The following is a translation of a talk by Luang Po. It will be best suited for practitioners.
If our aim is to understand the Dhamma that the Buddha taught, first of all we have to take the Buddha as our example.
Where is the highest truth?
Before the Buddha was the Buddha, when he was still a prince, what was he searching for?
He was searching for Liberation, for Freedom. This freedom is the Dhamma to end all sufferings.
The end of suffering is the highest truth.
Now again, where is the highest truth?
Will the eyes reveal anything to the Buddha? Looking with the eyes all over the world, where can he see this truth, where can he find it?
The eyes bring forth nothing for him – the truth is to be seen nowhere in the world.
The highest truth is inside, inside his body and his mind.
Thus the highest truth is also inside ourselves, in each one of us, but whether we will practice to see it or not, it is up to us.
If we practice what the Buddha taught, we will have the highest truth within ourselves.
So how do we practice? What is it that we have to know?
There are 4 things, that is,
Second, cause of suffering.
Third, the stopping of suffering. The stopping of suffering is to let go of the cause; then the end of suffering will arise. At the present moment, whenever you can abandon the cause of suffering, the end of suffering arises.
Fourth, the path to ending suffering.
All is contained in these four things.
The Buddha could see the cause of sufferings. He could see the cause of the five aggregates, what causes them to be born, to arise, to exist. The five aggregates are rupa, vedana, sanna, sankhara and vinnana – body, feeling, memory, intention and consciousness – he could see the cause of all of these.
He could see not only the cause of the five aggregates and how they arise, but the cause of the ending of these five aggregates: what causes the body, vedana, sanna, sankhara and vinnana to end.
Stopping of suffering is inside these, the five aggregates, ending of suffering is in the five aggregates. The highest truth is inside the five aggregates.
The cause of the five aggregates – ignorance – is also inside these same five aggregates.
Desires and attachments are born in these five aggregates. Then is letting go of desires and attachments somewhere else?
No – the letting go of ignorance, desire and attachment is also in these five aggregates – nowhere else. If we search for Dhamma without understanding, without knowing this fact, it’s gone totally wrong.
Why is that? The highest truth can only be known through seeing with wisdom – not by memory, not by words. How are we supposed to see if we don’t even know where to look?
Without seeing as it is, there is no way even to tell wrong from right.
“Right or wrong?” This choice is inside the five aggregates.
The stopping of suffering is inside the five aggregates, stopping of suffering means that we do not allow the five aggregates to arise any further.
What causes the end of the five aggregates? What element removes the conditions for them to be born?
It is abandoning ignorance and craving in the mind. If we do not start from here, there is no way to bring an end to the suffering.
The teaching which does not show us the suffering of the 5 aggregates is useless. Without seeing the suffering, realising that the eyes, ears, nose, tongue, body and mind are enemies, problems, and full of pain – there is no way to end the sufferings. The truth is hidden from us as long as we do not see this, as long as we do not know it.
The not-knowing in itself is what hides the truth – there is nothing else hiding it. Because of avijja, ignorance, the wisdom to see clearly to the bottom of things is hidden from us.
But when we don’t know, how do we change this, how do we end the suffering? One who has wrong view never knows he is wrong. He thinks he is right. To end suffering one must put an end to not knowing, but how do we come to know what we do not know?
“Not knowing” means exactly that – I don’t know it, I don’t know what it is, where it is – is it in front, to the side, outside, inside? where does it end, where does it begin – I don’t know when I will know, how I will know.
And yet, no matter where we clean and polish again and again, something will reveal itself.
Wisdom is the same, it reveals itself, it becomes clear as we clean and polish away the thing that is hiding it.
Therefore, we must clean and polish our own mind, not polishing anywhere else. This is how we will come to know that we can put the blame solely, wholly and entirely on these five aggregates.
Do we know that there is the highest truth in one hair, one hair on the body?
There is suffering, the cause of suffering, the ending and the path to end suffering in one hair.
As long as we are not seeing the truth, there is no way to say right things, no way to do right things, there is still always wrong thinking, wrong-doings. Doubt still is there – do you see how just now you have doubt about how the highest truth is in one hair?!
It is quite clear that if we have no doubt, we will immediately agree with this, with no questioning, no hesitation.
If we can let go of the doubt, we can always see the same thing and agree on the same thing as the Buddha. Whatever the Buddha saw we also see. Whatever the parents see, the child will also see. The same thing, unless the child is blind, or if he has wrong view.
As the Buddha saw the sufferings, we see sufferings, he saw the end of sufferings, we also see the end, he saw the cause of sufferings, we also see the cause of sufferings, the practice to end the sufferings, we also practice seriously to end the sufferings the same way, and it will truly end within ourselves.
We must really see through this.
The things that we see, we can use language to explain. How to explain wisdom, to teach what is seen through wisdom?
The eye cannot think: “I can’t see, I can’t see”.
If we have the same right eyes as the one who practices the teaching of the Buddha, the same right view, the same seeing, then the four noble truths are all there – no need to look any further.
We have eyes but cannot see that. When we have no more doubt, then we have eyes for reality, the four noble truths exist within the eyes.
It is the highest truth, that is the noble truth. Noble means supreme, the highest. Truth means fact. The supreme fact, not a normal fact. The ordinary one is not the highest. This one is the supreme fact, the fact for the ones with the eyes to see, the ones who know. This fact can be known. But without seeing with wisdom, it is not real knowing.
The eyes are there.
The ears are there.
As the eyes are there and the ears are there, the truth is also there, in the eyes, ears, nose, tongue, body and mind.
The Seeing of Dhamma is through these doors.
Not being able to see is the cause of sufferings. Seeing is the cause of the freedom from sufferings. Whether you can end the suffering depends on this. You will understand by yourself. When we have the eyes, we can see by ourselves.
If you want to see it now, you have the ability.
I will give you an easy example: we love something and we can let go of that love.
What is this that is so called “ our love” ?
Do you think is it good to keep this love? Good to love her, good to wait to see her?
Is it good that we come to love? Are such feelings a “good” thing?
Whenever that “love” is no longer good for you, as soon as it no longer pleases yourself, then there is no more attachment, no more touching to the heart, no more wishing to keep anything – nothing remains. Where is goodness in it?
To represent the mind, there is an example with a man holding poison when his hand has no cut. Then he is not hurt even when he touches a poison and holds it.
In the same way, someone who has let go of the love in the heart cannot be hurt, no matter what he has in his hand – for example, he is not hurt when he is holding money in his hand. When the thief comes and takes what is in his hand, he is not hurt.
But what if the thief takes the money, if he loves the money, his money?
The thief arrives as the thief, the man arrives as the man, the money arrives as the money, just something in the middle.
But we say the money is ours. If the money is ours, we suffer right away, maybe crying, maybe hitting our body, pulling more and more suffering towards ourselves.
The sufferings are not something that exists already there in the mind. This is how the sufferings are formed.
When suffering does not help to get the money back, why do you suffer? We see just how far apart right understanding and wrong view are at this point. They are completely opposite from one another.
The things being taken away by the thief, we have no way to get it back. Suffering does not help us to get it back. Yet we do not even recognize, see, or understand our own mind within ourselves, we do not see how the suffering is formed within our own mind, we are still looking for the thing outside that we can’t get back.
What is the cause of suffering here? What is the cause of the ending of suffering here? As long as we are still looking for the money, there is no way to see anything.
Wisdom and understanding of the Dhamma means knowing how to think correctly, how to see correctly, how to set the position of your mind. From what side do you look at something that happens to you, where do you see right and wrong, where do you look for good and bad? This is the position of your mind, the place you start from; your understanding.
As long as you continue to set the position of the mind as you do: in the wrong way, starting from the wrong point, looking at the wrong angle, looking for danger in the wrong places, looking for happiness in the wrong places – then suffering results from that. It’s like the wheel following the cart, like your shadow following you; the suffering that results always from having Wrong View. But you just can’t see that, you can’t understand. Change your way of thinking, change your view, then you will be out of suffering. Apart from suffering, there is nothing outside. There is no future. If you are continuing in birth-and-death, it is because you are still in suffering, it is because you have not corrected your view.
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