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Beyond the Reach of Fire

The following is an excerpt from a collection of Upasika Ke Nanayon's talks titled: AN UNENTANGLED KNOWING.

Buddhist meditation can be done in a textbook way by tackling all four tetrads in order:

  • mindfulness of body
  • mindfulness of feeling
  • mindfulness of thoughts and imaginings
  • mindfulness of consciousness

which can take painstaking years of meditation. 

Here the Upasika gives a simplified way which condenses  the tetrads in a way they can be tackled all at once.

I share this with inSelf yogis/yoginis, not for the technique or approach, because these may vary, but because of the descriptions of nibbana, the dhamma, the unfabricated, the deathless, "something special which lies beyond", beyond the reach of fire, something within the mind but isn't in the mind, the heartwood, without birth and death.

It all relates to the Noble Truth of impermance or inconstancy, which when truly seen, leads to dispassion.

She says:

 

     When you see change in the body, change in feelings, and change in the mind, this is called seeing the Dhamma, i.e. seeing inconstancy.  You have to understand this correctly.  Practicing the first tetrad of breath meditation contains all four tetrads of breath meditation. In other words, you see the inconstancy of the body and then contemplate the mind.  The mind, too, is inconstant.  This inconstancy of the mind is the Dhamma.  To see the Dhamma is to see this inconstancy.

     When you see the true nature of all inconstant things, then keep track of that inconstancy at all times,with every in-and-out breath.  Keep this up in all your activities to see what happens next.

     What happens next is dispassion.  Letting go.  This is something you have to know for yourself.

     This is what condensed breath meditation is like. I call it condensed because it contains all the steps at once.  You don't have to do one step at a time.  Simply focus at one point, the body, and you'll see the inconstancy of the body.  When you see the inconstancy of the body, you'll have to see feeling.  Feeling will have to show its inconstancy.  The mind's sensitivity to feeling, or its thoughts and imaginings, is also inconstant.  All of these things keep on changing.  This is how you know inconstancy....

     If you can become skilled at looking and knowing in this way, you'll be struck with the inconstancy, stress, and not-selfness of your "self," and you'll meet with the genuine Dhamma.  The Dhamma that's constantly changing like a burning fire--burning with inconstancy, stress, and not-selfness--is the Dhamma of the impermanence of all fabrications.  But further in, in the mind or in the property of consciousness, is something special, beyond the reach of any kind of fire.  There, there's no suffering or stress of any kind at all.  This thing that lies "inside":  You could say that it lies within the mind, but it isn't really in the mind.  It's simply that the contact is there at the mind.  There's no way you can really describe it.  Only the extinguishing of all defilement will lead you to know it for yourself.

     This "something special" within exists by its very nature, but defilements have it surrounded on all sides.  All these counterfeit things,--the defilements--keep getting in the way and take possession of everything, so that this special nature remains imprisoned inside at all times.  Actually, there's nothing by which you can label it, but it's something that you can pierce through to see--i.e., by piercing through defilement, craving, and attachment into the state of mind that's pure, bright, and silent.  This is the only thing that's important.

     But it doesn't have only one level.  There are many levels, from the outer bark to the inner bark and on to the the sapwood before you reach the heartwood.  The genuine Dhamma is like the heartwood, but there's a lot to the mind that isn't heartwood.  The roots, the branches and leaves of the tree are more than many, but there's only a little heartwood.  The parts that aren't heartwood will gradually decay and disintegrate, but the heartwood doesn't decay.  That's one kind of comparison we can make.  It's like a tree that dies standing.  The leaves fall away, the branches rot away, the bark and sapwood rot away, leaving nothing but the true heartwood.   That's one comparison we can make with this thing we call deathless, this property that has no birth, no death, no changing.  We can also call it nibbana or the unfabricated.. It's all the same thing.

     Now, then. Isn't this something worth trying to break through to see?...

(End of excerpt)

     

Replies (2)
  • How about substituting the word Dhamma without changing what the author relates?

    Her paragraph:

      When you see change in the body, change in feelings, and change in the mind, this is called seeing the Dhamma, i.e. seeing inconstancy.  You have to understand this correctly.  Practicing the first tetrad of breath meditation contains all four tetrads of breath meditation. In other words, you see the inconstancy of the body and then contemplate the mind.  The mind, too, is inconstant.  This inconstancy of the mind is the Dhamma.  To see the Dhamma is to see this inconstancy.

    Substitution:

      When you see change in the body, change in feelings, and change in the mind, this is called seeing the continuous mandatory alterations of physical substance, i.e. seeing inconstancy.  You have to understand this correctly.  Practicing the first tetrad of breath meditation contains all four tetrads of breath meditation. In other words, you see the inconstancy of the body and then contemplate the mind.  The mind, too, is inconstant.  This inconstancy of the mind is the evidence of ephemeral of mindstuff.  To see this ever-changing feature is to see this inconstancy.

    • How about substituting the word Dhamma without changing what the author relates?

      Yes, what you wrote above seems to work in context of what she was communicating.

      Dhamma is one of those words which is used in a variey of ways; it doesn't have just a single meaning.  I know a Burmese woman and when she speaks to the resident monks, they talk.  When they are done talking, she says, "dhamma." This sometimes goes on repeatedly, with much discourse given and many "dhammas" in reply.  In this context, it seems to simply acknowledge an agreement with what was said, as well as a show of respect to the monks.

      When I come across the word in Buddhist literature, I try to figure out what it means in the overall context of what is being communicated.  Otherwise, it can become unnecessarily confusing.

       

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