January 2023 Sesshin, Day 2: Everything Arises, Everything Falls Away: Teachings on Impermanence and the End of Suffering by Ajahn Chah (trans. by Paul Breiter)
3:28PM Jan 19, 2023
This is the second day of this January 2023, seven day Rohatusu sesshin. And I'm going to read again today from this book, by Ajahn Chah, entitled Everything Arises, Everything Falls Away.
Continuing from yesterday, we're starting a chapter six, which is entitled, seeing things as they really are. And John Shaw says, The Buddha taught to look at whatever appears, things don't stay. Having arisen, they cease ceasing, they appear again and having appeared, they cease. But a confused uninstructed person doesn't want it to be this way. If we meditate and become tranquil, we want to remain like that and don't want any disturbance. But that isn't realistic. The Buddha wanted us to first look at the facts and know these things as deceptive, then we can really have tranquillity. We don't know them, we become their owners and the trap of self view comes about. So we have to go back to the origin and find out how it happened that way.
We look for relief in things in things outside ourselves.
We want everything that's unpleasant to stop. Want to get what we want. Nothing wrong with that. But we expect it
everything that we dislike everything painful. We're really not willing to open to it all the way we're not willing to see it completely. Said whistling in the graveyard. Maybe if I ignore it, it'll, it'll change it'll go away. That's not the way of practice. It's not the way out of our, of our suffering. The psychologist Marsha Linehan. And also a Zen teacher said the only way out of hell is through it.
You have to see it
says we have to go back to the origin and find out how it happened that way. We have to understand the way things really are. The way things contact the mind how the mind reacts, and then we can be at peace. This is what we have to investigate. If we don't want things to happen the way they do, we won't have peace. Wherever we may try to escape to things still happen the same way. This is their nature. Like someone in a bowling alley, ball is going into the gutter and they've throwing every bit of body English they can try to keep it in the lane. Ball is going where it wants. It's already been released.
It's true that we don't know how things are going to turn out. And so we hope that they'll turn out the way we want. But really do we have the ability to control our environment in any meaningful way.
He says simply speaking this is truth. Impermanence suffering, an absence of itself or the nature of phenomena. Again, these are the three characters mystics of existence, as laid out by the Buddha, anicca, dukkha, and anatta.
These are the nature of phenomena of things, processes. They are nothing else but this. But we give things more meaning than they really have. It's really not so difficult to make wisdom arise. It means looking for the causes and understanding the nature of things. When the mind is agitated, you should realize this is not certain. impermanent when the mind is calm, don't start thinking really peaceful, because that is also not certain. When someone asks, What kind of food do you like best? Don't get too serious about that. If you say you really liked something, what's the big deal? Think about it. If you eat it every day, will you still like it so much? You'll probably get to the point where you say oh man, not again. We had friends who came to eat with us one evening, they drove up from Ithaca. A couple of with two kids. And in the car, they had a hand crank ice cream maker. And they were making our dessert, Mango Sorbet. And when they announced that kids said, Oh, not Mango Sorbet again.
says Do you understand this, you can end up getting sick of the very thing you like. It's because of the changeability of things. And this is what you should come to No, pleasure is uncertain. And remember whenever he says uncertain, he's really saying impermanent. Because it's impermanent, it's uncertain. It's not fixed, it's not going to stay. Unhappiness is uncertain, liking is uncertain, tranquility is uncertain, agitation is uncertain. Absolutely. Everything is uncertain. So whatever occurs we understand this, and we won't be taken in by anything. All experiences, without exception, are uncertain, because impermanence is their nature. Impermanence means that things are not fixed or stable and very simply speaking, this truth is the Buddha
I read something once by a guy named Carlo Rovelli think it was a book about time Italian writer I believe he said things things in quotation mark things in themselves are only events that for a while are monotonous everything the most solid object is alive. And someday it will cease to exist. No matter what it is.
John chart goes on any uncertainty is the truth. Truth is present for us to see. But we don't take a good clear look at it. We don't take a good clear look at it because we don't like it. And when it comes in when we're face to face with it. Our first reaction is how can I get out of this? How can I make things bend to my will?
Why won't they bend to my will? Why won't my legs stop hurting? Why won't my mind stop being so scattered?
The Buddha said those who see the Dharma see me if we see Annika The quality of being uncertain that all things in all things, then detachment and world weariness come about. Oh, this is merely so much a that's merely so much. It's not actually anything so great. It's merely so much. The mind becomes firm in this. It is merely that much. After realizing this, we needn't do any In very difficult in our contemplation, whenever we encounter, the mind is saying it's merely that much, and it stops. That's the end of it. We will realize that all phenomena are only deceptions, nothing is stable or permanent, but rather everything is ceaselessly changing and as the characteristics of impermanence, suffering and not self
it's not so much drama
not worried that things are about to fall apart
we have a little distance from the drama of our lives
everything deep sorrow and grief
joy, love it's all wonderful. It's all amazing. But nothing lasts. And it's we're hurt. We suffer because we think it will last we want it to last
until we see clearly, the nature of things. Detachment is just an idea is just a word we hear. But when we do begin to see it and we can see it to even a small degree, it makes a difference. I think I'm only qualified to talk about seeing it to a small degree. Things become lighter hills or not so steep. The task in front of us is not so daunting.
He says it's like a blazing red hot iron ball that has been heated in a furnace. What part of it will be cool? Try to touch it if you will touch the top and it will be hot. Touch the bottom it will be hot. Touch the sides and they will be hot. Why is it hot? It's a blazing iron ball that is red hot throughout. When we understand this, we won't touch it. When you are feeling this is really good. I like it. Let me have it. Don't give such thoughts credence don't take them too seriously. It's a red hot iron ball. If you touch any part of it, if you try to pick it up, you will be burned. You will experience a lot of pain. Your skin will break open and bleed.
We should be contemplating this at all times, walking, standing, sitting lying down. Even when we are in the toilet. When we are going somewhere when we are eating or after we've eaten and we excrete the waste from our food, we should be seeing that all we experience is unstable and impermanent and that it is also unsatisfactory and without self.
Things that are unstable and impermanent are uncertain and unreal. Without exception, they are all untrue. It's just like the red hot iron ball. Where can we touch it that it won't be hot? Absolutely every part of it part of it is hot. So we stopped trying to touch it. We stopped trying to freeze things the way we liked them stop trying to get that good report card that somehow we're going to make everything okay
everybody has this idea. Most people that if I just do enough, I just succeed enough. Finally I'll be able to relax. I'll be comfortable I'll be secure. But that kind of security doesn't exist. Everything is in motion. The only security is being in the flow of events as they happen. Taking the good and the bad. Good days bad days. concentrated mind scattered Mind says sheen teaches us anything. It's not to believe that conditions last. Everything is changeable when we really get that down and it takes a long time. finally realize this isn't necessarily going to last. And things begin to move. We have a little we have peace when we stopped demanding static peace, permanent success
chasing after praise futile my wife had a accompany. And one of the account executives that worked for it used to say, when all shit wipes out 100 attaboys.
In the world of business, it's always What have you done for me lately? John Shaw says this is not something difficult to train him. For example, parents warn a child not to play with fire, don't go near the fire, it's dangerous, you'll get burned. The child may not believe her parents or understand what they're talking about. But if she touches the fire just once and gets a burn. After that the parents won't need to explain anything or try to control her. No matter how much the mind is attracted to or infatuated by anything, you have to keep reminding it. It's not sure it's not permanent. You might get something like a glass and start thinking how beautiful it is. I think John Shaw had so few possessions that a nice glass was a big deal. What a nice glass, I will store it away and take really good care of it so it won't get broken. Then you have to tell yourself, it's not certain. You could be drinking from it and set it down by your elbow. And in a moment of carelessness. You knock it over and it breaks. It doesn't break today, it will break tomorrow. If it doesn't break tomorrow, it will break the day after tomorrow. Things that are subject to being broken are not where you should be placing your trust. I remember in Afghanistan, when the Taliban came to power one of the many times they came to power they destroyed this amazing gigantic Buddha statue was built into the side of a cliff think they dynamited it. And I remember reading a reaction from someone in Southeast Asia terrified and Buddhist. His take was it's the nature of things. Nothing is permanent, nothing lasts forever. be so easy to be outraged at the cruelty, the transgression.
This impermanence is the real dharma things are not stable or real. Nothing about them is real. And just this fact, is what is real. Are you going to argue this point? It is the most certain thing being born you must age fall ill and die. This is the permanent and certain reality. And this permanent truth is born of the truth of impermanence. Examining things thoroughly with a standard of not permanent, not certain. A transformation takes place into something permanent and certain, and then no one longer care no one Nope. And then one no longer carries the burden of things.
disciples of the Buddha awakened to the truth of impermanence, from awakening to impermanence, they experienced detachment and weariness with things or Nobita must be a Pali term. This weariness is not a version. If there is a version that is not really weariness, and it does not become a path. The beta is not what we think of as world weariness in the ordinary way. For example, living with our families, when we are not getting along well, we might start thinking that we're really becoming disenchanted in the way the teachings mentioned. That's not it. It's merely our defilements, increasing and oppressing our hearts. I'm really fed up, I'm going to leave it all behind. This is weariness because of defilement. And what really happens is that your defilements become greater than before you gave yourself this idea of weariness over things that disagree with you. It's like the idea we have of metta loving kindness. We think we're supposed to have loving kindness toward people, and all living things. So we tell ourselves, I shouldn't have anger toward them. I should feel compassion. Really sentient beings are lovable.
You start having affection for them. And it ends up being desire and attachment. Be careful about this. It is not just a matter of what we normally call love. This is not metta in the way of dharma. It is metta mixed with selfishness. We want something from others. And we call it metta. We also want to see ourselves a certain way. So much of people's good actions are born out of the desire to be seen by others, and by themselves as a good person.
It's different when you care more about others than you do about yourself. That's a pretty high bar. You have the phenomenon of people who live a life of virtue being irritable. Why, something about thinking that you've got it right? That makes one intolerant. The more virtuous you think you are, the less flexible and open you become. Really the ideal is the right hand not knowing what the left hand is doing. Or maybe it's the other way around. Maybe it's the left hand that doesn't know what the right hand is doing. I didn't get a lot of Christian training so I'm not sure.
Gani says we want something from others. And we call it metta. This is similar to our ordinary world weariness. Oh, yeah, I'm tired of it all. I'm getting out. That's just big defilement. It's not world weariness, or dispassion. It's only giving the same name to it. That's not the way of the Buddha. If it is correct, there is giving up without aversion or aggression, without any harmfulness toward anyone. One is not complaining or finding fault. One just sees everything as empty. means coming to the point where the mind is empty, is empty, of grasping attachment to things. That doesn't mean that there is nothing no people or objects in the world. There is empty mind there is people there are things but in there in the mind there is the perception of it all is truth is something uncertain. Things are seeing as being the way they are following their natural course has elemental nature arising and passing away. For example, you might have a vase, you feel that it's something nice, but from its own side it exists in differently, doesn't have anything to say. It's only you who have the feelings about it. You who live and die over it. If you dislike or hate it, you won't be affected. That's your affair. It is indifferent, but you have these feelings of like or dislike, and then get attached to them. We judge different things as being good or bad. This good troubles our hearts, bad troubles our hearts, both our defilements is good and bad is the disease of the mind.
We don't need to run away to any other place. We need only look at and investigate this point. This is the way the mind is when we dislike something that object of dislike isn't affected. It remains as it is. When we like something it isn't affected by our liking, but remains just as it is, we are only making ourselves insane. That's all.
Of course, this doesn't even get into the projections we put on people and animals
think we know what other people are feeling? Sometimes we do sometimes. Intuitively, we're we're there. But so often, it's just our ideas. Everybody has a bias. We all know why we do the not so great things that we do. There's reasons, reasons we can bring up news to defend ourselves. But when we see somebody else, being careless, or driving too fast, or drinking too much, whatever, because they're no good. We're almost in disbelief that people can be so callous and careless, doing the sorts of things that we do for perfectly good reasons.
He says youth, you think some things are good, you see other things is great. But you are projecting these ideas from yourself. If you are aware of yourself, you will realize that all these things are equal.
An easy illustration is food. He's gonna get a little earthy here. We feel this or that kind of food is nice. When we see the dishes on the table, they're attractive. Once everything is put together in the stomach, it's another story. But we look at the different dishes and say, this one's for me. That one's yours, that one is hers, when we've eaten, and then it comes out the other end. Probably no one is going to contend over it and say, This is mine that's yours. Or is that not so? Well, you'll still be possessive and greedy over it. This is putting it briefly and simply. If you see clearly and make up your mind, everything will be of equal value to you. When we have desires and think in terms of mine and yours, then we end up in conflict. When we see things as being equal, then we don't see them as belonging to anyone. They're just conditions existing as they are, no matter how fine the food is that we eat it that we eat. Once it is excreted, no one wants to pick it up and make a big deal out of it. No one will fight over it. When we realize things as this one Dharma, this one truth, all being of the same nature, we relax our grip, we put things down. We see they're empty, and we don't have love and hate for them. We have peace. It is said nirvana is the supreme happiness. nirvana is the supreme emptiness. Please listen to this carefully. happiness in the world is not supreme ultimate happiness. What we conceive of as emptiness is not supreme emptiness. If it is supreme emptiness, there is an end of grasping and attachment. If there is supreme happiness, there is peace. But the peace we know is still not supreme. The happiness we know is not supreme. If we reached nirvana, that emptiness is supreme and happiness is supreme, there is transformation. The character of happiness is transformed into peace. There is happiness, but we don't give it any special meaning there is suffering also. Even in nirvana, there is suffering, there is suffering also, when these occur, we see them as equal, their value is the same.
The sensory, the sensory experiences we like and dislike are equal. But when they contact us, we don't see them as equal. If something is pleasing, we are really happy over it. If something is displeasing, we want to destroy it. So they aren't the same to us. But in truth, they really are equal. We have to train in this. They are equal in that they are unstable and impermanent. All things pass.
going to skip ahead here go to another chat. Chapter This is Chapter 13. Entitled it's not permanent, it's not sure. He says, we focus on the here and now dharma. This is where we can let go of things and resolve our difficulties right now in the present, because the present moment contains both cause and result. The present is the fruit of the past. It is also the cause of the future that we are sitting here right now is the result of what we have done in the past, and what we will do and what we do now, we'll become the cause for what we experienced in the future. So the Buddha taught to discard the past and discard the future.
Discard the past, and discard the future. All we ever have is now some unofficial gospel of Jesus said, recognize what is in your sight, and that which is hidden from you will become plain. The truth we're looking for is right here.
When we realize the nature of things, when we relax our grasping and our aversion, then we are able to rest in the present are able to settle in.
Realize this is where we need to be. This is where our work is done. And so the Buddha taught to discard the past and discard the future. Saying discard doesn't really mean that we throw everything away, but that we remain in this single point of the present, where the past and future come together. So the word discard is just a way of speaking. What we want to do is be aware of the present or causes and results are to be found. We look at the present and see continuous arising and ceasing, arising. Arising and ceasing.
I keep saying this, but people don't really take it to heart phenomena appear in the present moment. And they are not stable, reliable. People don't look at this very much. Whatever comes about I will say Oh, this is not permanent, or this is uncertain. This is extremely simple. Whatever occurs is impermanent and uncertain, but not seeing or understanding this, we become confused and distressed. In what is impermanent, we see permanence in what is uncertain, we see certainty, I explain it, but people don't get it. And they end up living their lives in endless pursuit of things.
We, we ordinary people need to have our noses rubbed into it before it sinks in. I remember hearing that a lot in AAA. People recognizing it without a lot of pain. They didn't learn for doing whatever unhelpful. unwholesome things were doing and everything is going along, okay. It's hard for us to change, unlikely that people will change. But once it begins to bite, then we notice or we have a chance to notice. A lot of the difficulties that we run into are actually a gift. So way of getting our attention. way of waking up to the way things actually are
Whatever we're doing is a disaster. Then we're ready to change. There was a clergyman in the 17 or 1800s. That said, it's no use preaching to a man, unless you happen to catch him sick.
He says, really, if you reach the point of peace, you will be here at this place. I'm talking about this point in the present. Whatever appears any form of happiness or suffering, you will see that it is uncertain. This very uncertainty is itself the Buddha, because uncertainty is the Dharma. And the Dharma is the Buddha, the Dharma, the law, the truth. But most people believe the Buddha and the Dharma to be something external to themselves. When the mind starts to realize that all things without exception, are by their very nature, uncertain, the problems of grasping and attachment start to decrease and wither away. If we understand this, the mind starts to let go and put things down, not grasping onto things, and attachment can come to an end. When it comes to an end, one must reach the Dharma, there is nothing beyond this
the Tao is sage Changsu said to the mind that is still the universe surrenders.
relinquishing grasping and attachment is the way it's within the capabilities of everyone. To go in that direction. To go in that direction. We need to see what we're doing. And we need to be okay with seeing what we're doing. So much we can learn if we're willing to see our faults. Willing to see what we do that's unskillful. Willing to notice what the results are. But if we're constantly preoccupied with papering things over, building up our self image, looking respectable, we're not even in the game.
Really, if we look, if we see and of course sesshin puts it right in our face. Humility, rises up naturally
and with it, openness, acceptance, compassion, all the virtues then we have a path and determination. Energy can arise
we know what we need to do. We're not looking for a short solution for temporary relief.
We're not trying to manipulate things
not relying on hope.
doing the work with faith.
He says, When we meditate this is what we want to realize. We want to see impermanence, unsatisfactoriness and not self. And this begins with seeing uncertainty. When we see it perfectly clearly, then we can let go. When we experience happiness, we see that this is uncertain. Then when we experience suffering, we see that this is uncertain, we get the idea that it would be good to go to some place, and we realize it's uncertain. We think it would be good to stay where we are. And we realize that's uncertain to, we see that absolutely everything is uncertain, and we will live at ease, then we can stay where we are and be comfortable, or we can go somewhere else and be comfortable. We no longer are caught up in decision paralysis, always worrying, should I do this, should I do that?
Do one or the other, do something or do nothing. That's something to do to says doubts will end like this, they will end by this method of practicing in the present, there is no need to be anxious about the past, because it is gone. Whatever happened in the past, has arisen and ceased in the past. And now it's finished. We can let go of concern about the future. Because whatever will occur in the future will occur and cease in the future.
When the lay supporters come to make offerings here, they recite in the end may we finally reached nirvana in a future time. When or where that is they don't really know. It's still very far away. They don't say here and now. They say sometime in the future. It's always somewhere. Sometime they're not here, only there. In the next life. It will also be there and in future lives it will be there. So they never arrive, because it's always there.
We want to be here. Our time is up. Stop now in the site to four vows.