Watch the doors.
With the arising of ego delusion comes the assertion, “I am this and not that“.
What happens before the arising of ego delusion?
Words can’t describe it. Notions can’t contain it. Ineffable. Inscrutable. To be experienced by the wise.
Discriminating between observer and observation, you get sense objects and sense perceptions. From perceptions, feelings are had. Positive, neutral, negative. Positive feelings are desired, negative feelings are rejected, neutral feelings are just there..
Why are those things we consider to be positive considered positive in the first place? Ultimately, no one can say exactly why we are currently existing rather than not existing. What caused the initial split between observer and observation? Boredom? Loneliness? Tedium?
There can be no observer without an observation, this side of the coin is well understood by my western, “scientifically” oriented friends. We have asserted that consciousness is produced by the brain. In a very real way, we have ‘put the cart before the horse’. We say that there is no observer without that which has been observed (the brain is that which has been observed), but we forget that there can be no observation without an observer… Simple mistake. It’s ok. Gotta shift course, tho.
Proliferation. The seed becomes a forest.
There is endless proliferation of positive and negative as the mind system grinds on and on. Rejecting negative, clinging to positive, beings are lost on the Great Ocean until they reach The Other Shore, until they realize The Unconditioned, and attain The Highest Happiness of Nirvana.
In the Sakkapanha Sutta, Sakka (a King of Gods) asks:
Sir, what gives rise to thinking?
And Buddha responds:
‘Thinking arises from the tendency to proliferation… when this tendency is present, thinking arises; when it is absent, thinking does not arise.’
I’m going to go out on a limb and assert that by ‘the tendency to proliferation’, Buddha is bringing attention to the recursive nature of this mind system. What happens in one moment is fed back into the Grand Equation. What happens ‘now’ will influence the ‘future’. Really interesting things happen with recursive processes!
Think about evolution. Evolution will happen in any system that displays a few specific characteristics.
- Inheritance .
- Elements reproduce. They make copies of themselves. Traits are passed on.
- Not all copies/children are exactly same. There is mutation.
- Differential fitness conferred by various traits.
- Based on changing environments, some combinations of traits will be better than others.
Without ‘the tendency to proliferation’, or the ‘recursive nature of reality’, none of this would happen. We wouldn’t see this bewilderingly beautiful complexity all around. Also, we wouldn’t experience all the pain that characterizes existence in the fire (impermanence!)..
How do beings find liberation from these addictive cycles? From the pains of limited, temporary existence, how can we realize the end of Dukkha?
We look at doors. We notice. Always mindful, whether walking, standing, sitting or lying down– at work or at home surrounded by screaming children, we notice unflinchingly.
“This is good”.
“This is not so good”.
Not dependent on the value judgments of others. We are free to notice, “this brings more wholesomeness, less unwholesomeness.” Or, we notice, “this brings less wholesomeness, more unwholesomeness.”
And, we respond accordingly. How do we respond?
Well, sir, what practice has that monk undertaken who has reached the right way which is needful and leading to the cessation of the tendency to proliferation?’
‘Ruler of the Gods, I declare that there are two kinds of happiness: the kind to be pursued, and the kind to be avoided. The same applied to unhappiness and equanimity.
‘Why have I declared this in regard to happiness? This is how I understood happiness: When I observed that in the pursuit of such happiness, unwholesome factors increased and wholesome factors decreased, then that happiness was to be avoided. And when I observed the pursuit of such happiness unwholesome factors decreased and wholesome ones increased, then that happiness was to be sought after. Now, of such happiness as is accompanied by thinking and pondering, and of that which is not so accompanied, the latter is the more excellent. The same applies to unhappiness and to equanimity. And this, Ruler of Gods, is the practice that monk has undertaken who has reached the right way… leading to the cessation of the tendency to proliferation.’ And Sakka expressed his delight at the Lord’s answer.
Doors and the things that walk through them.
Look with your skin, tongue, ears, nose, eyes, and brain. See pressure and heat, tastes, sound waves, smells, light and brain activity.
But, try not to fool yourselves… there was never anything but the activity of your own deepest mind. Your own deepest mind is my deepest mind as well, but, at that level there is no such thing as ‘yours’ and ‘mine’. Look at Indra’s Net.
You’d like to peel back the curtain and find the Wizard of Oz back there pulling the levers, but he isn’t there. As far as any of us can tell, there is no one there. Nothing there. Yet, still, they assert that there must be some creator. They demand that there must be some ‘highest being’, some ‘ultimate being’, but do they not consider that even if they were to find such a being, the discovery would only lead to more questions. Who created the creator god? None of it makes any sense.
But, what is producing the illusion?
Who knows!? Who cares? You do. I know. But you’re going to have to get over that. You want ultimate explanations. You want the truth all tidy and wrapped up into an attractive bundle– “YOU CAN’T HANDLE THE TRUTH!”
Words can’t contain it. Thoughts can’t conceive of it. Fingers can point to it, but fools get caught in adoration of the finger. While you cannot model the truth, you can live it, and be it! Although, when story time comes, any story you tell will be inaccurate, incomplete, untrue.
Try telling a friend, who has never tasted apples, about the taste of an apple. You can make contrasts and comparisons based on other tastes your friend may have experienced, but the taste of the apple is new and unique. You won’t be able to distill the experience into a set of words, or even into a string of thoughts (for yourself). The best you can do is to offer your friend a bite of the apple. And, instead of trying to remember what an apple tastes like, you can just take another bite and see!
So, in short, our ability to build maps and models of reality is lacking. Our words are too narrowly focused. Even our thoughts can’t do it justice. So, instead of getting caught in the map-making phase, we push on into gnosis. We see for ourselves. [Ehipassiko]
How evil is the eyeball? How evil is the light? How righteous is the eyeball? How righteous is light?
The correct answer is 0% evil. Evil is a culturally constructed idea– what is evil in one culture is not evil in another. I’m going to avoid going into too much detail on this one. It is kinda boring. Does that mean that anything goes? No. Not at all.
Some people will assert that there is no evil and therefore might makes right and survival of the fittest is the only thing that makes any sense. They’re just posers. They haven’t gone far enough.
What to take away from this little excursion into morality?
Morality is a relative thing, not an absolute thing. The stars probably don’t care too much about what you eat for breakfast. The mountain doesn’t think about how often you masturbate.
The ‘evil’ is not in the sense minds– they just exist to be sensitive to a certain region of the electromagnetic spectrum, or to pressure/sound waves, etc..
The ‘evil’ is not in the thing being perceived. Light is not good or bad. Sound waves are not good or bad.
There is something that happens when the sense minds encounter a sense object to which they have attached some attachment or aversion to. The mind system is perpetuated by attraction or aversion. The mind system is ultimately responsible for Dukkha, not any particular sense mind or sense object.
Conditioning. Association. Evolution for billions of years. Things are wild.