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Buddhadharma : Winter 2005
buddhadharma| 59 |winter 2005 B uddhism teaches two kinds of reality: apparent reality and ultimate reality. The apparent reality is called concept. Whenisay,“Heisaman,”iamnotlyingtoyou.iam telling you a truth. But that truth is simply according to conven- tion. in the ultimate analysis, there is no such thing as a man but just the combination of the five aggregates, which can be further classified as nama (mind) and rupa (matter). Mind and matter are the ultimate realities. But when mind and matter are combined as a being, we call it a man or a woman, a name we give to the combination. This is something that exists only in the imagination of people and has no existence of its own. The names we give to people or things, and the people or things represented by these names, are apparent reality. From apparent reality, we extract ultimate reality. Mind and matter are the ultimate reality, because they really exist and can be experienced through the practice of meditation. Concepts have no real existence of their own, although they exist in our minds. We use a lot of concepts in our daily lives, but when we practice vipassana meditation, we do not take concepts as the object. We do not know when concepts come into being and when they disap- pear. They do not have the three characteristics – impermanence, suffering, and no soul. These three characteristics are formed only in the ultimate realities – not in concepts. There are four ultimate realities taught in Buddhism: 1. Consciousness 2. Mental factors 3. Matter 4. Nibbana So, do not take concepts, apparent reality, as your object. Take ultimate reality only as your object: your mind, thoughts, emotions, sensations, the movement of the body, and so on. Concentrate more on internal objects than external objects. external objects are to be taken as objects of meditation only when they force themselves into your mind (for example, when you hear a noise). Then, there are two kinds of vipassana – direct and inferential. in direct vipassana, you put your mind on objects and you come to see them as having the three characteristics: impermanence, suf- fering, and no soul. after you have seen the real object and have observed its characteristics, you can infer that other phenomena you have not experienced will also have those characteristics. a vipassana yogi must always take as his object that which is in the present moment. Buddha said, Do not go after the past because the past is already passed. Do not long for the future because the future has not yet come. But a yogi who is able to be mindful of the object at the present moment, or the present moment as it arises, should develop concentration and wisdom that cannot be dragged away by wrong views or by attachment. The object in the present moment is here – in front of your eyes, as it were. You can watch it, examine it, and see it clearly. When you see it clearly, you know it arises and disappears; it is impermanent. One object arises and disappears and then another arises and disappears, and so on. it is like being bombarded by arising and disappearing. That sense of being oppressed by arising and disappearing is suffering. We know we cannot do anything about it. We just have to accept it. We cannot make impermanence permanence. We cannot make suffering happiness. We have no control over it, and that having no control over it is what we mean by no soul. Only when you see these three characteristics do you want to get away from suffering. if you can just pay attention to the object at the present moment, and not go back to the past or long for the future, you will develop concentration quickly. You will come to see the true nature of these objects: they are impermanent, they are suffering, and they are no soul. “Vipassana” means seeing. The purpose of vipassana is seeing mental and physical phenomena as imperma- nence, suffering, and no soul. To do that, we must start with the proper object. Finding the True OBjecT of Vipassana By Sayadaw U Silananda