Dear fellow practitioners…
As I have been a little busy with the supervising of building a larger meditation hall, (now completed and pictured here)… and as Neil our dear webmaster has been diligently rebuilding the website to be more 'mobile device' responsive (you will notice some changes when you click the link)… it has been a little while since we've shared something new. I am happy to be able to share one of the talks that I gave in Malaysia earlier in the year with you now. Shortly, there will be another subscriber update in your inbox - as we share a New Meditation with you in this 're-launch' occasion as well.
Perform the Greatest Miracle Within
In this short talk I comment upon one of my all-time favourite suttas where the Buddha relays a story that I personally believe to be entirely true. That of a Bhikkhu who went travelling through the heavens asking consecutive layers of ever-increasingly radiant, grand and subtle bodies devas… "Where do the Four Elements cease without remainder?" From one point of view it would make perfect sense if one had such abilities, and if one was looking to 'end the suffering of the world,' to look upwards at those radiant beings and to make such an enquiry. After all, perhaps it might be at the physical edge of the world that suffering could be brought to an end? So this gifted monk went up and up and up and asked these impressively radiant beings his question… to which they all surprisingly replied, "well… ummm… gosh - I dunno!" Finally one embarrassed but kind 'Great Brahma Deva' in one of the highest heaven realms told the monk… "Go back and ask your Lord Buddha… and whatever answer he gives… accept it!" And so upon returning to the Lord he asked his question and the Buddha replied with a statement that is so very instructive for all of us, saying something like. "It's the wrong question!" Then, out of great compassion the Lord explained… "You need to ask… where do these four elements find no footing? Where is the boundless, luminous yet Signless Consciousness where these things cease to exist?" Now that would seem to be the most profound and subtle question anyone could ask… and searching for such an inner reality is surely the most noble enquiry anyone could undertake. Lord Buddha is pointing inwards - to something that can be experienced and realised only by oneself and only through cultivating the Eightfold Path.
So often in life we look outside for things to blame our suffering on… and then we look for more relief from outside yet again, setting ourselves up for future frustration. This misguided strategy has literally taken us all over the conditioned universe for countless lives gone and will do for countless lives to come. But if we turn inwards and pay attention to the nature of conditions with a clear and composed mind, (right mindfulness/right concentration) we will see that they are not at all how we have understood them to be. By seeing conditions clearly, delusion falls away. There are suttas where Lord Buddha exclaims… "If there was not an unconditioned I would not declare it… But since there is an Unconditioned I do declare it!" At first we might just glimpse the 'unconditioned' momentarily. Practicing further we will come to experience the unconditioned mind for periods of time. Eventually, with continued practice, as ignorance and delusion fall away completely we will come to abide in the truth of an unconditioned awareness that is no longer affected by suffering because it sees the phenomena of the world according to the deeper ultimate truth.
May this short talk serve as some encouragement along this noble endeavour of realising 'the nature of the universe' inwardly.
Ajahn Achalo Bhikkhu
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