Buddhist Mindfulness #22 Boundless Freedom

There are times on the path where it is
very, very difficult. But, then, there are other times where, I suppose that is the inspiration
isn’t it, where there are times where things do seem to come together
and you have a clearer understanding. Once those insights start coming. Once you go, “Oh, that is what they mean by non-self.” “Oh, that is what they mean by condition-dependent origination” and you start to get some momentum
behind that. And, you are learning where the right balance is, you are learning where it
is, actually, that you have to place your mind. I will never forget, it was so emblazoned on my mind, the moment I realised that I knew what it was I was supposed to look at. I was
in the Shrine Room, in a meditation, I was free of hindrances, I was looking at things
rise and pass away and it was so within myself, I was not having to recreate the world, I
was not having to do anything heroic. All I had to do was pay attention, free of self-concern
at what was taking place and I realised I can do it, I can do that, that is so within myself. I am not having to become somebody else, at all. Or pretend. No, none of that. I can just observe. At that point, I knew it was all going to work. So, there is
nothing like direct personal experience. Once somebody has got that, they are hooked,
really. It might very well be that somebody passes through one of the fruitions, maybe
the first fruition and for a while they get a bit, you know, “Ah, well, it is inevitable
I will become enlightened at some point now.” Oh, do they? Very rarely. I think the vast
majority of people go, “Oh, come on, let’s do this.” But, occasionally, somebody might just
fall away for a while, but even they are guaranteed, eventuall,y to realise it. But to my mind,
I think once you have had a fruition and you know you have had a fruition, your whole life
is changed, there and then. When we talk about it being a “change of lineage,” is how
we describe it in Buddhism. So, going from the lineage of an ordinary, uninstructed worldling,
a ‘puthujjana,’ to a ‘Noble One,’ somebody who is destined for total realisation and who
has the knowledge that, indeed, they will come to know the unknown. There is that certainty
after what we call stream-winning, that, yes, indeed, that all the doubt is gone and there
is this certainty that, indeed, I will come to know the unknown and that really just carries
you forward, propels you. And, I think also that you do not put pressure on yourself then, because you have that certainty I suppose. So, I remember thinking, “Well, however long
it takes is however long it takes.” I was not going to put any pressure on or come to you
and say, “Where am I?” Quite, because that is all that personality belief. On the first path,
the mind is consumed with its ideas about where it is on the path, that is a fetter
that stops any real practice, after that, no, there is not the same pressure in the same
way. And also one’s relationship to time has changed, because at that point one has experienced
Nibbana, all be it the mind-made Nibbana, which is the fruition, which only lasts for a finger
snap, but that is the finger snap of being beyond time, and not being fooled by concepts
of time anymore. Having realised the timelessness even for a single instant, changes your relationship
to time. And, so, there is not the same sense of, “Come on. Got to get on with this.” Yes, “Where am I now?” It was a very interesting. A tough thing to do, but I thought it was, like you were saying, it was inevitable for me. I definitely felt that that was, I had come
here for a reason and even though I did not know what the reason was. I did not understand
Buddhism or anything. I came for the meditation to be honest. See, because Buddhism is only a vehicle for this, to allow this realisation. It is so deeply
intimate and personal, this, the desire to be free of suffering, the desire to understand
life. Which does breed all these speculative views that people go in for and all this mad behaviour that everyone goes in for, but it is true for everyone. I do not know why it is, in every generation there are just a few people who decide, “This is it for me.” It definitely was for me, looking back, it was obvious, looking back now, with hindsight, with a bit of clarity, that I had come this time around in order to finish the job. Funnily enough, when the realisation
comes, you realise, “I have got, there is infinity, eternity to dance and play and
explore, suddenly there is this boundless freedom and, so, everything just has its own
time and space. So, it is not really the end, is it? Oh, no. It is finally to be at the beginning.
It is just to be awake. Finally awake. Then there is just that delicious choice of,
“Well, I could be busy or I could just sit here.” Honestly, I am getting terrible, progressively,
it is more, I am taking more of the choice, “I’ll just sit here.” Because there is really nothing to do. And I find when I go of and do things, thinking, “You should go of and
do things,” even if it is going on a holiday or something, you think, “Well, I’m here.”
There are sights, sounds, tastes, touches. Slightly different than normal but, actually, I’m just
as much on holiday when I’m looking over Bradford on Avon as I am if I’d be in Portugal. It is just a change of scenery, I suppose. Yes, but that delightful quietude, that wonderful peace,
that sense that all is as it should be, is there whether I’m in Australia or in…. Yes, and that is permanent. It never changes does it? No. It never changes. And, for me, there is a mystery from the moment I wake up in the morning. There is this sense of mystery of like, “Oh!”
It is like you never get bored of it. It is, like, “Oh, my goodness,” this is
all happening and not knowing how it is happening. That is another reason I feel compassion for
people because they have so decided what is going to be happening that day and yet, nobody
really knows, we can’t know. So, there is just that pleasure, isn’t there, of just finding
it as you go along. If you seek to enforce your will upon the world and control it to be exactly what you want, you are living in a completely dead life. It does not
take account of changing conditions. But, I think people are quite, I don’t know if impatient
is the right word, but most mornings I go for a walk, and I was telling someone and they
were saying, “Is it the same walk? Is it the same walk every day?”
And I thought, “It is, but…” Oh, Kathleen. You are so boring. “…clearly, it isn’t.” Exactly. And that is the thing. Okay, it is just a 40 minute walk,
but it is not. I am completely replete with Bradford on Avon. I just go for a walk in the country park and you see the dogs, the people, the birds and you hear the breeze
through the trees and it is just so delightful. It is the same walk I normally do but.. But, it is not, is it? It is always different. And I don’t mean you just see different people. Life is always new, it is never old. Yes, and it can not be the same as the day before because it is all a day older. Even the stones have moved on the path or they are smaller or… life goes on. The Buddha’s chief disciple, Sariputta, in the Theragatha, which is the Verses of the Elders, I can’t remember how the poem goes (Thag 17.2),
but essentially he says, “Other people think we are so boring, yet I delight in these rocks and these streams, and the remote living. I focus my mind and meditate,
and I wait happily and peacefully, like a man who has finished his working week,
waits for his wages.” There is this sense of, “Well, whatever.” And, whatever happens is fine. Yes. The first time I came here, it was a talk by Alan James. I don’t know if it was called this, but it certainly
was his first sentence, “The world is perfect as it is.” I did not doubt that, I thought that is a really interesting thing to say, but I need to know that for myself.
It is no good him telling me that, I need to know that. And now I do. The world is perfect as it is. Which is why there are no arguments, which is why the Buddha said, “I do not dispute
with the world, the world disputes with me.” People will argue that, based on their distorted
view of the world, but when you undertake the training voluntarily, you can
come to find out for yourself. Then you find that the result is that you realise that actually everything is absolutely as it should be. And that this particular realm, this human
realm is tough, it is difficult, there are awful things that happen, that go on, yet it
is perfect as it is. Yes, it can not be anything other than that. Deeply unsatisfactory if you depend upon it. But, if there is no dependence upon any of it for anything, for your happiness, for your peace, then, there is just this delightful unending peace that is available, that “is.” Because everything in the phenomenal universe, including thoughts and feelings,
consciousness and everything, has no enduring quality at all. The only thing that is really real is this endless peace. Yes And, everything is so connected to everything else and it is all so fleeting so how can it be depended on? You don’t need a scientist to tell you. Well, I love science, I do, I love the gadgets. This could not happen without science. I love it, I do. But this whole endeavour is not science it’s domain, it has nothing to do with science
whatsoever, although I appreciate there is a crossover in terms of quantum physics and
stuff like that, but no, it has nothing to do with it. And that is the thing, that is
why this is a quiet revolution because you free yourself from the authority of anyone. Nobody, the scientists can not tell you, the priest can not tell you, because you have seen it yourself. Yes, I know how the world works. For a lot of people that is heresy,
out and out heresy. Oh well I have said it now. Yes,, you are in trouble now Kathleen,
luckily they can not see your face. But yes, that is for me why it is a revolution, part
of the revolution is, and they do not like that because they want that authority, they
want to be the authority. It is power. It is power. And that shores up their sense of self. And, therefore, they are living in delusion. Sometimes though, science will have
got papers and proof on, I am going to be so vague now, on something. Things that we actually
already know, but until it is in a scientific journal or whatever, people then say, “Oh I
believe that now.” But there are things that we just know as part of the planet, part of
the universe, we do not need science to tell us that because we know. And, just accepting something because scientific research has shown it to be so, is still blind adherence to a view or a belief. Yes. And, in no way shape or form does it transform you, does it change you, does it lead to a revolution in understanding. You still go home with your gripes, still go home having completely ignored reality for the entirety of the day. Yes, it does not give you any insight Not any real insight, because it is not personal, it is not coming from your direct experience. it is reinforcing the idea of the world, conceptually. Whereas, what we are dealing with is the actual world as it unfolds moment by moment. When I write in my book
(Postcards From Beyond p131 ) about the fact that somebody practicing insight they come
to see that the “Big- Bang” isn’t something that… … regardless of whether there was something that happened thirteen billion years ago is irrelevant… the “Big-Bang” is happening now. Life is, the universe, is coming into being and ceasing now. And life becomes a lot more
dynamic and profound when you acknowledge that, when you see that through insight. It is right here, right now. Exactly.


  1. I regard it as such a privilege to listen to two people who have both completed their training talking to each other about it….how often do you see a video of that…if ever! Incredible..thank you once again.

  2. Thank you for the thought-provoking discussion! In the video, Paul often mentions of the 'desire' to be freed from suffering. This raises a question in my mind β€” isn't the pursuit of Nirvana, to be liberated, then, a craving in itself? Can the pursuit of Nirvana be against the very definition of Nirvana?

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