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Buddhadharma : Fall 2006
buddhadharma| 47 |fall 2006 you from seeing this. So, experience a jhana first, then investigate this matter right after. Then try arguing with me! Also, in jhana – real jhana, not fake ones – the seen and the heard and the sensed all disappear. The external five senses cease. This data is also clear. When one reflects on the complete absence of these five senses within the jhana experience, in the hindrance-free state of post-jhana upacara samadhi, one will see with certainty that there is no self, soul, or me observing the sight, hearing the sounds, or sensing the smells, tastes, and touches. There is no self, soul, or me knowing the known. All forms of consciousness are also seen as an impersonal process that can come to a complete cessation. In short, you are not identical with your mind. The mind is just a natural process. It can completely stop. It does stop, once and for all, at parinibbana! Once again, you, my reader, will be incapable of agreeing with me. The five hindrances, which are active within you now, under the surface of cognition, prevent you from seeing the truth. A jhana experience challenges your most basic view, the view that “You are”! Don’t worry about such disagreements for now. Instead, meditate until you have experienced jhana and suppressed those five hindrances. Then see if I’m right! The Final Part of Bahiya’s Teaching “Bahiya, you should train yourself thus: in the seen will be merely what is seen, ... in the cognized will merely be what is cognized. Practicing in this way, Bahiya, you will not be ‘because of that.’ When you are not ‘because of that,’ you will not be ‘in that.’ And when you are not ‘in that,’ you will be neither here nor beyond nor in between the two. Just this is the end of suffering.” What does it mean, “you will not be ‘because of that’ ”? The Pali is na tena. Tena is the instrumen- tal of the word for “that.” Na is the negative. It means, literally, “not because of that, not through that, not by that.” It means, in essence, that you will not assume there is a self, a soul, or a me just because there is seeing, hearing, smelling, tasting, touching (sensing), or cognizing. The Buddha is saying that once you have penetrated the truth of sensory experience, by suppressing the hindrances through jhana, you will see that there is no “doer,” or “knower,” behind sensory experience. No longer will you be able to use sensory experience as evi- dence for a self. Descartes’ famous “I am because I think” is refuted. You will not be because of think- ing, or because of seeing, hearing, or sensing. In the Buddha’s words, “You will not be ‘because of that [any sensory experience].’ ” When the sensory processes are discarded as tenable evidence for a self, a soul, or a me, then you are no longer located in the sensory experi- ence. In the Buddha’s words, “You will not be ‘in that.’” You no longer view, perceive, or even think that there is a “me” involved in life. In the words of the doctor in the original series of Star Trek, “It is life, Jim, but not as we know it!” There is no longer any sense of self, or soul, at the center of experience. You are no more “in that.” Just to close off the loophole that might allow you to think you can escape nonexistence of a self or soul by identifying with a transcendental state of being beyond what is seen, heard, sensed, or cognized, the Buddha thunders, “and you will be neither here” (with the seen, heard, sensed, or cog- nized) “nor beyond” (outside of the seen, heard, sensed, or cognized) “nor in between the two” (neither of the world nor beyond the world). The last phrase confounded the sophists! In summary, the Buddha advised both Bahiya and Venerable Malunkyaputta to experience the jhana to suppress the five hindrances. Only in this way can one discern with certainty the absence of a self or a soul behind the sensory process. Con- sequently, sensory experience will never again be taken as evidence of a knower or a doer, such that you will never again imagine a self or a soul at the centre of experience, or beyond, or anywhere else. Bahiya’s teaching put in a nutshell the way to the realization of no-self, anatta. “Just this,” concluded the Buddha “is the end of suffering.” Conclusion I hope that my argument has been strong enough to challenge you, or rather to confound the vipal- lasa driving your sensory processes. The Buddha’s brief teaching to Bahiya and Venerable Malunkya- putta is not some shortcut for the super intelligent. The practice of “in the seen will be merely what is seen ...” requires the suppressing of the five hin- drances. The suppressing of the five hindrances requires jhana. Jhana requires the rest of the noble eightfold path, the first seven factors. It requires faith in the triple gem, the keeping of precepts, and the practice of dana. There is only one path to nibbana, and that is the noble eightfold path. There are no shortcuts. Maggan’ atthangiko settho ... Eso’va maggo, natthi añño Dassanassa visuddhiya The best of paths is the eightfold path ... This is the only Way. There is none other, for the purity of vision.4 4 Dhammapada, verses 273 and 274 (English translations from Ven. Narada’s Dhammapada).