism does indeed affirm the ultimate reality of the manifest world, Richard.
RICHARD: Goodness me ... I only have to look hither and thither in the above to see phrases like ‘If a mirage were water, why would it vanish when we draw near’ and ‘sweep clean normal apprehension through declaration of the ultimate’ and ‘Ein Sof has ... nothing outside of it’ and ‘The Ultimate ... is devoid of spatial or temporal dimensions’ and ‘nothing exists in face of the Divine Reality’ and ‘God is distinct from all things and nothing can be compared to Him’. But – so as to avoid getting bogged down in arguing the toss over all those quotes – let us just take Advaita Vedanta, for an example. According to the Encyclopaedia Britannica, Advaita (being the Sanskrit word for Non-dualism) as expounded by Mr. Shankara, was one of the most influential of the schools of Vedanta ... Vedanta being the then orthodox spiritual philosophy of India. Advaita was built on the Mahayana Buddhist philosophy of Sunyata (‘Emptiness’) and maintains that there is no duality; the mind – awake or dreaming – moves through Maya (‘illusion’); and only non-duality (Advaita) is the final truth. This truth is concealed by the ignorance of the illusion of Maya. There is no becoming, either of a thing by itself or of a thing out of some other thing. There is ultimately no individual self or soul (jiva), only the atman (‘all-soul’), in which individuals may be temporarily delineated ... just as the space in a jar delineates a part of main space: when the jar is broken, the individual space becomes once more the main space.
Now, Mr. Shankara does not start from the empirical world with logical analysis but, rather, directly from Brahman (‘The Absolute’). If interpreted correctly, he argues, the Upanishads teach the nature of Brahman. In making this argument, he develops a complete epistemology to account for the human error in taking the phenomenal world for real. Fundamental for Mr. Shankara is the tenet that the Brahman is real and the world is unreal. Any change, duality or plurality is an illusion. The self is nothing but Brahman. Insight into this identity results in spiritual release. Brahman is outside time, space, and causality, which are simply forms of illusory empirical experience. No distinction in Brahman or from Brahman is possible. Mr. Shankara points to scriptural texts, either stating identity (‘Thou art that’) or denying difference (‘There is no duality here’), as declaring the true meaning of a Brahman as Nirguna (without qualities). Other texts that ascribe qualities (Saguna) to Brahman refer not to the true nature of Brahman but to its personality as Ishvara (God). Human perception of the unitary and infinite Brahman as the plural and infinite is due to human beings’ innate habit of adhyasa (superimposition), by which a thou is ascribed to the I (I am tired; I am happy; I am perceiving). The habit stems from human ignorance which can be avoided only by the realisation of the identity of Brahman.
So, Brahman, the Absolute or Supreme Existence is the font. Brahman is the eternal, conscious, irreducible, infinite, omnipresent, spiritual source of the apparent universe of finiteness and change. According to Advaita Vedanta, Brahman is categorically different from anything phenomenal, and human perceptions of differentiation are illusively projected on this reality. (Of course, in early Hindu mythology, Brahman is personified as the creator god Brahma and placed in a triad of divine functions: Brahma the creator, Vishnu the preserver, and Shiva the destroyer.)
RESPONDENT: Talking about language ... I’m doing some other translation for a friend and I’ve been stopped by a word that I didn’t find in my Webster’s Dictionary. So I need some help from English speakers here. This word is <THUSNESS>. I would be obliged if some of you could send me some synonyms (or explanation of its meaning) for this word.
RICHARD: Basically, ‘Thusness’ is the approximate English translation of the Pali and Sanskrit word ‘Tathagata’ and is one of the titles of a Buddha ... and the one most frequently employed by Mr. Gotama the Sakyan when referring to himself. The exact meaning of the word ‘Tathagata’ is uncertain but it is usually taken to mean ‘one who has thus (tatha) gone (gata)’ or ‘one who has thus (tatha) arrived (agata)’ ... implying that Mr. Gotama the Sakyan was only one of many who have in the past and will in the future experience enlightenment and teach others how to achieve it.
In later Mahayana Buddhism, ‘Thusness’ came to convey the essential ‘Buddha-Nature’ hidden in everyone. ‘Tathagata’ is the ‘Thusness’ that makes spiritual enlightenment possible. Having ‘Tathagata’ within, one yearns for enlightenment. As the true state of all that exists, ‘Tathagata’ is synonymous with the ‘Ultimate Reality’ ... otherwise indefinable and ineffable. (Not all that much different to the Hindu ‘Atman’ and ‘Brahman’, you will notice ... in fact, as far as I am concerned, they are the same. Hindus and Buddhists would disagree with me, however).
As Buddhists – like Hindus – maintain that the elements of ordinary everyday existence have their basis in illusion and imagination, it was held in early Buddhism that what really exists is the one ‘Pure Mind’, called ‘Suchness’, which exists changelessly and without differentiation. Enlightenment consisted of realising one’s unity with ‘Suchness’. However, later Buddhism distinguished between ‘Suchness’ (‘Pure Mind’ being the ‘Soul’ in its essence) and ‘Thusness’ ... the all-producing, all-conserving ‘Absolute Mind’, which is the manifestation of the ‘Absolute All-Soul’ (as in birth and death as happenings).
In Mahayana Buddhism, Sunyata (‘The Void’) gradually became transferred into the place of the ‘Absolute Mind’. If ‘Suchness’, or ‘Pure Mind’, and ‘Thusness’, or ‘The Void’, are identical, they then maintained that the ‘Ultimate Reality’ must lie beyond any possible description. Mahayana Buddhism approaches the matter through dialectical negation: the ‘Ultimate Void’ is the ‘Middle Path’ in that all individual characteristics are negated ... but sublated in that a partial element of the dialectic is preserved as a synthesis. Thus the spiritual aspirant approaches ‘The Void’ through a combination of dialectical negation and direct intuition.
Since ‘The Void’ is also called the highest synthesis of all oppositions, the doctrine of Sunyata may be viewed as an instance of the ‘identity of opposites’ pantheism ... thus Buddhism can be identified with acosmic pantheism. Indeed, acosmic pantheism would seem to be the alternative most deeply rooted and widespread in all these rarefied esoteric eastern traditions.
RESPONDENT No. 00: In sum, our approaches to violence and sorrow are completely different. You say ‘all is IT, what is the problem?’ and I say ‘it leads to aberrations, why are there violence and sorrow?, what is behind?’. Thank you for your comments.
RESPONDENT: There are not two approaches to violence, only one.1. acknowledge sorrow. 2. find out the origin of sorrow – the ME. 3. finish with the ME.4. follow the path of the not-arising-of-the-ME. (The Buddha). Is not the ME the ‘entity’ that is ‘separated’ from the one movement? Can one overcame sorrow, without acknowledging it? – which is the same as placing the aberrant actions of thought as something ‘outside’ of here. By ‘acting upon’ the aberrations of thought, in fact we mean: I will refuse to look at those things completely and try to keep them somewhere ‘away’ from here. This is conflict – because nothing can be kept away from here, once it is present. So I was trying to say that first of all ‘all is IT’. The expression ‘IT’ is not-nominal. There is no symbol that can convey it truthfully.
RICHARD: I see that you have paraphrased what is commonly known as ‘The Four Noble Truths’ of Mr. Gotama the Sakyan. I would draw your attention to the fact that the word generally translated into English as ‘sorrow’ is the Pali word ‘dukkha’. ‘Dukkha’ is inherent in the transitory nature (‘anicca’) of ‘samsara’ (all phenomenon) ... because no self (‘anatta’) is to be found in that which is impermanent. Therefore your first paraphrase (‘acknowledge sorrow’) would read something like:
The second ‘Noble Truth’ points to the origin of dukkha: ‘tanha’ (the craving for existence). Thus your second paraphrase would more usefully read:
Next, your ‘finish with the ME’ would read:
And your ‘follow the path of the not-arising-of-the-ME’ would read:
Furthermore, the Teachings of Mr. Gotama the Sakyan only make sense if reincarnation and karma are unquestionably accepted as an indisputable fact ... take these two factors out of his teachings and Buddhism falls flat on its face (Buddhism is all about how to never be born again). The goal of Buddhism is to find/attain the ‘Deathless’ (‘amata’) ... a realm that has nothing to do with the physical universe whatsoever. Vis.:
All Buddhists know that ‘Parinirvana’ (after-death) is the ‘Deathless State’ ... Buddhist scriptures show that ‘amata dhatu’ (the unconditioned, the deathless principle) is what Mr. Gotama the Sakyan enjoined his Bhikkhus and Bhikkhunis to strive for unceasingly. Vis.:
And it is ‘The Deathless State’ where ‘The Self’ is to found: Mr. Gotama the Sakyan expressly states that the self is not to be found anywhere in phenomenal existence ... as he so clearly enunciates in the ‘The Discourse on the Not-Self Characteristic’. Vis.:
All this should throw some light on your sentence (further above) ‘so I was trying to say that first of all ‘all is IT’’ as your sentence is diametrically opposed to what Mr. Gotama the Sakyan has to say. What you are referring to is covered by the Hindu doctrine known as ‘Advaita Vedanta’ ... which makes it, at the very least, that there are indeed two ‘approaches to violence’.
The Third Alternative
(Peace On Earth In This Life Time As This Flesh And Blood Body)
Here is an actual freedom from the Human Condition, surpassing Spiritual Enlightenment and any other Altered State Of Consciousness, and challenging all philosophy, psychiatry, metaphysics (including quantum physics with its mystic cosmogony), anthropology, sociology ... and any religion along with its paranormal theology. Discarding all of the beliefs that have held humankind in thralldom for aeons, the way has now been discovered that cuts through the ‘Tried and True’ and enables anyone to be, for the first time, a fully free and autonomous individual living in utter peace and tranquillity, beholden to no-one.
Richard’s Text ©The Actual Freedom Trust: 1997-. All Rights Reserved.