- Ajaan Lee Dhammadharo
- Translated from the Thai by
- Copyright ę 1997 Metta Forest Monastery
Translator's note: Less than a year before Ajaan Lee's death, some of his
students began tape-recording his Dhamma talks. The following talk is one of the nine for
which we have transcripts from the tapes -- and one of the four for which the tapes are
still extant. It's a very unusual talk, showing his distinctive humor and style, and
providing a lively discussion of the ways in which the concepts of "self" and
"not-self" actually function in practice.
In all our activities, persistence and endurance are things we have to foster within
ourselves at all times. There have been cases, both in the past and in the present, where
people with little education -- who couldn't even read or write -- have thrown themselves
into the effort of the practice and discover that they can read and even memorize whole
passages. Some of them have even earned the right to sit for the government exams -- this
sort of thing has happened. So we should keep reminding ourselves that everything in the
world comes from effort and persistence. No matter what kind of person you are -- very
smart or very stupid, with a poor education and poor social skills -- as long as you have
these qualities of persistence and endurance in your heart, there's hope for you. As for
people who are very smart, sophisticated, and well-educated: if they lack effort and
persistence, they won't be able to succeed in their aims, in terms either of the world or
of the Dhamma. Especially for those of us who aim at the highest happiness, or nibbana:
effort and persistence are the magnets that will pull us toward our goal.
Now, when effort and persistence are present within us, then endurance will have to be
present as well. Why? When you put effort and persistence into something, there are bound
to be obstacles that get in your way. If you're really persistent, those obstacles will
have to disappear, which means that you've been using endurance as well. If you have
effort but no endurance, you won't get anywhere. If you have persistence, that means that
your effort has endurance, too. So we should regard effort as coming first, and endurance
second. Once these qualities are constantly working together within you, then no matter
how deep or faraway your aims may be, the Buddha has forecast that you'll attain them in
line with your hopes. This is why he said, as a way of ensuring that we'll make the proper
effort, that Viriyena dukkhamacceti: It's through effort and persistence that
people gain release from the world and reach nibbana. Effort and persistence are our
roots, or the magnets that will pull us to nibbana.
That's what the Buddha said. But our own wrong views, which come from the power of
defilement, take issue with his teaching. In other words, they don't believe it. They
believe themselves, by and large, and aren't willing to believe the teachings of the wise.
This is why we have to keep stumbling and crawling along in this world. We simply believe
in ourselves, in our own views, but "ourself" is made up of defilement. This
defilement is the obstacle that keeps us from believing the Buddha when he tells us that
it's through effort and persistence that people will gain release from suffering and
stress. We simply hear the words but don't understand them. What we hear goes only as far
as our ears and doesn't enter into our hearts. And this means that we're working at cross
purposes. Even within a single you, you're working at cross purposes. What you hear is one
thing, what you think is something else, and they don't go together. When this happens,
you start having doubts. Uncertainty. Things aren't clear to the heart. Your practice
turns into nothing but ups and downs, right things and wrong.
This is because the heart of every person...Of course, there's only one heart in every
person, but how is it that the heart has so many issues? This is a really complicated
question. Why? Because if we look only on the surface, we'll say that each person has only
one mind. That's all we know. But if we look in another way, the texts tell us that there
are so many mental consciousnesses that they can't be counted. This makes us wonder: How
can that be? And when we turn from the texts and really look at ourselves, we'll see that
the body of a human being doesn't have only one consciousness. There are lots of
consciousnesses in there. Your own real consciousness, you can hardly find at all. You may
have up to three kinds of consciousness inside your body. The first is your own
consciousness, which entered your mother's womb at the time of your conception, without
any other consciousnesses mixing in with it. There were lots of other consciousnesses
around it at the time, but they all died out before they could take birth. You can't count
how many there are at a time like that, but in the fight to take birth, only one of them
has the merit to make it, and the rest all fall away in huge numbers by the wayside. So
when we make it into a human womb at the time of conception, we can chalk it up to our
merit that we've been able to establish a foothold for ourselves in the human world.
Once our consciousness gets established like this, it begins to develop. The body
develops. As it develops, other consciousnesses start infiltrating without our realizing
it. If you want to see a really clear example, look at the human body after it takes
birth. Sometimes a worm two feet long can come out of your intestines. What does that come
from, if not from a consciousness? Or how about germs? Some diseases are actually caused
by little animals in your body that cause swellings and tumors. As the traditional doctors
used to say, there are eight families and twelve clans of disease-causing animals in our
body. What do they come from? From consciousness, that's what. If there were no
consciousness, how could there be animals? Animals arise from consciousness. And some of
them you can clearly see, as they come crawling in huge numbers out of wounds, out your
ears and eyes, nose, teeth, anus, whole swarms of them. So what are they? They're a form
This kind of consciousness you can see clearly, but there's another group of
consciousnesses that are more insidious, that don't have a body you can see. Only if you
meditate and gain psychic powers can you see them. That's the third kind of consciousness
inhabiting your body.
So altogether there are three: Your own consciousness, and there's only one of that.
And then all the many consciousnesses lurking in your body, so many that you can't say
exactly how many there are. The ones with bodies you can see are more than many. And as
for the ones with no bodies, but are living in your body, there's no telling how many
Now, it's because there are so many of them, with so many agendas, that the Buddha
tells us not to go joining in with them. They're not us, not ours, none of our business.
Sometimes we sit around, with absolutely nothing wrong, and all of a sudden one thing
starts leading to another inside the mind. We don't want it to happen, but the mind seems
to take on a mind of its own. That's a clear case of these consciousnesses, these crazy
consciousnesses, getting into the act, seeping into our own consciousness and making us
fall in line with them. These consciousnesses that lurk in our bodies without any bodies
of their own: They can get angry, too, you know. They can get greedy and deluded, they can
feel love and hate, just like us. Once they start feeling things like this, and they're
right next to us, our own consciousness follows along with them, without our even
realizing it. This is why there are so many issues in the heart.
It's entirely possible, you know. Suppose, for instance, that two of your children are
quarreling right in front of you. That's enough to put you in a bad mood yourself. Even
though you didn't get involved in the quarrel along with them, there's a connection, and
so you end up with a lot of hurt feelings, too. This is why we're taught, Yam ve sevati
tadiso: You end up being like the people you hang around with.
So we're taught to analyze things. There are lots of minds in your mind. Some of them
are animal minds. It's not your mind that gets worked up; their minds are the ones
getting worked up, but they're right next to yours, and as a result you start tilting in
their direction. This is why we're taught that they're anatta, not-self.
Consciousness is not-self. So don't get involved with it. We have to use effort,
persistence, endurance, to keep things under our thumb. As soon as these things disappear,
that's when the heart can be bright and at ease. Because actually, when things like this
arise in the heart, it's not our doing. It's their doing. If it were really our own doing,
then when things like this appear in the heart, we should feel happy and content. When
they disappear, we should feel happy and content. But actually, when things arise in the
heart, there are only some cases where we're delighted about what's happening. There are
other cases where, no, we're not happy at all. There's a conflict in the mind. Sometimes
there are huge numbers of these other consciousnesses, and they have lots of agendas of
their own. We get outnumbered and start falling in line with them. When this happens we do
things wrong and say things wrong and end up sorry afterwards. This is because we act in
line with them, and not in line with our own true heart.
So you have to keep this point in mind if you want to understand consciousness. The
Buddha tells us in really simple terms, but we don't understand him. He says,
"Consciousness isn't our self." Only four words, and yet we can't understand
them. And how can we expect to understand them? Our hearts aren't established in
concentration, so everything we hear gets all confused. All we can think is that
consciousness is our mind. That's all we can think, so we start aligning ourselves with
everything, taking sides. This is us. That's us. We start siding with everything, which is
why we don't understand consciousness.
Now when we start considering things carefully, to see what our own real consciousness
is like, we'll check to see if there's anything in there that's honest and loyal and true
to us. If there's something that you like to do -- you realize it's proper, you know it's
right -- and you go ahead and do it to completion, then that's something you can trust.
But there are other things that you don't really like -- part of you wants to do them,
another part doesn't -- so when there's a split like this, you should realize that you've
been associating with fools, with certain kinds of consciousnesses that have come to
deceive you. That's when you have to resist, to persist, to pen that thinking in. In other
words, you have to focus on contemplating that particular consciousness to see what kind
of consciousness it is. Is it your own consciousness? Or is it another consciousness that
has snuck in to trip up your consciousness so that you fall in line with it? If you fall
in line with it and end up doing things that you later regret, that's called getting taken
in by consciousness.
When the Buddha tells us that consciousness isn't our self, that it's anatta, we don't
understand what he says. There's one sort of consciousness that's really ours. The
consciousness that's really ours is loyal, honest, and true to us. Suppose that make up
your mind that tomorrow you want to go to the monastery to hear a sermon. Now, going to
the monastery to hear a sermon is something good that you like to do. You really benefit
from it. You're really clear on this point. But by the time tomorrow comes, your mind has
changed because -- it's simply changed. When this happens, you should realize that your
consciousness has gotten mixed up with some other kind of consciousness. That's how you
have to look at things. Don't think that it's really your consciousness. The new thought
that repeals your old thought isn't really you. It's cheating you. It's not really you.
Normally, if something is really you, it's not going to cheat you. It has to be honest and
loyal and devoted to you. Once you make up your mind to do something good, you have to
stick with it until you succeed and feel happy afterwards. That sort of thinking is your
own real consciousness. It's honest. It doesn't deceive you.
Most people, though, deceive themselves. Actually, they don't deceive themselves.
They're perfectly all right, but these other consciousnesses seep into them, so that they
end up getting deceived. This is why the Buddha teaches us, asevana ca balanam:
don't go associating with fools. If you hang around with that kind of consciousness often,
you'll end up suffering. So -- panditana˝ca -- associate with wise people. Make
your mind firmly settled and established. If you think of doing something good, make it
good all the way until you succeed in line with your aims. That's you. Don't let any other
consciousnesses in to meddle with your affairs. If you run across any thoughts that would
make you abandon your efforts, realize that you've been associating with fools,
associating with consciousnesses aside from yourself. That's how you should look at
Now, if we were to go into detail on all the consciousnesses living in our bodies,
there would be lots to say. Basically, there are two kinds: those whose thoughts are in
line with ours, and those whose thoughts are not. For example, when we want to do good,
there are hungry ghosts and spirits that would like to do good, too, but they can't,
because they don't have a body. So they take up residence in our body in order to do good
along with us. But there are other spirits who want to destroy whatever good we're trying
to do. They were probably our enemies in past lives: We probably oppressed them,
imprisoned them, or had them put to death. We got in the way of the good they were trying
to do, so they've got some old scores to settle. They want to block the path we're trying
to practice so that we don't make any progress. They come whispering into our ears:
"Stop. Stop. You're going to die. You're going to starve. It's going to rain too
hard, the sun's too hot, it's too early, too late," they go on and on. These are the
consciousnesses that come as our enemies. There are others that used to be our relatives
and friends. They want to do good but they can't, so they take up residence in our body so
that they can bow down to the Buddha and chant along with us. Because of all this, there
are times when our hearts are like monsters and ogres. We can't imagine why it's
happening, and yet it's happening, even though we don't want it to. Then there are other
times when our hearts are like devas -- so sweet and good-tempered that other people can
curse our mother and grandmother and we won't get mad. Then there are other times when
there's no call for anger and yet we manage to get angry in really ugly, nasty ways.
That's the way it is with these consciousnesses: all very confused and confusing, and they
come seeping into our bodies. That's how you should look at things.
There's yet another group of consciousnesses: the ones who have come to collect old
kamma debts. They're the germs that eat away at our flesh -- at our nose, our ears -- to
ruin our looks. They eat away at our lower lip, exposing our teeth, making us embarrassed
and ashamed. Sometimes they eat away at one of our ears, or eat away at our nose all the
way up to the forehead. Sometimes they eat at our eyes, our hands, our feet. Sometimes
they eat away at our whole body, making our skin diseased. These are kamma debt
collectors. In the past we made life miserable for them, so this time around they're
ganging up to make us squirm. The one's that are really easy to see are the worms that
help eat the food in our intestines. In the past we probably ate their flesh and skin, so
this time around they're going to eat ours. They eat, eat, eat -- eat everything.
"Whatever you've got, you bastard, I'm going to eat it all." That's what they
say. How are we ever going to get rid of them? They eat our outsides where we can see
them, so we chase them away and they go running inside, to eat in our stomach and
intestines. That's when it really gets bad: we can't even see them, and they're even
harder to get rid of. So they keep making us squirm as they keep eating, eating away:
eating in our intestines, eating in our stomach, eating our kidneys, our liver, our lungs,
eating in our blood vessels, eating our body hairs, eating everything all over the place.
They eat outside and turn into skin diseases. They eat inside as worms and germs. And they
themselves get into fights -- after all, there are lots of different gangs in there. Even
just the worms have 108 clans. So when there are so many of them, they're bound to
quarrel, creating a ruckus in our home. How can we ever hope to withstand them? Sometimes
we fall in with them without realizing it. How can that happen? Because there are so many
of them that we can't resist.
These living beings in our body: Sometimes they get angry and get into fights.
Sometimes they run into one another on the street and start biting and hitting each other,
so that we itch in front and itch in back -- scritch scritch, scratch scratch: The worms
have gotten into a gang war. They cruise around in our body the way we do outside. The
blood vessels are like roads, so there are little animals cruising down the blood vessels.
This one comes this way, that one comes that, they meet each other and start talking.
Sometimes they have real conversations that know no end, so they spend the night there,
eating right there and excreting right there until a swelling starts: That's a little
shack for the beings, the consciousnesses in our body. This is how things keep happening.
Our body is like a world. Just as the world has oceans, mountains, trees, vines, land,
so it is with the body. Each blood vessel is a road for living beings. They travel down
our blood vessels, down our breath channels. Some vessels get closed off, like a dead end
road. Others stay open. When they're open, the blood flows, the breath flows, like the
water in rivers and streams. When they flow, boats can travel along them. When there are
boats, there are beings in the boats. Sometimes the boats crash into each other. That's
why we have aches and pains in our legs and arms and along our breath channels. So go
ahead: keep rubbing them and massaging them -- it's all an affair of the consciousnesses
inhabiting our bodies. Some of them live in our eye sockets, some live in our earholes,
some in our nostrils, some in our mouth, our throat, our gums. They're just like people,
only we can't understand their language. They have jobs and careers, families and homes,
and places to vacation all over our body. These consciousnesses in our bodies sometimes
get into battles and wars, just like red ants and black ants. Sometimes lizards and toads
get into battles -- I've seen it happen. It's the same in our body, so where are we going
to go to escape from it all? The beings in our eyes lay claim to our eyes as their home.
The ones in our ears claim our ears as their home. The ones in our blood vessels claim
those as their home. Sometimes their claims overlap, so they get into feuds. As the texts
say, there are feelings that arise from consciousness. This is why there are so many
things that can happen to the body. Some kinds of consciousness give rise to disease, some
are just waiting their chance. For instance, some kinds of consciousness without bodies
hang around our blood vessels waiting for wounds and boils to develop. That's their chance
to take on bodies as worms and germs. As for the ones who don't yet have bodies, they
travel around as chills and thrills and itches and aches all over our body. It's all an
affair of consciousnesses.
In short, there are three classes in all -- three clans, and all of them great big
ones. The first are the living beings with bodies that live in our body. Then there are
the consciousnesses that don't have bodies of their own, but inhabit our body. Then
there's our own consciousness. So all in all there are three. These three types of
consciousness get all mixed up together, so we don't know which kinds of consciousness
belong to animals with bodies, which kinds belong to beings that don't yet have bodies,
and which kind of consciousness is our own. We don't know. When we don't know this, how
can we know the five aggregates? "Vi˝˝anakkhandho" that we chant every
morning -- how can we know it? All we know is "consciousness, consciousness,"
but our own consciousness is so slack and limp that it's like a rope dragging on the
ground. It's the same with the phrase, "Consciousness is not-self." All we know
is the words they say.
Only when we develop discernment from concentrating the mind will we be able to
understand consciousness. That's when we'll be able to understand the 18 properties,
starting with: "Cakkhu-dhatu, rupa-dhatu, cakkhu-vi˝˝ana-dhatu" -- eye
property, form property, eye-consciousness property. To understand these three things you
need the kind of knowledge that comes from concentration. For example, how many kinds of
consciousness are there in our eye? When a form appears to the eye and there's
consciousness of the form -- is it really our consciousness, or is it the consciousness of
some other being without a body that's getting into the act? Or is it the consciousness of
a being with a body getting in our way, making us doubtful and unsure? The three kinds of
consciousness that arise at the eye, that see forms: how many different ways do they
react? And are those reactions really a result of our own consciousness, or of the
consciousness of beings with bodies inhabiting our body? Or are they the result of
consciousnesses without bodies. We don't know. We haven't the slightest idea. When we
don't know even this much, how are we going to know, "Cakkhu-dhatu, rupa-dhatu,
cakkhu-vi˝˝ana-dhatu"? There's no way. We have no insight, no knowledge, no
discernment at all.
"Sota-dhatu": our ear, which is the basis for ear-consciousness to
arise. Which kind of ear-consciousness arises first? Do we know? No, not at all. Is it our
own consciousness that goes out to listen to sounds? Is it the consciousness of some
little animal lurking in our ears? Or is it the consciousness of some being that doesn't
even have a body? Or is it really our own consciousness? Examine things carefully so that
you know this before anything else. You can tell from the results: There are some kinds of
sounds that you like to hear, but you know that they're not right, and yet you still like
to listen to them. You should realize when this happens that it's not your consciousness
that's listening, because it's not loyal to you. There are other kinds of sounds that are
good and right, but you don't like them. That's another case when it's not your
consciousness. Something else has probably infiltrated and gotten in the way.
You have to watch out for this carefully, because there are a lot of different groups
of consciousness with their own agendas. Sometimes you listen to other people speaking:
What they say is true and right, but you don't like it. So you go assuming that this
business of liking and disliking is yours. You never stop to think that consciousness is
not-self. The fact that you don't stop to think is why your ears are so deaf. You're not
listening. Some hungry ghost is listening in your stead, without your even realizing it.
So how are you going to remember anything? Your mind isn't here with the body in the
present, so it's not listening. Hungry ghosts are listening, dead spirits are listening,
angry demons are in the way, so as a result you yourself don't know, don't understand,
what's being said. Ghosts and demons are doing all the listening and thinking, but you
assume it's all you. This is why the Buddha said that ignorance blinds our eyes and
deafens our ears. It's all an affair of consciousnesses.
"Cakkhu-dhatu, rupa-dhatu, cakkhu-vi˝˝ana-dhatu": There are these
three things. The instant the eye sees a form, what consciousness goes out to look? Have
you ever stopped to take notice? No. Never. So you don't know whether it's really your own
consciousness or the consciousness of an animal lurking in your eye, whether it's an
animal with a body or one without a body. You don't even know whether these things really
exist. When you don't know this, what can you hope to know? "Sota-dhatu,
sadda-dhatu, sota-vi˝˝ana-dhatu": You don't know this one either. And so on
down the list: "Ghana-dhatu": The nose is where smells are known and
nose-consciousness arises. Sometimes our consciousness likes certain kinds of smells,
smells that are proper in line with the Dhamma. So we search out and find those smells to
make merit. Other times we give up. We like the smells, but we don't follow through. We
don't carry through with our own thoughts. Then there are certain kinds of smells that we
don't like, but we still go after them. Some kinds we like, but we don't follow through.
There are all kinds of issues surrounding smells. Smells appear in our nose, and
consciousness appears in our nose as well. Who knows how many hundreds of kinds of
consciousness are living in there? Sometimes they know things before we do. They send us
all kinds of false reports to deceive us. They whisper to us, keeping us misinformed so
that we believe them. As a result, we close our eyes and follow along with them, like a
bear getting honey from a bee's nest. It just closes its eyes and keeps slurping away,
slurping away at the honey. It can't open its eyes because the bees are going to sting out
its eye sockets. The same with us: when consciousness comes whispering, "Go.
Go," we go along with it, thinking that we're the ones who feel the need to go.
Actually, we don't know what it is that comes slipping in to pull us around, like a medium
possessed by a spirit.
Jivha-dhatu: The tongue. The tongue is where tastes arise. Tastes come and make
contact at the tongue and an awareness arises, called consciousness. But the consciousness
that arises: exactly which consciousness arises first? There are living beings that reside
in our taste buds, and they have consciousness too, you know. They may know even more than
we do. For example, say that there's food we know is bad for us to eat, but there's the
desire to eat it. Why is there the desire? Sometimes we don't want to eat it, but the
consciousness of some living being wants to eat it. If we eat it, we know it will make us
sick, but there's still the desire to eat it. This is called getting fooled by flavors.
Getting fooled by consciousness. There are three sorts of consciousness, as we've already
mentioned, so which consciousness is getting in the act? Is it our consciousness or not?
We've never stopped to check. Is it the kind of consciousness that doesn't yet have a
body? Or is it the kind that already has a body appearing in our mouth? We don't know.
When we don't know, that's why everything we say comes out all screwy and wrong. These
spirits are the ones that make us speak, speaking in all kinds of ways that get us in
trouble. Actually, we don't want to say those things, but we go ahead and say them. That's
a sign that we've been associating with fools, with the consciousness of angry demons,
without our even realizing it. It's only afterwards, when we end up suffering, that we
realize what's happened. This is why we keep losing out to them. We don't know
consciousness in the five aggregates. We keep chanting, "Vi˝˝anam anatta,
anatta, ta, ta," every day, but don't know a thing. This is what the Buddha
called avijja, or unawareness.
Kaya-dhatu: The same holds true with the body. The body is where tactile
sensations are felt. Tactile sensations make contact and we can know them all: cold, hot,
soft, hard. We know. This knowledge of tactile sensations is called consciousness. But
whose consciousness it is, we've never made a survey. So we think that we're the ones who
are cold, we're the ones who are hot, and yet it's not us at all. Like a person
possessed by a spirit. What happens when a person is possessed by a spirit? Suppose
there's someone who has never drunk liquor. When a spirit possesses him, he drinks two or
three glasses -- really enjoying it -- but when the spirit leaves, the person who has
never drunk liquor is dead drunk. Why? Because there was a consciousness from outside
possessing him. He -- the real him -- never drank liquor, but he drank when an outside
spirit possessed him.
The same holds true with our mind. When these consciousnesses start getting
obstreperous, we start doing things even though we don't want to do them. Some forms of
consciousness like the cold, some like heat. Just like the animals in the world: Some like
hot weather, some like cold weather, some like to eat hard things, some like to eat soft
things. Worms and caterpillars, for instance: They like to eat hard things. It's the same
with the living beings in our bodies: Some like to eat hard things, so they nibble at our
bones -- or at our flesh until it sloughs off in pieces. Some drink the liquid parts. Some
like hot things, some like cold things. So when it gets cold, we feel that we're really
cold, but we've never stopped to think about what's made us cold. When it gets hot, we
don't know what's made us hot. We just think that it's us: this is us, that's us. When it
was that we became a spirit-consciousness along with them, we never noticed.
This is why the Buddha said that we have no discernment. We fall for these forms of
consciousness, forgetting his teaching that consciousness is not-self. Actually, there's
only one of us, and it's not all complicated like this.
As for our mind -- mano-dhatu -- the same holds true. It's been possessed by
spirits so that it suffers from all sorts of symptoms. The ideas that get thought up in
the mind, the ideas that cause thoughts in the mind: they come from a cause. Sometimes the
cause may be the shock waves from other consciousnesses bumping into us. The thoughts of
living beings with bodies may be directed at us. The consciousness of beings without
bodies may have some unfinished business involving us and they may cause our own minds to
fall in with them. When this happens, you should know: "Oh. There's been an
infiltration." The thing that has infiltrated is the mood of another living being. It
may be the mood of an animal. The mood of a deva. The mood of an angry demon. We have to
decode them so that we'll know. When we can know in this way then there aren't all that
many issues in our mind. There's only one mind. There's only one consciousness, not a
whole lot of them. When one is one, it should stay as one. The problem is that one turns
into two and then three and then so on without end. This is what blocks our senses.
Unawareness blocks our eyes, so that we don't know the consciousnesses that have built
their homes in our eyeballs. Unawareness blocks our ears: the consciousnesses of all the
animals that have come and built their homes filling up our earholes. Unawareness blocks
our nose: the consciousnesses of all the animals that have come and built their homes in
our nostrils. It blocks our tongue: the consciousnesses of all the animals that have come
and built their homes and cities in our tongue. It blocks our body: the consciousnesses of
all the animals that have come and built their homes in every pore. As for our own single
consciousness, it's no match for them. This is why the effort of our meditation is so limp
and lax: we don't understand what these things are doing to us. They close off our eyes,
ears, nose, tongue, body, and mind so that we can't see our way out. As a result, the
qualities we're trying to develop just don't grow.
Now, when we can wipe out the homes of unawareness, that's when we'll understand what's
"Aneka-jati samsaram, sandhavissam anibbisam.
Through the round of many births
I wandered without finding
The house-builder I was seeking...
When we contemplate to the point where we understand these things, we'll come to see
the endless affairs of all the living beings that have taken up residence in our home. Aneka-jati
samsaram... They've come to quarrel and squabble and create a lot of trouble. They
like to pull our mind into all kinds of harm.
When we contemplate so as to see things in this way, dispassion arises. Cakkhusmimpi
nibbindati. We feel dispassion for the eye. Rupesupi nibbindati. Dispassion for
forms. Cakkhu-vi˝˝anepi nibbindati. Dispassion for consciousness. We really get
tired of it. It's a genuine nuisance to our heart. Nibbindam virajjati, viraga
vimuccati. We spit them out. The eye spits out forms. It spits out consciousness. It
spits them out, because it's had enough.
Sotasmimpi nibbindati. We feel dispassion for the ear. Saddesupi nibbindati.
Dispassion for sounds. Sota-vi˝˝anepi nibbindati. Dispassion for consciousness. Viraga
vimuccati. We spit them all out. When the eye spits out form, forms don't get stuck in
the eye, so the eye can penetrate and see for miles. When sounds get spit out, our ears
can penetrate: We can hear what the devas are chatting about. When the nose spits out
aromas, the entire world smells sweet. Our goodness, when we let go of it, smells sweet in
every direction. The tongue spits out flavors, it doesn't swallow them; it spits out
consciousness. The body spits out tactile sensations. Heat doesn't get stuck in the heart.
Cold doesn't get stuck in the heart. Hard, soft, whatever, in the body, doesn't get stuck,
doesn't seep in. Everything gets spit out, all the way to mental consciousness. The mind
lets go of its goodness. It doesn't hold onto the view or conceit that its goodness
belongs to it. It spits out evil, unskillful states, so that evil can't leak in to get it
soaked. It spits out all the various things it knows, such as, "That's the
consciousness of living beings with bodies...That's the consciousness of living beings
without bodies...That's really my consciousness." All of this gets spit out. That's
what's called vi˝˝anasmimpi nibbindati. Dispassion for consciousness, dispassion
for mental objects. Viraga vimuccati. Everything gets spit out; nothing gets
swallowed, so nothing gets stuck in the throat. The eye doesn't swallow forms, the ear
doesn't swallow sounds, the nose doesn't swallow smells, the tongue doesn't swallow
flavors, the body doesn't swallow tactile sensations, the mind doesn't swallow ideas. Vimuccati:
Release. There's no more turmoil or entanglement. That's when you're said to be in the
presence of nibbana. Vimuttasmim vimuttamiti ˝anam hoti, khina jati, vusitam
brahma-cariyam -- "In release, there is the knowledge, 'Released.' Birth is
ended, the holy life has been fulfilled." When we can practice in this way we'll know
clearly what's the consciousness of animals, what's our consciousness, and we can let go
of them all. That's when we'll know that we've gained release from all three sorts of
The consciousness of living beings with bodies isn't our consciousness. The
consciousness of living beings without bodies isn't our consciousness. Our consciousness,
which is aware of these things, isn't us. These things get let go, in line with their
nature. That's when we can be said to know the five aggregates, the six sense media. We
gain release from the world and can open our eyes. Our eyes will be able to see far, as
when we slide away the walls on our home and can see for hundreds of yards. When our eyes
aren't stuck on forms, we can gain clairvoyant powers and see far. When our ears aren't
stuck on sounds, we can hear distant sounds. When our nose isn't stuck on smells, we can
sniff the smell of the devas, instead of irritating our nose with the smell of human
beings. When flavors don't get stuck on the tongue we can taste heavenly medicine and
food. When the mind isn't stuck on tactile sensations, we can live in comfort. Wherever we
sit, we can be at our ease: at ease when it's cold, at ease when it's hot, at ease in a
soft seat, at ease in a hard seat. Even if the sun burns us up, we can be at our ease. The
body can fall apart, and we can be at our ease. This is called spitting out tactile
sensations. As for the heart, it spits out ideas. It's a heart released: released from the
five aggregates, released from the three sorts of consciousness. They can't ever fool it
again. The heart is released from stress and suffering, and will reach the highest, most
ultimate happiness: nibbana.
Here I've been talking on the topic of consciousness. Take it to heart and train
yourself to give rise to knowledge within. That's when you can be said to know the worlds.
The consciousnesses that have bodies inhabit the worlds of sensuality, from the levels of
hell on up to heaven. The consciousnesses with no bodies inhabit the world of the formless
Brahmas. Our own consciousness is what will take us to nibbana. When you know these three
kinds of consciousness you can be said to be vijja-carana-sampanno: consummate in
knowledge and conduct. Sugato: You'll go well and come well and wherever you stay,
you'll stay well. All the beings of the world can then get some relief. In what way? We
hand everything over to them. Any animals who want to eat away in our body can go ahead
and do so. We're no longer possessive. Whatever they want, whatever they like to eat, they
can go ahead and have it: We don't give a damn. That's how we really feel. We're not
attached. If they want to eat our intestines, they can go ahead. If they want to eat our
excrement, they can have it. If they want to eat our blood, they can eat all they like.
We're not possessive. Whatever any type of consciousness wants, they're welcome to it. We
give them their independence, so they can govern themselves, without our trying to snitch
anything away from them. As a result, they gain a share of our goodness. The same for the
bodiless consciousnesses in our body: They gain their independence. And we gain our
independence, too. Everybody gets to live in his or her own house, eat his or her own
food, sleep in his or her own bed. Everyone lives separately, so everyone can be at his or
her own ease.
This is called "bhagava":The eye gets separated from forms, forms get
separated from the eye, and consciousness gets separated from self.
The ear gets separated from sounds, sounds get separated from the ear, and
consciousness gets separated from self.
The nose gets separated from smells, smells get separated from the nose, and
consciousness gets separated from self.
The tongue gets separated from flavors, flavors get separated from the tongue, and
consciousness gets separated from self.
The body gets separated from tactile sensations, tactile sensations get separated from
the body, and consciousness gets separated from the body.
The mind gets separated from ideas, ideas get separated from the mind, and
consciousness gets separated from the mind.
There's no sense that this is our self or that's our self. This is called "Sabbe
dhamma anatta," all phenomena are not-self. We don't claim rights over anything
at all. Whoever can do this will gain release from the world, from the cycle of death and
rebirth. This is asavakkhaya-˝ana -- the knowledge of the ending of mental
fermentation -- arising in the heart.
So now that you've listened to this, you should take it to ponder and contemplate so as
to gain a clear understanding within yourself. That way you'll be on the path to release
from stress and suffering, using persistence and effort at all times to cleanse your own
consciousness so as to know it clearly. That's what will lead you to purity.
So, for today's discussion of consciousnesses, I'll ask to stop here.