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Nirvāṇa is beyond
January 9th, 2014

illustration (attribution, if any possible, is at the end of the article)

Nirvāṇa is beyond…

The reason for rejecting the idea of only one path  to nirvāṇa (whatever the proposed path might be) was previously explained [].

There is no one  path to being present []: meditation is one well-known route of course, but enquiry, curiosity and study are others, and shocks sometimes provide dharma gates, etc.
There is no one  path to being present, but it goes further than that: nirvāṇa is not based on holding onto the 'right' truth, there is no pre-defined way  to be present.

There are "right views", but they're about what's wholesome and helpful vs. what's not. They're about barriers and hindrances and cultivations, they're not about nirvāṇa.
The "right views" might provide inspiration to reach nirvāṇa, e.g. by describing nirvāṇa as blissful, but they're not really about nirvāṇa: 'blissful' doesn't mean anything in absolute terms! It only means something when it exists, when it is actually experienced (manifested) in specific conditions and circumstances of life (existence)! The description as 'blissful' is a teaching device. It is an accurate description, but the reason for which this is said is to motivate you, not to actually describe nirvāṇa. The goal is to experience nirvāṇa, not to talk about it! The "right views" are about barriers and hindrances and cultivations.

There are "ultimate truths" (paramatha-sacca),  but, as was previously explained [], these are 'conventional' truths about 'ultimate' phenomena rather than a sort of truths different from the "conventional truths" (sammuti-sacca):  both 'sorts' of truths are just paññātti  [].
'Ultimate' phenomena are the phenomena that cannot be decomposed further without losing their own nature (like atoms cannot be decomposed in separate neutrons and protons without losing their own nature, i.e. without losing what makes a particular combination  be oxygen and another be carbon… ).

Right views, conventional truths, ultimate truths… All these are tools to remove barriers preventing us from seeing things as they are, tools to tear the veils obscuring our perception and our understanding of what's appropriate and required in any given situation. But none of these tools is identical to 'seeing' and 'understanding' themselves.

Prejudices, habits, tendencies, preferences all hinder our ability to respond appropriately. They are manifestations of what Buddhism calls 'ignorance'; they usually rely (in a gross or subtle way) on the illusions of permanency, entity-ness and a dangerously misleading view that personal (internal) happiness can be found by aligning external factors into a particular configuration.

The teachings on the nature of the 'self' as mere designation, on dependent origination, on emptiness, are antidotes to ignorance. They provide conditions prone to the cessation of ignorance.

But mastering these is not nirvāṇa. Regardless of how subtle your understanding of dependent origination is, this is still paññātti,  still a concept, a conventional truth, i.e. a veil: you're not looking at things as they are, you're only describing their nature. This description might be a lot more accurate than earlier, but it's still a veil.

You might see the teachings as truths, as non-ignorance… but non-ignorance is the contradiction  of ignorance, not the cessation  of ignorance!

Nirvāṇa is beyond  ignorance; neither ignorance nor non-ignorance.

It is a moment when you can see both ignorance and non-ignorance without appropriating  any as 'yours', without clinging to either of the two as 'yours'.
It is a moment when you have a choice about how to respond because nothing is appropriated, postulated, pre-defined as 'yours'.

The tetralemma used by Nāgārjuna describes the Middle Way as realising the nature of reality as neither existence nor non-existence, neither both nor none.
See both ignorance and non-ignorance, but don't appropriate any (nor some combination of the two) as 'your' pre-defined stance: neither none, nor both, neither one nor the other.

Nirvāṇa is not the appropriation of a particular, 'superior' message. It is the cessation  of lust, aversion and ignorance.

It is "seeing things as they are", without stupidity (out of rejecting truths) of course, but also without suffering (out of clinging, to truths or to anything else, as 'yours').

It manifests as an unbiased response: if truths need to be updated (because the world is impermanent, or simply because something had been erroneously ignored until now), it doesn't have to create suffering, e.g. science is updated all the time (either because of new phenomena —e.g. the HIV virus— or because of improving theories with new data available —e.g. General Relativity).

"All it takes" ;-) is to be present, to pay attention without bias… beyond ignorance and beyond truths.
Questioning (not out of seeking the reassurance of certainties… but out of letting go of such reassurance!) is a fundamental aspect of the practice.

#Buddhism   #Dharma  
Unattributed photo