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Lions Roar : November 2017
The Buddha said that conditions (sankharas), whether they are internal conditions, bodily conditions, or external conditions, are not-self—their nature is to change. Contemplate this truth until you see it clearly. This very lump of flesh that lies here in decline is saccadhamma, the truth. The truth of this body is saccadhamma, and it is the un- changing teaching of the Buddha. The Buddha taught us to look at the body, to contemplate it, and to come to terms with its nature. We must be able to be at peace with the body, whatever state it is in. The Buddha taught that we should ensure that it is only the body that is locked up in jail, and not let the mind be im- prisoned along with it. Now as your body begins to run down and deteriorate with age, don’t resist that; don’t let your mind deteriorate with it. Keep the mind separate. Give energy to the mind by realizing the truth of the way things are. The Lord Buddha taught that this is the nature of the body. It can’t be any other way. Having been born, it gets old and sick and then it dies. This is a great truth that you are presently encountering. Look at the body with wisdom and realize it. The Buddha said that rich or poor, young or old, human or animal, no being in this world can maintain itself in any one state for long; everything experiences change and estrangement. This is a fact of life that we can do nothing to remedy. But the Buddha said that what we can do is contemplate the body and mind so as to see their impersonality, see that neither of them is “me” or “mine.” They have a merely provisional reality. It’s like this house: it’s only nominally yours; you couldn’t take it with you anywhere. It is the same with your wealth, your possessions, and your family—they are all yours only in name. They don’t really belong to you; they belong to nature. Now this truth doesn’t apply to you alone: everyone is in the same position, even the Lord Buddha and his enlightened disciples. They differed from us in only one respect, and that was in their acceptance of the way things are. They saw that it could be no other way. The Buddha taught us to scan and examine this body, from the soles of the feet up to the crown of the head, then back down to the feet again. Just take a look at the body. What sort of things do you see? Is there anything intrinsically clean there? Can you find any abiding essence? This whole body is steadily degenerating and the Buddha taught us to see that it doesn’t belong to us. It is natural for the body to be this way because all conditioned phenomena are subject to change. How else would you have it be? Actually there’s nothing wrong with the way the body is. It’s not the body that causes you suffering, it’s your wrong thinking. When you see the right wrongly, there’s bound to be confusion. It’s like the water of a river. It naturally flows down the gra- dient; it never flows against it, and that is its nature. If a person were to go and stand on a riverbank and, seeing the water flow- ing swiftly down its course, foolishly want it to flow back up the gradient, he would suffer. Whatever he was doing, his wrong thinking would allow him no peace of mind. He would be un- happy because of his wrong view, thinking against the stream. If he had right view, he would see that the water must inevitably flow down the gradient, but until he realized and accepted that fact, the man would be agitated and upset. The river that must flow down the gradient is like your body. Having been young, your body has become old and now it is meandering toward its death. Don’t go wishing it were other- wise; it is not something you have the power to remedy. The Buddha told us to see the way things are and then let go of our clinging to them. Take this feeling of letting go as your refuge. Keep meditating even if you feel tired and exhausted. Let your mind dwell with the breath. Take a few deep breaths and then establish the mind on the breath using the mantra Buddha. Make this practice habitual. Let go of all externals. Don’t go grasping at thoughts of your children and relatives, don’t grasp at anything whatsoever. Let go. Let the mind unite in a single point and let that composed mind dwell with the breath. Let the breath be its sole object of knowledge. Concentrate until the mind becomes increasingly subtle, until feelings are insignificant and there is great inner clarity and wakefulness. Then when painful sensations arise, they will gradually cease of their own accord. So let go, put everything down—everything except knowing. Don’t be fooled if visions or sounds arise in your mind during meditation. Put them all down. Don’t take hold of anything at all. Just stay with this nondual awareness. Don’t worry about the past or the future. Just be still and you will reach the place where there is no advancing, no retreating, and no stopping, where there is nothing to grasp at or cling to. Why? Because there’s no self, no “me” or “mine.” It’s all gone. The Buddha taught us to be emptied of everything in this way, not to carry anything with us. To know, and having known, let go. Realizing the Dhamma, the path to freedom from the round of birth and death, is a task that we all have to do alone. So keep trying to let go and to understand the teachings. Really put effort into your contemplation. Don’t worry about your family. At the moment they are as they are; in the future they will be like you. There’s no one in the world who can escape this fate. The Buddha told us to put down everything that lacks a real abiding sub- stance. If you put everything down, you will see the truth. If you don’t, you won’t. That’s the way it is and it’s the same for every- one in the world. So don’t worry and don’t grasp at anything. Even if you find yourself thinking, that’s alright too, as long as you think wisely. Don’t think fool- ishly. If you think of your children, think of them with wisdom, not with To put it simply, impermanence is the Buddha. Parinirvana of the Buddha; statue at Polonnaruwa Gal Vihara, Sri Lanka. PHOTO©SAMAN527/DREAMSTIME LION’S ROAR | NOVEMBER 2017 62